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Life, letters and travels of Father Pierre-Jean de Smet, S.J., 1801-1873 : missionary labors and adventures… Smet, Pierre-Jean de, 1801-1873; Chittenden, Hiram Martin, 1858-1917; Richardson, Alfred Talbot 1905

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Array       Life, Letters and Travels of
Father De Smet among the
North   American    Indians.
I mmmsmm
Father Pierre-Jean De Smet,
Missionary Labors and Adventures among the Wild Tribes of the
North American Indians, Embracing Minute Description of Their
Manners, Customs, Games, Modes of Warfare and Torture,
Legends, Tradition, etc., All from Personal Observations
Made during Many   Thousand   Miles  of Travel,
with Sketches of the Country from St. Louis
to   Puget   Sound    and   the    Altrabasca
Edited from the original unpublished manuscript Journal
and Letter' Boohs and from  his Printed Works  witl
Historical, Geographical, Ethnological and other Not*'*
Also a Life of Father, Be Smet
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'.£*»?!»«* -M«naaibNsi»iN£::K^u«9^v.. LIFE, LETTERS AND TRAVELS
Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S. J.
Missionary Labors and Adventures among the Wild Tribes of the
North American Indians, Embracing Minute Description of Their
Manners, Customs, Games, Modes of Warfare and Torture,
Legends, Tradition, etc., All from Personal Observations
Made during Many   Thousand   Miles   of  Travel,
with Sketches of the Country from St. Louis
to   Puget   Sound    and   the   Altrabasca
Edited from the original unpublished manuscript Journals
and Letter Books and from   his  Printed  Works  with
Historical, Geographical, Ethnological and other Notes;
Also a Life of Father De Smet
Major, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.
The Oregon Missions 403-407
The Voyage Around Cape Horn in 1844     ....     408-4427
The Voyage Around Cape Horn 428-4444
Planting New Missions 445-483
Expedition to the Blackfeet Country — St. Ignatius to
Fort Augustus 484-530
Return from Fort Augustus to the Mission     .      .      .     531-552
Among the Missions ■ .     553-569
Peace between the Blackfeet and Flatheads   .       .       .     570-583
Three Weeks in a Blackfoot Camp 584-599
Return to St. Louis 600-612
The Great Council of 185 i and Preceding Events     .      .     613-616
Expedition to the Sioux, 1848 617-637
En Route to the Great Council 638-652
En Route to the Great Council   ....
The Great Council and Return to St. Louis
The Utah and Oregon Expeditions of 1858-59, and Some
Preceding Events 693-700
Ocean Voyages of 1853 and 1857 701-714
The Mormon Expedition of 1858 7*5-729
The Oregon Expedition of 1858-59 730-747
Peace with the Oregon Indians    ......     748-768
Return to St. Louis 769-776 CONTENTS.
From i860 to Father De Smet's Death, 1873
Voyages to Fort Benton in 1862 an» 1863    .
783-7O4  PART III.      g
Itinerary from 1843 *° 1846, Inclusive.
■|COR the purpose of soliciting funds for the missions,
JJ Father De Smet made a journey to New Orleans and
back and as far east as Boston and back — He then went
to Westport, Mo., with Father De Vos and companions —
Then left St. Louis for Europe — Embarked at New York
(fourth voyage across the Atlantic)—In twenty-one days
landed in Ireland — Visited Cork and Dublin — Crossed to
Liverpool and London — Continued on to Antwerp —
Visited the principal cities in Belgium, France, Italy and
Holland — Embarked at Antwerp with a father and a
brother from Belgium, three Italian fathers, and six sisters
of Notre Dame de Namur — Descended the Scheld to Flushing, where he was detained twenty-eight days by contrary
No dates given.
Distance traveled, 15,479 miles.
Sailed January 9th with a favoring breeze (fifth voyage)"
— Crossed the Equator February 14th — Saw the Falkland
Islands on the 16th of March — Rounded Cape Horn on the
20th — Continued north ten days when a terrible tempest
was encountered which drove the ship almost upon the coast
of Patagonia, but veered south in time to prevent wreck —
Ship driven south to the 66th degree south latitude among
1 404
TRAVELS IN 1844-45.
the icebergs — A favorable wind then brought the ship
back to the coast of Chile in sight of the Cape of Très
Montes April 8th — Entered Valparaiso harbor April nth
— Made a journey to Santiago, arriving there April 25th —
Returned and left Valparaiso May 3d — Arrived in Callao
May ioth — Visited Lima, the capital of Peru — Sailed
from Callao May 27th — Recrossed the Equator in June and
sighted the coast of Oregon July 28th — Crossed the bar
July 31st and anchored in front of Astoria.
August 2d set out by skiff for Vancouver arriving there
on the 4th — Started for the Willamette August 14th;
reached St. Paul's on the 17th and commenced the erection
of St. Francis Xavier's residence — Was taken quite ill,
and before he was entirely recovered, set out on horseback
for the upper country — Traveled along the base of Mt.
Hood, past the Dalles, and across Des Chutes and John Day
rivers to Walla Walla — Crossed the Spokan Desert and
went to the Sacred Heart residence among the Cœur
d'Alênes west of Cœur d'Alêne lake — Thence went to the
Kalispel Bay and commenced the Mission of St. Ignatius —
Thence to Fort Colville in quest of provisions whence he
returned to the Bay and passed the winter among the Pend
Distance traveled, 18,828 miles.
In the beginning of February, five feet of snow on the
ground, Father De Smet set out by canoe up Clark's Fork
and visited St. Mary's Mission among the Flatheads — Returned to the Bay, fixed on site for the new establishment,
felled the first tree for the buildings and then set out for
Walla Walla and Vancouver — Thence up the Willamette
to St. Francis Xavier — Set out for the upper country with
eleven horses laden with implements of various kinds —
Traveled via Mt. Hood and Fort Walla Walla — Thence
across the desert to the Bay July 15th — Established two TRAVELS IN  1845-46.
stations: St. Paul at Kettle Falls and St. Francis Regis
at Lake De Boey —
. August 9th Father De Smet set out for the Blackfoot
country via the upper Columbia — He went to Lake Pend
d'Oreille by canoe — Thence crossed the country through
thick forests to the Kootenai river, called by him Flatbow
or McGillivray river — Met the Kootenai Indians — Ascended the Kootenai to where it comes close to the source
of the Columbia — Crossed over to the Columbia September
4th — Descended the Columbia past a number of lakes near
its source — Recrossed the dividing ridge to the Kootenai
near the mouth of the Vermillion river — Ascended this
tributary to its source in the Continental Divide — Crossed
to the headwaters of the south fork of the Saskatchewan
September 15th — Traveled through dense forests and a
rugged mountainous country to the Rocky Mountain House
on the North Fork October 4th — Met a small band of
Blackfeet here — Set out on a long expedition to the south
in search of the main Blackfoot band but could not find it,
on account of heavy snowfalls which destroyed the trail —
After three weeks of intense suffering, returned to Rocky
Mountain House, and went thence to Fort Augustus on the
Saskatchewan, arriving there December 31st.
Distance traveled, 3,480 miles.
Father De Smet spent the winter at Fort Augustus making one excursion to Lake St. Anne and St. Anne Mission
— March 12th he set out for Fort Assiniboin on the Athabasca on a sled drawn by four dogs — Arrived at Fort Assiniboin on the 18th — Ascended the river on the ice to
Fort Jasper — Provisions being scarce, nearly the whole
population of the post went to the Lake of Islands where
game and fish were more plentiful and remained until April
25th — Father De Smet then started on his return journey
— Ascended the Athabasca to a tributary, Trou or Hole 406
river, and followed this nearly to its source in the pass over
the divide at the foot of the Great Glacier — Here (May
1 st) they encamped to await the arrival of the annual brigade of the Hudson Bay Company from the Columbia —
About May 6th started across the mountains on snow-
shoes — Descended to the Columbia at the mouth of Canoe
river amid the greatest hardship and suffering, to which
Father De Smet declares that he would surely have succumbed if it had not been for the aid of a small band of
Indians that he encountered.
May ioth left Boat Encampment in a skiff and descended
the Columbia — Arrived at Fort Colville " toward the end
of the month " of May — Continued his journey in company with a Hudson Bay party and arrived in due time at
Father De Smet visited the establishments in the Willamette valley and then returned to Fort Vancouver where he
procured supplies for the missions and started on his return
to the mountains — Traveled via Fort Walla Walla and
the Cœur d'Alêne Mission and arrived at St. Mary's Mission, probably about August ioth.
" The expenses for the support of all our establishments
had been great and it was thought necessary to send a Father
to the States to provide for them. The Fathers unanimously
expressed their desire that I undertake again this long and
hazardous voyage." Left St. Mary's August 16th —
Crossed the divide to Jefferson river — Traveled by way of
the Three Forks and Bozeman Pass to the Yellowstone —
Descended the Yellowstone to the mouth of the Big Horn
about September 7th — Set out with Flatheads in northwest
direction to find Blackfeet and conclude peace — Succeeded
in accomplishing this in Judith Basin not far from Fort
Lewis (later Fort Benton)— Proceeded with all the Indians
to the fort.
September 28th Father De Smet set out in a skiff for St.
Louis — Arrived at Fort Union  October  1 ith : at Fort TRAVELS IN  1846.
Pierre on the 30th where he remained three days — On the
18th of November passed Cabanne's old trading post near
where Omaha now stands and met Brigham Young there —
Passed Westport on the 28th of November and reached St.
Louis, by steamboat, about December 1st.
After a few days' rest Father De Smet went to New Orleans to see the Father Provincial who had gone thither.
Distance traveled, 6,510 miles.
ssss,      -       = CHAPTER I.
Antwerp to Valparaiso.
They put to sea — They are seasick — They see strange fishes —
They fear pirates — Pleasant weather — Neptune visits them and they
are all merry — Celestial phenomena — Whales, icebergs and volcanic
rocks — Tempest drives them toward coast — Arrival at Valparaiso —
They go ashore for rest — The Fathers visit Santiago — Notes on the
country — Climate and products.
/^N the 9th of January, 1844, two masses were celebrated
^■^ early in the morning on board the fine brig Infatigable,
of Antwerp, lying in the mouth of the Schelde. The east
wind which we2 had been awaiting for twenty-eight days
1 This and the following chapter are here translated for the first time
from Father De Smet's manuscript journal. The substance of the sea
voyage was published as Letter I, Western Missions and Missionaries,
in the form of a letter to the Provincial from Lima, May 26, 18444. The
entry into the Columbia is described in Missions de l'Orégon, Letter I,
'thence translated as Letter II, Oregon Missions: but the manuscript
account has been chosen for publication as being somewhat fuller.
2 Fathers De Smet, John Nobili, Michael Accolti, Anthony Ravalli
and Louis Vercruysse, Brother Francis Huybrechts and six sisters of
the Congregation of Notre Dame of Namur.
John Nobili was born in Rome in 1812. After six years of great
hardships in the Oregon missions, he was transferred to California.
In 1855 he was made rector of the College of Santa Clara, and he died
on March 1st of the following year.
Father Ravalli died at St. Mary's on the Bitter Root, October 2,
1884, in his seventy-third year — " fifty years a Jesuit and forty years
a missionary." His fame stands very high in Montana, where a later
generation knew more of him than even of Father De Smet.
Louis or Aloys Vercruysse was born at Courtrai, Belgium, in 1806,
and died there July 12, 1867.     He was stationed for a time at St.
[408] tmm»
had sprung up the evening before, and invited us to enter
the North Sea. We had in fact been waiting since eight in
the evening for a Flushing pilot in order to start at two in
the morning. He had not, however, come on board until
sunrise, and then, to our captain's great displeasure, not in
a very fit state to steer the vessel between the bars and the
numerous craft that surrounded us. The whole morning
we remained on deck, simple and sad spectators of the pleasing sight presented by the other ships, which were all getting under way around us, amid the singing of the sailors,
who made the air resound with their sea-songs in various
languages. We had the honor of receiving their salutes :
the Infatigable was hoisting and dipping the national flag
until all this floating forest had vacated Rammekens' Roads.
