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Adventures of the first settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River; edited with historical introduction… Ross, Alexander, 1783-1856 1923

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of the First Settlers
on the Oregon or Columbia
V    W$t ilafeest&e Classics
Adventures of
the First Settlers on the
Oregon or Columbia
The Lakeside
($fye Hafte?ide près», Cfricago
^ $irt)ltëtyerj2i' preface
ONCE again the annual volume of the
Lakeside Classics goes forth with the
Season's good wishes of the publishers
to the ever-increasing number of their friends.
Like most Christmas remembrances, what
started as a temporary act of good cheer has
developed into a friendly habit and brings back
in return many hundreds of letters expressing
good wishes and friendship.
Our editor this year has turned us away from
the wilds of the north woods and faced us toward the Great West and the early history of
its development. Had its size permitted, we*
would have started with a reprint of the
Journals of Lewis and Clark, but this has been
republished so often that it is easily within the
reach of anybody who is interested in the story
of that wonderful expedition. Also Washington Irving's Astoria is so well known that its
reprinting would lose the character of novelty
which the publishers of the Classics have tried
to maintain. Ross's story of the same expedition, approached from an entirely different
angle, is far less familiar, and the publishers
believe it will be a new and interesting book to
most of the recipients of the volume. It certainly is filled with episodes of adventure, and $u6ïi$jerg' preface
the producers of moving pictures have apparently overlooked its possibilities as another
We continue to be indebted to Mr. Milo M.
Quaife for his exhaustive notes and historical
That this volume will find a welcome place
on the book shelf that is gradually growing to
the traditional five feet is the hope of
Christmas, 1923.
m h
Historical Introduction  xi
Preface to Original Edition  xxv
i.  The Genesis of the Expedition    .... 3
2. The Voyage of the Tonquin  16
3. The Hawaiian Islands  34
4. From Hawaii to the Columbia    .... 57
5. The Founding of Astoria  76
6. The Natives of the Lower Columbia      .    . 95
7. From Astoria to the Narrows      .    .    .    . 111
8. From the Narrows to the Okanogan      .    . 131
9. The Destruction of the Tonquin .... 165
10. Across the Continent with Hunt and Mc-
Kenzie J  183
11. The Adventures  of  Ramsey  Crooks  and
John Day  199
12. Operations in the Interior  209
13. Trading Activities on the Spokane and the
Snake  226
14. Stuart's Return to St. Louis and Arrival of
the Beaver  245
15. The Sale of Astoria  262
16. Warlike Measures Afloat and Ashore     .    . 275
17. The End of a Great Adventure   .... 293
<! 1 Content^
18. Manners and Customs of the Okanogan     . 30$
19. Marriage, Medicine Men, and Gamblers     . 322
20. Habitations, Food, and Other Matters  . 337
21. Further Manners and Customs of the Okanogan   349
Index  371
vin Historical Introduction  historical introDnction
THE recital of the adventures of the
Greeks returning from the Trojan wars
gave employment to the pen of Homer
in the Odyssey, one of the few great epics of
world literature. The toils and dangers of the
adventurers whose exploits comprise the theme
of the present volume were not less great than
those of the heroes of Homer's tale, while the
distances traversed by the ancient Trojans,
and the variety of climes and peoples encountered, pale to insignificance in comparison
with those which figure in the tale of their
modern prototypes.
In these modern days of steamship and
aeroplane, of telegraph and radiophone and
newspaper, the "great silent places of earth"
have for the most part ceased to be; while
such as remain have become the familiar
theme of the no less silent drama of the screen.
Gone forever from the world are the days when
the leaders of important commercial ventures
could remain for months or even years in
ignorance of facts so material to them as the
outbreak of important wars. It is but little
over a century since Captain Meriwether
Lewis encountered at Great Falls, Montana,
such a series of adventures as to lead him to
XI pgtoricai Stotrotiuctiott
think he was in an enchanted land; and only
the "prickly pears," piercing his feet through
his thin buckskin moccasins, convinced him
of the reality of his experiences. Today, his
land of enchantment has become the seat of a
thriving commercial city; while the falls he
discovered and named have been harnessed
to drive the most powerful locomotives in
the world over hundreds of miles of mountain
highway. Here indeed is romance, but of a
far different sort than that which attends
the tale of Homer's heroes or of our own
The Astorian enterprise originated in the
fertile brain of one of the greatest business men
America has yet produced, John Jacob Astor.
The son of a village butcher of eighteenth
century Germany, in youth he turned his back
on his native land, and just at the verge of
manhood found his way to America, the land
of freedom and opportunity. For him opportunity presented herself in the guise of the
fur trade. Embarking on this on the humblest
possible scale, in a quarter of a century he
found himself one of the chief factors of the
business in America, while his ambitious
vision anticipated the time when he would
dominate the trade of the United States,
if not, indeed, of the continent. To this end
he endeavored to unite his interests with those
of the great North West Company, which then
shared with the Hudson's Bay Company the
• •
XII pgtoriraï <$ntzttimttitm
control of the fur trade of Canada, besides
operating extensively in the northern half of
the United States. Rebuffed, Astor proceeded
' to organize a new concern, the Pacific Fur
Company, for which he provided the capital,
and into which he drew a number of men who
had been partners in the North West concern.
The design of the Pacific Fur Company was to
gain control of the fur trade of the Pacific
Northwest (into which as yet the Hudson's
Bay and North West companies were but
beginning to enter), and marketing the furs
and other products of that region in distant
China, bring thence to the Atlantic seaboard
the cargoes of tea, damasks, and other riches
of the fabled Orient which the American consumer craved.
Here it is not the purpose to tell the story
of Astoria, but merely to introduce the narrative of one who was an actor in it. In the
execution, the Napoleonic dream of Astor
failed miserably—why, becomes apparent, in
part, upon perusal of Ross's narrative. Soberly
reviewing it after the lapse of nearly a
century, Captain Chittenden, one of the
ablest students of the American fur trade,
concludes that " the general plan upon which
it was based stands above criticism. It was
a project no less feasible than magnificent.
Although its course was one of almost uniform
disaster, its very failures showed that under
normal  conditions its  success  would  have
xni p^torical Storoîiuctiott
excelled the anticipations of its great promoter. He had proposed well, but God and
man, with tempest and war, had disposed in
a way which he could scarcely have imagined
Breeder of strenuous rivalry in its own time,
the Astorian expedition has been the fruitful
source of a lengthened historical controversy.
The Astorians were peculiarly fortunate in
their first historian, for about a quarter of a
century after the occurrence of the events
concerned, Astor enlisted the interest of
Washington Irving in the expedition and
induced him to write its history. To this end,
the journals, diaries, letters, and other records
pertaining to the expedition were placed at
the great author's disposal, who, in addition,
enjoyed the advantage of personal acquaintance and interviews with many of the actors
in it. As a consequence there appeared from
the press of Carey and Lea at Philadelphia,
in 1836, Astoria; or Anecdotes of an Enterprise
beyond the Rocky Mountains. Of the literary
charm and artistry of this work, which has
gone through numerous editions, no question
has ever been raised. The brilliant author
was inspired by a real love of his subject and he
enjoyed the great privilege of almost unlimited
access to original sources of information.
Fortunate indeed is the historian whose task
1 Hiram M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade
of the Far West (New York, 1902), Vol. I, p. 228.
xiv J^ijeftoricaï ^nteolmctiott
of composition is facilitated by the possession
of such advantages.
Over the historical quality of Astoria, however, much discussion has been indulged, and
the validity of the work, and even the motives
which animated its author, have been vigorously assailed. Probably the most noted of
these critics is Hubert Howe Bancroft, the
noted historian of the Pacific Slope of America.
His criticisms are repelled by Chittenden with
a like degree of outspoken vigor, whose conclusions may be adequately summarized in
the statement that Bancroft's "persistent
bias of judgment and his bitter prejudice,
which place him in an attitude of constant
hostility toward Astor and Irving, and lead
him repeatedly into sheer falsifications and
downright slander, are wholly without rational
explanation. " The criticisms advanced against
Astoria may be summarized under three heads:
inaccuracy as to dates and other details; an
undue partiality for Astor which caused Irving
to write an apologia for his friend rather than
an impartial history; and finally an undue
freedom with the literary property of earlier
and less noted writers which is vulgarly characterized as plagiarism. Against all of these
charges Chittenden has made, in behalf of
Irving, a spirited and, as it seems to me,
successful defense. That the work is inaccurate
in certain minor details he admits, as indeed
are all considerable historical compositions;
XV pgtorical ^Htrotiuctiott      1
but he justifies the author in part, and for the
rest denies the existence of any undue degree
of inaccuracy. From the remaining charges
he wholly exculpates Irving. Speaking for
myself, I have undertaken no thorough-going
study of this controversy, but as far as I have
gone into the matter my impressions coincide
with the conclusions of Chittenden, and until
a new and abler critic of Astoria shall appear
I am content to accept his seasoned judgment
in the premises. Although Irving's Astoria is
not now being presented to the reader, it is
a work with which most well-read Americans
are familiar, and it still remains the best secondary history of the expedition, for which
the narrative of Ross constitutes one of our
prime sources of original information.2 The
charges against it have attained widespread
currency, even among professional historians,
and it seems desirable to afford the lay reader
(for whom, primarily, the Lakeside Classics
are intended) this summary view of the
From this brief review of secondary histories of the Astorian expedition we turn to a
consideration of the original sources of information, to which the narrative of Ross
2 For more recent accounts of the Astorian expedition than that of Irving, the reader is referred to
Chittenden's American Fur Trade of the Far West,
Vol. I, pp. 163-246; and Constance Skinner's Adventurers of Oregon (New Haven, 1920), pp. 110-210.
xvi L.
^igtoricaï ^wtro&urtion
properly belongs.8 The martinet soul of choleric Captain Thorn of the ill-fated Tonquin
was sorely vexed by the scribbling propensities of certain of the youthful clerks who were
aboard his ship in the capacity of unwelcome
passengers. But to the industrious pens of
these self-same diarists we owe three extensive and important original narratives of the
expedition, on which, aside from Irving's
Astoria, our knowledge of it chiefly depends.
One of Ross's fellow clerks who went out in
the Tonquin was Gabriel Franchère, a young
French-Canadian from Montreal. He remained with the Astorians until the sale of
the company's effects in October, 1813, after
which, although urged to enter the employ of
the North West Company, he improved the
earliest opportunity to abandon the country,
returning to Montreal in September, 1814.
Soon after, he again entered Astor's employ
and within a few years removed within the
borders of the United States, finally dying at
St. Paul in 1863. In 1820 Franchère published
at Montreal in French his narrative of the
8 Since Ross undertook to write the history of the
entire expedition, while he himself participated in only
a portion of its scenes and events, his book is necessarily in part of a secondary character. Yet even here
his familiarity with persons and places involved, and
his knowledge of difficulties encountered, gives his work
a different character than that attaching to the accounts prepared by historians writing wholly from
written records in a later generation.
xvii pgtorical Storotmctiott
Astorian expedition,—the first by many years
to appear in print. It was reprinted at New
York in 1854 in English translation, and this
edition was reprinted by Dr. R. G. Thwaites
in his important series of reprints of Early
Western Travels (Cleveland, 1904).
The second journal of the Astorians, in
point of time of publication, is Ross Cox's
Adventures on the Columbia River, printed at
New York in 1832. It is a voluminous work
of over 300 finely printed pages, and in addition to the story of the Astorian expedition
proper it recites the experiences of the author
during several succeeding years in the Columbia River region. It is an interesting and
valuable narrative, but so far as known to the
present writer it has never been reprinted.
We come at length to a consideration of the
writings of Alexander Ross, some knowledge
of whose career is essential to the intelligent
understanding of the work we are here reprinting. A native of Scotland, as a young
man Ross migrated to Canada in 1804 in
search of fortune. After several years, the
quest still proving elusive, he eagerly enlisted
as a clerk in the Astorian expedition, which
determined the course of his future life. In
1813, at his post of Okanogan, Ross married
an Indian woman. Unlike many white traders
who entered upon such alliances, Ross remained
permanently loyal to his dusky wife, who long
outlived him, dying at an advanced age at
va pgtaricaï ^ntrotiuttion
Winnipeg in 1886. Upon the break-up of the
Astorian enterprise in 1813 Ross entered the
employ of the North West Company, serving
it and its successor, the Hudson's Bay Company, in the Northwest until the year 1825.
He then returned to the borders of civilization,
locating in the then new Red River settlement
of Manitoba, where now is the city of Winnipeg. This remained his home until his death
in 1856, and during this later period of life
he became both wealthy and locally prominent. He became "the first sheriff of Red
River, became the most trusted trader of the
Selkirk settlers, and was, as well, through
his Indian wife, a potent force among the
native people." Indicative of his interests
in another field is the fact that to him is
ascribed the first establishment of the Presbyterian Church in the Red River Valley.
In the closing years of fife Ross turned his
attention to literature, producing in rather
quick succession three important books. The
first of these, the one we here reprint, was
published in London in 1849. The second,
entitled The Fur Hunters of the Far West,
was published in 1855. It describes the author's years spent in the Rocky Mountain
country in the employ of the North West and
the Hudson's Bay companies. The year following its appearance (and the last of his
life) Ross published a history of The Red River
Settlement, Its Rise, Progress, and Present State
xix pgtorical introduction
It will be seen from this short sketch that
aside from his comparatively brief employment by the Pacific Fur Company, all the
associations of Ross's fife were British and
Canadian. A Scotchman by birth, he remained a British subject to the end of his
life. The North West Company was dominated by Scotchmen, and although some of
its members temporarily affiliated themselves
with the Pacific Fur Company, they speedily
returned to their old allegiance, and to this day
reputable Canadian historians are in doubt
whether they ever intended loyally to ally
their fortunes with those of the American
house of Astor. Whatever the truth may be
as to this point, there was a direct conflict
of interest between the American and Canadian
companies, and the conduct of some of the
Scotch-Canadian partners of Astor—of Mc-
Dougall in particular—seems equivocal enough.
Throughout Ross's narrative there is evidence
of a curious contradiction of sentiment and
motive. At times he is outspoken in his
criticism of his superiors, Canadian as well as
American; yet for the most part he seems
disposed to exculpate his Scotch-Canadian
employers and friends, while criticizing with
unnecessary vigor the conduct of the American
partners, and above all of Astor, the head
of the enterprise. It seems not unreasonable
to suppose that the influence of national
and racial associations prejudiced the author's
XX p^torical Storotiurtiott
mind and swayed his pen in expressing these
judgments. Attention is called to the matter
not with any view of discrediting his narrative,
but merely to assist the reader to assess it
more intelligently at its true worth.
As to that worth there is no room for
question. The Adventures of the First Settlers
on the Oregon is a clear and readable account
of this interesting phase of the history of our
Pacific Northwest, and the narrative will endure as long as men shall continue to feel an
intelligent interest in this subject.
As in the editing of earlier volumes of the
Lakeside Classics, I have endeavored to reproduce faithfully the evident meaning of the
author, but have given no heed to reproducing
the typographical style or mechanical forms
adopted by his original publisher. The latter
was sadly remiss, judged by modern standards,
in his duty to his author, particularly in the
matter of punctuation. The table of contents,
map, chapter heads, punctuation, and other
typographical details, and, on occasion, the
orthography, therefore, may be ascribed to the
present editor.
Milo M. Qtjaife.
Madison, Wisconsin.
xxi 1
1 l
1849.  pttfact to ttye €>rigfnal
HAVING been one of the first commercial
adventurers to the Columbia River, and
having spent fifteen years of my life
traveling among the savage tribes west of the
Rocky Mountains, I was induced, from time to
time, to note down such incidents and opinions
illustrative of savage life and manners as appeared to me either new or interesting.
To the characteristic details of Indian life
I have added that of personal adventure, the
trials and misfortunes which the first adventurers had to undergo among the Indians in that
quarter; connecting therewith an account of
the trade and commerce of the country during
the early days of that bold spirit which animated the first explorers of the Columbia.
These different subjects have been arranged
and linked together in their natural order, so
as to form one complete narrative, embodying
the history of the Pacific Fur Company.
It is not an armchair narrative, derived from
hearsay tales, but the result of practical experience on the spot. From beginning to end
I had personally to act my part in the scenes
described; they passed under my own eyes; and
XXV (©riginai preface
the account altogether may derive more value
from being authentic than from any adventitious embellishment bestowed on it.
While on this part of our subject it may be
observed that there is an error which most
travelers, especially those pioneers who first
penetrate into dark and remote regions, fall
into; they generally run into the extreme, and
spoil a simple story by coloring. Not content
to leave nature in its simple garb, they must
brighten or darken, magnify or diminish, everything they describe, until at last the real likeness of the thing is entirely effaced and truth
itself, by over-refinement, is thrown into the
What belongs to oneself is generally viewed
with a partial eye, and perhaps that partiality
influences my own opinion as to the interest of
the subject before us. In reference to this subject, however, others have written on it as well
as myself. Let our readers, therefore, judge for
In presenting the present work to the public I have no very sanguine expectations. All
I aim at is to lay before my readers a faithful and impartial statement of what took place
during my own times in a quarter hitherto but
little known.
Freedom from imperfection is not to be expected; yet, on the whole, I hope that this
volume will prove to the calm inquirer, in all
matters connected with the subject generally,
•m original preface
a sure and satisfactory guide: allowance being
made for any changes that may have taken
place since this account was written, thirty
years ago.
Red River Settlement, Rupert's Land,
August i, 1846.
xxvu —p Adventures
of the First Settlers
on the Oregon or Columbia
River  Chapter i
WHEN I first conceived the idea of
writing the following narrative my
design was to begin with a brief outline of the discoveries already made on the
coast of the Pacific, from Drake in 1579 to
Vancouver in 17921; or rather, down to the
present time; but on second thoughts I felt
convinced that enough had been done already
in that branch of inquiry; or, at least, that the
further prosecution of it might be better left
to those who aspire to literary fame. Mine is
an humbler ambition—not to figure as an
author, but to record faithfully, as a trader,
the events in which I bore a part; and in so
doing to gratify a desire kindled by an acquaintance with strange scenes and new fields
of action, in a remote country which is still
but little known.
The progress of discovery contributes not a
little to the enlightenment of mankind; for
mercantile interest stimulates curiosity and
1 Captain George Vancouver of the British navy
commanded the Discovery in a voyage of exploration
in the North Pacific which lasted from 1790 to 1795.
He entered the Columbia River, and took possession
of the northwestern coast of America in the name of his
government. &ïejeantia; ïlo$e?
adventure, and combines with them to enlarge
the circle of knowledge. To the spirit of
enterprise developed in the service of commercial speculation, civilized nations owe not
only wealth and territorial acquisitions, but
also their acquaintance with the earth and
its productions. The illustration of these remarks will be found in the following pages.
Mr. Astor of New York, a German by birth
but a citizen of the United States, raised himself by his adventurous and enterprising spirit
from small beginnings to be one of the wealthiest and most eminent merchants in America.
Soon after his arrival in the United States,
about the year 1784,2 he commenced his commercial career in the traffic of furs: at first
on a very narrow scale, but gradually expanding as his means increased. In this way he
made visits to Canada, purchasing furs in
that country and shipping them from thence
to the London market: and it is supposed
that at this period his buoyant and aspiring
mind conceived the vast project of grasping
in his own hands, at some future day, the
whole fur trade of North America.
The valuable furs and peltries scattered
in former days over the extensive forests,
lakes, and rivers of the Canadas, like the rich
mines of Potosi and Mexico, invited many
2 It was m 1783 that John Jacob Astor, the founder
of the family fortune, came to America.
•m &ùtoentureg on tïje Oregon
adventurers. The French, for some time after
settling there, carried on an irregular but lucrative traffic in furs and peltries, with very
little opposition, until the year 1670, when the
Hudson's Bay Company, established by royal
charter, took possession of the territory now
called "Rupert's land," or Hudson's Bay.
The Canada, or as it was more generally
called, the North West Company, was formed
in 1787; and these soon became the two great
rival companies of the North, as we shall
have occasion to notice more fully hereafter.
Next on the theater of action appeared the
Mackinac Company, which swept the warm
regions of the South, as the two others did
those of the wintry North, until the American
Fur Company * established by Mr. Astor in
1809, commenced operations; but he, finding
the Mackinac fur traders somewhat in his
way, bought out that company, and added its
territorial resources in 1811 to those of the
American Fur Company. This body corporate
was entitled the South West, in contradistinction to the North West Company.
Mr. Astor now saw himself at the head of
all the fur trade of the South, and his intention
was to penetrate through the barriers of the
northern company, so as eventually to come
into possession of all the fur trade east of the
Rocky Mountains. With this plan still before
him, he now turned his views to the trade on
the coast of the Pacific, or that new field SUepanfcer &o£g
lying west of the Rocky Mountains, and which
forms the subject of our present narrative.
In this quarter the Russians alone had regular
trading ports, opposite to Kamchatka, where
they still carry on a considerable trade in furs
and sealskins, sending them across the Pacific
direct to China. Their capital is limited, and
their hunting grounds almost entirely confined to the seacoast and islands around their
establishments. The American coasting vessels also frequent this quarter, collecting vast
quantities of valuable furs, which they convey
to the Chinese market. This casual traffic
by coasters yielded to their owners in former
days, by means of the returning cargo, an
average clear gain of a thousand per cent
every second year; but these vessels are not
so numerous of late, nor are the profits thus
made so great as formerly.3
The comprehensive mind of Mr. Astor
could not but see these things in their true
light, and to perceive that if such limited
and desultory traffic produced such immense
profits, what might not be expected from a
well-regulated trade, supported by capital
and prosecuted with system: at all events,
the Russian trader would then be confined
within his own limits, and the coasting vessels
must soon disappear altogether.
8 An excellent sketch of the early trade between the
Northwest Coast and China is contained in Samuel
E. Morison's Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-
T860 (Boston and New York, 1921), Chaps, iv, v, and vi.
m a&toentureg on tïje <©r*gon
Towards the accomplishment of the great
plan which he had in view, Mr. Astor now
set about opening a new branch of the fur
trade on the Pacific, under the appellation of
the Pacific Fur Company, the grand central
depot of which was to be at the mouth of
the Columbia River, the "Oregon" of the
Spaniards.4 By this means he contemplated
carrying off the furs of all the countries west
of the Rocky Mountains; at the same time
forming a chain of trading posts across the
Continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
along the waters of the great Missouri: connecting by this chain the operations of the
South West Company on the east, with that
of the Pacific Fur Company on the west side
of the dividing ridge.
4 The earliest known use of the name Oregon for the
Columbia River was by Major Robert Rogers, the
noted Indian fighter and leader of rangers in the French
and Indian War. Rogers, shortly after that war, went
to England, where among other activities he petitioned
the government for authority to lead an exploring
expedition across the continent of North America from
the upper waters of the Mississippi to the river "Oregon"; having attained the Pacific Coast, it was Rogers'
ambition to search out the long-desired Northwest
Passage around the continent. His project was never
carried out, but the use of the term "Oregon" for the
as yet unknown Columbia River was brought to public
knowledge in Jonathan Carver's famous and widely
read book of Travels, first published in London in 1778.
Where Rogers obtained the term, and what may be
its significance, has been the subject of much futile
discussion by scholars.
i - -
• Eïejtanber M*$$
This grand commercial scheme, appearing
now plain and practicable, at least to men of
sanguine disposition, gave much satisfaction
to the American public, who, from the results
contemplated, became deeply interested in its
success; for all the rich cargoes of furs and
peltries thus to be collected annually over the
vast expanse were to be shipped in American
vessels for the great China mart, there to be
sold and the proceeds invested in a return
cargo of teas, silks, beads, and nankeens, and
other articles of high demand in the United
States; which would not only prevent to some
extent the American specie from going out
of the Union for such articles, but also turn
the barren wilds of the North and Far West
into a source of national wealth. Some, however, of the more sagacious and influential
among the Americans themselves observed
to Mr. Astor at the time that his plan would
be likely to give umbrage to the British, and
arouse them to assert more speedily their
claims of prior discovery to the Oregon quarter, and that such a step would operate against
him. To these suggestions Mr. Astor simply
observed that he had thought of that, but
intended chiefly to employ in his undertaking
British subjects, and that he should on that
account give less offense; "besides," added he,
"the claims of prior discovery and territorial
right are claims to be settled by Government
only, and not by an individual. "
*, $Uitoentute£ on rije #regon
Mr. Astor's plans, hitherto known only to a
few, now began to develop themselves more
publicly. On the first intimation of the scheme,
the North-Westerners took the alarm; for
having already, in the prosecution of their
trade, penetrated to the west side of the
Rocky Mountains, in the direction of New
Caledonia6 and the north branch of the
Columbia, where they expected to reap a rich
harvest, they viewed Astor's expedition to
that quarter with a jealous eye, according to
the old adage that "two of a trade seldom
agree " ; but others again extolled the brilliant
project as the brightest gem in the American
Union, and particularly many of the retired
partners of the North West Company, who,
not being provided for in some late arrangements, had left that concern in disgust, and
therefore were the most likely to oppose with
effect the ambitious views of their former
coadjutors. These were just the men Mr.
Astor had in his eye: men of influence and
experience among savages, and who from
their earlier days had been brought up in,
and habituated to, the hardships of the Indian
trade.  To several of these persons Mr. Astor
6 New Caledonia was the name given by Simon
Fraser in 1805 to the regions of the upper Fraser and
Stuart rivers, now roughly corresponding to British
Columbia. Laterthe Hudson's Bay Company made
this region a subdivision of its extensive territory, with
Fort Alexander, on the Fraser River, as the principal
trading post.
9 Mtxattotv &*$$
disclosed his plans and made proposals, whereupon Messrs. McKay, McKenzie, McDougall,
and Stuart entered into his views and became
partners in the new concern.6 The former
of these gentlemen had accompanied Sir
Alexander Mackenzie7 in his voyages of discovery to the North Polar Sea in 1789 and
to the Pacific in 1793, the narratives of which
are before the public; and most of the others
had equal experience, and were all of them in
some way or other related to the great men
at the head of the North West Company.
Articles of association and copartnership
were therefore entered into and concluded at
New York in the spring of 1810 between those
gentlemen and Mr. Astor, establishing the
firm of the Pacific Fur Company, as already
noticed; to which firm five other partners,
namely, Messrs. Hunt, Crooks, Miller, Mc-
Clellan, and Clarke, were soon afterwards
added. The association was not a joint stock
• The partners and other members of the expedition
mentioned in this paragraph, and those which immediately follow it, will all be encountered—some of
them repeatedly—by the reader in the further course
of the narrative.
7 Mackenzie, one of the most noted of Canadian
explorers, entered the service of the North West Company in 1779, and ten years later descended the Mackenzie River to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. He
soon after began preparations for making a similar
overland journey to the Pacific, and in the summer of
1793 the goal was reached. In 1801 he published an
account of his several explorations.
+-4 SUftentuttj? on tfyt Oregon
concern; Mr. Astor alone furnished the capital,
amounting to $200,000, divided into 100 shares
of $2,000 each, with power to increase the capital to $500,000.
The association was formed for a period of
twenty years, but with this proviso, that it
was to be dissolved if it proved either unprofitable or impracticable, after a trial of
five years; during which trial, however, Mr.
Astor, as stockholder, was alone to bear all
expenses and losses, the other partners giving
only their time and labor. Of the above
shares, Mr. Astor held fifty in his own hands;
Mr. Hunt, as his representative and chief
manager of the business, five; while the other
partners, who were to carry on the trade with
the Indians, were to have four each, in the
event of the business succeeding. The remaining shares were reserved for the clerks, who
joined the concern as adventurers, without
any other remuneration than their chance
of success at the end of the five years' trial.
The only exceptions were Mr. Robert Stuart
and myself, who were to have our promotion
at the end of the third year. From the proportion of interest, or number of shares in
the hands of the stockholder and his representative, it will appear evident that the other
partners, however unanimous they might be,
could never have gained a majority of votes
in any case over those which might have been
by proxy appointed to represent Astor.
\ ^tleranber Jtto&s
At the head depot, or general rendezvous,
was to be stationed Mr. Astor's representative.
The person appointed to this important trust
was Wilson Price Hunt, a gentleman from
New Jersey, who alone of the whole party
had never been engaged in the Indian trade;
yet his active habits, perseverance, and enterprise, soon made good his want of experience,
and enabled him to discharge the duties of
his station. In him was also vested the chief
authority, or, in his absence, in McDougall.
It was therefore to either or to both these
gentlemen that all Mr. Astor's measures were
made known, and all his cargoes consigned.
At the time when these novel schemes were
first agitated I was in Upper Canada; and the
first intimation I had of them was in a letter
from Mr. McKay, the senior partner, requesting
an interview with me at Montreal. To Montreal I accordingly went in the month of May;
and there, for the first time, I saw the gilded
prospectus of the new company, and, accepting
the proposals made to me by Mr. Astor, was
the first to join the expedition; and who at the
time would not have joined it, for, although
the North-yWesterns tried to throw all the
cold water of the St. Lawrence on the project
yet they could not extinguish the flame it
had spread abroad. The flattering hopes and
golden prospects held out to adventurers,
so influenced the public mind that the wonder-stricken believers flocked in from all quar-
12 Slûtoentureg on tïje #regon
ters to share in the wonderful riches of the
Far West.
It need not be wondered at if, under the
influence of such extravagant expectations,
many applicants appeared; but in accordance
with Astor's plan, that the business should
be carried on only by persons of well-tested
merit and experience, for on their habits of
perseverance and enterprise alone rested all
hopes of ultimate success, his assistants were
selected with more than ordinary care, every
poor fellow that engaged being led to believe
that his fortune was already made. Here
Messrs. Franchère, Pillet, McGillis, Farnham,
and McLennan, besides Mr. Stuart and myself,
joined the adventurers, besides five tradesmen
or mechanics, and twenty-four canoe men, the
best that could be found of their classes.
Operations were now deemed requisite
for the accomplishment of the Company's
views; therefore, while one party headed by
Mr. Hunt was ordered to make its way across
the Continent by land, another party headed
by Mr. McKay was to proceed by sea in the
Tonquin,. a ship of 300 tons and mounting
twelve guns. The Tonquin9s course was round
Cape Horn, for the Northwest Coast. The
Columbia River was to be the common
destination of both parties. The land party
at its outset consisted of only seventeen persons, but Mr. Hunt's object was to augment
that number to about eighty as he passed
13 Wlcxattott Mq$$
along, by means of American trappers and
hunters from the South. Here McKenzie
strongly recommended Mr. Hunt to take all
His men from Canada, as too much time
might probably be lost in collecting them
from the South, and besides, Canadians, as
he thought, would answer much better, but
Mr. Hunt adhered to his first plan.
The arrangement of these two expeditions,
in which McKay, whose life had been spent
in voyaging through the Indian countries,
and who was no wise qualified as a merchant,
had resigned the inland voyage to a gentleman
bred to mercantile pursuits, but unacquainted
with this his new mode of traveling, exhibited
such an egregious inversion of the ordinary
rules of prudence as gave rise to much
Matters being so far settled, Mr. Hunt,
who was now seconded by Mr. McKenzie,
left LaChine, nine miles south of Montreal,
with the land expedition in the beginning
of July; and on the twentieth of the same
month the ship party, consisting of three
partners, five clerks, Mr. Stuart, and myself,
five mechanics, and fourteen canoemen, left
Montreal for New York, where we were to
embark. Of this number, however, McKay
and eight of the most expert voyageurs proceeded in a bark canoe through the States.
On all such occasions there is a kind of mutual
understanding between both parties, that is
14 &ùbenture£ on tfyt Oregon
between the canoemen and the canoe, the
former undertaking to carry the latter over
the land part of the journey, while the latter
is bound to carry the others safe over water.
The appearance of this unusual kind of craft
on the American waters, with the cheerful
chantings of its crew, their feathered caps and
sylvan appearance, as they approached the
gay city of New York, attracted such a crowd
of spectators of all classes around them as
left but little space to land; but what was the
astonishment when, in the twinkling of an
eye, two of the crew were seen to shoulder
their craft, capable of containing two tons'
weight, and to convey it to a place of safety
on terra firma. Mr. Astor, who happened
to be present, was so delighted with the
vivacity and dexterity of the two men, that
he gave them an eagle to drink his health;
then turning round, observed to some gentlemen who were standing by, that "six Americans could not do what these two brawny fellows had done, " which observation gave rise to
some further remarks, when Mr. McKay, with
an air of confidence, challenged the swiftest
New York boat for a three-mile race, offering
to bet ten to one on his canoemen, but after
what had been witnessed, no one appeared
disposed to risk his money. It is scarcely
necessary in this place to observe that the
Canadian voyageurs are among the most expert and venturesome canoemen in the world.
is Chapter
ON the sixth of September, 1810, all
hands—twenty-two belonging to the
ship, and thirty-three passengers—being
on board, the Tonquin set sail, and a fresh
breeze springing up, soon wafted her to a distance from the busy shores of New York.
We had not proceeded far when we were
joined by the American frigate Constitution,
which was to escort us clear of the coast.8
On the seventh, in the afternoon, we passed
Sandy Hook lighthouse, and the next day the
Constitution returned, we dismissed our pilot,
and were soon out of sight of land, steering a
southeast course. So far all was bustle and
confusion on deck, and every place in the ship
was in such a topsy-turvy state, with what
sailors call five and dead lumber, that scarcely
anyone knew how or where he was to be
stowed; and it was in settling this knotty
point that the crusty supremacy of the high-
minded Captain was first touched. Captain
Jonathan Thorn had been brought up in the
8 This, of course, was for the purpose of protecting
the vessel from detention by British war vessels, whose
frequent impressment of American seamen gave rise
to the slogan, "Free trade and sailors' rights," the
popular rallying-cry of the War of 1812.
mmmmm &&tocttture£ on tïje Oregon
American navy, had signalized himself, and
upon the present occasion he stood upon his
own quarter-deck. Matters went on well
enough till we came to the mechanics. These
young men had been selected from the most
respectable of their class, had been promised
by their employers situations as clerks in
the trade whenever vacancies should occur,
and in consequence, serving in the two-fold
capacity of clerks and tradesmen, they were
entitled by their engagements, whilst on board
ship, to the same treatment as the other clerks;
but behold, when the Captain came to assign
them their place, it was not in either the
second or the third cabin, no, nor in the
steerage, but before the mast, among the common sailors. In vain did they remonstrate
and equally vain was it for them to produce
copies of their engagements; right or wrong,
forward they must go. But that was not all;
to the grievance of bad accommodations was
added that of an insult to their feelings, by
being compelled, as a further punishment for
their obstinacy, to perform the duties of
common seamen, both by day and night.
After this bit of a row with the Captain, they
applied for redress to the partners on board,
the very persons with whom they had executed
their agreements. The partners interposed,
and in their turn remonstrated with the
Captain, but without effect; he remained inexorable.   Both parties then getting into a
17 lïejcanïier fèo&ï
violent passion, Mr. McKay said that his
people would defend themselves rather than
suffer such treatment. On hearing this, the
Captain, suddenly turning round on his heel,
defied Mr. McKay and his people, adding
that he would blow out the brains of the
first man who dared to disobey his orders on
board his own ship. In the midst of this
scene, Mr. David Stuart, a good old soul,
stepped up and by his gentle and timely
interference put an end to the threatening
This was the first specimen we had of the
Captain's disposition, and it laid the foundation of a rankling hatred between the partners
and himself which ended only with the voyage;
and not only that, but it soon spread like a
contagion amongst all classes, so that party
spirit ran high, the Captain and his people
viewing the passengers as the passengers did
them, with no very cordial feelings. Whilst
these feuds agitated the great folks at the
head of affairs, we amused ourselves with conjectures as to the issue of the contest. A new
leaf was to be turned over; the Captain forbade the partners the starboard side of the
quarter-deck; the clerks, the quarter-deck
altogether; and as for the poor mechanics and
Canadians, they were ruled ever after with a
rod of iron. All this time the Tonquin was
speeding her way proudly over the wide bosom
of the Atlantic, until the eighteenth, in the
~«^ &t>bentute£ on tïje Oregon
morning, when she was struck with a sudden
squall which backed all the sails and placed
her in a critical position for about two minutes;
her stern going down foremost was almost
under water, when all at once she recovered
and relieved our anxiety. The next day two
sails were descried ahead; all hands were
mustered on deck and each had his station
assigned to him in case of coming to close
quarters. For some days past the flying fish
appeared in immense numbers, passing frequently through the ship's rigging, and now
and then falling on the deck. We measured
one of them and found its length to be $}4
inches, circumference of the body 2 inches;
the wings, situate near the gills*, resemble in
texture the wings of the bat, and measure,
when stretched, 5 inches between the tips.
In their flight they generally rise to 15 or 20
feet above the surface of the water, and fly
about 150 yards at a time. As soon as their
wings get dry they fall again into the water,
and only fly to avoid their pursuers. They are
the prey of the dolphin and other large fishes.
On the sixth of October we made one of the
Cape de Verde Islands, on the coast of Africa.
It proved to be Bonavista, in latitude 160
North and longtitude 220 47' West. The land,
covered with a blue haze, appeared broken,
barren, and rocky. The weather was overcast,
and we had heavy rain and thunder at the
time.   Near this place immense shoals of
19 lïejeantiei: fôogg
porpoises kept skipping on the surface of
the water, going southwards. They were said
to prognosticate the near approach of bad
weather. We found the changes of the weather
here very remarkable, from calm to rough,
from foul to fair: clear, cloudy, wet, dry, hazy,
and squally alternately, with the usual finale
of mist and rain, and not unfrequently all
these changes within the twenty-four hours.
After leaving the land, some of the gentlemen
amused themselves one fine evening with
shooting at a mark suspended from the ship's
stern, under which a boat lay secured; soon
afterwards, in the dusk of the evening, smoke
was seen to issue from that quarter; the alarm
of fire was gîven, and in an instant all the
people assembled on deck in a state of wild
confusion, some calling out to broach the
water casks, others running to and fro in search
of water, some with mugs, others with decanters, while the maître de cuisine was robbed
of his broth and dishwater; no one, in the
hurry and bustle of the moment, ever thought
of dipping the buckets alongside. At length,
to the inexpressible joy of all, it was discovered
that the smoke was occasioned only by the
wadding of the guns setting fire to some old
junk which was lying in the boat astern. This
gentle warning, however, put an end to such
sport in future. Some angry words took place
between the Captain and Mr. Fox, the first
mate, on which the latter was suspended from
20 fttitoenture£ on tïje Oregon
duty, and ordered below. No other reason
could be assigned for this act but the friendly
and sociable terms existing between the mate
and the partners; for by this time such was the
ill-feeling between the Captain and the passengers generally, that scarcely a word passed
between them. After three days' confinement
Mr. Fox was reinstated.
Just as we entered the trade winds a sail
appeared about two leagues to leeward; she
gained fast upon us, and dogged us all day,
and the next morning was close under our
stern. She appeared to be an armed brig
and pierced for twenty guns, and looked very
suspicious; very few hands, however, were to
be seen on her deck, which might have been
a maneuver to decoy us alongside. We were
prepared for combat, at least as far as a good
display of numbers on deck; for to our numbers,
and not to either our skill or discipline, did we
chiefly trust, and it is probable this show had
the desired effect, for she soon bore away and
we saw her no more.
On the twenty-fifth, in longitude 260 24'
West we crossed the equinoctial line, and
here the usual ceremony of ducking was performed on such of the sailors as had never
before entered the southern hemisphere. The
heat was intense, the weather a dead calm,
and the ocean smooth as a sheet of glass.
The thermometer stood at 920 in the shade.
In latitude 30  17'  South and longitude
21 gUejeantier fto£g
26° 40' West we spoke a brig from Liverpool
bound to Pernambuco. On nearing this old
and ghastly-looking hulk, which apparently
had but few hands on board, we thought
ourselves exceedingly strong compared to her,
and I suppose from the bold front we presented
put her in as much bodily fear as the armed
brig some days before did us.
On the tenth of November a violent gale
came on which lasted for fifty hours without
intermission and did us considerable damage,
our jib and jib boom being both carried off,
and a leak of considerable extent sprung; but
as it was easy of access, we soon got it stopped
again. In the night of the fourteenth an alarm
of fire was again given; but after much confusion it ended without serious consequences.
Of all calamities that of fire on board ship
seems to be the most terrific and every precaution was taken to prevent any accident of the
kind, for at nine o'clock every night all the
lights were, by the Captain's orders, put out,
and this rule was strictly observed during
the voyage. In these latitudes we saw many
turtles, and caught some of them sleeping on
the water, one of which, weighed forty-five
pounds; we also frequently met with what the
sailors call a Portuguese man-of-war, or sea
bladder, floating on the surface of the waters.
|| In latitude 350 South and 420 17' West we
experienced another tempestuous gale, which
lasted upwards of forty hours.   During this
mm* %tfùtntutt$ on tïje #regon
violent storm the ship labored hard and
sustained damage. Two new leaks were observed, and many of the sails blown to rags.
Although the top and top-gallant masts had
been lowered, six of the guns got dismounted
and kept for some time rolling like thunder on
the deck, and the ship in a constant heavy sea.9
For seventeen hours she scudded before the
wind, and went in that time 220 miles; nothing alarming, however, took place until eight
o'clock in the morning of the second day,
when a very heavy sea broke over the stern,
and filled us all with consternation. This wave,
like a rolling mountain, passed over her deck
ten feet high, and broke with a tremendous
crash about the mainmast; yet, fortunately,
no lives were lost, for on its near approach
we all clung to the rigging, and by that means
saved ourselves. On the weather moderating
the carpenter was soon at work, and succeeded effectually in stopping the leaks. On
the twentieth our allowance of water, already
short by one-half, was lessened to a pint and a
half per man, and on the second of December
to a pint each man per day—then a gallon of
9 The escape of a gun from its lashings while at sea
was one of the most dreaded accidents that could befall
in the old days of sailing ships. One of Victor Hugo's
most dramatic passages is devoted to the narration of
such an incident. It is difiicult to understand, assuming
the correctness of Ross's statement, why he dismisses
the incident so casually, or why Franchère omits to
mention it at all.
23 aïeranùer $o$$
brandy was offered for a pint of fresh water!
But on the fifth, when the joyful sight of land
was announced, a hogshead of water was
offered in return for a pint of brandy. In the
afternoon of this day, we made the northwest point of one of the Falkland Islands, the
rugged and solitary features of which presented
a truly romantic appearance. Near this spot
are three remarkable peaked rocks, or insular bluffs, of considerable height, and nearly
equal distance from each other. We soon
afterwards came close in with the shore, and
beheld a rocky surface with an aspect of hopeless sterility. Here we came to an anchor;
but the Captain, not liking the place, changed
his resolution of taking in water there.
During the few hours, however, which we
spent on shore, while the ship lay at anchor,
one of the sailors, named Johnston, strolled
out of the way. The Captain, nevertheless,
gave orders to weigh anchor, declaring that he
would leave the fellow to his fate; but after
much entreaty he consented to wait an hour,
adding that if the man did not return in that
time he should never more set foot on board
his ship. A party immediately volunteered to
go in search of the lost tar. This party, after
beating about in vain for some time, at last
thought of setting fire to the few tufts of grass
which here and there alone decked the surface.
