Zebulon Montgomery Pike was an American brigadier general and famous explorer who led two expeditions under the authority of President Thomas Jefferson through the Louisiana Purchase territory, first in 1805–1806 to reconnoiter the upper northern reaches of the Mississippi River, and then in 1806–1807 to explore the southwest to the fringes of the northern Spanish-colonial settlements of New Mexico and Texas.
Pike's first expedition was relatively uneventful. He traveled up the Mississippi River and its tributaries, mapping the terrain and meeting with Native American tribes.
He also explored the headwaters of the Mississippi River but erroneously identified Leech Lake as the river's source.
Pike's second expedition was more challenging. He was instructed to explore the Arkansas and Red Rivers and to investigate Spanish settlements in New Mexico.
Pike and his men traveled through the present-day states of Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma. They encountered hostile Native American tribes and were forced to turn back before reaching New Mexico.
Pike's expedition did, however, make significant contributions to the knowledge of the American Southwest. He mapped large areas of the territory and provided valuable information about the Native American tribes and the Spanish settlements.
His reports also helped to stimulate American interest in the Southwest and played a role in the eventual annexation of the region.
Pike died in 1813 during the War of 1812. He was killed by a British gunpowder bomb after leading a successful attack on York, Canada.
Zebulon Pike came from a military family and had many connections to the frontier as well.
His family had deep New Jersey ties despite his family migrating from England to Massachusetts Bay Colony. His father served in the Revolutionary War with honor and was well-known for his service. His grandfather on his mother's side had also served in the Revolutionary War.
This laid the foundation for Zebulon Pike's accomplishments. He had a younger brother who graduated from West Point and another brother who would have pursued the military had it not been for health issues.
Unfortunately, Zebulon's life was cut short when he was killed during the Battle of York in the War of 1812. He only had one daughter who lived to adulthood and had children.
Family Tree Chart
Zebulon Pike (1751 - 1834) - He was a Revolutionary War veteran, and his son followed in his footsteps. He and his wife had four children, and two would serve in the military.
Isabella Brown (1753 - 1809 - She was the daughter of a Revolutionary War veteran and the wife of one. Two of her sons would serve in the military, probably due to the background they had on both sides of their family.
Clarissa Harlow Brown (1783 - 1847) - She married and had two children, with one dying in childhood. After her husband's death in the War of 1812, she lived as a widow for the rest of her life. She was a devout Christian and known for her faith.
Clarissa Brown Pike (1803 - 1837) - She lived a short life but married and had three children to continue the Pike bloodline.
Unknown Pike (1802 - 1804) - He was born and died while his father was on an expedition west and discovering Pike's Peak.
James Brown Pike (1784 - 1855) - He was the younger brother to Zebulon, and due to issues with tuberculosis, he was unable to join the military. He lived the longest of each of the Pike brothers. He married and had nine children.
Mariah Harriot Pike (1789 - 1844) - She was the only daughter of her father. She met and married her husband, and the two had three children.
George Washington Pike (1793 - 1812) - He was a West Point graduate and looked to have a promising military career ahead of him; however, he succumbed to tuberculosis when he was about 19 years of age.