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Early western travels 1748-1846 : a series of annotated reprints of some of the best and rarest contemporary… Ross, Alexander, 1783-1856 1904

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     Early Western Travels
if        1748-1846
Volume VII
MMptfiiaiiM^^  Early Western Travels
A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best
and rarest contemporary volumes of travel, descriptive of the Aborigines and Social and
Economic Conditions in the Middle
and Far West, during the Period
of Early American Settlement
Edited with Notes, Introductions, Index, etc., by
Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.
Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents," "Wisconsin
Historical Collections," "Chronicles of Border Warfare,*'
"Hennepin's New Discovery," etc.
Volume VII
Ross's Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon
or Columbia River, 1810-1813
Cleveland, Ohio
The Arthur H. Clark Company
Preface.   The Editor 9
Adventures of the First Settlers on t^ee Oregon or
Columbia River:   being a Narrative of the Expedition
fitted out by John Jacob Astor, to establish the "Pacific
Fur Company;" with an account of the Indian Tribes on
the Coast of the Pacific.   Alexander Ross, one of the
Author's Preface      .        .        .        .        .        .        .21
Author's Table of Contents       .....      23
Text 33
Chinook Vocabulary .....    321
A Table of the Weather at the Mouth of the Columbia River, from March 22nd till July 22nd, 1811 .    330  ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOLUME VII
Map of the Columbia .......      18
Facsimile of original title-page     ......      19  PREFACE TO VOLUME VII
The present volume is occupied by the reprint, from
the original London edition of 1849, of Alexander Ross's
Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia
River from 1810-13.
No less than three members of the Astorian expedition1
published personal narratives, each of them a work of
much merit. As a source for the study of this first attempt in behalf of the United States to colonize the Northwest Coast, the account of Ross supplements in many
particulars that of Gabriel Franchere, the French Canadian clerk whose notable tale of adventure is published in
volume vi of our series. Ross's narrative was not made
public until twenty-nine years after the appearance of the
first (French) edition of Franchere's book; but it was
based upon journals written at the time, and has the value
of a first-hand relation.
Ross was a Scotchman, who left his father's home
(1804) to seek a fortune in the then "dissolute, extravagant, and butterfly" Province of Canada. He confesses
that only stern Scotch pride kept him from returning to
the parental roof, for which he secretly longed during
several years after his departure. In the new land his
fortunes did not flourish. Endowed with a good education, he at first eked out a scanty livelihood by teaching
school; but after five years purchased some land in Upper
1 Gabriel Franchfere, Voyage (French original, published at Montreal in
1820; English translation published in New York, 1854); Ross Cox, Adventures
on the Columbia River (London, 1831); and Alexander Ross, Adventures
(London, 1849).    We reprint the first and third of these. Early Western Travels
Canada, and turned farmer. The reports of Astor's
enterprise and of fortunes to be acquired in the fur-trade,
tempted him to abandon the soil and embark in the
promising project for a Columbia settlement, and he was
a member of the contingent that sailed from New York in
the "Tonquin," in 1810. Arrived at Columbia River,
Ross was soon assigned to a post in the interior, where he
whiled away the tedium of existence by studying Indian
languages and characteristics, by copious journalizing,
and much reflection. Nor was incident lacking to divert
the isolated fur-trader, as the various brigades of the
rival North West Company swept up and down the
Columbia, and the fate of Astoria hung trembling in the
balance. Most of the "Nor' Westers" were Scotchmen
like himself, and Ross's sympathies appear to have
been enlisted strongly in their behalf. As the books of
reminiscence written during his retirement grew, they
took on the form of apologies for McDougall and McKenzie, the Scotch partners of the American house, and
virtually became tirades against the associates of Astor,
and his business management as well.
Upon the consummation of the sale of Astoria (October,
1813), Ross was easily induced to enter the service of
the new British owners, and he remained upon Columbian
waters so long as the Nor' Westers operated in that
district. With accustomed Scotch canniness he stipulated
for an agreement in writing that he should be promoted
at the end of seven years' service; but just before the
expiration of that term the North West Company merged
with its great rival, the Hudson's Bay (1821), and Ross's
hopes were again dashed. However, the governor of the
Hudson's Bay Company placed him in command of a 1810-1813]
large brigade for hunting and exploring the country of the
Snake Indians—the vast region of the Rocky Mountain
divide, in the present states of. Montana and Idaho.
Here for two years (1823-25) he led his motley crews of
Canadians, half-breeds, Iroquois, and Hawaiians, crossing
and recrossing the path of Lewis and Clark, and exploring
the fastnesses of the Snake and Salmon rivers.
But the wilderness had now lost its charm, and Ross
returned to at least the borders of civilization, there to
live in quiet and rear his half-breed children. In recognition of his services, the Hudson's Bay Company granted
him a hundred acres of land in the Red River Valley,
where he became one of the earliest and most prominent
citizens of the present city of Winnipeg. His estate was
known as j' Colony Gardens," and upon the profits of his
trade among the settlers and of his relations with the
aborigines he grew wealthy and influential. Being chosen
the first sheriff of Assiniboine (the present province of
Winnipeg), he was later (1835) appointed a member of
its first Government Council. Some account of his life
as a settler, and a few of his letters, are published in the
Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba Trans-
actions No. 63 (Winnipeg, 1903).
At last blessed with leisure, Ross now turned author,
and published three works detailing the differing phases
of his life. The first—Adventures of the First Settlers on
the Oregon or Columbia River—relates his experiences as
a fur-trader in American employ, and was issued from
a London press in 1849; this book we here republish.
The narrative of his life upon Western waters under the
direction of British companies, appeared in 1855, as
The Fur Hunters of the Far West.   His final essay was a 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
history of The Red River Settlement its Rise, Progress, and
Present State, which appeared in 1856, the year of the
author's death. All of these books are written in a simple,
clear, unpretentious style, being mainly narrations of
daily events.
Referring specifically to the Adventures, which we have
chosen for reprinting, it is evident that the author's interest
in topography was but slight. It is surprising to find a
man who has had many years of intimate acquaintance
with the interesting regions penetrated transiently by
Lewis and Clark along narrow trails, contributing so
slightly as does Ross to the world's knowledge of the
country; whereas Lewis and Clark brought back from
their hurried journey a wealth of detailed information.
With ethnology, Ross exhibits greater concern. His
alliance with an Okanagan woman, and his constant
contact with the natives of the coast, gave him a command
of tribal habits, traditions, and beliefs which makes his
work a valuable source for the study of Western Indian
life. The last four chapters present a good sociological
treatment of the natives of the Shahaptian family—their
religion, government, family life, and characteristics—
in the primitive state, before contact with the whites had
brought modification and degeneracy. Ross's account of
the Indians of the coast, the Clatsop and Chinookan
tribes, gives evidences of truth and accurate observation.
But it is chiefly as a narration of the fortunes of the
Astorian expedition, that we value Ross's book. Unlike
Franchere, he exhibits no reserve, and unhesitatingly
expresses his opinion of the conduct of Captain Jonathan
Thorn and Astor's partners, during the now famous
voyage.   His accounts of the adventures of the "Ton-
• 1810-18131
quin" and its passengers are consequently the more vivid
and personal of the two. The dramatic situation evidently appealed strongly to our author's temperament; the
incidents at the Falkland and Hawaiian islands, the
irascibility and unreasonableness of Thorn's conduct, the
useless sacrifice of life to the strictness of naval discipline,
are related with no assuaging touch. Neither does the
writer spare the reader an account of the hardships and
trials of the adventurers, the poor and scanty food, the toil
in felling trees and erecting buildings, the feuds and 31
feeling between the workers, and the caprices of the commanding partners. Later, in describing the transfer of
Astoria and its property to British hands, our author
unhesitatingly appears as an apologist for the transaction,
and an advocate of the pro-British party. His criticism
of Aster's management, while partly justifiable from
Ross's standpoint, seems to possess an element of personal
pique; and for the clerks who, like Franchere, chose to
remain loyal to the American owners, Ross has but few
words of commendation. For a just estimate of the
transaction, the reader must balance probabilities between
the conclusions of Irving, Franchere, and Ross, and
likewise take into consideration the emergencies arising
from the Anglo-American war.
Aside from its historical value, Ross's Adventures
possesses abundant interest for all who are stirred by
clearly-delineated accounts of life in the great silent
places of earth. Our author has a graphic touch: dangers
from Indian treachery, perils of the forests and the waterways, thrilling escapes of every sort, lose nothing under
his pen; wilderness life is vividly portrayed—the sharp
contrasts between civilization and savagery, the obstacles
*»  Alexander Ross's Adventures of the First Settlers
on the Oregon or Columbia River
Reprint of the original edition (London, 1849)    ADVENTURES
wwa aw account oar sows
1849.  PREFACE
Having been one of the first commercial adventurers
to the Columbia River, and having spent fifteen years of
my life travelling 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
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 [iv]
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 arm-chair 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 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 travellers, especially
those pioneers who first penetrate into dark and remote 22
Early Western Travels
regions, fall into: they generally run into the extreme, and
spoil a simple story by colouring. 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 shade.
What belongs to oneself is generally viewed with a
partial eye; and perhaps that partiality influences [v] 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 themselves.
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, 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.
Aug. 1, 1846. CONTENTS    %
Introductory remarks—John Jacob Astor—Grasping views
—Early traders of Canada—The Hudson's Bay Company—
American fur companies—Aster's policy—Russian settlements—Coasting vessels—The Pacific Fur Company—
Flattering results—Oregon territory—New association—
Mr. Hunt—Golden prospects—Proposals accepted—List
of adventurers—Land party—Sea party—The ship Ton-
quin—Remarks—Opinion against opinion—Observations
—Land expedition departs—Sea party set off for New York
—Bark canoe—Spectators—Canadian voyageurs    .        .    33
The Tonquin sails—Quarrels on board—The captain's character—Accommodations—A sudden squall—Flying fish—
The captain's harshness—Cape de Verd Islands—Alarm of
fire—A suspicious sail—Crossing the line—Springing a
leak—Short allowance of water—Immense wave—The
Falkland Islands—Rocky passage—Wild fowl—Port
Egmont Bay—The party on shore—Mr. Farnham's gray
goose—Old graves renewed—Epitaphs—Party left behind
—New dangers—Mr. Robert Stuart's determined conduct
—Feuds on board—Cape Horn doubled—The weather—
Pilot fish—Trade winds—Rogues' mess—Little pilot—
Mouna Roa—A man overboard—The mate in irons        .    43
Karakakooa Bay—The sailors desert—The captain's conduct—
Productions of Owhyhee—Tocaigh Bay—Governor Young
—Royal proclamation—Woahoo—Ourourah, the residence of Tammeatameah—Harbour fees—Excursion on
shore—The Queen's umbrella—The King's appearance— ■II
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Royal palace and guards—Arsenal, or royal workshop—
Royal dinner—His Majesty's fleet—Morais, or places of
public worship—Sacred or puranee ground tabooed—
Storm—A sailor left to his fate among the natives—Parting visit from his Majesty—His meanness—Diving of the
natives—Native proas: how made—Clothing—Customs
and peculiarities—Character of the women—White men
at the Sandwich Islands—The King's disposition towards
foreigners—Captain Cook—Pahooas, or war spears—A
sham fight—Religion—Tammeatameah conqueror and
king—Apparent happiness of the natives—Prophetic hint
—Distressed situation of a boat       .
Departure from the Sandwich Islands—Bad weather—Live
stock destroyed—Columbia River—A boat and crew lost—
Captain's conduct towards Mr. Fox—Mouth of the river—
Bar and breakers—Cape Disappointment—Point Adams
—Narrow escape of the long boat—Sounding the bar—A
boat and crew left to perish—The ship in the breakers—
Critical situation—Melancholy narrative of Steven Weeks
— Search made for the lost boat, and narrow escape—Long
boat swamped—Fidelity of the natives—Preparations for
leaving the ship—Captain Thorn—The voyage concluded   74
Preparations for landing—Site of the new emporium of the west
—Aster's representative—Hard work—Huge trees—Natives—Comecomly—Mode of felling the trees—Danger—
Trying scenes—Three [ix] men killed—Three wounded—
Party reduced by sickness—Disaffection—Conduct of the
deputy—Desertion—Mr. Aster's policy—Climate—Indian rumours—Comecomly's intrigues and policy—Trip
to the cascades—Mr. M'Kay and north-west notions—
Anecdote—Exploring party to the north—Several persons killed—Hostile threats of the Indians—Potatoes and
other seeds planted—New building—Astoria—Departure
of the ship—Dangerous situation of the whites—Great 846]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
assemblage of Indians—People under arms—Blunderbuss
accident—Alarming moment—Two strangers arrive— Mr.
Thompson at Astoria—M'Dougall's policy—The two
great functionaries        . . . . . .88
The ten tribes—Number of warriors—Their laws—Chiefs
arbitrary power—Dress, games, and arms of the men—
Dress of the women, slaves, and basket-making—Lewdness
of the women—Food, ornaments—The salmon—Superstitious customs — Sturgeon—Fathomfish—Roots and
berries—Circulating medium—Econe", or Good Spirit—
Ecutoch, or Bad Spirit—Etaminua, or priests—Keelalles,
or doctors—War canoes—Diseases—Winter houses—
Temporary, or Summer houses—Fleas—Practice of flattening the head — Colonization —Wallamitte — Cowlitz,
or Puget's Sound—Conclusion ... 102
First expedition into the interior—Number of the party—
Tongue Point—Canoe swamped—Sailing difficulties—
Indian villages—Cedars—First night's encampment—
Mount Coffin—Cowlitz—Wallamitte—Columbia Valley
—Point Vancouver—Difficulties—The Cascades—Concourse of Indians—General appearance of the country—
The portage—Description of the cascades—The roll of
tobacco—Pilfering—Mr. Thompson—Exchange of men
—The Long Narrows—Warlike appearance of the Indian
cavalry—Button contract—Critical situation-of the party
—Camp of gamblers—The Narrows [x]—Hard work at
the carrying place—A day's work—Description of the
portage—Number of Indians—Aspect of the country—
The plains begin—End of the woods—Want of sleep—
Demeanour of the Indians   . . .        .        .        . 115
Columbia Falls—A canoe swamped—Suspicious behaviour of
the Indians — Stratagem—Umatallow — Walla-Walla —
Great body of Indians—Harangues—Indian ceremonies 26
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
—The great forks—Difference in the waters—Length of
the forks—The British flag—Mr. Thompson's design—
Indian ideas—Salmon—European articles —Tummatapam
—Departure from the Forks—Indian honesty—Eyakema
— Marl-hills — Dead children—Superstitions — Priest's
Rapid—Rattle-snakes—Appearance of the country—
Kewaugh-chen—Perilous situation of a canoe—The two
sisters—The old Indian—Hunting parry—Horses—The
priest—Piss-cows—Sopa—Great assemblage of Indians
—The comet—Oakinacken—Distance from Astoria—
Indian-council—Resolve to winter—Some account of the
place—The stolen watch—The priest dismissed—Voyage
concluded—The two strangers—First building—Division
of the party—Lonely winter—The lost party—Indian
trade—Mr. Stuart's adventures        ....
Anxieties at Astoria—Indians depart—A schooner built—The
Dolly's first trip—Criminal curiosity—The powder keg—
The schooner condemned—Mr. Aster's cargoes—His
policy—Remarks on the North-West coast—Unwelcome
rumours—Calpo's statement—Rumours renewed—Hard
cases—Joe Lapierre—Kasiascall's account of the Tonquin
—Strange Indian—Kasiascall's conduct—His character—
His design on Astoria—Remarks .        .        .