This expedient succeeded, and the man was
found, having fallen asleep near the water's
mm SttftentutXjtf on t$e Oregon
 ii ..I. i   n. ■ < ■              s
edge. But the hour had unfortunately elapsed,
and the loss of a few minutes more so enraged
the Captain that he not only threatened the
man's life, but maltreated all those who had
been instrumental in finding him. We then
set sail, and had much difficulty in effecting
a passage through a narrow strait which lay
before us, interrupted in many places by ledges
of rocks which were literally covered with seals,
penguins, white and gray geese, ducks, shags,
albatrosses, eagles, hawks, and vultures.
After making our way through this intricate
pass, we again came to anchor.
On the seventh of December we anchored
in Port Egmont Bay for the purpose of taking
in a supply of water. The bay or inlet of Port
Egmont is about a mile long and half a mile
broad, and sheltered from almost every wind
that blows. All hands now were set to work;
two of the mates and two-thirds of the crew,
together with the mechanics and Canadians,
commenced replenishing the water casks,
whilst the other two mates, with the remainder
of the people, were employed on board repairing the rigging, and putting everything in a
fit condition for a new start. During these
operations the partners and clerks, and frequently the Captain also, went sporting on
shore, where wild fowl of all kinds stunned
our ears with their noises, and darkened thé
air with their numbers, and were generally so
very tame, or rather stupid, that we often
MP SMejtan&er Mû$$
killed them with sticks and stones, and the
sailors in their boats often knocked down the
ducks and penguins with their oars in passing
the rocks. The only quadruped we saw on land
was a wolverine of ordinary size, which one of
our party shot.
Our tent was pitched on shore, not above
four hundred yards from the ship; this was our
sporting rendezvous. On the tenth all the
water casks were ready, and the Captain on
going on board that evening said to Mr.
McDougall that the ship would probably sail
the next day. Soon after, however, Messrs.
McKay and McDougall also went on board,
where they passed the night; but coming
ashore the next morning, they told us that the
ship would not sail till the twelfth, and that
all hands were ordered on board on that night.
In the mean time Mr. Farnham, one of the
clerks, had caught a gray goose, which he tied
to a stone between our hut and the landing-
place, in order to have some sport with it.
Soon afterwards, the Captain happening to
come on shore and seeing the goose, he up
with his gun to shoot at it. Thinking, however, that he had missed it, he instantly reloaded and fired again, and seeing the goose
flutter he ran up to catch it, when he discovered
his mistake, on which we all burst out laughing. Nettled at this, he immediately turned
round and went on board again. Meantime,
Messrs. McDougall and Stuart started across
-■■■•■■•■■■■ -,. mru
mm» 3ttrfcenture£ on tty Oregon
the point after game, whilst Mr. McKay,
myself, and some others went up the bay a
little to repair two old graves which we had
discovered in a dilapidated state the day
before. On one of these graves was the following rudely-cut inscription on a board: "William
Stevens, aged twenty-two years, killed by a
fall from a rock, on the twenty-first of September, 1794;" on the other, "Benjamin Peak
died of the smallpox on the fifth of January,
1803, ship Eleonora, Captain Edmund Cole,
Providence, Rhode Island. "
While we were thus eagerly employed, little
did we suspect what was going on in another
quarter; for about two o'clock in the afternoon
one of our party called out, "The ship's off!"
—when all of us, running to the top of a little
eminence, beheld, to our infinite surprise and
dismay, the Tonquin, under full sail, steering
out of the bay. We knew too well the callous and headstrong passions of the wayward
Captain to hesitate a moment in determining
what to do; with hearts, therefore, beating
between anxious hope and despair, some made
for the boat, whilst others kept running and
firing over hill and dale to warn Messrs.
McDougall and Stuart, who had not yet
returned. In half an hour we were all at the
water's edge; the ship by this time was three
miles out at sea. We were now nine persons
on shore, and we had to stow, squat, and
squeeze ourselves into a trumpery little boat
27 ilejeanoer Ho#$
scarcely capable of holding half our number.
In this dreadful dilemma we launched on a
rough and tempestuous sea, and against wind
and tide followed the ship. The wind blowing
still fresher and fresher, every succeeding
wave threatened our immediate destruction.
Our boat already half full of water, and ourselves, as may be supposed, drenched with
the surges passing over her, we gave up all
hope of succeeding in the unequal struggle,
and a momentary pause ensued, when we
deliberated whether we should proceed in the
perilous attempt or return to land. The ship
was now at least two leagues ahead of us, and
just at this time the man who was bailing out
the water in the boat unfortunately let go and
lost the pail, and one of our oars being broken
in the struggle to recover it, our destiny
seemed sealed beyond a doubt. A second
deliberation ended in the resolve to reach the
ship or perish in the attempt. The weather
now grew more violent; the wind increased;
and, what was worst of all, the sun had just
sunk under the horizon and the fearful night
began to spread its darkness over the turbulent deep. Every ray of hope now. vanished:
but so short-sighted is man, that the moment
when he least expects it, relief often comes from
an unseen hand; and such was our case; for
in an instant our hopeless anxiety was turned
into joy by the ship suddenly making down
to our assistance: but here again we had a new
*•*> $ttitoentutr£ on i%t Oregon
danger to contend with, for on coming alongside we were several times like to be engulfed
or dashed to pieces by the heavy seas and
rolling of the ship. The night was dark, the
weather stormy, and death in a thousand
forms stared us in the face. At length, after
many ineffectual attempts and much maneuvering, we succeeded in getting on board,
having been in the boat upwards of six hours.
That the Captain's determination was to
leave us all to our fate, there is not the least
doubt, for he declared so afterwards in a letter written to Mr. Astor from the Sandwich
Islands; and he was only prevented from carrying his purposes into effect by the determined
conduct of Mr. Robert Stuart, who, seizing a
brace of pistols, peremptorily told the Captain
to order about ship and save the boat; or, he
added, "You are a dead man this instant."
During the night the gale increased almost
to a hurricane, so that two of our sails were
torn to pieces, and the side-rails broke by the
laboring of the ship; so we had to lie to under
a storm-staysail for six hours. The reader
is here left to picture to himself how matters
went on after the scene just described. All
the former feuds and squabbles between the
Captain and passengers sank into insignificance compared to the recent one. Sullen
and silent, both parties passed and repassed
each other in their promenades on deck without uttering a word; but their looks bespoke
29 Mtranbtt &t>$$
the hatred that burned within. The partners
on the quarter-deck made it now a point to
speak nothing but the Scotch dialect, while
the Canadians on the forecastle spoke French
—neither of which did the Captain understand;
and as both groups frequently passed hours
together, cracking their jokes and chanting
their outlandish songs, the Commander seemed
much annoyed on these occasions, pacing the
deck in great agitation. Yet all this time the
good ship was hastening on her way.
On the fifteenth we saw Staten Land, whose
forked peaks and rugged surface exhibited
much snow. Soon afterwards, Tierra del Fuego
came into sight, and on the nineteenth, at nine
o'clock in the morning, we had a full view of
Cape Horn. But adverse winds meeting us
here, we were unable to double it before
Christmas morning, and were carried, in the
meantime, as far south as latitude 580 16'.
While in these latitudes, notwithstanding the
foggy state of the weather, we could read common print at all hours of the night on deck,
without the aid of artificial light. The sky
was generally overcast and the weather raw
and cold, with frequent showers of hail and
snow, but we saw no ice. Here the snow birds
and Cape pigeon frequently flew in great
numbers about the ship. After doubling the
Cape, a speckled red and white fish about the
size of a salmon was observed before the ship's
bow, as if leading the way. The sailors gave
it the name of the pilot fish.
30 atrtjentures? on i%t <©regon
With gladdened hearts we now bent our
course northward on the wide Pacific. On
the nineteenth of January, 1811, all hands
passed the ordeal of inspection, or as the
sailors more appropriately called it, the
"general-turn-out"; and as none could guess
what this new maneuver portended, we all
judged it to be a relic of man-of-war discipline
which the Captain introduced merely to refresh
his memory. But the proceeding must be
described: After breakfast, all hands were
summoned on deck, and there ordered to
remain, while the officers of the ship got up
the trunks, chests, hammocks, dirty shirts,
and old shoes belonging to each individual,
on deck. They were then ordered to empty
out the contents of the boxes, examine, and
expose the whole to view, each man's paraphernalia separately. While this was going on
the bystanders were ordered to claim any
article belonging to them in the possession of
another. This declaration cleared up the
matter, and set our judgment right as to the
Captain's motives; but, to the credit of all,
very little stolen property was found—being
only three articles, namely, a pamphlet, a
clasp-knife, and a spoon, and even as to them
the theft was not very well proved; but the
three individuals implicated were nevertheless
condemned, and placed on what is called the
"rogue's mess" for a month.
On the twenty-fourth we again crossed the
wf aiejeanoer Mo$t*
I   >
Equator and entered the northern hemisphere,
and here the pilot fish that joined us $t Cape
Horn disappeared. During a run of upwards
of 5,000 miles our little piscatory pilot was
never once known, by day or night, to intermit
preceding the ship's bow. On the tenth of February the cloud-capped summit of the towering
Mouna Roa—a pyramidal mountain in Owhy-
hee,10 and*the loftiest in the Sandwich Islands
—was visible at the distance of fifty miles.
As we drew near to the land, going at the
rate of eight knots an hour, a Canadian lad,
named Joseph La Pierre, fell overboard.11
This was an awkward accident, as all eyes
were at the time gazing with admiration on
the scenery of the land. In an instant, however, the sails were backed, boats lowered,
and everything at hand thrown overboard to
save the drowning man; but before he could be
picked up the ship had distanced him more
than a mile, and when the boatswain reached
the ship with the body, the Captain, in his
usual sympathizing mood, peremptorily ordered him about to pick up all the trumpery
which had been thrown into the water. This
took a considerable time.   The apparently
10 This name was formerly employed as an alternative for Hawaii, the largest island of the group which
Captain Cook, their discoverer, named the Sandwich
11 For further discussion of this affair see post, 170.
Franchère describes the accident without criticism of
Captain Thorn,
32 &btoentute£ on tiye Oregon
lifeless body was then hoisted on board and
every means tried to restore animation, and
at last, by rolling the body in warm blankets
and rubbing it with salt, the lad recovered,
after being thirty-eight minutes in the water,
and though unable to swim.
Mr. Fox, who had again fallen under the
Captain's displeasure, and who had been,
in consequence, off duty for a week past, was
reinstated this morning. This was no sooner
done, however, than the fourth mate, the
Captain's own brother, was put into irons.
The young Thorn was as factious and morose
a subject as his brother, with this only difference, that he had less power to do mischief.
He had maltreated one of the passengers,
and the Captain in order to show impartiality,
awarded him the above punishment.
sM Chapter 3
ON the thirteenth of February the ship
anchored in Karakakooa Bay, in the
island of Owhyhee, and within a mile
of the place where the unfortunate Captain
Cook fell in 1779. The Sandwich Islands are
eleven in number, and lie between the nineteenth and twenty-second parallels of north
latitude, and the meridians of 151 and 160
west longitude. The climate is warm but
healthy, and more temperate and uniform than
is usual in tropical countries, nor is it subject
to hurricanes and earthquakes. In their customs and manners the natives' resemble the
New Zealanders, and like them are a warlike people. All classes tattoo their bodies.
Karakakooa Bay is about a mile or more in
extent, but sheltered only on one side, which
presents a high rugged front of coral rock,
resembling a rampart or battery in the bottom
of the bay, facing the ocean, with two bushy
trees on it waving in the wind like flags. The
shores, with the exception of the above-
mentioned rock, are everywhere low, with here
and there clumps of coconut and other trees,
which give a pleasing variety to the scene;
and the land, rising gradually as it recedes to a
mmt &îftenture£ on i%t Oregon   |
considerable height, looks down over intervening hill and dale upon the delightful little
villages of Kakooa and Kowrowa.
We were now near land, and the Captain's
conduct to both passengers and crew had
fostered a spirit of desertion among the sailors;
Jack Tar, slipping off in the night, was seen
no more. This new feature in our affairs
portended no good, but brought about a
sweeping change, for the Captain had now no
resource but to place his chief confidence in
those whom he had all along maltreated and
affected to despise. In this state of things,
the natives were employed to bring back the
deserters. One Roberts, a Yankee, was confined below; Emms, a Welshman, was tied up
and flogged; Johnston, an Englishman, was
put in irons; and Anderson, the boatswain,
could not be found. Storming and stamping
on deck, the Captain called up all hands; he
swore, he threatened, and abused the whole
ship's company, making, if possible, things
worse. I really pitied the poor man, although
he had brought all this trouble upon himself.
With all his faults he had some good qualities,
and in his present trying situation we all forgot
our wrongs, and cheerfully exerted ourselves
to help him out of his difficulties. The clerks
were appointed to assist the officers, and the
Canadians to supply the place of the sailors
in keeping watch and doing the other duties
on shore; while the partners, forgetting former
r aieran&er ï&o&S
animosities, joined hand in hand with the
Captain in providing for the wants of the ship.
Order being now restored, the partners and
some of the clerks went occasionally on shore;
meantime, the natives having paid several
visits on board, and sounded our bargain-
making chiefs (for they are shrewd dealers),
a brisk trade commenced in plantains, bananas,
yams, taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, sugar
canes, coconuts, and some pork, the principal
productions of the place. We had not been
long here, however, till we learned that the
chief of the island resided at a place called
Tocaigh Bay, some distance off, and as we
expected a further and better supply there, we
sailed for that place, where we had an interview with the governor, a white man, named
John Young. He received us kindly, and with
every mark of attention peculiar to an Indian
chief; showed us his wife, his daughter, his
household, and his vassals—a strange assemblage of wealth and poverty, filth and plenty.
Governor Young was a native of England,
and belonged to an American ship, the Eleanor,
of which he was boatswain. That vessel,
happening to touch at the Sandwich Islands
in 1790, left Young there to shift for himself;
but his nautical skill and good conduct soon
recommended him to the reigning prince,
Tammeatameah, and he is now viceroy or
governor of Owhyhee. He is about sixty
years of age, shrewd and healthy, but from
mm* $UibentUK£ on i%t Oregon
his long residence among the natives he has
imbibed so much of their habits and peculiarities that he is now more Indian than white
We had not been long at the village of
Tocaigh when Governor Young gave us to
understand that no rain had fallen in that
neighborhood during the four preceding years,
and that in consequence provisions were very
scarce, and good water was not to be found
there at any time. These details were discouraging. The natives, however, began a
brisk trade in fruits and vegetables. We, however, were desirous of purchasing hogs and
goats, but were told that the sale of pork
had been prohibited by royal proclamation,
and that without the permission of the king,
who resided in the island of Woahoo, no subject
could dispose of any. Anxious to complete our
supplies, we immediately resolved on sailing to
On the twenty-first of February we cast
anchor abreast of Ourourah, the metropolis of
Woahoo, and royal residence of Tammeata-
meah.12 This is the richest and most delightful
12 This monarch, whose name is usually spelled
Kamahameha,was originally a chief of northern Hawaii.
In 1791, as the result of nine years of warfare, he became master of the entire island. Four years later he
conquered Maui and Oahu*, the decisive battle being
fought in a valley back of Honolulu, and united the
entire group of islands under one strong government.
He died in 1819.
37 &ïejeantier Mt*$$
spot in the whole archipelago. On our approaching the land, two white officers came on
board; the one a Spaniard, secretary to His
Majesty; the other a Welshman, the harbor
master. The latter brought us safe to anchor
in Why tee te Bay, for which service he demanded, and was paid, five Spanish dollars.
The royal village of Ourourah is situated
at the foot of a hill facing the ocean, on the
west side of the island. The houses were 740
in number, and contained 2,025 inhabitants.
It will appear strange that so few inhabitants
should require so many houses, but this will
be explained hereafter. Behind the village
there is an extensive field under fine cultivation
—perhaps it may measure 500 acres; but its
appearance was greatly injured by irregular
inclosures, or rather division lines, formed of
loose stones running on the surface, intersecting and crossing each other in every
possible direction, for the purpose of marking
the plot claimed by each individual or family.
The whole is cultivated with much skill
and industry, the soil teemingly rich, and the
labor abundant, with here and there small
water courses and aqueducts.
Immediately after coming to anchor, Captain Thorn, accompanied by Mr. McKay
and Mr. McDougall, waited on His Majesty,
Tammeatameah, and after dining with him
returned on board. In the afternoon His
Majesty and three queens returned the visit
mm* W   Çtifotntmtg on tïje Oregon fjjt
in state, the royal canoe being paddled by
sixteen chiefs, with the state arm chest on
board. Their Majesties were received with
becoming ceremony. The flag was displayed,
and three guns fired. The King was conducted to the cabin, followed by his valet,
who held a spitting box in his hand, but the
queens preferred remaining on deck. While
here, they very unceremoniously disrobed
themselves, plunged overboard, and after swimming and sporting for some time in the water,
came on board again and dressed themselves,
after which they joined Tammeatameah in the
cabin, where they did ample justice to a good
collation, drank two bottles of wine, and left
us, apparently well pleased with their reception. The chiefs remained all the time in
the royal yacht alongside.
Tammeatameah appeared to be about fifty
years of age, straight and portly but not
corpulent; his countenance was pleasing but
his complexion rather dark, even for an
Indian. He had on a common beaver hat,
a shirt, and neckcloth, which had once been
white, a long blue coat with velvet collar, a
cassimere vest, corduroy trousers, and a pair
of strong military shoes. He also wore a long
and not inelegant sword, which he said he got
from his brother, the King of England.
During these interviews and visits of ceremony, the Captain had broached the subject
of pork to His Majesty, but this was not the
I Eïeranber &$$$
work of an hour nor of a day. Pork was a royal
monopoly, and the King well knew how to turn
it to his advantage on the present occasion,
for several conferences were held, and all the
pros and cons of a hard bargain discussed,
before the royal contract was concluded.
Time, however, brought it about, and the
negotiation was finally closed. The king furnished the requisite supplies of hogs, goats,
poultry, and vegetables, for all of which a
stipulated quantity of merchandise was to be
given in return. Business now commenced,
and good water and provisions were brought
to the ship in boatloads; and as the King
further pledged himself that if any of the
sailors deserted he would answer for their safe
delivery again, this assurance, although the
words of kings are not always sacred, had
the effect of relieving the passengers from
the ship's duties. We were, therefore, enabled
to go on shore.
On walking up to the royal city on our first
landing, we were met by two of the queens,
accompanied by a page of honor. They were
all three walking abreast, the page in the
middle, and holding with his two hands a
splendid parasol of the richest silk, measuring
six feet eight inches in diameter. From this
umbrella hung twelve massy tassels, weighing
at least a pound each. The ladies were very
communicative, land after detaining us for
nearly half an hour, passed on. We were soon
m gttifoetttureg on tïje Oregon
afterwards introduced to His Majesty, who
honored us with a glass of arrack. Here we
had a full view of the royal palace, the royal
family, and the life guards. The palace consisted of thirteen houses, built so as to form a
square. All the buildings of the country are a
kind of wicker work, remarkable for their
neatness and regularity; and although slender,
they appear to be strong and durable; nor did
there appear any difference between the royal
buildings and the other houses of the place,
the square and courtyard excepted. The King
occupied three of these houses, one for eating,
another for sleeping, and the third for business,
which may be called the audience-chamber.
Each of the queens occupied three also, a
dressing house, a sleeping house, and an eating
house. His Majesty never enters any of the
queens' houses, nor do they ever enter any of
his: in this respect, they are always tabooed.
There is a house set apart exclusively for
their interviews. The established custom of
the land is that each family, however poor,
invariably occupies three nouses; and this
will explain why so many houses are required
for so few inhabitants.
We also saw two of the King's sons. One
of them was in disgrace and tabooed; that
is, interdicted from speaking with anybody.
We were next shown the life guards, consisting of forty men, accoutered in something of
the English style, with muskets, belts, and
4i Hejtantia: fôogg
bayonets; but their uniform was rather old and
shabby. The parade ground or place where the
guards were on duty, lay just behind the royal
buildings, on a level, square green spot made
up for the purpose, and on which were placed
eighteen four- or six-pounders, all mounted,
and apparently in good order.
From this we proceeded to a long, narrow
range of buildings, where a number of artisans
were at work, making ship, sloop, and boat
tackling, ropes, blocks, and all the other
et ceteras required for His Majesty's fleet;
while others again, in a wing of the same
building, were employed in finishing single
and double canoes, the former for pleasure,
the latter for commercial purposes. At the
far end of the buildings was erected a blacksmith's forge, and beyond that, in a side room,
lay the masts, spars, and rigging of a new
schooner. The tools used by the different
workmen were very simple, slender, few, and
ill-made, and yet the work done by them surprised us.
While in the workshops, Mr. McKay took
a fancy to a small knot of wood, about the size
of a pint-pot, and asked it of the King. His
Majesty took the bit of wood in his hand, and
after looking at it for some time, turned round
to Mr. McKay and said, "This is a very
valuable piece of wood. It is the finest koeye,
and what my Erees make their pipes of; hjit
if you will give me a new hat for it, you c^
*mm I &tftentut*£ on tïje Oregon
have it." Mr. McKay smiled, adding, "Your
Majesty shall have it." So the bargain was
struck, but Mr. McKay fell in love with no
more of His Majesty's wood. They make
their own cloth, cordage, salt, sugar, and
The King then invited us to dine, and entering a small wretched hovel adjoining the
workshop, we all sat down round a dirty little
table on which was spread some viands, yams,
taro, coconuts, pork, breadfruit, and arrack.
The King grew very jovial, ate and drank
freely, and pressed us to follow his example.
After dinner he apologized for the meanness
of the place by saying that his banqueting
house was tabooed that day. Dinner being
over, he brought us to see a large stone building, the only one of the kind on the island,
situated at some distance from the other
buildings; but he showed no disposition to
open the door and let us have a peep at the
inside. He said it cost him $2,000. We were
told the royal treasure and other valuables
were kept there. Behind the stone building,
and near the shore, was lying at anchor an old
ship of about 300 tons, with some guns and
men on deck, said to be the guard-ship. From
this position we saw sixteen vessels of different
sizes, from 10 to 200 tons, all lying in a wretched
and ruinous condition along the beach, come
on shore, others afloat, but all apparently
useless. The day being excessively warm, and
43 ^Lltxantxtt J5o£g
our curiosity gratified, we took leave of His
Majesty, and stayed for the night at the house
of a Mr. Brown, an American settler, who had
resided on the island for several years.
After passing an agreeable night, we bade
adieu to our hospitable landlord, and set out
to view the morals, or places of public worship.
Of these, Ourourah alone contains fifteen of
this description. Each morai is composed of
several miserable-looking little huts, or houses.
Passing by all the inferior ones, we at length
reached the King's morai, or principal one of
the place. It consisted of ûve low, gloomy,
and pestiferous houses, huddled close together;
and alongside of the principal one stood an
image made of wood, resembling a pillar about
twenty-eight feet high, in the shape of the
human figure, cut and carved with various
devices; the head large, and the rude sculpture
on it presenting the likeness of a human face
carved on the top with a black cowl. About
thirty yards from the houses, all round about,
was a clear spot called the "King's tabooed
ground," surrounded by an enclosure. This
sacred spot is often rigorously tabooed and set
apart for penance. It was while walking to
and fro in this solitary place that we saw
Tatooirah, the King's eldest son, who was in
disgrace. We were prevented from entering
within the enclosure. At the foot of this pagod,
or pillar, were scattered on the ground several
dead animals.  We saw four dogs, two hogs,
44 fttibenture£ on tïje Oregon
five cats, and large quantities of vegetables,
almost all in a state of putrefaction, the whole
emitting a most offensive smell. On the death
of the King or other great eree, and in times of
war, human sacrifices are offered at the shrine
of this moloch. The word taboo implies interdiction or prohibition from touching the place,
person, or thing tabooed; a violation of which
is always severely punished, and at the King's
morai, with death.13
We had scarcely got on board late in the
evening when a tremendous gale from the
land arose and drove the ship out to sea. The
fury of the tempest and darkness of the night
obliged us to cut cable, and two days were
spent in anxious forebodings ere we got back
again into harbor.
On the twenty-seventh all our supplies,
according to contract, were safe on board,
and from the good conduct of the sailors since
our arrival, we began to think matters would
go on smoothly for the future; but these hopes
were of short duration—the hasty and choleric
disposition of the Captain destroyed our anticipations. Two of the boats had gone on shore
18 The curious and widespread custom of taboo
among savages is exhaustively treated by James G.
Frazer in The Golden Bough (London, 1911), Vol. III.
The taboo in the Hawaiian Islands was abolished in
September, 1819, by Kamahameha II, shortly after
the accession of that monarch to the throne. This act
paved the way for the coming of the missionaries
shortly afterward to Hawaii;
45 &fejeantier J5o££
as usual, but on the call for all hands to embark, three of the sailors were missing. The
boats, without waiting a moment, pushed off,
but had reached the ship only fifteen minutes
before two of the three men arrived in an
Indian canoe. Notwithstanding the anxiety
they manifested, and their assurance that the
boat had not been off five minutes before
they were on the beach, they were both tied up,
flogged, and then put in irons. But this was
not all. Emms, the third man, not being
able to procure a canoe, had unfortunately to
pass the night on shore, but arrived the next
morning by sunrise. On arriving alongside,
the Captain, who was pacing the deck at the
time, did not wait till he got on board, but
jumping into a boat which lay alongside, laid
hold of some sugar canes with which the boat
was loaded, and bundled the poor fellow,
sprawling and speechless, at his feet; then
jumping on deck, kept pacing to and fro in no
very pleasant mood; but on perceiving Emms
still struggling to get up, he leaped into the
boat a second time, and called one of the
sailors to follow him. The poor fellow, on
seeing the Captain, called out for mercy; but
in his wrath the Captain forgot mercy, and
laid him again senseless at his feet, then
ordered him to be thrown overboard! Immediately on throwing the man into the sea,
Mr. Fox made signs to some Indians, who
dragged him into their canoe and paddled off
, -S -! $Utoentttre£ on tfyt Oregon
to shore. During this scene no one interfered,
for the Captain, in his frantic fits of passion,
was capable of going any length, and would
rather have destroyed the expedition, the ship,
and everyone on board than be thwarted in
what he considered as ship discipline, or his
nautical duties.
In the evening, the Indians, brought Emms
again to the ship. Here the little fellow implored forgiveness, and begged to be taken on
board; but the Captain was inexorable, and
threatened him with instant death if he attempted to come alongside. Soon after, he
made his appearance again, but with no
better effect. He then asked for his protection,
a paper which the American sailors generally
take with them to sea. The Captain returning
no answer to this request, Mr. Fox contrived
to throw his clothes and protection overboard
unperceived, at the same time making signs
to the Indians to convey them to Emms. On
receiving the little bundle, he remained for
some time without uttering a word; at last,
bursting into tears, he implored again and
again to be admitted on board, but to no
purpose. All hopes now vanishing, the heroic
little fellow, standing up in the canoe, took
off his cap, and waving it in the air with a
sorrowful heart, bade adieu to his shipmates.
The canoe then paddled to land, and we saw
him no mpre.
Our supplies being now completed,  the
47 âïejtanùer Mo$$
King came on board before our departure;
and it will appear something surprising that
the honest and wealthy monarch, forgetting
the rank and pomp of royalty, should at his
parting visit covet everything he saw with us.
He even expressed a wish to see the contents
of our trunks; he begged a handkerchief from
me, a penknife .from another, a pair of shoes
from a third, a hat from a fourth, and when
refused, talked of his kindness to us on shore;
while, on the other hand, he bowed low when
presented with a breastpin, a few needles, or
paper-cased looking-glass, not worth a groat.
Even the cabin boy and cook were not forgotten by this "King of the Isles," for he
asked a piece of black-ball from the former,
and an old saucepan from the latter. His avarice and meanness in these respects had no
bounds, and we were all greatly relieved when
he bade us farewell and departed.
Having taken leave of His Majesty, I shall
now make a few remarks on the habits, dress,
and language of the natives.
The Sandwich Islanders are bold swimmers
and expert navigators. They are like ducks in
the water. As soon as we had cast anchor in
Karakakooa Bay, the natives, men and women
indiscriminately, flocked about the ship in
great numbers: some swimming, others in
canoes, but all naked, although the Tonquin
lay a mile from the shore. Few, however,
being admitted on board at once (probably a
■a* aventures? on tfje Oregon
necessary precaution) the others waited very
contentedly, floating oh the surface of the
water alongside, amusing themselves now and
then by plunging and playing round the ship.
After passing several hours in this way, they
would then make a simultaneous start for the
land, diving and plunging, sporting and playing, like so many seals or fish in a storm all the
way. During their gambols about the ship, we
often amused ourselves by dropping a button, nail, or pin into the water; but such was
their keenness of sight and their agility, that
the trifle had scarcely penetrated the surface
of the water before it was in their possession;
nothing could escape them. On one occasion,
a ship's block happening to fall overboard,
one of the natives was asked to dive for it in
thirty-six feet of water;.but after remaining
three minutes and fifty seconds under water
he came up unsuccessful. Another tried it
and succeeded, after being under water four
minutes and twelve seconds: the blood, however, burst from his nose and ears immediately
Their voyaging canoes are made to ride on
the roughest water with safety by means of a
balance or outrigger, shaped like a boat's keel
and attached to the canoe at the distance of
five feet by two slender beams. The canoe
goes fully as well with as without the balance,
skipping op the surface of the water as if no
such appendage accompanied it.   When the
É aUejtantier J5o£g
swell or surge strikes* the canoe on the balance
side, the weight of the outrigger prevents its
upsetting, and when on the opposite side the
buoyancy of the outrigger, now sunk in the
water, has the same effect.
The climate here is so very mild and warm
that the natives seldom wear any clothing,
and when they do, it is of their own manufacture and extremely simple. The inner bark
of different trees (the touta in particular) is
prepared by beating it into a pulp or soft thin
web, not unlike gray paper, called tappa. The
common people wear it in this raw state, but
the better sort paint it with various colors,
resembling printed cotton. Tappa is as strong
as cartridge paper, but not so thick, and can
answer for clothing only in dry climates. The
common dress of the men consists of a piece
of this tappa, about ten inches broad and nine
feet long, like a belt, called maro. The maro
is thrown carelessly round the loins, then
passed between the thighs, and tied on the
left side. The females wear the pow, or pou, a
piece of tappa similar to the maro, only a little
broader, and worn in the same manner; but
the queens had on, in addition to the pow,
a loose mantle or shawl thrown round the
body, called kihei, which consisted of twenty-
one folds of tappa; yet when compressed it did
not equal in thickness an English blanket.
The kihei is generally worn by persons of
distinction, but seldom of more than two or
mm &btoenturejï on tïjc Oregon
three folds, excepting among the higher ranks,
Like a Chinese mandarin, a lady here makes
known her rank by her dress, and by the number of folds in her kihei. .
A custom prevalent here, and which is,
I believe, peculiar to these islanders, is, that
the women always eat apart from the men, and
are forbidden the use of pork. The favorite
dish among all classes is raw fish, mashed or
pounded in a mortar. Considering their rude
and savage life, these people are very cleanly.
The houses of all classes are lined and decorated
with painted tappa, and the floors overspread
with variegated mats. The women are handsome in person, engaging in their manners,
well featured and have countenances full of
joy and tranquility, but chastity is not their
The King's will is the paramount law of
the land, but he is represented as a mild and
generous sovereign, invariably friendly to the
whites whom choice or accident has thrown
on these islands. To those who behave well
the King allots land, and gives them slaves
to work it. He protects both them and their
property, and is loth ever to punish an evildoer. Near Ourourah we saw eight or ten
white men comfortably settled, and upwards
of thirty others naked and wild among the
natives, wretched, unprincipled vagabonds,
of almost every nation in Europe, without
clothing and without either house or home.
liii âlejcan&er fôogg
I have already noticed the principal esculent
vegetables growing here. There are also some
beautiful kinds of wood; that called koeye, of
which the war spears or ahooas are made,
and sandalwood, are the kinds most highly esteemed among the natives for their hardness
and polish. The coconut, in clumps here and
there, forms delightful groves, and these are
often frequented by the industrious females
for the purpose of manufacturing and painting
tappa—preferring the cool shade and open air
to the heat of a dwelling house.
At the place where Captain Cook was
killed,14 which we visited soon after our arrival, were still a few old and shattered coconut trees, pierced with the shot from his ships;
and a flat coral rock, at the water's edge, is
still pointed out to strangers as the fatal spot
where he fell.
"Captain James Cook rediscovered the Hawaiian
Islands in the course of an exploring expedition which
was begun in 1776 and lasted until his death three years
later. Having explored a portion of the northwest
coast of America, Cook returned to the islands to pass
the winter of 1778-79, and in February sailed for
Kamchatka. An accident caused him to return to
Hawaii, where in a quarrel occasioned by the theft of
one of his boats by the natives, Cook and some of
his followers were slain, February 14,1779. A complete
account of this last voyage of Cook was published in
1784, the first two volumes being written by the dead
leader, and the third by Captain James King. To
Cook's discoveries was due the opening of the profitable trade in furs and other products between the
Pacific Coast of America and China.
M &î*toentuce£ on tïje Oregon
The chief weapon used in their warfare is
the pahooa or spear, twelve feet long, polished,
barbed and painted. It is poised and thrown
with the right hand with incredible force and
precision. His Majesty ordered fifty men to
parade one day, and invited us to see them
exercising, and we were certainly much gratified and astonished at their skill in throwing
and parrying the weapons. After going through
several maneuvers, the King picked four of
the best marksmen out, and ordered one of
them to stand at a certain point; the three
others at a distance of sixty yards from him,
all armed with pahooas, and facing one another.
The three last mentioned were to dart their
spears at the single man, and he to parry them
off or catch them in passing. Each of the three
had twelve pahooas, the single man but one.
Immediately after taking his position the
single man put himself upon his guard by
skipping and leaping from right to left with
the quickness of lightning. The others, equally
on the alert, prepared to throw. All eyes were
now anxiously intent; presently one threw his
spear, at a short interval the next followed,
as did the third—two at a time next threw,
and then all three let fly at once, and continued to throw without intermission until the
whole thirty-six spears were spent, which
was done in less than three minutes. The
single man, who was placed like a target to be
shot at, defended himself nobly with a spear
» lïcranôer JÎO&0
he had in his hand, and sent those of his
opponents whistling in every direction, for
he had either to parry them off like a skillful
boxer or be run through on the spot; but such
was the agility with which he shifted from one
position to another, and managed the spear
with his right hand, that he seemed rather
to be playing and amusing himself than
seriously engaged, for twice or thrice he dexterously seized his opponent's spear at the
moment it came in contact with his own,
allowing at the same time the latter to fly off;
and this shifting or exchanging spears is
thought a masterpiece, being the most difficult
and dangerous maneuver in the whole affair,
and it is only an adept that can attempt it
with safety. When all was over, the man had
received a slight wound on the left arm, but
it happens not infrequently that he who is
thus placed is killed on the spot; for if he
allows the spear to be knocked out of his hand
without catching another, he is almost sure
to fall, as the throwers are not allowed to stop
while a pahooa remains with them, and every
weapon is hurled with a deadly intention.
The King is said to be a dexterous pahooa
man himself, and it was his prowess and
knowledge in war, and not his rank, that made
him sovereign of these islands. After the
people had dispersed, the man who had acted
so conspicuous a part in the exhibition just
described came to us and offered to risk his
54 £Uibenture£ on tty Oregon
life for a handkerchief, at the distance of
twenty yards, telling us to select the best
marksman among us, with a fowling piece
either with shot or ball, and he would stand
before him and either win the handkerchief
or lose his life! We were not disposed, however, to accept the challenge, but gave the
fellow a handkerchief and sent him about his
All the islands of this group excepting one
have acknowledged Tammeatameah as their
King, and the jarring interests and feuds of the
different islands have at last sunk into a system of union which, if we may judge from
appearance, renders this country, under its
present government, an earthly paradise,
and the inhabitants thereof as free from care,
and perhaps as happy, as any on the globe15—
but mark! civilized man has now begun to
trade on its innocent and peaceful soil: there
is an end, therefore, to all primeval simplicity
and happiness.
These people speak with a quickness which
almost baffles imitation, and in very many
instances, the same word is repeated twice.
The language is bold and masculine, and,
although the accent be clear, is very difficult to
be attained by the whites.
16 This opinion is directly opposed to the observations of Franchère, who compares the bulk of the
population to "the Helots among the Lacedemonians,"
and moralizes on the reasons for their degradation.
55 fflejcan&er &*$$
We shall now take our leave of the friendly
and hospitable natives of these islands. On
His Majesty leaving the ship, a boat was sent
to shore for a few remaining articles. Meantime, preparations were made for weighing
anchor. The wind from the sea, beginning to
blow, retarded the boat's return, and the delay
so nettled our worthy Commander that he
gave orders to set sail and the ship stood out to
sea, leaving the boat to follow as she could.
The wind soon increasing to a gale, the boat
had to struggle with a tempestuous sea for
six hours, during which time we expected
every minute to witness her destruction. The
Falkland Island affair was yet fresh in our
minds, and this seemed to equal, if not surpass
it in cruelty. At length, however, the ship
bore down, and with much difficulty rescued
the boat's crew from a watery grave.
*wm Chapter 4
ON the first of March, 1811, we took our
departure from the Sandwich Islands,
steering direct for Columbia River.
The first step taken after leaving the land
was to liberate those who had been put in
irons. Poor fellows! they considered themselves particularly unfortunate and doubly
punished, in not having been partakers of the
pleasures which the others had enjoyed on
shore. All our thoughts now tended to one
point; and the hope of soon terminating a long
and irksome voyage made us forget all former
misunderstandings, and a few days passed in
harmony and good fellowship, until the twelfth,
when the weather becoming squally and cold,
with snow and sleet, the partners wished to
serve out some articles of clothing to the passengers, who now began to feel very sensibly
the change of climate; but the Captain considered the broaching of a bale or box as an
encroachment on his authority and a violation
of ship rules, and therefore steadily opposed it.
This gave rise to bad blood on both sides.
The partners swore they would have such
articles as they wanted; the Captain swore
they should touch nothing. The dispute went
ii ii'iÉiiwÉiïTi'	 &ïerantier Mt*$$
to such a height that pistols were resorted to,
and all, from stem to stern, seemed for a
moment involved in the flame of civil war;
but on this, as on a former occasion, Mr.
David Stuart and some others interfering
brought about a reconciliation. The partners
desisted; the Captain kept his bales and boxes
untouched; and the men froze in the icy rigging
of the ship until many of them were obliged
to take to their hammocks.
On the fourteenth, in latitude 370 North and
longitude 1370 West, a violent gale came on,
which increased almost to a hurricane and
lasted four days without intermission, during
which we were much puzzled in maneuvering
the ship. She had sprung a leak, but not seriously. Sometimes we had to let her scud
before the wind; sometimes she lay to; sometimes under one sail, sometimes under another,
laboring greatly; and much anxiety was felt
by all on board. During this storm, almost
everything on deck was carried off or dashed
to pieces. All our live stock were either killed
or washed overboard, and so bad was the
weather, first with rain and then with sleet,
hail, frost, and snow, which froze on the rigging as it fell, that there was no bending either
ropes or sails, and the poor sailors were harassed to death. But bad and harassing as this
state of things was, it proved to be only the
beginning of our troubles, and a prelude to far
greater trials.   During this gale we sustained
mm $ttftentute£ on tïje Oregon
considerable damage in the sails and rigging,
besides the loss of our live stock, and other
things on board.
On the twenty-second of March we came
in sight of land, which on a nearer approach
proved to be Cape Disappointment,16 a promontory forming the north side of the great
Oregon or Columbia River. The sight filled
every heart with gladness, but the cloudy and
stormy state of the weather prevented us
seeing clearly the mouth of the river, being
then about ten miles from land. The aspect of
the coast was wild and dangerous, and for
some time the ship lay to, until the Captain
could satisfy himself that it was the entrance
of the river; which he had no sooner done than
Mr. Fox, the first mate, was ordered to go
and examine the channel on the bar. At half
past one o'clock in the afternoon Mr. Fox
left the ship, having with him one sailor, a
very old Frenchman, and three Canadian lads,
unacquainted with sea service—two of them
being carters from La Chine, and the other a
Montreal barber.   Mr. Fox objected to such
16 In August, 1775, Bruno Heceta, a Spanish explorer, discovered a bay at the mouth of the Columbia
with indications of a river, and these he noted on his
charts. In July, 1788, John Meares, an English explorer, who was familiar with Heceta's charts, rounded
the cape and searched for the river. Not finding it,
he called the bay "Deception," and the cape "Disappointment." The latter name has ever since persisted.
59 lïejeantier Mû$$
hands, but the Captain refused to change
them, adding that he had none else to spare.
Mr. Fox then represented the impossibility
of performing the business in such weather
and on such a rough sea, even with the best
seamen, adding that the waves were too high
for any boat to live in. The Captain, turning
sharply round, said: "Mr. Fox, if you are
afraid of water, you should have remained at
Boston." On this, Mr. Fox immediately
ordered the boat to be lowered and the men
to embark. If the crew was bad, the boat
was still worse, being scarcely seaworthy, and
very small. While this was going on, the
partners, who were all partial to Mr. Fox,
began to sympathize with him, and to intercede with the Captain to defer examining the
bar till a favorable change took place in
the weather. But he was deaf to entreaties,
stamped, and swore that a combination was
formed to frustrate all his designs. The partners' interference, therefore, only riveted him
the more in his determination, and Mr. Fox
was peremptorily ordered to proceed. He, seeing that the Captain was immovable, turned
to the partners with tears in his eyes and
said: "My uncle was drowned here not many
years ago, and now I am going to lay my
bones with his." He then shook hands with
all around him, and bade them adieu. Stepping into the boat, "Farewell, my friends!"
said he, "we will perhaps meet again in the
next world." And the words were prophetic.
—*wà &&toenture£ on tïje Oregon
The moment the boat pushed off, all hands
crowded in silence to take a last farewell of
her. The weather was boisterous and the sea
rough, so that we often lost sight of the boat
before she got ioo yards from the ship; nor
had she gone that far before she became
utterly unmanageable, sometimes broaching
broadside to the foaming surges and at other
times almost whirling round like a top, then,
tossing on the crest of a huge wave, would
sink again for a time and disappear altogether.
At last she hoisted the flag; the meaning could
not be mistaken; we knew it was a signal of
distress. At this instant all the people crowded
round the Captain and implored him to try
and save the boat, but in an angry tone he
ordered about ship, and we saw the ill-fated
boat no more.