By noon two ships were still in our way; one, commanded
by De Cock, laden with goods and emigrants for Texas,
weighed anchor and was moving favorably, when all at once
it was caught by the current and its bow driven forcibly
against our stern : this unexpected shock produced such a
prolonged cracking that the two ships seemed to be breaking
up, and the cries of distress of the Swiss and German emigrants added to the confusion. But after a few awkward
moments their fright was lost sight of in the flood of language exchanged between the two crews, with that delicacy
usual among sailors. The pilot of the other ship accused
ours of being to blame, whereas he, poor innocent, had not
so much as raised a sail. It was a rough-and-ready representation of the Wolf and the Lamb, only it turned out differently. A rail of our afterdeck was carried away and the
shutter of a window demolished — the other had a plank
stove in and his anchor broken. We were glad to have gotten off so easily.
Toward three in the afternoon we put to sea.     Like a
Ignatius Mission; was transferred to Santa Clara in California in 1863,
and returned to his birthplace in 1865, his health having given way.
Brother Huybrechts died at the Cceui d'Alêne Mission, April 5, 1872,
at the age of seventy-four. 4io
spirited steed, released after being long held in check, the
Infatigable passed down the roads with a swift gait and a
majestic air. Opposite Flushing, the Superior-General,
Mother Constantine, and the superiors of Notre Dame and
of the houses of Namur and Ghent, took the most touching
farewells of the other sisters, several of whom melted in
tears. At the close of the day the foreign pilot turned the
helm over to ours and took his leave.
Thereupon we entered the North Sea, where all soon perceived the first symptoms of sea-sickness. At supper it declared itself positively. The feasters, with Father Louis
[Vercruysse] at their head, were seen to rise briskly from
the table, as if smitten by some sudden pang.3 They advanced hesitatingly, the ship being now in full swing — imitating children learning to walk, or as the English Log-book
puts it, stepping like little green parrots ; clawing at benches,
chairs and the shoulders of passengers who were better off,
until they gained the door and clambered up the stair. Once
on deck and feeling more at liberty, they all paid their tribute
to Neptune, and each one made efforts to imitate, as far as
was in his or her power, the exhaust of a steam-engine.
" O misery ! misery ! who would have thought it ? " murmured Father Louis in his anguish — and directly a second
explosion took place, and he cried " Good-by to my supper !
there go the tea, the biscuits, the cheese — " A third and
fourth fit followed swiftly, as if the soul was about to quit
this earthly abode — that was the case with poor Father
Louis. His dinner, the Bordeaux wine, the beer — all
cruelly bad-tasting in a second edition, mingled with bile —
potatoes,  cabbage,  salt meat,  chicken,  ham and  all the
8 Father Vercruysse, in his journal of this voyage, distinctly puts
Father De Smet at the head of those overcome by sea-sickness on this
occasion.— Father Vercruysse's journal is published in volume VI of
the third Belgian edition of Father De Smet's writings. It is identical
to a large extent with that here translated from Father De Smet's
manuscript; it would appear that the two Fathers had kept a species of
joint journal, or had copied reciprocally from each other. WHALES AND OTHER FEATURES.
etceteras — the several layers of his contents escaped one
after another, like a mountain discharging through a crater,
leaving him only a body entirely excavated. We congratulated him, for he was much better afterward.
The first night the wind was against us, so that the captain was on the point of heading for some English port. On
the ioth we saw Calais light. We passed the strait on a
very stormy night, and came near being thrown upon the
coast of France. All this day the deck had the appearance
of a hospital. A mournful silence reigned, broken only by
occasional groans, or bursts of laughter provoked by the
strange attitude taken by some individual, prone on the deck
and reduced to extremity. The good sisters, though more
or less inconvenienced themselves, displayed an astonishing
activity to serve the sick. Their inexhaustible charity
sufficed for everything.
Favored by a good breeze, we outstripped all the vessels
that had raised anchor ahead of us on the 9th. Toward
two in the afternoon an enormous fish appeared in sight — a
little sample of the numerous whales, whose spouts were to
divert us in the gloomy and dangerous region of the Antarctic Circle. On the 12th we observed the Isle of Wight.
On the 13th we found ourselves near Plymouth, and after
we had admired at night the lighthouse of the Lizard, the
Atlantic Ocean received its guests, on the 14th of the month.
The motion of the ship was too violent to allow us to celebrate holy mass until the 18th. On that day we all had
the happiness of receiving communion, and all met at dinner, for the first time since we had left the Schelde. On the
20th the Island of Madeira came in sight. This island was
discovered in 1419, and called Madeira because it was covered with forests. The thermometer stood at 75 ° F.
On the 20th a calm came upon us : the sea was like a
mirror, and was wrinkled by a prodigious number of fish,
among which the souffleur [grampus?] especially attracted
our notice by the foam he raised in the water and the noise
of his blowing.     The fishes of Europe indicate by their
—= 412
forms the peaceable character of the peoples who inhabit
those shores. At least so they say, and they offer as proof
that the salmon," trout, carp and an infinite number of other
finny peoples who visit the neighborhood of mankind, are
honorable in their shape and very respectable in their appearance. But if you are fond of the marvelous in this line, go
to the tropics : it is there that Nature plays her famous jokes.
Every time that one of those marine monsters issued from
his element to exhibit himself on deck, the surprised spectators could not but laugh aloud. They were not shaped
at all like the fishes of our cold climate. Some seemed to
us to be altogether head : turn them about as we would, it
was head in front and head behind, head above and head
beneath. Others were all tail : others yet, so far as it might
depend on their form, had the head, I say it with respect and
submission, where one might more reasonably have expected the tail.
But how can I describe their colors, the brilliant luster of
those marine monsters? The dolphin is an exception to
the rule — it is a fine fish, though very dry eating — several
of them were thrown on deck, and the chameleon colors of
the fish, of which so many wonderful lies have been sung,
appeared in all their splendor : green, blue, gold, silver, each
color was revealed in turn, but only for an instant : soon
they vanished, and the fish became pale, ash-color, and expired. Toward noon a shark of uncommon size paid us a
visit, accompanied by his pilots, (centronati ductores) little
fishes a foot or two in length, marked with bands of dazzling
white, crossed by others of brilliant blue. They piloted the
shark to the piece of bacon, attached as bait to a hook of
one-inch iron : the shark seized it, and feeling himself caught
turned about with such violence that the hook was straightened and pulled out of his mouth. Blood appeared on the
surface, but as for the shark, he returned to the abyss.
Thanks to the calm, we discovered one day an old timber all
covered with shells and pursued by a crowd of fishes of NARROW   ESCAPE  FROM   PIRATES.
about six pounds. A great number followed our ship, and
we varied our dinner at their expense; such is the stupidity
of these little " old women," as the sailors call them, that
as soon as one is speared or wounded, all the rest rush
blindly on the murderous iron. We stopped after we had
taken twenty-seven, because we were tired, and presently
the little old ladies went away.
Then we got out our glasses, and perceived a boat leaving
a ship, becalmed like our own. At the first view, they
seemed to us to be probably pirates, but as they came nearer
we saw that there were only five men, and we were reassured.
When they came up they were invited to come on board, but
they refused, alleging that they were going to Marseilles,
where, to escape the quarantine, they would be obliged to
swear that they had not set foot in any other ship. Their
pilot said he was the captain of a French ship, the Félicité,
which had been wrecked on the African coast, and the crew
taken on board the ship before us, the Fourmie. He had
come to get his longitude, and after asking a few questions
concerning France and taking letters from the captain and
the sisters, he went away again.
On the 23d, the sky was clear and beautiful, and an exhibition of our whole wardrobe was held : the deck looked
like a second-hand shop. This was repeated from time to
time — for sanitary reasons. Sunday, the 28th, though the
sky was serene and the wind moderate, there was such a
swell that it was impossible to say mass : Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had that pleasure. In the evening
we sang vespers on deck as usual.
On the 1st of February we were in sight of the Island of
San Antonio, belonging to the Cape Verde group. Here
flying fish began to appear; later we saw clouds of them
between the tropics; several flew on deck. On the following day, the feast of the Purification, toward nine p. m, we
sang canticles and the litanies of the Holy Virgin. Never,
perhaps, have the Atlantic and Pacific oceans resounded 414
as long and as regularly with the praises of this kind
Mother, who is our hope and consolation in the dangers
to which we are exposed.
" We felt how she can calm impart,
Who, though in heaven's supremest place,
Bears — as on earth — a Mother's heart.
We hoped that she would guard us — she,
Bright Mother of Him who walk'd the sea."
An almost perfect calm prevailed on the 6th and 7th,
with the thermometer at 88° F.; it went no higher at any
time afterward. On the night of the 8th a school of fish
assailed our ship : the sharks were making war upon them.
It is a fine sight to see them at night; the phosphorescence
makes them shine like silver, and they are distinctly visible fifteen to twenty feet under water. On the 12th we
celebrated the 100th mass on board the vessel. There
were ten ships in sight. On the 13th, toward eight in
the evening, a slight breath of air stirred, by means of
which a vessel came toward us, accompanied by music.
Dutch soldiers were singing war-songs, which contrasted
oddly with the litanies of the Holy Virgin which we were
singing at the same time. We hailed each other : " Where
from and whither bound? | | From Rotterdam to Batavia: from Antwerp to Valparaiso," were the laconic replies, and they disappeared in the darkness. On the 14th
we were insensibly drawing near to the line.
That evening, toward seven o'clock, the sailors gave
three cheers for " Neptune's fire." We hurried on deck
— a hundred yards from us a column of fire was rising
from the sea in the midst of the darkness. It was a barrel
of pitch and tar that the sailors had thrown out. Then a
gruff voice was heard from the top of the mainmast —
" Captain, have you any passengers on board ?" " I have,
twelve." " Do they propose to cross the line ?" " They
do." " To-morrow Neptune in person will come and administer to them the baptism indispensable to whomso- NEPTUNE S FAMILY AND STATE.
IL: ■
ever wishes to pass the line." Neptune's envoy was hidden among the sails, but at ten o'clock, the exact time
when we crossed the line, he caused a fire to appear on
the top of the mainmast, which burned for a quarter of
an hour. This was a signal for us to go to bed. One
would say that Neptune is still pleased, says Byron, at seeing his name invoked afresh, though in a derisory manner,
by his true children, in grotesque sports which were never
known in his native Cyclades. The god of the seas seems
to rejoice, in the depth of his empire, at seeing some
feeble traces of his ancient worship still kept alive.
On the 15th, about ten in the morning, at the shout of
"Neptune! Neptune!" we accompanied the captain on
deck, where that great personage presented himself with
all his court. He looked in truth more like his brother
Pluto. He was covered with rags from head to foot: a
wig and a terrifying beard of tow covered his face: he had
in his hand an enormous wooden compass and a sextant,
with which he began to make motions, imitating the captain when he takes the sun. On his right stood his wife,
with a doll in her arms representing their son, one as idiotically attired as the other. The most outlandish masquerade rig would give you but a faint idea of theirs.
