The Real Grizzly Adams Was A Mountain Main Who Became Famous For Training Grizzly Bears, But He Spent Most of His Life As A Shoemaker

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If you’ve ever heard of Grizzly Adams, your knowledge was most likely gleaned from a film and television series from the 1970s called The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.

Both fictional adaptations are loosely based on a real person named John Adams. In the film and TV show, Adams was depicted as a rugged mountain man who fled to the wilderness after being accused of a murder he didn’t commit. He ends up befriending a bear and is quite the nature lover.

The real Grizzly Adams was also a mountain man who became famous for training grizzly bears, but for most of his life, he was actually a shoemaker. And his dealings with the bears weren’t always so friendly. In fact, the true story is much less pleasant than it has been portrayed.

John Adams was born in Massachusetts in 1812. He grew up in a family of farmers and shoemakers and began his career as a shoemaker when he was just a teenager.

From a young age, Adams had a knack for handling animals. He kept a small herd of animals for a circus for a short while, but after an incident with a tiger that left him severely injured, he quit the circus business.

Upon his recovery, he returned to shoemaking and eventually opened his own business making shoes. He also got married and had two daughters. Life seemed to be going smoothly.

However, in 1849, a fire destroyed his business. Afterward, he headed west to California, following the hordes, hoping to strike it rich in the gold mines. He left his wife and daughters behind, but strangely, none of them were ever mentioned in his promotional materials for his Grizzly Adams character.

In California, he spent the first three years of his time there mining, farming, and investing in real estate. He earned enough money to start another business, this time becoming a landowner. Unfortunately, he frequently fell for scams, and at age forty, he decided to call it quits.

He traveled to the Sierra Nevada, grew a thick beard, dressed in furs, and lived off a diet of mainly berries and nuts. He ended up developing a relationship with local Native American tribes and even hired indigenous boys to help him train wild animals.

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