Mr. Fox was not only an able officer but
an experienced seaman, and a great favorite
among all classes on board; and this circumstance, I fear, proved his ruin, for his uniform
kindness and affability to the passengers had
from the commencement of the voyage drawn
down upon his head the ill-will of his Captain;
and his being sent off on the present perilous
and prolonged undertaking with such awkward and inexperienced hands, whose language
he did not understand, is a proof of that ill-
The mouth of the Columbia River is remarkable for its sand bars and high surf at
61 ilejean&er fôog£
all seasons, but more particularly in the spring
and fall, during the equinoctial gales. These
sand bars frequently shift, the channel of
course shifting along with them, which renders
the passage at all times extremely dangerous.
The bar, or rather the chain of sand banks,
over which the huge waves and foaming
breakers roll so awfully, is a league broad, and
extends in a white foaming sheet for many
miles, both south and north of the mouth of
the river, forming as it were an impracticable barrier to the entrance, and threatening
with instant destruction everything that comes
near it.
The river at its mouth is 4^ miles broad,
confined by Cape Disappointment on the
north, and Point Adams17 on the south. The
former is a rocky cliff or promontory, rising
about 500 feet above the level of the water,
and covered on the top with a few scattered trees of stinted growth; the latter, a
low sandy point, jutting out about 300 yards
into the river, directly opposite to Cape
Disappointment. The deepest water is near
the Cape, but the channel is both narrow and
intricate. The country is low, and the impervious forests give to the surrounding coast a
wild and gloomy aspect.
17 Point Adams was named by Captain Robert Gray,
master of the Columbia, on May 18,1792. Later in the
same year Vancouver recognized the name* in describing the cape, which has ever since retained Captain
Gray's designation.
62 atibentureg on tïje Oregon
After the Captain ordered about ship, as
already stated, some angry words passed
between himself and Mr. Mumford, the second officer, which ended in the latter being
ordered below. After passing an anxious night,
the return of day only increased the anxiety,
and every mind was filled with gloomy apprehensions. In the course of this day Mr.
Mumford resumed his duties, and the ship
kept beating off and on till noon, when she
cast anchor in fourteen fathoms, about a mile
from the breakers; and the weather becoming
calm, Mr. McKay, Mr. David Stuart, myself,
and several others, embarking in the long boat,
which was well manned and armed, stood in
for the shore, in hopes of being able to effect a landing. On approaching the bar, the
terrific chain of breakers, which keep rolling
one after another in awful succession, completely overpowered us with dread; and the
fearful suction or current became so irresistibly great that before we were aware of it
the boat was drawn into them and became
unmanageable. At this instant Mr. Mumford,
who was at the helm, called out, "Let us turn
back, and pull for your lives. Pull hard, or you
are all dead men!" In turning round, the
boat broached broadside to the surf and was
for some time in imminent danger of being
engulfed or dashed to pieces; and although
every effort was made, we were for twelve
minutes struggling in this perilous situation,
63 lïeranïia: &o$$
between hope and despair, before we got clear,
or the boat obeyed the oars; and yet we were
still two miles from the shore, and had it not
been for the prompt and determined step
taken by Mr. Mumford the boat and every
soul on board of it must have inevitably perished. Notwithstanding our narrow escape,
we made a second and third attempt, but
without success, and then returned to the ship.
The same afternoon Mr. Mumford was sent
more to the south to seek for a channel, but
to no purpose. The charts were again examined, and every preparation made for next
On the twenty-fifth, early in the morning,
Mr. Mumford was again ordered in another
direction to go and discover, if possible, the
proper channel and ascertain the depth of
water. After several trials, in one or two of
which the boat got again entangled in the
breakers and had a very narrow escape, she
at length came into 2}^ fathoms of water, and
then returned; but the Captain seemed to
hint that Mr, Mumford had not done so much
as he might have done, or in other words, he
was dissatisfied. Indeed, his mind was not
in a state to be satisfied with anything, not
even with himself; but his officers, whatever
they did, were sure to displease.
The Captain now called on Mr. Aikens, the
third mate, and ordered him to go and sound
in a more northerly direction, and if he found
***m $Uftenturc£ on tfye Oregon
sH fathoms water, to hoist a flag as a signal.
At three o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. Aikens,
together with the sailmaker, armorer, and two
Sandwich Islanders, embarked in the pinnace
and proceeded to the bar. As soon as the
pinnace hoisted the flag agreed upon, the ship
weighed anchor and stood in for the channel.
At the same time the boat, pulling back from
the bar, met the ship about half a mile from
the breakers, in eight fathoms, going in with a
gentle sea breeze, at the rate of three knots an
As the ship and boat drew near to each
other, the latter steered a little aside to be
out of the snip's way, then lay upon her oars in
smooth water, waiting to be taken on board,
while the ship passed on within twenty yards
of them in silence; nor did the people in the
boat speak a single word. As soofî as the ship
had passed, and no motion made to take the
boat on board, everyone appeared thunderstruck, and Mr. McKay was the first that
spoke. "Who," said he, "is going to throw a
rope to the boat?" No one answered; but by
this time she had fallen astern, and began to
pull after the ship. Everyone now called
out, "The boat! the boat!" The partners, in
astonishment, entreated the Captain to take
the boat on board, but he coolly replied, "I
can give them no assistance. " Mr. Mumford
said it would not be the work of a minute.
"Back a sail,  throw a rope overboard!"
65 âïcjcanùer Mû$$
cried the partners; the answer was, "No, I
will not endanger the ship." We now felt
convinced that the boat and crew were devoted to destruction. No advice was given
them, no assistance offered, no reasons assigned for risking so cruel a sacrifice of human
life, for the place where the boat met us
was entirely free from the influence of the
breakers, and a long way from the bar. It
is impossible, therefore, to account for the
cool indifference manifested towards the fated
boat and her crew, unless we suppose that
the mind of the Captain was so absorbed in
apprehension and perplexed with anxiety at
the danger which stared him in the face, and
which he was about to encounter in a few
minutes, that he could not be brought to
give a thought to anything else but the safety
of the ship.
During this time the ship was drawing nearer
and nearer to the breakers, which called our
attention from the boat to look out for our
own safety; but she was seen for some time
struggling hard to follow the ship as we entered
the breakers, the sight of which was appalling.
On the ship making the first plunge, every
countenance looked dismay, and the sun, at
the time just sinking below the horizon, seemed
to say, "Prepare for your last." Mr. Mumford was now ordered to the masthead to
point out the channel. The water decreasing
from 8 to 2)4 fathoms, she struck tremen-
___^^^__^_^_-__-__^____ SHùtoentureg on tï>e <©regon
dously on the second reef or shoal, and the
surges, breaking over her stern, overwhelmed
everything on deck. Everyone who could,
sprang aloft and clung for life to the rigging.
The waves at times broke ten feet high over
her, and at other times she was in danger of
foundering. She struck again and again, and,
regardless of her helm, was tossed and whirled
in every direction, and became completely
unmanageable. Night now began to spread
an impenetrable gloom over the turbulent
deep. Dark, indeed, was that dreadful night.
We had got about a mile into the breakers,
and not far from the rocks at the foot of
the Cape, against which the foaming surges
wreaked their fury unceasingly. Our anxiety
was still further increased by the wind dying
away, and the tide still ebbing. At this instant
some one called out: "We are all lost! the
ship is among the rocks!" A desperate effort
was then made to let go the anchors; two
were thrown overboard; the sails kept flapping
for some time: nor was the danger diminished
by learning the fact that the surf dragged ship,
anchors, and all, along with it. But there is a
limit to all things: hour after hour had passed,
and terrific was the sight; yet our faithful
bark still defied the elements, until the tide
providentially beginning to flow, just at a time
when it appeared as if no earthly power could
save us from a watery grave, brought about
our deliverance by carrying the ship along
S 07 I
! âïejcanùa: Magg
with it into Baker's Bay,18 snug within the
Cape, where we lay in safety.
Here are two points for consideration: first
the time of sounding, and secondly, the time
chosen for entering the breakers. In respect
to both, there was an unwarrantable precipitation—a manifest want of sound judgment.
We made the land in the middle of a storm,
the channel and coast both unknown to us,
and without either pilot or guide: under such
circumstances it was evident to all that no
boat could live on the water at the time, far
less reach the shore; and our entering the
breakers at so late an hour, the sun at the
time not being fifty minutes above the horizon,
the channel also being unexplored, was certainly a premature and forlorn undertaking.
But there existed such disunion—such a spirit
of contradiction on board—that the only
wonder is how we ever got so far. But I must
now inform the reader what became of the
In the morning of the twenty-sixth, Captain
Thorn, Mr. McKay, myself, and a few men
left the ship to take a view of the coast from
the top of Cape Disappointment, to try if we
could learn any tidings of the boats. We had
^18 Baker Bay (or Baker's Bay) was named in 1792 by
Lieutenant W. R. Broughton, whom Captain Vancouver had sent to explore the Columbia River.
Broughton found an American sloop anchored in the
bay, which he named in honor of its commander,
Captain Baker.
68 &trtjenture£ on tï>e Oregon
not proceeded fifty yards when we saw Stephen
Weeks, the armorer, standing under the
shelter of a rock, shivering and half dead with
cold. Joy for a moment filled our hearts,
and running up to the poor fellow we inquired
for his comrades, but could get no satisfactory
reply. We then brought him to the ship, and
after giving him some food, resumed our
inquiries; but he appeared so overpowered
with grief and vexation that we could scarcely
get a word from him; in short, he seemed to
reproach us bitterly. "You did it purposely,"
said he, in great agitation. But after some
time, and when we had first told him what we
had suffered, he seemed to come round, as if
his feelings were soothed by the recital of our
dangers; and then he related his melancholy
tale in the following words:
"After the ship passed us we pulled hard to
follow her, thinking every moment you would
take us on board; but when we saw her enter
the breakers we considered ourselves as lost.
We tried to pull back again, but in vain,
for we were drawn into the breakers in spite of
all we could do. We saw the ship make two or
three heavy plunges, but just at this time we
ourselves were struck with the boiling surf,
and the boat went reefing in every direction.
In an instant a heavy sea swamped her; poor
Mr. Aikens and John Coles were never seen
after. As soon as I got above the surface of
the water, I kept tossing about at the mercy
69 I Slïejtanîier Hogg
of the waves. While in this state I saw the
two Sandwich Islanders struggling through the
surf to get hold of the boat, and being expert
swimmers they succeeded. After long struggles
they got her turned upon her keel, bailed out
some of the water, and recovered one of the
oars. I made several attempts to get near
them, but the weight of my clothes and the
rough sea had almost exhausted me. I could
scarcely keep myself above water, and the
Owhyhees were so much occupied about the
boat that they seemed to take no notice of
anything else. In vain I tried to make signs
and to call out; every effort only sank me
more and more. The tide had drawn the boat
by this time out to sea, and almost free of the
breakers, when the two Islanders saw me,
now supporting myself by a floating oar, and
made for me. The poor fellows tried to haul
me into the boat, but their strength failed
them. At last, taking hold of my clothes in
their teeth, they fortunately succeeded. We
then stood out to sea as night set in, and a
darker one I never saw. The Owhyhees, overcome with wet and cold, began to lose hope,
and their fortitude forsook them, so that they
lay down despairingly in the boat, nor could I
arouse them from their drowsy stupor. When
I saw that I had nothing to expect from them,
I set to sculling the boat myself, and yet it
was with much ado I could stand on my legs.
During the night one of the Indians died in
70 &îitentiu:e£ on tï>e #regon
despair, and the other seemed to court death,
for he lost all heart, and would not utter a
single word. When the tide began to flow I
was roused by the sense of my danger, for the
sound of the breakers grew louder and louder,
and I knew if I got entangled in them in my
exhausted state all was lost. I therefore set to
with might and main, as a last effort, to keep
the boat out to sea, and at daylight I was
within a quarter of a mile of the breakers and
about double that distance short of the Cape.
I paused for a moment; 'What is to be done?'
I said to myself. 1 Death itself is preferable to
this protracted struggle. ' So, turning the head
of my boat for shore, I determined to reach
the land or die in the attempt. Providence
favored my resolution. The breakers seemed
to aid in hurrying me out of the watery element, and the sun had scarcely risen when the
boat was thrown up high and dry on the beach.
I had much ado to extricate myself from her,
and to drag my benumbed limbs along. On
seeing myself once more on dry land I sat
down and felt a momentary relief, but this was
followed by gloomy reflections. I then got into
the boat again, and seeing the poor Islander
still alive, but insensible, I hauled him out of
the boat and with much ado carried him to the
border of the wood, when, covering him with
leaves, I left him to die. While gathering the
leaves I happened to come upon a beaten path
which brought me here."   Such was Weeks'
/v, &fejean&er ïlo&s
melancholy story: himself and the Indian
being the only survivors of the last boat, it
follows that eight men in all lost their lives in
entering this fatal river.
In the evening the Sandwich Islander who
died in the boat was interred on the beach,
where the boat came ashore. The other poor
fellow was carried to the ship and afterwards
On the twenty-seventh I was appointed to
head a party to go in search of the boat that
was lost on the twenty-second; but after
examining the coast for upwards of forty miles
southwards, not a trace of our missing friends
was discovered, nor did we ever learn any
tidings of them.
We had on this occasion a specimen of
Chinook navigation. While crossing the river
in an Indian canoe, on our way back to the
ship, we were suddenly overtaken by a storm,
and our craft was upset in the middle of the
passage. The expertness of the natives in their
favorite element was here put to the test.
At this time we were upwards of two miles
from the shore, while eight persons unable to
swim were floating in every direction; coats,
hats, and everything else adrift, and all depending on the fidelity of the four Indians who
undertook to carry us over; yet, notwithstanding the roughness of the water and the
wind blowing a gale at the time, these poor
fellows kept swimming about like so many
72 U     &îtoentureg on tï>e Oregon
fishes, righted the canoe, and got us all into
her again, while they themselves stayed in the
water, with one hand on the canoe and the
other paddling. In this manner they supported
themselves, tossing to and fro, until we bailed
the water out of our frail craft and got
under way again. Here it was that the Indians showed the skill and dexterity peculiar
to them. The instant the canoe rose on the
top of a wave, those on the windward side
darted down their long paddles to the armpits
in the water to prevent her from upsetting;
while those on the lee side at the same moment
pulled theirs up, but kept ready as soon as
the wave had passed under her to thrust them
down again in a similar manner, and thus by
their alternate movements they kept the
canoe steady, so that we got safe to shore
without another upset, and with the loss of
only a few articles of clothing; but we suffered
severely from wet and cold.
During this time the Indians from the
village which we had left, seeing our critical
♦situation, had manned and sent off two canoes
to our assistance. One of the boats from the
ship was also despatched for the same purpose;
but all would have proved too late had we not
been fortunate enough of ourselves to weather
the storm.
The Indians all the time never lost their
presence of mind. Indeed, it was supposed,
from the skillful manner in which they acted
u 1 &ïejcatifca ftogg
afterwards, that the sordid rascals had upset
us willfully in order to claim the merit of having
saved us, and therewith a double recompense
for their trip. The boat which had put off
to our assistance was upset on her return to
the ship; and had it not been for the two
Indian canoes that followed us, its crew would
have all perished.
On the fourth of April the long boat was
swamped off Chinook Point, where ten persons
were saved by Comecomly and his people.
On this occasion, however, many articles of
value were lost, so that every hour admonished
us that we stepped on insecure and slippery
ground. Every succeeding day was marked by
some new and alarming disaster; but a few
remarks will now suffice to conclude the
account of our voyage, in which we sailed,
according to the ship's log, 21,852 miles.
Captain Thorn was an able and expert
seaman; but, unfortunately, his treatment of
the people under his command was strongly
tinctured with cruelty and despotism. He
delighted in ruling with a rod of iron. His
officers were treated with harshness, his
sailors with cruelty, and everyone else was
regarded by him with contempt. With a
jealous and peevish temper, he was easily
excited, and the moment he heard the Scotch
Highlanders speak to each other in the Scottish
dialect, or the Canadians in the French language, he was on his high horse, making every-
74 &itoentui;e$ on tt)e #regon
one on board as unhappy as himself; and this
brings us down to the period of our departure
from the ship, a period to which we all anxiously looked forward; and the satisfaction
both felt and expressed was universal when
the general order was read that all the passengers should prepare to land on the following
75 Chapter 5
FOR some days much time was spent in
examining both sides of the inlet, with
the view of choosing a suitable place to
build on. At last it was settled that the new
establishment should be erected on the south
side, on a small rising ground situate between
Point George on the west and Tonquin Point
on the east, distant twelve miles from the
mouth of the inlet or bar.
On the twelfth of April, therefore, the whole
party, consisting of thirty-three persons, all
British subjects excepting three (eleven Sandwich Islanders being included in that number)
left the ship and encamped on shore.
However pleasing the change, to be relieved
from a long and tedious voyage and from the
tyranny of a sullen, despotic captain, the day
was not one of pleasure but of labor. The
misfortunes we had met with in crossing the
fatal bar had deadened all sensibility, and cast
a melancholy gloom over our most sanguine
expectations. In our present position everything harmonized with our feelings to darken
our future prospects. Silent and with heavy
hearts we began the toil of the day, in clearing
away brush and rotten wood for a spot to
encamp on.
76 &ttomtut££ on tïje Oregon
The person who now assumed the command
was the deputy agent, Duncan McDougall
Esq., an old Northwestern, who in the absence
of Mr. Hunt held the first place in Mr. Astor's
confidence. He was a man of but ordinary
capacity, with an irritable, peevish temper,
the most unfit man in the world to head an
expedition or command men.
From the site of the establishment the eye
could wander over a varied and interesting
scene. The extensive sound, with its rocky
shores, lay in front; the breakers on the bar,
rolling in wild confusion, closed the view on
the west; on the east, the country as far as the
Sound had a wild and varied aspect; while
towards the south, the impervious and magnificent forest darkened the landscape as far
as the eye could reach. The place thus selected
for the emporium of the West might challenge
the whole continent to produce a spot of equal
extent presenting more difficulties to the settler: studded with gigantic trees of almost
incredible size, many of them measuring fifty
feet in girth, and so close together, and intermingled with huge rocks, as to make it a work
of no ordinary labor to level and clear the
ground. With this task before us every man,
from the highest to the lowest, was armed with
an axe in one hand and a gun in the other:
the former for attacking the woods, the latter
for defense against the savage hordes which
were constantly prowling about.  In the garb
* gUejtattfto: $o&$
of laborers, and in the sweat of our brow, we
now commenced earning our bread. In this
manner we all kept toiling and tearing away
from sunrise till sunset, from Monday till Saturday; and during the nights we kept watch
without intermission.
On our first arrival the natives of the place
appeared very friendly towards us, owing, no
doubt, to some trifling presents which they
now and then received from us; but still,
circumstances occurred occasionally which
indicated treachery, and kept us always on
our guard, against the more distant tribes
in particular, for their attitude was invariably
shy and hostile. Our ill opinion of them proved
but too true in the sequel; but we had all along
received every assurance of fidelity and protection from Comecomly, the principal chief
of the place, and in him we reposed much
The frame of a coasting vessel, to be named
the Dolly, was brought out on board the
Tonquin, and as soon as we had got a spot
cleared, the carpenters were set to work to fit
her up for immediate service; but the smallness
of her size, of only thirty tons, rendered her
useless for any purpose but that of navigating
the river.
It would have made a cynic smile to see
this pioneer corps, composed of traders, shopkeepers, voyageurs, and Owhyhees, all ignorant
alike in this new walk of life, and the most
78 H     &tibenture£ on tïje #regon
ignorant of all, the leader. Many of the party
had never handled an axe before and but few
of them knew how to use a gun, but necessity,
the mother of invention, soon taught us both.
After placing our guns in some secure place
at hand, and viewing the height and the
breadth of the tree to be cut down, the party,
with some labor, would erect a scaffold round
it; this done, four men—for that was the number appointed to each of those huge trees—
would then mount the scaffold, and commence
cutting at the height of eight or ten feet from
the ground, the handles of our axes varying,
according to circumstances, from two and a
half to five feet in length. At every other
stroke a look was cast round to see that all
was safe; but the least rustling among the
bushes caused a general stop. More or less
time was thus lost in anxious suspense. After
listening and looking round, the party resumed
their labor, cutting and looking about alternately. In this manner the day would be spent,
and often to little purpose, as night often set
in before the tree begun with in the morning
was half cut down. Indeed, it sometimes required two days or more to fell one tree; but
when nearly cut through, it would be viewed
fifty different times, and from as many different
positions, to ascertain where it was likely to
fall and to warn parties of the danger.
There is an art in felling a tree as well as in
planting one, but unfortunately none of us had
U &ïejtantier $o&£
learned that art, and hours together would
be spent in conjectures and discussions: one
calling out that it would fall here; another,
there. In short, there were as many opinions
as there were individuals about it; and at last,
when all hands were assembled to witness the
fall, how often were we disappointed! The
tree would still stand erect, bidding defiance
to our efforts, while every now and then some
of the most impatient or foolhardy would
venture to jump on the scaffold and give a
blow or two more. Much time was often spent
in this desultory manner before the mighty
tree gave way, but it seldom came to the
ground. So thick was the forest, and so close
the trees together, that in its fall it would
often rest its ponderous top on some other
friendly tree. Sometimes a number of them
would hang together, keeping us in awful
suspense, and giving us double labor to extricate the one from the other, and when we
had so far succeeded, the removal of the monster stump was the work of days. The tearing
up of the roots was equally arduous, although
less dangerous; and when this last operation
was got through, both tree and stump had to
be blown to pieces by gunpowder before either
could be removed from the spot.
Nearly two months of this laborious and
incessant toil had passed, and we had scarcely
yet an acre of ground cleared. In the meantime three of our men were killed by the
80 &&toenture£ on tï>e Oregon
natives, two more wounded by the falling of
trees, and one had his hand blown off by
But the labor, however trying, we were
prepared to undergo. It was against neglect
and ill-treatment that our feelings revolted.
The people suffered greatly from the humidity
of the climate. The Sandwich Islanders, used
to a dry, pure atmosphere, sank under its
influence; damp fogs and sleet were frequent,
and every other day was a day of rain. Such
is the climate of Columbia at this season of
the year, and all this time we were without
tents or shelter. Add to this the bad quality
of our food, consisting solely of boiled fish and
wild roots, without even salt, and we had to
depend at all times on the success or good will
of the natives for our daily supply, which was
far from being regular; so that one-half of
the party, on an average, were constantly on
the sick list; and on more than one occasion I
have seen the whole party so reduced that
scarcely one could help the other, and all this
chiefly owing to the conduct of Mr. Astor;
first, in not sending out a medical man with
the party; and secondly, in his choice of the
great pasha, McDougall, whom he placed at
the head of his affairs. The sick and the sound
both fared alike; the necessities of both were
overlooked, while he, himself, was served in
state, for a good many articles of provision had
been put on shore before the ship sailed.
HiMmS ^leranùrr $o&$
Our hard labor by day, with the watching
during night, had not only reduced our party
by sickness to a mere nothing, but raised a
spirit of discontent, and plots and plans were
set on foot to abandon all and cross the continent by land. This extravagant resolution
was, however, overruled by the more moderate
of the malcontents, yet it resulted in a party
waiting on McDougall with the view of bettering the existing state of things and opening
his eyes to his own situation. But this produced no good effect; it rather augmented
the evil; and a second deputation proved
equally unsuccessful. At last four men deserted, and had proceeded eighty miles up
the river when they were laid hold of by the
Indians and kept in a tent; nor would the
stern and crafty chief of the tribe deliver them
up until he had received a ransom for them.
Yet all this could not open the eyes of McDougall, nor was it till he had rashly ventured
to provoke all classes that he began to see
clearly that he was standing on the verge of a
precipice. Everything at this moment seemed
at a stand; the folly and imprudence of the
man in power had nearly extinguished all hopes
of success. Another party of six men, headed
by one of the Americans, deserted, but were
brought back the third day by our friendly
chief, Comecomly. We had some time ago
found out that the sordid hope of gain alone
attached this old and crafty chief to the whites.
■     "V- &iifcentureg on tï>e Oregon
The desertion of these parties, and the number confined by sickness, began now to admonish the man at the head of affairs that he
had probably gone a step too far, and that it is
much easier to destroy than restore confidence.
He suddenly changed for the better; tents
were distributed among the sick, and more
attention was paid to their diet; still there
was no medical man to attend the sufferers.
In this case we surely looked in vain for that
sagacity and forethought which Mr. Astor
was thought to possess. His own interest was
involved in the result, and nothing could more
clearly prove his reckless indifference for the
lives of his people than his not providing a
medical man of some kind or other, either for
his ship or his infant colony.
But feuds and petty grievances among ourselves, arising chiefly from our minds being
soured by hardships, were not the only obstacles we had to contend with. Our weakness
and forlorn situation began to open our eyes
to a sense of common danger, and fear began
to exercise its influence, so that unanimity
alone could enable us to oppose a common
enemy. Rumors from all quarters and suspicious appearances had raised an alarm that
the distant tribes were forming some dark
design of cutting us off, and reports countenancing this belief were daily brought us by
Comecomly and his people. We now established a regular patrol of six men, which
(m \
^Lïejcanûo: Mn$$
diminished our laboring body to a mere
nothing, but under such circumstances self-
preservation obliged us to adopt every precaution. Comecomly was sent for and questioned on the occasion, but all we could learn
from him was, that the hostile tribes were a
very bad people, and ill-disposed toward the
whites, and this we had no reason to disbelieve
because Comecomly and his people were the
only Indians who had regularly traded with us;
consequently, we were anxious to ascertain
the cause of this rupture between us and the
distant tribes.
We had now begun to pick up a few words
of the language, and were given to understand
that the crafty Chinooks, like the cat in the
fable, had fomented and nourished the misunderstanding between us and the distant
tribes; that they had artfully impressed the
latter with the idea that we were hostile
towards them, and, by the same crafty policy,
assuring us of their enmity. By this stratagem
they kept them from coming near us, thereby
monopolizing all the trade themselves, by buying up all the furs, and selling them again
to us at double their first cost.19 As soon,
however, as we were convinced of the intrigues
19 This stratagem on the part of Comecomly was as
old as the fur trade in America. Thus, it was practiced
on Nicolas Perrot, one of the earliest French traders
in the region west of the Great Lakes, by the Pota-
watomi of the Green Bay region in 1665.
84 &fcfoentureg on tï>e Oregon
of old Comecomly and his people, we set about
counteracting them. For this purpose several
parties were sent up the country in different
directions to do away with the unfavorable
impressions and to convince the natives, far
and near, of our friendly intentions to all.
On the second of May Mr. McKay, accompanied by Mr. Robert Stuart, in a small
canoe, and four men, proceeded up the river
to sound the dispositions of the Indians, and
to assure them of our good will towards them;
and likewise to gain some information respecting the surrounding country and the
state of the water. Having proceeded as far
as the Cascades, a distance of 180 miles, made
some presents to the principal men, and convinced all the different tribes they saw of the
friendly intentions of the whites, the party
returned again at the end of twelve days,
reporting most favorably of both natives and
Mr. McKay had figured in the Northwest
as an Indian trader—was very active but
whimsical and eccentric. An anecdote will
picture the man. It is a habit among the
grandees of the Indian trade to have May-poles
with their names inscribed thereon in conspicuous places, not to dance round, but merely
to denote that such a person passed there on
such a day, or to commemorate some event.
For this purpose, the tallest tree on the highest ground is generally selected, and all the
I      ' 85        I £Ueran&er Mtt$$
branches are stripped off excepting a small tuft
at the top.
On Mr. McKay's return from his recon-
noitering expedition up the river, he ordered
one of his men to climb a lofty tree and dress
it for a May-pole. The man very willingly
undertook the job, expecting, as usual on
these occasions, to get a dram; but he had no
sooner reached the top than his master,
through love of mischief, lighting a fire at the
bottom, set the tree in a blaze. The poor
fellow was instantly enveloped in a cloud
of smoke, and called out for mercy. Water
was dashed on the tree, but this only increased
the danger by augmenting the smoke, for the
fire ran up the bark of the gummy pine like
gunpowder and was soon beyond our reach,
so that all hope of saving the man's life was
at an end. Descending a little, however, he
leaped, in despair, on to a branch of another
tree, which fortunately offered him a chance
of safety; and there he hung between earth
and heaven, like a squirrel on a twig, till
another man, at no small risk, got up and
rescued him from his perilous situation.
Soon after McKay's return from the Cascades, Mr. Robert Stuart, myself, and five
men proceeded on an excursion to the north.
It was here that we became fully acquainted
with the dangerous effects of the Chinook
policy. The Indians, on our approach, flew
to arms, and made signs for us to keep at a
86 &ùtoentureg on tï>e Oregon
distance. We halted, and tried to moderate
their ferocity by a display of presents, but they
would not listen to us. Their forces were collecting fast. Every moment's delay increased
our danger, and fearful of being surrounded,
we were deliberating on a hasty retreat, when,
fortunately, a friendly Indian happened to
arrive, by means of whom we got into conversation with the others; and the result was
that they explained and cleared up the matter
to our utmost satisfaction, and showed us
several piles of furs laid up in store waiting
the Chinook traders; but when they saw and
compared the prices we paid with that which
the Chinooks were in the habit of giving them,
they put their hands on their mouths in astonishment and strongly urged us to return
again, saying they would never more trade
with the one-eyed chief. We got back again
to the establishment on the fifteenth day;
yet notwithstanding the apparent friendly
impression we had made on these sordid and
treacherous rogues, we had a very narrow
escape in crossing one of the rivers, for a party
of them had got before us, taken up a strong
position on lie opposite bank, and disputed
the passage; but by a little maneuvering we
defeated their intentions. Soon afterwards,
however, one of our men was killed by them;
and on another occasion, a Mr. McKenzie and
his whole party, consisting of eight men, were
cut to pieces by them.
87 !W^-WB.WBJUg:»!i!l.M
^ïejtattîier fàûgg
But we shall now return for a moment to
notice what was going on at the establishment.
On the fourth day after our landing we planted
some potatoes and sowed a few garden seeds,
and on the sixteenth of May we laid the foundations of our first building; but in order to
procure suitable timber for the purpose we had
to go back some distance, the wood on the
site being so large and unmanageable; and for
want of cattle to haul it, we had to carry it on
our shoulders, or drag it along the ground, a
task of no ordinary difficulty. For this purpose eight men were harnessed, and they
conveyed in six days all the timber required
for a building or store of sixty feet long by
twenty-six broad. On the eighteenth, as soon
as the foundation was completed, the establishment was named Astoria, in honor of Astor,
the projector of the enterprise.
The Tonquin, in the prosecution of her
voyage along the coast, left Astoria on the
first of June, and crossed the bar on the fifth,
when we saw her for the last time. The Captain had landed but a small part of the cargo,
intending on his return to put the rest on
shore; but with the ship all was lost, and
Astoria, in consequence, was left almost destitute of the necessary articles of trade. Mr.
McKay, as supercargo,20 went on board with
20 The function of a supercargo, in the commercial
voyages of the time, was to serve as business representative of the owners of the cargo.  In this capacity
88 II    &ïitoentureg on tï>e Oregon
Mr. Lewis and two Canadians, but Mr. Mumford, the second officer, was dismissed and
sent on shore. On McKay's embarking he
called me aside, and taking me by the hand,
recommended his son to my care; then adding,
"You see," said he "how unfortunate we are:
the Captain in one of his frantic fits has now
discharged the only officer on board," alluding
to Mr. Mumford. " If you ever see us safe back,
it will be a miracle. " So saying, we parted and
he slept on board. The departure of the ship
unfolded to us the danger of our situation.
It is allowed by all experienced fur traders that
in forming an establishment among savages
the first consideration is safety; and although
we had been aware that the ship's stay protected the embryo settlement, and that her
departure would proclaim to all the hostile
tribes around our defenseless state, yet was
there any preparation made for the event?
None. When the ship left us, not a gun was
mounted, not a palisade raised, nor the least
precaution taken to secure either life or property. Such was the character of the man whom
Mr. Astor placed at the head of his affairs.
The Indians from all quarters now began to
assemble in such swarms that we had to relinquish all labor and think only of defense.
We naturally put the worst construction on so
his authority was supreme, while to the captain was
entrusted all authority over matters pertaining to the
navigation of the vessel.
89 9Uejeanber $o£g
formidable an array of savages in arms. On
the other hand, the arrival of the different
tribes might have been produced by the steps
we had lately taken in regard to the Chinook
policy, of assuring them of our friendly intentions; but the departure of the ship had
left us so powerless and weak, that we could
not help suspecting their intentions; and our
suspicion was strengthened by the absence
of Comecomly and his people, who had avoided
coming near us ever since the arrival of the
strangers. We had frequently sent for the
crafty chief, but he as frequently disappointed
us, until he was given to understand that a
large present would be the reward of his good
offices in the present emergency, for we had
reason to believe that now, as on former
occasions, he was very busy in laboring to
conceal the truth, or, in other words, sowing
the seeds of alienation, in order that he and
his people might as usual engross all the
foreign trade themselves.
At length Comecomly arrived; necessity
compelled us to dissemble our opinion of his
conduct; he was received with open arms,
behaved well, and rendered us essential
services. We now opened a friendly intercourse with the strangers, traded with each
tribe in turn, made some presents, and they
left us, apparently well satisfied with the
friendly reception they had experienced, while
we were no less agreeably relieved by their
90 SUitoentureg on tï>e Oregon
departure. The guard was reduced, and the
people set to work as usual. Comecomly and
his two sons received each a suit of chief's
clothing; nor did they omit to insinuate that
to their influence and good offices we not only
owed our safety, but were indebted for all the
furs obtained from our distant visitors.
Some days afterwards, however, an awkward circumstance took place, which threatened to involve us again in serious troubles.
While in the act of removing some leaf tobacco,
an Indian was detected in the act of pilfering
—for they are notorious thieves. The tobacco
was taken from him, and he was reprimanded
for his conduct. "What!" said the fellow,
indignantly, "do you say I am a thief?" at
the same time drawing his bow. McDougall
then ordered him to be handcuffed and imprisoned, with a sentinel over him, in one of
the deep but open pits, out of which a large
tree had been dug. In the night, however, he
contrived to effect his escape, carrying off not
only his irons, but the sentinel's gun along
with him. Next day Comecomly, accompanied
by a large retinue, arrived at Astoria. The
great mufti, as usual, was ushered into the
tent of state. Here McDougall was showing
the Chinook Tye-yea, among other things,
the properties of a blunderbuss, and in so
doing made a woeful blunder, for off went the
piece unexpectedly, shattering a corner of His
Majesty's robe.   The report and the dense
91 ^Lfejcanîiar ïSûjs$
smoke issuing from the place proclaimed danger, and the affrighted chief, darting out of
the tent without his robe, cap, or gun, began
calling to his people, who in a moment, giving
the war whoop and arming themselves, fiercely
menaced the whites with destruction. In the
meantime one of our sentinels, hearing the
report of the gun and seeing the tent enveloped
in a cloud of smoke and the chief running off
at full speed from it, supposed that he had
murdered McDougall, and fired after him,
calling out "treason! murder!" at the sound
of which our people flew to arms and every
man, with his finger on the trigger of his gun,
advanced to the spot. McDougall and myself,
who fortunately knew the circumstances, hastened to run in between the hostile ranks,
making signs of peace, and after a tumultuous
moment the mysterious affair was explained
without bloodshed; yet long afterwards the
chief retained some suspicion that a plot had
been formed against his fife.
Among the many visitors who every now
and then presented themselves were two
strange Indians, in the character of man and
wife, from the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains
and who may probably figure in our narrative
hereafter. The husband, named Kocomene-
peca, was a very shrewd and intelligent Indian
who addressed us in the Algonquin language,
and gave us much information respecting the
interior of the country.
92 Slttoentureg on tlje Oregon
On the fifteenth of July we were rather
surprised at the unexpected arrival of a
North-West proprietor at Astoria, and still
more so at the free and cordial reception given
to an opponent. Mr. Thompson,21 North-
West-like, came dashing down the Columbia
in a light canoe, manned with eight Iroquois
and an interpreter, chiefly men from the
vicinity of Montreal. McDougall received
him like a brother. Nothing was too good for
Mr. Thompson. He had access everywhere,
saw and examined everything, and whatever
he asked for he got, as if he had been one of
ourselves. Mr. Thompson at once recognized
the two strange Indians, and gave us to understand that they were both females.22 His own
visit had evidently no other object but to
discourage us, a maneuver of the North-West
policy to extend their own trade at the expense
of ours, but he failed. The dangers and difficulties, which he took great pains to paint
in their worst colors, did not deter us. He
forgot that in speaking to us he was speaking
21 David Thompson was a native of London who
came to America as a young man in 1789 to enter the
employ of the Hudson's Bay Company. The next
twenty-three years were devoted to the Northwest
fur trade, but Thompson's major interest was geographical, and he became one of the greatest surveyors
and geographers America has yet produced. A splendid
edition of his journals was published by the Champlain
Society at Toronto in 1916.
22 For the further story of these interesting rogues
see post, 156-58.
93 SUejcanber Maë$
to Northwesterns, men as experienced and
as cunning as himself. The North West had
penetrated to the west side of the mountains
as early as 1804, and had in 1811 two or three
small posts on the waters of the Columbia, exclusive of the New Caledonia quarter.
Everyone knew this, and knowing it, how
could we account for the more than warm and
unreserved welcome Mr. Thompson met with
from Astor's representative? Unless, as some
thought at the time, McDougall was trying to
pay Mr. Thompson back with his own coin,
by putting on a fair face, so as to dupe him
into an avowal of his real object. This is more
than probable, for in point of acuteness.
duplicity, and diplomatic craft they were
perhaps well matched.
94 Chapter 6
A LL the Indian tribes inhabiting the coun-
r\ try about the mouth of the Columbia, and for a hundred miles round
may be classed in the following manner:
(i) Chinooks; (2) Clatsops; (3) Cathlamux;
(4) Wakiqums; (5) Wacalamus; (6) Cattle-
putles; (7) Clatscaniàs; (8) Killimux; (9)
Moltnomas; and (10) Chickelis; amounting
collectively to about 2,000 warriors. But they
are a commercial rather than a warlike people.
Traffic in slaves and furs is their occupation.
They are said to be decreasing in numbers.
All these tribes appear to be descended from
the same stock, live in rather friendly intercourse with, and resemble one another in
language, dress, and habits. Their origin,
like that of the other aborigines of the Continent, is involved in fable, although they
pretend to be derived from the muskrat.
Polygamy is common among them and a man
may have as many wives as he pleases, but
he is bound to maintain his own children.
In war every man belonging to the tribe is
bound to follow his chief, and a coward is
often punished with death. All property is
sacred in the eye of the law, nor can anyone
■■- &ïe*an&er &og£
touch it excepting the principal chief, or head
Tye-yea, who is above the law, or rather he
possesses arbitrary power without any positive
check, so that if he conceive a liking to anything
belonging to his subjects, be it a wife or a
daughter, he can take it without infringing the
law; but he must, nevertheless, pay for what
he takes, and their laws assign a nominal
value to property of every kind.
The Chinooks are crafty and intriguing, and
have probably learned the arts of cheating,
flattery, and dissimulation in the course of
their traffic with the coasting traders: for
on our first arrival among them we found guns,
kettles, and various other articles of foreign
manufacture in their possession, and they were
up to all the shifts of bargaining. Nor are
they less ingenious than inquisitive; the art
they display in the making of canoes, of
pagods, and of fishing tackle, and other useful
instruments, deserves commendation. They
show much skill in carved work, which they
finish with the most delicate polish.
The men are generally stout, muscular, and
strong, but not tall, and have nothing ferocious
in their countenances. Their dress invariably
consists of a loose garment, made of the skin
of the wood rat, neatly sewed together and
painted, which they wrap round the body like
a blanket; nor does the hardy savage, though
constantly rustling through the woods, ever
wear shirt, leggings, or shoes.   The chief's
96 SUtoentureg on tïje Oregon  |||
robe is made of sea-otter skin and other
valuable furs.   All classes wear the cheapool,
or hat, which is made of a tough, strong kind
of grass, and is of so close a texture as to be
waterproof.   The crown is of a conic form,
terminating generally in a point at the top,
and the rim. so very broad as to screen the
shoulders  from  the  rain.    The  cheapool is
checkered or diversified with the rude figures
of different animals, particularly the dog and
deer, not painted but ingeniously interwoven.
Their war garments are of two kinds.  One is
termed clemal, of elkskin, dressed and worked
to the thickness of nearly half an inch, and
arrow-proof.   The clemal nearly covers the
whole body, with an opening left on the right
side to allow the arm free action in combat.
The other is a kind of vest, made of small round
sticks of the size and shape of arrows, twelve
inches long: they are laid side to side, and
then sewed together, and fixed on the body
like a waistcoat. This is arrow-proof also. They
carry a circular shield, about eighteen inches
in diameter, which is likewise made of the
elkskin; but in addition to its thickness it is
hardened by ûre and painted, and is not only
arrow-proof, but proof against the knife and the
tomahawk also.  Their implements of warfare
are guns, bows and arrows, knife, bludgeon, and
tomahawk, all of which they use with great
dexterity. A Chinook Indian armed cap-a-pie
is a most unsightly and hideous being.
M afejcanïier 3&o0g
When not employed either in war or hunting,
the men generally spend their time in gambling. The chief game, chalechal, at which they
stake their most valuable property, is played
by six persons, with ten circular palettes of
polished wood, in size and shape resembling
dollars. A mat three feet broad and six feet
long is spread on the ground, and the articles
at stake laid at one end; then the parties
seat themselves, three on each side of the
mat, facing one another. This done, one of the
players takes up the ten palettes, shuffling
and shifting them in his hands, when at a
signal given he separates them in his two
fists and throws them out on the mat towards
his opponent, and according as the palettes
roll, slide, or He on the mat when thrown, the
party wins or loses. This he does three times
successively. In this manner each tries his
skill in turn, till one of the parties wins. Whole
days and nights are spent in this game without
ceasing, and the Indians seldom grumble or
repine even should they lose all that they
possess. During the game the players keep
chanting a loud and sonorous tune accompanying the different gestures of the body, just as
the voyageurs keep time to the paddle.
Having noticed some of the characteristic
manners and customs of the men, I shall now
indulge the reader's curiosity with a few remarks on the habits and accomplishments of
the fair sex. The women are generally of the
98 &titoenture£ on tïje Oregon
middle size but very stout and flabby, with
short necks and shapeless limbs; yet they are
well featured, with something of a smile on
the countenance, fair complexion, fight hair,
and prominent eyes. In addition to the rat-
garment used by the men, the women wear
a kind of fringed petticoat suspended from the
waist down to the knees, made of the inner
rind of the cedar bark, and twisted into threads
which hang loose like a weaver's thrums and
keep flapping and twisting about with every
motion of the body, giving them a waddle
or duck gait. This garment might deserve
praise for its simplicity, or rather for its oddity,
but it does not screen nature from the prying
eye; yet it is remarkably convenient on many
occasions. In a calm the sails lie close to the
mast, metaphorically speaking, but when the
wind blows the bare poles are seen.