Neptune first promised the captain a fortunate voyage,
and then turning to me, requested me to submit to> the
operation of the razor. I answered that as the chief of the
passengers I would gladly treat for all, but begged him to
excuse us. Neptune insisted, I continued to make excuses, fearing they would play me some trick. The captain was smiling to himself, but our marine god would not
give up : " It is my inalienable right," he said, to shave,
and the bounden duty of every passenger, of whatever
rank or condition, to submit." At last he whispered to me
that he would do the thing decently, and that it was only
an innocent joke and all the fun the sailors had. So I sat
down by the mainmast, Neptune put a scrap of sail-cloth
over my chest, held up a little tub of soapy water, and
T- 416
passed his brush dipped in this liquid once or twice, very
lightly and gracefully over my chin. Then with the utmost dexterity he scraped all the lather off with his
wooden razor. My companions came next, and I was
glad to be let off, for to crown the joke, as I had expected,
Neptune ordered baptism, and instantly a deluge of water
descended. Well soaked, my poor brothers fled to the
quarter-deck, where the sisters stood watching the games
without having to undergo the inconvenience of them.
Neptune and his companions then engaged in a combat
with buckets of water. When they were tired and wet
through, they all went and put on their best clothes, and
then performed a series of dances, each more ridiculous
than the rest, and for the remainder of the day they were
playing all kinds of pranks on one another, but all good-
On the 28th a storm was brewing in the bosom of the
calm. It burst on the 29th but was of short duration.
Wednesday, March 1st, the north wind brought back a clear
sky. At six in the evening we perceived three ships on
the horizon, two of which in the north by a peculiar chance
seemed to touch the ruddy disk of the setting sun, making a very pretty sight. At about eleven o'clock I observed
a phenomenon in the nature of a shooting-star. The
north wind was blowing with moderate force, thin white
clouds were scattered over the sky, when all at once a
disk of fire appeared in the blue part of the sky, about
half way up from the horizon, and remained visible for
five or six seconds. It was a foot in diameter and as
bright as an ordinary meteor. Half of the lower edge
resembled a perfect crescent, of a deep violet color. As
the meteor slowly advanced, a beard of writhing reddish
flames, half an inch wide by a foot and a half long, formed
beneath the crescent, while two purple beams shot out
from the two sides of the beard to a length of some twelve
feet.    Having reached this size they faded and were no STARS OF THE SOUTHERN SKY.
longer separated by more than a couple of inches. The
space between the beard and these two beams was as brilliant as the disk of the meteor. The trail terminated in a
fine pale red fringe, forming a rounded rather than pointed
As we advanced southward the lovely constellation of
the Southern Cross and the three nebulae called the
Clouds of Magellan became more and more visible, and
their height above the southern horizon increased with
the latitude. Two of the nebulae are luminous, and are
without doubt composed of a great number of stars, so
many and so remote that, like the Milky Way, they give
only a faint light, forming apparently light clouds, whence
their name. The third is dark, and is probably the entire
absence of all light. I contemplated them daily with ad-,
miration and astonishment. Some writers claim that the
constellations of the southern hemisphere are more brilliant than those of the northern : the sight of so many new
stars, which one had never dreamed of seeing, and the disappearance of the greater part of those that one has
watched since childhood, naturally inspire a variety of
strange sensations.
The brilliant phosphorescent light, resembling the tail
of a comet, which on dark nights marked the track of our
vessel, amused us very often, and we were thrown into
astonishment and admiration at the reflection that, as is
claimed, it is produced by myriads of tiny insects, possessing the same light-giving power as the glow-worm and
On the 3d of March distant thunder was heard rolling
on all sides, and in the evening we had a terrifying hailstorm. On the nth, a fight between a band of porpoises
and some birds of the size of a goose amused us a good
deal. , The birds persecuted the fish outrageously, darting upon them with the swiftness of lightning whenever
they showed themselves on the surface or leaped out of
27 4i8
their element. We were threatened with a tempest on the
14th: the windows were hermetically closed, but this time
our fears subsided.
Once we saw a whale, sixty to seventy feet long, sporting on the surface of the water — a truly curious piece of
mechanism. On the 16th we came in sight of the Ma-
louine or Falkland Islands, which lie to the east of Patagonia : this is a group of islands, two of which are very large,
Several attempts have been made by the Spanish, the
French, the English and the Americans to form establishments here, but the severity of the climate has compelled them to abandon the project: latterly the Government of Buenos Aires has taken formal possession of
them. On the 17th the wind was very impetuous, and a
whale showed himself within thirty feet of the ship. On
the 18th we saw the land of Staten Island. On the 19th
we were astonished that the Shetland Islands appeared so
near at hand. We did not see Cape Horn at all: it is the
southernmost point of a group of islands called the Hermits. In the night of the 20th two icebergs, seeming
about 100 feet high, floated within a short distance of the
ship. The next morning we saw the frightful rocks,
wholly volcanic, discovered only a few years ago and
which have been named " Greenock." On the 23d we
found ourselves very near the volcanic islands of Diego
Ramirez and Ildefonso. They are composed of a frightful group of bare rocks, frequented only by ocean birds
and sea-lions: and yet I contemplated with pleasure those
formless isolated masses, being tired of seeing nothing day
after day save the water and the firmament.
The albatross, the bird of those regions, wheeled constantly about our ship, indifferent to winds and waves.
They stand four feet tall and measure some ten feet from
tip to tip of their wings. It is the largest member of the
winged race, and may easily be taken with a hook. The
damier, or cape-pigeon, and the fou are two other birds of
the cape that never left us in stormy times.    The last VERY SERIOUS DANGER.
named is easily caught, and once on the ship he will not
leave it again. The stormy petrel is found in every sea:
they are something the size of a swallow, and as they flit
over the surface of the water, sometimes they seem to be
running upon it. The inhabitants of the Faroe Islands,
where these birds are abundant, run a wick through them
from the bill to the tail and use them for candles, thanks
to the great quantity of oil they contain.
From the 24th to the 30th we had to withstand furious
tempests. Several of our sails were torn to shreds and the
vessel became the sport of the winds and floods. Several
of these days we should have passed in mortal anguish, had
not God been our sole hope of safety. At last we breathed
again and thought ourselves out of all danger, when divine Providence was pleased to send us a severer trial : for
an impetuous wind arose which drove us before it with
such rapidity that in a few hours we saw solid land. The
peril was great. The ship, with two sails spread, was
obliged to make head against the hurricane. A tempest
is truly a sublime spectacle: but the description is infinitely
more agreeable than the reality. If there had been less
of the frightful about it, probably I should have enjoyed
it more. Such were the bellowings of the winds and the
waves that the captain's words, even through the trumpet,
could hardly be distinguished. The waves rose in pyramids around us, and masses of water torn off by the fury
of the wind were hurled upon us in floods and filled the
deck with foam. Never in any of my voyages had I had
such evidence of the might of the wind and the water,
nor of the admirable manner in which the vessel resists
such a furious tempest.
It was most fortunate that we had a courageous and
experienced captain and officers and a sober, active and
obedient crew. All of us, with the exception of the nuns,
were on deck, with our eyes fixed on the frightful cliffs
which line the wild and barbarous coasts of Patagonia.
We awaited in gloomy silence the accomplishment of the
si I
divine will in regard to us. Once I went below to inform the sisters of the danger: I found them also occupied
in imploring the protection of heaven by the intercession
of the Holy Virgin Mary. I offered them the assistance of
my ministry, but they all answered, with a smile upon
their lips, and with that tranquillity, that unalterable calm,
which only a heart pure and inflamed with the love of
God can give, | We are not disturbed about anything.
Let the Lord dispose of us as seems good to him." I had
hardly reached the deck again when the wind suddenly
changed and bore us in an exactly opposite direction.
On the 2d of April we were near land. On the 3d we
saw the peninsula of the Très Montes. The 8th and 9th
we were coasting along Chiloe and Chile. On the ioth
we saw the Island of Mocha and its dangerous shoals, level
with the water. On the 12th we entered the beautiful
Bay of Valparaiso, where we anchored about five in the
Though we were extremely desirous to get on shore
after so long a voyage — it was three months since we had
left the Schelde — we were obliged to remain on board
until the next day. As we contemplated the city from the
middle of the bay it presented a truly enchanting appearance. It lies in crescent shape along the shore for a space
of a league. A range of hills form a background, in
which it lies as in an amphitheater. The numberless
lights, shining from all the windows, presented a beautiful
illumination in the evening. We especially, after so long
a captivity upon the sea, with nothing to look at but sky
and water, frightful rocks and barren coasts, were, it is
safe to say, fully capable of appreciating this sight, and
very well disposed to do so.
Early the next morning I went on shore to look for
suitable lodgings for the sisters and for my companions.
I soon returned to the ship with the good news that there
were some Jesuits from Buenos Aires at Valparaiso, and
that the French nuns of the order of Picpus invited the A TRIP INLAND.
Sisters of Notre Dame to stay with them. It would be
hard to imagine the joy that we all felt. Each one made up
his or her little bundle, and shortly we were on American
Our Fathers received us with a warmth that I could
never describe. We found them all together : they had just
finished a retreat, to which Reverend Father Verdugo, the
Provincial, had called them. Though considerably straitened, and having hardly subsistence for themselves, they
forced us to lodge with them and strove to see who could
render us the most services. We found in them true
brothers and friends — veritable children of St. Ignatius,
corde et animo.
The Reverend Fathers of the order of Picpus have had a
college at Valparaiso for some years past, and are rendering considerable services to religion. The Sisters of
Notre Dame will never forget the friendly reception that
they met with at the hands of the French nuns. Neither
did they leave that abode until they had reanimated themselves with a retreat of some days. They were edified by
the good examples, but confused by the excess of kindness
and attentions with which they were unceasingly surrounded by these good ladies.
On Tuesday, the 16th of the same month, I set out from
Valparaiso for Santiago, the capital of Chile. Fathers Landau and Vercruysse were in one carriage, Father Gomila,
Superior of the Missions, and myself, in another. Each
carriage was drawn by two horses, one of which, that of
the postilion, was attached only by a single rope. A second
conductor, likewise on horseback, is to help the first in getting up and down mountains. Four loose relay horses also
accompanied us, sometimes ahead and sometimes behind,
without once straying in the distance of thirty-two leagues
which we had to travel. The skill and swiftness with which
these postilions take you along are really admirable. The
whole trip was accomplished in less than twelve hours.
Where this road crosses two mountain chains, branches of 422
the Cordilleras (the Cerro Puerto and the Questa de Zapata), it resembles considerably the Simplon Pass. The
road is very much traveled — every moment we met carriages, mules, donkeys and horses loaded with merchandise,
and enormous wagons, often in trains of six, eight or ten,
each drawn by five or six yoke of oxen, and of the rudest
construction imaginable : the wheels making a deafening uproar, like the gates to Milton's Pandemonium — because the
Chilean freighters say that " this racket does the oxen for
music," and consequently they neglect the use of grease and
tar. The yokes are as rude and heavy in proportion as the
carts: and for harness they have only cords made of rawhide, strongly braided. Each cart has at least three teamsters. One sits in the wagon, armed with a long pole or
whip, and from time to time he makes use of a bamboo,
some thirty feet in length, to accelerate the gait of the front
pair of oxen. The second sits on the yoke, between the
heads of the second pair of oxen, likewise armed with a
stick. There was something ridiculous in the appearance
and attitude of the latter, with naked muscular legs dangling in the air, sitting only on a folded sheepskin, and still
with happiness and contentment imprinted on his tanned
face; happier no doubt, between the four horns of his two
oxen, than many a rich man in the midst of opulence. The
third rides a horse, whip in hand, and does nothing but pass
and repass from one side to the other. If such a combination should pass through your streets, in its slow and solemn
movement and with its prolonged, harmonious, ear-splitting
creaking, I don't doubt that all the inhabitants would be
sticking their noses out at the doors and that the team from
Chile would attract as much attention as a dancing bear or
a dozen elephants.