[xi] CHAPTER X """" ;§§
Land expedition—Hunt and M'Kenzie—Montreal recruits—
La Chine—Devout farewell—Mackina in 1810—Fur
traders of the South—Frolic parties—Comparison between
the South and North—Arrival at St. Louis—Recruiting
service—Yankees—Canoe-men—Delays at St. Louis—
Difficulties — Mr. Miller — The Missouri — Canadian
voyageurs—Winter quarters—Mr. Hunt revisits St. Louis
— M* Kenzie—Mr. Aster's policy—The Yankees desert—
Winter quarters broken up—Rocky Mountains—Pilot
knobs — New scenes—Columbia River—The horses abandoned—Take to canoes—The canoes abandoned—Trap-
J59 1846]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
pers—Mr. Miller—Party on foot—Hardships—Starvation —Conflicting councils—Gloomy prospects—Property
en cache —The party divided —Three men perish—M' Ken-
zie's speech—He arrives at Astoria—Mr. Crooks and
others left behind—Mr. Hunt's arrival at Astoria—Voyage
concluded . . . ...
Doings at Astoria—Three parties on foot—Their object—
M' Lellan's resolution—Hostile attack at the Long Narrows
—Mr. Reed—Two Indians shot—Heroic conduct of
M<Lellan—Difficulties adjusted—Advance of the party—
Remarks—Arrival at Oakinacken—Departure again for
Astoria—Scene at Umatallow—Mr. Crook's adventures
and suffering—Yeck-a-tap-am—Umatallow left—Merit
rewarded—Arrival of the party at Astoria—The ship
Beaver there also . ..... 186
General meeting of the partners—Resolutions passed—Departure of the parties for the interior—Mr. Clarke—The cascades—Wyampam, or the Long Narrows—Situation of the
party—Loss of time—Mr. M* Kenzie—A stroll through the
Indian camp—Mr. Clarke's alarms—Command transferred—Reed's rifle recovered—A robber in irons—The
five shots—Yeck-a-tap-am rewarded—Mr. Stuart's departure [xii] for St. Louis—Second division—Summer trip
to She Whaps—Boullard and his squaw—Mr. Stuart's
arrival at Oakinacken—Departure for She Whaps—Winter
operations at Oakinacken—Visits—Travelling scenes—A
night in the snow—Jacque and his powder-horn—Mr.
Stuarfs account of his journey—Arrival at Walla Walla      . 194
Mr. Clarke—Stragglers—Hard Travelling—Cox's pilgrimage—
Visit to Spokane—Trade—Mr. Pillet—Mr. Farnham—
Cootanais and Flatheads—M{ Lennan—Plunge in the lake
—Adventures—Outposts—Catatouch chief—Curiosity— 28
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Fracas — Introduction of civilization — Commotion —
M'Kenzie—Great Snake River—Caches robbed—Canadian wanderers—Character of the Shahaptains—Visit to
Spokane—M' Tavish—Account of the war—Winter travels
—M* Kenzie at Astoria—New resolves—M* Kenzie's return
to his post—Indian chiefs—Bold enterprize—Property
recovered—Chiefs and their horses—Strategems—Indians
outwitted — Plotting — Friendly Island — Conference—
Marauding propensities — Treaty of peace — System
changed—Plentiful market—The island abandoned—
Arrival at Walla Walla—Commotions among the savages—
Tummeatapam—Arrival at Astoria
Mr. Stuart—Snake River —Trappers—Joyous meeting—Trapper's resolution—Crow Indians' troubles—Horses change
masters—Mr. Stuart on foot—M£ Lellan left alone—Hardships of the party—Famine—Le Clerc's horrid proposition
—The old bull—The old horse—Pilot-knobs—Winter
quarters—Unwelcome visitors—Change of quarters—
Spring—Travelling at random—An Otto-Indian—River
Platte—Two traders—News of the war—The Missouri—
The old horse given for an old canoe—St. Louis—Mr.
Astor—Wallamitte—Falls—Scenery—Habits of the Col-
lap-poh-yea-ass tribes—Concourse of savages—M* Doug-
all's letter—[xiii] M' Kenzie's stratagem—Indian disappointment—The ship Beaver—Coasting voyage—Mr.
Astor's policy—Captains—Their instructions—Mr. Hunt
baulked in his plans—The Boston merchants—Mr.
Astor's conduct—Difficulties of Mr. Hunt's situation—
The ship Albatross—All the parties at head-quarters
Meeting of the partners—Warm discussion—M'Kenzie—
Eloquence of the times—Reasons for dissolving the company
—Dissenting partners converted—Final resolve—The
deputy's powers—Departure of the brigade—A canoe lost
—A man's leg in jeopardy—Rumours at the narrows—
^ki :846]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Snake party—Rumours renewed—Tummeatapam's counsel—Hostile appearance at the forks—Number of Indians
—Nez Perces' fleet—Fears of the whites—Indian visit—
Strong guard—Mr. Clarke—Relic of the silver goblet—
Mr. Hunt at Astoria—Face of affairs changed—Mr. Hunt
departs from Astoria—North-West squadron—A great
Eri duped—Bill of sale—Petty manoeuvring—Rumours
of ships—The Astorians at their post—Bill signed-^-Astoria delivered up—North-West Company      j     . . 236
Mr. Franchere—Comecomly's anxiety—His report of a sail—
His attachment to the Americans—Laframboise, the interpreter—Mr. M'Dougall's visit—The Racoon sloop-of-war
—Comecomly grows partial to the British flag—North-
West partners—British officers—Astoria changed to Fort
George—Captain Black's character—Mr. Hunt's voyage
—Commodore Porter—Mr. Hunt leaves the Marquesas
—Arrival at the Sandwich Islands—Rumours—The ship
Lark—Eight persons perish—Columbian affairs—The
property delivered—No ice—The people assembled—Voyage—The Cascade banditti—Two North-West canoes—
North-West affray at the cascades—Mr. Stuart wounded—
Mr. Keith's conduct—Preparations for war—The great
expedition—Conduct of the Cath-le-yach-€-yach Indians—
Expedition fails—The effect—Remarks
Party to the Wallamitte—Hunt's voyage concluded—The brig.
Pedlar—M'Dougall suspected—His character vindicated
—Mr. Hunt's remarks on the late concern—His liberality
—His farewell address to the clerks—Final departure from
Columbia—The party for Canada—Efforts and disappointments—Snake expedition—The melancholy story of Pierre
Dorion's wife—Massacre of the Snake party—Remarks—
A winter in the Blue Mountains—List of casualties—Astor's
hopes disappointed—Comment on the late concern . 261
«M 3°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
i i
Origin of the Oakinackens—Religion—Good Spirit—Evil
Spirit—Ideas of a future state—Ceremonies—End of this
world—Extent of country—Names and number of tribes—
Warriors—Population—Royal family—The great chief,
or Red Fox—Wild hemp—Long journeys—Barter—
Emblem of royalty—Government—Indian ideas—Council
of chiefs—Manners—Employments—Plurality of wives—
Brawls—Dress and clothing—Stratagems—A savage in
wolf's dothing]—Painted faces and sleek hair
- 272
Marriage contracts—National custom—Exchange of presents
— Nocturnal visits—The object—Purchasing the bride—
Customs on the occasion—Feuds and quarrels—Tla-quill-
augh, or Indian doctor—His office—Precarious life—
Mode of paying him—Manner of treating the sick—Customs and ceremonies on the occasion—Hard duty—Superstitions— Knowledge of roots and herbs—Curing wounds
—Diseases, or general complaints—Gambling—Tsill-all-
a-come, or the national game—Manner of playing it—Bets
— Gambling propensities—Hot baths—Manner of using
them—On what occasions—Indian qualifications—Gymnastic exercise—Comparison—General remarks
Social habits—Winter habitations—Economy of the winter—
Summer employments—Collecting of food—Fish barriers
—Salmon—Division of labour—Roots and berries—
Scenes at the fish camp—Mode of catching the deer—
Preparation of food—Furnaces or ovens—Implements of
warfare—Spampt, how made—Pine moss—Bread, how
prepared—Great war-dance—Manner of fighting—Treaties of peace—Scalps—Slaves—Funeral ceremonies—
Mode of interment—Graves—Superstitions—Emblems—
Customs—Mourning—Punishments—Sedate habits and
docile dispositions ......
295 [846]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Calculation of time—Singular manner of naming children—
Peculiar modes of address—Anecdote of an Indian chief—
Indian forbearance— Conduct of the whites in Indian countries—Comparison of crime between Indians and whites—
Manner of swaddling infants—Hardships during infancy—
Savage customs—Indian constitution—Chief cause of
scanty [population—A day's journey—Calculation of
distance—Rough roads—Indian ideas—Social habits—
Some remarks on the system adopted for converting
Indians to the Christian faith        ..... 304
Chinook Vocabulary ....
Table of the Weather at the Mouth of the Columbia
- 32i
Introductory remarks—John Jacob Astor—Grasping
views—Early traders of Canada—The Hudson's Bay
Company—American fur companies—Astor's policy—
Russian settlements—Coasting vessels—The Pacific
Fur Company—Flattering results—Oregon territory
—New association—Mr. Hunt—Golden prospects
—Proposals accepted—List of adventurers—Land
party—Sea party—The ship Tonquin—Remarks—
Opinion against opinion—Observations—Land expedition departs—Sea party set off for New York—Bark
canoe—Spectators—Canadian voyageurs	
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 1792; * or, rather,
down to the present time; but, on second thoughts, I felt
convinced that enough had been done already in that
branch of [2] 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
1 For a brief account of the discoveries of the Northwest Coast, see Thwaites,
Rocky Mountain Exploration (New York, 1904), chap. i. For notes on Vancouver and Drake, see Franchere's Narrative, volume vi of our series, notes 2, 66.
Further references to this Narrative, in the following notes, will be to that
reprint.— Ed. 34
Early Western Travels
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 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, 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: [3] 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.2
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
adventurers. The French, for some time after settling
there, carried on an irregular but lucrative traffic in furs
2 For brief sketch of John Jacob Astor, see Franchere's Narrative, volume
vi. of our series, note 8.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 theatre of action
appeared the Mackina 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 Mackina 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 entitied the South-West, in
contradistinction to the North-West Company.8
Mr. Astor now saw himself at the head of all the [4] 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  lying west of the Rocky
8 For the history of the great fur-trade companies, see Turner, "Character
and Influence of the Fur Trade in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Historical Society
Proceedings, 1889; Chittenden, History of American Fur Trade in Far West
(New York, 1902); J. Long's Voyages, volume ii of our series, preface. The
Mackinac Company, composed of British subjects, was formed before the
surrender of the Upper Lakes posts to the Americans (1796). It operated
chiefly in the West and Southwest; and in 1807, Americans on Lake Ontario
fired upon its brigade. See Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, xxv,
pp. 250-257. This company was a source of dispute between Canada and the
United States until Astor purchased its stock. At the time of sale, the North
West Company's partners held a controlling interest.— Ed. 36
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Mountains, and which forms the subject of our present
narrative. In this quarter the Russians alone had regular
trading ports, opposite to Kamtschatka, where they still
carry on a considerable trade in furs and seal skins, sending
them across the Pacific direct to China. Their capital is
limited, and their hunting grounds almost entirely confined to the sea-coast 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.
The comprehensive mind of Mr. Astor could not but see
these things in their true light, and 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 [5] his own limits, and the coasting vessels must
soon disappear altogether.
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
dep6t 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
* The word "Oregon" was not an appellation of the Spaniards, but appears
to have first been employed in 1778 by the English traveller, Captain Jonathan
Carver (concerning whom see J. Long's Voyages, volume ii of our series, note 5).
On the meaning thereof, see Oregon Historical Society Quarterly, June, 1900;
also H. H. Bancroft, History of Oregon (San Francisco, 1886), i, pp. 17-25.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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.
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 [6] 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 offence; besides," added, he, "the
claims of prior discovery and territorial right are claims to
be settled by Government only, and not by an individual."
Mr. Astor's plans, hitherto known only to a few, now
began to develope themselves more publicly. On the
first intimation of the scheme, the North-Westerns took 38
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 Caledonia 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 [7] 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 disclosed his plans and made proposals,
whereupon Messrs. M'Kay, M'Kenzie, M'Dougall, and
Stuart, entered into his views, and became partners in the
new concern.8 The former of these gentlemen had
accompanied Sir Alexander M'Kenzie 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.8
Articles of association and co-partnership were therefore
entered into and concluded at New York, in the spring
8 For brief biography of these partners of the Pacific Fur Company, see
Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series, note 4; Franchere's Narrative,
notes 9, 10.— Ed.
• Concerning Mackenzie's discoveries, see Franchere, note 4. McKay
accompanied Mackenzie upon his second voyage to the Pacific, not upon his
first expedition to the Arctic—Ed. 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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, M'Lellan, and Clarke,
were soon afterwards added.7 The association was not a
joint-stock concern; Mr. Astor alone furnished the capital,
amounting to 200,000 dollars, divided into 100 shares of
2000 dollars each, with power to increase the capital to
500,000 dollars.
The association was formed for a period of twenty [8]
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
stock-holder, was alone to bear all expenses and losses,
the other partners giving only their time and labour. 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
chances 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.
At the head dep6t, or general rendezvous, was to be
7 Relative to Hunt, Crooks, McClellan, and Miller, see Bradbury's Travels,
volume v of our series, notes a, 3, 72; for Clarke, see Franchere, note 81.— Ed.
_^ 1
—, 40
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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, [9] and enabled him to discharge the duties of his station. In him was also vested
the chief authority, or, in his absence, in M'Dougall. It
was therefore to either or to both of 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. M' Kay, 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-Westerns 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 quarters 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 perserverance and i8io-i8i31
Ross's Oregon Settlers
enterprise alone rested all hopes [10] 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. Franchere,
Pillet, M'Gillis, Farnham, and M'Lennan, besides Mr.
Stuart and myself, joined the adventurers;8 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. M'Kay, was to proceed by sea in the Tonquin, a ship
of 300 tons, and mounting twelve guns. The Tonquin}s
course was round Cape Horn, for the north-west 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 along,
by means of American trappers and hunters from the
south. Here M'Kenzie 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
M'Kay, whose life had been spent in voyaging through
the Indian countries, and who was nowise [11] qualified as
a merchant, had resigned the inland voyage to a gentleman,
bred to mercantile pursuits, but unacquainted with this
8 For what is known of these clerks, see Franchere, notes 76, 84. For
Robert Stuart see Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, note 117.— Ed.
*m 42
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
new mode of travelling, 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. M'Kenzie, left La Chine, nine miles
south of Montreal, with the land expedition, in the beginning of July; and, on the 20th of the same month, the
ship party, consisting of three partners, five clerks, Mr.
Stuart, and myself, five mechanics, and fourteen canoe
men, left Montreal for New York, where we were to
embark, ft Of this number, however, M'Kay 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,
between the canoe men 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
[12] 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Mr. M'Kay, with an air of confidence, challenged the
swiftest New York boat for a three mile race, offering to
bet ten to one on his canoe men, 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 canoe men in the world.