Instead of the cedar petticoat, the women
of some tribes prefer a breech cloth, similar
to the pow of the Owhyhee females, and is
nothing more than a piece of dressed deerskin,
six inches broad and four feet long, which,
after passing between the thighs, is tied round
the waist. Words can hardly express the disgusting unsightliness of this singular female
dress. The women, when not employed in
their domestic labor, are generally occupied
in curing fish, collecting roots, and making
mats and baskets. The latter, of various sizes
and different shapes, are made of the roots of
à ftfejcanùer fàagg
certain shrubs which are flexible and strong,
and they are capable of containing any liquid.
In this branch of industry they excel among
Indian tribes. The neatness and good taste
displayed in the Chinook baskets are peculiar
to that article, which is eagerly sought after
as a curiosity.
The women here are not generally subject
to that drudgery common among most other
Indian tribes. Slaves do all the laborious work,
and a Chinook matron is constantly attended
by two, three, or more slaves, who are on all
occasions obsequious to her will. In trade and
barter the women are as actively employed
as the men, and it is as common to see the wife,
followed by a train of slaves, trading at the
factory, as her husband. Slaves are the fruits
of war and of trade among the tribes along
the seacoast far to the north, and are regularly
bought and sold in the same manner as any
other article of property; but I never knew a
single instance of a Chinook or one of the
neighboring tribes ever selling his wife or
daughter, or any other member of his family.
Chastity is not considered a virtue by the
Chinook women, and their amorous propensities know no bounds. All classes, from
the highest to the lowest, indulge in coarse
sensuality and shameless profligacy. Even the
chief would boast of obtaining a paltry toy
or trifle in return for the prostitution of his
virgin daughter.
IOO &titoentute£ on tïje Oregon
The females are excessively fond of singing,
and adorning their persons with the fantastic
trinkets peculiar to savages; and on these
occasions the slaves are generally rigged out
the best, in order to attract attention and
procure admirers. All classes marry very
young and every woman, whether free born
or a slave, is purchased by her husband.
Children are suckled at the breast till their
second or third year, and the mother, in
consequence, becomes an old hag at the age of
The women have also their own amusements. Their chief game, called omintooki
is played by two only, with four beaver teeth,
curiously marked and numbered on one side,
which they throw like dice. The two women
being seated on the ground face to face, like
the men at chalechal, one of them takes up
the teeth, keeps shaking them in her hands
for some time, then throws them down on the
mat, counts the numbers uppermost, and
repeating the sum thrice, hands the teeth
over to the other party, who proceeds in like
manner. The highest number wins. At this
game trinkets of various descriptions and
value are staked. On a fine day it is amusing
to see a whole camp or village, both men and
women, here and there in numerous little
bands, gambling, jeering, and laughing at one
another, while groups of children keep in constant motion, either in the water or practicing
;yft %lexaxûnt fio$$
the bow and arrow, and even the aged take
a lively interest in what is passing, and there
appears a degree of happiness among them,
which civilized men, wearied with care and
anxious pursuits, perhaps seldom enjoy.
These people live by hunting and fishing,
but the greater part of their food is derived
from the waters. The Columbia salmon, of
which there are two species, are perhaps as
fine as any in the world, and are caught in the
utmost abundance during the summer season:
so that, were a foreign market to present itself,
the natives alone might furnish 1,000 tons
annually. The largest caught in my time
weighed forty-seven pounds. Sturgeon also
are very abundant and of uncommon size, yet
tender and well flavored, many of them weighing upwards of 700 pounds, and one caught
and brought to us measured thirteen feet nine
inches in length, and weighed 1,130 pounds.
There is a small fish resembling the smelt or
herring, known by the name of ulichan, which
enters the river in immense shoals in the spring
of the year. The ulichans are generally an
article of trade with the distant tribes, as they
are caught only at the entrance of large rivers.
To prepare them for a distant market, they
are laid side to side, head and tail alternately,
and then a thread run through both extremities links them together, in which state they
are dried, smoked, and sold by the fathom,
hence they have obtained the name of fathom-
102 &îitenture£ on tïje #regon I
■ ——■" ' ,^—~—-       ^™—«—■»——■^^^
fish. Roots and berries likewise form no inconsiderable portion of the natives' food.
Strawberries are ripe in January. The wapatoe,
a perennial root of the size, shape, and taste
of the common potato, is a favorite article of
food at all times of the year. This esculent is
highly esteemed by the whites; many other
roots and berries are to be had, all of which
grow spontaneously in the low marshy ground.
Fish, roots, and berries can therefore be had
in perfection, all along the coast, every month
in the year. But not a fish of any kind is
taken out of the ocean.
The circulating medium in use among these
people is a small white shell called higua,
about two inches long, of a convex form, and
hollow in the heart, resembling in appearance
the small end of a smoking pipe. The higua
is thin, light, and durable, and may be found
of all lengths, between three inches down to
one-fourth of an inch, and increases or decreases in value according to the number
required to make a fathom, by which measure
they are invariably sold. Thirty to a fathom
are held equal in value to three fathoms of
forty, to four of fifty, and so on. So high are
the higua prized, that I have seen six of 2}4
inches long refused for a new gun. But of late,
since the whites came among them, the beaver
skin, called enna, has been added to the currency; so that by these two articles, which
form the medium of trade, all property is
103 &ïejeanîia: &o££
valued and all exchange fixed and determined.
An Indian, in buying an article, invariably
asks the question, Queentshich higua? or,
Queentshich enna? That is, how many higua?
or how many beaver skins is it?
All Indians are more or less superstitious,
and we need scarcely be surprised at that trait
in their character when even civilized men respect so many prejudices. Every great chief
has one or more pagods, or wooden deities,
in his house to which in all great councils of
peace or war he presents the solemn pipe,
and this is the only religious temple known
among them.
They acknowledge a good and a bad spirit,
the former named Econê, the latter Ecutoch.
The Etaminuas, or priests, are supposed to
possess a secret power of conversing with the
Econê, and of destroying the influence of the
Ecutoch. They are employed in all cases of
sickness to intercede for the dying, that these
may have a safe passage to the land of departed
spirits. Besides the Etaminua, there is another
class called Keelalles, or doctors, and it is
usual for women as well as men to assume the
character of a Keelalle, whose office it is to
administer medicine and cure diseases. But
the antic gestures, rude and absurd ceremonies
gone through by them in visiting the sick
are equally useless and ridiculous, humming,
howling, singing, and rattling of sticks, as
if miracles were to be mere
104 &titoentute$ on tïje Oregon
noise; yet if we forget these useless gesticulations, which may be called the ornamental
part, we must allow them to be a serviceable
and skillful class of people. Their knowledge
of roots and herbs enables them to meet the
most difficult cases, and to perform cures,
particularly in all external complaints.
The property of a deceased person is generally destroyed, and the near relations cut
their hair, disfigure and lacerate their bodies;
nor is this all. At the funeral ceremony
strangers are here, as among some oriental
nations, paid to join in the lamentation. All,
excepting slaves, are laid in canoes or wooden
sepulchers and conveyed to some consecrated
rock or thicket assigned for the dead; but
slaves are otherwise disposed of. That is,
if he or she dies in summer the body is carelessly buried; but if in winter, a stone is tied
about the neck and the body thrown into the
river, and none but slaves ever touch a slave
after death.
When the salmon make their first appearance in the river, they are never allowed to
be cut crosswise nor boiled, but roasted; nor
are they allowed to be sold without the heart
being first taken out, nor to be kept over night,
but must be all consumed or eaten the day
they are taken out of the water. All these
rules are observed for about ten days. These
superstitious customs perplexed us at first
not a little, because they absolutely refused
■ :^Sd ajejeanûer ftv$$
to sell us any unless we complied with their
notions, which, of course, we consented to do.
All the natives along the coast navigate in
canoes, and so expert are they that the stormiest weather or roughest water never prevents
them from cruising on their favorite element.
The Chinook and other war canoes are made,
like the Birman barge, out of a solid tree,
and are from forty to fifty feet long, with a
human face or a white-headed eagle as large
as life carved on the prow, and raised high in
If we may judge from appearances, these
people are subject to but few diseases. Consumption and the venereal disease are the complaints most common amongst them. From
their knowledge in simples, they generally
succeed in curing the latter, even in its worst
In winter they live in villages, but in summer
rove about from place to place. Their houses
are oblong, and built of broad, split-cedar
planks, something in the European style, and
covered with the bark of the same tree. They
are sufficiently large and commodious to contain all the members of a numerous family,
slaves included. At the top or ridge pole, an
opening gives free passage to the smoke; they
have one or more [fires] according to the number of families in each. But I never saw more
than four fires, or above eighty persons—
slaves and all—in the largest house.
106 &bfoentureg on tï>e Oregon
Towards the spring of the year, or as soon
as the rainy season is over, all the Indians on
the coast break up their winter quarters and
form large square sheds, for the purpose of
drying and curing their fish, roots, and berries.
Within this huge enclosure they then live in
hordes, like so many cattle in a fold; but these
sheds are only for temporary purposes, and it
must have been on some such occasion that
Meares23 found Wickananish in his "household of 800 persons. " They migrate towards
the interior, sometimes for months together.
War and traffic in slaves often call them to a
distance; and this may account for the absence of inhabitants about Port Discovery
and Desolation Sound when Vancouver was
there. But another cause, and perhaps the
best that can be assigned for their abandoning
their winter domiciles as soon as the warm
weather sets in, is the immense swarms of fleas
that breed in them during that season. You
might as well encounter a beehive as approach
one of these deserted villages.
Among other fantastic usages many of the
tribes on the coast of the Pacific, and particularly those about Columbia, flatten the
heads of their children.  No sooner, therefore,
23 The reference is to Captain John Meares of the
British navy, whose naming of Cape Disappointment
has been previously noted. His book, Voyages Made
in the Years 1788 and 178g to the Northwest Coast of
America, was published at London in 1791»
'1 %L\txeinlttt Mtt$$
is a child born, whether male or female, than
its head is put into a press or mould of boards
in order to flatten it. From the eyebrows,
the head of a Chinook inclines backward to
the crown; the back part inclining forward,
but in a less degree. There is thus a ridge
raised from ear to ear, giving the head the
form of a wedge, and the more acute the angle,
the greater the beauty. The flatness of the
head is considered the distinguishing mark of
being free born. All slaves are forbidden to
bear this aristocratic distinction. Yet I have
seen one or two instances to the contrary,
where a favorite slave was permitted to flatten
the head of a first-born child. No such custom
is practiced in any part of the interior. But
all nations, civilized as well as savage, have
their peculiar prejudices. The law of the land
compels a South Sea Islander to pull out a
tooth; a northern Indian cuts a joint off his
finger; national usage obliges a Chinese lady
to deform her feet; an English lady, under the
influence of fashion, compresses her waist;
while a Chinook lady deforms her head. But
Solomon hath said, "That which is crooked
can not be made straight. "
As tracts suitable for agricultural purposes,
may be mentioned several fertile and rich
flats on the Columbia, although the country
generally presents but a rocky, light, and
sandy soil. On the south side, the river is
joined, about eighty miles above Astoria, by
108 &îitenture£ on tlje Oregon
the Wallamitte, a fine, clear stream, 300
miles long, which, with its tributary rivulets,
fertilizes one of the finest valleys west of
the Rocky Mountains. The Wallamitte was
always called by the whites "the garden of
the Columbia." For forty miles the river is
navigable for boats of the largest size, to the
falls, but there it is barred across by a ledge
of rocks, over which the whole body of water
descends—a height of thirty feet—in one
smooth green sheet. The climate of this valley
is salubrious and dry, differing materially from
that of the seacoast; and the heat is sufficiently
intense to ripen every kind of grain in a short
Descending from the Wallamitte to Puget's
Sound, north of the Columbia, where there
is a large and convenient seaport or harbor,
we find here a tract ranking next, perhaps,
in an agricultural point of view. The plain
is well watered by several fine rivers, and is
far more extensive than the valley of the
Wallamitte, nor is the soil much inferior;
but there is a vast difference in the climate.
Rain falls near the coast almost incessantly
from the beginning of November till April,
and the country in other respects is gloomy
and forbidding.
But however inviting may be the soil,
the remote distance and savage aspect of the
boundless wilderness along the Pacific seem
to defer the colonization of such a region to a
/.- %\txmiitt Mog$
period far beyond the present generation24;
and yet, if we consider the rapid progress of
civilization in other new and equally remote
countries, we might still indulge the hope of
seeing this, at no distant time, one of the most
flourishing countries on the globe.
The language spoken by these people is
guttural, very difficult for a foreigner to learn,
and equally hard to pronounce. To speak the
Chinook dialect, you must be a Chinook.
24 The danger of attempting to prophesy with respect
to the future development of America here finds fresh
illustration. In the selfsame year that Ross's book
was published occurred the great California gold rush.
About the same time began the stream of migration
to the Oregon country, which still shows no sign of
no /§£
Chapter 7
NOTWITHSTANDING the departure of
the ship and our reduced numbers,
measures were taken for extending the
trade; and the return of Mr. Thompson up the
Columbia, on his way back to Canada, was
considered as affording a favorable opportunity
for us to fit out a small expedition, with the
view of establishing a trading post in the interior. We were to proceed together for the
sake of mutual protection and safety, our
party being too small to attempt anything
of the kind by itself. Accordingly, Mr. David
Stuart, myself, Messrs. Pillet and McLennan,
three Canadian voyageurs, and two Sandwich Islanders, accompanied by Mr. Thompson's party and the two strangers, in all twenty-
one persons, started from Astoria at eleven
o'clock on the twenty-second of July, 1811.
In two clumsy Chinook canoes, laden each
with fifteen or twenty packages of goods of
ninety pounds weight each, we embarked to
ascend the strong and rapid Columbia; and
considering the unskillfubiess of our party
generally in the management of such fickle
craft, the undertaking was extremely imprudent; but then being all of us more or less
,,j SUeiranDer $o&$
ambitious, we overlooked, in the prospect of
ultimate success, both difficulty and danger.
After our canoes were laden, we moved down
to the water's edge, one with a cloak on his
arm, another with his umbrella, a third with
pamphlets and newspapers for amusement,
preparing as we thought for a trip of pleasure,
or rather all anxious to be relieved from our
present harassing and dangerous situation.
The wind being fair and strong, we hoisted
sail, but had not proceeded to Tongue Point,
a small promontory in the river not three
miles distant from Astoria, when the unfriendly
wind dashed our canoes, half filled with water,
on the shore; and as we were not able to double
the Point, we made a short passage across
the isthmus, and then, being somewhat more
sheltered from the wind, proceeded, but had
not got many miles before our progress was
again arrested by a still worse accident; for,
while passing among the islands and shoals,
before rounding Oathlamuck Point,26 at the
head of Gray's Bay, the wind and swell drove
us on a sand bank, where we stuck fast, the
waves dashing over us, and the tide ebbing
rapidly. Down came the mast, sail, and rigging about our ears, and in the hurry and
confusion the canoes got almost full of water,
and we were well drenched. Here we had to
carry the goods and drag the canoes till we
26 This is now known as Cathlamet Point, in Clatsop
County, Oregon.
112 I &ûbenture£ on tïje Oregon £
reached deep water again, which was no easy
task. This disaster occupied us about two
hours, and gave us a foretaste of what we
might expect during the remainder of the
voyage. Cloaks and umbrellas, so gay in the
morning, were now thrown aside for the more
necessary paddle and carrying-strap, and the
pamphlets and newspapers went to the bottom.
Having, however, got all put to rights again,
we hoisted sail once more, passed Puget's
Island and then the great Whill Wetz Village
situated on Oak Point, where the river makes
a sudden bend to south southeast. Here, on
the south side, the rocks became high and the
current strong, and night coming on us before
we could reach low ground, we were compelled
to encamp on the verge of a precipice, where
we passed a gloomy night, drenched with
wet, without fire, without supper, and without
sleep. During this day's journey both sides of
the river presented a thick forest down to the
water's edge, the timber being large, particularly the cedars. The Sound, from Cape
Disappointment to the head of Gray's Bay,
which we passed today, is about twenty-five
miles in length, and varies from four to seven
in breadth.
On the twenty-third, after a restless night,
we started stemming a strong and almost
irresistible current by daylight. Crossing to
the north side, not far from our encampment,
we passed a small, rocky height, called Coffin
M lïejtranîieir fto$$
Rock or Mount Coffin, a receptacle for the
dead. AU over this rock—top, sides, and bottom—were placed canoes of all sorts and sizes,
containing relics of the dead, the congregated
dust of many ages.
Not far from Mount Coffin, on the same
side, was the mouth of a small river, called
by the natives Cowlitz,26 near which was
an isolated rock, covered also with canoes
and dead bodies. This sepulchral rock has a
ghastly appearance, in the middle of the
stream, and we rowed by it in silence; then,
passing Deer's Island, we encamped at the
mouth of the Wallamitte. The waters of the
Columbia are exceedingly high this year; all
the low banks and ordinary water marks are
overflowed, and the island inundated. At
the mouth of the Wallamitte commences
the great Columbian valley of Lewis and
Clark; but in the present state of flood, surrounded on all sides by woods almost impervious, the prospect is not fascinating. The
Indians appeared very numerous in several
villages. General course the same as yesterday—southeast.
On the twenty-fourth, after a good night's
rest, and having made some trifling presents
to a principal chief, named Kiasno, we proceeded on our voyage, but had not gone far
26 The adjective "small" is scarcely justified. The
Cowlitz is nearly 150 miles long, with a swift current
and a heavy volume of water.
M &titoenturc£ on tfje Oregon
when we passed another and larger branch
of the Wallamitte; so that this river enters
the Columbia by two channels, from the last
of which the Columbia makes a gradual bend
to the east northeast.
During this day we passed the Namowit
village, Bellevue Point, Johnson's Island, and
stayed for the night at Wasough-ally Camp,
near Quicksand River, which enters the Columbia on the left.
Bellevue Point, on the right-hand side of
the river, although but low, presents a scene
of great beauty, compared to what we had
yet seen during the voyage. Here the eye
is occasionally relieved from the monotonous,
gloomy aspect of dense woods by the sight of
green spots, clumps of trees, small lakes, and
meadows alternately.
On the twenty-fifth, early this morning, we
arrived at and passed Point Vancouver, so
named after the celebrated navigator, and the
extreme point of Broughton's survey of the
Columbia.27 From the lower branch of the
Wallamitte to Point Vancouver the banks of
the river on both sides are low; but as we
proceeded farther on, a chain of huge black
rocks rose perpendicularly from the water's
27 Captain Vancouver, as previously noted, sent
Lieutenant Broughton with a party in small boats to
explore the course of the river. Point Vancouver, the
limit of his survey, is on the north side of the Columbia,
just above the mouth of Sandy River.
"5 giejcanuer fco$$
edge; over their tops fell many bold rills of
clear water. Hemmed in by these rocky
heights, the current assumed double force,
so that our paddles proved almost ineffectual;
and to get on we were obliged to drag ourselves along from point to point by laying hold
of bushes and the branches of overhanging
trees, which, although they impeded our progress in one way, aided us in another. After
a day of severe toil we halted for the night.
We saw but five Indians all this day, and for
the first time none came to our camp at night.
The ebb and flow of the tide is not felt here.
The country generally has a wild and savage
appearance: course, east northeast.
On the twenty-sixth, it was late this morning
before we could muster courage to embark.
The burning sun of yesterday and the difficulty
of stemming the rapid current had so reduced
our strength that we made but little headway
today; and after being for six hours rowing
as many miles, we stopped, tired and rather
discouraged: course, northeast.
On the twenty-seventh, we were again early
at work, making the best of our way against
a turbulent and still increasing current. As
we advanced the river became narrower, the
hills and rocks approaching nearer and nearer
to the river on either side. Here the view was
very confined, and by no means cheering.
We, however, continued our toil till late
in the evening, when in place of the uniform
116 SUitoentureg on tïje #regon
smooth and strong current, as usual, the
water became confused and ripply, with
whirlpools and cross currents, indicating the
proximity of some obstruction. At the foot
of a rocky cliff, which we named Inshoach
Castle, we put ashore for the night; nor did
we see a single Indian all day. Mr. Thompson
encamped on one side of the river and we on
the other.  General course today, nearly east.
During last night the water rose ten inches.
This was supposed to bè occasioned by the
tide, although after passing Bellevue Point the
influence of tide was not perceptible on the
current. From the mouth of the river to this
place, a distance of a hundred and eighty
miles, there is sufficient depth of water for
almost any craft to pass; even ships of 400 tons
might reach Inshoach Castle had they power
to stem the current.
As regards agricultural purposes, Bellevue
Point and the valley of the Wallamitte were
the most favorable spots we met with. Generally speaking, the whole country on either
side of the river, as far as the eye could reach,
presented a dense, gloomy forest. We found,
however, a marked improvement in the climate. Here the air is dry and agreeable.
Fogs, mists, damp and rainy weather, ceased
after we had passed the Wallamitte.
On the twenty-eighth, early in the morning,
Mr. Thompson crossed over to our camp
and informed us that we were within a short
,'.   ■! gUeratfter &o$$
distance of the Cascades. We then embarked
and proceeded together. After making some
distance with the paddles we had recourse to
the poles and then to the hauling line, till at
length we reached the point of disembarkation.
We had no sooner landed than a great
concourse of Indians assembled at a short
distance from us, and after holding a consultation, came moving on in a body to meet
us, or rather, as we thought, to welcome our
arrival. The parley being ended and the ceremony of smoking over, they pointed up the
river, signifying that the road was open for
us to pass. Embarking again, we pushed on,
and passing the Strawberry Island28 of Lewis
and Clark, we continued for some distance
farther, and finally put on shore at the end of
the portage, or carrying place, situate on the
right-hand side of the river and at the foot of a
rather steep bank. Here the Indians crowded
about us in fearful numbers, and some of
them became very troublesome. A small
present being made to each of the chiefs, or
great men, in order to smooth them down a
little in our favor, they pointed across the
portage, or carrying place, as much as to say,
"All is clear; pass on. "
From this point we examined the road over
which we had to transport the goods, and
found it to be 1,450 yards long, with a deep
28 Near the present town of Cascades, in south central Skamania County, Washington.
118 &titoenture£ on tïje Oregon
descent near the Indian villages, at the far
end, with up hills, down hills, and side hills
most of the way, besides a confusion of rocks,
gullies, and thick woods from end to end.
To say that there is not a worse path under
the sun would perhaps be going a step too far,
but to say that for difficulty and danger few
could equal it, would be saying but the truth.
Certainly nothing could be more discouraging
than our present situation: obstacles on every
side, by land, by water, and from the Indians,
all hostile alike. Having landed the goods and
secured the canoe, we commenced the laborious task of carrying, and by dividing ourselves in the best possible manner for safety,
we managed to get all safe over by sunset.
Not being accustomed myself to carry, I had,
of course, as well as some others, to stand
sentinel; but seeing the rest almost wearied to
death, I took hold of a roll of tobacco and
after adjusting it on my shoulder, and holding
it fast with one hand, I moved on to ascend
the first bank; at the top of which, however, I
stood breathless, and could proceed no farther.
In this awkward plight, I met an Indian and
made signs to him to convey the tobacco
across, and that I would give him all the
buttons on my coat, but he shook his head and
refused. Thinking the fellow did not under-*
stand me, I threw the tobacco down, and
pointing to the buttons one by one, at last
he consented, and off he set at a full trot and I
119 ^izxattoet Mq$$
after him; but just as we had reached his
camp at the other end, he pitched it down a
precipice of two hundred feet in height, and
left me to recover it the best way I could. Off
I started after my tobacco, and if I was out of
breath after getting up the first bank, I was
ten times more so now. During my scrambling
among the rocks to recover my tobacco, not
only the wag that played me the trick, but
fifty others, indulged in a hearty laugh at my
expense; but the best of it was, the fellow came
for his payment, and wished to get not only
the buttons, but the coat along with them.
I was for giving him—what he richly deserved
—buttons of another mould, but peace in our
present situation was deemed the better policy;
so the rogue got the buttons and we saw him
no more.
Before leaving this noted place, the first
barrier of the Columbia, we may remark
that the whole length of the cascade, from one
end to the other, is two miles and a half. We
were now encamped at the head, or upper end,
of them, where the whole river is obstructed
to the breadth of ioo or 120 feet, and descends
in high and swelling surges with great fury
for about 100 yards. Then the channel widens
and the river expands, and is here and there
afterwards obstructed with rocks, whirlpools,
and eddies throughout, rendering the navigation more or less dangerous; but there are no
falls in any part of it, either at high or low
120 &ttjentureg on tïje Oregon
water, and with the exception of the first
shoot, at the head of the cascade, where the
water rushes with great impetuosity down its
channel, they are, with care and good management, passable at all seasons for large craft,
that is, boats.
All the Indians we saw about this place
were in three small camps or villages, and
might number 250 or 300 at most. They call
themselves Cathleyacheyachs, and we could
scarcely purchase from the lazy rascals fish
and roots enough for our supper. In dress,
appearance, and habits they differed but little
from those about Astoria, but they spoke a
different language, although many of them
understood and spoke Chinook also.
At first we formed a favorable opinion of
them; but their conduct soon changed, for we
had no sooner commenced transporting our
goods than they tried to annoy us in every
kind of way—to break our canoes, pilfer our
property, and even to threaten ourselves, by
throwing stones and pointing their arrows at
us. We were not, however, in a situation to
hazard a quarrel with them, unless in the
utmost extremity; and it was certainly with
great difficulty, and by forbearance on our part,
that we got so well off as we did. After finishing the labor of the day, we arranged ourselves
for the night. The Indians all assembled
again about our little camp and became very
insolent  and  importunate;   they  looked  at
121 &Iej:an&er Jïogg
everything, and coveted all they saw. Indeed,
we were afraid at one time that we would have
to appeal to arms; but fortunately, after distributing a few trifling presents among the
principal men, they smoked and left us, but
we kept a constant watch all night. The only
domestic animal we saw among them was
the dog.
On the twenty-ninth, early in the morning,
we prepared to leave the Cascades; but the
bank being steep and the current very strong
where we had to embark, we did not venture
off before broad daylight, and before that time
the Indians had crowded about us as usual.
Their pilfering propensities had no bounds.
The more we gave them the more they expected, and of course the more trouble they
gave us; and notwithstanding all our care and
kindness to them, they stole our canoe-axe
and a whole suit of clothes, excepting the hat,
belonging to Mr. McLennan, which we were
unable to recover. We had no sooner embarked, however, than Mr. McLennan, in his
usual good humor, standing up in the canoe
and throwing the hat amongst them, said,
"Gentlemen, there's the hat; you have got the
rest; the suit is now complete, " and we pushed
off and left them.
Immediately above the cascade the river
resumes its usual breadth, with a smooth and
strong current. The day being exceedingly
warm, we made but little headway. In the eve-
122 &btoentureg on tïje #regon
ning we passed a small river on our left, near
which we encamped for the night. Here we
had promised ourselves a quiet night and sound
sleep, but the Indians, finding us out, partly
deprived us of both, as we had to keep watch.
They were but few, however, and therefore
peaceable.  Course this day, north northeast.
On the thirtieth we set off early, leaving the
five Indians who slept in our camp last night
sitting by the fire, enjoying a pipe of tobacco.
As we proceeded, the country became more
bold, rough, and mountainous, but still covered
with thick woods and heavy timber. The day
being very hot, we encamped early on a very
pleasant and thickly wooded island. Course,
On the thirty-first, after breakfast, Mr.
Thompson and party left us to prosecute their
journey, and Mr. Stuart, in one of our canoes,
accompanied him as far as the Long Narrows,
nor did he return till late in the afternoon, and
then, thinking it too late to start, we passed
the remainder of the day in camp, enjoying
the repose which we had so much need of.
The two strangers remained with us.
On Mr. Thompson's departure Mr. Stuart
gave him one of our Sandwich Islanders, a
bold and trustworthy fellow named Cox, for
one of his men, a Canadian, called Boulard.
Boulard had the advantage of being long in
the Indian country, and had picked up a few
words of the language on his way down. Cox,
123 -i
&ïejeantiet &og£
again, was looked upon by Mr. Thompson as
a prodigy of wit and humor, so that those
respectively acceptable qualities led to the
On the first of August we left our encampment at daylight, but a strong head wind impeded our progress, and not being able to get
on, we put ashore and encamped at a much earlier hour than we wished.  Course, northeast.
On the second, at three o'clock in the afternoon, we reached Sandy Bay, at the foot of the
Narrows. The Indians, being apprised of our
coming, had assembled, as might be expected,
in great numbers, and presented to us quite a
new sight, being all armed cap-a-pie, painted,
and mounted on horseback. To us in our
present situation they were rather objects of
terror than of attraction, but we had to put
the best face we could on things, so we landed
our goods and invited them to smoke with us.
We had not hitherto settled upon any plan,
whether to continue our route by water up
the Long Narrows or undertake the portage
by land, both appearing equally difficult and
equally dangerous. At last we adopted the
latter plan, because it was recommended by
the Indians, in whose power we were, either
way. The plan being now settled, we bargained
with the chiefs for the carriage of the goods.
Ten metal buttons for each piece was the price
stipulated, which reduced our stock by exactly
two and a half gross: and in less than ten
iW^S^M &fctoenture£ on tïje Oregon
minutes after, the whole cavalcade, goods and
all, disappeared, leaving us standing in suspense and amazement. While we were in this
painful state of anxiety, one man and an
Indian were left to guard the canoes, whilst the
rest of us, carrying what we could on our backs,
followed the Indians on foot to the other end
of the portage, where we arrived at sunset,
and found, to our great satisfaction, all the
property laid together in safety and guarded
by the chiefs. Having paid the Indians what
we promised, and a small recompense to the
different chiefs, we arranged our little camp
for the night, the chiefs promising us their
protection. AH the Indians now flocked
around us, men, women, and children, and
spent the whole night in smoking, dancing,
and singing, while we kept watch in the center of the ominous circle. During the night,
however, notwithstanding the chiefs' guarantee of protection, we perceived some suspicious movements, which gave us considerable alarm. We had recourse again and
again to the chiefs, who at last admitted that
there was some indication of danger, but
added that they were still our friends, and
would do their utmost to protect us. Just
at this moment, as we were consulting with
the chiefs, several harangues were made in
the camp, the smoking ceased, and the women
and children were beginning to move off. It
was a critical moment; we saw the cloud
1//--! aiejeaniiar 2$o££
gathering, but could not dispel it; our fate
seemed to hang upon a hair. At last we hit
upon a stratagem. We persuaded the chiefs
to come and stop within our little circle for
the night, which they did, and from that
position they harangued in turn, which had a
good effect, and in this manner we passed
the night, not forgetting every now and then
to give the chiefs some little toy or trifle to
stimulate their exertions in our favor.
Early in the morning of the third, four of us
returned to the other end of the portage, and
by two o'clock got one of the canoes safe
across. Returning again immediately, we arrived with the other a little after dark, one
man still remaining across, taking care of the
canoe-tackling and camp utensils. The Indians all the day kept dancing and smoking,
and it was our interest to keep them so employed as much as possible; and no one knew
better how to do so than Mr. Stuart. His eye
saw everything at a glance, and his mild and
insinuating manners won their affections.
As night came on, the Indians were to be
seen divided in groups, as if in consultation,
but there appeared no sign of unanimity
among them. Each chief seemed occupied
with his own little band, and we learned that
they were not all one people, with one interest,
or under one control, and this divided state,
no doubt, added greatly to our safety; for
wherever we found one chief alone, he in-
'   -,&L I   &tibmtureg on ifyt #regon
variably pointed to the others as bad men,
calling them sho-sho-nez, or inlanders. Not
knowing, however, who were our friends or
who our foes, we had to keep a strict watch
all night.
At daybreak on the fourth, three of our
men crossed the portage for the remainder of
the goods, and arrived safely at an early hour,
but had enough to do to save their kettles
from some scamps they met with on the way.
The length of this dry and sandy portage
is nine miles, and when it is taken into consideration that we had to go and come all that
distance four times in one day, without a drop
of water to refresh ourselves, loaded as we
were, and under a burning sun, it will be
admitted that it was no ordinary task. Under
any other circumstances but a struggle between life and death, it could never be performed; but it was too much; the effort was
almost beyond human strength, and I may
venture to say, all circumstances considered,
it will never be done again.
The main camp of the Indians is situated
at the head of the Narrows, and may contain,
during the salmon season, 3,000 souls, or more;
but the constant inhabitants of the place do
not exceed 100 persons, and are called Wyam-
pams. The rest are all foreigners from different tribes throughout the country, who resort
hither not for the purpose of catching salmon,
but chiefly for  gambling  and  speculation;
-^— aicranùer $o?£
for trade and traffic, not in fish, but in other
articles; for the Indians of the plains seldom
eat fish, and those of the seacoast sell, but
never buy fish. Fish is their own staple commodity. The articles of traffic brought to this
place by the Indians of the interior are generally horses, buffalo robes, and native tobacco,
which they exchange with the natives of the
seacoast and other tribes, for the higua, beads,
and other trinkets. But the natives of the
coast seldom come up thus far. Now all these
articles generally change hands through gambling, which alone draws so many vagabonds
together at this place, because they are always sure to live well here, whereas no other
place on the Columbia could support so many
people together. The Long Narrows, therefore, is the great emporium or mart of the
Columbia, and the general theater of gambling
and roguery.
We saw great quantities of fish everywhere;
but what were they among so many? We could
scarcely get a score of salmon to buy. For
every fisherman there are fifty idlers, and all
the fish caught are generally devoured on the
spot, so that the natives of the place can seldom
lay up their winter stock until the gambling
season is over, and their troublesome visitors
gone. All the gamblers, horse-stealers, and
other outcasts throughout the country, for
hundreds of miles round, make this place their
great rendezvous during summer.
128 &îitoentureg on tïje Oregon
The Narrows by water are not a great deal
longer than the portage by land. At the upper
end, during low water, a broad and flat ledge
of rocks bars the whole river across, leaving
only a small opening or portal, not exceeding
forty feet, on the left side, through which the
whole body of water must pass. Through
this gap it rushes with great impetuosity;
the foaming surges dash through the rocks
with terrific violence; no craft, either large
or small, can venture there in safety. During
floods, this obstruction, or ledge of rocks, is
covered with water, yet the passage of the
Narrows is not thereby improved. Immediately above the rocks the river resembles a
small, still lake, with scarcely any current.
The general aspect of the country around
the Long Narrows cannot be called agreeable.
The place is lone, gloomy, and the surface
rugged, barren, and rocky; yet it is cheering
in comparison with the dense forests which
darken the banks of the river to this place.
At the foot of the Narrows the whole face of
nature is changed, like night into day. There
the woody country ceases on both sides of the
river at once, and abruptly the open and
barren plains begin. The contrast is sudden,
striking, and remarkable. Distance from the
Cascades to this place, seventy miles.
The great bend, or elbow, of the Columbia is formed by the Long Narrows. Here, on
the west side, terminates that long, high, and
129 ftlejcanber fto£$
irregular chain of mountains which lies parallel
to the coast, dividing the waters which flow
into the Pacific on the west, from those running into the Columbia on the east. This
range abounds in beaver and elk, and is often
frequented by the industrious hunter. At the
Indian tents we saw several small packages of
beaver, but we purchased none, our canoes
being too small; and besides, they will always
find their way to Astoria. We have all along,
however, impressed on the natives the object
of our visit to their country, and the value of
the beaver.
The Indians have been more troublesome,
more importunate and forward today than at
any time since our arrival among them. They
often expressed a wish to see what we had in
our bales and boxes. The chiefs also gave us
to understand that their good offices merited a
reward, and they could not comprehend why
people who had so much as we, were not more
liberal. We endeavored to satisfy their demands, and towards evening the chiefs were
invited to sleep in our camp, but for us there
was no sleep: there is no rest for the wicked.
130 Chapter 3
ON the fifth of August, early in the morning, after making the chiefs a few presents, we proceeded, and had the singular
good luck to get off with the loss of only one
paddle. As we left the beach the sullen savages
crowded to the water's edge, and in silence
stood and gazed at us, as if reproaching themselves for their forbearance. As we proceeded
the banks of the river were literally lined with
Indians. Having ascended about seven miles,
we arrived at the Falls—the great Columbia
Falls as they are generally called; but from
the high floods this year they were scarcely
perceptible, and we passed them without ever
getting out of our canoes. In seasons of low
water, however, the break or fall is about
twenty feet high, and runs across the whole
breadth of the river in an oblique direction.
The face of the country about this place is
bare, rugged, and rocky, and, to our annoyance, every point was swarming with Indians,
all as anxious to get to us as we were to avoid
them. Our exertions, and the want of sleep
for the last three nights in succession, almost
stupefied us, and we were the more anxious
to find some quiet resting-place for the night.
ay &Iejtan&er &og£
We halted a short distance above the Falls
and there encamped. The current was strong
and rapid the whole of this day. Course, north.
On the sixth, after passing a comfortless and
almost sleepless night, owing to the crowd of
Indians that had collected about us, we were
on the water again before sunrise, stemming a
strong and rapid current. About a mile from
our last encampment, and opposite to a rocky
island, the river Lowhum29 enters the Columbia on the east side. Its breadth is considerable, but the depth of water at its mouth is
scarcely sufficient to float an Indian canoe, and
over the rocky bottom it made a noise like
thunder. Proceeding from this place, we observed, a short distance ahead, a very large
camp of Indians, and in order to avoid them we
crossed over towards the left shore, but found
the current so powerful that we had to lay our
paddles aside and take to the lines. In this
rather dangerous operation we had frequently
to scramble up among the rocks. Soon after,
a few Indians volunteered their services to
help us, and we found them very useful; but
one of them, while conducting the line round
a rock, endeavored to cut it with a stone. He
was detected, however, in the act, and just in
time to prevent accident. Had the villain
succeeded, not only the goods, but in all likelihood some lives, would have been lost. The
wind springing up, we hoisted sail, but found
29 Modern Des Chutes River,
132 &ûtoentureg on tïje Oregon
the experiment dangerous, owing to the rapidity of the current. We encamped at a late
hour, without seeing a single Indian. Course,
as yesterday.
On the seventh, early in the morning, we
passed the river Day30—not broad, but
pretty deep, and distant about thirty miles
from the river Lowhum. In all directions
the face of the country is one wide and boundless plain, with here and there some trifling
inequalities, but not a tree nor bush to be
seen.  General course, as yesterday.
On the eighth, after a quiet and comfortable
night's rest, we embarked early, and hoisting
sail with a fair wind, we scudded along at a
good rate till two o'clock in the afternoon,
when all of a sudden a squall overtook us and
broke the mast of one of our canoes, which,
in the hurry and confusion of the moment,
filled with water, so that we had great difficulty
in getting safe to shore.
The day being fine, we set about drying our
things, and for that purpose began to spread
them out, for every article had got thoroughly soaked; but this task we had no sooner
30 Named for John Day, a member of the Astorian
expedition. He was a hunter from Kentucky, who
accompanied Hunt on his overland expedition to
Astoria. He was also a member of the party which
Robert Stuart led overland, back to St. Louis, but
becoming insane before the Columbia River had been
left, he was conducted back to Astoria by friendly
Indians, where he is said to have died a year later.
133 SUejeantier fôogg
commenced than the Indians flocked about us
in great numbers. We therefore soon perceived
the impropriety and danger of exhibiting so
great a temptation before their eyes. In a
few minutes we were almost surrounded by
bows and arrows, one volley of which might
have extinguished the expedition forever, and
one of the fellows had the audacity to shoot an
arrow into one of our bales, as a warning of
what might follow. In short, we thought we
could read in the savage expression of their
countenances some dark design; we therefore
immediately commenced loading. Wet and dry
were bundled together and put into the canoes;
and in order to amuse for a moment, and attract the attention of the crowd, I laid hold of
an axe and set it up at the distance of eighty
yards, then taking up my rifle, drove a ball
through it. This maneuver had the desired
effect. While the Indians stood gazing with
amazement at the hole in the axe, our people
were not idle. We embarked and got off without a word on either side. Having reached a
small, snug island near the Suppa River, we
put ashore for the night. Course, as yesterday.
The ninth, we remained all day encamped,
drying the goods, and were visited only by
the Indians in one canoe, who sold us a fine
On the tenth, at an early hour, we proceeded
on our voyage, and met with no obstacle till
the evening, when we arrived at the foot of a
134 Sltitentureg on tï>e Oregon
long and strong rapid, where we encamped
near the mouth of a considerable river called
Umatallow, which enters the Columbia here.
This river takes its rise in a. long range of blue
mountains, which runs nearly east and west,
and forms the northern boundary of the great
Snake nation. Opposite to our encampment,
on the west side, is situated a large mound
or hill of considerable height, which from its
lonely situation and peculiar form we called
Dumbarton Castle. During this day we saw
many Indians, all occupied in catching salmon.
Course, as usual.
On the eleventh we commenced ascending
the rapid, a task which required all our skill
and strength to accomplish; and paddles,
poles, hauling lines, and carrying-straps were
in requisition in turn, and yet half the day
was consumed ere we got to the top. At the
foot of this rapid, which is a mile in length,
the river makes a quick bend to the east for
about two miles, then comes gradually round
again to the north from the head of the rapid.
The channel of the river is studded on both
sides with gloomy black rocks arranged like
colonnades, for upwards of twenty miles.
Here are some sandy islands, also, on one of
which we encamped; and a dark and cheerless
encampment it was, surrounded and shaded by
these gloomy heights.
On the twelfth we left our camp early,
and in a short time came to the colonnade
jia gUejcanbo: &o$ss
rocks, which suddenly terminated in two huge
bluffs, one on each side of the river exactly
opposite to each other, like monumental
columns. The river between these bluffs lies
right south and north. The banks of the river
then become low with sand and gravel and
the plains open full to view again, particularly
on the east side.
Close under the right bluff issues the meandering Walla Walla, a beautiful little river,
lined with weeping willows. It takes its rise
in the blue mountains already noticed. At
the mouth of the Walla Walla a large band
of Indians were encamped, who expressed a
wish that we should pass the day with them.
We encamped accordingly, yet for some time
not an Indian came near us, and those who had
invited us to pass the day with them seemed
to have gone away, so that we were at a loss
what construction to put upon their shyness.
But in the midst of our perplexity we perceived a great body of men issuing from the
camp, all armed and painted, and preceded
by three chiefs. The whole array came moving
on in solemn and regular order till within
twenty yards of our tent. Here the three
chiefs harangued us, each in his turn; all the
rest giving, every now and then, a vociferous
shout of approbation when the speaker happened to utter some emphatical expression.
The purport of these harangues was friendly,
and as soon as the chiefs had finished, they all
136 SUftentuteg? on tïje <©t:egon
sat down on the grass in a large circle, when
the great calumet of peace was produced and
the smoking began. Soon after, the women,
decked in their best attire and painted, arrived, when the dancing and singing commenced, the usual symbols of peace and friendship; and in this pleasing and harmonious
mood they passed the whole day.