The Casa Blanca valley, which we traversed, is three or
four leagues wide. We lodged in a little village called
Cura-cavi. On leaving Valparaiso the road rises, winding
along the mountain side for about an hour, until it comes
out on a very extensive and lofty plain, from which there CASTILIAN  HOSPITALITY.
is a fine view of the sea and the Andes. At this time of the
year (it is autumn here) there is very little verdure discoverable; everywhere bare hills, covered only with brush
and enormous cactuses, with pretty, bright red flowers, and
from time to time one may espy in the ravines or on the
slopes a solitary palm, seeming to announce itself as the
monarch of this desert. Even the valleys that we crossed
are covered with bushes and trees of low growth. We saw
a few scattered huts or cabins, built of branches of trees or
of straw, but one is really tempted to believe that these
people live on the dew of heaven, for there is hardly any
soil to be seen. The distance from Cura-cavi to the passage
of the second range, the Questa de Zapata, is about four
leagues. We crossed it the next day by the pass called
Prado, as well as the great torrent that drains it and which
we were obliged to ford, there being no bridges. It seldom
rains in summer in Chile, and consequently the rivers are
usually just about dry: but when they are swollen by the
melting of the snows, or by copious rains, communication
is broken off for three or four days. Toward noon on the
17th we arrived at the chateau of Sefior Ruiz-Tagle, one
of the richest proprietors of the Republic, who received us
with genuine Castilian cordiality and hospitality. As we
did not know Spanish Reverend Father Gomila's acquaintance with French was of great service to us. After we had
taken a lunch we were shown to an immense enclosure of
olive trees, which here grow to a prodigious size. Toward
four o'clock Sefior Tagle took us to the city in his own
carriage, which he placed at our disposal for so long a time
as we should stay with him.
The city of Santiago lies at the foot of the Mapocho
Mountains, in a beautiful, delicious and fertile valley 33 ° 35'
S. latitude and 73 ° 4' W. longitude from the meridian of
Paris. It is 2,400 Spanish feet above sea-level. It was
founded in 1541 by Pedro Valdivia, contains some 500
squares, and the elegance and richness of its edifices, its commerce, its public works, its population of over  100,000,
il «
which is daily increasing [250,000 in 1890], make it the
principal city of the Republic and one of the best in South
America. It is surrounded by mountains called the Crown
of Santiago. Above their summits appear the snowy peaks
of the Great Andes, rising 22,000 feet above sea-level. On
the east of the city stands a lofty rock, divided in the middle,
which serves as a citadel : a little dilapidated wall is visible,
a small and poor chapel, two barracks or rather sheds for
shelter to the soldiers — were it not for the four cannon
that surmount it one would hardly guess that it is a citadel.
The streets of the city are wide and straight, and water
circulates abundantly everywhere. The public place is a
vast square, in the center of which is a beautiful fountain
representing the goddess of liberty crowning Chile. The
principal buildings are the Government House, the treasury
building, which is very large, the archbishop's palace, a
stately cathedral, still unfinished, and a former church and
college of the Jesuits: the latter now belongs to the city.
There are ten other rather large and good-looking churches.
Before the suppression, we had here four houses of the
Society. At present there are two convents of Dominicans,
two of Augustinians, three of Franciscans, and two of the
Order for the Redemption of Captives. There are also
eight monasteries of religious ladies, namely, of Barefooted
Carmelites, of St. Augustine, of Ste. Claire, of Ste. Rose
of Lima, of Capuchinesses and of the French ladies of the
order of Picpus. The ladies of Picpus are the only ones
that keep a boarding-school, conducted on the same principles as that of Valparaiso. They give a finished education
to the young ladies belonging to the first families of the
country, and they give gratuitous instruction to about
300 children of the inferior classes. The people seem
to be gifted with an excellent character and happy disposition, and are warmly attached to the religion of their forefathers. The Government prospers under the shadow of
peace, and the wisdom of a well-conducted administration. '1
It would be a very fine thing if their neighbors would imitate their example.
We had the honor of being presented to the Prime Minister, and by him to the President of the Republic, General
Vulnes. It appears that the Government extends its solicitous care also over the natives, particularly the Araucanians,
a savage nation living across the Bio-bio river and down as
far as to Patagonia. Preparations are being made to carry
the light of faith to those tribes, which have been so long
left in darkness, but show the most favorable dispositions
to correspond to the zeal of the missionaries whom it will
please divine Providence to send to them. The Government
has sent an agent to Europe, with power and means to bring
back the Jesuits into this vast Republic.
At Santiago, and throughout the Republic, some very
edifying religious practices exist. At the Angelus, at the
sound of the bell, everybody stops in the streets, uncovers
his head and recites the prayers of the angelic salutation
very devoutly. When the sound of the cathedral bell announces the elevation of the mass, every one prostrates himself, with his face turned toward the church, and adores
the holy sacrament single-mindedly and in silence. When
the holy sacrament is carried to a sick person, the priest goes
in an open carriage and carries the host conspicuously; at
his passage all the families come forth from their houses
and all the passers-by prostrate themselves and entone canticles to the praise of God. It is an uninterrupted succession
of different choirs until, he reaches the sick person's residence. If the priest takes the holy sacrament to several sick
persons, it is in procession : he is accompanied by a guard
of honor and preceded by a military band. The ancient
faith is far from being dead in South America. Some modern travelers seem to wish to claim the contrary : they judge
by practices and ceremonies which they do not understand
and the purity and grandeur of which are unknown to them :
they visit for the most part only the impious and incredulous
of their own stamp. d t
Valparaiso is the second city of Chile in commerce and
in ]»opulation, containing about 40,000 souls. Business is
mainly in the hands of Europeans of various nations. It
is only in the last few years that the city has made any
notable growth : twenty years ago it had no more than four
or five thousand inhabitants. The greater part of the houses
in Chile are of one story and built of sun-dried or fired
bricks. This is a necessary precaution, on account of the
frequent earthquakes, caused by sixteen volcanoes at proportionate distances and in constant operation. These earthquakes are considered the great calamity of the Chilians.
The dwellings of the poor, who appear to be many, especially in the outskirts of the cities, are only miserable huts
of straw or twigs, veritable dens of misery, ignorance and
vice. The poor in Chile are in a pitiable state as regards
religion; their poverty is only too often caused by their
great indolence and laziness. The interiors of the houses
of the rich compare favorably with the most splendid mansions of the European nobility.
Chile extends from the confines of the desert of Atacama
to Cape Horn. The chain of the Andes separates it from
the Argentine Republic. It stretches 620 geographical
leagues from north to south and its width varies from fifty-
five to twenty-two leagues. Meantime Chile may be considered as a plain, or rather a continuation of the Andes.
Its mineralogy is very rich and vast. It may perhaps excel
any other part of the globe in metallic products. Mines of
gold, silver, copper, tin and lead and all the metals and
semi-metals are numerous and abundant. I have obtained
a fine collection from the director of the Museum of Santiago, which I have forwarded to the Museum of Brussels
through Mr. De Boom, residing in Valparaiso. Captain
Hall says that several hundred copper mines are being
worked in Chile, with one of gold and three of silver to
every fifty of copper. He supposes that the annual production of copper is 60,000 quintals of 100 Spanish pounds
each, and that the yearly exportation amounts to more than CROPS AND SEASONS.
20,000 marcs, a marc being eight piastres or dollars. The
gold mines are neglected, as much by reason of the great
profit derived from the copper mines as because of the difficulty and cost of exploiting the mines of the precious metal.
The climate of Chile seems to be delicious, especially in
the central portion — a region which the fertility of its soil
renders one of the most agreeable residence places in America. In the northern part sugar-cane, yams, wheat, and corn
are raised successfully, and legumes and fruit-bearing plants
and trees come to perfection. Never have I eaten anywhere
better bananas and melons. Peaches, oranges, lemons, apples, quinces, strawberries, and an infinity of other fruits
grow here in the greatest abundance. I have seen thickets
of grapevines, which, though they were untended, produced
excellent grapes. There are ninety-five varieties of forest
trees known, of which only thirteen lose their leaves in winter. Chile abounds in horses, sheep, and pigs of excellent
kinds. The rivers are well stocked with fish: the Andes
form a nursery for birds of prey, and in general the different
species of birds are innumerable in Chile.
Spring begins here about the 21st of September, summer
in December, autumn in March and winter in June. In the
northern part, between twenty-four and thirty-six degrees of
latitude, during spring and until the middle of summer,
hardly a drop of rain falls : the sky is always clear : but from
about the middle of April to the end of August the rains are
abundant. In the southern provinces it often rains for nine
or ten days at a stretch. Thunder is seldom heard, except
in the neighborhood of the Andes. There are very heavy
dews in spring, summer and fall. No venomous reptiles are
met with in all Chile, nor any wild beasts dangerous to man. CHAPTER   IL
Valparaiso to Fort Vancouver.
Pleasant voyage to Callao — Observations on Lima and Peru — Enthusiastic reception by the populace — To sea again — Trade-winds and
calms — Provisions running low — Coast of Oregon sighted — Confronted by bar of the Columbia — Doubts and fears — The wonderful
crossing — Arrival at Astoria and reception by Birnie ■— Fort Vancouver and Dr. McLoughlin — News from the mountain missions.
TITfl ^ took leave at last of the respectable Tagle family,
^^*' who entertained us with all the charity and hospitality imaginable for ten days. We reached Valparaiso
in time to make all preparations for our second embarcation.
On the ist of May we said farewell to our dear brothers
in Valparaiso, and the Infatigable weighed anchor on
the day following. The distance from Valparaiso to Callao,
the port of Lima, is about 500 leagues. I have never seen
so calm, smooth and beautiful a sea as that which now
passed before our eyes : rightfully do they call it Mare Pa-
ciûcum. We had a constantly favorable breeze, and the
same sails that were set at Valparaiso remained untouched,
nor did the ship deviate a line from its course, until we arrived in the beautiful bay of Callao, after a navigation of
eight days. An almost entire uniformity marked our passage — not the slightest accident nor unpleasantness arose
to mar this beautiful run, and save for the usual changes
of day and night, sunshine and cloud, nothing interrupted
the agreeable monotony of the scene. On the nth of May
I found myself in the capital of Peru.
Since we have coasted along a great part of South America, I will give you my observations and such information
as I have gathered concerning those coasts.   On the Pacific
side they differ greatly from those on the Atlantic. The
latter are in general bold and rocky, and having the advantage of great and navigable rivers, they offer a multitude of
the finest harbors in the universe. The coast of Brazil is
especially favored in this respect, throughout its extent of
about 1,000 leagues. All this coast is very fertile, and capable of supporting a very large population. On the Pacific
side, on the contrary, the coasts are with few exceptions
sterile and frightful, and as it seldom or never rains over a
great extent of country, there are considerable tracts as arid
as the desert of Arabia. Communication by land between
Chile and Lima is almost impracticable by reason of these
arid plains. They form even serious obstacles to traffic between the different States, which is therefore conducted by
sea. There is a notable difference between a voyage toward
the northwest and one to the southeast: the latter nearly
always encounters contrary winds and currents. Though
the ports on the Pacific are not so well furnished with harbors as are Brazil and Terra Firma, still there are several
that possess considerable advantages. It should be noted
that the same difficulties of communication exist between
different places on the opposite coasts of the southern continent, but for different reasons. On the Atlantic side it is
the extraordinary mass of vegetation that covers the ground,
presenting almost insurmountable obstacles to the opening
of roads. But navigation is so easy on that delicious coast,
where maritime dangers are almost unknown, that there is
really no motive for making extraordinary efforts to open
highroads. To make up for the difficulty of internal communication by land, there is no country in the world having
so great a number of navigable rivers as South America.
Those great and beautiful rivers, the Magdalena, the
Orinoco, the Amazon, the Plata and their thousands of
branches, stretching in every direction through the continent, offer convenient routes between the most distant
regions. " Of all parts of the globe," says Humboldt,
"America is the best watered."   There are a great number
"m 430
of rivers as large as the Rhine or Danube, the very names
of which are* hardly known, even to those who may be considered well versed in geography.
