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Lack of funding cuts Hiram Scott research project short
June 05, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Jerry Lucas has been pursuing the life of Hiram Scott for the past eight years, but now hes taking a hiatus from his research.

Lucas, a seasonal Scotts Bluff National Monument Ranger, said hes been trying raise about $20,000 over the past three years for expenses related to research. However, hes only been able to raise about $1,000 for the project so far.

I was spending more time searching for money than I was looking into Scotts history, Lucas said. I guess I stopped enjoying the project like I did when it first started.

Lucas said he still plans to search out the story of Hiram Scott at random times when he has the opportunity. Its not something Im completely backing away from because Ive learned so much about the history of that time.

Best known as a trapper, Hiram Scott died near what is now the monument in 1828. He supposedly was born about 1805 in the St. Louis area. His father had settled there about 1798 under a Spanish land grant. John Scott, Hirams father, was prominently mentioned in early Missouri history in its push for statehood.

It would be interesting to find some of the family who are still remaining there to see what I can find out about their history, Lucas said.

Over the years, numerous stories have sprung up over how Hiram Scott met his demise. One story has him dying of pneumonia. Another had him injured in an Indian attack at Bear Lake in Wyoming. And another story is that Scott was killed by a grizzly bear near Robidoux Pass.

But new research always brings up new stories. Lucas said he ran across an article in one of the publications of the Missouri State Historical Society. The article was about logging in Missouri in the early 1800s and one of the loggers mentioned was Hiram Scott.

Im not sure whether he was the same Hiram Scott I was researching, but it was a completely new piece of information, Lucas said. People have to be really specific about what information they need when doing research.

In his 1920s book History of Western Nebraska, Grant Shumway mentioned two men with the fur company who escorted Scott back to civilization after he became ill. Lucas said he researched the two names and only found one. Four men had the same last name in the fur company records.

Lucas said he would like to see a future for the project.

If Im going to pour myself into this project like Ive done over the years, Ill have to come up with more funding, he said. But I want to thank everyone for their emotional, intellectual and monetary support.
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