The men were generally tall, raw-boned,
and well-dressed, having all buffalo robes,
deerskin leggings, very white, and most of
them garnished with porcupine quills. Their
shoes were also trimmed and painted red;
altogether their appearance indicated wealth.
Their voices were strong and masculine, and
their language differed from any we had heard
before. The women wore garments of well-
dressed deerskin down to their heels, many of
them richly garnished with beads, higuas,
and other trinkets, leggings and shoes similar
to those of the men. Their faces were painted
red. On the whole, they differed widely in
appearance from the piscatory tribes we had
seen along the river. The tribes assembled
on the present occasion were the Walla Wallas,
the Shaw Haptens, and the Cajouses, forming
altogether about fifteen hundred souls. The
Shaw Haptens and Cajouses, with part of the
Walla Wallas, were armed with guns, and the
others with bows and arrows. The names
of the principal chiefs were (in the order of
the tribes) Tummatapam, Quill-Quills-Tuck-a-
i: &fejcanîiejc #o££
Pes ten, and Allowcatt. The plains were literally
covered with horses, of which there could not
have been less than four thousand in sight of
the camp.
On the thirteenth we prepared to be off
as early as possible; but Tummatapam would
not let us go till we had breakfasted on some
fine fresh salmon. He told us he would be at
the forks before us. We then embarked and
continued our voyage. The banks on both
sides of the river above the Walla Walla are
low, and the country agreeable. After passing
three islands we arrived at the forks late in the
evening, and there encamped for the night.
The crowd of Indians assembled at that place
was immense, and among the rest was our
friend Tummatapam. The Indians smoked,
danced, and chanted all night, as usual, while
we kept watch in turn.
On the fourteenth, early in the morning,
what did we see waving triumphantly in the air
at the confluence of the two great branches31
but a British flag, hoisted in the middle of
the Indian camp, planted there by Mr. Thompson as he passed, with a written paper laying
claim to the country north of the forks as
British territory. This edict interdicted the
subjects of other states from trading north of
that station; and the Indians at first seemed
to hint that we could not proceed up the north
branch, and were rather disposed to prevent
81 That is, the Columbia and the Snake rivers.
    - .^Jl^  I &tifcenture£ on tïje #regon      fj
1—1— in» i i—i m      i     m   n    ■■     i ,m i n im ..ww'tra—"ui——— nil iti ■■—nw ww#w«mmmwwmm—i
us, by saying, that Koo-Koo-Sint—meaning
Mr. Thompson—had told them so, pointing
at the same time to the south branch, as if to
intimate that we might trade there. The chiefs
likewise stated that Koo-Koo-Sint had given
them such and such things, and among others
the British flag, that they should see his commands respected; but that if Mr. Stuart would
give them more than Koo-Koo-Sint had done,
then he would be the greater chief, and might
go where he pleased.
The opposition of the Indians on the present
occasion suggested to our minds two things:
first, that Mr. Thompson's motive for leaving
us at the time he did was to turn the natives
against us as he went along, with the view
of preventing us from getting farther to the
north, where the North West Company had
posts of their own; and secondly, that the
tribes about the forks would prefer our going
up the south branch, because then we would
be in the midst of themselves. But it was
our interest then to defeat these schemes, and
so completely did we upset Mr. Thompson's
plans, that I verily believe, had he to pass
there again, he would have some difficulty in
effecting his purpose. Mr. Thompson's conduct reminds us of the husbandman and the
snake in the fable. That he who had been
received so kindly, treated so generously, and
furnished so liberally by us, should have
attempted to incite the Indians against us
1 ïâfejrattùer ïtogg
in our helpless and almost forlorn state, was
conduct which the world must condemn.
At the junction of the two great branches
of the Columbia the country around is open
and very pleasant, and seems to be a great
resort, or general rendezvous, for the Indians
on all important occasions. The southeast
branch is known by the name of Lewis' River,
the north by that of Clark's, in honor of the
first adventurers.32 They are both large rivers,
but the north branch is considerably the larger
of the two. At the junction of their waters,
Lewis' River has a muddy or milk-and-water
appearance, and is warm; while Clark's River
is bluish, clear, and very cold. The difference of color, like a dividing line between
the two waters, continues for miles below
their junction. These branches would seem,
from a rough chart the Indians made us, to
be of nearly equal length from the forks—
perhaps 700 miles—widening from each other
towards the mountains, where the distance
between their sources may be 900 miles.
All the tributary rivers entering between
this and the falls, a distance of 200 miles,
are on the east side. The most important
fishing place on the Columbia, after the Long
32 The Snake River was named in honor of Captain
Lewis, but Clark's name was applied not to the Columbia itself, as Ross would here indicate, but to
the northern tributary which is still known as Clark's
140 &&toentu«£ on tïje Oregon
Narrows, is here, or rather a little below this,
towards the Umatallow. Yet, although the
salmon are very fine and large, weighing from
fifteen to forty pounds each, they are not taken
in the immense quantities which some other
countries boast of. A Columbian fisherman
considers it a good day's work to kill ioo
salmon, whereas, at the Copper-Mine River
a fisherman will kill 1,000 a day, and a Kam-
chatkan, it is said, will kill, with the same
means, 10,000 a day; but if these countries
can boast of numbers, the Columbia can boast
of a better quality and larger size.
The only European articles seen here with
the Indians, and with which they seemed
perfectly contented, were guns, and here and
there a kettle or a knife; and, indeed, the
fewer the better. They require but little, and
the more they get of our manufacture the
more unhappy will they be, as the possession
of one article naturally creates a desire for
another, so that they are never satisfied.
In the afternoon the chiefs held a council
at which Mr. Stuart and myself were present.
It was then finally settled that we might proceed up the north branch, and that at all
times we might count upon their friendship.
This being done, Tummatapam came to our
tent, smoked a pipe, and took supper with us;
and as he was going off, Mr. Stuart presented
him with a suit of his own clothes, which
highly pleased the great man.   The Indians
141 &ïejtantier &og£
h m
having retired, we set the watch for the night
as usual.
Tummatapam is a middle-aged man, well-
featured, and of a very agreeable countenance;
and what is still better, he is, to all appearance,
a good man, was very kind to us, and rendered
us considerable service; but the other two
chiefs appeared to take precedence of him in
all matters of importance.
On the sixteenth we left the forks and proceeded up the north branch, which to the eye
is as broad and deep here as below the forks.
About twelve miles up, a small river entered
on the west side, called Eyakema.33 The
landscape at the mouth of the Eyakema surpassed in picturesque beauty anything we
had yet seen. Here three Walla Walla Indians
overtook us on horseback, and to our agreeable surprise delivered us a bag of shot which
we had left by mistake at our encampment of
last night, a convincing proof that there is
honesty among Indians; and if I recollect well,
a similar circumstance attesting the probity
of the Walla Wallas occurred when Lewis and
Clark passed there in 1805. We saw but few
Indians today, and in the evening we encamped without a night watch for the first
time since we left Astoria. General course,
On the seventeenth we were paddling along
88 The Yakima River, which joins the Columbia about
ten miles above the forks.
142 gUïtoentureg on tfyt Oregon
at daylight. On putting on shore to breakfast,
four Indians on horseback joined us. The
moment they alighted, one set about hobbling
their horses, another to gather small sticks, a
third to make a fire, and the fourth to catch
fish. For this purpose, the fisherman cut off a
bit of his leathern shirt, about the size of a
small bean; then pulling out two or three hairs
from his horse's tail for a line, tied the bit of
leather to one end of it, in place of a hook or
fly. Thus prepared, he entered the river a
little way, sat down on a stone, and began
throwing the small fish, three or four inches
long, on shore, just as fast as he pleased; and
while he was thus employed, another picked
them up and threw them towards the fire,
while the third stuck them up round it in a
circle, on small sticks, and they were no sooner
up than roasted. The fellows then sitting
down, swallowed them, heads, tails, bones,
guts, fins, and all, in no time, just as one would
swallow the yolk of an egg. Now all this was
but the work of a few minutes, and before our
man had his kettle ready for the fire, the
Indians were already eating their breakfast.
When the fish had hold of the bit of wet
leather, or bait, their teeth got entangled in it,
so as to give time to jerk them on shore, which
was to us a new mode of angling. Fire produced
by the friction of two bits of wood was also a
novelty; but what surprised us most of all
was the regularity with which they proceeded,
M aïejcanùer ïïo£g
and the quickness of the whole process, which
actually took them less time to perform than
it has taken me to note it down.
Soon after passing the Eyakema, a long
range of marl hills interrupts the view on the
east side of the river. Here two dead children
were presented to us by their parents, in
order that we might restore them to life again,
and a horse was offered us as the reward. We
pitied their ignorance, made them a small
present, and told them to bury their dead. As
we advanced along the marl hills, the river
inclined gradually to the Northwest. After
a good day's work, we stopped for the night
near a small camp of Indians, who were very
friendly to us. Here and there were to be seen,
on small eminences, burial-places. The dead
are interred, and a few small sticks always
point out the cemetery.
On the eighteenth we reached the end of
the marl hills. Just at this place the river
makes a bend right south for about ten miles,
when a high and rugged hill confines it on our
left. Here the increasing rapidity of the
current gave us intimation that we were not
far from some obstruction ahead, and as we
advanced a little under the brow of the hill,
a strong and rocky rapid presented itself in
the very bend of the river. Having ascended
it about half way, we encamped for the night.
Here a large concourse of Indians met us,
and after several friendly harangues, com-
- • -Vr.Vry
..^w £U>toenture£ on tï)e Oregon
menced the usual ceremony of smoking the
pipe of peace, after which they passed the
night in dancing and singing. The person who
stood foremost in all these introductory
ceremonies was a tall, meager, middle-aged
Indian, who attached himself very closely to
us from the first moment we saw him. He
was called Haqui-laugh, which signifies doctor,
or rather priest; and as this personage will
be frequently mentioned in the sequel of our
narrative, we have been thus particular in
describing him. We named the place " Priest's
Rapid, " after him.34
The name of the tribe is Skamoynum-
acks; they appear numerous and well-affected
towards the whites. From the Priest's Rapid,
in a direct line by land to the mouth of the
Umatallow, the distance is very short, owing
to the great bend of the river between the two
The Priest's Rapid is more than a mile in
length, and is a dangerous and intricate part
of the navigation. The south side, although
full of rocks and small channels, through which
the water rushes with great violence, is the best
to ascend.
On the nineteenth, early in the morning, we
started, but found the channel so frequently
obstructed with rocks, whirlpools, and eddies,
that we had much difficulty in making any
headway.   Crossing two small portages, we at
34 It still goes by the name of Priest's Rapid.
- "-''"i.»
M ftlejtanùer $o££
length, however, reached the head of it and
there encamped for the night, after a very
hard day's labor under a burning sun. From
the head of the Priest's Rapid the river opens
again due north.
The ground here is everywhere full, covered
with flat stones, and wherever these stones
lie, and indeed elsewhere, the rattlesnakes are
very numerous. At times they may be heard
hissing all around, so that we had to keep a
sharp lookout to avoid treading on them, but
the natives appear to have no dread of them.
As soon as one appears, the Indians fix its head
to the ground with a small forked stick round
the neck, then extracting the fang or poisonous
part, they take the reptile into their hands,
put it into their bosoms, play with it, and let
it go again. When anyone is bitten by them
the Indians tie a ligature above the wounded
part, scarify it, and then apply a certain
herb to the wound, which they say effectually
cures it.
On the twentieth we left the Priest's Rapid
and proceeded against a strong, ripply current
and some small rapids for ten miles, when we
reached two lofty and conspicuous bluffs,
situate directly opposite to each other, like
the piers of a gigantic gate, between which
the river flowed smoothly. Here we stayed
for the night on some rocks infested with
innumerable rattlesnakes, which caused us not
a little uneasiness during the night.   From
146 SUtoentureg on tf>e Oregon
this place due east the distance in a direct fine
to the marl hills left on the eighteenth is very
short. At the southern angle of this flat is
situated the Priest's Rapid, which we left this
morning.  Course, north.
Early on the twenty-first we were again on
the water. The country on the east side is one
boundless, rough, and barren plain; but on the
west the rocks, after some distance, close in to
the water's edge, steep and rugged, and the
whole country behind is studded with towering
heights and rocks, giving the whole face of
the country, in that direction, a bleak, broken*,
and mountainous appearance. We saw but
few natives today, but those few were very
friendly to us. Towards evening we put ashore
for the night at a late hour. General course,
On the twenty-second we left our camp early
and soon reached the foot of a very intricate
and dangerous rapid, so full of rocks that at
some little distance off the whole channel of
the river, from side to side, seemed to be
barred across, and the stream to be divided
into narrow channels, whirlpools, and eddies,
through which we had to pass. At the entrance
of one of these channels a whirlpool caught one
of the canoes, and after whirling her round and
round several times, threw her out of the channel altogether into a chain of cascades, down
which she went, sometimes the stem, sometimes stern foremost.  In this critical manner
A &lej*antier Mo$$
she descended to the foot of the rapid and at
last stuck fast upon a rock, when, after much
trouble and danger, we succeeded in throwing
lines to the men and ultimately got all safe
ashore. Here we encamped for the night, and
spent the remainder of the day in drying the
goods, mending the canoe, and examining the
On the twenty-third we again commenced
ascending, and found on the right-hand side
a neck of land, where we made a portage. From
thence we towed ourselves among the rocks,
from one to another, until we reached the head
of the rapid, and a most gloomy and dismal
rapid it was. Both sides of the river at this
place are rocky, and in no part of the Columbia
is the view more confined. A death-like gloom
seems to hang over the glen. This rapid,
which is called Kewaughtohen, after the tribe
of Indians inhabiting the place, who call themselves Kewaughtohenemachs, is about thirty
miles distant from the Priest's Rapid.
Having got clear of the rapid early in the
day, we proceeded on a smooth current for
some little distance, when the river makes a
short bend nearly west. Here, on the south
side, were observed two pillars on the top of an
eminence, standing erect side by side, which
we named the Two Sisters.35  They proved to
35 The two sisters, according to the native legend,
were two wicked women dwelling here who were in the
habit of killing passing voyageurs.   In answer to the
iiimimir-1 &ttoenture£ on tfyz Oregon
be of Umestone, and at a little distance very
much resembled two human figures. From the
Two Sisters the river turns to the north again,
where once more we had a sight of the open
country. Nature in these gloomy defiles just
passed through wears the dreary aspect of
eternal winter. On the west, the hills are
clothed with woods, but on the east side the
plains are bleak and barren. On a beautiful
green spot near a small Indian camp we put
ashore and passed the night. Here the priest,
for the reader must know he had still followed
us, introduced us to a friendly Indian called
Machykeuetsa, or the Walking Bear. This
gray-headed little old man made us comprehend that he had seen eighty-four winters or
snows, as he expressed himself. He looked very
old, but was still active, and walked well.
On the twenty-fourth we embarked early
and soon reached the mouth of Pisscow's
River,86 a beautiful stream, which empties
itself into the Columbia through a low valley,
skirted on each side by high hills. Its mouth,
in the present high state of the water, is eighty
yards broad. Here the Indians met us in great
numbers, and vied with each other in acts of
kindness.  Sopa, the chief, made us a present
prayers of the Indians for relief, the Great Spirit sent
an immense bird to pick out their brains and turn them
into stone. The modern name for the place is Column
36 Still known as Pischous, and also as Wenatchee,
&mê. afejeantejc jSo&s
of two horses, and others offered some for sale.
We purchased four, giving for each one yard
of print and two yards of red gartering, which
was so highly prized by them that horses from
all quarters were brought to us, but we declined buying any more, not knowing what
to do with them. Our six horses were now
delivered over in charge to the priest, who was
to proceed with them by land.
The higher we ascend the river, the more
friendly and well disposed are the aborigines
towards us. Sopa invited us to pass the day
with him, which we did, and were highly
gratified to see the natives hunt the wild deer
on horseback. They killed several head of
game close to our camp, and we got a two-
days' supply of venison from them. Sopa and
his tribe kept smoking, dancing, and singing
the whole night, and at every pause a loud
and vociferous exclamation was uttered, denoting that they were happy now. The whites
had visited their land; poverty and misery
would no longer be known amongst them.37
We passed the night without keeping watch.
37 This attitude of the natives toward the coming of
the traders was, like the stratagem of Comecomly,
mentioned in an earlier note, as old as the history of
the fur trade in America. The advent of the traders
enabled the Indians to pass at one stride from the stone
age of social development to the age of iron and gunpowder: more concretely expressed, they passed from
utmost poverty a state of comparative affluence and
(rfflSftpa*?^ &Mjentureg on tï>e Oregon
On the twenty-fifth we left Pisscows and
proceeded on our voyage, passing another
small river named Intyclook, and from thence
to Oak Point, at the foot of a steep crag, where
we passed the night.
Early in the morning of the twenty-sixth
we left our encampment, but the stream becoming more and more rapid, we advanced but
slowly, and towards evening had a good deal
of pulling or hauling to ascend Whitehill Rapid, where the river, almost barred across by a
ledge of low flat rocks, makes several quick
bends. The west side is mountainous and
gloomy to the water's edge. Encamping at
the head of the rapid, we passed a quiet
night, nor did a single Indian trouble us.
Here we saw the ibex, the white musk goat,
and several deer, and supped on a half-
devoured salmon which a white-headed eagle
had very opportunely taken out of the river.
Course, north.
On the twenty-seventh we started early,
and about ten o'clock passed a small but rapid stream, called by the natives Tsill-ane,38
which descended over the rocks in white
broken sheets. The Indians told us it took its
rise in a lake not far distant. From Tsill-ane
the hills on the west side receded and the river
became smooth.  Meeting with some Indians,
38 Modern Chelan River, the outlet of Chelan Lake.
Ross's narrative contains the first recorded mention
of the name.
151 &Iejcanber &û$$
we put ashore, and the priest, with his horses,
joining us soon after, we passed the night
together. Here we got some salmon, roots,
and berries from the Indians, which proved
a very seasonable supply. The Indians were
very friendly, communicative, and intelligent.
On the twenty-eighth, after dispatching the
priest with his charge, we left our camp and
pursued our voyage against a strong current.
The country on both sides was open and the
banks of the river low, yet many rapid places
detained us long, and this detention was increased by a strong head wind, which so
fatigued us that we halted early. On our way
today we saw many deer and some beavers
swimming about, but they were very shy.
On the twenty-ninth we reached the foot
of a short but strong rapid, where the river
abruptly veers round to [the] east. Opposite
to this rapid enters a tributary stream,
which the Indians call Buttlemuleemauch, or
Salmon-fall River. It is less than the Pisscows,
shallow, and full of stones, having its source
near the foot of some lofty mountain not far
distant. After making a discharge, we got
over the rapid and encamped for the night.
Here the Indians assembled in friendly crowds,
according to their usual habit, presented us
with abundance of salmon, offered many
horses for sale, and were in all other respects
exceedingly kind. Here they also invited us to
remain, to build and to winter among them.
152 I  $Uitoenture£ on tlje Oregon      §
They said their country abounded in beaver,
nor should we want for provisions.
On the thirtieth, just as we were pushing off
from the shore, early in the morning, a large
band of Indians, all mounted on horseback,
arrived at our camp. We immediately put
about to receive them, which was no sooner
done than harangue after harangue, smoking
and speechifying commenced; and after one
party, another arrived, so that we were absolutely obliged to remain the whole day where
we were.
From the strangers we learned that there
were whites before us, but a long way off. The
Indians showed us a gun, tobacco, and some
other articles, which they said had been purchased from the whites ahead, which confirmed
the report. We therefore at once suspected
that it must be a party of the North-Westerns,
and here Mr. Stuart, for the first time, began
to think of finding a suitable place to winter in.
On the thirty-first we parted early from our
friendly visitors, and shaping our course in an
easterly direction along the bend of the river,
we pushed on for about nine miles till we
reached the mouth of a smooth stream called
Oakinacken, which we ascended for about two
miles, leaving the main Columbia for the first
time, and then pitched our tents for the night.
A great concourse of Indians followed us all
day, and encamped with us. After acquainting them with the object of our visit to their
153 SUe-canùer $o&£
country, they strongly urged us to settle
among them. For some time, however, Mr.
Stuart resisted their pressing solicitations,
chiefly with the view of trying their sincerity;
but, at last consenting, the chiefs immediately
held a council, and then pledged themselves
to be always our friends, to kill us plenty
of beavers, to furnish us at all times with
provisions, and to ensure our protection and
During this afternoon we observed for the
first time, about 200 above the horizon and
almost due west, a very brilliant comet, with
a tail about io° long. The Indians at once
said it was placed there by the Good Spirit,
which they called Skommaltsquisses, to announce to them the glad tidings of our arrival;
and the omen impressed them with a reverential awe for us, implying that we had been
sent to them by the Good Spirit, or Great
Mother of Life. f ^^^ffl
On the first of September, 1811, we embarked, and descending the Oakinacken again,
landed on a level spot within half a mile of its
mouth. There we unloaded, took our canoes
out of the water, and pitched our tents, which
operation concluded our long and irksome
voyage of forty-two days.39
39 Fort Okanogan, whose founding is here described,
was the chief interior post of the Pacific Fur Company.
When the North West Company succeeded to the
property of the Pacific Fur Company Okanogan be-
■■linn* &ùfoenture£ on tfje Oregon
The mouth of the Oakinacken is situate 600
miles up the Columbia, and enters it through
a low, level plain a mile wide. This plain is
surrounded on all sides by high hills, so that
in no direction does the view extend far.
The source of the Oakinacken is 280 miles
due north, and in its course south the stream
runs through three lakes. Near its junction
with the Columbia it is hemmed in on the east
by a sloping range of high, rocky hills, at the
foot of which the two rivers meet. On the
south bank of the Oakinacken, half a mile
from its mouth, was the site pitched upon for
the new establishment.
The general aspect of the surrounding country is barren and dreary. On the west the
hills are clothed with thick woods, a dense
forest; on the south and east the scene is bare;
but to the north the banks of the river were
lined with the willow and the poplar, and the
valley through which it meanders presents a
pleasing landscape.
Here it may be remarked that all the tributary rivers from this place to the Falls, a
distance of 200 miles, enter on the right hand,
or west, side of the Columbia, having their
sources in the lofty range of mountains which
came its principal post of deposit for the entire region.
The Hudson's Bay Company, absorbing the North
West Company in 1821, maintained the post until 1859,
when it sold out to the Americans and confined its
activities to the Canadian side of the border.
ïm i ïejtanùo: iïog £
terminates at the Great Narrows, as noticed
by me on the fourth of August; so that from
this point, or rather a few miles below this,
the Columbia runs south to the Narrows;
nor is the distance from this place to the
Pacific, in a direct line due west by land, far
off. If we can rely on Indian report it is not
150 miles.
Soon after the tent was pitched the priest
arrived with his horses all safe. In the course
of the day Mr. Stuart missed his timepiece,
which had been stolen out of the tent. A
general search was made, and the watch was
found by hearing it strike, although concealed
under the dry sand in the face of the bank.
The theft was traced to the holy man, the
priest, which circumstance greatly lessened
the high opinion we had formed of him. On
this discovery being made, he was paid for
his services and dismissed.
This little incident taught us that however
strong might be the friendly professions of the
natives, it was still necessary to guard against
their pilfering propensities.
In the account of our voyage I have been
silent as to the two strangers who cast up
at Astoria, and accompanied us from thence;
but have noticed already that instead of being
man and wife, as they at first gave us to understand, they were in fact both women—and
bold, adventurous Amazons they were. In
accompanying us, they sometimes shot ahead
» 1 1
&bfoenture£ on t^e Oregon
and at other times loitered behind, as suited
their plans. The stories they gave out among
the unsuspecting and credulous natives, as
they passed, were well calculated to astonish
as well as to attract attention. Brought up,
as they had been, near the whites—who rove,
trap, and trade in the wilderness—they were
capable of practicing all the arts of well-
instructed cheats; and to effect their purpose
the better, they showed the Indians an old
letter, which they made a handle of, and told
them that they had been sent by the great
white chief, with a message to apprise the
natives in general that gifts, consisting of
goods and implements of all kinds, were forthwith to be poured in upon them; that the great
white chief knew their wants, and was just
about to supply them with everything their
hearts could desire; that the whites had hitherto cheated the Indians, by selling goods, in
place of making presents to them as directed
by the great white chief. These stories, so
agreeable to the Indian ear, were circulated
far and wide, and not only received as truths,
but procured so much celebrity for the two
cheats that they were the objects of attraction
at every village and camp on the way: nor
could we, for a long time, account for the cordial reception they met with from the natives,
who loaded them for their good tidings with
the most valuable articles they possessed—
horses, robes, leather, and higuas; so that on
157 &ïejeanîia: l£o£g
our arrival at Oakinacken they had no less than
twenty-six horses, many of them loaded with
the fruits of their false reports.
As soon as we could get the distant tribes,
who had come to welcome our arrival, dismissed, we commenced erecting a small dwelling house, sixteen by twenty feet, chiefly
constructed of driftwood, being more handy
and easier got than standing timber; but
while the building was in a half-finished
state, Messrs. Pillet and McLennan, with two
men, were dispatched to Astoria, as had been
agreed upon. Mr. Stuart, with Montigny and
the two remaining men, set off on a journey
towards the north, or headwaters of the Oakinacken, intending to return in the course of a
month; while I was to remain alone at the
establishment till Mr. Stuart's return, my only
civilized companion being a.little Spanish pet
dog from Monterey, called Weasel.
Only picture to yourself, gentle reader, how
I must have felt, alone in this unhallowed
wilderness, without friend or white man within
hundreds of miles of me, and surrounded by
savages who had never seen a white man before.
Every day seemed a week, every night a month.
I pined, I languished, my head turned gray,
and in a brief space ten years were added to
my age. Yet man is born to endure, and my
only consolation was in my Bible.
The first thing I did after my friends left
me was to patch up the house a little and put
1 &titoenture£ on tï>e Oregon
the few goods I had, so tempting to Indians,
into a kind of cellar which I made in the
middle of the house. This done, I set to in
earnest to learn the Indian language, and wrote
vocabulary after vocabulary; and although
the task was a hard one, I soon found, from
my progress, that perseverance would overcome many difficulties.
The novelty of white men, and particularly
of a white man alone, drew crowds of inquisitive Indians about the place. I mixed with
them, traded with them, and at last began to
talk with them, and from a constant intercourse soon came to understand them; but
still the evenings were long, and the winter
dreary. Every night before going to bed I
primed my gun and pistol anew, and barricaded the door of my lonely dwelling; and the
Indians, friendly inclined, always withdrew
from the house at dusk. Yet they had often
alarms among themselves, and often gave me
to understand that enemies, or ill-disposed
Indians, were constantly lurking about; and
whenever they began to whoop or yell in the
night, which they frequently did, I, of course,
partook of the alarm.
One night I was suddenly awakened out of
my sleep by the unusual noise and continual
barking of Weasel, running backwards and
forwards through the house. Half asleep, half
awake, I felt greatly agitated and alarmed.
My faithful gun and pistol were at hand, for
m â (eranùer Mo$$
they lay always at my side in bed; but then
all was dark, I could see nothing, could hear
nothing but the barking of Weasel, which was
continually growing louder and louder. I
then thought there must be somebody in the
house, for I was ready to put the worst construction on appearances. In this perplexing
dilemma I got my hand, with as little noise
as possible, to the muzzle of my gun, and
gradually drawing out the ramrod, tried, with
my right arm stretched out, to stir up the
embers so that I might see; but here again a
new danger presented itself. I was exposing
myself as a mark to a ball or an arrow without
the chance of defending myself, for the fight
would show me to the enemy before I could see
my object; but there was no alternative, and
something must be done. Between hope and
despair I managed to stir up the ashes, so
that I could see little Weasel running to and
fro to the cellar door. I concluded that the
enemy must be skulking in the cellar. I then,
but not without difficulty, got a candle lighted.
Holding the candle in my left hand, I laid hold
of my pistol. With the lynx-eye and wary step
of a cat ready to pounce on its prey, I advanced rather obliquely, with my right arm
stretched out at full length holding the cocked
pistol, till I got to the cellar door, the little
dog all the while making a furious noise; when,
lo! what was there but a skunk sitting on a
roll of tobacco!  The shot blew it almost to
160 &&toentureg on tïje Oregon    M
atoms, and so delicately perfumed everything
in the house that I was scarcely able to live
in it for days afterwards; but that was not all;
the trivial incident was productive of very bad
consequences. Several hundreds of Indians
being encamped about the place at the time,
no sooner did they see the light or hear the
shot, than they all rushed into the house,
thinking something serious had happened.
So far, however, there was no great harm;
but when they beheld two rolls of tobacco
and two small bales of goods, it appeared such
wealth in their eyes that they could scarcely
recover from the surprise. These tempting
articles I had endeavored all along to keep as
much as possible out of their sight, and dealt
them out with a sparing hand, and as long as
the Indians did not see them in bulk all went
well; but after the overwhelming exhibition
of so much property there was no satisfying
them. They became importunate and troublesome for some time, and caused me much
anxiety. The time fixed for Mr. Stuart's
return had now arrived, and I most anxiously
looked for him every hour. Often had I reason to curse the intrusion of the skunk into
my house. After some time, however, things
settled down again to their usual level, and
good order and good feelings were again renewed between us.
October had now passed by and November
also, but no Mr. Stuart came, and various
-■■ - aicïanùcr $o&£
reports were circulated by the Indians as to
his fate; and I myself now began to despair
of his return. The delay of Mr. Stuart's party
had a visible effect on the conduct of the
Indians. They became more bold, neglected
their hunting, and loitered about the place
as if in expectation of some sudden change.
Strange Indians were every day swelling the
camp; they held councils, too; altogether,
they were a changed people.
Seeing this unfavorable change fast spreading among the Indians in consequence of Mr.
Stuart's delay, I set about counteracting it.
I assembled all the chiefs and other great men,
and after smoking the pipe of friendship, told
them not to be uneasy at Mr. Stuart's absence ;
that I could easily account for it; that finding
the country rich in furs as he went along, and
the Indians peaceable and well disposed, he had
most probably gone off to the white man's
land for more goods, and would be back early
with a rich supply and many people, so that
all their wants would be satisfied^ that those
who hunted best would get most; that they
had better exert themselves in hunting and
procuring furs; that their success would entitle
them to the favor of Mr. Stuart and the
great white chief; and that I would not fail
to represent their conduct in the fairest light.
This harangue had the desired effect. The Indians set to hunting in earnest, and kept bringing in furs regularly, and in other respects
162 fttftentute£ on tï)e Oregon
behaved exceedingly well during the whole of
the winter.
Thus I wished to make them believe what
I did not believe myself, because in my critical
situation safety required it. But to return to
Mr. Stuart. December now was passed, and
the new year of 1812 ushered in, but still there
was no account of the absent party. January
passed, and likewise February, but no Mr.
Stuart; nor was it till the twenty-second of
March that little Weasel announced, early
in the morning, the approach of strangers^
and I was rejoiced to meet again at my lonely
dwelling my long-expected friends, all safe and
During Mr. Stuart's absence of 188 days
I had procured 1,550 beavers, besides other
peltries, worth in the Canton market £2,250
sterling, and which on an average stood the
concern in but 5^ d. apiece, valuing the merchandise at sterling cost, or in round numbers, £35 sterling—a specimen of our trade
among the Indians!
Here follows Mr. Stuart's account of his
journey: "After leaving this place," said he,
"we bent our course up the Oakinacken, due
north, for upwards of 250 miles, till we reached
its source; then crossing a height of land fell
upon Thompson's River, or rather the south
branch of Frazer's River, after traveling for
some time amongst a powerful nation called the
She Whaps. The snow fell while we were here
163 iUïejeanùer fào$&
in the mountains and precluded our immediate
return; and after waiting for fine weather the
snow got so deep that we considered it hopeless to attempt getting back, and therefore
passed our time with the She Whaps and other
tribes in that quarter. The Indians were numerous and well-disposed, and the country
throughout abounds in beavers and all other
kinds of fur; and I have made arrangements
to establish a trading post there the ensuing
winter. On the twenty-sixth of February we
began our homeward journey, and spent just
twenty-five days on our way back. The distance may be about 350 miles. "
164 Chapter 9
HAVING in the preceding chapters
given a detailed account of our first
expedition into the interior, we propose
in the present [one] briefly to notice the state
of things at Astoria after our departure, and
the fate of the Tonquin.
No sooner had we left the establishment in
July last, than the natives became more and
more hostile and annoying to the whites at
Astoria, so that under the impression of danger,
all other labor being suspended, the hands and
minds of all were employed both day and
night in the construction and palisading of a
stronghold for self-defense; but after various
alarms the savage horde, without making any
hostile demonstration more than usual, took
their departure from the place, leaving the
whites once more in the enjoyment of peace
and tranquillity.
In the fall of the year a schooner of twenty-
five tons to be named the Dolly, the frame of
which had come out in the Tonquin, was built
at Astoria. This vessel was intended only for
the co^st trade, but in the present instance was
placed as a guard ship in front of the infant
establishment.   She was found, however, to
m '  i65
h SUejcanfcer fôo$'£
be too small for the coast trade, and even
unfit for tripping up and down the river; and
from her unwieldiness, not so safe as either
open boats or canoes. The people were also
awkward and unskillful, as might be expected,
having never been accustomed to such duties.
In the very first trip up the river she had well-
nigh fallen into the hands of the Indians.
Getting becalmed one day a little above the
mouth of the Wallamitte, with only four men
on board, curiosity drew a crowd of Indians
about her, and once on board it was no easy
matter to get them off again. Curiosity led
to theft: everyone began to help himself,
and to take whatever he could lay his hands
upon. The pillage was begun, when the interpreter boldly and opportunely called out
that he was going instantly to set fire to a keg
of powder, and would blow all up into the air
unless they left the ship that moment. The
Indians got frightened; those who had canoes
jumped into them, made for shore with the
hurry of despair; others jumped overboard;
and in an instant the vessel was cleared of
her troublesome visitors and let go before
the current.40 It will be recollected that
Mr. Aikins, the officer who had come out to
40 Another occasion when resort was had to this
method of obtaining relief from the presence «of unwelcome visitors is described in John Long's Voyages
and Travels, Lakeside Classics series (Chicago, 1922),
p. 91.
166 ^
&&toentureg on tïje #regon
take command of the Dolly, was, with several
others, unfortunately drowned on the bar.
Having made two or three trips up the river,
she was condemned and laid aside altogether
as useless.
It is a true saying that the wisest of us is not
always wise. In appointing so small a vessel
as the Dolly to a station so dangerous, was
manifested a total ignorance of the character
of the natives on the coast. Mr. Astor ought,
to have known that even well-appointed, large,
and armed ships often ran great hazards there,
some of that class having been taken and
pillaged by the hostile savages of that quarter.41
The American traders, with their usual
spirit of enterprise, had long carried on a
lucrative business on the Northwest Coast.
They knew well, and none knew better than
Astor himself, what was necessary and suitable
for that market, but we had got nothing of
this kind. Instead of guns we got old metal
pots and gridirons; instead of beads and
trinkets we got white cotton; and instead of
blankets, molasses. In short, all the useless
trash and unsalable trumpery which had been
41 The author's criticisms of Astor seem at times
unduly severe. In the present instance it may be
agreed that some danger from the natives attended
the use of so small a vessel as the Dolly; but how much
greater must have been the danger attending the
employment of open canoes, or the stationing of men
to pass the season alone, as did Ross the winter of
1811-12 at Okanogan.
t .-■ 1 SUejtan&er JSogg
accumulating in his shops and stores for half
a century past were swept together to fill his
Columbia ships. That these cargoes were
insured need not be told; sink or swim, his
profits were sure, j
But these we might have overlooked, had
we not felt aggrieved in other matters closely
connected with the general interest. The
articles of agreement entered into and the
promises of promotion held out when the
company was formed were violated, and that
without a blush, by the very man at the head
of the concern—that man who held its destinies in his hand. This, perhaps, may be
rendered a little more intelligible by stating
that according to the articles of copartnership
made at New York, two of the clerks were to
be promoted to an interest in the concern, or,
in other words, to become partners, after two
years' service; and on that express condition
they joined the enterprise; but what will the
reader say, or the world think, when it is told
that a young man who had never seen the
country was, by a dash of the pen, put over
their heads, and this young man was no other
than Mr. Astor's nephew. Although a little
out of place, we shall just mention another
circumstance which may show how deeply and
how sincerely Mr. Astor was interested in the
success and prosperity of his Columbia colony.
When the war broke out between Great
Britain and the United States, the Boston
168 &btoentureg on tfyt Oregon
merchants sent out, at a great expense, intelligence of the event to their shipping on the
Northwest Coast, and applied to Astor for his
quota of that expense, as he, too, had people
and property there at stake. What was his
reply? "Let the United States' flag protect
them. " Need it then be told that we were left
to shift for ourselves? So much did Mr. Astor
care about our safety.
But from this disagreeable subject we turn
to another still more so, and that is the fate
of the unfortunate Tonquin, which ship, it will
be remembered, left Astoria in June last.
On the fifth of August Calpo, a friendly
Chinook Indian, informed McDougall that
it was current among the Indians that the
Tonquin had been destroyed by the natives
along the coast, and this was the first tidings
the Astorians had of her fate. The report had
spread quickly and widely, although we remained ignorant of the fact; for not many
days after we had arrived at Oakinacken,
a party of Indians reached that place on their
return from the Great Salt Lake, as they called
it, and gave us to understand by signs and
gestures that a large ship, with white people
in it, had been blown up on the water; and
in order the better to make us comprehend
the subject, they threw up their arms in the
air, blew with the mouth, and made the wild
grimace of despair, to signify the explosion.
On our part all was conjecture and suspense,
169 Sâïejcan&er fïogjef
unwilling as we were to believe what we did
not wish to be true; but the more we reflected,
the more we were disposed to believe the
report, from the well-known fact that Mr.
Astor's choice of a captain was most unfortunate. In this instance he seemed to have
wanted his usual sagacity, and this was the
first rock on which his grand enterprise had
split. A man who could deliberately leave,
as we have already seen, nine of his fellow-
creatures to perish on the Falkland Islands;
who could throw one of his sailors overboard,
at the Island of Woahoo; who could offer the
Indians at Owhyhee a reward for the head of
one of his own officers; who could force from
his ship four of his men in a storm, to perish
at the mouth of the Columbia; who could
witness unmoved from his own deck three of
his men left to perish on Columbia bar; and
to cap the climax of cruelty we might, however
disagreeable, mention another circumstance:
On the eleventh of February, 1811, while
sailing on the high seas, a man named Joe
La Pierre fell from the mainmast-head over-
board, the ship at the time going eight knots;
a boat was instantly lowered; in the meantime
a hencoop, binnacle, and some boards were
thrown into the water, but he failed to get
hold of anything, and soon fell a good mile
or more astern. When picked up he was in a
state of insensibility, and the crew made all
possible haste to reach the ship; but as they
170 &titoentute$ on tï>e #regon
were approaching, the Captain, in a peremptory tone, ordered them back to pick up
the hencoop, binnacle, and boards before they
came alongside or put the man on board.
The boat obeyed orders, went back again,
picked up all, and returned to the ship at the
end of fifty-two minutes; yet life was not
quite extinct, for, after applying the usual
remedies of salt, warm blankets, and friction,
La Pierre revived.
But to return to the subject of Calpo's report: The conduct of Captain Thorn throughout, coupled with the fact of his having left
Astoria without a single officer on board his
ship, led strongly to the conclusion that all
was not right and that the reports in circulation might ultimately prove true. The facts
above stated I myself witnessed; fifty others
witnessed them also; they cannot be denied nor
gainsaid; yet such was the man who enjoyed
Mr. Astor's unbounded confidence.
Various and conflicting were the reports
that had from time to time reached Astoria
respecting the fate of the Tonquin; yet all
agreed in the main point—that is, in her
destruction. She had also passed by some
months the time of her expected return, so
that there remained but little doubt of her
fate; yet, subsequently to Calpo's statement,
nothing transpired to add to our fears for a
month or two, although during that time
various  individuals  and  parties  had  been
171 &lejran&et $o£$
employed to trace out the true story of her
On the twelfth of October, however, three
Chinooks were fitted out and set off with the
determination not to return until they should
reach the place where it was reported she had
been cut off, or obtain certain accounts respecting her. These men had not, however,
proceeded far, before they were met by a
strange Indian on his way to Astoria with
the unwelcome news of the Tonquin's tragical end: so the Chinooks turned about and
accompanied the stranger back ,to Astoria,
where they arrived on the eighth day; and here
the strange Indian made his report, which we
shall give in his own words:
" My name is Kasiascall, but the Chinooks
and other Indians hereabout call me Lamazu.
I belong to the Wickanook tribe of Indians
near Nootka Sound. I have often been on
board ships. The whites call me Jack. I
understand most of the languages that are
spoken along the coast. I can speak some
Chinook, too. I have been twice at this place
before, once by land and once by sea. I saw
the ship Tonquin; Captain Thorn was her
commander. I went on board of her at Woody
Point Harbor in June last. We remained there
for two days. We then sailed for Vancouver's
Island, and just as we had got to it a gale of
wind drove us to sea, and it was three days
before we got back again. The fourth morning
172 &ûtoentureg on ttje #regon
we cast anchor in Eyuck Whoola, Newcetu
Bay. There we remained for some days,
Indians going and coming, but not much trade.
One day the Indians came on board in great
numbers, but did not trade much, although
they had plenty of skins. The prices offered
did not please the Indians, so they carried
back their furs again. The day following the
chiefs came on board, and as usual asked the
Captain to show them such and such things,
and state the lowest price, which he accordingly did. They did not, however, trade, but
pressed the Captain for presents, which he
refused. The chiefs left the ship displeased at
what they called the stingy conduct in the
Captain, as they were accustomed to receive
trifling presents from the traders on the coast.
"In the evening of the same day, Mr.
McKay and myself went on shore and were
well received by the chiefs, and saw a great
many sea-otter skins with the Indians. We
both returned to the ship the same evening.
Next day the Indians came off to trade in great
numbers. On their coming alongside, the
Captain ordered the boarding-netting to be
put up round the ship, and would not allow
more than ten on board at a time; but just as
the trade had commenced, an Indian was
detected cutting the boarding-netting with
a knife in order to get on board. On being
detected he instantly jumped into one of the
canoes which were alongside and made his
173 \
flilttmtm ï5o$£
escape. The Captain then, turning round,
bade the chiefs to call him back. The chiefs
smiled and said nothing, which irritated the
Captain, and he immediately laid hold of two
of the chiefs and threatened to hang them
up unless they caused the delinquent to be
brought back to be punished. The moment
the chiefs were seized, all the Indians fled from
the ship in consternation. The chiefs were
kept on board all night with a guard over them.
Food was offered them, but*they would neither
eat nor drink. Next day, however, the offender
was brought to the ship and delivered up,
when the Captain ordered him to be stripped
and tied up, but did not flog him. He was
then dismissed. The chiefs were also liberated
and left the ship, refusing with disdain a
present that was offered them, and vowing
vengeance on the whites for the insult received.
