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 Thomas Long 'Peg Leg' “Peg Leg Smith” Smith

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Thomas Long 'Peg Leg' “Peg Leg Smith” Smith

  • Birth 10 Oct 1801 Crab Orchard, Lincoln County, Kentucky, USA
  • Death Oct 1866 San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
  • Burial San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 14390561

Mountain man, Trapper, Prospector and Folk Hero. He left Kentucky at an early age and began working for John Astor as a fur trapper along with legendary mountain men such as Kit Carson and Jim Bridger. He later worked for Alexandre Le Grand as a scout on an expedition into the American Southwest area that is now known as New Mexico. During the expedition he was shot in the right knee by an Indian and his leg was amputated. He fashioned a wooden leg to replace the lost limb and was given the nickname "Peg Leg." In spite of his pegleg, he continued to trap for fur until the fur trade declined. He moved to California and joined up with Jim Beckworth and "Old Bill" Williams to form the largest horse theft band in the Southwest. Pressure from the law forced him out of horse thieving by the late 1840's and he started prospecting in the southeastern portion of California near present day Borrego Springs. According to legend, he was wandering through the Borrego Badlands when he gathered some pebbles from the top of a butte thinking they were copper. He later learned the pebbles were actually gold nuggets but he was never able to find the butte that was the source of his find. Peg Leg's questionable background, fondness for drinking and his proclivity to tell an occasional lie caused a considerable amount of controversy as to the validity of his claim. He died penniless in a San Francsisco hospital but his memory still lives on in the form of a liars contest that is held every year on the first Saturday in April at the Pegleg Smith Monument just outside of Borrego Springs.


  • Created by: DXA
  • Added: 23 May 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 14390561
  • They Are Not Alone
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Long 'Peg Leg' “Peg Leg Smith” Smith (10 Oct 1801–Oct 1866), Find A Grave Memorial no. 14390561, citing Yerba Buena Cemetery (Defunct), San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA ; Maintained by DXA (contributor 46840396) .