The Tonquin sails—Quarrels on board—The captain's
character—Accommodations—A sudden squall—Flying fish—The captain's harshness—Cape de Verd
Islands—Alarm of fire—A suspicious sail—Crossing
the line—Springing a leak—Short allowance of water
—Immense wave—The Falkland Islands—Rocky
passage—Wild fowl—Port Egmont Bay—The party
on shore—Mr. Farnham's gray goose—Old graves
renewed—Epitaphs—Party left behind —- New dangers
—Mr. Robert Stuart's determined conduct—Feuds on
board—Cape Horn doubled—The weather—Pilot
fish—Trade winds—Rogues' mess—Little pilot—
Mouna Roa-—A man overboard—The mate in irons.
On the 6th 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. On the 7th, 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 S.E. course. [14] So
8 Compare the following description of the voyage of the "Tonquin" with
that of Franchere; on the "Constitution," Captain Thorn, and the Hawaiian
Islands, see ibid., notes 18, 19, 21.— Ed. 44
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
far all was bustle and confusion upon deck, and every
place in the ship was in such topsy-turvy state, with what
sailors call live and dead lumber, that scarcely any one
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 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 twofold 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 [15] 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 violent passion,
Mr. M'Kay said, "That his people would defend them- 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
selves rather than suffer such treatment." On hearing
this, the captain, suddenly turning round on his heel,
defied Mr. M'Kay 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, stept up,
and by his gentle and timely interference put an end to the
threatening altercation.
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 ousrelves 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 [16] time the
Tonqum was speeding her way proudly over the wide bosom
of the Atlantic, until the 18th, in the 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 sail were descried a head, 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
*m*g!3£r&K. 46
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
falling on the deck. We measured one of them and
found its length to be 5J 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 6th of October we made one of the Cape de Verd
Islands, on the coast of Africa. It proved to be Bonavista,
in lat. 160 N. and long. 220 47' W. 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
porpoises kept skipping [17] 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
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 given, 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
■\     = 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
of water, some with mugs, others with decanters, while
the mditre de cuisine was robbed of his broth and dish
water—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 gentie 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 duty, and ordered below:
no other reason could be assigned for this act but [18] 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
haye been a manoeuvre 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 25th, in long. 260 24' W. we crossed the equinoctial line, and here the usual ceremony of ducking was
performed on such of the sailors as had never before um
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 9 20 in the shade.
In lat. 30 17' S. and long. 260 40' W. 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 [19] 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 10th 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 14th, 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 turtle, 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 lat. 350 S. and 420 17' W. we experienced another
tempestuous gale, which lasted upwards of forty hours.
During this violent storm the ship laboured 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 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
dismounted, and [20] kept for some time rolling like
thunder on the deck, and the ship in a constant heavy sea.
For seventeen hours she scudded before the wind, and went
in that time two hundred and twenty 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 20th our allowance of water, already short by
one-half, was lessened to a pint and a half per man, and
on the 2nd of December to a pint each man per day—then
a gallon of brandy was offered for a pint of fresh water!
but on the 5th, 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 N. W. 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. [21] 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, So
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 though 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 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 grey geese, ducks, shags, albatrosses,
eagles, hawks, and vultures. After making our way
through this intricate pass, we again came to anchor.
[22] On the 7th 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 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
their noises, and darkened the air with their numbers, and
were generally so very tame, or rather stupid, that we often
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 10th all the water-casks were ready, and the
captain on going on board that evening said to Mr.
M* Dougall, that the ship would probably sail the next day.
Soon after, however, Messrs. M'Kay and M' Dougall also
went on board, where they passed the night; but coming
ashore [23] the next morning, they told us that the ship
would not sail till the 12th, and that all hands were ordered
on board on that night.
In the mean time Mr. Farnham, one of the clerks, had
caught a grey 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 a laughing. Nettled at
this, he immediately turned round and went on board
again. Meantime, Messrs. M' Dougall and Stuart started
across the point after game; whilst Mr. M'Kay, 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, 52
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
aged twenty-two years, killed by a fall from a rock, on the
21st of September, 1794;" on the other, "Benjamin Peak
died of the smallpox on the 5th of January, 1803, ship
Fleonora, Captain Edmund Cole, Providence, Rhode
Island." J|l|    1
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, [24] 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 Messers. M' Dougal 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,
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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [25] 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 shortsighted 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 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
manoeuvring, 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, [26] and
the side-rails broke by the labouring of the ship; so we
had to lie-to under a storm-staysail for six hours.   The
A- - jSK'-''- S4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 sink
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 the hatred that burnt 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 ship good was hastening on her way.
On the 15th we saw Staten Land, whose forked peaks
and rugged surface exhibited much snow. Soon afterwards, Terra del Fuego came in sight; and on the 19th,
at 9 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 mean time, as far south as lat. 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 [27] 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.
With gladdened hearts, we now bent our course north-
1 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
ward on the wide Pacific. On the 19th 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 manoeuvre 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, [28]
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 24th we again crossed the Equator, and entered
the northern hemisphere, and here the pilot-fish that joined
us at 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 10th of February, the cloud-capped summit
of the towering Mouna Roa—a pyramidal mountain in
Owhyhee, and the loftiest in the Sandwich Islands—was
visible at the distance of 50 miles.
As we drew near to the land, going at the rate of eight 56
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
knots an hour, a Canadian lad named Joseph LaPierre
fell overboard. 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 lifeless body
was then hoisted on board, and every means tried to
restore animation, and at last, by rolling the body in warm
[29] 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. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
[30] CHAPTER m10
Karakakooa Bay—The sailors desert—The captain's
conduct—Productions of Owhyhee—Tocaigh Bay—
Governor Young—Royal proclamation—Woahoo—
Ourourah, the residence of Tammeatameah—Harbour
fees—Excursion on shore—The Queen's umbrella—
The King's appearance—Royal palace and guards—
Arsenal, or royal workshop—Royal dinner—His Majesty's fleet—Morais, or places of public worship—Sacred
or puranee ground tabooed—Storm—A sailor left to his
fate among the natives—Parting visit from his Majesty
—His meanness—Diving of the natives—Native proas:
how made—Clothing—Customs and peculiarities—
Character of the women—White men at the Sandwich
Islands—The King's disposition towards foreigners—
Captain Cook—Pahooas, or war spears—A sham fight
—Religion—Tammeatmeah conquerer and king—Apparent happiness of the natives—Prophetic hint—Distressed situation of a boat.
On the 13th 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 19th and 22nd parallels of N. latitude, and the
meridians of 1510 and 1600 W. longitude. The climate is
warm but healthy, and more temperate and uniform than
[31] 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
Karakakooa Bay is about a mile or more in extent, but
10 Compare Ross's account of the Hawaiian Islands with that of Franchere,
especially notes 22—34.— Ed.
mm 58
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 cocoa-nut and other
trees, which give a pleasing variety to the scene; and the
land, rising gradually as it recedes to a 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; Ems, a Welshman, was
tied up and flogged; Johnston, an Englishman, [32] 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 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
former 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,
bread-fruit, sweet potatoes, sugar-canes, cocoa-nuts, 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 [33] every mark
of attention peculiar to an Indian chief; showed us his
wife, his daughter, his household, and 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 60 years
of age, shrewd, and healthy; but, from 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 neighbourhood during the four preceding
years, and that in consequence provisions were very
«k 6o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 Woahoo.
[34] On the 21st of February, we cast anchor abreast
of Ourourah, the metropolis of Woahoo, and royal
residence of Tammeatameah. This is the richest and
most delightful 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 harbour master: the latter brought us safe
to anchor in Whyteete Bay, for which service he demanded
and was paid five Spanish dollars.
The royal village of Ourourah is situate at the foot of a
hill, facing the ocean, on the west side of the island. The
houses were 740 in number, and contained 2025 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
enclosures, 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 labour abundant, with here and
there small water-courses and aqueducts. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Immediately after coming to anchor, Captain Thorn,
accompanied by Mr. M'Kay and Mr. M£ Dougall,
waited on his majesty, Tammeatameah, [35] and after
dining with him, returned on board. In the afternoon
his majesty and three queens returned the visit 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 apparentiy 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 [36] his
majesty; but this was not the 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,
. 62
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 boat-loads; 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
honour. 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, and after detaining us for nearly half
an hour passed on. We were soon afterwards introduced
to his majesty, who honoured us with a glass of arrack.
Here [37] 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;
OaWrfl 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 houses; and this will
explain why so many houses are required for so few
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, accoutred in something of the English
style, with muskets, belts, and 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
[38] 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 woifk,
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.
MP 64
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
While in the workshops, Mr. M' Kay 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. M'Kay and said, "This is a very valuable
piece of wood; it is the finest koeye, and what my Erees
make their pipes of; but if you will give me a new hat for
it, you can have it." Mr. M'Kay smiled, adding, "Your
majesty shall have it." So the bargain was struck, but
Mr. M'Kay fell in love with no more of his majesty's
wood. They make their own cloth, cordage, salt, sugar,
and whisky.
[39] 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, cocoa-nuts, pork, bread-fruit,
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, situate
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 dollars. 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; some on shore, others afloat, but all
apparentiy useless.   The day being excessively warm, and 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
our curiosity gratified, we took leave of his majesty, and
staid 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 morais, or
places of public worship. Of these, Ourourah [40] alone
contains fifteen of this description. Each moral 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 five low, gloomy, and pestiferous houses, huddled close
together; and alongside of the principal one stood an
image made of wood, resembling a pillar, about 28 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 on 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 pagot, or pillar,
were scattered on the ground several dead animals: we
saw four dogs, two hogs, 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 frequently 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
m 66
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
which is always severely punished, and at the king's
morai, with death.
[41] 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 harbour.
On the 27th, 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 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 [42] 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 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 to shore. During this scene, no
one interfered; for the captain, in his frantic fits of passion,
was capable of going any lengths, and would rather have
destroyed the expedition, the ship, and every one 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 [43] 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 more.
Our supplies being now completed, the king came on
board before our departure; and it will appear something
surprising that the honest and wealthy monarch, forgetting
m*>   • • 68
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[Vol. 7
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
Having taken leave of his majesty, I shall now make a
few remarks on the habits, dress, and language of the
[44] The Sandwich Islanders are bold swimmers, and
expert navigators. They are like ducks in the water. As
soon as we had cast anchor in Karakokooa 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 necessary precaution), the others waited very
contentedly floating on 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 after.
Their voyaging canoes are made to ride on the [45]
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 on the surface of the water as if no such appendage accompanied it. When the 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 (thetouta in particular)
is prepared by beating it into a pulp or soft thin web, not
unlike grey paper, called tuppa. The common people
wear it in this raw state, but the better sort paint it with
various colours, 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 7°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
maro is thrown carelessly round the loins, then passed
between the thighs, and tied on the left side. The
females wear the pow or pau, 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 [46] 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 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 favourite 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 virtue.
The king's will is the paramount law of the land, but
he is represented as a mild and generous soverign, 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
[47] others naked and wild among the natives, wretched 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
unprincipled vagabonds, of almost every nation in Europe,
without clothing and without either house or home.
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 pahooas are
made, and sandalwood, are the kinds most highly esteemed
among the natives for their hardness and polish. The
cocoa-nut, in clumps here and there, forms delightful
groves, and these are often frequented by the industrious
females for the purpose of manufacturing and painting
their tappa—preferring the cool shade and open air to the
heat of a dwellinghouse.
At the place where Captain Cook was killed, which we
visited soon after our arrival, were still a few old and
shattered cocoa-nut 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.
The chief weapon used in their warfare is the pahooa
or spear, 12 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.
[48] After going through several manoeuvres, 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 72
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 the spear 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
skilful 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 [49] 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
manoeuvre 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 unffrequently 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
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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 life for a handkerchief, at the
distance of twenty yards; telling us to select the best
marksman among us, with a fowlingpiece 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 business.
All the islands of this group, excepting one, have [50]
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
in the globe;—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.
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, 74
Early Western Travels
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 [51] 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.
Departure from the Sandwich Islands — Bad weather —
Live stock destroyed — Columbia River — A boat and
crew lost — Captain's conduct towards Mr. Fox —
Mouth of the river — Bar and breakers — Cape Disappointment— Point Adams — Narrow escape of the
long boat'— Sounding the bar — A boat and crew left
to perish — The ship in the breakers — Critical situation— Melancholy narrative of Steven Weeks —
Search made for the lost boat, and narrow escape —
Long boat swamped — Fidelity of the natives — Preparations for leaving the ship — Captain Thorn — The
voyage concluded.
On the 1st 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 12th, when the weather be-
u Compare the following account with that of Franchere, particularly notes
36> 37» 4o, 41-—Ed.
afc 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
coming squally and cold, with snow [53] 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 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 14th, in lat. 370 N. and long. 1370 W., a violent
gale came on, which increased almost to a hurricane, and
lasted four days without intermission, during which we
were much puzzled in manoeuvring 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, labouring
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, [54]
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
■ 76
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
troubles, and a prelude to far greater trials. During this
gale, we sustained considerable damage in the sails and
rigging, besides the loss of our live stock, and other things
on board.
On the 22nd of March, we came in sight of land, which,
on a nearer approach, proved to be Cape Disappointment,
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 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 [55] 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
with the captain to defer examining the bar till a favourable 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 immoveable,
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 — f.jj Farewell, my friends!" said he;
"we will perhaps meet again in the next world." And
the words were prophetic.
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 100 yards from [56] 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 favourite 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
'Hf 78
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
head the ill-will of his captain; and his being sent off on
the present perilous and forlorn undertaking, with such
awkward and inexperienced hands, whose language he did
not understand, is a proof of that ill-will.
The mouth of Columbia River is remarkable for its
sand-bars and high surf at 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 [57] 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 J miles broad, confined by Cape
Disappointment on the north, and Point Adams 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.
After the captain ordered about ship, as already stated,
some angry words passed between himself and Mr. Mum-
ford, 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 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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. M' Kay, Mr. David Stuart,
myself, and several others, embarking in the [58] 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
kept 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, 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 morning.
On the 25th, early in the morning, Mr. Mumford was
again ordered in another direction to go and discover [59]
if possible the proper channel, and ascertain the depth of
\l 8o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 3J fathoms water to hoist a flag
as a signal. At three o'clock in the afternoon, Mr.
Aikens, together with the sailmaker, armourer, 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 hour.
As the ship and boat drew near to each other, the latter
steered a little aside to be out of the ship'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 soon as the [60] ship had passed, and no
motion made to take the boat on board, every one appeared
thunderstruck, and Mr. M1 Kay 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. Every one now called
out, "The boat, the boat!"     The partners, in astonish- 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
ment, 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," 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 [61]
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,l \ Prepare for your last." Mr.
Mumford was now ordered to the mast-head, to point out
the channel. The water decreasing from 8 to 2J fathoms,
she struck tremendously on the second reef or shoal; and
the surges breaking over her stern overwhelmed everything on deck. Every one 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 82
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 [62] 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 with it into Baker's Bay, 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 boat.
In the morning of the 26th, Captain Thorn, Mr. M' Kay,
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 [63] boats. We had not
proceeded fifty yards, when we saw' Steven Weeks, the
armourer, 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 reeling 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
w };' Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
mercy of the waves. While in this state I saw the two
Sandwich Islanders struggling [64] 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 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 [65] 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
n 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
distance short of the Cape. I paused for a moment,
'What is to be done?' I said to myself; '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 favoured 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'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.
[66] 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 recovered.
