John (James) "Grizzly" Adams (1812-1860) was a Californian mountain man famous for training grizzly bears and fighting with them in public exhibitions.
Early life in eastern statesEdit
John Adams was a native of Massachussets and was of English ancestry. At the age of fourteen, he apprenticed in footwear manufacturing, though he left that industry at age 21 to become a zoological collector. He hunted and captured animals in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. However, he temporarily returned to his old occupation while recovering from severe back and spine injuries inflicted by a bengal tiger that he was attempting to train.
Life in California and western statesEdit
During the gold rush, James invested over $6000 in footwear to ship to St. Louis, Missouri. However, this investment was lost in a fire, and his father afterwards committed suicide. After this, he left his family and his old life behind to attempt to support himself as a hunter and trapper in California. After a long journey in which he nearly succombed to illnesses, he arrived in California.
John made a living mining, selling game to miners, raising livestock, and fashioning buckskin clothing items (which he himself would wear).
Adams obtained a pair of grizzly cubs from the den of their mother, and trained them himself. One of the two, which he named Benjamin Franklin, later saved his life in a confrontation with a mother grizzly. He would later capture a 1500 pound grizzly, which he would name Samson. He would later put on public exhibitions with the animals that he captured, later joining P.T. Barnum's circus.
When it became clear to him that his health was declining, James decided to save up money for his wife in Massachussets, which he accomplished with his contract with P.T. Barnum and by selling his menagerie.