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Bonanza Character Biographies - Cartwrights

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Ben Cartwright

Bio coming soon!

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Adam Cartwright

Adam Cartwright was born in his grandfather's house in Boston, Massachusetts around 1830. His father Ben was first officer under Captain Abel Stoddard aboard The Wanderer. Adam's mother, Elizabeth Stoddard. was the Captain's daughter. The young couple started their life together and began to dream of going West, of "tall sons and tall trees". Sadly, Elizabeth died shortly after delivering her son, but not before making Ben promise to continue with his dream. With his small son in tow, Ben started his long journey westward.

By the time Adam was five, he and his father had made it as far as Illinois. With very little money and a sick child, Ben stopped in a small town on the banks of the Sangamon River with the hope of finding work to buy medicine. While there, he met Miss Inger Borgstom, who befriended Ben and especially little Adam. The couple soon married and the little family continued the journey west.

When Adam was six, while still traveling west, he was presented with a baby brother named Eric, whom he quickly nicknamed "Hoss". During an Indian attack on their wagon train, Inger placed baby Hoss in Adam's arms and shortly after was killed by an Indian arrow before Adam's eyes. The small boy had lost the only mother he had ever known. A sadly diminished family continued on their trek, ultimately settling near the shores of Lake Tahoe in what was then known as Western Utah. A quiet, serious little boy, Adam helped his father to build their ranch, called the Ponderosa.

On a trip to New Orleans, Ben met and married his third wife, Marie DeMarigny. Marie brought a woman's touch to her new family and the boys had a mother again. When Adam was twelve another brother, Joe, was added to the family. For nearly five years after Joe's arrival life was good for the family. However, shortly before Joe's fifth birthday, Marie fell from her horse and died - another mother lost.

Adam returned to the East to attend college, where he studied architecture. Witty, articulate, and with a love of mathematics, literature, poetry and music, he chose to return to the Ponderosa and his family. This tall, handsome man with black hair, hazel eyes, dimples and a propensity to lean had strong convictions and a keen sense of right and wrong. Responsible, level-headed and prone to keep a tight rein on his emotions, he could appear aloof and arrogant at times as well. Just as often he could let loose and show his dry wit and good humor.

Eventually, Adam's insatiable thirst for knowledge caused him to leave the Ponderosa to explore new destinations around the world.

Written by Bonanza Brand Member jojay
Photo Collage designed by Bonanza Brand Member Littlejoy

Click here to go to Adam's Alcove Forum


Hoss Cartwright

Biography coming soon!

Click Here to visit Hoss' Hangout Forum


Joe Cartwright

Okay...Joseph Francis Cartwright - who is that? First, just let's get rid of the "Joseph" part of my name. I really, really do not like it. It seems whenever it is used someone is angry with me with doing something I really, really did not do! (most of the time). They called me "Little Joe" and that was alright until I decided that Joe was better.

I cannot tell you a lot about the first years of my live only that I was born in 1848 on the Ponderosa Ranch and that I was not a very big baby (hence my name "Little Joe"), loved my mom Marie an awful lot and that she died when I was five after a riding accident. My Pa and brothers Adam and Hoss have been taking care of me ever since. And boy did they do a good job. They were hovering over me something fierce just looking out for me and trying to help me whenever they could (even if I did not want them to, jeez, I am a man...I can do things by myself don't you think?). For a long time I have been trying to prove to those three that I really can do and think for myself.

I have black curly hair (which my Pa says is too long most of the time and I disagree about that wholeheartedly). Hazel green eyes and a nice figure (some of my fans say it's perfect but...being the humble one I would "never" agree with that!). Some say that my laugh is infectious; just have a look at Hoss and the Leprechauns and see if you agree.

I love to play jokes on others and my dear brother Hoss would - most of the time - love to help me. Sometimes it took a little persuasion but...

Horses...I love horses; work with horses, live with horses...just love horses especially my horse Cochise. It has been said that I am fairly good with them (me being humble again).

There is a special place on the Ponderosa I go to whenever I have to think or just want to be alone. Kind of a safe place. It's where my mother was buried. It's a beautiful place looking out over Lake Tahoe.

Okay my family: what to tell about them. Pa is just the best Pa there is in this world. He can be very, very strict but he loves me and my brothers a lot. Adam is the oldest, most reliable brother you can think of. He will always be there for me whenever I need him. He can be an pain in the butt though. Hoss is the one who loves everything about nature and animals. He is so good with animals and always knows what to do when an animal is sick or hurt. He also is a great partner in crime. But just as Pa and Adam will always be there for me if needed.

I have another half brother, Clay Stafford - son to my mother and Jean Pierre. My mother was told that he was dead but he wasn't. He came to the Ponderosa looking for me but could not stay. Boy did that hurt when he went away.

I have had my fair share of very nice ladies I loved but married only one - Alice. Alice was great, she really was and we were going to have a baby! A tiny little Cartwright oh boy...She and the baby died when the house we were building was set on fire. This really devastated me and it took me a long time to get over it. Although I never really got over losing my wife and baby but then who could?

All in all I have had a really good life on the Ponderosa with my family, friends and all the adventures we've gone through. Oh yes, about those adventures...I got hurt a lot but always recovered very nicely with the help of my Pa and brothers.

So that is it for now. If you want to know more about my live on the Ponderosa just have a look at the Bonanza episodes that were made about me and my family. I hope you will love them.

As far as the rest of the story goes, Joe stayed on the Ponderosa with his father and Jamie (adopted by Ben) after his brother Adam left to explore other destinations around the world and Hoss died. He went to battle in the Spanish-American War and was listed as Missing in Action and presumed killed in 1899.