On the 27th I was appointed to head a party to go
in search of the boat that was lost on the 22nd; 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 Chinooke 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
\m 86
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[Vol. 7
passage. The expertness of the natives in their favourite
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 fishes, righted the canoe,
and got us all into her again, while they themselves staid
in the water, with one hand on the canoe and the other
paddling. In this manner they supported themselves,
tossing to and fro, till we bailed the water out of our frail
craft, and got under weigh again. Here it was that [67]
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 leeside 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 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
mind. Indeed, it was supposed, from the skilful manner
in which they acted afterwards, that the sordid rascals had
upset us wilfully, 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.
[68] On the 4th of April the long boat was swamped
off Chinooke Point, when 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 every one 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 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 day.
it .
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Preparations for landing — Site of the new emporium of
the west — Astor's representative — Hard work —
Huge trees — Natives — Comecomly — Mode of felling
trees — Danger — Trying scenes — Three men killed
— Three wounded — Party reduced by sickness —
Disaffection — Conduct   of   the   deputy — Desertion
— Mr.   Astor's  policy — Climate — Indian   rumours
— Comecomly's intrigues and policy — Trip to the
cascades — Mr. M'Kay and north-west notions —
Anecdote — Exploring party to the north — Several
persons killed — Hostile threats of the Indians —
Potatoes  and  other  seeds planted — New  building
— Astoria — Departure of the ship — Dangerous
situation of the whites — Great assemblage of
Indians — People under arms — Blunderbuss accident— Alarming moment — Two strangers arrive —
Mr. Thompson at Astoria — M'Dougall's policy —
The two great functionaries.
For some days, much time was spent in examining both
sides of the inlet, *with a yiew 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.
[70] On the 12th 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
12 Compare Ross's description of the building of Astoria with that of Franchere, particularly notes 42, 44, 61.— Ed. 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
despotic captain, the day was not one of pleasure, but of
labour. 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.
The person who now assumed the command was the
deputy-agent, Duncan M* Dougall, 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 [71] 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 labour 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 defence against the savage hordes
. 9°
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[Vol. 7
which were constantly prowling about. In the garb of
labourers, 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, [72] the principal chief of the place, and in him we
reposed much confidence.
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 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
labour, would erect a scaffold round it;   this done, four
mmul 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [73] listening and looking round, the
party resumed their labour, 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
There is an art in felling a tree, as well as in planting
one; but unfortunately none of us had 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 fool-hardy 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
V 92
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
friendly tree; sometimes a number of them would hang
together, keeping us in awful suspense, and giving us
double labour to extricate the one from the other, and
when [74] 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 mean time three of our men were killed
by the natives, two more wounded by the falling of trees,
and one had his hand blown off by gunpowder.
But the labour, 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 [75] 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, M' Dougall, whom he placed at the head i8io-i8i31
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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.
Our hard labour 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 M' Dougall 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 M' Dougall, 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 [76] 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.
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
■ Ml      w 94
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 look 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 [77]
common enemy. Rumours 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 diminished our labouring 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 towards 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 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
language, and were given to understand that the crafty
Chinookes, 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. As soon, however, as we were convinced of the
[78] intrigues 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 unfavourable impressions, and to convince the natives, far and near, of our friendly intentions
to all.
On the 2nd of May, Mr. M'Kay, 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 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 favourably of both natives and country.
Mr. M'Kay had figured in the north-west 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 on conspicuous places, not
to dance round, but merely to denote that such a person
ii m
Early Western Travels
[Vol 7
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 branches are
stripped off excepting a small tuft at the top.
On Mr. M* Kay's return from his reconnoitring [79]
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 M'Kay'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 Chinooke
policy. The Indians, on our approach, flew to arms, and
made signs for us to keep at a 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 [80] retreat, when, fortunately, a friendly Indian 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 Chinooke traders; but when they saw and
compared the prices we paid with that which the Chinookes
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 the opposite bank, and
disputed the passage; but, by a little manoeuvring, we
defeated their intentions. Soon afterwards, however,
one of our men was killed by them; and on another
occasion, a Mr. M' Kenzie and his whole party, consisting
of eight men, were cut to pieces by them.
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 16th 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 [81] 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 18th, as soon as the foundation
—— 98
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
was completed, the establishment was named Astoria, in
honour of Astor, the projector of the enterprise.
The Tonquin, in the prosecution of her voyage along
the coast, left Astoria on the ist of June, and crossed the
bar on the 5th, 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 his
ship all was lost, and Astoria, in consequence, was left
almost destitute of the necessary articles of trade. Mr.
M' Kay, as supercargo, went on board with Mr. Lewis and
two Canadians; but Mr. Mumford, the second officer, was
dismissed and sent on shore. On M' Kay'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, [82] 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
setdement, and that her departure would proclaim to all
the hostile tribes around our defenceless 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 labour, and
think only of defence.   We naturally put the worst con-
n ■ 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
struction on so 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 Chinooke 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 frequentiy 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 [83] busy in labouring 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, apparentiy well satisfied with the friendly reception they had experienced,
while we were no less agreeably relieved by their 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 dothing; 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 circum-
m> IOO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
stance 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. M'Dougall
then ordered him to be hand-cuffed and imprisoned, with
a sentinel over him, in one of the deep but open pits, out of
[84] 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 M' Dougall was showing the Chinooke
Tye-yea, among other things, the properties of a blunderbuss, and in so doing made a woful blunder, for off went
the piece unexpectedly, shattering a corner of his majesty's robe. The report and the dense 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 mean time 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
M'Dougall, 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. M' Dougall and myself, who
fortunately knew the circumstances, hastened to run in
between the hostile ranks, making signs of peace, and
_ 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 life.
[85] 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 Ko-come-ne-pe-ca, 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.
On the 15th 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, northwest-like, came
dashing down the Columbia in a light canoe, manned with
eight Iroquois and an interpreter, chiefly men from the
vicinity of Montreal. M' Dougall 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 recognised the two
strange Indians, and gave us to understand that they were
both females. His own visit had evidently no other
object but to discourage us — a manoeuvre 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 colours, did not
deter us. He forgot that in speaking to us, he was speaking to north-westerns — men as experienced and as
cunning as himself. The [86] North-West had penetrated
to the west side of the mountains as early as 1804, and had
K9fl 102
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
in 1811 two or three small posts on the waters of the
Columbia, exclusive of the New Caledonia quarter.
Every one 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, M£ Dougall 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.
The ten tribes — Number of warriors — Their laws
— Chief's arbitrary power — Dress, games, and arms
of the men — Dress of the women, slaves, and
basket-making—: Lewdness of the women — Food,
ornaments — The salmon — Superstitious customs —
Sturgeon — Fathom-fish — Roots and berries — Circulating medium — Econe", or Good Spirit — Ecutoch,
or Bad Spirit — Etaminua, or priests — Keelailes, or
doctors — War canoes — Diseases — Winter houses —
Temporary, or Summer houses — Fleas — Practice of
flattening the head — Colonization — Wallamitte —
Cowlitz, or Puget's Sound — Conclusion.
All the Indian tribes inhabiting the country about the
mouth of the Columbia, and for a hundred miles round,
may be classed in the following manner:— 1. Chinooks;
— 2. Clatsops;— 3. Cathlamux;— 4. Wakicums;— 5.
Wacalamus;— 6. Cattieputles;— 7. Clatscanias;— 8. Kill-
imux;— 9. Moltnomas;— and, 10. Chickelis; amounting
collectively to about 2,000   But they are a
f_ wThe tribes of the Pacific coast were numerous, and their classification
varies. For the Chinook, Clatsop, Wakiacum, Cathlapotle (Cattieputles),
Tillamook (Killamux), Multnomah, and Chehalis (Chickelis), see Franchere, 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
commercial rather than a warlike people. Traffic in
slaves and furs is their occupation. They are said to
he decreasing in numbers. All these tribes appear to be
descended from the same stock, live in rather friendly
intercourse [88] 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 musk-rat.
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 any one touch it excepting the principal
chief, or head Tye-yea, who is above the law, or rather
' he possesses an 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 dissimilation 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
notes 39, 40, 45, 52, 53, 65, 67. The other tribes cannot positively be identified,
except the Katlamat (Cathlamux), who were a branch of the Upper Chinook,
giving name to the town of Cathlamet, Washington. On the subject of the
native races of this section, see Thwaites, Original Journals of Lewis and Clark
Expedition (New York, 1904), under Scientific Data: Ethnology.— Ed.
m io4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
pagods, and of fishing-tackle, and other useful instruments, deserves commendation. They show much skill
in carved [89] 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 a shirt, leggings, or
shoes. The chief's 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 water-proof. 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 chequered or diversified with the
rude figures of different animals, particularly the dog and
deer, not painted, but ingeniously interwoven.14 Their
war garments are of two kinds, one is termed clemal, of
elk-skin, 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 [90] shield, about eighteen inches in diameter,
which is likewise made of the elk-skin; but in addition
"For information concerning the wood-rat, sea-otter, and chepool, see
Franchere, notes 128-130.— Ed. w
Ross's Oregon Settlers
to its thickness it is hardened by fire 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 Chinooke Indian
armed cap-a-pie is a most unsightly and hideous being.
When not employed either in war or hunting, the men
generally spend their time in gambling. The chief game,
chal-e-chal, 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 lie 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 [91] 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 middle size, but very stout and flabby, with short
m io6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
necks and shapeless limbs; yet they are well-featured, with
something of a smile on the countenance, fair complexion,
light 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, [92] 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 labour, 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 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 Chinooke 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. i8io-i8i31
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Slaves do all the laborious work; and a Chinooke 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 sea-
coast 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 Chinooke, or one of the
neighbouring tribes, ever selling his wife, or daughter, or
any other member of his family.
Chastity is not considered a virtue by the Chinooke [93]
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.
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
Children are suckled at the breast till their second or
third year, and the mother, in consequence, becomes an
old hag at at the age of thirty-five.
The women have also their own amusements. Their
chief game, called omintook, 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 chal-e- io8
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
chal, 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, [94] 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 practising 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 flavoured, many of them weighing upwards of 700
pounds, and one caught and brought to us, measured 13
feet 9 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, 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
head and tail alternately, and then a thread run through
both extremities links them together, in which state they
are dried, smoked, [95] and sold by the fathom, hence
they have obtained the name of fathom-fish.16 Roots and
berries likewise form no inconsiderable portion of the
native's food. Strawberries are ripe in January. The
wapatoe, a perennial root, of the size, shape, and taste of
the common potato, is a favourite 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 J 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 valued, and
18 For the characteristic fish of this coast, see Franchere, notes 88, 124-126.
The ulichan is the candlefish, so named because it is fat enough to burn for
illuminating purposes.— Ed.
M For the wappato root see Franchere, note 87.— Ed. no
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
all exchange fixed and [96] determined. An Indian, in
buying an article, invariably asks the question, Queen-
tshich 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 Econe*, the latter Ecutoch. The Etaminuas, or
priests, are supposed to possess a secret power of conversing with the Econe*, 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, hurnming, howling, singing,
and rattling of sticks, as if miracles were to be performed
by mere noise; yet if we forget these useless gesticulations,
which may be called the ornamental part, we must [97]
allow them to be a serviceable and skilful 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 Ill
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 sepulchres, 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 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 [98] prevents
them from cruising on their favourite 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 front.
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 stages.
In winter they live in villages, but in summer rove about
from place to place.   Their houses are oblong, and built
.■-■ 112
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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, 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
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 [99] these sheds are only for
temporary purposes; and it must have been on some such
occasion that Meares found Wickananish in his "household of 800 persons." 17 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
17 Captain John Meares, born about 1756, served in the British navy, where
he attained the rank of lieutenant. After the Peace of Paris (1783) he entered
the merchant service, and founded a commercial house in Macao, China, to
trade with the Northwest Coast of North America. In 1786 he made his first
voyage thither. Two years later, he formed an establishment at Nootka Sound,
and explored the coast to the south—failing, however, to recognize the outlet
of the Columbia as the mouth of a great river. In 1789, Meares's establishment at Nootka was demolished by the Spaniards, which led to the diplomatic
incident known as the Nootka Sound episode. His book appeared during this
controversy— Voyages made in the years 1788 and i?8g to the N. W. Coast of
America (London, 1791). Meares finally returned to the navy, became commander in 1795, and died in 1809.— Ed.
18 For brief account of Vancouver, see Franchere, note 2. Port Discovery,
on the northern coast of Washington, was named for Vancouver's ship. Desolation Sound was farther north in the Gulf of Georgia.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 bee-hive, as approach one of these deserted
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,
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.19 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 favourite slave was permitted to
flatten the head of a first-born [100] child. No such
custom is practised 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 cannot be made straight."
As tracts suitable for agricultural purposes, may be
19 For the appearance of these flattened heads, see Clark's drawings of the
Chinook, in Original Journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition.— Ed
•J f-x&-i fl
-.     r ii4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 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 30 feet — in one smooth green sheet. The climate of
this valley is salubrious and dry, differing materially from
that of the sea-coast; and the heat is sufficiently intense
to ripen every kind of grain in a short time.
Descending from the Wallamitte to Puget's Sound,
north of the Columbia, where there is a large and [101]
convenient sea-port, or harbour, 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 period far beyond the present generation; 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 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
difficult for a foreigner to learn, and equally hard to
pronounce. To speak the Chinook dialect, you must be
a Chinook.
First expedition into the interior — Number of the party
— Tongue Point — Canoe swamped — Sailing difficulties— Indian villages — Cedars — First night's encampment — Mount Coffin — Cowlitz — WaUamitte—
Columbia Valley — Point Vancouver — Difficulties —
The Cascades — Concourse of Indians — General appearance of the country — The portage — Description
of the Cascades — The roll of tobacco — Pilfering —
Mr. Thompson — Exchange of men — The Long Narrows— Warlike appearance of the Indian cavalry —
Button contract — Critical situation of the party —
Camp of gamblers — The narrows — Hard work at the
carrying place — A day's work — Description of the
portage — Number of Indians — Aspect of the country
— The plains begin — End of the woods — Want of
sleep — Demeanour of the Indians.
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 favourable 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. [103]
David Stuart, myself, Messrs. Pillette and M'Lennan,
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 22nd of July, 1811.
In two clumsy Chinook canoes, laden each with fifteen n6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
or twenty packages of goods, of ninety pounds weight, we
embarked to ascend the strong and rapid Columbia; and,
considering the unskilfulness 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 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 [104] still
worse accident; for, while passing among the islands and
shoals, before rounding Oathlamuck Point, at the head of
Gray's Bay, the wind and swell drove us on a sandbank,
where we stuck fast — the waves dashing over us, and the
tide ebbing rapidly.20 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
20 For the promontory known as Tongue Point, see Franchere, note 44.
Gray's Bay was named for Captain Robert Gray, op.cit., note 1. " Oathlamuck"
Point is that now known as Cathlamet Point, in Clatsop County, Oregon. This
does not bound Gray's Bay, except as it is the point below which the river widens
into great inlets.— Ed. 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
canoes till we 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 S.S.E.:21 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 [105] to the head of
Gray's Bay, which we passed to-day, is about twenty-five
miles in length, and varies from four to seven in breadth.
On the 23rd, 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 Rock, or Mount
Coffin, a receptacle for the dead: all 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.