"Next day not an Indian came to the ship;
but in the afternoon an old chief sent for
Mr. McKay and myself to go to his lodge.
We did so, and were very kindly treated.
Mr. McKay was a great favorite among the
Indians, and I have no doubt that the plot
for destroying the ship was at this time fully
arranged, and that it was intended, if possible,
to save McKay's life in the general massacre.
But not finding this practicable without the
risk of discovery, he, as we shall soon learn,
fell with the rest. When we were on shore we
saw the chiefs, and they seemed all in good
174 If-
&iftenture£ on tt>e Oregon
humor and asked me if the captain was still
angry; and on being assured that they would
be well treated and kindly received by him if
they went on board, they appeared highly
pleased, and promised to go and trade the
following day. Mr. McKay returned to the
ship that evening, but I remained on shore
till the next morning. When I got on board
Mr. McKay was walking backwards and
forwards on deck in rather a gloomy mood,
and considerably excited, himself and the
Captain having, as he told me, had some angry
words between them respecting the two chiefs
who had been kept prisoners on board, which
was sorely against McKay's will.
"As soon as I got on deck he called me to
him. f Well, ' said he, * are the Indians coming
to trade today?' I said, 'They are.' 'I wish
they would not come/ said he again, adding,
'I am afraid there is an undercurrent at work.
After the Captain's late conduct to the chiefs,
I do not like so sudden, so flattering a change.
There is treachery in the case or they differ
from all other Indians I ever knew. I have
told the Captain so. I have also suggested
that all hands should be on the alert when the
Indians are here, but he ridicules the suggestion
as groundless. So let him have his own way.'
McKay then asked me my opinion. I told
him it would be well to have the netting up.
He then bid me go to the Captain, and I went;
but before I could speak to him he called out,
i#; aiexan&er fôogg
'Well, Kas, are the Indians coming today?'
I said I thought so. He then asked, 'Are the
chiefs in good humor yet?' I said I never saw
them in better humor. 11 humbled the fellows
a little; they'll not be so saucy now, and we will
get on much better,' said the Captain. At
this moment McKay joined us and repeated
to the Captain what he had just stated to me.
The Captain laughed, observing to McKay,
'You pretend to know a great deal about the
Indian character: you know nothing at all.'
And so the conversation dropped.
"Mr. McKay's anxiety and perturbation of
mind were increased by the manner in which
the Captain treated his advice; and having,
to all appearance, a presentiment of what was
brooding among the Indians, he refused going
to breakfast that morning, put two pairs of
pistols in his pockets, and sat down on the
larboard side of the quarter-deck in a pensive
mood. In a short time afterwards the Indians
began to flock about the ship, both men and
women, in great crowds, with their furs; and
certainly I myself thought that there was not
the least danger, particularly as the women
accompanied the men to trade; but I was
surprised that the Captain did not put the
netting up. It was the first time I ever saw a
ship trade there without adopting that precaution. As soon as the Indians arrived, the
Captain, relying no doubt on the apparent
reconciliation which had taken place between
176 1     &îtoentuttg on tï>e Oregon    |j
McKay and the chiefs on shore, and wishing,
perhaps, to atone for the insult he had offered
the latter, flew from one extreme to the other,
receiving them with open arms and admitting
them on board without reserve and without
the usual precautions. The trade went on
briskly, and at the Captain's own prices, the
Indians throwing the goods received into the
canoes, which were alongside with the women
in them; but in doing so they managed to
conceal their knives about their persons, which
circumstance was noticed by one of the men
aloft, then by myself, and we warned the
Captain of it; but he treated the suggestions,
as usual, with a smile of contempt and no
more was said about it; but in a moment or
two afterwards the Captain began to suspect
something himself and was in the act of calling
Mr. McKay to him when the Indians in an
instant raised the hideous yell of death, which
echoed from stem to stern of the devoted ship.
The women in the canoes immediately pushed
off, and the massacre began. The conflict
was bloody but short. The savages, with their
naked knives and horrid yells, rushed on the
unsuspecting and defenseless whites, who were
dispersed all over the ship, and in five minutes'
time the vessel was their own. McKay was
the first man who fell. He shot one Indian,
but was instantly killed and thrown overboard, and so sudden was the surprise that the
Captain had scarcely time to draw from his
==s &Ieran&er Ma$g
pocket a clasp-knife, with which he defended
himself desperately, killed two, and wounded
several more, till at last he fell dead in the
crowd. The last man I saw alive was Stephen
Weeks, the armorer. In the midst of the
carnage, I leaped overboard, as did several
other Indians, and we were taken up by the
women in the canoes, who were yelling, whooping, and crying like so many fiends about the
ship; but before I had got two gunshots from
the ship, and not ten minutes after I had left
her, she blew up in the air with a fearful
explosion, filling the whole place with broken
fragments and mutilated bodies. The sight
was terrific and overwhelming. Weeks must
have been the man who blew up the ship, and
by that awful act of revenge 175 Indians perished, and some of the canoes, although at a
great distance off, had a narrow escape. The
melancholy and fatal catastrophe spread desolation, lamentation, and terror throughout the
whole tribe.
"Scarcely anything belonging to the ship
was saved by the Indians, and so terrifying
was the effect, so awful the scene, when two
other ships passed there soon afterwards, not
an Indian would venture to go near them.
I knew that the Tonquin belonged to the whites
at Columbia; I was eighteen days on board of
her, and had started long ago with the tidings
of her tragical end, but falling sick, I was
prevented from coming sooner.   There might
178 ^Uitoentureg on ttje Oregon
have been twenty-four days between the time
the Tonquin left the Columbia and her destruction by the Indians."42
Thus ended the sad story of Kasiascall, a
story which we at the time believed to be
perfectly true; but not many days after, some
Indians belonging to the same quarter reached
Astoria also, and gave a somewhat different
version of the affair, particularly as regarded
Kasiascall himself, and what convinced us
that he had acted a treacherous part was the
fact that on hearing that the other Indians
were coming he immediately absconded, and
we saw him no more. These Indians confirmed
Kasiascall's story in every respect as regarded
the destruction of the ill-fated Tonquin, but
persisted in assuring us that he was not on
board at the time, and that he was privy to
the whole plot. They said that before that
affair he had caused the death of four white
men, and that early in the morning of the
Tonquin's fatal day he had induced the Captain, through some plausible artifice, to send a
boat with six men to shore, and that neither
he nor the six men were on board at the time
of her destruction. That in the evening of the
42 Whether the explosion on the Tonquin was intentional or accidental, and if the former, by whom
intended, will never certainly be known. The narratives of Franchère and Ross supply our total knowledge
of the affair; and these in turn are based on the
uncertain and more or less conflicting reports of the
179 ftïejeantrer &o#$
same day, Kasiascall himself headed the party
who went and brought the six unfortunate
men, after the ship was blown up, to the
Indian camp, where they were first tortured
with savage cruelty, and then all massacred
in the most inhuman manner.
We have now brought the tragical story of
the fated Tonquin nearly to a close. Wise men
profit by experience, listen to counsel, and yield
to circumstances. Captain Thorn, on the contrary, looked upon every suggestion as an
attempt to dictate to him, despised counsel,
and treated advice with contempt. Had he
profited either by the errors or misfortunes of
others, or had he listened to the dictates of
common prudence and used the means he had
at command, the savages along the coast,
numerous and hostile as they are, would never
have obtained the mastery nor taken the
Tonquin. We lament the fate of her unfortunate crew and commander. Captain Thorn
had many good qualities—was brave, had the
manners of a gentleman, and was an able and
experienced seaman; but his temper was cruel
and overbearing, and his fate verifies the sacred
decree, that "he shall have judgment without
mercy, that hath showed no mercy."
The destruction of the Tonquin left Astoria
defenseless and almost hopeless, and might
have proved fatal to the enterprise; but whilst
these scenes were yet fresh in the minds
of the Astorians, and augmented the gloom
180 &&tetttureg on tïje Oregon  111
occasioned by their harassing and perilous
situation, the timely arrival of McKenzie,
with the first division of Mr. Hunt's party
overland made them for a moment forget
that their friends of the Tonquin were no more.
This seasonable addition to their numbers,
with the daily expectation of others—for the
main party had not yet arrived—hushed, for a
time, the threatening tone of the Indians, and
relieved the whites from that incessant watching which prudence and a regard to safety
obliged them to adopt ever since the first
rumor of the Tonquin's fate had reached their
ears. The subject of the land expedition we
shall reserve for the next chapter, concluding
the present with a few cursory observations
on the conduct of that perfidious wretch,
After absconding from Astoria, as already
stated, he lurked for some time among the
neighboring tribes, trying to stir them up to
betray the whites and take Astoria. He had
laid several plans for the purpose, and being
desperate and daring himself, he had on the
fifth of December, with twenty or thirty others
of like character, approached the establishment
on the south side through the woods, till within
sight of the back gate, with the intention of
examining the place, in order to make the
attack sure the following morning; but providentially his treason was balked by one of
those fortunate incidents which sometimes
M llejeattûer fio&$
intervene to save the innocent; for that very
evening the Astorians, as good luck would
have it, had collected some Indians, who with
the whites made a display at the back gate,
with the intention of proceeding next morning
to the chase to hunt up some wild hogs which
were roaming at large in the woods; and were,
as we were well-informed afterwards, seen by
Kasiascall and his party as they were making
their approaches to the fort. They, supposing
from the armed array that their own atrocious
designs had been discovered, immediately took
to flight, leaving in the hurry a gun, a quiver full
of arrows, and some other things behind; so
that in all probability to this circumstance
alone the place owed its preservation and the
whites their lives. How precarious is the life
of an Indian trader, if we take into consideration the habits of the country and the spirit of
the people he has to live among; a people who
feel no remorse in using the instruments of
death ; a people who delight in perfidy ! Perfidy
is the system of savages, treachery and cunning the instruments of their power, and cru^
elty and bloodshed the policy of their country.
182 Chapter 10
WE have already mentioned the departure of the land expedition from
Montreal, and now propose to follow
up its history through its zigzag windings and
perils to Columbia, the place of its destination.
The gentleman appointed to head the adventurous party was Mr. Wilson Price Hunt,
a citizen of the United States—a person every
way qualified for the arduous undertaking.
Had Mr. Astor been as fortunate in his choice
of a marine commander to conduct his expedition by sea as he was in that of his land
expedition, a very different result would have
Mr. Hunt was also accompanied on this
journey by Mr. Donald McKenzie, another
partner, who had formerly been in the service
of the North West Company. This gentleman had already acquired great experience in
the Indian countries, was bold, robust, and
43 All writers speak highly of the character of Hunt,
but many criticize sharply the quality of leadership
displayed by him. In view of his total lack of prior
experience for the work he was now essaying, it does
not seem strange that his conduct of affairs was such
as to afford room for criticism.
1 183
u ftlefan&er fôo&$
peculiarly qualified to lead Canadian voyageurs
through thick and thin. Mr. Astor placed
great confidence in his abilities, perseverance,
and prudence. Under, therefore, two such
leaders as Hunt and McKenzie he had, in fact,
everything to hope and little to fear.
The trumpet of enterprise was, therefore,
no sooner sounded at the office of the new
company for recruits, than crowds of blustering
voyageurs of all grades and qualities flocked
thither to enroll themselves under the banner
of this grand undertaking. Money was tempting, and Jean Baptiste has ever been fond of
novelty. The list of adventurers, therefore,
might have been filled up in an hour, but a
different line was pursued. McKenzie was too
sagacious and wary to be taken in by appearances; he drew a line of distinction, and
selected those only who had already given
proofs of capacity. The picking and choosing
system, however, gave great offense to many;
consequently, those who had been rejected put
every iron in the fire, out of pure spite, to discourage those already engaged, or about to
engage; and the money once expended, little
persuasion was required to effect their purpose.
Mr. McKenzie, from his knowledge of the
Canadian character, wished' to engage at once
a sufficient number for the enterprise, so that
no subsequent delays might interrupt their
progress; and this was generally allowed to
be the better plan, as we shall have occasion
184 $U>toenture£ on tïje Oregon
to notice hereafter. But Mr. Hunt—grave,
steady, and straightforward himself—detested
the volatile gaiety and ever-changing character
of the Canadian voyageurs, and gave a decided
preference to Americans and the mongrel
Creoles of the South, who, as he alleged, might
be got on the route, either at Mackinac or
St. Louis, and this was the plan ultimately
adopted, so that no more Canadian voyageurs
were taken than were barely sufficient to man
one large canoe. These men, however, were
voyageurs of the first class, whose well-tried
experience on the lakes, rivers, and frozen
regions of the North, made them anticipate
the pleasures of a holiday voyage on the waters
of the South—hardy veterans, who thought of
nothing but to toil and obey. Such were the
men, second to no canoemen in Canada, that
joined the expedition at Montreal. The party
now assembled in high spirits and after bidding a dozen adieus to their friends and companions, embarked at La Chine on the fifth of
July. On arriving at St. Anne's the devout
voyageurs, according to their usual custom,
expressed a wish to go on shore to make their
vows at the holy shrine before leaving the
island.44 There, prostrated on the ground, they
received the priest's benediction; then embarking, with pipes and song, hied their way
44 For similar accounts of this practice, see Alexander
Henry's Travels and Adventure (Lakeside Classics series, Chicago, 1921), p. 18.
L|i aïejcan&er &o£g
up the Ottawa or Grand River for Mackinac,
which place they reached on the seventeenth
Michilimackinac, or Mackinac, was their
first resting place after leaving La Chine; and
here they had again to recommence the recruiting service, as at Montreal—with this
difference, however, that the Montreal men
are expert canoemen, the Mackinac men expert
bottle men. That Canadians in general drink,
and sometimes even to excess, must be admitted; but to see drunkenness and debauchery
with all their concomitant vices, carried on
systematically, it is necessary to see Mackinac.
Here Hunt and McKenzie in vain sought
recruits, at least such as would suit their purpose; for in the morning they were found
drinking, at noon drunk, in the evening dead
drunk, and in the night seldom sober. Hogarth's drunkards in Gin Lane and Beer Alley
were nothing compared to the drunkards of
Mackinac at this time. Every nook and
corner in the whole island swarmed, at all
hours of the day and night, with motley
groups of uproarious tipplers and whiskey
hunters. Mackinac at this time resembled a
great bedlam, the frantic inmates running to
and fro in wild forgetfulness; so that Mr. Hunt,
after spending several weeks, could only pick
up a few disorderly Canadians already ruined
in mind and body; whilst the crossbreeds
and Yankees kept aloof, viewing the expedition
186 J SUtoentureg on tt>e Oregon
as an army views a forlorn hope, as destined
to destruction. Mr. Hunt now saw and confessed his error in not taking McKenzie's salutary advice to engage more voyageurs at
Montreal, but regretted most of all the precious
time they had lost to no purpose at Mackinac,
and therefore set about leaving it as soon as
But before we take our leave of a place so
noted for gallantry and gossiping, we may
observe that it was, at the date of this narrative, the chief rendezvous of the Mackinac
Fur Company and a thousand other petty
associations of trappers and adventurers, all
in some way or other connected with the
Indian trade. Here, then, Mackinac was the
great outfitting mart of the South—the center and headquarters of all those adventurers
who frequented the Mississippi and Missouri
waters in search of furs and peltries.
These different parties visit Mackinac but
once a year, and on these occasions make up
for their dangers and privations among the
Indians by rioting, carousing, drinking, and
spending all their gains in a few weeks, sometimes in a few days; and then they return
again to the Indians and the wilderness. In
this manner these dissolute spendthrifts spin
out, in feasting and debauchery, a miserable
existence, neither fearing God nor regarding
man, till the knife of the savage or some other
violent death dispatches them unpitied.
187 gUeratt&er $o$$
In the fur trade of the North many have
attained to a competency, not a few to independence, and many have realized fortunes
after a servitude of years; but in the slippery
and ruinous traffic of the South many fortunes
have been lost, and an awful sacrifice made of
human life; so that of all the adventurers
engaged, for half a century past, in the fur
trade of that licentious quarter, few, very few
indeed, ever left it with even a bare competency.45
At Mackinac Mr. Crooks, formerly a trader
on the Missouri, joined the expedition as a
partner. The odds and ends being now put
together and all ready for a start, the expedition left Mackinac on the twelfth of August,
and crossing over the lake to Green Bay,
proceeded up Fox River, then down to Prairie
du Chien by the Wisconsin, and from thence
drifted down the great Mississippi to St. Louis,
where they landed on the third of September.
45 The views of Ross concerning the superiority of
Canadian over American voyageurs are curiously
similar to an opinion once prevalent in the Southern
States to the effect that "one Southerner could whip
five Yankees." Drunkenness and roistering prevailed
at Mackinac, as it did everywhere else where voyageurs
fresh from tie wilderness congregated on the confines
of civilization to pass their brief vacation. But it
would be difficult to convince the impartial student
that the fur traders of the South (that is, of the United
States) were less enterprising and courageous, or less
noble in character, than were their Canadian prototypes.
188 &titoentute£ on tï>e Oregon
No sooner had the St. Louis papers announced the arrival of Astor's expedition at
that place than the rendezvous of Hunt and
McKenzie teemed with visitors of all grades,
anxious to enlist in the new company. Pleased
with the flattering prospect of soon completing
their number, they commenced selecting such
countenances as bespoke health and vigor.
But alas! few of that description were to be
found in the crowd.
The motley crowd that presented itself
could boast of but few vigorous and efficient
hands, being generally little better, if not
decidedly worse, than those lounging about
the streets of Mackinac, a medley of French
Creoles, old and worn-out Canadians, Spanish
renegades, with a mixture of Indians and
Indian half-breeds, enervated by indolence,
debauchery, and a warm climate. Here again
Mr. Hunt's thoughts turned to Canada, and
in the bitterness of disappointment he was
heard to say, "No place like Montreal for
hardy and expert voyageurs!" Several Yankees, however, sleek and tall as the pines of
the forest, engaged as hunters and trappers.
But here again another difficulty presented
itself: the sapient Yankees, accustomed to the
good things of St. Louis, must have their
dainties, their tea, their coffee, and their grog.
This caused a jealousy; the Canadians, who
lived on the usual coarse fare of the North,
began to complain, and insisted on receiving
 r 1   -fi &ïejtan&er Mtt$$
the same treatment which the hunters and
trappers had—such is the force of example;
and dissatisfaction once raised is not so easily
allayed again. To adjust these differences Mr.
Hunt adopted an expedient which, in place of
proving a remedy, rather augmented the evil.
Thinking it easier, or at all events cheaper, to
reduce his own countrymen, being but few in
number, to the Canadian potluck, rather than
pamper Jean Baptiste with luxurious notions,
he issued his orders accordingly that all denominations should fare alike; but Jonathan
was not to be told what he was to eat, nor
what he was to drink. Finding, however,
Mr. Hunt determined to enforce the order, the
newcomers shouldered their rifles to a man
and in the true spirit of Yankee independence
marched off with their advance in their
pockets, and the expedition saw them no
more; and not only that, but they raised such
a hue and cry against the parsimonious conduct of the new enterprise that not a man could
be afterwards got to engage; and this state
of things the other traders, and particularly
the Missouri Fur Company, turned to their
advantage by representing to the people the
horrors, the dangers, and privations that
awaited our adventurous friends; that if they
were fortunate enough to escape being scalped
by the Indians they would assuredly be
doomed, like Nebuchadnezzar, to eat grass,
and never would return to tell the sad tale of
their destruction.
190 &tibentureg on tï>e Oregon
While Mr. Hunt's affairs thus seemed almost
at a stand, a new impulse was given to the
expedition by the timely acquisition of another
partner, a Mr. Miller, who had been a trader
up the Missouri, had considerable experience
among Indians along the route to be followed,
and was a great favorite with the people at
St. Louis. As soon, therefore, as Mr. Miller
joined the expedition, people from all quarters
began again to enlist under the banner of
the new company. Canoemen, hunters, trappers, and interpreters were no longer wanting,
and the number of each being completed, the
expedition left St. Louis after a vexatious delay of forty-eight days.
On the twenty-first of October the expedition started in three boats and soon afterward
reached the mouth of the Missouri, up which
the party proceeded. Our Canadian voyageurs
were now somewhat out of their usual element.
Boats and oars, the mode of navigating the
great rivers of the South, were new to men who
had been brought up to the paddle, the cheering song, and the bark canoe of the North.
They detested the heavy and languid drag of
a Mississippi boat, and sighed for the paddle
and song of former days. They soon, however,
became expert at the oar, and Mr. Hunt, who
was somewhat partial to the South men, was
forced to acknowledge that their merits were
not to be compared to the steady, persevering habits of the men of the North.   Yet the
——>*MêMg———ai &Iejeanûei; $o&$
progress was but slow, scarcely averaging
twenty-one miles a day, so that it was the
sixteenth of November before they reached
the Nodowa, a distance of only 450 miles up
the Missouri, and there, from the coldness of
the weather and lateness of the season, they
were obliged to winter.46
Mr. McKenzie, accustomed, during the days
of the North West [Company], to start from
Montreal and reach the mouth of the Columbia
River or Great Bear's Lake the same season,
did not much like this slow traveling, and had
his advice been acted upon, the expedition, in
place of wintering at the Nodowa, would have
wintered on the waters of the Columbia.
Here it was that Mr. McClellan, another
partner, joined the expedition.47 This gentleman was one of the first shots in America;
nothing could escape his keen eye and steady
hand; hardy, enterprising, and brave as a
lion. On the whole, he was considered a
great acquisition to the party.
46 This winter camp was about ten miles northwest
of the modern city of St. Joseph, Missouri, on the
boundary between Holt and Andrew counties. According to modern engineering surveys the mouth of the
Nodaway is 506 miles above the mouth of the Missouri.
47 This was Robert McClellan, one of the famous
characters of the northwestern frontier. He was
remarkably agile, and famed for his swiftness of foot.
He served as one of General Wayne's chief scouts in
the Indian War of 1792-94; some of his exploits in this
connection are described by Theodore Roosevelt in
his Winning of the West (New York, 1896), Vol. IV,
pp. 80, 82.
192 II     8Uitoenture£ on tïje Oregon
After settling the winter quarters, Mr. Hunt
returned to St. Louis, which place he reached
on the twentieth of January, 1811, and before
he joined his wintering friends at the Nodowa
River again it was the seventeenth of April.
During Mr. Hunt's visit at St. Louis orders
arrived, among other instructions from Mr.
Astor, that the sole command of the expedition
should be vested in him alone, although hitherto it was intrusted to Hunt and McKenzie.
This underhand proceeding of Astor's gave
umbrage to the other partners, and particularly to McKenzie, and added new difficulties to Mr. Hunt's situation by throwing the
whole responsibility of the enterprise upon
him alone; but such was Astor, that no confidence could be placed in his arrangements; his
measures, like the wind, were ever changing.
During Mr. Hunt's absence several changes
had taken place in the wintering camp. Some
of the men had deserted, others again, under
various pretenses, shook themselves clear of
the ill-omened undertaking, and even after
Mr. Hunt's return several more turned their
backs and walked off without the least compunction, and all those who so unceremoniously and treacherously left the expedition,
excepting one, were Americans. Mr. Hunt,
in his eagerness to press forward, was perfectly
worn out with anxiety.
On the twenty-second of April, however, the
adventurers broke up their camp, or winter
193 &leranZ>et JSojsfg
quarters, and bent their course up the strong
and rapid current of the Missouri, no less
formidable in itself than dangerous ori account of the numerous savage hordes that
infest its banks.48
On the fourteenth of September the party
reached the heights of the Rocky Mountains,
safe and in good spirits, after many hairbreadth escapes, and drew near to the Pilot
Knobs, or Trois Tetons, that great landmark,
so singular and conspicuous, near which is the
romantic source of Lewis River, or the great
south branch of the Columbia. From the
Nodowa to the Pilot Knobs occupied them
145 days.
The Pilot Knobs, so cheering to our wayfaring friends, proved but the beginning of their
real troubles: for, after various projects and
plans, it was resolved on the eighteenth of
October to abandon their hitherto serviceable
and trusty horses, and they were, therefore,
turned loose, to the number of 180, and the
party, embarking in fifteen crazy and frail
canoes, undertook to descend the rugged and
boiling channels of the headwaters of the great
48 With Hunt on this journey as far as the country
of the Arikara tribe in modern North Dakota was
John Bradbury, an English scientist. In 1817 he published in England a valuable narrative journal of
his American travels, which is a first-hand authority
for the earlier portion of Hunt's expedition. A fuller
history of it than Ross presents is found in Irving's
194 &titoenture£ on tïje Oregon
south branch of the Columbia. Having proceeded about 350 miles, they were at last compelled to abandon the project of navigating
these bold and dangerous waters; but not
before one of their best steersmen was drowned,
and they were convinced as to the impracticability of proceeding by water.
At this time two small and separate parties,
consisting in all of twelve persons, were fitted
out as trappers to hunt the beaver, and to the
astonishment of all, Mr. Miller, in one of his
headstrong fits, turned his back on the expedition abruptly and became a trapper also.
The canoes being now abandoned altogether,
various plans were thought of; two or three
parties were sent out as scouts, to try and fall
in with Indians, provisions being now so scarce
that the most gloomy apprehensions were
entertained. These parties, however, saw but
few Indians, and those few were destitute
themselves. At this time a starving dog that
could hardly crawl along was a feast to our
people, and even the putrid and rotten skins of
animals were resorted to in order to sustain
life. Whilst these parties were exhausting
themselves to little or no purpose, another
party attempted to recover the horses which
had been so thoughtlessly and imprudently
left behind; but they returned unsuccessful,
after a week's trial and hunger. A fifth party
was dispatched ahead to explore the river,
and they also returned with the most gloomy
«MM %LUxmbtt &o$$
presage; all failed, and all fell back again on
the cheerless camp to augment the general
despondency. The party now, as a last resort,
set about depositing and securing the goods
and baggage by putting them in caches49;
this done, the party finally separated into four
bands, each headed by a partner, and the
object of one and all was to reach the mouth of
the Columbia by the best and shortest way.
That part of the country where they were
was destitute of game, and the provisions of
the whole party taken together were scarcely
enough for two days' journey. At that season
of the year the Indians retire to the distant
mountains, and leave the river till the return
of spring, which accounts for their absence
at this time.
We have already stated that one man,
49 A cache was an underground storehouse in common
use among the traders, the method of making which had
originally been learned from the Indians. A suitable
place having been selected, a piece of sod about eighteen
inches in diameter was carefully removed and a hole
which may be compared to a huge bottle excavated,
the dirt being carefully removed and concealed from
prying eyes. The inside of the excavation was lined
with dry branches, after which the goods to be secured
were placed within and the sod cover replaced. If
the work was properly done, no trace of the deposit
could be observed, and the goods were secure from
weather and marauders until the owner should return
for them. An account of a cache made at Chicago in
1687 by certain survivors of La Salle's Texan expedition is given in the present writer's Development of Chicago, 1673-1914 (Chicago, 1916), pp. 24, 25, 33, 34.
196 &îitoentureg on tïje Oregon
named Clappine, had been drowned; another
of the name of Prévost had become deranged
through starvation and drowned himself; and
a third, named Carrier, lingered behind and
perished. These fatal disasters happened in
the parties conducted by Messrs. Hunt and
Crooks. McKenzie and his party were more
fortunate. As soon as the division of the men
and property took place, that bold North
Wester called his little band together. "Now,
my friends," said he, " there is still hope before
us; to linger on our way, to return back, or to
be discouraged and stand still is death—a
death of all others the most miserable; therefore, take courage; let us persevere and push
on ahead, and all will end well; the foremost
will find something to eat, the last may fare
worse." On hearing these cheering words, the
poor fellows took off their caps, gave three
cheers, and at once shot ahead. They kept as
near the river as possible and got on wonderfully well until they came into the narrow and
rugged defiles of the Blue Mountains. There
they suffered much, and were at one time five
days without a mouthful to eat, when fortunately they caught a beaver, and on this small
animal and its skin, scarcely a mouthful to
each, the whole party had to subsist for three
days. At this time some of them were so reduced that McKenzie himself had to carry on
his own back two of his men's blankets, being
a strong and robust man, and long accustomed
197 aïerantiar fôo££
to the hardships and hard fare of the North.
He alone, of all the party, stood the trial well,
and by still cheering and encouraging his men
on, he brought them at length to the main
waters of the Columbia at Walla Walla, a
little below the great forks. From thence they
descended with the current to the long-looked-
for Astoria, where they arrived safe and sound
on the tenth of January, 1812.
Mr. Hunt and the other parties still lingered
behind, and from the severe trials and privations which McKenzie, who was reckoned the
boldest and most experienced adventurer in
the expedition, suffered, fears were entertained
as to the safety of the other parties, more
particularly as many gloomy reports had
reached Astoria, some saying that they had
been killed by the Indians, others that they
had died of hunger in the mountains; but at
last, on the fifteenth of February, the joyful
cry of white men approaching announced at
Astoria the glad tidings of Mr. Hunt's arrival.
The emaciated, downcast looks and tattered
garments of our friends all bespoke their extreme sufferings during a long and severe
winter. To that Being alone who preserveth
all those who put their trust in Him, were in
this instance due, and at all times, our thanksgiving and gratitude.
19S Chapter il
The Adventures of Ramsey Crooks and
John Day
AS the spring advanced various resolu-
r\ tions were passed and preparations
made in furtherance of the views of the
concern for the current year. In the prosecution of these plans three parties were set on
foot for the interior: one, consisting of three
men, under Mr. Reed, for New York, overland;
another, under Mr. Farnham, for the goods
left en cache by Mr. Hunt on his journey;
and a third, to be conducted by Mr. Robert
Stuart, for Oakinacken, with supplies for that
On the twenty-second of March all these
parties, consisting of seventeen men, left
Astoria together under the direction of Mr.
Stuart. On the departure of the party Mr.
McClellan, following the example of his colleague, Mr. Miller, abruptly resigned, and
joined the party for New York. This gentleman possessed many excellent qualities, but
they were all obscured and thrown into the
shade by a fickle and unsteady mind.
Everything went on smoothly till the party
reached the Long Narrows, that noted resort
of plunderers, where few can pass without
:,\ Mexanîxet ïSû£0
paying a heavy tax; but there, while in the act
of making the portage, the party being unavoidably divided, they were furiously attacked by a strong party of Indians. Mr.
Reed, bearer of the express for New York,
was knocked down in the scuffle and severely
wounded; and had not McClellan, with a bravery and presence of mind peculiar to himself,
leaped dexterously over a canoe, he would have
been felled to the ground; but his agility saved
him, and in all probability saved the whole
party, for he instantly shot the man who aimed
the blow, then drawing a pistol from his belt,
shot him who had assailed Reed dead at his
feet; then clapping his hand to his mouth, in
the true Indian style, he gave the war whoop,
fired his rifle, and the Indians fled. During the
critical scuffle the dispatches were carried off
by the savages, and a few other articles of but
little value. The firing and the war whoop
summoned in a moment all the whites together, and the Indians, being panic struck at
McClellan's heroic conduct, retired rather disconcerted, giving Mr. Stuart and his party
time to collect their property, embark and
They had not proceeded far, however, when
the Indians assembled again in battle array
and taking up a position some distance ahead
appeared determined to dispute the passage.
But Mr. Stuart was on the alert, and took up
his station on a rock some distance from the
200 I &titoenture$ on tlje Oregon
shore and from the savages also; when, after
a momentary suspense, and many wild flourishes and threats on the part of the Indians, a
parley ensued and Mr. Stuart had the good
fortune to negotiate a peace. Six blankets and
a few trifling articles satisfied the Indians, or
at least they preferred them to the doubtful
issue of a second attack. As soon, therefore, as
they had received the stipulated oblation for
their dead they retired, and our friends pursued
their journey without any further molestation;
but for some days and nights after, our party
kept a good lookout.
Mr. Stuart, although brave and prudent,
erred in attempting to pass the portage in
the night. That stealthy proceeding revealed
their fears or weakness, and was, in all probability, the cause of the whole disaster. Mr.
Reed gradually recovered, but the dispatches
were lost, so that there was an end to the
expedition overland. Mr. Reed and his men,
therefore, accompanied Mr. Stuart, as did
Mr. Farnham and the cache party, it not being
considered prudent to divide. The party now
continued their route together, and arrived
safe at Oakinacken on the twenty-fourth of
April. Here they remained for five days, when
the party left for Astoria in four canoes, carrying off with them 2,500 beaver skins. Mr.
David Stuart and two of our men accompanied
the party down, leaving at Oakinacken only
myself, Mr. Donald McGillis, and one man.
Bgaes—— 1 	
u gUeranîur $o&$
On their way down, one morning a little
after sunrise, while near the Umatallow River,
where a crowd of Indians were assembled together, they were hailed loudly in English to
"come on shore." The canoes instantly closed
together, and listened with some anxiety to
hear the words repeated. They had no sooner
done so than the voice again called out to
"come on shore." To shore the canoes instantly steered, when to the surprise of all, who
should be there, standing like two specters,
but Mr. Crooks and John Day, who it will be
remembered had been left by Mr. Hunt among
the Snake Indians the preceding autumn; but
so changed and emaciated were they, that our
people for some time could scarcely recognize
them to be white men; and we cannot do
better here than give their story in their
own words. The following is, therefore, Mr.
Crooks' account of their adventures and their
"After being left by Mr, Hunt, we remained
for some time with the Snakes, who were very
kind to us. When they had anything to eat
we ate also; but they soon departed, and being
themselves without provisions, of course they
left us without any. We had to provide for
ourselves the best way we could. As soon,
therefore, as the Indians went off, we collected
some brushwood and coarse hay and made a
sort of booth, or wigwam, to shelter us from
the cold.   We then collected some firewood;
202 Wk &&tanture£ont|>eOregon
but before we got things in order, John Day
grew so weak that when he sat down he could
not rise again without help. Following the
example of the Indians I dug up roots for our
sustenance, but not knowing how to cook
them, we were nearly poisoned. In this plight
we unfortunately let the fire go out, and for a
day and night we both lay in a torpid state,
unable to strike fire, or to collect dry fuel.
We had now been a day without food, or even
water to drink, and death appeared inevitable.
But Providence is ever kind. Two straggling
Indians, happening to come our way, relieved
us. They made us a fire, got us some water,
and gave us something to eat; but seeing some
roots we had collected for food lying in a
corner, they gave us to understand that they
would poison us if we ate them. If we had had
a fire, those very roots would have been our
first food, for we had nothing else to eat; and
who can tell but the hand of a kind and superintending Providence was in all this? These
poor fellows stayed with us the greater part of
two days and gave us at their departure about
two pounds of venison. We were really sorry
to lose them.
"On the same day, after the Indians had
left us, a very large wolf came prowling about
our hut, when John Day, with great exertion
and good luck, shot the ferocious animal dead,
and to this fortunate hit I think we owed our
lives. The flesh of the wolf we cut up and dried
203 \
^ïeranbet fëo&s?
and laid it by for some future emergency, and
in the meantime feasted upon the skin; nor
did we throw away the bones, but pounded
them between stones, and with some roots
made a kind of broth, which in our present
circumstances we found very good. After
we had recovered our strength a little and were
able to walk, we betook ourselves to the mountains in search of game; and when unsuccessful
in the chase we had recourse to our dried wolf.
For two months we wandered about, barely
sustaining life with our utmost exertions. All
this time we kept traveling to and fro, until
we happened, by mere chance, to fall on the
Umatallow River; and then, following it, we
made the Columbia about a mile above this
place on the fifteenth day of April according to
our reckoning. Our clothes being all torn and
worn out, we suffered severely from cold; but
on reaching this place, the Indians were very
kind to us. This man," pointing to an old gray-
headed Indian called Yeckatapam, "in particular treated us like a father. After resting
ourselves for two days with the good old man
and his people, we set off, following the current in The delusive hope of being able to reach
our friends at the mouth of the Columbia, as
the Indians gave us to understand that white
men had gone down there in the winter, which
we supposed must have been Mr. Hunt and
his party.
"We had proceeded on our journey nine
204 fttitoentute£ on tl>e Oregon
days without interruption and were not far
from the Falls, which the Indians made us
comprehend by uttering the word 'tumm,'
which we understood to mean noise or fall,
when one morning as we were sitting near the
river, gazing on the beautiful stream before us,
the Indians in considerable numbers collected
round us in the usual friendly manner. After
some little time, however, one of them got up
and under pretense of measuring the length of
my rifle with his bow, took it in his hands;
another in the same manner, and at the same
moment, took John Day's rifle from him. The
moment our guns were in their possession
the two Indians darted out of the crowd to
some distance, and assuming a menacing attitude, pointed them at us; in the same instant
all the others fled from us and joined the two
who had carried off our guns. All began to
intimate to us by signs, in the most uproarious
and wild manner, that some of their people
had been killed by the whites, and threatened
to kill us in turn. In this critical conjunction
John Day drew his knife with the intention of
rushing upon the fellows to get hold of his
gun; but I pointed out to him: the folly of such
a step, which must have instantly proved
fatal to us, and he desisted.
"The Indians then closed in upon us, with
guns pointed and bows drawn, on all sides,
and by force stripped us of our clothes, ammunition, knives, and everything else, leaving
205 £Ug:ani>er $o££
us naked as the day we were born, and by their
movements and gestures it appeared evident
that there was a disposition on their part to
kill us; but, after a long and angry debate, in
which two or three old men seemed to befriend us, they made signs for us to be off.
Seeing the savages determined, and more of
them still collecting, we slowly turned round
and went up the river again, expecting every
moment to receive a ball or an arrow. After
traveling some little distance we looked back
and saw the savages quarreling about the
division of the booty; but fearing pursuit, we
left the river and took to the hills. All that
day we traveled without tasting food, and at
night concealed ourselves among the rocks,
without fire, food, or clothing. Next day we
drew near to the river and picked up some
fishbones at a deserted Indian encampment.
With these we returned to the rocks again,
and pounding them with stones, tried to eat a
little, but could not manage to swallow any.
That night, also, we hid ourselves among the
rocks, but at last we resolved to keep by the
river, and as it seemed impossible to avoid
death, either by the Indians or starvation, to
brave all dangers in the attempt to reach our
good old friend Yeckatapam, and Providence
still guarded us.
"Soon after we arrived at the river we
unexpectedly fell on a small Indian hut, with
only two old people and a child in it. We ap-
206 I   flftfaentureg on tfte #regon
proached with hesitating and doubtful steps,
but on entering the solitary wigwam, the poor
inmates were more frightened than ourselves;
and had they had timely notice of our approach, they would have certainly fled. The
good people, however, gave us fish, broth, and
roots to eat, and this was the first food we had
tasted, and the first fire we had seen, for four
days and four nights. Our feet were severely
cut and bleeding for want of shoes, yet we lost
no time, but set off, and arrived here three days
ago, and our good old friend Yeckatapam
received us again with open arms and gave
us these skins to cover our nakedness, as ye
now see.
"The good old man then killed a horse,
which his people cut up and dried for us, and
with that supply we had resolved to set out
this very day and retrace our steps back again
to St. Louis overland, and when you came in
sight we were just in the act of tying up our
little bundles, regretting, most of all, that we
had no means of recompensing our good and
faithful friend Yeckatapam."
Mr. Crooks having concluded his narrative,
Mr. Stuart called the old man to him and
clothed him from head to foot for his friendly
services. Mr. Crooks and his fellow sufferer
then cordially shaking hands with Yeckatapam, the party pushed off and continued
their voyage. On arriving at the place where
Crooks had been robbed, the party put on
1 H
&lejtranî>er Ma$$
shore, but the Indians, having notice of their
approach, fled to the interior, so that they had
no opportunity of either recovering the guns or
inquiring into the affair.
From the Long Narrows the party met with
no interruption, but continued their route
till they reached Astoria, on the twelfth of
May, where Crooks and all the party were
greeted with a hearty welcome; and what
made the meeting more joyous was the safe
arrival, three days previous, of the Company's
ship, Beaver, from New York with a supply of
goods and a reinforcement of men.
*o8 Chapter 12
Operations in the Interior
A LL parties being now at their posts for
r\ the first time, a meeting of the partners
was convened, at which the following
resolutions, among others, were passed: " that
Mr. David Stuart proceed to his post at Oakinacken, explore the country northward, and
establish another post between that and New
Caledonia: that Mr. McKenzie winter in the
Snake Country, recover the goods left in cache
there by Mr. Hunt, and report on the state
of the country: that Mr. Clarke winter at
Spokane, as an intermediate post between Mr.
Stuart on the north and Mr. McKenzie on the
south, in order to oppose and keep in check
the North West Company established there:
that Mr. Robert Stuart proceed to St. Louis
across land, with dispatches for Mr. Astor:
that all these several parties, for mutual safety,
advance together as far as the forks, or entrance of the great south branch." It was
likewise settled at this council, that Mr.
Hunt should accompany the ship Beaver to
the Russian settlements on his coasting trip.
These preparatory steps being taken, the several parties, numbering sixty-two persons, left
Astoria for the interior on the twenty-ninth
of June.
~réL âlejeanùer iSogg
This was the first formidable and regular
party that left Astoria, which seemed to
impart to the concern a character of permanency and success, and was conducted by
Mr. Clarke, the brightest star in the Columbian constellation, as Mr. Astor expressed
himself—for to him, by mutual consent, was
conceded the important command.
On their progress, no interruption impeded
the party till they reached the Cascades,
where the Indians were rather troublesome
and shot a few arrows at the canoes as they
passed, but on the party landing all was
submission. The portage was made, and the
party advanced at a rapid rate till they reached
the Long Narrows. That intricate and gloomy
pass is constantly infested with gambling
Indians of the vilest character.
Here, as usual,  the thievish subjects of
Wyampam assembled in numbers, and showed
a formidable and determined front.   To one
used to their gasconading threats there was
nothing in all this to intimidate,50 but to
Mr. Clarke, although a man of nerve on most
occasions, the sight was overwhelming.   He
stood appalled, and almost speechless.   In
short, he looked upon all as irretrievably lost.
50 In Cox's narrative the danger is presented in a
stronger light than by Ross. The preparations made
by the leaders to meet it are worth noting : " Each man
was presented with a musket and forty rounds of ball
cartridge, with pouch, belts, etc., and over his clothes
he wore leathern armor; this was a kind of shirt made
210 &btocnturc£ on tyt Oregon
To advance, to retreat, or to stand still with
safety, seemed to him equally hopeless.
Guards and patrols were stationed round the
tempting bales of goods, and days and nights
wasted in useless harangues and parleys without result. Mr. Clarke's lofty tent, pitched
in the center of the arena, as a beacon on the
top of a hill shining afar, was guarded on every
side by trusty Sandwich Islanders; while the
rest, forming the circumvallation, had to
protect all within. This state of things continued for several days and nights, until
Mr. McKenzie and Mr. David Stuart, taking
a voluntary stroll for upwards of two miles
through the Indian camp, proved by their
safe return that the alarm and fears of Mr.
Clarke were ^utterly groundless, and urged
him to press forward, as every moment's
delay only increased the danger.