I have said that we dropped anchor in the port of Callao
on the nth of May. Callao is a little town of about 5,000
inhabitants, built on a sandy shore and possessing a fine
fortress. An omnibus line connects it with Lima, some two
leagues away, making the trip in an hour. The capital of
Peru, seen from a distance, presents a magnificent appearance. The plain on which it lies rises imperceptibly from the
sea. The approach is between a number of rows of trees,
which extend a mile and form a handsome and popular
promenade on either side of the road, with stone benches.
The entry into the city is by a triumphal arch. The streets
run in parallels, crossing at right angles. I went thither immediately upon our arrival in Callao, to look for suitable
lodgings for my companions and the nuns. I was accompanied by good Father Gomila, who had come with us from
Chile to assist us in a land of whose language we were
ignorant. The city of Lima is spread over a great deal of
ground : the civil wars that have raged there for years past
are decreasing the number of inhabitants day by day, and
it will not exceed to-day 40,000 souls. The arrival of two
Jesuits was soon noised abroad through the city, and we
received calls from a great number of citizens, who came
to salute and welcome us, begging us in the tenderest and
most persuasive words to establish ourselves among them.
The ladies were in a marked state of impatience, mingled
with joy and curiosity to see the sisters come. We went
to spent the night with Rev. Mateo d'Aguilar, a zealous
priest, director of a religious house, where a retreat is given
each month for the ladies of the city.
On the following day we paid our respects to the bishop,
Luna Pizarro, who has been presented to the Roman court as
successor to the late archbishop. He received us with great
affection, and spoke in terms of praise and esteem of our
Society.    We also visited the principal churches and estab- POPULAR  ENTHUSIASM.
lishments of the city, after which we prepared to return to
Callao. The omnibus, with five horses, which I had hired to
convey us from the port of Lima, was by some accident detained nearly half an hour. The people came from all quarters to see us, and the carriage was soon surrounded by a
numerous crowd. Mothers, and among them ladies of distinction, pressed through the crowd, held up their children,
kissed the hands and veils of the sisters, and conjured them
to remain and establish themselves in the city. The men,
too, showed us the greatest respect. The same regard and
affection were manifested along the road. The people were
prompted to act in this manner by the conviction that the
education of youth is neglected in their country, and they
severely feel the want of it. When the sisters arrived in
Lima, they took up their lodgings at an old Carmelite convent, now converted into an orphan asylum. The crowd
poured into the building after them. For four or five days
they received visits from morning till night. The most
respectable families came with their interpreters, and vied
with each other in showing them marks of kindness and
affection. They were obliged to accept three carriages in
which, accompanied by the principal ladies of the city, they
visited the churches and the other establishments. When
they alighted at any place, the people crowded around them,
even in the churches, to kiss their hands, their heads, and
veils. The humble sisters received these homages with reluctance, but they were to them a heartfelt consolation ; and
who knows whether they may not prove instrumental in the
designs of Providence to obtain the object of this kind-
hearted people? There is not a single religious order in
this city that devotes its labors to teach the inferior classes.
Hence their want and desire of instruction.
I went with my companions to lodge at the former college
of the Society, called St. Paul's, where we all occupied the
same room. The establishment is very extensive, covering
one of the square blocks of the city, and is divided into four
square buildings, each having an area in the middle, and
— 432
supported by a double colonnade. The roof is flat, as are
all the roofs of all the churches and houses in Lima, for
here it never rains. Part of the college serves as a residence for several ecclesiastics and for the friars of St. Philip
of Neri ; some other quarters of the same establishment have
been transformed into barracks and stables. There seemed
to be but a single voice in the whole city — all demanded
the return of the Jesuits. At a distance the city with its
numerous domes presents a beautiful prospect, but when
we enter it all the buildings, apparently without roofs, give
it the appearance of a city of ruins. The streets are wide
and paved with little round stones. Little streams of water
run in every direction through the streets, and carry away
a good share of the filth. One of the greatest curiosities of
Lima is the fruit-market, by the abundance and variety of
tropical productions. There are seventy-two churches
within the precincts of the city, including those of religious
orders, which are numerous. The cathedral, whose architecture is of the sixteenth century, is a magnificent pile. It
fronts the large public square, on which is also built their
archiépiscopal palace. The other sides of the square are
adorned with rich stores and colonnades. The main altar
of the cathedral is a splendid piece of workmanship. It
consists of three rows of columns supporting one another,
and plated and ornamented with silver.
The government buildings occupy another side of the
great square. In the center there is a beautiful iron fountain, in the center of the vast basin of which rises a column
of the same metal surmounted by a bronze statue of Fame.
At the time of my visit to Lima, it was certainly an unhappy city. There was nothing to be seen but preparations
for war; a new revolution was expected from day to day,
and no one had confidence in either side. Meanwhile the
population is dwindling away. " There is nothing to-day,"
said Mr. Lesson, " to remind one of those times of flattery
and opulence when the merchants were rich enough to pave
with solid silver the principal street, by which the viceroy, A SURVEY OF PERU.
the duke of La Plata, came in 1682 to take possession of his
Peru ! Land of gold and silver, with thy fertile and
beautiful soil, and temperate and healthy climate, once the
terrestrial paradise of South America, now its poorest and
most wretched region : thy commerce languishes ; the education of thy children is neglected; the officers of thy venal
army fly from standard to standard ; the ambition and faithlessness of thy leaders have exhausted thy treasury; thy
chiefs, destitute of patriotism, seek their own aggrandizement, and oppress thy people ; — such is the state of things
in Peru at present.
The length of Peru from northwest to southeast is 430
leagues, and its average width 160 leagues. The country
is crossed from north to south by the Andes, which are divided into two parallel chains ; the central is the higher, the
other is called the Coast Range. Maritime Peru is an inclined plain, almost entirely sterile and sandy. This is attributed mainly to the height of the Andes, which catch the
drifting clouds and prevent the rain from falling on the
plains : partly also to the dry winds which blow constantly
from the desert of Atacama to the Gulf of Guayaquil. The
cultivated spots lie principally along the rivers, and the
vegetation is entirely nourished by the abundant dew, which
often resembles a light rain. Upon all the coast of Peru the
sun is visible hardly six months of the year, and the air is in
general stifling and variable. In the interior, on the high
lands, vegetation is abundant and of lofty growth.
Up to the elevation of 10,000 feet, the climate is a mixture
of autumn and spring. Beyond this, at the height of 14,000
feet, commences the region of eternal winter, where the volcanoes are in full operation, vomiting flames and lava upon
the glaciers and snowfields round about. It is the abysses
whence these volcanoes are fed that so often scatter terror
and consternation among the sparse populations of the Republic.    We had three shocks during our short stay in Lima,
two of which were pretty hard.     In 1746 the little city of
P   ÏJ1
jBHHHÉH^— 434
Callao was swallowed up by the sea with all its inhabitants.
In Lima hardly a house was left standing, and more than
5,000 persons were buried in the ruins. In 1828 nearly
1,000 lives were lost.
In the maritime region of Peru there are immense forests
of pine, cedar, acacia and ceiba of prodigious thickness, and
an infinity of other valuable woods. Various wild animals
are found in these forests, and an endless variety of venomous insects and reptiles, and a great number of birds of
rare beauty. Some of the rivers are well stocked with fish,
but at the same time crocodiles abound.
Peru lacks the first essentials of internal commerce : there
are neither good roads, nor canals, nor good bridges : merchandise is transported on the backs of mules. Agriculture
is so neglected that most of their grain has to come from
abroad. It can literally be said that in Peru they walk on
gold and silver and lack for bread. The mountains abound
in mineral wealth : they could furnish the whole universe
with gold and silver if the mines were properly worked.
There are seventy mines of gold, 680 of silver, four of copper, four of quicksilver, twelve of lead. Emeralds are found,
and marcasites, and other precious stones in various parts of
the country.
On the 26th of May we received for the last time the blessing of Monseigneur Luna Pizarro, and after taking farewell of our new acquaintances in Lima we turned again to
the sea. Since our departure from Antwerp, the Infatigable
had become filled with intrusive little nuisances, who explored and spoiled everything they could find in the ship.
During our absence from Callao a good fumigation took
place, and not less than 1,500 rats were found suffocated in
the various apartments.
On the 27th we left the roads of Callao, favored by the
trade-winds, which blew steadily from the southeast, insomuch that our course was not interrupted for an instant until
we were past the Equator. Our sails were filled by the good
breeze, and required little or no attention.   The air was of OCCUPATIONS OF THE VOYAGE.
the most agreeable temperature. Do not think that in these
moments of tranquil navigation the sailors are idle: the
captain always takes care to keep their hands full. We never
saw them strolling idly, or loafing, or even talking in a loud
tone. The captain was constantly employed upon his observations, calculations or books. We too had our occupations.
The sisters observed most strictly all the rules and holy practices in use in their houses, so far as was practicable at sea,
and were never seen without a needle, a pen, a chaplet or a
spiritual book in their hands : all their conduct during this
long sea-voyage was very regular and edifying. Father
Louis gave French lessons to the Italian brothers, who applied themselves without relaxation to the study of languages : and I gave lessons in English to them all.
The trade-winds left us finally, and soon we found ourselves in a variable region, where ^Eolus blew from every
direction and where squalls never let us alone, for a fortnight. Calms would come at intervals, and those are the
most disagreeable periods of a long sea-voyage. Then an
expression of discouragement and melancholy appears on
the captain's face and on those of all the crew: it seems
as if one were condemned to perish there: a blackened sea
surrounds you: a somber sky covers you, and the clouds
on the horizon, which appear impenetrable obstacles,
changing form and physiognomy every instant, call to
mind all kinds of phantoms: while the ship, like a weak
toy upon a sea in torment, swelling and sinking unceasingly, rocks you and rocks you until your head and stomach both turn. In those times of disagreeable calm one
is always on the lookout to observe every point of the
compass, always trying to catch some gleam of hope from
every little breath, though scarcely able to stir the sails,
however little. At last light but favorable winds came,
and drove us tranquilly toward the Tropic of Cancer.
When we passed the overhead sun, in longitude 1300, we
enjoyed a serene sky, and we noticed that our bodies cast
no shadows.    A srood breeze from the northeast came to 436
restore our happiness: it was even so refreshing that we
were obliged to resume our flannels, and when we thought
of the region of calms from which we had just escaped, it
is impossible to describe our contentment at the change.
As we advanced northward, the familiar stars came more
and more in sight, and we bade farewell to the Magellanic
Clouds and the beautiful southern constellations, which
disappeared one after another below the horizon. Between the tropics, here as on the Atlantic, we saw from
time to time clouds of flying fish.
J        o
From the 17th of July on we had only a continual alternation between uneasiness and joy, as the wind was contrary or favorable. Our disquietude was the better
founded, that our provisions were beginning to run low:
we were reduced to rice boiled in water and salt meat,
which gave out such an odor as might spoil any one's appetite. About the 25th it was announced that we were
going to lose our soup, because water was getting scarcer
and more precious every day, and the wind seemed obstinately resolved to blow against us. At last, on the
28th, after many prayers and vows, the coast of Oregon
was sighted: our joy was unanimous and great. And still
the greatest obstacle, that which I feared the most between
Antwerp and Fort Vancouver, was not yet overcome: we
had now to cross the most dangerous bar known in America, which lies completely across the mouth of the Columbia river.1
The captain had been unable to obtain a chart or even
any information concerning this dangerous pass, and was,
we knew, entirely unacquainted with the rocks and breakers which, at this season, render it almost impracticable.
We soon perceived Cape Disappointment, which seems
1 The bar at the mouth of the Columbia was, in its natural condition, one of the most dangerous known to navigation. In recent
times this condition has been largely removed by a system of parallel
jetties built by the Government to concentrate the flow over the bar
and scour out a deep channel.