M Puget's Island, in the Columbia opposite Cathlamet, Washington, was
named when Broughton explored the Columbia (1792), for Peter Puget, lieutenant of Vancouver's vessel, the '' Discovery." For Oak Point, see Franchere,
note 74. Ross is the only contemporary writer who mentions this Indian village
by name.— Ed. n8
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Not far from Mount Coffin, on the same side, was the
mouth of a small river, called by the natives Cowlitz, 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.22 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 Clarke; 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, S.E.
On the 24th, after a good night's rest, and having [106]
made some trifling presents to a principal chief, named
Kiasno,23 we proceeded on our voyage; but had not gone
far, 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 E.N.E.
During this day, we passed the Namowit Village,
Bellevue Point, Johnson's Island, and stayed for the
night as Wasough-aUy Camp, near Quicksand River,
which enters the Columbia on the left.24
22 Ross confuses the names of two landmarks; the first should be Mount
Coffin (see Franchere, note 48), the second Coffin Rock. The first is an isolated
cliff on the Washington bank of the river, the second a rocky islet toward the
Oregon side—both used as places of Indian sepulture. For Deer Island, see
Franchere, note 75.— Ed.
"For this chief, see Franchere, note 51.— Ed.
24 The "Namowit" Indians were one tribe of those designated by Lewis and
Clark as the "Wappato" Indians; see Original Journals of Lewis and Clark
Expedition, under Scientific Data: Estimate of Western Indians.   For Bellevue
scan 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 25th, 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. M From the lower branch of the Wallamitte to Point Vancouver, the banks of the river on both
sides are low; but, as we proceeded further on, a chain of
huge black rocks rose perpendicularly from the water's
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 [107] 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, now
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, E.N.E.
On the 26th, it was late this morning before we could
Point, see Franchere, note 55. Johnson's Island was named by Broughton
(1792) for the lieutenant of his vessel, the "Chatham;" Lewis and Clark called
it Diamond Island; it is now known as Government Island, in Multnomah
County, Oregon. Wasougal (Wasough-aUy) is a small stream entering the
Columbia from the north, in Clark Comity, Washington. Quicksand River,
so named by Lewis and Clark, is the present Sandy, a considerable stream
draining the western slope of Mount Hood, and flowing into the Columbia
through Multnomah County, Oregon.— Ed.
"For the location of Point Vancouver, see Franchere, note 55.— Ed.
i*; 120
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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
to-day; and, after being for six hours rowing as many
miles, we stopped, tired and rather discouraged:  course,
N.E. f :|- ■ I I
On the 27th, 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 a uniform 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,2e we put ashore for the night; nor did
we see a single Indian all day. Mr. Thompson encamped
on one side [108] of the river, and we on the other. General course, to-day, nearly east.
During last night the water rose ten inches. This was
supposed to be 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
26 The rock that Ross and the Scotch Canadians of his party named '' Inshoach Castle," was probably the well-known landmark now called Beacon
Rock, which marks the extent of tidal influence, and may be seen for twenty
miles down the river.— Ed. i8io-i8i31
Ross's Oregon Settlers
the valley of the Wallamitte were the most favourable
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 28th, early in the morning, Mr. Thompson
crossed over to our camp, and informed us that we were
within a short 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 [109] 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 Island of Lewis and Clarke,
we continued for some distance further, 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.2T 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 favour, they pointed across the portage, or carrying-place, as much as to say — All is clear; pass on.
27 For Strawberry Island and the portage of the Cascades, see Franchere,
note 112.— Ed.
*» f
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
From this point we examined the road over which we
had to transport the goods, and found it to be 1450 yards
long, with a deep 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 f ar,
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 [no] 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 understand 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 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
mu 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [in] 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 one
hundred or one hundred and twenty feet, and descends
in high and swelling surges with great fury for about one
hundred 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 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 two hundred
and fifty or three hundred at most. They call themselves
Cath-le-yach-6-yachs, 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
>»—■ 124
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
from those about Astoria; but they spoke a different
language, although many of them understood and spoke
Chinook also.28
[112] At first we formed a favourable 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 labour 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
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 29th, 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 [113]
28 Lewis and Clark called these natives at the Cascades, Clahclellahs, and
included them among the generic name of Shahalas, a branch of the Upper
Chinook. The tribesmen were a thieving, troublesome lot, as Ross's subsequent
narrative will show.— Ed.
mm 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
to them, they stole our canoe axe and a whole suit of
clothes, excepting the hat, belonging to Mr. M'Lennan,
which we were unable to recover. We had no sooner
embarked, however, than Mr. M'Lennan in his usual
good-humour, standing up in the canoe, and throwing the
hat amongst them, said, fj Gentiemen, 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 evening we passed a small river on our left, near
which we encamped for the night.29 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, N.N.E.
On the 30th 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, N.E.
On the 31st, after breakfast, Mr. Thompson and party
left us to prosecute their journey, and Mr. Stuart, in one
of our canoes, accompanied him as far [114] 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
M Wind River, in Skamania County, Washington.— Ed.
. IJ&ci
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
one of our Sandwich Islanders, a bold and trustworthy
fellow, named Cox, for one of his men, a Canadian, called
Boulard.80 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, again, was looked
upon by Mr. Thompson as a prodigy of wit and humour,
so that those respectively acceptable qualities led to the
On the 1st 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, N.E.
On the 2d, 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
[115] 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
80 Michel Boulard had since 1800 been a voyageur with Thompson. In
1806-07 he wintered at Rocky Mountain House, and the following spring crossed
the range to Kootenay. The next four winters were spent in the mountains, and
he was one of the seven canoe-men who brought Thompson to Astoria in July,
18x1.   For his later connection with the Astorians, see post.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
stipulated, which reduced our stock by exacdy two and a
half gross: and in less than ten 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.
All 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 centre 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 [116] that there was some indication
of danger; hut 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 gathering, but could
not dispel it; our fate seemed to hang upon a hair. At
last we hit upon a stratagem; we persuaded the chief 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 128
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
some little toy or trifle, to stimulate their exertions in our
Early in the morning of the 3rd, 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 [117] 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
invariably 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 4th, 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
KMta ni
Ross's Oregon Settlers
stggle between life and death, it could never be perform-
ec but it was too much; the effort was almost beyond
hnan strength, and I may venture to say, all circum-
stices considered, it will never be done again.
The main camp of the Indians is situated at the head
othe narrows, and may contain, during the salmon
sson, 3,000 souls, or more; but the constant inhabitants
ahe place do not exceed 100 [118] persons, and are called
"V-am-pams;sl the rest are all foreigners from different
toes throughout the country, who resort hither, not for
£ purpose of catching salmon, but chiefly for gambling
ai speculation; for trade and traffic, not in fish, but in
aer articles; for the Indians of the plains seldom eat fish,
ai those of the sea-coast sell, but never buy fish. Fish
, i their own staple commodity. The articles of traffic
bught to this place by the Indians of the interior are
jnerally horses, buffalo-robes, and native tobacco, which
ey exchange with the natives of the sea-coast and other
ibes, for the higua beads and other trinkets. But the
itives of the coast seldom come up thus far. Now all
Lese articles generally change hands through gambling,
hich alone draws so many vagabonds together at this
lace; because they are always sure to five well here,
hereas no other place on the Columbia could support
3 many people together. The long narrows, therefore,
1 the great emporium or mart of the Columbia, and the
eneral theatre of gambling and roguery.
We saw great quantities of fish everywhere; but what
rere they among so many: we could scarcely get a score
)f salmon to buy.   For every fisherman there are fifty
81 Ross's designations of Indian tribes differ from those of other travellers
a this region. Lewis and Clark called the permanent dwellers at the narrows,
£chelutes. Wyampam must be another name for the same tribe—a branch of
he Upper Chinooks.— Ed. .||h-V.
« i3o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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, [119] and other outcasts throughout the
country, for hundreds of miles round, make this place their
great rendezvous during summer.
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 [120]
formed by the long narrows: here, on the west side, termi- 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
nates that long, high, and irregular chain of mountains
which lie 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 beaver.
The Indians have been more troublesome, more importunate and forward to-day 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 endeavoured 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.
[121] CHAPTER Vin
Columbia Falls — A canoe swamped — Suspicious behaviour of the Indians — Stratagem — Umatallow —
Walla-Walla — Great body of Indians — Harangues —
Indian ceremonies — The great forks — Difference in
the waters — Length of the forks — The British flag —
Mr. Thompson's design — Indian ideas — Salmon —
European articles — Tummatapam — Departure from
the Forks — Indian honesty — Eyakema — Marl-hills
— Dead children — Superstitions — Priest's Rapid —
Rattlesnakes—Appearance of the country— Kewaugh-
1 chen — Perilous situation of a canoe — The two sisters
*m I32
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
— The old Indian — Hunting party — Horses — The
priest — Piss-cows — Sopa — Great assemblage of
Indians — The comet — Oakinacken — Distance from
Astoria — Indian council — Resolve to winter — Some
account of the place — The stolen watch — The priest
dismissed — Voyage concluded — The two strangers —
First building — Division of the party — Lonely winter— The lost party — Indian trade — Mr. Stuart's
On the 5th 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 [122] 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. 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 6th, after passing a comfortless and almost 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
sleepless night, owing to the crowd of Indians that had
collected about us, we were on the water again before
sunrise, stemming a strong anof rapid current. About a
mile from our last encampment, and opposite to a rocky
island, the river Lowhum enters the Columbia on the
east side.82 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, [123] 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 frequentiy 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, endeavoured 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 fives would have been lost.
The wind springing up, we hoisted sail; but found 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 7th, early in the morning, we passed the river
Day — not broad, but pretty deep, and distant about
thirty miles from the river Lowhum.3S   In all directions,
82 The river which Ross calls '' Lowhum," had several designations among
early travellers. Lewis and Clark call it "' Towarnahiooks." All evidently
endeavored to give it the Indian name, which was an imitation of the sound made
by the falls at its mouth.   It is at present known as Des Chutes River.— Ed.
83 Ross later relates the adventures of the pioneer John Day, from whom this
river takes its name.—|Ed. .    _           „*
-    "m *34
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 8th, 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, [124] 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 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 for ever; 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 manoeuvre 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
a small, snug island near the Suppa river, we put ashore
for the night. M   Course as yesterday.
The 9th, we remained all day encamped drying the
goods, and were visited only by the Indians in one canoe,
who sold us a fine salmon.
[125] On the 10th, 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 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.35 During
this day we saw many Indians, all occupied in catching
salmon.   Course as usual.
On the nth 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
84 The identification of "Suppa" River is uncertain. The largest affluent
of the Columbia between John Day and Umatilla River is that Oregon stream
now known as Willow Creek.— Ed.
85 For the Umatilla River, see Franchere, note 141. A large isolated cliff,
just below the mouth of the Umatilla, is still called Castle Rock.— Ed
*m 136
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 12th we left our camp early, and in a short [126]
time came to the colonnade 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.8tt
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 proceeded 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 sat down on
the grass in a large circle, when the great calumet of peace
36 The rapid here described, is now known as the Umatilla Rapid; Lewis and
Clark designated it as "The Musselshell," from the heaps of those shells spread
out upon the banks. The brigade had just passed the present boundary of
Oregon, 460 of north latitude.— Ed. 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
was produced, and the smoking began. Soon [127] 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, deer-skin 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 deer-skin 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.s7   The Shaw Haptens and
87 The Wallawalla Indians are of the Shahaptian stock—one of the great
families of the inland Columbians, to which the Nez Perces and Umatilla belong.
Usually they were hospitable and well-affected towards the whites. Lewis and
Clark especially mention their friendly disposition. Many years later, they
became disaffected and joined the Cayuse in acts of hostility. A treaty was
made with the Walla wallas in 1855, whereby they surrendered their lands, and
retired to the Umatilla reservation, where at the last report (1902) five hundred
and sixty-nine were still residing. The ' ■ Shaw Haptens" were a kindred race
speaking the Shahaptian language.
This appears to be the first mention of the Cayuse tribe, later so prominent
in Oregon history. Their language was unlike that of the Wallawalla, so that
they are classified as Waulatpuans. Their habitat was the Wallawalla Valley,
and south and east of the great bend of the Columbia. Their herds of horses
were so numerous that'' cayuse" has become a generic term for Indian ponies-
These Indians constituted the largest and most powerful tribe of Eastern
Oregon. Among them the American Board founded a mission, and it was this
tribe that perpetrated the Whitman massacre of 1847. Broken in spirit and
numbers by the settlers' avenging warfare, five chiefs were in 1850 surrendered
HI i38
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
t \
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-Pesten, 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 13th, we prepared to be off as early as [128]
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 14th, early in the morning, what did we see
waving ttiumphantly in the air, at the confluence of the
two great branches, 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.
for trial and executed. Five years later, the Cayuse formally ceded their lands
and retired to the Umatilla reservation, where three hundred and ninety-one are
now (1902) reported. They have abandoned their language for that of the
Wallawalla.— Ed.
88 Thompson records (July 9,1811) "J a mile to the Junction of the Shaw-
patin [Snake] River with this the Columbia, here I erected a small Pole, with a
half Sheet of Paper well tied about it, with these words on it—Know hereby that
this country is claimed by Great Britain as part of its Territories, & that the
N W Company of Merchants from Canada, finding the Factory for this People
inconvenient for them, do intend to erect a Factory in this Place for the Commerce of the Country around. D. Thompson."—Henry-Thompson Journals,
p. 748.— Ed. 111I-- •
mmmm 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 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 [129] 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 further 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, 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,
'' rju
< m
***■ 140
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
for the Indians on all important occasions. The southeast branch is known by the name of Lewis's River, the
north by that of Clarke's, in honour of the first adventurers.39 They are both large rivers, but the north branch is
considerably the larger [130] of the two. At the junction
of their waters, Lewis's River has a muddy or milk-and-
water appearance, and is warm; while Clarke's River
is bluish, clear, and very cold. The difference of colour,
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 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 100 salmon, whereas,
at the Copper-Mine River, a fisherman will kill 1000 a
day; and a Kamtschatkan, 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,
3W Ross is here inaccurate. The Snake River was called the Lewis; but to
the Columbia above the fork, the explorers never applied the name of Clark—
that was given to the large northern branch still called Clark's Fork of the
Columbia, upon whose upper waters the explorers rested when crossing the
mountains.— Ed.
1 r mil 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
and with which they seemed perfectiy contented, were
guns, and here and there a kettle, or a knife; and, indeed,
the fewer the better. They [131] 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 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 16th, 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. The
landscape at the mouth of the Eyakema surpassed in
picturesque beauty anything we had yet seen.40 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 —
40 The Yakima (Eyakema) River enters the Columbia from the east, about
ten miles above the Snake. It is a large tributary, draining the eastern slope of
the Cascade Range. Lewis and Clark called it the Tapteet. The Northern
Pacific Railway follows the valley of the Yakima for some distance.— Ed.
* 142
Early Western Travels
a convincing [132] 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 Clarke passed there in 1805.41 We saw
but few Indians to-day, and in the evening we encamped
without a night watch, for the first time since we left
Astoria.   General course, north.
On the 17th, we were paddling along 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 leather
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. [133] When the fish had hold of the
bit of wet leather, or bait, their teeth got entangled in it,
41 It was on the return journey (May i, 1806) that three Wallawalla overtook
Lewis and Clark, with a steel trap which they had travelled a day's journey to
restore.— Ed. 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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, 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 N.W. 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 18th, 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 I134] 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, commenced the usual ceremony
of smoking the pipe of peace: after which they passed the
night in dancing and singing.   The person who stood
.=*- 144
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
foremost in all these introductory ceremonies, was a tall,
meagre, middle-aged Indian, who attached himself very
closely to us from the first moment we saw him. He
was called Ha-qui-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 I Priest's
Rapid," after him.
