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RG3902.AM:  John Dougherty, 1791-1860

Papers:  1823-1858

Nebraska Territory:  Indian agent

Size:  1 reel of microfilm and 1 folder


John Dougherty was born April 12, 1791 in Kentucky and came west to St. Louis in 1808. In 1809 he signed on with the Missouri Fur Company and joined an expedition heading north and west. Over the next ten years he traveled in Montana, Wyoming, eastern Idaho, the Dakotas, and Nebraska, trapping and trading from a post near the mouth of the Big Horn River. Little else is known of his activities until 1819, when he was a member of Major Stephen H. Long’s contingent of the so-called Yellowstone Expedition, which stalled at Council Bluffs. Dougherty served as an interpreter for the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, working for Indian Agent Benjamin O’Fallon. He was present for the drafting of the agreement with the Omaha Indians in September 1820, which allowed the army to build Fort Atkinson on land the Omaha claimed. This agreement cannot be considered a treaty, as it was never signed by the president. Dougherty was the sub-agent and interpreter at the Upper Missouri Agency until 1827, when Fort Atkinson was abandoned and the army and agency moved to a new site later christened Fort Leavenworth. Dougherty was made Agent and given the honorary rank of Major at this time. He reported to Superintendent of Indian Affairs, William Clark. As Agent, Dougherty made treaties with the Otoes, Missouris, Pawnees, Iowas, Sacs, Fox and other tribes. The agency moved to Bellevue in 1833.

When Clark died in 1838, Dougherty tried to obtain his position as Superintendent. The job went instead to Joshua Pilcher, who had better political connections. Dougherty resigned from government service in 1839. He moved to Missouri and, making use of his western affiliations, went into business as a suttler and freighter. Dougherty was elected to the Missouri Legislature on the Whig Party ticket in 1840. He semi-retired in 1855 and managed a sizeable estate in Clay County, Missouri.

Dougherty married Mary Hertzog, the daughter of Joseph Hertzog, on November 13, 1823. To this union were born four children: John Kerr Dougherty, who died in the Battle of Franklin as a member of the 3rd Missouri Confederate Infantry; Lewis Bissell Dougherty and O’Fallon Dougherty, who both settled in Clay County, Missouri; and a daughter, Annie Elizabeth Dougherty, who married General Charles F. Ruff and moved east. John Dougherty died on December 28, 1860.


This collection consists of one reel of negative microfilm containing correspondence, 1833-1858; a record of the Dougherty family 1802-1817; and a number of sale receipts for slaves. Correspondence relating to the Upper Missouri Agency comprises the bulk of the collection. A small folder of papers is also present, and includes correspondence and biographical materials.

The microfilm was obtained from the Missouri Historical Society in 1952.


Reel 1

Papers, 1823-1858


Two sheets of microcopies Dougherty correspondence from the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Biographical materials



“A Description of the Fur Trade in 1831 by John Dougherty” in Nebraska History, Vol. 56, #1 (Spring 1975), p.108-120.



American Fur Company

Cantonment Leavenworth

Dougherty Family

Dougherty, John, 1791-1860

Fur trade

Indian agents

Indians of North America — Government relations

Indians of North America — Great Plains

Slave trade

United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

Upper Missouri Agency


08-03-2009   Revised TMM/tmm