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Alexander (Alexis, Alex) Godey (or Godare)

On the 2nd expedition, at Fort Hall, when the Delaware hunters left to return home, Frémont signed on Alex Godey as a hunter. Of French Canadian stock, born about 1818, Godey made himself an invaluable member of the expedition--especially on the crossing of the Sierra. Frémont considered Godey the equal in bravery and resourcefulness to Kit Carson and Dick Owens:

"Quick in deciding and prompt in acting, he had also the French élan: "Gai gai, avancons nous"

The three under Napoleon might have become Marshalls, chosen as he chose men. Carson of great courage; quick and complete perception, taking in at a glance the advantages as well as the chance for defeat; Godey, insensible of danger, of perfect coolness and stuborn resolution; Owens, equal in courage to the others, and in coolness equal to Godey, had the coup-d'oeil of a chess-player, covering the whole field with a glance that sees the best move."

Godey was also a member of the 3rd expedition, where he figured prominently in the Conquest of California and was cited for valor at the Battle of San Pasqual. He was the hero of Frémont's disasterous 1948 railroad survey.

In 1853 Godey served as guide to Lt. R. S, Williamson of the Topographical Corps in surveying a railroad route along the 32nd parallel. The cartographer on the survey was Charles Preuss, Godey's companion from Frémont's 2nd and 4th expeditions.

From 1848, he was settled in California, where he became engaged in various enterprises: mining, ranching, guide, Indian Agent.

Frémont: "Godey was a Creole Frenchman of St Louis of medium height with black eyes and silky curling black hair which was his pride. In all situations he had that care of his person which good looks encourage. Once when with us in Washington, he was at a concert; immediately behind him sat the wife of the French Minister, Madame Pageot, who, with the lady by her, was admiring his hair, which was really beautiful, "but," she said, "C'est une perrugue (a wig)." They were speaking unguardedly in French. Godey had no idea of having his hair disparaged, and with the prompt coolness with which he would have repelled any other indignity, turned instantly to say, "Pardon, Madame, c'est bien a moi." The ladies were silenced as suddenly as the touch of a tree trunk silences a katydid."

In The Journals of Theodore Talbot, on July 27, 1843, Talbot recorded on Frémonts 2nd expedition that "We have two new hunters [engaged], Alexis Godare and Charles Town[e]. Thos. Fallon was hired as voyageur. Oscar Sarpy and Godare's squaw and her two children accompaniy us to [Fort] Laramie."

There is no further word about this Indian family. Godey died in 1871 at seventy-one years of age at The Sisters Hospital in Los Angeles, leaving behind a twenty-one years old wife in Bakersfield, CA.

 


©1999, 2007
Bob Graham