MM il
to point out to travelers the course they are to pursue. It
was growing late, and the captain resolved to steer out
into the open sea, to avoid the danger of running aground
during the night. As the vessel moved slowly onward,
leaving the shore in the distance, we stood out on deck,
contemplating from afar the high mountains and vast forests of Oregon. Here and there we could distinguish
wisps of smoke curling upward from the huts of our poor
Indians. This sight filled my soul with indescribable
emotions. It would be necessary to be placed in the same
position, to understand fully what were then ouj feelings.
Our hearts palpitated with joy as we gazed on those
boundless regions, over which were scattered so many
abandoned souls — the young, the aged — dying in the
shades of infidelity, for want of missionaries; an evil which
we were about to alleviate, if not for all, at least for a
great number.
On the 29th all the Fathers celebrated the holy sacrifice, wishing to offer a last violence to heaven and force,
as it were, a benediction on our mission. The morning
was dark and gloomy: so were our spirits. About ten
o'clock the sky cleared, and allowed us to approach, with
caution, the vast and fearful mouth of the Columbia.
There was nothing anywhere but enormous breakers, and
no way of avoiding them appeared. Consternation was
general. " This is really perishing in port," said one.
" It is no use," said another, " we can never cross." They
even came to me and proposed taking us to1 the Sandwich
Islands. Those who were brought to these distant shores
by the loftier motives seemed to be the only ones who
preserved some gleam of hope: but neither did they perceive any way of arriving at the desired haven. One of
the small boats had been made ready to go out and sound,
but the weather was so bad that it could not be launched.
On the 30th the north wind was succeeded by a perfect
calm, but that was no more favorable to our entry than
the wind.    About ten in the morning a breeze sprang up Ii
and the captain approached the bar. He made several
observations from the masthead: after which he announced
that he would never dare to risk the passage. But just
then, when everything seemed desperate, a ship was espied in the distance, in Baker's bay, making toward Cape
Disappointment, and hope sprang up again at once in all
hearts. " Let us see how they come out, then we can go
in by the same way," was the unanimous expression. For
the space of an hour all eyes were fixed on this ship, which
seemed to be approaching us. Vain hope! At the moment when the signal of distress was about to be displayed
on our vessel, the other disappeared all at once from our
eyes. What phantoms the imagination creates under the
influence of distress! The captain had heard vaguely at
Lima that a large English man-of-war had been sent out
to blockade the entrance of the Columbia, and this at once
came to his mind. " Assuredly it is the fatal vessel that
we have seen." The observation that it was only a two-
masted craft instead of a large three-master, hardly sufficed to calm the disturbed minds. The second officer had
before this been offering to go and reconnoiter the mouth
of the river, and the captain's well-founded fear of those
tumultuous unknown waters was at last overcome by his
urgency. Preparations were soon made, and at three in the
afternoon, the little boat, with four men only, was making
its way through the waves, which seemed on the point of
swallowing it every instant. As far as we could make it
out, we followed it with our eyes — it bore our last gleam
of hope.
On the 31st, the day of our Holy Founder, five masses
were celebrated in his honor. The sisters approached the
holy table and joined us in imploring him to show himself that day the kind father of his children. Early in
the morning, all eyes were again fixed on the spot where
the skiff had disappeared the night before: toward half-
past nine it came in sight again. At once all glasses
were fastened upon it — the agreed signal which was to
announce good news did not appear; still we did not lose
all hope. Our hearts beat hard : all were divided between
hope and fear. By eleven o'clock the little craft came up
at last — a mournful silence reigned — all awaited uneasily the word which was to decide our fate. At last the
mate was on board. " About eleven last night," he said
to the captain, " we found the passage, which seemed to
have not less than five fathoms of water. We did not
find any insurmountable obstacles." Immediately all
hearts were dilated and all faces cleared up at the same
time that the sails of the Infatigable were spread. Under
a light breeze, we advanced slowly and cautiously toward
the formidable mouth of the Columbia.
It was a most beautiful day — a cloudless sky — a blazing sun, such as we had not seen in a long time — everything seemed to combine for a day of joy and gladness.
All we required to make us perfectly happy was to achieve
the entrance into the river. As we drew near the redoubtable bar, every one resumed his serious air, holding himself in readiness for whatever might come. The sisters
had gone below to recite the chaplet: when they came up
again, we were already upon the dreaded bar. The sounders had several times reported seven fathoms — soon six
fathoms was heard — after that five — then four and one-
half — presently four, and so it went, always growing less.
Each cry was a shock that oppressed our hearts, and at
the repeated cry of three fathoms all countenances were
visibly discomposed, for that was the vessel's minimum
draft: several of us thought that it was all over, that the
ship was about to strike: but God only wished to try our
faith. " We are between life and death," said the mate to
the captain at this time, " but we must go on at any
price." Soon the cry of four fathoms caused something
of a revival of joy. But of the five miles of the bar we
had as yet made only three. Suddenly a cry of " three
fathoms " plunged us again into consternation — at the cry
of two and one-half fathoms I felt, as it were, annihilated. 440
I expected to see the anchor let go, and then a mad
scramble for the boats. But our imperturbable captain
cried, " She is a passepartout, this Infatigable ! Go ahead! '
Heaven was for us — the next cast of the lead showed
four fathoms, and the depth increased at every plunge
until we heard the cry "" no bottom." We were out of
danger, in the south channel.
About four that afternoon, we saw a canoe, hollowed
out of a single tree-trunk, coming toward our ship. In
it was an American who had been established on this
coast for a number of years, accompanied by a dozen
" siwashes " of the Clatsop tribe. We signed to them to
come on: the uproar of their cries, all talking at once,
would be hard to render, and my companions and the
sisters were greatly amused. Upon the captain's invitation they came on board. It was then that we understood
more clearly the danger from which divine Providence
had preserved us. " You have gotten out of a very dangerous place," said the American. " We thought that you
must infallibly perish, for no ship has ever come in that
way before. When I saw you on the breakers I started to
come to your rescue: but I could not overcome the fears
of these poor Indians." The latter, for their part, indicated to us by signs the terror they had suffered at seeing
us in continual danger of grounding on the bar: their
gestures expressed their sentiments in so natural a manner that it was impossible not to be touched.
The better to understand the extent of our obligation to
divine Providence, you must know that the Columbia
divides near its mouth into two channels : one on the north,
skirting Cape Disappointment, which is the one by which
we should have entered, and the other on the south, which
is shunned by vessels on account of its narrowness and its
breakers, over which we had passed without accident.
God had not chosen to share with any one the glory of our
deliverance: he even permitted that an attempt to show
us the right way, should operate to keep us from it.    Mr. COAST   INDIANS   NOT   PROMISING.
44 T
Birnie,2 at present in charge at Fort George or Astoria,
which is but three leagues from the sea, having perceived
our distress two days before, had gone out to the extremity of the cape with a band of Indians, and had there
lighted fires, waved flags, fired repeatedly from guns and
cannon, to draw us toward himself. We had indeed observed all these signals, but seafaring makes people suspicious: it was feared that it was some ambush of the Indians, desirous of capturing the vessel. In short, St.
Ignatius was to be our pilot, and we have no cause to be
otherwise than glad that it was so. In gratitude, this
passage so fortunately accomplished for the first time on
the day of his feast, was named I St. Ignatius Passage."
The second visit that we received on board was from
some Indians of the Chinook tribe, who are scattered
through the forests which border the Columbia river on
the north. My companions, who were seeing Indians for
the first time, wondered extremely at the poverty of their
raiment, their uncleanliness, their long hair and their tranquil manners. I warned them that it was necessary to be
very reserved with savages if they did not want them to
become too familiar. It is natural for almost all Indians
to be lazy, but it is worse with these, because of the great
ease with which they can procure fish and game. They
live from day to day, and spend the greater part of the
daytime stretched motionless in the sun: it is no wonder
therefore that the ship was almost continually flooded with
these poor people.
We had discovered, at anchor under the cape, the ship
that we had been watching the previous evening. About
nine that night, just as we were all singing the Te Deum
together in thanksgiving for all the benefits received in
the course of the day and of our long voyage, Mr. Birnie
and the owner of the ship came on board: they told us that
2 James Birnie, superintendent of the Hudson's Bay Company's post
of Fort George, the former Fort Astoria.
I 1 si 442
having perceived our distress, they had tried to come out
and show us the way, but that the wind had been contrary
and had forced them to anchor.
In short, the. 31st of July was a day of happiness for us
all, and the faces of the party were hardly recognizable.—
The American who had been the first to visit us, sent us
out some fresh salmon and potatoes; you may judge, from
what I said above of our bill of fare, whether his civility
was appreciated.
The 1st of August had to be a day of relaxation: we were
all in need of it. We commenced by saying two thanksgiving masses. Early in the morning Mr. Birnie had
come on board again.    It was impossible for a man to be
more civil and obliging.
He offered to guide us through
the sand-bars, which are very numerous and dangerous,
in the bay. When we arrived opposite Astoria3 we cast
anchor, and were at once invited to come on shore and
take a walk, to which we needed no urging. We received
the most cordial welcome from Mrs. Birnie and her ten
children : the Sisters especially seemed to have won from
the first the entire friendship of the seven young ladies
who belong to this honorable family. We were shown a
tree that is spoken of by Balbi in his geography, which is
forty-two feet in circumference; one branch alone measured over two fathoms. It would be impossible to
imagine grander or more beautiful forests than those
which cover both banks of the Columbia as far as its
junction with the Willamette. There is one bush that is
very abundant, growing to a height of three or four feet
and bearing excellent berries, something like the myrtles
of Europe. Mr. Birnie took me to the tomb of the famous chief Tecumle, [Comcomly?] who was buried in the
forest behind the fort.    When he used to come to Van-
3 John Jacob Astor's trading-post, established in 1811, transferred to
the Northwest Fur Company (later Hudson's Bay Company) in December, 1813.
couver in the days of his glory, 300 slaves would precede
him, and he used to carpet the ground that he had to traverse, from the main entrance of the fort to the Governor's door, several hundred feet, with beaver and otter
After a long and pleasant walk we returned to Mr. Bir-
nie's home, where dinner was waiting for us : the open air
had sharpened all appetites and we did honor to the dishes
accordingly. I blessed the table and said grace, as is the
custom in America whenever there is a priest among the
guests, even in a Protestant household, as was the case
On the 2d I set out in a canoe for Fort Vancouver to
notify Governor McLoughlin and Reverend Mr. Blanchet4
of our arrival. Here again it was Mr. Birnie who had
the kindness to furnish me a large Chinook canoe, manned
by nine Indians. He himself remained on the vessel until
it was past all the dangerous places of the bay, and he furnished a pilot to Vancouver, which is thirty leagues from
Astoria. Favored by a good wind, and with two sheets
spread for sails, we reached our destination toward evening
on the following day. Imagine my joy and happiness at
finding there the worthy Mr. McLoughlin, to whom our
mountain mission is under so great obligations. I did not
find Mr. Blanchet, as he was at the mission of St. Paul on
the Willamette : a messenger was at once dispatched to him.
But I had the further pleasure of finding the excellent and
Reverend Mr. Demers, of whom I have often spoken in
my letters. He was making his plans to start soon for
Canada, in search of nuns : you may judge of the joy that
our arrival caused him. On the 5th I went down the Columbia to take to the ship the good news I had received at
the fort.     The news from the mountains was very consol-
4 Reverend Francis Norbert Blanchet, appointed from the Montreal
district to the charge of the Oregon Mission in 1838, with the title of
vicar-general. 444
ing. Father De Vos and his companions5 had reached St.
Mary's among the Flatheads in safety — the whole tribe
of the Cœur d'Alênes was converted — a church had already
been built among them — 436 savages had been baptized
from the nations of New Caledonia — a great number of
nations were persistently calling for Black-robes — a large
convent was being organized on the Willamette.
