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Speaker offers insights to Hudson Bay impacts on SJ
Wayne Knauf – a board member of the Jedediah Smith Society and a historian – goes over a local map of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Trading Company for members of the Manteca Historical Society. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin
Wayne Knauf never knew that he’d become a lay-expert on famous fur trapper and mountain man Jedediah Smith.
But when he discovered that one of his relatives – Michel LaFramboise – spent time working for the Hudson’s Bay Company and was an early explorer of the French Camp area while in pursuit of fur, the Lodi native couldn’t help but get involved with researching the unique past of both his family and his surroundings.
Knauf was the speaker for the Manteca Historical Society’s monthly program meeting held Thursday night. It drew several dozen people to hear about the impacts that the Husdon’s Bay Company made on communities like French Camp and Woodbridge.
As a board member of the Jedediah Smith Society and a historian, Knauf was quick with his insight about a man he says ventured much further on private donations and funding than the Lewis and Clark Expedition did with the backing of the federal government.
“He was legendary to the Western frontier, and helped further expand the Western United States,” Knauf said. “His impact in the immediate area is unmistakable.”
While working as a fur trapper, explorer, and all around outdoorsman, Smith had his run ins with some of nature’s most unruly characters as well. One example is when he had a portion of his face torn off by a bear and had a friend stitch up the wound.
He would later grow his hair out over that side of his face to cover the scars, Knauf said.
Thursday’s program was just one in a monthly series that the Manteca Historical Society has been hosting inside of their museum headquarters to help educate their members about the history of the region and the people that helped found it.
According to Director Evelyn Prouty, the gatherings are well received and the information presented only accents the collections housed inside of the museum by adding a living element.
“I think that it’s something that we need to do to compliment the museum,” Prouty said. “It helps add something extra for the members, and provides some interesting information for members of the public who wish to attend.”
The program meeting is held on the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. inside of the Manteca Historical Museum, located at 600 W. Yosemite Ave. For more information visit