Back to All Events

Over the Santa Fe Trail to Mexico Book Presentation and Signing

  • Historic Truman Courthouse 112 West Lexington Avenue Independence, MO, 64050 United States (map)

****You must RSVP for this event. We have limited seating.******


One of the first physicians to travel the Santa Fe Trail and El Camino Real in 1825, and who was the only medical doctor to examine mountain man Hugh Glass after his near-fatal grizzly bear attack, is the subject of a new book edited by Joy L. Poole, Deputy State Librarian of Santa Fe, NM. 

The book is entitled Over the Santa Fe Trail to Mexico: The Travel Diaries & Autobiography of Dr. Rowland Willard 1825-1828 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015, 279 pp., $21.95 Paperback). The American Association for State & Local History Leadership in History Awards Committee chose Poole’s book as a 2016 Award of Merit winner.

Poole will be speaking about Dr. Willard and signing copies of her book at the Jackson County Courthouse for the Jackson County Historical Society in Independence, Missouri

Few Americans know much about Dr. Willard who set out on the Santa Fe Trail from St. Charles, MO, soon after completing his medical apprenticeship. On his first day on the trail, he met Hugh Glass, who regaled Dr. Willard with stories of his wilderness experiences. 

Dr. Rowland Willard (1784-1894) recalled in his memoir that Glass, subject of the Oscar-nominated hit film, THE REVENANT, (starring Leonardo DiCaprio), had … “large chasms upon right arm and shoulder blade, the crest of which was wanting, also the upper portion of the right thigh…”. Dr. Willard’s exam occurred in May of 1825, at Blue Springs, a well-known mountain man rendezvous site on the Santa Fe Trail. Dr. Willard travelled with Hugh Glass and other mountain men across the Santa Fe Trail. They arrived in Taos, NM in July just in time to celebrate the America’s Independence day. 

Dr. Willard practiced medicine in Taos, visited Santa Fe briefly, and then traveled south to Chihuahua, Mexico. He arrived during a measles epidemic. There Dr. Willard treated patients for two years before returning to MO in 1828.

Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award for portraying Hugh Glass in the Oscar-nominated 2015 hit film, The Revenant.