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Memorable Manitobans: Edwin Thompson Denig (1812-1858)

Fur trader, author.

Born at McConnellstown, Huntington County, Philadelphia on 10 March 1812, son of Dr. George Denig, he was married to Hai-kees-kak-wee-yah (Deer Little Woman), the daughter of an Assiniboine chief. They had four children, including Alexander Denig (c1851-1904), Adeline Denig (1856-1932, wife of Charles Simpson), and Sarah Denig (?-?). In 1833, Denig went to the upper Missouri as a fur trader and Indian scout. For several years he was in charge of the American Fur Company’s post at Fort Union where, among other notable guests, he entertained Audubon, the naturalist, Friedrich Kurz, Swiss artist, and the Belgian priest, Father DeSmet. Prior to 1854 he wrote his report on the Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri.

Sometime during 1854-1855, he migrated to the Red River Settlement, taking with him four cartloads of goods. He established himself as a private trader on the White Horse Plain. He died there on 4 September 1858, and was buried in the Anglican Church Cemetery at Headingley. His will, discovered at Pilot Mound in 1946, led to the publication of a formerly anonymous manuscript on the Crow Indians, written in 1856 in Manitoba. From a photostat copy of the will, the United States Bureau of American Ethnology identified the manuscript as the work of Edwin T. Denig and published it in 1950.

Author of Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri: Sioux, Arickaras, Assiniboines, Crees and Crows, 1856.

Sources:

“Old will identifies historic document” by Chris Vickers, Winnipeg Free Press, 25 April 1953, page 8.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 May 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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