Mr. Clarke, however, viewed their situation
as desperate, and the thought of advancing as
utterly hopeless. Mr. McKenzie then told
him that he could wait no longer, but would
proceed with his own party alone; Mr. Stuart
said the same. To this threat Mr. Clarke replied that if they could pass he could pass also,
but would not answer for the consequences.
out of the skins of the elk, which reached from the neck
to the knees. It was perfectly arrow-proof; and at
eighty or ninety yards impenetrable by a musket
bullet. Besides the muskets, numbers had daggers,
short swords, and pistols; and when armed cap-a-pie,
we presented a formidable appearance. "
211 lïejeanbet &o&#
Mr. McKenzie replied that he would answer
for them, and therefore took upon himself
the command, and immediately ordered the
tents to be struck and the party to advance.
The party advanced accordingly, and by
adopting judicious arrangements got through
the suspicious pass without molestation or loss.
Before we proceed further, however, we may
here mention that whilst McKenzie and Stuart
were on their ramble through the Indian camp
they saw in a corner of one of the chief's
lodges the rifle which had been taken from
Mr. Reed when he was wounded, and they
were resolved at all hazards to recover it.
As soon, therefore, as all were safe above
the Narrows, McKenzie took eight men, well
armed, with him and went direct to the chief's
lodge. Then stationing four of his men at the
door, he himself went in with the other four
and demanded the stolen rifle, but the chief
denied that he had it, or that it was in his
lodge. Mr. McKenzie, however, insisted that
it was there, and said he was determined to
have it; and seeing that fair means would not
avail, he drew his dagger and began to turn
over and cut up everything that came in his
way until at last the rifle was discovered, when
Mr. McKenzie upbraided the chief for falsehood and dishonesty, took the rifle, and with
his party made for the door of the lodge. The
Indians were now assembling together in
crowds, but before they had time to decide on
212 &titoenture£ on tï>e Oregon
any step, McKenzie and his men were out of
their reach, carrying the rifle with them. The
business was well timed, for had they delayed
some minutes longer in the lodge, it is hard to
say what the consequences might have been.
Early in the morning our party proceeded on
their journey, passed the falls, and encamped
for the night near the spot where Mr. Crooks
and John Day had been robbed on their forlorn
adventures down the river.
The Indians, however, flocked round our
party as if nothing had happened, and among
the rest the ruffian who took John Day's rifle
was recognized. He was immediately laid
hold of and secured in one of the canoes.
Mr. Crooks' rifle was alone recovered. Some
were for hanging the offender, others were for
cutting his ears off; but after keeping him a
prisoner for two days he was set at liberty
without any further punishment; and, under
all circumstances, this was perhaps the wisest
course. Before he went off, however, Mr.
McClellan, to show him the effect of firearms
in the hands of the whites, set up a piece of
board with a white spot on it only two inches
in diameter, and in three successive shots at a
hundred yards distance with his rifle he pierced
the bull's eye; then stopping up the holes of
two of the shots, put a hazelnut in the third,
and broke it with two successive shots at the
same distance.
On passing the Umatallow, Yeckatapam was
213 &ïejcanûer &o$$
not forgotten, Mr. Crooks giving him a chief's
coat in return for the kindness shown to the
latter while in distress.
On the twenty-ninth of July all the parties
arrived safe at Walla Walla. Here they were
to separate, and here it was that Mr. Robert
Stuart, after staying two days with Tum-
meatapam and purchasing ten horses, the
number requisite for the journey overland,
took his departure for St, Louis. The party
consisted of Mr. Stuart, Benjamin Jones,
André Vallar, Francis Le Clerc, and Mr.
Crooks and Mr. McClellan. The two latter
gentlemen relinquished all connection with the
concern and joined the party for St. Louis.
This little, bold, and courageous party bade
adieu to their associates and commenced their
perilous undertaking on the thirty-first of
July. In the meantime the main party struck
off at the forks, leaving McKenzie and Clarke
on their way up the Snake River, or south
branch, to their respective destinations. We
shall, for the present, accompany Mr. David
Stuart to his wintering ground and back again
to this place, where the parties agreed to meet
in the following June. The histories of the
other parties shall be recounted hereafter, each
in its proper place.
From the forks, Mr. Stuart and his party,
ascending the north branch, continued their
voyage and arrived at Oakinacken on the
twelfth of August. Here it will be remembered
214 &tibenture£ on tïje Oregon
that when the party left this place on the
twenty-eighth of April for Astoria, I remained
at Oakinacken, having only Mr. McGillis and
one man, named Boullard, with me. On the
sixth of May I started with Boullard and
an Indian, with sixteen horses, on a trading
excursion, and following Mr. Stuart's route of
last winter, reached the She Whaps on Thompson's River the tenth day and there encamped
at a place called by the Indians Cumcloups,
near the entrance of the north branch.61
From this station I sent messages to the different tribes around, who soon assembled,
bringing with them their furs. Here we stayed
for ten days. The number of Indians collected
on the occasion could not have been less than
2,000. Not expecting to see so many, I had
taken but a small quantity of goods with me;
nevertheless, we loaded all our horses. So
anxious were they to trade, and so fond of
tobacco, that one morning before breakfast I
obtained no beavers for leaf tobacco, at the
rate of five leaves per skin; and at last, when
I had but one yard of white cotton remaining,
one of the chiefs gave me twenty prime beaver
skins for it.
Having now finished our trade, we prepared
to return home, but before we could get our
61 Fort Kamloops, or Fort Thompson, at the junction
of the northern and eastern branches of Thompson
River. It is now a station on the Canadian Pacific
215 <Mtxmtm &o0$
odds and ends ready Boulard, my trusty
second, got involved in a love affair, which
had nearly involved us all in a disagreeable
scrape with the Indians. This was the very
man Mr. Stuart got from Mr. Thompson in
exchange for Cox, the Owhyhee. He was as
full of latent tricks as a serpent is of guile.
Unknown to me, the old fellow had been
teasing the Indians for a wife and had already
an old squaw at -his heels, but could not raise
the wind to pay the whole purchase money.
With an air of effrontery he asked me to unload one of my horses to satisfy the demands
of the old father-in-law, and because I refused
him he threatened to leave me and to remain
with the savages. Provoked at his conduct, I
suddenly turned round and horsewhipped the
fellow, and fortunately the Indians did not
interfere. The castigation had a good effect:
it brought the amorous gallant to his senses:
the squaw was left behind. We started, but
were frequently impeded on our journey by
the sudden rise of the rivers. As we were often
obliged to swim our horses, our packs of beaver
got now and then wet, but without sustaining
any serious injury, and on the twelfth of July
we reached home, well pleased both with our
trade and the reception we had met with from
the Indians. On this trip we had frequent
opportunities of paying attention to the aspect
and topography of the country through which
we passed.
as. '\n
&titoentute£ on tïje Oregon
On the twenty-fifth of August Mr. Stuart,
with his men and merchandise, left Oakinacken
to winter among the She Whaps, appointing
me, as a recompense for my successful voyage to Cumcloups, to the post of Oakinacken.
Although not hitherto formally appointed, I
had virtually been in charge of it since its
first establishment. Having escorted Mr. Stuart for seventy miles, I returned to prepare
my own post for the winter operations. After
spending all the autumn in trading excursions,
according to the custom of the country, I
resolved on the second of December to pay a
visit to Mr. John Clarke at Fort Spokane,
which place we reached on the fourth day.
Spokane lies due east from Oakinacken, distant
about 150 miles. The face of the country is
rocky and barren.
I had never seen Mr. Clarke before, but
certainly a more affable, generous, and kind
gentleman in his own house could not be met
During the three days I remained with him
I had frequent opportunities of observing the
sly and underhand dealings of the competing
parties, for the opposition posts of the North
West Company and Mr. Clarke were built
contiguous to each other. When the two
parties happened to meet they made the amplest protestations of friendship and kindness,
and a stranger, unacquainted with the politics of Indian trade, would have pronounced
na \
&ïqranîier fto£g
them sincere; but the moment their backs
were turned, they tore each other to pieces.
Each party had its maneuvering scouts out
in  all directions, watching  the motions of
the Indians and laying plots and plans to
entrap or foil each other.   He that got most
skins, never minding the cost or the crime,
was the cleverest fellow; and under such tutors
the Indians were apt disciples.  They played
their tricks also, and turned the foibles and
wiles of their teachers to their own advantage.
Leaving Spokane Fort, we turned towards
home again. In the evening of the thirteenth,
not far from home, as we were ascending a
very steep hill, at the top of which is a vast
plain, I and my man had to walk, leaving our
horses to shift for themselves and climb up as
they could; and so steep and intricate were
the windings that I had to throw off my coat,
which, together with my gun, I laid on one of
the pack horses. The moment we reached the
top, and before we could gather our horses or
look about us, we were overtaken by a tremendous cold snowstorm;  the sun became
instantly obscured, and the wind blew a hurricane.   We were taken by surprise.   I immediately called out to the men to shift for
themselves, and let the horses do the same.
Just at this moment I accidentally came in
contact with one of the loaded horses, for such
was the darkness that we could not see three
feet ahead; but unfortunately, it was not the
218 $ttibenture£ on tï>e Oregon
horse on which I had laid my coat and gun,
I instantly cut the tyings, threw off the load,
and mounting on the pack-saddle, rode off at
full speed through the deep snow, in hopes of
reaching a well-known place of shelter not far
off; but in the darkness and confusion I missed
the place, and at last got so benumbed with
cold that I could ride no farther; and, besides,
my horse was almost exhausted. In this plight
I dismounted and took to walking, in order to
warm myself. But no place of shelter was to
be found. Night came on, the storm increased
in violence, my horse gave up, and I myself was so exhausted, wandering through the
deep snow, that I could go no farther. Here I
halted, unable to decide what to do. My situation appeared desperate: without my coat,
without my gun, without even a fire steel.
In such a situation I must perish. At last I
resolved on digging a hole in the snow, but
in trying to do so I was several times in danger
of being suffocated with the drift and eddy.
In this dilemma I unsaddled my horse, which
stood motionless as a statue in the snow. I
put the saddle under me, and the saddlecloth,
about the size of a handkerchief, round my
shoulders, then squatted down in the dismal
hole, more likely to prove my grave than a
shelter. On entering the hole I said to myself,
"Keep awake, and live; sleep and die!" I
had not been long, however, in this dismal
burrow before the cold, notwithstanding my
i i
219 %\cxemhtt $iaë&
utmost exertions to keep my feet warm, gained
so fast upon me that I was obliged to take off
my shoes, then pull my trousers, by little and
little, over my feet, till at last I had the waistband round my toes, and all would not do.
I was now reduced to the last shift, and tried
to keep my feet warm at the risk of freezing
my body.  At last I had scarcely strength to
move a limb; the cold was gaining fast upon
me, and the inclination to sleep almost overcame me. In this condition I passed the whole
night, nor did the morning promise me much
relief; yet I thought it offered me a glimpse of
hope, and that hope induced me to endeavor
to break out of my snowy prison.  I tried, but
in vain, to put on my frozen shoes; I tried
again and again before I could succeed.   I
then dug my saddle out of the snow, and after
repeated efforts reached the horse and put the
saddle on, but could not myself get into the
saddle.   Ten o'clock next day came before
there was any abatement of the storm, and
when it did clear up a little I knew not where I
was; still it was cheering to see the storm abate.
I tried again to get into the saddle, and when I
at last succeeded, my half-frozen horse refused
to carry me, for he could scarcely lift a leg.
I then alighted and tried to walk, but the
storm broke out again with redoubled violence.
I saw no hope of saving myself but to kiU the
horse, open him, and get into his body, and I
drew my hunting knife for the purpose; but
j£tw: 3U*toentute£ on tïje Oregon
then it occurred to me that the body would
freeze, and that I dould not, in that case,
extricate myself. I therefore abandoned the
idea, laid my knife by, and tried again to
walk, and again got into the saddle. The storm
now abating a little, my horse began to move,
and I kept wandering about through the snow
till three o'clock in the afternoon, when the
storm abated altogether and the sun coming
out, I recognized my position. I was then not
two miles from my own house, where I arrived
at dusk; and it was high time, for I could not
have gone much farther; and after all it was
my poor horse that saved me, for had I set
out on foot, I should never, in my exhausted
condition, have reached the house.
How my men weathered the storm we shall
presently see. Two of them got home a little before myself, but much frostbitten. The
other two had not made their appearance yet;
but some Indians were instantly dispatched
in search of them, and one was found that
night, the other not till the next day. He was
carried home almost in a dying state, but
ultimately recovered. One of the horses was
found dead. All the rest were recovered, but
the load which I had thrown off the horse
which I rode was totally destroyed by the
wolves. Such a destructive storm had not
been felt in these parts for many years previous. An Indian, with his whole family,
consisting of seven persons, perished by it.
s   i &ïejeaniier Mo$$
Two more were severely frostbitten, and more
than twenty horses were lost.
On the twentieth of December, just six days
after my return from Spokane, I set out
with one man on a visit to Mr. Stuart at the
She Whaps, and arrived at Cumcloups on the
last day of the year. Soon after Mr. Stuart
reached his wintering place, the North West,
jealous of that quarter, followed hard at his
heels and built alongside of him, so that there
was opposition there as well as at Mr. Clarke's
place, but without the trickery and maneuvering. M. Laroque,52 the North West clerk
in charge, and Mr. Stuart were open and
candid, and on friendly terms. The field before
them was wide enough for both parties, and
what is more, they thought it so; consequently
they followed a fair and straightforward course
of trade. With Mr. Stuart I remained five
days, and in coming home I took a new and
unknown route in order to explore a part of
the country I had not seen before, but I
chose a bad season of the year to satisfy my
62 Joseph Laroque, at this time a young man, was
destined to achieve wealth and fame in the northwestern fur trade. He remained in the Columbia River
region until 1817, and on the consolidation of the
North West and Hudson's Bay companies continued
with the latter until 1833. In 1837 he went to France,
returning, after a sojourn of fourteen years, to Canada,
where he died in 1866. The fortune he had amassed
in the fur trade was devoted to the endowment of
St. Joseph's College, named in honor of the donor.
222 Sltifoetttureg on tïje Oregon
curiosity. We got bewildered in the mountains
and deep snows, our progress was exceedingly
slow, tedious, and discouraging. We were at
one time five days in making as many miles,
our horses suffered greatly, had nothing to eat
for four days and four nights, not a blade of
grass appearing above the snow, and their
feet were so frightfully cut with the crust on
the snow that they could scarcely move, so
that we were within a hair's breadth of losing
every one of them.
One evening, the fuel being damp, we were
unable to kindle a brisk fire. In this predicament I called on Jacques to give me a little
powder, a customary thing in such cases; but
in place of handing me a little powder, or
taking a little out in his hand, wise Jacques,
uncorking his horn, began to pour it out on
the heated coal. It instantly exploded and
blew all up before it, sending Jacques himself
sprawling six feet from where he stood, and
myself nearly as far, both for some time
stunned and senseless, while the fire was completely extinguished.
We, however, received no injury beyond the
fright, though Jacques held the horn in his
hand when it was blown to atoms. On recovering we were not in the best humor, and
sat down for some time in gloomy mood; cold,
however, soon admonished us to try again;,
but it was midnight before we could get a fire
lighted and ourselves warmed, and we passed
223 £Ugcatâier fto££
a disagreeable night, without sleep or food.
We hastened next morning from this unlucky
encampment, and getting clear of the mountains, we descended into a low and pleasant
valley where we found the Indians I had been
in search of, and something both for ourselves
and our horses to eat. At the Indian camp we
remained one day, got the information we
required about the country, procured some
furs, and then, following the course of the
Samilkameigh River, got to Oakinacken at the
forks. Thence we traveled almost day and
night till the twenty-fourth of January, when
we reached home again. On this journey we
met with several cross-purposes and suffered
a good deal from both cold and hunger, so
that I got heartily tired of visiting. During
my absence Mr. McGillis managed matters
at the post very well. Several other trading
trips took place in the course of the spring,
and these, with the ordinary routine business
of the place, kept our hands full till the hour
of embarkation arrived. In the course of the
last year I had traveled in various directions
through the country, 3,355 miles.
On the thirteenth of May Mr. Stuart with
his men and furs arrived from the She Whaps.
In reference to his post, he remarked: "I
have passed a winter nowise unpleasant. The
opposition, it is true, gave me a good deal of
anxiety when it first arrived, but we agreed
very well and made as much, perhaps more,
mttm SUitoentureg on tïje Oregon
than if we had been enemies. I sent out
parties in all directions, north as far as
Frasers River, and for two hundred miles
up the south branch. The accounts from all
'quarters were most satisfactory. The country
is everywhere rich in furs, and the natives
very peaceable. The She Whaps will be one
of the best beaver posts in the country, and
I have now brought a fine stock of valuable
furs with me. "
After remaining at Oakinacken for ten days
to get the furs packed and pressed, Mr. Stuart
and myself, with the men and furs, set out for
Walla Walla, the place of general rendezvous
settled upon last summer, where we arrived
on the thirtieth of May, the other parties not
having yet come in.
»ri*lL mmm Chapter 13
'E now come to the history of Mr.
Clarke and his party, whom we left
at the forks in August last on his way
to his winter quarters at Spokane. Having
proceeded up the South Branch, or Lewis
River, for about fifty miles, he reached the
Catatouch band at the mouth of the Pavilion
River.53 The Catatouches are a small and
friendly tribe of the great Nez Percé nations,
and the lowest of them on the South Branch.
This spot terminated Mr. Clarke's voyage by
water. From thence his route lay across land
to the Spokane River, distant about 170 miles.
Leaving his canoes under the care of the
friendly Catatouch chief, he purchased horses
from the Indians for the transportation of his
goods. Mr. Clarke had four clerks with him,
Messrs. Pillet, Farnham, McLennan, and Cox.
He had also more men and merchandise than
any of the other parties,54 as it was supposed he
would have most to do in opposing a formidable opposition.
63 The Palouse River of eastern Washington.
54 According to Cox, Clarke's party consisted of
"one proprietor, four clerks, twenty-one Canadians,
and six Sandwich Islanders. "
226 &titoentureg on tï>e #regon
Having purchased a sufficient number of
horses, he left the Pavilion on the tenth of
August and set out on his journey by land.
He had not proceeded far, however, when he
got into some little difficulties with his people.
They had started together, but before they
had been two hours on the march some of
them lagged so far behind that the motley
cavalcade outstretched a mile in length; while
Mr. Clarke, like a general at the head of an
army, had to keep riding backwards and forwards to keep together the broken line of
stragglers, the greater part of whom being on
foot, and having to keep up with horses over a
barren and sandy plain, in the hot and sultry
weather of a Columbia summer, had a task
too severe, perhaps, even for the best travelers.
The most refractory of the rear guard was
Mr. Cox, the little Irishman, as he was generally called. Mr. Clarke, riding back, ordered
him in an angry tone to quicken his steps:
"Give me a horse," said Cox, "and I'll ride
with yourself at the head." At this reply
Mr. Clarke raised his whip—some say he put
his threats in execution—and then rode off.
Be that as it may, Cox slunk off and took to
the mountains; the party moved on, and Cox
remained behind.55  The sixth day the party
58 In his own narrative Cox explains his separation
from the party as due to purely accidental circumstances, giving no hint of difficulties with Clarke, the
! H
1- i \
$Uejtatt&er J5o££
arrived at Spokane. Indians were then sent
out in all directions, but it was the seventh
day after the party had reached its destination
before Cox made his appearance. The Indians
had picked him up in a most destitute and
forlorn condition on the thirteenth day of his
wayward pilgrimage, his clothes all torn, his
feet bare, and his belly empty. When I was
there in the winter, Cox had hardly recovered
yet. Mr. Clarke's mode of trading might do
for a bourgeois, but it was not fit for a clerk.
What was considered moderate at Spokane
would be denounced as exorbitant at Oakinacken. Mr. Clarke was extravagant, but to
be called by the Indians a generous chief was
his greatest glory.
Mr. Clarke established himself at the corner
of the opposition post,56 and being formerly a
North Wester himself he was up to the rigs
of his opponents. The Indians were assembled,
long speeches were made, and mighty things
were promised on both sides, but never fulfilled. As soon as Mr. Clarke had got himself and property under shelter, following the
North West system he gave a grand ball to his
men, and appointed three or four of the most
56 Cox describes the site selected for the post
as "a handsome point of land, formed by the junction of the Pointed Heart and Spokane rivers, thinly
covered with pine and other trees, and close to a
trading post of the North West Company. " The site
was at the mouth of the Little Spokane River, about
ten miles northwest of the modern city of Spokane.
228 &ùtoentureg on tï>e Oregon
conceited and blustering fellows in his party
to be a guard, such as the Sioux and other
savage nations employ as instruments of tyranny in the hands of despotic chiefs. These
fellows wore feathers in their caps, the insignia
of their office. To challenge, fight, and bully
their opponents, stand at the heels of their
bourgeois, to be ready at a wink to do whatever
he commands them, is their duty, and they
understand it well. All these preliminary steps
being taken, Mr. Clarke set about establishing
outposts to compete with his opponents and
keep them in check.
Mr. Pillet, with some men and a supply of
goods, was sent to the Cootanais to oppose
Mr. Mantour on the part of the North West.
Mr. Pillet traveled a great deal and turned
his time to good account. Both were zealous
traders and they could fight a duel as well
as buy a skin, for they carried pistols as well
as goods along with them. They therefore
fought and traded alternately, but always
spared the thread of life, and in the spring
parted good friends.57
Mr. Farnham was fitted out for the Selish,
or Flathead  tribe,  crossed with  them  the
Rocky Mountains, visited the headwaters of
67 Cox tersely describes one of these duels which was
fought with pocket pistols at a distance of six paces.
Both men scored hits: "one in the collar of the coat
of his opponent, and the other in the leg of the trousers." The tailor," Cox dryly concludes, "speedily
healed the wounds."
«   1
229 Slïejcanïier $o&$
the Missouri, saw much of the country, and
made a good trade. Farnham was a bustling,
active, and enterprising fellow.
Both the Cootanais and Selish tribes live
and range along the foot of the mountains,
often crossing them, and have frequent rencounters with the Blackfeet, by whom they
have suffered greatly of late years, the Black-
feet being too numerous for them.
Mr. McLennan was stationed at the Pointed
Hearts, or Sketch-hugh Lake.58 In going
to his destination he was rather unlucky,
for his canoe upset in crossing the lake and
swamped his goods; but he swam like a fish,
got the two men he had with him into the
canoe again, then kept diving like a seal,
although the weather was cold and the water
deep, till he recovered the most of his property;
his exertions on this occasion astonished everyone who knew the difficulties of the task.
McLennan was hardy as steel and bold as a
lion; he made a very good and a very cheap
trade, and was altogether a favorite among
the Indians.
Spring now drawing nigh, Mr. Clarke got
in all his outposts and scouts and left Spokane
with thirty-two horses loaded with furs on
the twenty-fifth of May. A confidential man,
named Pion, a newly promoted clerk, with
three men, was left in charge of the post.
58Modern Coeur d'Alêne Lake in Idaho, about
twenty-five miles southeast of Spokane.
230 I      ^Uitaentureg on tïje #regon
The party performed the journey across land
to the Pavilion in six days, and found the
canoes, which had been left there in charge of
the Catatouche chief, all safe.
The most trivial incidents sometimes prove
instructive, and may in their consequences
afford an important lesson. As soon as Mr.
Clarke arrived at the Pavilion and found his
canoes safe, pleased at the conduct of the chief,
he made him a present of some ammunition
and tobacco. This done, they set about packing up the different articles in order to embark,
and among others two silver goblets belonging
to Mr. Clarke himself, who took this opportunity of showing them to the chief and expatiated on their high value; then, pouring
a little wine into one of them, made the chief
drink out of it, telling him when done that
he was a greater man now than ever he was
before. The chief was delighted, and turning
the goblet over and over in his hands, and
looking at it with intense interest, handed
it over to the next great man, and he to
another, and so on till, like the pipe of peace,
it had gone round the whole circle. The
precious curiosity was then laid by and the
Indians retired.
Next morning, however, the pearl of great
price was gone! Everything in and about the
camp was turned topsy-turvy in search of the
silver goblet, but to no purpose. All business
was now suspended—the goblet must be found.
m &fejeatt&er ï5o££
At last it was conjectured the Indians must
have stolen it; and Mr. Clarke, with fury in
his countenance, assembled the whole Cata-
touche camp and made known his loss-the loss
of his silver goblet!  He coaxed, he flattered,
he threatened to bring down vengeance upon
the whole tribe for the loss of his goblet, and
in his wrath and vexation denounced death
upon the offender should he be discovered.
The poor Indians stood gazing in amazement;
they sympathized with him, pitied him, and
deplored his loss, and promised to do their
utmost to find the goblet.  With this solemn
declaration they went off. The whole tribe was
called together, the council sat, and soon afterwards they returned in a body, like messengers
of peace, bringing the glad tidings to Mr.
Clarke that the silver goblet was found; at
the same time the chief, stepping forward and
spreading out his robe, laid the precious vessel
before him. "Where is the thief?" vociferated
Mr. Clarke. The chief then pointed to a fellow
sitting in the ring as the criminal. "I swore"
said Mr. Clarke, "that the thief should die,
and white men never break their word."  The
fellow was told of his fate, but he kept smiling,
thinking himself, according to Indian custom,
perfectly safe, for the moment the stolen
article  is  returned  to  the  rightful  owner,
according to the maxims of Indian law, the
culprit is exonerated, j Mr. Clarke, however,
thought otherwise, and like Herod of old,
ii^'iiim*"'"niTili &iitoentureg on tï>e #regon
for the sake of his oath, considered himself
bound to put his threat into execution and
therefore instantly commanded the poor, unsuspecting wretch to be hung up—and hung
he was accordingly; and the unhallowed deed
was aggravated by the circumstance of their
taking the poles of his own lodge to make the
The Indians all the time could not believe
that the whites were in earnest till they
beheld the lifeless body. The deed was, however, no sooner committed than Mr. Clarke
grew alarmed. The chief, throwing down his
robe on the ground, a sign of displeasure,
harangued his people, who immediately after
mounted their fleetest horses and scampered
off in all directions to circulate the news
and assemble the surrounding tribes to take
vengeance on the whites. In the meantime,
leaving the enraged Indians to follow their
inclination, the canoes were thrown into the
water, loaded, and down the current Mr. Clarke
and his men pushed their way day and night
till they reached the Walla Walla, where they
arrived safe on the fourth of June, and here
wê shall leave them for the present while we
detail McKenzie's winter adventures. Fortunately for the whites, the defunct Indian
was a person of very low degree, even in the
estimation of the Indians themselves, being
an outcast without friends or relatives, which
made them less bent on revenge, but not the
233 SUejtanlier Jïog£
less disposed to annoy, as we shall have occasion to notice thereafter.59
Mr. McKenzie and party before mentioned
accompanied Mr. Clarke up the South Branch
as far as the Pavilion. Here Clarke and his
party forked off for Spokane in August, leaving McKenzie to prosecute his voyage up the
same river till he reached the very center of
the great Shahaptain, or Nez Percé nation,
where he established himself for the winter.60
By way of clearing up some points not very
intelligible to many, we may here mention
that the great Snake River, Lewis River,
South Branch, Shahaptain River, and Nez
Percé River, are all one and the same stream
with different denominations.
As soon as McKenzie had got his goods safe
under cover he sent off Mr. Reed, at the head
of a small party, to bring the caches of goods
left by Mr. Hunt to his own post. On his way
he picked up seven of the Canadians belonging
to the trapping parties fitted out by Mr. Hunt
on his land expedition. These were : Dubreuil,
Carson, the gunsmith, Delaunay, St. Michel,
Turcotte, Landrie, and La Chapelle, the black-
69 The account of this affair given by Cox, who was a
member of Clarke's party, differs in certain important
particulars from the one here presented. In particular,
it contains no hint of criticism of Clarke's actions.
60 The map which accompanies the original edition of
Ross locates this post at the mouth of modern Boise
River, a tributary of the Snake, on the boundary
between Oregon and Idaho.
^^ &î)toentureg on tïje <©tegon
smith. Some of these fellows, despairing of
ever reaching the Columbia, and no doubt
thinking the caches would be lost, went,
accompanied by a band of the Snakes, and
rifled several of them; and what they did not
take was destroyed by the rains, the wolves,
and other animals. Some, however, had not
been touched, and these Mr. Reed and his
party carried off with them to McKenzie's
post, which place they reached at the end of
thirty-five days.
On questioning the wanderers, the true
story of the cache robbery came out, for
McKenzie learned from Turcotte and La
Chapelle, that, having lost their horses by a
marauding party of Blackf eet, and being otherwise destitute, they, in company with Landrie,
meditated a descent upon the caches in order
to supply their wants, and took the Snakes
along with them as a safeguard. With their
share of the spoil they purchased more horses,
then following the Snakes to the buffalo, they
were again surprised by the Blackfeet, lost
their horses and everything else, and were left
as poor, if not poorer, than before. Filled with
remorse, they promised to live honest men
the rest of their lives.
McKenzie now began to learn the true
character of the Indians about him. Their
occupations were war and buffalo hunting.
Their country did not abound in furs, nor
would men accustomed to an indolent and
235 aiejtatt&o: &*$$
roving life submit to the drudgery of killing
beavers. They spurned the idea of crawling
about in search of furs. "Such a life," they
said, "was only fit for women and slaves."
They were, moreover, insolent and independent.
I. say independent, because their horses procured them guns and ammunition, the buffaloes provided them with food and clothing,
and war gave them renown. Such men held
out but poor prospects to the fur trader, so
that McKenzie soon got sick of them and*
weary of the place. He then equipped the
seven Snake wanderers and sent them out to
trap beaver; but they had to go to the mountains, and on their way thither the Indians
annoyed them, stole their traps, and frightened
them back again to the post. McKenzie then
resolved to abandon that post, and proceed
farther up the river; but before taking this
step, he went over to Spokane to visit Mr.
Clarke, and while there, Mr. John George
MçTavish, a partner of the North West Company, arrived with a strong reinforcement
of men and goods from the east side of the
mountains, bringing an account of the war
between Great Britain and the United States.
On receiving this unwelcome news McKenzie
hastened back to his post, but instead of
removing farther up, as he had contemplated,
he put his goods in cache and set off with all
his men for Astoria, where he arrived on the
fifteenth of January, 1813.
236 &toentuteg on tlje Oregon
McKenzie was dismayed on reaching Astoria to find that the Beaver had not returned.
McDougall and McKenzie, weighing circumstances, concluded that alii was hopeless.
The North West Company now strong in
numbers and well equipped with goods; the
Tonquin lost and the Beaver not returned, nor
any account of her; add to these untoward
circumstances the declaration of war. In this
gloomy state of things McKenzie and McDougall were of opinion that prompt measures
should be adopted for abandoning the undertaking altogether, and that ways and means
should be concerted to remove the furs and
goods at Astoria into the interior, to be out
of the way in ease of British ships of war
entering the river.
On the second of February McKenzie turned
his face towards the interior, and in two
canoes with eighteen men pushed on to his
post, having letters from McDougall pointing
out the actual state of things and informing
Messrs. Clarke and Stuart of the resolution
entered into between himself and McKenzie
for abandoning the enterprise early in the
spring. Messrs. Stuart and Clarke, however,
viewed things in a different light, and condemned the proposed step as premature.
On his way up Mr. McKenzie met two
North West canoes sweeping down the current.
In these were McTavish, two clerks, and
twenty men on their way to the mouth of the
237 $tfejtah&er ftog£
Columbia to meet the far-famed ship, Isaac
Todd, destined for that part. On the twenty-
second day after leaving Astoria Mr. McKenzie
arrived at his post on the Shahaptain River,
but was mortified to find his cache robbed.
The Indians indicated their guilt by their
shyness, for scarcely one of them came to
visit the trader. McKenzie, therefore, summoned the chiefs and they appeared, expecting,
no doubt, to receive something. When they
were all seated he opened the business of the
cache and demanded the goods, adding, that
if they were given up friendship would again
be restored. But they all, with one accord,
denied having any knowledge of, or hand in,
the pillage or robbery. They admitted the
fact of the robbery, but denied that they were
in any way accessory to it. They regretted the
misconduct of their young men, but the goods
were now gone, and they could do nothing;
and so the conference ended.
Seeing that the chiefs would not assist to
recover the stolen property and that every
hour's delay lessened the chance of regaining
it, McKenzie at once resolved on a bold and
hazardous step, namely, to dash into the heart
of the Indian camp and recover what he could.
Accordingly, next morning, after depositing
in a safe place the few articles he had brought
with him, he and his little band, armed cap-a-
pie, set out on foot for the camp. On their
approach the Indians, suspecting something,
j^^jEfc &titoentute£ on tïje Oregon
turned out in groups here and there, also
armed. But McKenzie, without a moment's
hesitation or giving them time to reflect,
ordered Mr. Seaton, who commanded the men,
to surround the first wigwam or lodge reached
with charged bayonets, while he himself and
Mr. Reed entered the lodge, ransacked it,
turning everything topsy-turvy, and with
their drawn daggers cutting and ripping open
everything that might be supposed to conceal
the stolen property. In this manner they went
from one lodge to another till they had searched
five or six with various success, when the
chiefs demanded a parley and gave McKenzie
to understand that if he desisted they would
do the business themselves, and more effectually. McKenzie, after some feigned reluctance, at last agreed to the chiefs' proposition. Then they asked him to withdraw,
but this he peremptorily refused, knowing
from experience that they were least exposed
in the camp; for Indians are always averse to
hostilities taking place in their camp, in the
midst of their women and children. Had the
Indians foreseen or been aware of the intention
of the whites, they would never have allowed
them within their camp. But they were taken
by surprise, and that circumstance saved the
whites. However, as soon as the chiefs undertook the business, McKenzie and his men
stood still and looked on. The chiefs went
from .house to house, and after about three
239 SUejranuer Mo$$
hours time they returned, bringing with them
a large portion of the property, and delivered
it to McKenzie, when he and his men left
the camp and returned home, bearing off in
triumph the fruits of their valor and well
pleased with their hair-breadth adventure—
an adventure not to be repeated. And under
all circumstances, it was at the time considered the boldest step ever taken by the
whites on Columbian ground.
This dispute with the Indians led to others,
and if the whites got the upper hand in the
late affair, the Indians were determined to be
even with them in another way, for not a
single horse would they sell, and on horseflesh McKenzie and his men had to depend.
On this head various conferences took place
between the parties, and higher prices than
usual were tendered, but the chiefs were inexorable. They had resolved either to drive
the whites off their country altogether, or
make them pay the most extravagant prices.
The object of the whites in delaying their
departure was to procure horses, which would
be absolutely required in the event of Messrs.
Stuart and Clarke acceding to the views of
McDougall and McKenzie; but the Indians,
free and independent as the air they breathed
or the wind that blew, could not brook the
restraint which the whites were always affecting to exercise over them. After some little
time all intercourse between the parties was at
240 $Uitoentu?e£ on ityt Oregon
an end; not an Indian was to be seen about
McKenzie's camp, except by stealth in the
night, to beg, curry favor, or carry reports,
yet five of these secret spies were always kept
in pay by McKenzie to watch the motions of
the Indians, and through them he knew every
move in the hostile camp.
At this time one of the spies reported that
the Indians,had plotted together to starve
McKenzie into terms, or drive him off altogether. McKenzie, on his part,Jiad recourse
to a stratagem to bring them to terms. Both
were on the alert. When the whites had
nothing to eat, the articles usually paid for a
horse were tied up in a bundle; that done,
McKenzie, with ten or twelve of his men,
would sally forth with their rifles to the grazing
grounds of the horses, shoot the fattest they
could find, and carry off the flesh to their
camp, leaving the price stuck upon a pole
alongside the head of the dead horse.
This maneuver succeeded several times, and
annoyed the Indians very much; some of them
lost their best horses by it. Then it was that
they combined to attack the whites in their
camp. This news was brought McKenzie
by one of his hired spies, and was confirmed
by the fact of an Indian offering to sell a horse
for powder and ball only. From various other
suspicious circumstances there, remained but
little doubt hi the minds of the whites but
there was some dark design in agitation.  In
1 aiejcanôet Mo$$
this critical conjuncture McKenzie again
eluded their grasp by ensconcing himself and
his party in an island in the middle of the river.
There they remained, in a manner blockaded
by the Indians, but not so closely watched but
that they appeared every now and then with
their long rifles among the Shahaptain horses;
so that the Indians grew tired of their predatory excursions, and therefore sent a messenger to McKenzie. A parley ensued between
the main land and the island, the result of which
was, that the Indians agreed to sell horses to
the whites at the usual price; the whites, on
their part, to give up their marauding practices.
Notwithstanding this formal treaty, the
whites did not put implicit faith in their
Indian allies, nor deem it prudent to leave the
island, but the trade in horses went on briskly
and without interruption, McKenzie getting
all his wants supplied. He bought, besides, an
extra reserve of eighty horses for contingencies,
which he sent off to Spokane; and on the return
of his men he left the island, apparently on
good terms with the Indians, and reached the
Walla Walla to join his associates on the first of
When we reached the Walla Walla on the
thirtieth of May, as already mentioned, we
were at a loss to account for the unusual movement and stir among the Indians, who seemed
to be assembling from all quarters in great
242 $Uftentute£ on tïje Oregon
haste. The mystery was, however, soon cleared
up when Mr, Clarke joined us and related the
affair of the silver goblet at the Catatouch
camp. What did Stuart and McKenzie say?
What could any man say? The reckless deed
had been committed, and Clarke's countenance fell when the general voice of disapprobation was raised against him. The Indians
all along kept flying to and fro, whooping and
yelling in wild commotion. At this time Tum-
meatapam came riding up to our camp at full
speed. "What have you done, my friends?"
called out the old and agitated chief. "You
have spilled blood on our lands!" Then, pointing to a cloud of dust raised by the Indians,
who were coming down upon us in wild confusion—"There, my friends, do you see them?
What can I do? " The chief did not dismount,
but wheeling round his horse again, off he went
like a shot, leaving us to draw a salutary inference from the words "What can I do?"
meaning, no doubt, that we had better be off
immediately. Taking the hint, we lost no
time. Tents were struck; some had breakfasted, some not; kettles and dishes were all
huddled together and bundled into the canoe,
and embarking pell-mell, we pushed with all
haste from the inauspicious shore. We pushed
our way down the current, passing the Falls,
the Narrows, and the Cascades without the
least interruption, and arrived safe at Astoria
on the fourteenth day of June.  And here we
243 aiejcanùer M*$$
shall leave the party to recount to each other
their various exploits, while we take up
the thread of Mr. Stuart's adventures from
Columbia to St. Louis.
244 Chapter 14
stuart's return to st. louis and arrival
of the beaver
WHEN we left Mr. Stuart on the
thirty-first of July last he had then
just mounted his horse on his journey
across land for St. Louis. We now propose
keeping him company, and will make such
remarks during his perilous route as barren,
wild, and savage hordes may from time to
time suggest.
From Walla Walla the party journeyed
onwards, first over the open plains and next
across the Blue Mountains, till at length they
fell on the Great Snake River, along which
they occasionally continued their route for
many days without any interesting occurrence
till the twentieth of August, when they, by
mere chance, stumbled on Mr. Miller and three
of the beaver trappers, Hoback, Resner, and
Robinson, fitted out by Mr. Hunt.
It will be remembered that Mr. Millei
abruptly left Mr. Hunt and party to join one
of the trapping parties. The joy manifested
by both parties at meeting was, as might be
expected, the most cordial and lively. They
swore that they had met to part no more till
they parted in that land which had given them
245 aiejcantier ïSo££
birth. So Mr. Miller and his prodigal children
joined Mr. Stuart with the determination to
follow him to St. Louis. These wanderers had
been twice robbed by the Indians, had exhausted their strength, wasted their means,
and saved nothing; and seemed on the present occasion quite overjoyed and happy at
the prospect of once more returning to their
native homes. Yet what will the reader think
when he is told that only eight days after all
these fine resolutions they again expressed a
wish to remain where they were and try their
fortune once more in the wilderness! Strange
infatuation! Change of climate seldom makes
a change of character. Mr. Stuart reasoned
with them, but in vain; and at last, seeing
them resolved, he supplied them with a new
and full equipment of everything they wanted.
So the parties separated, Mr. Miller following Mr. Stuart and his party, while the other
three trappers bade them farewell and stayed
On the seventh of September they left the
great Snake River, and entered the defiles of
the mountains. Here they met some saucily
disposed Crow Indians, but they got clear of
them without harm, and Mr. Stuart continued
his toilsome journey, winding his way among
the rugged and rapid streams near the source
of the great Snake River,  to which they
61 The sad fate of these adventurers is recorded post,
pp. 298-301.
246 &&toettture£ on tï>e Oregon
drew near again in the hopes of avoiding the
Crows; but it mattered little what course
they steered or what direction they took, the
Crows were everywhere at their heels; and
in front provisions were also scarce, and the
party were now much reduced by hunger and
On the nineteenth, early in the morning, the
Crows like a Scythian horde dashed on their
little camp, giving the Indian war whoop, and
swept all their horses off in a moment. This
misfortune left them in an awful plight. They
stood motionless and hopeless. They had now
to turn over a new leaf, and from mounted
cavalry to become foot soldiers. They now
set about making up each man's load, and
what they could not carry they destroyed on
the spot rather than let any of it fall into the
hands of their implacable enemies, for their
every movement was now watched with an
eagle's eye by the Indians on the heights. To
avoid, therefore, the hostile Crows, they had
to shun the buffalo, and run the risk of starving or of going right into the jaws of the
Blackfeet; but there was no alternative, and
to lessen the evil as much as possible they
bent their course northward, through a country, in Mr. Stuart's own words, "more fit
for goats than men"; and so closely were
they watched by the savages that they could
not venture to separate for the purpose of
hunting.   They had likewise to keep watch
msm gtfejtantin: fôog£
by night, and were every moment in danger
of being surrounded or waylaid in the narrow
and intricate defiles through which they had
to pass.
Yet these trying circumstances, when danger
stared them in the face, failed to unite them
together in heart and hand. Mr. McClellan,
with a foolhardiness and wayward disposition
peculiar to himself, left the party in a pet, nor
was it till the tenth day afterwards that he was
picked up, lying in his cheerless and forlorn
encampment without fire or food, and reduced,
through hunger, fatigue, and cold, to a mere
skeleton. Always perverse and stubborn, he
had now become peevish and sullen, yet in
this torpid and reduced state he revived on
seeing his friends, became cheerful, and joyfully joined the party again; but being unable
to carry anything, or even to walk, the party
halted for two days that he might recruit a
little, and then, his rifle, pistols, and other
things being carried by the others, the party
set forward on their journey. They wandered
about for five days and nights without a mouthful to eat, and were now reduced to the last
extremity; nor had they strength to make use
of their rifles, although now and then some
deer were seen.