The name of the tribe is Ska-moy-num-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 19th, early in the morning, we started, but
found the channel so frequently obstructed with rocks,
whirlpools, and eddies, that we had much difficulty [135]
in making any headway. Crossing two small portages,
we at length, however, reached the head of it, and there
encamped for the night, after a very hard day's labour,
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 look-out to avoid treading on them; but
the natives appeared to have no dread of them.   As soon 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 any one 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 20th 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 staid for the night, on some rocks
infested with innumerable rattlesnakes, which caused
us not a little uneasiness during the night. From this
place due [136] east, the distance, in a direct line, to the
marl hills left on the 18th 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 21st, 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 to-day, but those
few were very friendly to us. Towards evening we put
ashore for the night, at a late hour. General course,
On the 22nd we left our camp early, and soon reached
the foot of a very intricate and dangerous rapid, so full of
■■ ■ i
*•>■- 146
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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
she descended to the foot of the rapids, and at last stuck
fast upon a rock, when, after much trouble and danger,
we succeeded in throwing [137] lines to the men, and
ultimately got all safe to shore. Here we encamped for
the night, and spent the remainder of the day in drying the
goods, mending the canoe, and examining the rapid.
On the 23rd 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 is 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 Ke-waugh-tohen, after the tribe of Indians
inhabiting the place, who call themselves Ke-waugh-
tohen-emachs, is about thirty miles distant from the
Priest's Rapid. tt
Having got clear of the rapid early in the day, we
proceeded on a smooth current for some little distance,
42 This is the Gualquil Rapid, one hundred and ten miles above the mouth
of Snake River. The Kewaughtohenemachs are mentioned only by Ross;
they were probably a Pisquow tribe. For a description of the Columbia above
the entrance of the Snake, see Symons, Upper Columbia River (Washington,
1882.)— Ed.
«-H 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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. ** They proved to be of limestone, 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 [138]
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 Ma-chy-keu-etsa, 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 24th we embarked early, and soon reached the
mouth of Pisscow's river, 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.44   Here the
48 Column Bluffs is the usual designation of this point on the river, about ten
miles above Gualquil Rapid. According to an Indian legend, two wicked
women who lived here were accustomed to kill those who passed. The Indians
begged the Great Spirit to destroy them, and he, answering their prayer, sent an
immense bird which picked out their brains and turned them into stone-— Ed.
44 Lewis and Clark called this river Wahnaacha, after the tribe of Pisquow
Indians of that name who dwelt along its banks. Wenatchee and Pischous are
both used to designate the stream at the present time. It takes its rise in the
Wenatchee Mountains and flows southeastward, emptying into the Columbia
one hundred and forty-eight miles from the mouth of the Snake. The Great
Northern Railway follows its course.— Ed.
. ,,.     nmtmm mi f nrmtaum u 148
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Indians met us in great numbers, and vied with each other
in acts of kindness. Sopa, the chief, made us a present
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 [139] 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; we passed the night without keeping
On the 25th 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.45
Early in the morning of the 26th we left our encamp-
45 Oak Point, mentioned so frequently in accounts of Columbian exploration,
was near Astoria— Franchere, note 74. The one here referred to must be near
the mouth of the Entiatqua (Entiyatecoom) River, known to the Canadian
voyageurs as Point de Bois. The Entiatqua, which Ross calls Intyclook, is a
small stream about a hundred feet wide, flowing into the Columbia from the
west, fifteen miles above the Pischous.— Ed. m
Ross's Oregon Settlers
ment, 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.48 Here we saw the ibex,
the white musk goat, and several deer, 47 and supped on
a half devoured salmon, which a white-headed eagle had
very opportunely taken out of the river.    Course, north.
On the 27th we started early, and about ten o'clock
passed a small but rapid stream, called by the natives
Tsill-ane, which descended over the rocks in white broken
sheets.48 The Indians told us it took [140] 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, 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
On the 28th, after despatching the priest with his
* Between Oak Point and White Hill Rapid the west bank is a continuous
volcanic bluff about two thousand feet high and striped with different-colored
strata—white, gray, black, and dark brown. The rapid was doubtless named
from the white hills on the eastern side.— Ed.
47 Concerning these animals, see Franchere, note 172.— Ed.
48 This is the Chelan River, which empties into the Columbia from the northwest, about one hundred and eighty-five miles above the Snake. It is but two
and a half miles long, is the outlet of a considerable lake of the same name, and
has a fall of two hundred and fifty feet. Just above its mouth was the principal
village of the Chelan tribe, a branch of the Salish. A military post was established on this lake (1880), but not long after was removed to Spokane.— Ed.
I Mi*1 a
^r- i5o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 to-day, we saw many deer and some
beavers swimming about, but they were very shy.
On the 29th we reached the foot of a short but strong
rapid, where the river abruptly veers round to east.
Opposite to this rapid enters a tributary stream, which
the Indians call Buttle-mule-emauch, or Salmon-fall
River.49 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 [141] kind. Here also they invited
us to remain, to build, and to winter among them: they
said their country abounded in beaver, nor should we want
for provisions.
On the 30th, 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.
I v From the strangers we learned that there were whites
49 Ross also calls this the Meathow River, and Methow is at present the usual
appellation. The rapids just below the mouth have been named Ross Rapids,
probably in honor of our author.— Ed. m
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 31st, 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 month 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 [142] day, and encamped with us. After
acquainting them with the object of our visit to their
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 safety.
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 Skom-malt-squisses — 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.
On the 1st of September, 1811, we embarked, and
descending the Oakinacken again, landed on a level spot,
~H x5*
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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.
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.
[143] 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 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 terminates at the great narrows, as noticed by me on the 4th
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.50
50 The distance is really about one hundred and twenty-five miles.   For a
brief history of Okanagan post, see Franchere, note 71.— Ed. 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Soon after the tent was pitched, the priest arrived
with his horses all safe. In the course of the day, Mr.
Stuart missed his time-piece, which had been stolen out
of the tent: a general search was made, and [144] 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, 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 practising 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 bent sent by the great white chief,
with a message to apprize the natives in general that gifts,
consisting of goods and implements of all kinds, were
forthwith [145] 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 J54
Early Western Travels
[Vol 7
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 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 drift wood, being more handy and
easier got than standing timber; but, while the building
was in a half-finished state, Messrs. Pillet and M'Lennan,
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
head waters of the Oakinacken, intending to return in the
course of a month; while I was to remain alone at [146]
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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 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
scon 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, [147] 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 constandy lurking about;
and whenever they began to whoop or yell in the night,
which they frequently did, I of course partook of the
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 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
■*• i56
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 light 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 [148] 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 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 were no great harm; but when they beheld two rolls
of tobacco and two small bales of goods, it appeared such 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
wealth in their eyes that they could scarcely recover from
the surprise. These tempting articles I had endeavoured
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
[149] 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 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 unfavourable 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
/ . ?■
11 1\ I58
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
well disposed, he had most probably gone off to the white
men's land for more goods, and would be back early with
a rich supply and many people, so that [150] 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 favour 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
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 22nd 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 well.
During Mr. Stuart's absence of 188 days I had procured
1550 beavers, besides other peltries, worth in the Canton
market 2,250/. sterling, and which on an average stood
the concern in but $$d, a piece, valuing the merchandize
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: [151]
—I'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 M
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Eraser's River,51 after travelling for some time amongst a
powerful nation called the She Whaps. The snow fell
while we were here in the mountains, and precluded our
immediate return; and after waiting for fine weather the
snows 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. M 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 26th of February we
began our homeward journey, and spent just twenty-five
days on our way back. The distance may be about
350 miles."
Anxieties at Astoria — Indians depart — A schooner
built — The Dolly's first trip — Criminal curiosity —
The powder keg — The schooner condemned — Mr.
Astor's cargoes — His policy — Remarks on the North-
West coast — Unwelcome rumours — Calpo's statement — Rumours renewed — Hard cases — Joe
Lapierre — Kasiascall's account of the Tonquin —
Strange Indian — Kasiascall's conduct — His character
— His design on Astoria — Remarks.
Having in the preceding chapters given a detailed
81 This river was discovered by the explorer Thompson (for whom see
Franchere, note 61). It has two large branches, a northern and an eastern,
which unite at Lake Kamloops, one hundred and fifty miles directly north of the
Okanagan post; the united stream then flows southwest for about ninety miles
and unites with the Fraser. Thompson, thinking that he was upon the Columbia, descended its northern branch to the forks.— Ed.
62 The Shushwaps (She Whaps) are a branch of the Salishan family and
closely allied in language and habits to the tribes about Okanagan post. They
were also called Atnahs (strangers), a name given them by the Carrier Indians,
farther to the northwest. They formerly occupied the country along the Thompson and its branches, but by 1900 they were reduced to fifty-four persons.— Ed.
■BOSS i6o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
- ■ ■:
account of our first expedition into the interior, we propose
in the present 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 labour being suspended, the
hands and minds of all were employed both day and night
in the construction and pallisading of a stronghold for
self-defence; but after various alarms the savage horde,
without making any hostile demonstration more than
usual, took their departure [153] from the place, leaving
the whites once more in the enjoyment of peace and
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 coast trade; but in the present
instance was placed as a guard-ship in front of the infant
establishment. She was found, however, to 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 unskilful, 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: every one began to help himself, and to take
whatever he could lay his hands upon. The pillage was
begun,  when  the  interpreter  boldly  and  opportunely 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [154] the current. It will be
recollected that Mr. Aikins, the officer who had come out
to 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.
The American traders, with their usual spirit of enter-
prize, had long carried on a lucrative business on the
north-west 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
unsaleable trumpery which had been 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.
u il£
arT-iMi fl
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
But these we might have overlooked, had we not [155]
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 intelligent, by stating, that according
to the articles of co-partnership 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 enterprize; 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 merchants sent out, at a great
expense, intelligence of the event to their shipping on the
north-west 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.
{156] 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. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
On the 5th of August, Calpo,5S a friendly Chinook
Indian, informed M' Dougall 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,
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
enterprize had split. A man who could deliberately leave,
as we have already seen, nine of his fellow-creatures to
perish on the Falkland Islands; [157] 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 nth of
For an account of this Indian, see Franchere, note 46.— Ed.
    .-   ^g, 164
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
February, 1811, while sailing on the high seas, a man
named Joe Lapierre fell from the mainmast-head overboard, the ship at the time going eight knots — a boat was
instantiy lowered: in the mean time a hen-coop, 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 were approaching, the captain,
in a peremptory tone, ordered them back to pick up the
hen-coop, 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, Lapierre 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 [158] 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, subsequentiy to Calpo's
statement, nothing transpired to add to our fears for a
month or two, although during that time various individ-
mmM i8io-i8i31
Ross's Oregon Settlers
uals and parties had been employed to trace out the true
story of her fate.
On the 12th 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:—54
[159] "My name is Kasiascall, but the Chinooks and
other Indians hereabout call me Lamazu. I belong to
the Wick-a-nook 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 harbour 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 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,
"Compare Franchere's account of the destruction of the "Tonquin" with
this of Ross. The village was Newity or New Whitty. Nootka Sound is on the
west coast of Vancouver Island, inlatitude 490 50' north.—[Ed.
mM i66
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[Vol. 7
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 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. M'Kay and
[160] 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 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
Indans 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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.
I 'Next day not an Indian came to the ship; but in [161]
the afternoon an old chief sent for Mr. M' Kay and myself
to go to his lodge. We did so, and were very kindly
treated. Mr. M'Kay was a great favourite 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 M* Kay'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 humour, 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. M' Kay returned
to the ship that evening, but I remained on shore till the
next morning. When I got on board, Mr. M'Kay 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 M' Kay's
I' As soon as I got on deck, he called me to him. \ Well,'
said he, 'are the Indians coming to trade to-day?' I said,
'They are.' 'I wish they would not come,' said he again;
adding, 'I am afraid there is an under-current at work.
After the captain's late conduct to the chiefs, I do not
11 i68
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
like so sudden, so flattering a change. There is treachery
in the case, or they [162] 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.' M'Kay 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,
'Well, Kas, are the Indians coming to-day?' I said I
thought so. He then asked — 'Are the chiefs in good
humour yet ?' I said I never saw them in better humour.
'I 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 M'Kay joined us, and repeated to the
captain what he had just stated to me. The captain
laughed; observing to M'Kay, 'You pretend to know a
great deal about the Indian character: you know nothing
at all.'   And so the conversation dropt.
"Mr. M'Kay's anxiety and perturbation of mind was
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 pair 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 [163] 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
M^ 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
as the Indians arrived, the captain, relying no doubt on
the apparent reconciliation which had taken place between M'Kay 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. M'Kay
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 defenceless whites, who were dispersed all over the ship, and in
five [164] minutes' time the vessel was their own. M' Kay
was the first man who fell, he shot one Indian, but was
instandy killed and thrown overboard, and so sudden
was the surprise that the captain had scarcely time to
draw from his 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 armourer. In the
midst of the carnage, I leapt overboard, as did several
ffl; 170
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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
gun-shots 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, one hundred and seventy-five
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 [165] 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 have been twenty-four days between the
time the Tonquin left the Columbia and her destruction
by the Indians."
Thus ended the sad story of Kasiascall, a story which
we at the time believed to be perfectiy 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
dMnOM 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
KasiascalFs 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 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
[166] 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 gentieman, 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."
«■■ /A*!! «r
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
1 ■- •-
The destruction of the Tonquin left Astoria defenceless
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
occasioned by their harassing and perilous situation, the
timely arrival of M'Kenzie, 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 — [167] 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 rumour 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, Kasiascall.
After absconding from Astoria, as already stated,
he lurked for some time among the neighbouring 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
5th 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 baulked by one of those fortunate
incidents which sometimes 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
mrnrnrn 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [168] 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 fives. 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 cruelty
and bloodshed the policy of their country.
Land expedition — Hunt and M'Kenzie — Montreal
recruits — La Chine — Devout farewell — Mackina in
1810 — Fur traders of the South — Frolic parties —
Comparison between the South and North — Arrival
at St. Louis — Recruiting service—Yankees — Canoe-
men — Delays at St. Louis — Difficulties — Mr. Miller
— The Missouri — Canadian voyageurs — Winter
quarters — Mr. Hunt revisits St. Louis — M' Kenzie —
Mr. Astor's policy — The Yankees desert — Winter
quarters broken up — Rocky Mountains — Pilot knobs
— New    scenes — Columbia    River — The    horses
55 For notes on the following persons and places mentioned in this chapter,
see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series: Hunt, note 2; McKenzie, note 4;
Crooks, note 3; Missouri Fur Company, note 149; Miller, note 72; Nadowa,
note s; McClellan, note 72.— Ed.
II fi *74
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
abandoned — Take to canoes — The canoes abandoned
— Trappers — Mr. Miller — Party on foot — Hardships — Starvation — Conflicting councils — Gloomy
prospects — Property en cache — The party divided —
Three men perish — M' Kenzie's speech — He arrives
at Astoria — Mr. Crooks and others left behind —
Mr. Hunt's arrival at Astoria — Voyage concluded.