5 Fathers Peter De Vos and Adrien Hoeken and Brother J. B. "Mc-
Gean, who started for the mountains after Father De Smet's return to
St. Louis in 1842, and reached St. Mary's in the following spring. A
second party, consisting of Fathers Joseph Joset and Peter Zerbinati
with Brother Vincent Magri, all of whom were fresh arrivals from
Europe, followed them a few months later, arriving in the summer
of 1843.
Peter De Vos was born in Ghent in 1797. He came to America in
1836, and chose the field of the western missions, though of delicate
health, being subject, it appears, to hemorrhages. He remained eight
years among the Flatheads and in the Willamette valley, and was
thence transferred to the College of Santa Clara, California, where he
died April 17, 1859.
Adrien Hoeken, younger brother of Christian Hoeken, whose death
in 1851 is recounted in these letters, was born in Holland in 1815. He
opened the mission of St. Ignatius among the Kalispels, and ten years
later (1854) with Father Menetrey, the present St. Ignatius, Montana,
the former site having proved unsuitable. He also reopened in 1859
the abandoned mission to the Blackfeet. He died at Marquette College, Milwaukee, April 19, 1897.
Father Zerbinati was accidentally drowned near St. Mary's in the
summer of 1845.
Brother Magri died at Lewiston, Idaho, June 18, 1869. He was a
skilled mechanic, and while at St. Ignatius was in charge of the grist
and sawmills.
Tarrying at Fort Vancouver — Farewell to their ship — Up the Willamette — Received by Vicar-General Blanchet — Selecting the site for
St. Francis Xavier Mission — Sickness and hard work — De Smet sets
forth for the interior — Up the Columbia—Hospitably entertained
at the Dalles and Walla Walla — Across the Spokan Plain — Makes a
map and names some streams — Met by Hoeken and the Kalispels —
The first St. Ignatius Mission — The Cœur d'Alênes apologize — He
visits them at their Sacred Heart Mission — Attempts to cross to the
Bitter Root — Deep snow and a flood — Tries again by way erf Clark's
Fork — Gives up and winters with the Kalispels — A glorious Christmas — Easter among the Flatheads — Starts the work at St. Ignatius
and returns to Fort Vancouver — Bright prospects of work in Oregon
— Sets out overland with supplies for upper missions — A visit to the
fishing Indians — St. Ignatius of the Bay.
*f| SET out for Fort Vancouver on the 2d of August, [as
'■ stated in the previous chapter] wishing to reach there
before my companions, that I might inform the Reverend
Mr. Blanchet of our happy arrival. As to our Fathers, the
remainder of their voyage may be summed up in few words.
On the 3d and 4th their vessel was almost stationary, for
want of a favorable wind. At a glance, their three days'
voyage might be measured. Toward evening a gentle
breeze sprang up, and thus permitted them to pursue their
1 This chapter is in part translated from Father De Smet's manuscript Journal, and in part taken from his published letters, as follows:
Letters II, IV, V and XX, Oregon Missions, corresponding to Letters
I, III, IV and XX, Missions de l'Orégon. The first was written to his
brother Francis and dated St. Francis Xavier on the Willamette, Oct.
9, 1844; the second and third to Bishop (afterward Archbishop) Hughes
of New York, both writen from the above place and dated respectively
June 20 and August 7, 1845 ; and the fourth to Mrs. Parmentier of
Brooklyn, dated St. Ignatius, July 23, 1846.
[445] I
course. In a few hours they passed the rocks, extending
the distance of six leagues.2 They were then enabled to
keep the center of the river, where the numerous windings
of the stream compelled them to make continual manœuvres.
In this place the river is most magnificent : the smooth
polished surface of the waters — the rapid current, almost
concealed from view by the contraction of its rocky bed —
the sullen roaring of the waterfalls and cascades — produce
upon the mind an effect of sublimity and grandeur not to be
described. One is never weary admiring the richness,
beauty and variety of these solitary regions. The shores
on either side are bordered by lofty forests, and crowned
with thickly-wooded mountains. It is more especially in
the forest that the grand, the picturesque, the sublime, the
beautiful, form the most singular and fantastic combinations. From the loftiest giants of the forest down to the
humblest shrubs, all excite the spectator's astonishment.
The parasites form a characteristic feature of these woodlands. They cling to the tree, climb to a certain height, and
then, letting their tops fall to the earth, again take root —
again shoot up — push from branch to branch — from tree
to tree, in every direction — until, tangled, twisted and
knotted in every possible form, they festoon the whole forest
with drapery in which a groundwork of the richest verdure
is diversified with garlands of the most varied and many-
colored flowers. In ascending the Columbia we meet from
time to time with bays of considerable extent, interspersed
with handsome little islands, which, thrown as it were like
groups of flowers and verdure, present a charming spectacle.
Here the painter should go to study his art — here would
he find the loveliest scenery, the most varied and brilliant
coloring. At every step the scene becomes more ravishing ;
the perspective more noble and majestic. In no other part
of the world is nature so great a coquette as here.
At length, on the 5th of August, the vessel arrived at Fort
Vancouver,8 about seven o'clock in the evening. The Governor, [McLoughlin] an excellent and truly pious man, together with his lady and the most respectable personages of
the place, [Douglas and Barclay]4 were assembled on the
shore to receive us. As soon as the ship had cast anchor
we landed and hastened to the fort, where we were received
and treated with all possible cordiality. Here we were
obliged to tarry eight days for the Reverend Mr. Blanchet,
who did not arrive till the 12th, not having received my
letter informing him of our arrival. No sooner was he
aware of it than he hastened to join us, bringing with him
a considerable number of his parishioners. He had traveled
the entire night and day, and we were delighted to meet
this indefatigable clergyman. Though so comfortably situated at the fort, yet we were anxious to arrive as soon as possible at the place destined us by divine Providence. The
pious nuns likewise sighed for their convent home of Willamette. Monsieur Blanchet accordingly made the necessary
arrangement for our departure, and we left Fort Vancouver
on the 14th.
An affecting adieu awaited us. Our worthy captain
stood upon the shore. The emotion was sensibly felt by
each one of us. For eight months we had shared the same
dangers, and so often stood together, gazing in the very face
of death : could we then restrain the parting tear, which
seemed to gush from the fountain of the heart, as we remembered his kindness ?
Our little squadron consisted of four canoes, manned by
the parishioners of Mr. Blanchet, and our own sloop.   We
8 For notes on Fort Vancouver and Doctor McLoughlin, see pp. 387
and 355-
4 James Douglas was for many years prominent in Hudson Bay Company affairs in the northwest, in conjunction with Doctor McLoughlin.
It was he who granted Blanchet and Demers the site for the Willamette Valley establishment.— Doctor Forbes Barclay accompanied Sir
John Ross on an Arctic voyage in his youth; came to Oregon as surgeon for the Hudson Bay Company in 1840; was long identified with
Fort Vancouver and Oregon City, and died at the latter place in 1873. f
sailed up the river and soon entered the Willamette, whose
waters flow into the Columbia.
As night approached we moored our vessels and encamped upon the shore. There, grouped around the fire,
we partook of our evening meal. The night was calm and
serene — all nature was hushed in profound silence — all
invited us to repose; but the swarms of mosquitoes with
which these woods abound prevented our slumber. The
nuns, to whom we had yielded the tent, suffered equally
with those who had nothing but the star-spangled canopy
of heaven above them. You will not, consequently, be surprised that the night appeared somewhat long and that the
morning's dawn found us on foot. It was the festival of
the glorious Assumption of the Mother of God, which, in
these regions, is usually solemnized on the following Sunday. Aided by the nuns, I erected a small altar. Mr.
Blanchet offered the holy sacrifice, at which all communicated.
Finally, the 17th, about eleven o'clock, we came in sight
of our dear mission of Willamette. Mr. Blanchet charged
himself with the transportation of our baggage. A cart was
procured to conduct the nuns to their dwelling, which is
about five miles from the river. In two hours we were
all assembled in the chapel of Willamette, to adore and
thank our Divine Savior, by the solemn chanting of the
Te Deum, in which all hearts and lips joined with lively
Early in the morning of Sunday, the 18th, the day on
which the Assumption is celebrated here, we saw the Canadian cavaliers arriving in crowds with their wives and children, whom they had brought from great distances, to assist
at the solemn services of the Church.
At nine o'clock all were arranged in perfect order in the
church ; the men on one side, the women on the other. The
Reverend Mr. Blanchet celebrated the august sacrifice, assisted by twenty acolytes. The piety of his parishioners
contributed much to our edification. CHOOSING A LOCATION.
On arriving at the Mission of St. Paul5 of the Willamette,
we proceeded at once to the residence of the Very Reverend
Mr. Blanchet, who received us with the greatest kindness,
and immediately placed at our disposal everything on the
place. My first care was to seek some convenient locality
where, according to the plan of our Very Reverend Father
General, a mother mission could be established. For this
purpose I made several unsuccessful excursions into the
adjacent country. The most eligible situations were already
occupied. The Methodists,6 indeed, offered to sell me their
Academy, which is a sufficiently large and handsome house,
but entirely destitute of wood and arable land. In this perplexity Mr. Blanchet relieved me, by a generous and disinterested offer. He proposed to examine the property belonging to the mission, and take such portions of it as I should
judge most proper for our projected establishment. We
accordingly set out on this new excursion; but we had
scarcely proceeded two miles when we came to a point unit's Dedicated January 6, 1840, by Vicar-General Blanchet ; the first
Catholic establishment in Oregon proper. Reverend M. Demers had
been located in the Cowlitz valley, Washington (St. Francis Xavier),
since October 13, 1839, but the log church at St. Paul was the oldest
in the Pacific Northwest, having been built by the French inhabitants
in 1836, in the expectation of the speedy arrival of priests.
61 cannot pass over one little incident : at the same time that the
priests and nuns entered to establish themselves on the Willamette,
several Protestant ministers and their wives were leaving the country
in well-grounded despair, and going down the river on their way to
the States. The great Methodist establishment, more than ten years
old, was suppressed, and a little Protestant church, built by the
Protestants who had just dismissed their minister, was offered to a
Catholic priest.    (From Father De Smet's manuscript journal.)
The Methodist mission in the Willamette valley was established in
the fall of 1834 by Jason and Daniel Lee. It was closed in 1844, and all
property sold ; but according to the dates on record, the transfers were
made before Father De Smet's arrival. " Thus," says Bancroft, " ends
the history of ten years of missionary labor, in which nothing was done
that ever in the least benefited the Indians, but which cost the missionary society of the Methodist Episcopal Church a quarter of a
million dollars."
29 4
ing every desirable advantage. Picture to yourself an immense plain extending southward as far as the eye can reach ;
on one side the snowy crests of the gigantic Hood, Jefferson,
or Molélis, and St. Helen's (the three highest peaks of Oregon), towering majestically upward, and losing themselves
in the clouds ; on the east a long range of distant hills, their
blue-tinged summits melting, as it were, into the deep azure
of the sky ; on the west the limpid waters of two small lakes,
on whose beautiful shores the beaver, the otter and the musk-
rat sport in careless security, heedless of our presence. The
elevation on which we were standing, gradually sloping
downward and forming a charming amphitheatre, extended
to the borders of one of the lakes.