Written by Bonanza Brand Member Kirkan
Photo collage designed by Bonanza Brand Member Littlejoy

Click Here to visit the Joe's Loft Forum


Jamie Hunter Cartwright

Oh Lordy, this is boring. I hate school and I hate doing stupid homework even more. Arithmetic is no problem, with it I'm able to help my Pa doing his paperwork occasionally. And I like reading, the stuff we read at school is quite alright. Of course I like dime novels much better. But - big BUT - writing stories? That's good for nothing. Only girls like it. And now I sit here and have to "Write About Yourself". I'm sixteen years old, how much is there to write about? But I better get started. As Pa would say: "There's no way around it. The sooner you begin the sooner the job is done."

My father, my real father, was Tom Hunter and he was a rainmaker. People think rainmakers are crooks, but he really could make it rain! And I did prove it, when... But first things first. When my father met Elisabeth Callahan in 1864, they fell in love instantly. She was twenty years old and the only daughter of Ferris Callahan, a wealthy ship owner in Boston. Mister Callahan was against her relationship with this moneyless roamer, but Elisabeth and Tom got married against her father's will. My Ma broke with her family and left home to travel with her husband through the country. A year later I, Jamie Hunter, was born.

My parents loved each other and enjoyed seeing many different places together. We lived in a yellow painted wagon back then. It had a sign with Barnaby Garibaldi - Rainmaker - Master of the Atmospheric Arts and such on it, but that was a trick, there was no Garibaldi in the family. People are strange. They don't believe that Tom Hunter, a simple man with reddish hair and a lot of freckles, can make it rain. But they would offer a bunch of money to a foreigner with a funny name and some strange titles for the same reason.

We were not rich but had enough to get along. We were happy - at least for a while. When I was two years old, my mother died of cholera. When I got older I understood how hard my father tried to give me a good and safe home despite the problems that came with his profession. We continued to travel, came through a dozen states and a hundred towns. Sometimes it went well, but more than once people became angry when the rain didn't come fast enough and chased us away. When we were lucky enough to have some rain, people refused to pay my father. More often my father was beaten up and sometimes I received a few bruises, too.

Somewhere in Montana, when the promised rain didn't come, my father got tarred and feathered and I had to watch it. He never recovered from that, but got terminally ill. Dusty Rhoades, a drifter who happened to come along, helped me to look after him and in the end helped to bury him. At that time I was thirteen years old. I had a lot of nightmares afterwards, and I was glad that Dusty didn't leave me alone.

We traveled together and one day we happened to visit Virginia City. The town had been suffering from a three month drought. Optimal conditions - the townspeople were easily talked into paying for a rainmaker. I didn't really care about the - but I wanted, needed to prove that my father really knew how to make rain.

We were given two weeks to make it rain. Dusty and I followed every word in the instructions that my father had written in his journal. Mister Ben Cartwright, a friend of Dusty's, let us stay on his land, the Ponderosa. Mister Cartwright worried about the danger that could come to us from the disappointed crowd if we failed. He tried to talk me out of it. When I refused, he offered his help instead, even though he didn't believe in my father's skills. Sad to say, not a single drop of rain fell.

At the end of the second week, some furious men from Virginia City came to our camp. They knocked Dusty out cold, destroyed the wagon and everything in their reach. Worst of all, they threw my father's journal into the fire. When the mob disappeared, nothing was left but ashes and burnt pages.

It started to rain two hours before our deadline. My father was no liar and here was the proof! Mister Cartwright offered us a place to stay when he saw our destroyed belongings. Dusty agreed to work on the Ponderosa and I agreed to stay for a while, too. I had to do some chores but I wasn't treated like Dusty or any other ranch hand. The Cartwrights made me feel welcome in their home, I got my own room in the big ranch house, had my meals with them and Hop Sing made sure I got always an extra big share of dessert. Even when I messed things really up and broke that gold-plated rifle or when I wrecked that buckboard I wasn't send packing. Instead, Hoss and Joe taught me important things like what to do when you get lost, how to find water or food, catch fish with your hands or rabbits with a sling when you are on your own in the wilderness. And Mister Cartwright explained to me the ranch work, the paperwork and the responsibility that comes with owning a big ranch. He also insisted I go to school. Oh drat!

Gradually, I felt at home on the Ponderosa. I didn't forget my real father, but Mister Cartwright, Hoss and Joe treated me like a member of their family. Deep in my heart I wished it could be. It was like a dream coming true when Mister Cartwright decided to adopt me.

And then, just a couple of days before the adoption became legal, Mister Callahan, my Ma's father, appeared on the Ponderosa. He wanted to take me, his only grandson, to Boston to live with him. I was devastated and so were Joe, Hoss and Mister Cartwright. Being blood kin, he had every legal right to do this, so I had no choice but to go with him. After we left, Mister Callahan and I had a bad accident with the buckboard. We only survived because I had learned so much from the Cartwrights. Mister Callahan then understood how much I belong on the Ponderosa and finally agreed to the planned adoption.

Now I am legally and for all time Jamie Cartwright, son and heir of Ben Cartwright and brother of Joe, Hoss and Adam (who I don't know yet, because he's traveling to see the world). It's still a bit strange to be the fourth Cartwright son, but Mister Cartwright - now - Pa - told me it was an unanimous family decision and I'll get used to it. I hope one day the people in Virginia City and everywhere else will accept it and get used to it, too.

Is this enough about me? I don't know. Maybe I better reread and cross out some of the private thoughts and feelings before I hand it to my teacher. Somehow they are too...private, I guess. But I'm tired now, I'll do it tomorrow.

Written by Bonanza Brand Member Heike
Photo collage designed by Bonanza Brand Member Heike