We have already mentioned the departure of the land
expedition from Montreal, and now propose to follow up
its history, through its zig-zag 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 [170]
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 ensued.
Mr. Hunt was also accompanied on this journey by
Mr. Donald M'Kenzie, 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 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 M'Kenzie, he had, in fact, everything to hope and little to fear.
The trumpet of enterprize 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,
wm 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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. M'Kenzie
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 offence to many;
consequentiy, those who had been rejected put every
iron in the fire, out of pure spite, to discourage those
[171] already engaged, or about to engage; and the money
once expended, little persuasion was required to effect
their purpose.
Mr. M'Kenzie, from his knowledge of the Canadian
character, wished to engage at once a sufficient number
for the enterprize, so that no subsequent delays might
interrupt their progress; and this was generally allowed
to be the better plan, as we shall have occasion 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 Mackina 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 canoe-men in Canada — that joined the
expedition at Montreal.   The party now assembled in
ill! 176
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
high spirits, and after bidding a dozen adieux to their
friends and companions, embarked at La Chine on the
5th of July. On arriving at St. Anne's, the devout
voyageurs, according to usual custom, expressed a wish
to go on shore to make [172] their vows at the holy shrine
before leaving the island. There, prostrated on the
ground, they received the priest's benediction; then embarking, with pipes and song, hied their way up the Ottawa
or Grand River for Mackina, which place they reached
on the seventeenth day.
Michilimackina, or Mackinaw, 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 canoe-men, the Mackina 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 Mackina.
Here Hunt and M'Kenzie 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 Mackina at this time.
Every nook and corner in the whole island swarmed,
at all hours of the day and night, with modey groups of
uproarious tipplers and whisky-hunters. Mackina 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 [173] the cross-breeds and Yankees kept aloof, M
Ross's Oregon Settlers
viewing the expedition, as an army views a forlorn hope,
as destined to destruction. Mr. Hunt now saw and
confessed his error in not taking M'Kenzie's salutary
advice to engage more voyageurs at Montreal, but regretted
most of all the precious time they had lost to no purpose
at Mackina, 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
Mackina 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 Mackina was the great outfitting mart of the south —
the centre and head-quarters of all those adventurers who
frequented the Mississippi and Missouri waters in search
of furs and peltries.
These different parties visit Mackina 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, despatches them unpitied.
In the fur trade of the north many have attained [174]
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
■'      ■ m 178
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
century past, in the fur trade of that licentious quarter,
few, very few indeed, ever left it with even a bare competency.
At Mackina, 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 Mackina on the 12th of August,
and crossing over the lake to Green Bay, proceeded up
Fox River, then down to Prairie du Chien by the Wisconsin, 5e and from thence drifted down the great Mississippi to St. Louis, where they landed on the 3rd of September.
No sooner had the St. Louis papers announced the
arrival of Astor's expedition at that place, than the
rendezvous of Hunt and M'Kenzie 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 vigour; but, alas! few of
that description was to be found in the crowd.
The modey group 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 Mackina, a [175] 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.
58 This route, travelled by Marquette and Jolliet in 1673 was from a well-
established Indian and French waterway between the Great Lakes and the
Mississippi. The Fox River (of Wisconsin) was ascended from Green Bay to
the present site of Portage, Wisconsin; a portage path of a mile and a half in
length was followed (in floods, the intervening swamp was overflowed, and
Wisconsin River waters emptied into the Fox), and the Wisconsin was descended
to its junction with the Mississippi, at Prairie du Chien.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 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 pot-luck, 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 new comers shouldered
their rifles to a man, and, in the [176] 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 enterprize, 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
- ^
——. Early Western Travels
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.
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 favourite 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 21st of October the expedition started [177]
in three boats, and soon after 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 progress was but slow, scarcely
averaging twenty-one miles a day, so that it was the
16th of November before they reached the Nodowa, a
distance of only 450 miles up the Missouri, and there, 1810-1813] Ross's Oregon Settlers
from the coldness of the weather and lateness of the season,
they were obliged to winter.
Mr. M'Kenzie, accustomed, during the days of the
North-West, to start from Montreal and reach the mouth
of Columbia river, or Great Bear's Lake,the same season,
did not much like this slow travelling, and had his advice
been acted on, the expedition, in place of wintering at
the Nodowa, would have wintered on the waters of the
Here it was that Mr. M'Lellan, another partner, joined
the expedition. This gendeman was one of the first shots
in America, nothing could escape his [178] keen eye
and steady hand; hardy, enterprizing, and brave as a
lion: on the whole, he was considered a great acquisition
to the party.
After settling the winter quarters, Mr. Hunt returned
to St. Louis, which place he reached on the 20th of
January, 1811, and before he joined his wintering friends
at the Nodowa River again, it was the 17th 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 M'Kenzie.
This underhand proceeding of Astor's gave umbrage to the
other partners, and particularly to M'Kenzie, and added
new difficulties to Mr. Hunt's situation, by throwing the
whole responsibility of the enterprize 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 pretences shook themselves
l)| L l82
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 perfectiy worn out with anxiety.
[179] On the 22d of April, however, the adventurers
broke up their camp, or winter quarters, and bent their
course up the strong and rapid current of the Missouri,
no less formidable in itself, than dangerous on account of
the numerous savage hordes that infest its banks.
On the 14th 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
Louis River, or the great south branch of the Columbia.67
From the Nodowa to the Pilot Knobs occupied them one
hundred and forty-five 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 18th
1 of October, to abandon their hitherto serviceable and
•trusty horses, and they were, therefore, turned loose, to
the number of one hundred and eighty, and the party
embarking in fifteen crazy and frail canoes, undertook
87 The Three Tetons are the most noted historic peaks in the Rocky Mountains. The topography of the country is such that the highest peak, Grand
Teton (13,691 feet) can be seen from a great distance and has long served as a
landmark to trappers and pioneers. Unlike the mountains of that region, the
Tetons are not hemmed in by foothills, but rise in bold relief from the surrounding plateau—the Grand Teton towering seven thousand feet above Jackson
Lake, at its base. The range is but sixty miles long and lies some twenty-five
miles southwest of Yellowstone Lake. It is crossed by Teton Pass, about
twenty miles south of Grand Teton.— Ed. 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
to descend the rugged and boiling channels of the head
waters of the great 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 [180] 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 despatched ahead to
explore the river, and they also returned with the most
gloomy presage — all failed, and all fell back again on
the cheerless camp, to augment the general despondency;
the party now, as a last resource, set about depositing
and securing the goods and baggage, by putting them in
caches; this done, the party finally separated [181] into
four bands, each headed by a partner, and the object of one
111: 184
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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
We have already stated that one man, named Clappine,
had been drowned — another of the name of Prevost 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. M' Kenzie
and his party were more fortunate: as soon as the division
of the men and property took place, that bold Northwester 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 [182] 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 M' Kenzie himself had 1810^1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
to carry on his own back two of his men's blankets, being a
strong and robust man, and long accustomed 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 10th of January, 1812.
Mr. Hunt and the other parties still lingered behind;
and from the severe trials and privations which M' Kenzie,
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 15th 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
[183] 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.
Jill i86
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Doings at Astoria — Three parties on foot — Their object
— M'Lellan's resolution — Hostile attack at the Long
Narrows — Mr. Reed — Two Indians shot — Heroic
conduct of M' Lellan — Difficulties adjusted —Advance
of the party — Remarks — Arrival at Oakinacken —
Departure again for Astoria — Scene at Umatallow —
Mr. Crooks's adventures and suffering — Yeck-a-tap-
am — Umatallow left — Merit rewarded — Arrival of
the party at Astoria — The ship Beaver there also.
As the spring advanced, various resolutions 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 post.68
On the 22nd of March, all these parties, consisting of
seventeen men, left Astoria together, under the [185]
direction of Mr. Stuart. On the departure of the party,
Mr. M'Lellan, following the example of his colleague,
Mr. Miller, abruptly resigned, and joined the party for
New York. This gentieman possessed many excellent
qualities, but they were all obscured and thrown into the
shade by a fickle and unsteady mind.
58 For a sketch of Stuart, see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series,.
note 119.
Russell Farnham of Massachusetts came to Astoria on the "Tonquin." He
left with Captain Hunt on the brig "Pedlar," was landed at Kamchatka,
journeyed overland to Hamburg, and sailed thence to New York. When the
American Fur Company resumed operations after the War of 1812-15, he was
foremost in endeavoring to establish posts on the Missouri River. In 1831 he had
charge of the trade in the country of the Sauk and Fox Indians, and died at
St. Louis, October 30,1832.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Everything went on smoothly till the party reached the
long narrows; that noted resort of plunderers, where few
can pass without 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 M'Lellan, 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 despatches 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
M'Lellan's heroic conduct, retired rather disconcerted,
[186] giving Mr. Stuart and his party time to collect their
property, embark, and depart.
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 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 negociate 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.
s I Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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
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 despatches 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
24th [187] of April. Here they remained for five days,
when the party left for Astoria, in four canoes, carrying
off with them 2500 beaver skins. Mr. David Stuart and
two of our men accompanied the party down, leaving
at Oakinacken only myself, Mr. Donald M' Gillis, and one
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 spectres, 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 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
were they, that our people for some time could scarcely
recognise 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's account of their
adventures and their sufferings:—
"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. [188] 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; 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
69 For a brief description of the Snake Indians, see Bradbury's Travels,
note 123.— Ed.
>M 190
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
superintending Providence was in all this? These poor
fellows staid 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 [189]
John Day, with great exertions 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, and laid it by for some future emergency, and in
the mean time 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 travelling 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 15th 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 grey-headed Indian, called Yeck-a-tap-am,
"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 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
men had gone down there in the winter, which we supposed
must have been Mr. Hunt and his party.
[190] "We had proceeded on our journey nine 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;80 when one morning, as we were sitting near the river,
gazing on the beautiful stream before us, the Indians in
considerable numbers collected around us, in the usual
friendly manner: after some little time, however, one of
them got up, and, under pretence 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 instantiy 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
10 Lewis and Clark state that the Indians designated the great falls of the
Columbia by the words '' Timm," so pronounced as to represent the fall of a
distant cataract.— Ed.
if 192
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
else, leaving us naked as the day we were [191] 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 travelling some little distance, we
looked back and saw the savages quarrelling about the
division of the booty; but fearing pursuit, we left the
river and took to the hills. All that day we travelled
without tasting food, and at night concealed ourselves
among the rocks — without fire, food, or dothing. 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 Yeck-a-tap-am — 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 approached with hesitating and doubtful
steps, but on entering the solitary wigwam, the poor inmates were more [192] 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 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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,
Yeck-a-tap-am, 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 Yeck-a-tap-am."
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
Yeck-a-tap-am, the party pushed off, and continued
their voyage. On arriving at the place where Crooks had
been robbed, the party put on 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.
[193] From the long narrows the party met with no
interruption, but continued their route till they reached
Astoria, on the 12th 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.
■■ 194
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
General meeting of the partners — Resolutions passed —
Departure of the parties for the interior — Mr. Clarke
—The cascades—Wyampam, or the Long Narrows—
Situation of the party — Loss of time — Mr. M' Kenzie
— A stroll through the Indian camp — Mr. Clarke's
alarms — Command transferred — Reed's rifle recovered — A robber in irons—The five shots—Yeck-a-tap-
am rewarded — Mr. Stuajt's departure for St. Louis —
Second division — Summer trip to She Whaps — Boul-
lard and his squaw — Mr. Stuart's arrival at Oakinacken
— Departure for She Whaps — Winter operations at
Oakinacken — Visits — Travelling scenes — A night
in the snow — Jacque and his powder-horn — Mr.
Stuart's account of his journey — Arrival at Walla
Walla.   f|p§.'        ■#;
All parties being now at their posts, for 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:61 That Mr.
M'Kenzie winter on the Snake country; recover the goods
left in cache there by Mr. Hunt; and report on the state
n Simon Fraser, on his first expedition west of the Rocky Mountains (1805),
gave the name "New Caledonia" to the region of Stuart and upper Fraser
rivers, whose numerous lakes, lying among the bold and craggy mountains,
reminded him of the Scotch highlands. The following year, accompanied by
John Stuart, he farther explored the country and established St. James post, on
Stuart River. For some time the boundaries of New Caledonia were indefinite,
but its southern limit was always over two hundred miles north of Okanagan
post. After it was erected into a district of the Hudson's Bay Company, it
extended from 510 30' to 560 north latitude and from 1240 10' west longitude to
the Rocky Mountains. Fort Alexandria (established 1821), on Fraser River,
one hundred and seventy miles north of Fort Okanagan, became the [principal
trading post of the district— Ed, 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
of the country: That Mr. Clarke •* winter at Spokane,
as an intermediate [195] post, between Mr. Stuart on the
north and Mr. M' Kenzie 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 despatches for Mr. Astor :w That aU
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 29th of June.
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
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
" Concerning John Clarke, see Franchere, note 81.— Ed.
83 For further information regarding the St. Louis party, see Bradbury's
Travels, note 1x9.— Ed.
;. -,>.^ 196
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
[196] determined front. To one used to their gasconading
threats, there was nothing in all this to intimidate; 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. 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 centre 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 circum-
vallation, had to protect all within. This state of things
continued for several days and nights, until Mr. M'Kenzie
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. M'Kenzie 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. Mr. M'Kenzie
replied that he would [197] 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. 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
Before we proceed further, however, we may here
mention that whilst M'Kenzie and Stuart were on their
ramble through the Indian camp, they saw in a corner of
one of the chiefs 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,
M'Kenzie 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. M'Kenzie,
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 M'Kenzie 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 any step, M'Kenzie and his men were
out of their reach, [198] 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 recognised. He was
immediately laid hold of and secured in one of the canoes.
- Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Mr. Crooks's 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, that was perhaps the wisest course.
Before he went off, however, Mr. M'Lellan, to show
him the effect of fire-arms 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 hazel-nut in the third, and broke it with two successive shots at the same distance.
On passing the Umatallow, Yeck-a-tap-am was not
forgotten, Mr. Crooks giving him a chief's coat in return
for the kindness shown to the latter while in distress.
[199] On the 29th 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 for two days with
Tummeatapam, and purchasing ten horses, the number
requisite for his journey overland, took his departure for
St. Louis. The party consisted of Mr. Stuart, Benjamin
Jones, Andre Vallar, Francis Le Clerc, and Mr. Crooks
and Mr. M' Lellan. 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 31st of July. In the mean
time, the main party struck off at the forks, leaving
M'Kenzie 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, ■w
Ross's Oregon Settlers
1 lim
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 12th of August. Here it will be
remembered that when the party left this on the 28th
of April for Astoria, I remained at Oakinacken, having
only Mr. M' Gillis and one man, named Boullard, with
me. On the 6th of May I started with Boullard and an
Indian, with sixteen horses, on a trading excursion, and
following Mr. [200] 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 Cum-
cloups, near the entrance of the north branch.64 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 one hundred and ten 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.
64 This is Fort Kamloops, also known as Fort Thompson. It was built by
David Thompson (1810) at the junction of the northern and the eastern branches
of Thompson River, a few miles from Lake Kamloops and one hundred and
fifty miles north of Okanagan post. It became the centre of the Thompson
River district of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1841 the agent, Black, was
murdered in the fort by some Indians, and his successor had the stockade removed across the river to the south side. It is now a town on the Canadian
Pacific Railroad, and in 1890 had a population of fifteen hundred.— Ed.
m 200
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
Having now finished our trade, we prepared to return
home; but before we could get our odds-and-ends ready,
Boullard, 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. Unkno/vn 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 [201] 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 frequentiy
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 12th 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.