On the fifteenth of October, the sixth day
of their fasting, just as the party had halted
for the night, Le Clerc, one of the Canadians,
proposed to cast lots, saying: "It is better
248 SUitoentureg on tï>e <©regon
1    H —MMW^—^—WM—MT»W^^—«Ml l.l llll» W »W W^IHIIW».' M^WW III        ' Ml        I  ■       —»—PU   | Hli
one should die than that all should perish."62
Mr. Stuart reproved him severely, and as the
fellow stood haggard and wild before him,
with his rifle in his hand, he ordered the others
to wrest it from his grasp. A watch was kept
all night, nor did Mr. Stuart himself close an
eye. During this scene McClellan, scarcely
able to move, kept eyeing Le Clerc all the
time, and looking round for his rifle, but Mr.
Stuart had put it out of the way. Next day,
however, Providence directed their forlorn
steps to an old and solitary buffalo bull, which
they managed to kill, and this fortunate rencounter saved their lives.
On the eighteenth, the wanderers fell in with
a straggling camp of Snakes from whom they
purchased a sorry old horse, the only one the
ruffian Crows had left with them. This horse
appeared in their eyes a prize of no small value.
With him they set out, not a little cheered
and comforted by the two lucky acquisitions,
the old bull and the old horse. Our party
were then wandering between the lofty Pilot
Knobs and the headwaters of the Missouri,
but far from the latter. They now kept veering
more to the east and advancing irregularly,
as the valleys and ravines opened a road for
them to pass, till the snow and cold weather
62 For instances of cannibalism under similar conditions to those here enumerated see Alexander Henry's
Travels and Advenhtres (Lakeside Classics series, Chicago, 1921), pp. 199-201, 212, 213.
v. SUejran&er $o££
precluded all hopes of getting much farther
for this season, so that they began to look out
for a place of security and rest from their
On the second of November they pitched
their camp for winter, built a log hut, and the
buffalo being plenty and the party tolerably
recovered in strength, they soon laid in an
ample stock of provisions; but in the wilderness
all plans are precarious, hopes delusive. Our
friends had not been long in their comfortable
quarters before they were pestered with unwelcome visitors, for a war party of Arapahays
discovered their retreat, and annoyed them so
much that they thought it best to look out for
some other quarters, more secluded and secure.
On the thirteenth of December they abandoned their dwelling with infinite regret,
and setting out through deep snows over a
rugged and inhospitable country, they traveled
for fifteen days, when a bleak and boundless
plain presented itself before them. Here they
held a consultation. The plain before them,
destitute both of animals and firewood, appeared like an ocean of despair. The more
they reflected, the more awful did their situation appear. At last they retraced their wearied
steps for about eighty miles and took up a
second position.
On the thirtieth of December they again
pitched their winter camp, built a house, laid
in a stock of food, and found themselves once
250 &titenture£ on tï>* Oregon
more in comfortable quarters. In this last
retreat the Indians did not find them out,
and there they awaited the return of spring.
On the twentieth of March they broke up
their winter quarters, and in two canoes, made
during the winter, they essayed to push their
way down a broad but shoal river. In this,
however, they failed, and, leaving their canoes,
they took to land again with their old but
faithful Snake horse. All this time they were
wandering in hopes of reaching some known
branch of the Missouri, for they had lost their
way and did not know where they were for the
last three months.
On the first of April the party fell in with an
Indian of the Otto tribe. This stranger gave
them to understand that they were then treading on the banks of the River Platte, and not
far from white men. The same Indian then
conducted them to Messrs. Dornin and Roi,
two Indian traders established in that quarter.
From these gentlemen Mr. Stuart got the
first news of the war between Great Britain
and the States, and they also undertook to
furnish him with a canoe for the voyage down
the Missouri in exchange for the old and faithful Snake horse.
On the sixteenth they all embarked and
after descending about fifty miles on the River
Platte they found themselves on the broad and
majestic Missouri, down which, with buoyant
spirits, they now pushed their way without
251 Sûeranùer fàog$
accident or interruption till they reached St.
Louis on the thirtieth of April. Mr. Stuart
lost no time in acquainting Mr. Astor with his
safe arrival at that place with dispatches from
Columbia, and that the success and prospect
of affairs were such as to warrant the most
flattering results.
The information conveyed by Mr. Stuart
was hailed by Mr. Astor as a sure presage of
future prosperity, and in his exultation he
said, "That will do; I have hit the nail on the
head!" Mr. Stuart's journey with so small a
party across a region so distant, wild, and
hostile was fraught with many perils and
privations. During the period of ten long
months he was never free from danger and
anxiety. The eventual success of that expedition, so often reduced to extremities, reflects
greal; credit on him who conducted it. Leaving
now Mr. Stuart to enjoy himself among his
friends at St. Louis, we shall go back to Columbia again to see what has been doing in
the Wallamitte quarter.
The Wallamitte quarter has always been
considered by the whites as the garden of the
Columbia, particularly in an agricultural point
of view, and certain animals of the chase; but
in the article of beaver, the great staple commodity of the Indian trader, several other
places, such as the Cowlitz, Blue Mountains,
and She Whaps, equal, if not surpass it. In
the spring of 1812 Mr. McKenzie had pene-
252 gibfoetttureg on tfyt Oregon
trated some hundred miles up the Wallamitte
River, but more with a view of exploring the
southern quarter, seeing the Indians, and
studying the topography of the country, than
for the purpose of precuring beaver. This
year another party, fitted out by McDougall on
a beaver trading expedition, spent some months
in that quarter among the Collappohyeaass.
These parties penetrated nearly to the source
of the Wallamitte, a distance of five hundred
miles. It enters the Columbia by two channels, not far distant from each other. The most
westerly is the main branch, and is distant
from Cape Disappointment from eighty to
ninety miles, following the course of the river.
The Wallamitte lies in the direction of south
and north, and runs parallel with the seacoast;
that is, its source fies south and its course
north. In ascending the river the surrounding country is most delightful, and the first
barrier to be met with is about forty miles up
from its mouth.
Here the navigation is interrupted by a
ledge of rocks, running across the river from
side to side in the form of an irregular horseshoe, over which the whole body of water falls
at one leap down a precipice of about forty
feet, called the Falls. To this place, and no
farther, the salmon ascend, and during the
summer months they are caught in great
quantities. At this place, therefore, all the
Indians throughout the surrounding country
■ &feranti£r &o&$
assemble, gamble, and gormandize for months
together. From the mouth of the Wallamitte
up to the Falls it is navigable for boats only,
and from the falls to its source for canoes, and
it is sufficiently deep for the ordinary purposes
of the Indian trader. The banks of the river
throughout are low and skirted in the distance by a chain of moderately high lands on
each side, interspersed here and there with
clumps of widespreading oaks, groves of pine,
and a variety of other kinds of woods. Between these high lands lie what is called
the valley of the Wallamitte, the frequented
haunts of innumerable herds of elk and deer.
The natives are very numerous and well
disposed, yet they are an indolent and sluggish
race and live exceedingly poor in a very rich
country. When our people were traveling
there, the moment the report of a gun was
heard, forth came the natives; men, women,
and children would follow the sound like a
swarm of bees, and feast and gormandize on
the offal of the game like so many vultures
round a dead carcass; yet every Indian has his
quiver full of arrows, and few natives are more
expert with the bow. The names of the different tribes, beginning at the mouth of the
river and taking them in succession as we
ascend, may be arranged in the following
order: Wacomeapp, Nawmooit, Chillychan-
dize, Shookany,Coupé, Shehees, Longuetongue-
buff, Lamalle, and Peeyou tribes; but as a
254 &ùtoenture£ on tïje Oregon
great nation they are known under the general
name of Collappohyeaass, and are governed
by four principal chiefs. The most eminent
and powerful goes by the name of Keyassno.
The productiveness of their country is probably the chief cause of their extreme apathy
and indolence, for it requires so little exertion
to provide for their wants, that even that little
is not attended to. They are honest and harmless, yet there is a singular mixture of simplicity and cunning about them. The river,
towards its headwaters, branches out into
numerous little streams, which rise in the
mountains. There is also another fine river
near the source of the Wallamitte, but lying
rather in the direction of east and west, called
the Impqua; this river empties itself into
the ocean. The finest hunting ground in the
Wallamitte is towards the Impqua. There
beaver is abundant, and the party that went
there to trade this year made handsome returns
but the Indians throughout are so notoriously
lazy that they can hardly be prevailed upon
to hunt or do anything else that requires
Yet, with all their apathy and inertness,
we find that-they can be aroused into action:
for while McKenzie was visiting their country
a slight quarrel took place between some** of
them and a white man named Jervais, at the
Wacomeapp village. Jervais had beaten one
of the Indians, which gave great offense to
9 flLltxmtxtz *5og£
the tribe, and they had been muttering threats
in consequence. McDougall, hearing of the
circumstance, sent off a letter to apprise
McKenzie that he might keep a good lookout
on his way back, as the Indians intended to
intercept or waylay him. McKenzie arrived
at the hostile camp situate at the mouth of
the Wallamitte, crossed to the opposite or
north side of the Columbia, and then went on
shore without in the least suspecting what was '
going on, although he had remarked once
or twice to his people the unusual multitude
of Indians collected together and their bold
and daring appearance; and also that Key-
assno, the chief, had not come to see them.
On his way up, McKenzie had left his boat
at the Falls till his return, and now took it
down with him. While he was revolving in
his mind these suspicious appearances, one of
a neighboring tribe slipped into his hand,
privately, McDougall's letter. The moment
he read the letter he was convinced of his
critical situation, and whispered to his men to
be ready to embark at a moment's warning.
But, behold, the tide had left his boat high
and dry on the beach. What was now to be
done? Always fertile, however, in expedients,
he feigned the greatest confidence in the
Incnans, and at the same time adopted a
stratagem to deceive them. He told them he
had some thoughts of building among them,
and would now look out for a suitable site,
256 &tJtientute£ on tïje Oregon
for which reason, he said, he would stay with
them for the night, and requested them to
prepare a good encampment for him, which
they immediately set about doing. This threw
the Indians off their guard, as they could then
accomplish their purpose more effectually,
and with less risk. This maneuver had the
desired effect. Some of the Indians were busied
in clearing the encampment; others he amused
in looking out for a place to build, till the
following tide set his boat afloat again; then
taking advantage of it, he and his men instantly
embarked and pushed before the current,
leaving the Indians in painful disappointment,
gazing at one another. Next morning they
arrived safe among their friends at Astoria.
Before we close the account of this year's
campaign, we must take up the subject of the
ship Beaver, Captain Sowle, from New York,
with the annual supplies, who arrived at
Astoria, as we have before noticed, on the
ninth of May, after a voyage of 212 days.
The Beaver remained at the infant establishment of Astoria till the fourth of August.
On the sixth she crossed the bar with some
difficulty, having grounded twice, which so
frightened old Sowle, the captain, that he was
heard to say, "I'll never cross you again."
Having cleared the bar, she left the Columbia
on a three months' cruise along the coast
towards the Russian settlements at Kamchatka, intending to be back again about the
■ME ftfejcanfeer Mo$g
latter end of October, as had been settled upon
in the council of partners. Mr. Hunt was on
board. It may, however, be easily inferred
that this was a part of Astor's general plan,
that the man at the head of affairs should
accompany the ship on her coasting trip.
It was so with the Tonquin, as well as with
the Beaver; and this again goes far to prove
how little Astor cared about the Columbia or
those carrying on the business there, when the
man at the head of the establishment was
liable to be removed from his important charge
and sent as a peddling supercargo on board
the ship, merely for the purpose of receiving
a few sealskins from old Count Baranoff,63
at Kamchatka. This, as I have already said,
was done by Astor's orders; for he, in his armchair at New York, regulated all the springs
of action at Astoria just as if he had been on
the spot. Work well, work ill, his commands
remained like the laws of the Medes and
Persians: there was no discretionary power
left to alter them.
The ship, therefore, with Mr. Hunt on
board, reached her destination without any
accident or delay; visited New Archangel,
Sitka, and St. Paul's, taking in at these places
63 Alexander Baranoff was a Russian who in 1799
built Sitka and for many years ruled as governor of the
Russian possessions in America. Astor's dream of a
profitable commerce between the Oregon country and
Alaska, here ridiculed by Ross, has found realization in
our own day.
258 &titoenture$ on tlje Oregon
a valuable cargo of furs, chiefly sealskins;
but was detained in these boisterous seas
much longer than had been calculated upon,
for she had not left the most northern of these
parts, which is St. Paul's, before the beginning
of November.
And here we have another instance of that
fatal policy pursued by Astor in giving to his
captains powers which made them independent
of the consignees. This was the case with
Captain Thorn, who left what he pleased, and
carried off what he pleased; and when McDougall and the other parties remonstrated
with him for leaving the infant colony so bare,
he put his hand in his pocket and produced his
instructions from Astor, which at once shut
their mouths. The same game was now played
by Captain Sowle. Mr. Hunt could not prevail
upon him, on his way back from the Russian
settlements, to touch at Columbia; and when
Mr. Hunt threatened to remove him and give
the command to another, he, then, as Captain
Thorn had done before him, produced his
private instructions from Mr. Astor, justifying his proceedings; for after Mr. Hunt's arrival at Columbia he often repeated, in the
anguish of his soul, that the underhand policy
of Astor and the conduct of his captains had
ruined the undertaking. In this perplexing
situation Mr. Hunt had to submit, and Captain Sowle, spreading his canvas, steered for
the Sandwich Islands direct, carrying Mr.
259 ^ïeyantier Mn$$
Hunt like a prisoner along with him. From
the Sandwich Islands, the Beaver sailed for
Canton in the first week of January, 1813, a
serious loss to Astor and the ruin of Astoria.
It was a part of Mr. Astor's general plan
to supply the Russian factories along the
coast with goods; and it would appear from
the conduct of his captains that to this branch
of the undertaking he devoted his chief attention, reserving for them the choicest part of all
his cargoes, and for Columbia the mere refuse.
This alone gave great umbrage to the partners
at Astoria; it soured their dispositions to see
many articles which they stood in need of pass
by their door.
While at Woahoo, Mr. Hunt heard some
faint rumors of the war, but nothing certain.
The Boston merchants had at a great expense
fitted out, it was said, a dispatch ship for the
Pacific, in order to apprise the coasting vessels
there of the declaration of war. But Mr. Hunt
could gain no certain information on that
head; because Astor had not contributed his
mite towards the expense of fitting out the
vessel, they were determined not to let the
least hint of it reach Hunt, who was therefore
left in the dark. Can anything point out in a
clearer light Astor's indifference about the
fate of his little, devoted colony at Columbia,
than his not joining the Boston merchants,
or taking any steps whatever to apprise the
Astorians of the war?
260 &ùtoenture£ on tlje Oregon
In the meantime Mr. Hunt waited at the
Sandwich Islands in the hope that another
annual ship from New York might cast up for
the relief of Astoria, but waited in vain. At
last by the arrival of the ship Albatross,
Captain Smith, from Canton he was no longer
in doubt as to the declaration of war, and this
increased his anxiety to get back to Astoria.
Chartering, therefore, the ship Albatross, he
sailed in her, after a ruinous delay, and arrived
safe at Astoria on the twentieth of August.
And this brings the parties once more to
Astoria, and closes the transactions of the
2ÔI \
Chapter 15
A STORIA now became the scene of busi-
r\ ness and bustle. A council was con-
vened, and a second meeting of the
partners took place. Last year their expectations were raised to the highest pitch and
everything promised an abundant harvest of
wealth and glory: the present state of affairs
was somewhat clouded with reverses and cross-
purposes. The resolutions of McDougall and
McKenzie last winter to abandon the undertaking were now discussed anew. On the one
hand, McDougall found great fault with
Clarke and Stuart for not taking such steps
for leaving the country as were pointed out
in the resolutions alluded to; on the other
hand, these gentlemen were equally displeased
with McDougall for having acted, as they
considered, prematurely and without their
consent. Two days were spent in mutual
recrimination. At last McKenzie, who had
hitherto left both parties to settle the dispute the best way they could, now sided
with McDougall and poured forth such a
torrent of persuasive eloquence, backed by
facts, that the opposite party were reduced
to silence.
262 SUtoentucejff on tïje Oregon
"Gentlemen," said he, "why do you hesitate so long between two opinions? Your
eyes ought to have been opened before now to
your own interests. In the present critical
conjuncture there is no time to be lost. Let us
then by a timely measure save what we can,
lest a British ship of war enter the river and
seize all. We have been long enough the dupes
of a vacillating policy, a policy which showed
itself at Montreal on our first outset, in refusing to engage at once a sufficient number of
able hands.
"At Nodowa that policy was equally conspicuous. Did not Astor's private missive to
Mr. Hunt at that place give umbrage to all?
Did not his private orders to Mr. Hunt to put
his nephew, with one scratch of his pen, over
the heads of all 'the clerks in the concern add
to that umbrage? Could there be anything
more impolitic and unjust? Could there be any
measure more at variance with the letter and
the spirit of the articles of agreement? Did
not his private instructions to his captains
annihilate the power and authority of the
partners? When the unfortunate Tonquin
left this, what did she leave behind? Did she
not, by virtue of Astor's private instructions
to her captain, carry everything off that was
worth carrying off? Has not the same line
of policy been pursued in the case of the
Beaver? And this year there is no ship at all!
Has it not been obvious from the beginning
263 Scantier Mo$ë
that under Astor's policy we can never prosper?
And, besides, there are other untoward matters over which Mr. Astor had no control,
such as the delay of the Beaver, the absence
of Mr. Hunt, our formidable rivals the North
West Company, and, to crown all, the declaration of war.
"Now, gentlemen, all these inauspicious
circumstances taken together point out, in my
opinion, the absolute necessity of abandoning
the enterprise as soon as possible. We owe it
to Astor, we owe it to ourselves, and our
authority for adopting such a course is based
on the fifteenth and sixteenth articles of the
copartnership, which authorize us at any time
within the period of five years to abandon the
undertaking, should it prove impracticable
or unprofitable. Not, gentlemen, that there
is any fault in the country. No country, as
to valuable furs, can hold out better prospects;
but Astor's policy and a chain of misfortunes
have ruined all. Astor, with all his sagacity,
either does not or will not understand the
business. The system we were bound to
follow was bad, and that system we cannot
alter, so that we are bound in honor to deliver
the whole back into the hands from which
we received it—and the sooner the better."
These representations, stamped with the authority of experience, had the desired effect;
the resolution to abandon the country was
adopted, and Messrs. Stuart and Clarke gave
264 &ûtoentureg on tïje Oregon
it their cordial consent. As it was now too
late to carry it into execution this year, it
was postponed till the next, and the first of
June was the time fixed upon for our departure.
These preliminary arrangements being now
completed, a resolution was signed on the
first of July by all the partners present to
dissolve the concern and abandon the enterprise the next year. It was then resolved that
Mr. Stuart should betake himself to his post
at the She Whaps and that Mr. Clarke should
proceed to Spokane, while Mr. McKenzie was
to winter on the Wallamitte, with the express
understanding that we were all to meet again
at Astoria next May, and to take our final
departure from that establishment on the first
of June, unless a new supply should arrive and
peace be concluded before that time. That
Mr. Reed with some hunters and trappers
should pass the winter in the Snake country,
collect the stragglers still wandering through
that quarter, and at a certain point await the
arrival of the main body and join it on its way
Meanwhile, Mr. McDougall was still to continue in the command of Astoria until Mr.
Hunt's return. McDougall was also empowered, in the event of Mr. Hunt's non-
arrival, to treat with Mr. McTavish for the
transfer of all the goods and furs belonging to
the Pacific Fur Company in the country, at
I   !
■ïiïy   v^'sag
wwa &ïejeantiet: &o££
certain fixed prices, should that gentleman be
disposed to purchase on behalf of the North
West Company, considering a sale of this
nature, under all circumstances, to be a safer
speculation than the conveyance of so much
property across the long and dangerous route
to St. Louis. Such were the resolutions passed
on the present occasion, and copies of them all
were delivered over to McTavish, to be forwarded to Mr. Astor by the North West Company's winter express. The parties then left
Astoria for the interior on the fifth of July.
We have now so often related the voyage
up and down the Columbia that on the present
occasion it will not be necessary to dwell on
minute details. Suffice it to say, therefore,
that we reached the Cascades, or first barrier,
without any remarkable occurrence till we got
opposite to Strawberry Island, where one of
the canoes, in ascending the rapid, sheered out
in the stream, whirled round and round, and
upset. With great difficulty and danger the
men were saved, but a good deal of property was irrecoverably lost, and, among other
things, a box of mine containing books and
mathematical instruments, quadrant, sextant,
and a valuable pair of pistols—all went to the
bottom. It is a singular fact that we have
never yet once been able to pass this Charybdis
without paying tribute either to the natives or
the whirlpools. But misfortunes seldom come
alone, and to add to the confusion, as we were
266 &ttoenture£ on tïje Oregon
all running to and fro saving the men's lives
and the property, Mr. Cox's gun, being held
in some awkward and careless position, went
off, and both balls passed through the calf
of Mr. Pillet's right leg, but fortunately without breaking the bone.
Proceeding onwards, we passed the Long
Narrows and the Wyampam banditti, for the
first time without any trouble. It was, however, rumored here that we were to be attacked
in passing the forks; that the Indians had
assembled there in hostile array. And here
Mr. Clarke would fain have avoided the rencounter. He made several attempts, but in
vain, to engage a guide to lead him through
the interior by a back path. At the Umatallow
the small party bound for the Snake country
left us and departed in the direction of the
Blue Mountains.
On reaching the Walla Walla, about six
miles from the forks, Tummeatapam made
signs for us to go on shore. Here the good old
sachem appeared much agitated, and sat for
some time without uttering a single word.
At last he broke silence and exclaimed, "White
men! white men!" Then pointing to a dark
cloud of dust rising near the forks, said, " There
they are—there they are!" Then taking up a
handful of sand and throwing it in the air,
exclaimed again, "They are as numerous as
the grains of sand. The Indians have bad
hearts.   I am hoarse with speaking to them,
MB hi mil itonfcer Mo$$
but they will not listen to me." He advised us
earnestly to turn back, but seeing us determined to ascend the river, he asked leave to
embark and accompany us, but this we refused.
We took him, however, to one of our boats
and showed him a brass four-pounder, some
hand grenades, and sky rockets. Then giving
him some tobacco to smoke, we embarked, and
crossing over to the right-hand side, pushed on
along shore, the Indians being all on the left
bank. As we advanced, the Indians, mounted
in numerous squadrons, kept flying backwards
and forwards, seemingly bent on some great
design. We paddled on, however, without a
moment's delay, anxious to get to a certain
point a little beyond the forks, but on the
opposite side of the river, which is here nearly
a mile broad. When we came just opposite
to the Indians they all formed into one mass,
and could not have been less than 2,000, with
a fleet of 174 canoes along the beach. Their
appearance was certainly very imposing and
formidable, and the noise of the war dance and
war song, mingled with whooping and yelling,
was terrific. We in the meantime reached the
wished-for point, landed, took our stand, fortified our camp, and awaited the threatened
attack. This took place in the afternoon, about
two hours before sunset. All at once the canoes
were launched and we beheld fifty-seven of
them filled with people making for our camp.
All was suspense.  Every man squatted down
w' ftiïùtntutzg on tty Oregon
with his gun in his hand and his finger on the
trigger. As the fleet approached, our anxiety
increased till Mr. Stuart, who kept eyeing
them all the time with a spyglass, called out,
"There is nothing to fear; there are women
and children in the canoes." This was glad
news to some of our party, who were more
intent on saying their prayers than on fighting.
By this time they had got almost close to us,
when they all disembarked at the distance of
about 200 yards. Mr. Stuart, advancing to
meet them, drew a line on the sand as much
as to say, "Do not pass this"; they obeyed;
the pipe of peace was smoked, and laid aside.
After a short pause a few harangues were made.
They smoked again ; a trifling present followed ;
the business was ended, and at dusk the
Indians returned quietly to their camp. We
supposed that Tummeatapam's account of our
big gun influenced their conduct not a little.
Their peaceable behavior, however, did not
altogether quiet our apprehensions. A strong
watch was set for the night and before the
morning dawn every man had his gun in his
hand, but the Indians had disappeared. This
demonstration of the Indians prevented Mr.
Clarke from proceeding to his destination by
the usual route. He had, therefore, to continue with us, and pass by Oakinacken for
Spokane, making a circuitous route of more
than 300 miles.
From the forks we proceeded without inter-
WirnmLTiiri'i ■ mm Slejeanfcer &a0$
ruption till we reached Oakinacken on the
fifteenth of August, where I was to winter;
and here we shall leave the different parties to
proceed to their respective quarters while we,
in the meantime, return back a little to see
what is going on at Astoria.
It has already been stated that Mr. Hunt
arrived at Astoria in the ship Albatross on the
twentieth of August. He was mortified to
find, from the resolutions of the first of July,
that the partners had made up their minds to
abandon the country. McDougall and McKenzie now exerted their reasoning powers
to convince Mr. Hunt of their desperate and
hopeless situation. Nor could that gentleman,
with all his zeal for the interest of Mr. Astor,
and the success of his enterprise, shut his eyes
or close his ears against facts so self-evident.
After weighing, therefore, all the circumstances of our situation, Mr. Hunt acquiesced
in the measures that had been taken and likewise confirmed the powers given to Mr.
McDougall to transfer the goods and furs to
the North West Company; These points being
settled, Mr. Hunt, after remaining a week at
Astoria, left the Columbia again in the Albatross. This vessel was bound for the Marquesas
and Mr. Hunt took a passage in her with a
view of purchasing a ship to carry the furs at
Astoria to market, in the event of no transfer
being made to the North West Company,
as well as to convey thirty-two Sandwich
270 &&toenture£ on tï>e Oregon
Islanders, now in the service of the Company,
back to their own country; and here I shall
take my leave of Mr. Hunt for the present,
and return to my post at Oakinacken.
Everything now assumed a calm and tranquil aspect. The die was cast; we were now
but sojourners for a day. The spring would
remove us to other scenes, and till then we had
to make the best we could of the passing hour.
Under this impression I soothed myself with
the hope of passing a quiet winter, thinking
at times on our disappointments. After all
our labors, all our golden dreams, here is the
result! Well might we say with Solomon that
"all is vanity!" While musing one day on
passing events I was surprised all at once by
the arrival of a strong party of North-Westers,
seventy-five in number, in a squadron of ten
canoes and headed by Messrs. McTavish and
Stuart, two North West bourgeois, on their
way to the mouth of the Columbia in high glee
to meet their ship, the Isaac Todd, which was
expected daily. Mr. Clarke also accompanied
the North West brigade on his way to Astoria.
With the craft peculiar to Indian traders they
had crammed down Mr. Clarke's throat that
nothing could be done at Astoria without him,
although his accompanying them was like
the third wheel to a cart; but it answered
their purpose, for his leaving Spokane threw
at once all the trade of the district into their
hands, and Mr. Clarke found out, when it was
I %Lltxmbti J5og£
too late, that he had been duped. At Astoria
the party arrived safe on the seventh of
Here it was that the negotiations between
the two great functionaries, McDougall and
McTavish, commenced. The terms were soon
adjusted and the prices fixed. The whole of the
goods on hand, both at Astoria and throughout the interior, were delivered over to the
North West Company at 10 per cent on cost
and charges. The furs were valued at so much
per skin. The whole sales amounted to 80,500
dollars, McTavish giving bills of exchange on
the agents for the amount payable in Canada.
This transaction took place on the sixteenth
of October, and was considered fair and equitable on both sides.
But, after all, a good deal of petty maneuvering took place, not very creditable to the representative of a great body. McTavish expected
the armed ship Isaac Todd, fitted out as a
letter of marque, into the river daily, and in
that case Astoria would have been captured as
a prize and become the property of the North
West Company without purchase; and besides,
he had learned that the British government
had dispatched a ship of war to cruise on the
coast of the Pacific, and that she might be
looked for hourly; and the moment she entered
the river all the American property, as a
matter of course, would have been seized as a
prize.   In either case, McTavish would have
	 3Uitoenture£ on tfyt Oregon
saved his bills of exchange. Under this impression he put off from time to time, under
various pretenses, the signing of the documents. McDougall and McKenzie, however,
saw through this piece of artifice, and insisted
that the business should be ratified at once.
McTavish, however, full of commercial wiles,
tried to evade and retard every step taken.
McDougall, in the meantime, had a squadron
of boats in readiness, should any suspicious
vessel come in sight, to transport the furs and
goods up to the Wallamitte out of her reach.
While matters were in this unsettled state
Mr. McKenzie suggested a decisive measure,
which brought the negotiation to a speedy
McTavish and his party were encamped at
the time within a few yards of the fort and
sheltered, as it were, under the protection of
our guns. They were also indebted to the
generosity of the Astorians for their daily
supplies, being themselves without goods,
ammunition, or provisions.
One morning before daylight Messrs. McDougall and McKenzie summoned all hands
together, seventy-two in number, and after a
brief statement of the views of the North
West in reference to the negotiation, ordered
the bastions to be manned, the guns to be
loaded and pointed, and the matches lighted.
In an instant every man was at his post, and
the gates shut.   At eight o'clock a message
■«■M gtïejranùer ïSog£
was sent to McTavish, giving him two hours,
and no more, either to sign the bills or break
off the negotiation altogether and remove to
some other quarters. By eleven o'clock the
bills were finally and formally signed, and
Astoria was delivered up to the North West
Company on the twelfth of November, after
nearly a month of suspense between the drawing and the signing of the bills.
^r Chapter 16
THE fate of unfortunate Astoria being
now sealed, and the place in the possession of the North West Company,
the Astorians looked on merely as indifferent
spectators. Mr. Franchère was the only clerk
in the American service who showed a wish
to join the newcomers. He was a Canadian
from Montreal; and in those days the North
West stood high in Canada, and particularly
in Montreal. There they were everything,
and the Canadian voyageurs had a liberal
share of their bounty. It was therefore natural
for him to join that body which was the
admiration of his countrymen.
On the twenty-ninth of November Comecomly arrived in great haste at Astoria with a
report that a sail had been seen off the cape,
and expressed great alarm lest it might be a
King George ship. He did not wish, he said,
to see any more Britons among them. He and
his people were fond of the Americans and
would make war against any other people
entering the river. The old chief uttered this
threat in an angry, determined tone. Then
turning to McDougall he said, " See those few
King George people who came down the river:
turn $Uejtantier *5o£g
they were poor; they had no goods, and were
almost starving, yet you were afraid of them
and delivered your fort and all your goods to
them; and now King George's ships are coming
to carry you all off as slaves. We are not
afraid of King George's people. I have got
800 warriors, and we will not allow them to
enslave you. The Americans are our friends
and allies. " McDougall tried to console him,
and told him that the British would not hurt
the Americans. He also rewarded the chief's
devotedness to the American cause with a new
suit of clothing; then told him to keep a sharp
lookout to discover whether the ship was
British or American, forbidding, at the same
time, either himself or his people to go on
board. This he promised faithfully to do and
went off highly pleased.
The moment Comecomly left Astoria La-
framboise, the interpreter, was called in,
decked and painted in the full Chinook costume, and dispatched to Cape Disappointment to report whether a vessel was to be seen
and, if so, whether British or American. In
the meantime McDougall prepared to start
the instant a ship was seen. Laframboise had
scarcely reached the Cape when the ship hove
in sight, and soon afterwards came dashing
over the bar in fine style and anchored in
Baker's Bay, within the Cape. Laframboise
immediately returned and on his way back
met Mr. McDougall in a boat well manned
-^r^ &titoentute£ on tïje Oregon
going to the ship, and told him that the new
arrival was a British ship of war. McDougall
proceeded, and after remaining for about an
hour on board, returned to Astoria and reported
the vessel to be the Racoon, British sloop of
war of twenty-six guns, Captain Black, commander.
As soon as McDougall had left the Racoon,
his royal father-in-law, with a squad of followers, repaired to the ship to pay their homage
to the British Captain. Then the crafty old
chief traduced the Americans and extolled the
British, expressing his joy that he had lived
long enough to see once more a great ship
of his brother King George enter the river.
Then, with a grin of contempt, he remarked,
"The Americans have no ships to be compared
to King George's ships." Saying this, he laid
a fine sea otter skin at Captain Black's feet
and prepared to leave the ship. The Captain
called him back, gave him a good bumper of
wine, and in return for so much loyalty presented him with an old flag, a laced coat,
cocked hat, and sword. His Chinook Majesty
then left the Racoon, and returned to shore as
stanch a Briton as ever he had previously been
an American partisan. But the best part of the
farce was to see Comecomly sailing across,
the very next day, to Astoria in full British
uniform, with the Union Jack flying at the
On board of the Racoon was Mr. McDonald,
277 £Uerantier 3$o&£
one of the senior partners of the North West
Company, generally known by the name of
Brascroche.64 He assumed forthwith the direction of affairs at Astoria. Comecomly soon
got into his sleeve, and before the former was
twenty-four hours in office, the latter had a
new chief's suit on.
On the second day after the Racoon came
to anchor Captain Black and his officers landed
at Astoria and found they had been balked in
their expectations, the place being already in
the possession of the North West Company
by an amicable arrangement. They laughed
heartily at their own disappointment, for they
had made up their minds that the capture of
Astoria would yield them a rich prize; but in
place of a golden egg they found only an
empty shell. After visiting the place, Captain
Black, turning round to one of his officers,
said, "The Yankees are always beforehand
with us. "
On the twelfth of December the death
warrant of short-lived Astoria was signed.
On that day Captain Black went through
the customary ceremony of taking possession,
64 This was John MacDonald, a Scotchman, who
came out to Canada as a youth in 1791, and from this
time until 1812 was employed almost continuously
in the northwest fur trade. His nickname of Bras
Croche, or |Crooked Arm" was given him because
of an accident he had suffered. In 1816 MacDonald
retired from the fur trade and settled in Upper Canada,
where he died in i860.
278 ^Uitoentuteg on tïje #regon §
not only of Astoria but of the whole country.
What the vague term of "whole country" in
the present case meant, I know not. Does it
mean the Columbia? Does it mean all the
country lying west of the Rocky Mountains?
Or does it merely mean the coast of the
Pacific? That part of the ceremony which
referred to the "whole country" might have
been dispensed with, for the country had
already been taken possession of in the name of
His Britannic Majesty, and that many years
ago, by Drake, by Cooke, by Vancouver, and
lastly by Black. The name of Astoria was now
changed to that of Fort George; and this done,
the Racoon prepared to leave the Columbia.
Captain Black was a gentleman of courteous
and affable manners. He was never once
heard to utter an oath or indecorous expression
all the time he was in the river and there was
a general and sincere regret felt when he left
Fort George.
Having now detailed the principal occurrences at Astoria, we return to take up the
subject of Mr. Hunt's voyage. The reader
will bear in mind that Mr. Hunt sailed in the
Albatross in August last for the Marquesas,
where he arrived safe. Nor had he been long
there till he met with Commodore Porter of
the United States' frigate Essex, from whom
he learned that a British frigate called the
Phœbe, with two sloops of war, the Cherub
and Racoon, were on their way to Columbia.
3ET ^ïejcanùer &og£
Hearing this, Mr. Hunt tried his uttermost to
get some assistance from Captain Porter in
order to secure the American property now in
jeopardy at Astoria, but to no purpose. The
Commodore would not budge, having no instructions from his government to that effect;
and having besides learned, no doubt, that
Mr. Astor refused to join the Boston merchants
in their praiseworthy designs. Mr. Hunt, now
finding all his efforts at the Marquesas fruitless, sailed for the Sandwich Islands and
landed at Woahoo on the eighteenth of December. While at that island he received the
disastrous intelligence that a vessel bound
for Columbia, had been wrecked some time
previous, at the island of Tahvorowa.65
Thinking it possible that it might be a vessel
from Astor bound for Astoria, he repaired
thither with all possible dispatch, and found,
to his mortification, that his conjectures were
but too true.
The vessel in question proved to be the
Lark, Captain Northcop, bound for Astoria.
The Lark, which ought to have sailed in
September, 1812, did not leave New York till
the sixth of March, 1813, the very time when
she was expected to arrive at the place of her
destination. And this unaccountable delay
of six months accelerated the downfall of
unfortunate Astoria, for had the Lark left
New York at the usual time, and reached the
65 Modern Maui Island, northwest of Hawaii.
280 &titoentureg on tfte Oregon
Columbia, her seasonable arrival would have
beyond a doubt changed the face of affairs.
But there was a fatality attending the ships
bound for Columbia, and the loss of the Lark
added another link to the chain of misfortune.
This ill-fated vessel upset in a squall about
250 miles from the Sandwich Islands, and so
sudden and unexpected was the violent wind
that not a hatch was shut at the time, so she
filled with the second wave and became completely water-logged. The sufferings of the
crew were extreme: they remained lashed to
the bowsprit for four days and four nights
without drink, food, or sleep, the rest of the
vessel being completely under water. On the
eighth day after the accident a jury mast was
rigged, and a small scaffolding erected on
which the men could sleep. Still their sufferings from thirst and hunger were intolerable,
their only drink a little wine, and a very scanty
supply of raw pork their food. On the twelfth
day they came in sight of land, and six days
after that they abandoned the ship and got to
shore. Up to the time of their leaving the ship
six men, a boy, and one of the officers perished,
and the rest of the crew were so reduced from
various causes that they were utterly incapable
of helping themselves, much less the sinking
ship. Soon after the vessel was abandoned,
it neared the beach, stranded, and went to
pieces. Nor could all the efforts of the Captain
prevent the savage horde from seizing and
v &Iejtan&a: 0o£g
destroying everything that came in their way:
and not only that, but they effectually prevented him or any of the crew from approaching the wreck, or touching anything the waves
threw on shore. Nor did the tumultuous spirit
of the rabble subside till they stripped the
shipwrecked men of their clothes, as well as the
vessel of her cargo; so that the condition of the
sufferers was very little improved by their
getting to land.
During these proceedings Mr. Ogden, the
supercargo, set off for Woahoo, the residence
of King Tammeatameah, to claim protection
and restitution of the property; but behold!
His Majesty told him in few words that the
wreck belonged to the state. "Who," said
Tammeatameah, "brought the ship to shore?"
"The waves," replied Mr. Ogden. "Then the
waves are mine," rejoined the King. "Had
you brought the vessel to land," said His
Majesty to Mr. Ogden, " the ship and cargo
both would have belonged to you, and I should
have granted you protection and restitution;
but as you abandoned the wreck at sea and
fortune drove it on my territories, the wreck
is no longer yours, but mine. The clothing you
and your people brought to shore shall be
restored, but whatever was in the ship at the
time of her stranding or grounding, belongs to
me": and here the conversation ended.
Such, then, was the fate of the unfortunate
Lark, and such the statement of her com-
282 a&toentureg on tïje Oregon
mander to Mr. Hunt on his arrival at the
Sandwich Islands; and here again we must
leave Mr. Hunt in the happy isles, while we
go back to see what is passing in the Columbia
interior, and after that we shall return again
to the subject of Mr. Hunt's voyage. By so
doing we shall conform better to the natural
connection of the different subjects, without
perplexing the reader's attention. In the
meantime it may be stated that Messrs.
McKenzie and John Stuart proceeded to the
interior to see the property delivered over to
the North West Company, agreeably to the
late contract. After these gentlemen had
settled the business at Spokane and assembled
all the people of the late concern belonging to
that district, they came to me at Oakinacken
on the fifteenth of December; here also Mr.
Stuart, from the She Whaps, had arrived with
the men of that quarter. Finishing, then, the
business at Oakinacken, we all prepared to
embark, and left that place for Fort George
on the twentieth of December.
On our way down the Columbia such was the
mildness of the winter that not a speck of ice
was to be seen. At the head of the Cascades, a
place always notorious for its bad population,
we encamped, and were disturbed all night
by the whooping and yelling of savages, who
kept prowling in the woods round us. Notwithstanding the strictest watch, several
arrows were shot into our camp and a man
Lit**. gUejeantia: fôo&S
named Plessis was wounded in the ear. We
fired several shots into the woods from a three-
pounder, which kept the Indians at a distance.
In the morning we passed the Cascades peaceably and arrived safe at Fort George on the
seventh of January, 1814. The people from
the Wallamitte had just reached that place
before us.
Below the Cascades there is no impediment
whatever to the navigation of the river, by
night or by day. The brigade, therefore, went
sweeping down the current in the dark. In
passing the last of the bad places, however,
my boat happening to get broken, we had to
put ashore to repair, and, by the time we got
under way again, the brigade had left us far
behind. Next morning at daybreak, I met,
opposite to the Wallamitte, two North West
canoes and twenty men, under the direction
of Messrs. Keith and Alex. Stuart, two partners of the North West Company, on their way
to the interior. We breakfasted together and I
strongly advised them to turn back, since so
small a party, and strangers, too, could never
hope to pass through the hostile tribes in
safety. They, however, made light of the
matter, giving me to understand that they
were North Westers! so we parted, and they
proceeded. While talking on the subject of
danger one of those swelling fellows, such as
may be ordinarily seen stuck up in the end
of a North West canoe, with a bonnet of
284 If     a&toentureg on tïje #regon
feathers surpassing in size the head of a buffalo
bull, turned round to my men and said, "Do
you think we are Americans? We will teach
the Indians to respect us. " In the darkness of
the night they had not seen our people on
their way down. The moment Mr. McKenzie
reached Fort George he represented to McDonald and McTavish the folly and danger
of the attempt; consequently, a canoe with
twelve men, under the direction of Mr.
Franchère, was immediately dispatched to
bring them back, but it was unfortunately too
On Messrs. Keith and Stuart's arrival at the
portage of the Cascades the Indians collected,
as usual, in great numbers, but did not attempt anything till the people had got involved
and dispersed in the portage. They then seized
the opportunity, and began to help themselves;
they drew their bows, brandished their lances,
and pounced upon the gun cases, powder kegs,
and bales of goods at the place where Mr.
Stuart was stationed. He tried to defend his
post, but owing to the wet weather his gun
missed fire several times, and before any
assistance could reach him he had received
three arrows, and his gun had just fallen from
his hand as a half-breed, named Finlay, came
up and shot his assailant dead. By this time
the people had concentrated, and the Indians
fled to their strongholds behind the rocks and
trees. To save the property in this moment of
■M &Iejeanfcer Mù$$
alarm and confusion was impossible; to save
themselves and carry off Mr. Stuart was the
first consideration. They therefore made for
their canoes with all haste, and embarked.
Here it was found that one man was missing,
and Mr. Keith, who was still on shore, urged
the party strongly to wait a little; but the
people in the canoes called on Mr. Keith, in
the tone of despair, to jump into the canoe or
else they would push off'and leave him also;
but he, being a resolute man and not easily
intimidated, immediately cocked his gun and
threatened to shoot the first man that moved.
Mr. Stuart, who was faint from loss of blood,
seeing Mr. Keith determined and the men
frightened out of their wits, beckoned to Mr.
Keith to embark. The moment he jumped into
the canoe they pushed off and shot down the
current; nor had they proceeded far before
they met Mr. Franchè