A Man Named Grizzly and Grizzly Named Ben

Adams and Ben Franklin

One of the famed mountain men who opened up the west was a hunter and trapper named James Capen Adams. Adams lived in the wilderness, collected live wild animals, and eventually founded his own Museum in San Francisco.

Adams discovered a young motherless grizzly bear in Yosemite. He raised the cub at his home where 'Ben Franklin' became the star attraction of his San Francisco Mountaineer Museum. This image of Ben with his dead mother appeared in The Adventures of James Capen Adams, Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear Hunter, of California.

When Ben died in 1858 there were obituaries in the papers that befitted a head of state. The Evening Bulletin obituary was entitled "Death of a Distinguished Native Californian." It read:

"Ben Franklin, the grizzly bear, the favorite of the Museum man Adams... departed from this mortal existence on Sunday evening, at 10 o'clock. The noble brute, which was captured at the head waters of the Merced river in 1854, had been raised by his master from a cub, and during his life manifested the most indubitable indications of remarkable sagacity and affection. He was ever tame and gentle... although possessed of the size and strength of a giant... He accompanied his master on hunting expeditions… and on two occasions saved his life in long and desperate struggles with savage animals in the wilds. He frequently carried his master's pack, provisions and weapons."

Grizzly Adams TV Show Starring Dan Haggery

Some hundred years after both Ben and James Capen Adams left this earth they reappeared in the popular TV series Grizzly Adams, starring Dan Haggery.