On the 25th 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 1810-18131
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 2nd of
December to pay a visit to Mr. John Clarke, at Fort
Spokane, which place we reached on the fourth day.a5
Spokane lies [202] due east from Oakinacken — distant
about 150 miles. The face of the country is rocky and
I had never seen Mr. Clarke before; but certainly a
more affable, generous, and kind gendeman in his own
house could not be met with.
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 them
sincere; but the moment their backs were turned, they
tore each other to pieces. Each party had its manoeuvre-
ing 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 of 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 13th, not far from home, as we were
ascending a very steep hill, at the top of which is a vast
J ffl
* An account of Spokane Fort is given in Franchere, note 85.— Ed.
k'^-sb 202
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
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 [203] 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 horse on which I had
laid my coat and gun. I instandy cut the tyings, threw
off the load, and mounting on the pack-saddle, rode off
at full speed through the deep snow, in the 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 further. 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 [204] 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
Air 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
as a statue in the snow. I put the saddle under me, and
the saddle-cloth, 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 five;
sleep and die." I had not been long, however, in this
dismal burrow before the cold, notwithstanding my
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 endeavour 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. [205] 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 kill the horse, open
him, and get into his body, and I drew my hunting-knife 204
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
for the purpose; but then it occurred to me that the body
would freeze, and that I could 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 recognised 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 frost-bitten. The other two had not made their
appearance yet; but some Indians were instantiy despatched in search of them; and [206] 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; two more were severely frost-bitten, and
more than twenty horses were lost.
On the 20th 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 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 manoeuvring. M. La Rocque, 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 near 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 curiosity: we got [207]
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 greatiy, 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
instandy 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
* For a brief biography of Larocque, see Franchere, note 90.— Ed-
It .
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
blown to atoms. On recovering, we were not in the
best humour, 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 a disagreeable night
without sleep or food. We hastened next morning from
this unlucky encampment, [208] 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 Sa-milk-a-meigh
River,67 got to Oakinacken at the forks; thence we
travelled almost day and night till the 24th 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. M'Gillis 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 travelled in various directions
through the country, 3,355 miles.
On the 13th 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,
97 Similkameen is the present name of this river. It rises in the Cascade
Mountains not far from the boundary line, and flows southeast into the Okanagan.— Ed.
r*2g£~~?2£2SEi2EL^MiMii^     ~£jn^i^B
■r — 1810-1813I
Ross's Oregon Settlers
and made as much, perhaps more, than if we had been
enemies. I sent out parties in all directions, north as far
as Fraser's River, and for two hundred miles up the
south branch. The accounts from all quarters were most
satisfactory. [209] 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 30th of May; the other parties not having
yet come in.
Mr.     Clarke — Stragglers — Hard    travelling — Cox's
pilgrimage — Visit to Spokane — Trade — Mr. Pillet
— Mr. Farnham — Cootanais and Flatheads —
M'Lennan — Plunge in the lake — Adventures —
Outposts — Catatouch chief — Curiosity — Fracas —
Introduction of civilization — Commotion — M' Kenzie
— Great Snake River — Caches robbed — Canadian
wanderers — Character of the Shahaptains — Visit to
Spokane — M'Tavish — Account of the war — Winter
travels — M'Kenzie at Astoria — New resolves —
M'Kenzie's return to his post — Indian chiefs — Bold
enterprize — Property recovered — Chiefs and their
horses—Stratagems—Indians outwitted—Plotting—
Friendly Island — Conference — Marauding propensities — Treaty of peace — System changed —- Plentiful
market — The island abandoned — Arrival at Walla
Walla — Commotions among the savages — Tummeat-
apam — Arrival at Astoria.
We now come to the history of Mr. Clarke and his
party, whom we left at the forks in August last, on his way
9 ^> 208
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
to his winter-quarters at Spokane. Having proceeded
up the South-branch, or Louis River, for about fifty miles,
he reached the Catatouch band, at the mouth of the
Pavilion River. •• The Catatouches are a small and
friendly tribe of the great Nez Perce" 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
[211] about 170 miles. Leavmg 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, M'Lennan, and Cox. He had also more men
and merchandize than any of the other parties, as it was
supposed he would have most to do in opposing a
formidable opposition.
Having purchased a sufficient number of horses, he
left the Pavilion on the 10th 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
68 The Palouse River—Drewyer's River of Lewis and Clark. Palouse is
probably an Indian word, although it has been connected with the French word
"pelouse," in that it flows through a rolling, bunch-grass country, the most
fertile in eastern Washington. It empties into the Snake eighty-five miles from
the Columbia, and is its only important tributary on the northern side.— Ed.
•• Concerning the Nez Perces, see Franchere, note 145.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
sultry weather of a Columbia summer, had a task too
severe, perhaps, even for the best travellers.
The most refractory of the rear-guard was Mr. Cox —
the little Irishman, as he was generally called.70 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 [212] 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. The sixth day
the party 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; 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
19 For an account of Cox, see Franchere, note 84.— Ed.
—J —-^	 Early Western Travels
[Vol. 7
three or four of the most conceited and blustering fellows
in his party to be a guard, such as the Sioux and other
savage nations employ as instruments of tyranny [213]
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 the^e 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.71 Mr. Pillet travelled 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.
Mr. Farnham was fitted out for the Selish, or Flathead
tribe n— crossed with them the Rocky Mountains —
71 The original Kootenay post was established by Thompson in July, 1807,
on the Columbia River (called by him Kootenay) just below lower Columbia
Lake.   He wintered here in 1808-09 an<l 1809-10.
In 1808, Finan McDonald, a member of Thompson's party, built a post at the
southern end of the loop in the Kootenay River, in the northwest corner of the
present state of Montana, five miles south of the boundary line. This became
an important North West fort. McDonald remained until late in 1811, when
Montour was placed in charge.
Nicholas Montour was in 1804 a clerk in the employ of the North West
Company at Fort de Prairie. From 1811 to 1816 he was active on the Columbia,
moving about between Fort Kootenay, Spokane, and Okanagan, with headquarters at Spokane after 1814. See Coues, Henry-Thompson Journals, ii,
pp. 606, 672-675, 757.— Ed.
For a description of the Salishan Indians, see Franchere, note 145.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
visited the head waters of the Missouri — saw much of
the country, and made a good trade. Farnham was a
busding, active, and enterprizing fellow.
Both the Cootanais 7S and Selish tribes live and range
along the foot of the mountains, often crossing them, and
have frequent encounters with the Blackfeet, by whom
they have suffered greatiy of late years; the Blackfeet
being too numerous for them.74
[214] Mr. M'Lennan was stationed at the Pointed
Hearts, or Sketch-hugh Lake.75 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 every
one who knew the difficulties of the task. M'Lennan
was hardy as steel, and bold as a lion: he made a very
good and a very cheap trade, and was altogether a
favourite among the Indians.
Spring now drawing nigh, Mr. Clarke got in all his
outposts and scouts, and left Spokane, with thirty-two
73 The Kootenai or Flatbows wandered between the northern forks of the
Columbia and the Rocky Mountains. Possibly they were the Tushepaws of
Lewis and Clark. They were unrelated to any of the surrounding peoples, and
resembled more the Indians east of the Rocky Mountains.— Ed.
74 The Blackfeet Indians are treated in Bradbury's Travels, note 120.— Ed.
75 Lake Cceur d'Alene (Pointed Heart) is at the head of Spokane River,
about twenty-five miles southeast of Spokane Falls. It is a small lake fed by
the Cceur d'Alene and St. Joseph rivers, flowing from the Bitter Root Mountains. There are two theories regarding the origin of the name—one, that the
TnrHqns living there were so sharp at bargaining that the fur-traders named them
Cceur d'Alenes, "Awl-Hearts," or "Pointed Hearts;" the other, that among the
first traders was a Canadian of so close and niggardly a disposition that the
Indians applied an epithet to him which the interpreter translated "Cceur
d'Alene," and the name became fixed upon the Indians.— Ed.
**5' n
^^ 212
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[Vol. 7
horses loaded with furs, on the 25th of May: a confidential
man, named Pion, a newly-promoted clerk, with three
men, was left in charge of the post. 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 Catatouch 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
[215] belonging to Mr. Clarke himself, who took this
opportunity of showing them to the chief, and expatiated
on their high value; then pouring a litde 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. At last it was conjectured the Indians
must have stolen it; and Mr. Clarke, with fury in his
countenance, assembled the whole Catatouch camp,
and made known his loss — the loss of his silver goblet!
he coaxed, he flattered, he threatened to bring down 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [216] 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.
Mr. Clarke, however, thought otherwise, and, like Herod
of old, for the sake of his oath considered himself bound
to put his threat into execution, and therefore instandy
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 gallows.
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 214
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horses, and scampered off in all directions to circulate
the news and assemble the surrounding [217] tribes, to
take vengeance on the whites. In the mean time, 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 4th of June; and here we shall
leave them for the present, while we detail M'KenzieJs
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 less disposed to annoy,
as we shall have occasion to notice hereafter.
Mr. M'Kenzie 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 M'Kenzie to prosecute his voyage
up the same river till he reached the very centre of the
Great Shahaptain, or Nez Perce* nation, where he established himself for the winter.76 By way of clearing up
some points not very intelligible to many, we may here
mention that the Great Snake River, Louis River, South-
branch, Shahaptain River, and Nez Perce* River, are all
one and the same stream, with different denominations.
As soon as M'Kenzie 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 [218] the
78 On his map, Ross located McKenzie's post on the Snake at the mouth of
Reed's River, the present Boise* River. Fort Boise, a Hudson's Bay post, was
afterwards established there.— Ed.
'-^ '■ 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 blacksmith. 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 M'Kenzie'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 M'Kenzie learned from
Turcotte and La Chapelle, that, having lost their horses
by a marauding party of Blackfeet, 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.
M' Kenzie now began to learn the true character of the
Indians about him. Their occupations were [219]
war and buffalo-hunting. Their country did not abound
in furs, nor would men accustomed to an indolent and
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 in-
■11' 1
III 2l6
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dependent. 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 M'Kenzie 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. M'Kenzie then
resolved to abandon that post, and proceed further up
the river; but before taking this step, he went over to
Spokane to visit Mr. Clarke; and while there, Mr. John
George M'Tavish, 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. 7T
On receiving this unwelcome news, M'Kenzie hastened
back to his post; but instead of removing further 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
15th of January 1813.
[220] M'Kenzie was dismayed on reaching Astoria to
find that the Beaver had not returned. M'Dougall and
M'Kenzie, weighing circumstances, concluded that all
was hopeless. The North-West Company now strong
in numbers and well supplied 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, M'Kenzie and
M'Dougall were of opinion that prompt measures should
be adopted for abandoning the undertaking altogether,
77 A biography of McTavish will be found in Franchere, note 90.— Ed. 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 case of British ships of war entering the
On the 2nd of February, M'Kenzie turned his face
towards the interior; and in two canoes, with eighteen
men, pushed on to his post, having letters from M' Dougall
pointing out the actual state of things, and informing
Messrs. Clarke and Stuart of the resolution entered into
between himself and M' Kenzie for abandoning the enterprize 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. M'Kenzie met two North-West
canoes sweeping down the current. In these were
M'Tavish, two clerks, and twenty men, on their way
to the mouth of the Columbia, to meet the far-famed
ship Isaac Todd, destined for that [221] part. On the
twenty-second day after leaving Astoria, Mr. M'Kenzie
arrived at his post on the Shahaptain River; Ebut 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.
M'Kenzie 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 td it. They regretted the misconduct
of their young men;   but the goods were now gone, and
t 2l8
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[Vol. 7
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, M'Kenzie 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 litde band, armed cap-h-pie, set out on foot for the
camp. On their approach, the Indians, suspecting
something, turned out in groups here and there, also
armed. But M'Kenzie, without a moment's hesitation,
or giving them time to reflect, [222] ordered Mr. Seaton, 78
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 M'Kenzie to understand that if he
desisted they would do the business themselves, and
more effectually. M'Kenzie, after some feigned reluctance, at last agreed to the chiefs proposition. They
then 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
Concerning Seton, see Franchere, note 81.— Ed. ?!
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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,
M'Kenzie and his men stood still and looked on. The
chiefs went from house to house, and after about three
hours time they returned, bringing with them a large
portion of the property, and delivered it to M'Kenzie,
when he and his men left the camp and returned home,
bearing off in triumph the fruits of their valour; and well
pleased [223] with their hairbreadth 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 horse-flesh
M'Kenzie 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 M'Dougall
and M'Kenzie; 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 an end; not an Indian
was to be seen about M'Kenzie's camp, except by stealth 220
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[Vol. 7
in the night, to beg, curry favour, or carry reports, yet
five of these secret spies were always kept in pay by
M'Kenzie 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 [224]
Indians had plotted together to starve M'Kenzie into
terms, or drive him off altogether. M'Kenzie, on his
part, had 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, M'Kenzie, 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 manoeuvre 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
M'Kenzie 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 in the minds of
the whites but that there was some dark design in agitation.
In this critical conjuncture, M' Kenzie 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 M'Kenzie. A parley
ensued between the main land [225] and the island; the
result of which was, that the Indians agreed to sell horses
Tl' '    >l I* I
^'      r 1810-1813]
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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, M'Kenzie
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 1st of June.
When we reached the Walla Walla on the 30th 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 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
M'Kenzie 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, Tummeatapam came riding up to our camp
at full speed. "What have you done, my friends?"
called out the old and agitated chief. "You have spilt
blood on our lands!" [226] 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
. ■!
KM* 222
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we had better be off immediately. Taking the hint, we
lost no time. Tents were struck; some had breakfasted,
some not — ketdes 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 14th day of June.
And here we 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.
Mr. Stuart — Snake River — Trappers — Joyous meeting — Trappers' resolution — Crow Indians' troubles
— Horses change masters — Mr. Stuart on foot —
M'Lellan left alone — Hardships of the party —
Famine — Le Clerc's horrid proposition — The old
bull — The old horse — Pilot-knobs — Winter quarters
— Unwelcome visitors — Change of quarters — Spring
— Travelling at random — An Otto Indian — River
Platte — Two traders — News of the war — The
Missouri — The old horse given for an old canoe
— St. Louis — Mr. Astor — Wallamitte — Falls —
Scenery — Habits   of   the   Col-lap-poh-yea-ass tribes
— Concourse of savages — M' DougaU's letter —
M'Kenzie's stratagem — Indian disappointment —
The ship Beaver — Coasting voyage — Mr. Astor's
policy — Captains — Their instructions — Mr. Hunt
baulked in his plans — The Boston merchants — Mr.
Astor's conduct — Difficulties of Mr. Hunt's situation
—The ship Albatross—All the parties at headquarters.
When we left Mr. Stuart on the 31st of July last, he
79 For notes on the following persons and places mentioned in this chapter,
see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series: Hoback, Rezner, and Robinson,
note 65; Crow Indians, note 121; Arapaho Indians,, note 120; Oto Indians,
note 42.— Ed.
*^fec fl
Ross's Oregon Settlers
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 [228]
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 20th 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. Miller abrupdy 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 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
i 224
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[Vol. 7
Mr. Stuart and his [229] party, while the other three