William Henry Bisbee was born to William and Harriet Bisbee in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on 1840 January 28. In 1853, Bisbee’s
mother died, and left his father to raise five children. Bisbee got an opportunity to learn the dry goods trade in Philadelphia.
Three years later, traveling businessman Fletcher G. Welch visited Philadelphia and hired Bisbee to go west to Ohio with him.
In 1858, gold fever returned to Ohio. Welch had a dream of joining the gold seekers in Colorado, and opening a photography
studio in the burgeoning community. Welch hired Bisbee to accompany him, and together with a couple other men, they set off
in 1859. Their trek was months long and treacherous, and Bisbee began to learn the lay of the land as well as beginning relationships
with Native American tribes and their cultures. By the time Fletcher, Bisbee, and their group reached the Denver area, their
supplies were dwindling and their photography equipment had been ruined. They spent the summer of 1859 panning for gold, but
came up empty handed. After some hunting trips to New Mexico, they sold off their unprofitable claims and returned to Ohio.
Bisbee picked up mercantile trade again, now with experience in travel, the West, and Native American life.
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