Edward Rose, part Cherokee, part Negro and part White, was born in the late 1700s and grew up on the river wharves of Louisville, Kentucky. After he killed a Frenchman in a bar fight, Rose fled from the law by sailing down river to New Orleans. Here he learned how to hunt and trap, but he also learned how to make a living by robbing river travelers from Vieux Carré to Barataria Bay.
By 1806, Rose tired of his life in New Orleans; he longed to see the frontier, especially the Rocky Mountains. He took a job on a keelboat that was traveling up the Mississippi River and then onto the Missouri. For several years Rose worked on river boats as a river guide, poler, deckhand and hunter.
For much of the next twenty-seven years Rose lived among the Arikara and the Crow, who knew Rose as Five Scalps, a fierce warrior and honored war chief.
Those who have read Woman War Chief will recognize Five Scalps as one of the warriors who captured and then mentored Pine Leaf, the girl who grew up to become a Crow chief.
Eventually Rose hired on with the fur-trading companies as a guide and interpreter. He became well known, both as a hot-head and as a courageous fighter. Traveling the Missouri and its tributaries, Rose led many trapping and military expeditions to the mountains.
Although Rose was a controversial figure, he was highly sought when the going got tough along the river. He proved courageous and competent under the most dire circumstances. James Pierson Beckwourth, who also lived among the Crow and knew Ed Rose, later took credit for many of Rose's exploits.