I hesitated not a moment in selecting this spot for the
mother mission of St. Francis Xavier. The sweet recollections of our first establishment on the Missouri returned to my mind; and the remembrance of the rapid
progress of the Mission of St. Stanislaus, near St. Ferdinand, whose branches now extend over the greater part
of Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana, reaching even the Rocky
Mountains, and penetrating to the western boundary of
America, led me to breathe a fervent prayer, that here
also might be formed a station, whence the torch of
faith would diffuse its cheering light among the benighted
tribes of this immense territory. We have also a fine
view of the Willamette river, which in this place makes
a sudden bend, continuing its course amidst dense forests,
which promise an almost inexhaustible supply of materials
for the construction of our mission-house. In no part of
this region have I met with a more luxuriant growth of
pine, fir, elm, ash, oak, buttonball [sycamore] and yew
trees. The intervening country is beautifully diversified
with shadowy groves and smiling plains, whose rich soil
yields abundant harvests, sufficient for the maintenance of
a large establishment. Besides these advantages, there are
a number of springs on one side of the hill, one of which is
not more than 100 yards from the house, and it will probably mjm
be of great use hereafter. Having now made choice of the
locality, we commenced without delay the erection of the
buildings. The first thing to be done was to clear the
ground by cutting away the underbrush and isolated trees,
after which, with the aid of the inhabitants, we constructed
three wooden buildings, covered by a single roof of ninety
feet ; these were to serve as workshops for the brother blacksmith, carpenter and joiner.v
Besides these, a house, forty-five by thirty-five feet, is
now under way. It is to be two stories, and will be the
dwelling-house of the missionaries.
We arrived in the Oregon Territory during the prevalence of a disease (bloody flux) which was considered
contagious, though the physicians attributed it to the unwholesome properties of the river water. Numbers of
savages fell victims to it, especially among the Chinooks
and the Indians of the Cascades, large parties of whom
encamped along the banks of the river, on their way to
Vancouver, to obtain the aid of a physician. Those who
could not proceed were abandoned by their friends; and
it was truly painful to see these poor creatures stretched out
and expiring on the sand. The greater part of our sailors,
and three of the Sisters, Were attacked by the pestilence;
the Reverend Father Accolti also experienced its terrible
effects; for myself, I was obliged to keep my bed during
fifteen long days, and to observe a rigorous diet. But the
captain of our vessel was the greatest sufferer. The disease
attacked him so violently that I seriously fear he will never
again return to the cherished family — the affectionate wife
and children, of whom he used daily to speak with so much
tenderness. He was a worthy man — an experienced and
skilful navigator; I esteemed him highly, although I could
not forbear blaming him for the little courage he had shown
in repressing the profane language of one of the passengers,
who, from the time of his embarkation until we landed him
at Fort Vancouver, had never ceased to offend our ears by
his horrid oaths.    The Almighty has denounced his curse
Mm\ f
against the blasphemer ; and sooner or later it will fall upon
him.    Poor Infatigable, I tremble for thy fate.
The winter was rapidly approaching, and notwithstanding my weak state, I could not resist my pressing desire to
visit once more my dear Indians of the mountains, who, on
their side, await my return with the greatest impatience, as
I was informed by the Reverend Father Mengarini, who
had come to meet me.
On the 9th of September the good sisters commenced
instructing the women and children, who were preparing
for their first communion. As their house was not yet
habitable, they were obliged to give their instructions in the
open air. In three days' time they had already nineteen
pupils, from sixteen to sixty years of age, all of whom came
from a distance, bringing with them provisions for several
days, and sleeping in the woods, exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather. It is easy to conceive by this how
eager these poor people are for instruction. Each day the
sisters devote six hours to teaching them the usual prayers
and manner of making the sign of the cross. On one
occasion it was discovered that a woman had remained two
days without food; the dogs had devoured her little provision, and, lest she should miss the instruction, she was unwilling to go home for another supply. It is past belief
how these Indian women cherish and respect the sisters and
what thankfulness they show them; some bring them
melons, others potatoes, butter, eggs, etc.
The convent having as yet neither doors nor sashes, owing to the scarcity of mechanics, some of these good Sisters
were seen endeavoring to handle the plane, others glazing,
painting the windows and doors, etc. They were the more
ardently desirous for the completion of their new habitation,
as already thirty Canadian pupils had been offered them ;
and thus would they be enabled to procure the means of
giving a gratuitous support and protection to the hapless
orphans of the forests.   These poor children, rescued from
their destitute condition and placed under the benign care
of the kind Sisters, would enjoy the blessings of a Christian
education and become, one day, co-operators in the mission.
But to effect this and to realize the cheering hopes it holds
forth, funds must be raised to provide the necessary clothing for the orphans, as the profits arising from the school
will not be more than sufficient to defray the expenses of
their board. I here give you the brilliant prospectus of their
academy. Per quarter, ioo pounds flour, twenty-five pounds
pork, or thirty-six of beef, one sack of potatoes, four pounds
hogs' lard, three gallons peas, three dozen eggs, one gallon
salt, four pounds candles, one pound tea, four pounds rice.
The Sisters took possession of their convent in the month
of October; a few days after, their chapel was solemnly
consecrated by the Reverend Mr. Blanchet; and they have
since enjoyed the happiness of assisting every day at the
holy sacrifice of the mass, offered up at their simple altar
by one of the missionaries stationed at St. Francis Xavier.
They have also twice had the consolation of presenting at
the table of the Lord the little band of fervent neophytes,7
whom they had prepared with so much care for this solemn
action. This success in so short a time has induced us to
conceive the project of founding another house of this order
in Oregon City [Cuhute in the English version]. Monsieur
Blanchet and Father De Vos think that the departure of
the Protestant ministers, on account of their fruitless labors,
renders this an auspicious moment for the establishment of
a religious house. The station of St. Mary of the Willamette would furnish occupation sufficient for twelve Sisters,
but unfortunately they are but six in number. We learn
with pleasure that it is the intention of Monseigneur Blanchet to visit Europe immediately after his consecration,8 in
order to obtain, if possible, twelve more of these zealous
and devoted women for the mission.    God grant he may
7 Fr. une trentaine de femmes.
8 Fr. pour y être consacré.   Right Reverend F. N. Blanchet was consecrated in Montreal in the course of the year 1844. 454
succeed; and that the want of pecuniary means may not
oppose an insurmountable obstacle to the generous sacrifice,
which, we are all well assured, the pious Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame are disposed to make again in
our behalf.
9 On the 3d of October [18.44] I left the [regular] mission of St. Paul and our new [Jesuit] establishment called
St. Francis Xavier, after having thanked and taken farewell of the Very Reverend Mr. Blanchet and of my dear
brothers in Jesus Christ. I reached Vancouver on the 5th,
just in time to take my place, with the Governor's permission, in a barge,10 manned by eight men, which was starting for Walla Walla. The next day we camped near Cape
Horn, a rock which rises from the middle of the river in
the form of a sugar loaf. As far as this cape, the river may
be navigated freely by ships drawing fourteen feet of water.
On the 7th we carried our goods over the portage to the
head of the Cascades. The distance from this point to the
Dalles is about forty miles and no obstacles are encountered
on the way. We passed by several basaltic islands, where
the savages deposit their dead on scaffolds or in huts made
of split cedar planks, covered with mats. This is to preserve them from the rapacity of wolves, who in this region
have the same tastes as the hyenas of Barbary. Between
Wappatoo Island, at the mouth of the Willamette, and
the sea, the corpses are generally deposited in canoes which
are covered in like manner. Certain rocky islets, called the
Islands of the Dead, are covered with coffins of this kind.
At the Dalles I was politely invited to come and take din-
9 The account here given of the period between October 3d and November 6, 1844, is taken from a manuscript journal. This journey is
not described in any of the published works, but the incidents are
largely transferred to a journey over the same ground in 1846; see
10 This statement is at variance with the itinerary prepared for publication by Father De Smet in 1854, where it is said that he made this
journey on horseback from the establishments on the Willamette. mmm
ner and supper with Messieurs the Protestant ministers.11
On the 20th I arrived at Fort Walla Walla, where I was
cordially and civilly received by Mr. [Archibald] McKinlay,
in charge of the post. I employed several days here in
making all my preparations for the rest of the journey;
for I had twenty horses to buy, and as many saddles and
bridles to get made. On the 28th I took farewell of the
amiable McKinlay family, thanking them most sincerely
for their kindness to us, and for the assistance which they
had so liberally lavished upon us. I went a few days ahead
of Reverend Father M., in order to send him the cattle
and extra horses that I had bought. An Iroquois and a
Canadian, from Colville, served as my guides. Though the
season was well advanced, the weather seemed still inclined
to favor us. The first night we encamped on the Walla
Walla river. The next day we crossed the Lewis or Nez
Percé river, one of the largest tributaries of the Columbia.
The higher branches of this river, which I have crossed in
my two journeys to the mountains, come down from the
angle formed by the Rocky and Snowy Mountains, between
the forty-second and forty-fourth degrees and near the
sources of the Colorado, Platte, Yellowstone, and Missouri
rivers. From the base of the Snowy range it runs westerly
to the Blue Mountains, where it traverses one of its chains
near the forty-third degree of latitude and is joined by
Salmon river. Its course thence is northwest as far as
the junction with the Columbia, receiving in its course the
Malade, the Wapticacos or North Branch, the Kooskooske
from the east, the Malheur, Powder, and Brule from the
west, and a great number of smaller tributaries on both
At the crossing of the Nez  Percé we found a small
camp of the Indians called Palooses, belonging to the tribe
11 A Methodist mission at the Dalles had been started in 1838 by
Reverends Daniel Lee and H. K. W. Perkins, as a branch of the establishment on the Willamette. Lee left in August, 1843, and was followed
in the late summer of 1844 by Perkins, who was succeeded by Reverend
A. F. Waller. 456
of the Sapetans or Nez Percés. On the high plain between
this river and the Spokan we found abundance of sagebrush, as well as bunch-grass, excellent for horses. Twice
we camped on the borders of beautiful little lakes, covered
with wild-fowl. On the 2d of November we reached the
Spokan river, coming from the southeast. I have made
a map of the headwaters of this interesting river. I have
called the two streams, hitherto unknown on the maps,
which form the great Cœur d'Alêne lake, whence the
Spokan river derives its waters, by the names of St. Ignatius and St. Joseph. They in turn are formed by a great
number of branches, the four principal of which are known
to-day by the names of the four Evangelists; and the
various mountain streams which form these last bear the
names of all the Catholic hierarchy of the United States.
I have moreover counted forty-eight little lakes, lying at
the base of the mountains, which are named after the
Vénérables of the Company of Jesus. The Mission of the
Sacred Heart12 lies nearly in the center of this system.
The head of this river therefore forms a fine Catholic
group — may the inhabitants of that region be worthy of
the fair names which environ them.
We Were fortunate enough to find a ford whereby to
cross the Spokan river; for all the savages were already
away to their various winter quarters. Then climbing to
a lofty plateau, a few miles' gallop brought us to a rich
and beautiful valley, in which is a Presbyterian mission,13
established a few years ago. My two good guides, the
Iroquois and the Canadian, left me at the foot of the great
Mountain of the Kalispels, to proceed on their way toward
Colville.    On the 5th I crossed the mountain, which is
12 For founding of this mission, see note, p. 377.
18 That on the Chemakane branch of Spokan river, established m
1839, by Reverends Elkinah Walker and Cushing C. Eells and their
wives. After the downfall of the Presbyterian missions, both settled in
the Willamette valley, and were among the founders of the Pacific
ascended by a crooked and difficult trail on the eastern
side, but is easy of access from the west. Here I found
myself in company with some of the hands from Fort
Colville, who had seventeen pack-horses to manage. Darkness came upon us in the forest, but we worked ourselves
out, with much difficulty and misery; two of the pack-
horses from Colville, and one of mine, were lost, but we
found them again the next day. We camped toward nine
in the evening, on the shore of Lake De Boey, which was
literally covered with wild swans, geese and ducks. One
of the hunters fired off his gun over the lake, and the innumerable multitude of birds rose in a mass, the beating
of their wings resembling the deep sound which ordinarily
accompanies an earthquake.
On the 6th, Reverend Father Hoeken came to meet
me, accompanied by several of the Kalispels of the Bay,
among whom I had proposed two years before to establish a mission, but the approach of the snowy season
had compelled me to defer the examination of the spot
and the plan of building, until the following spring. They
displayed every mark of friendship and joy at my return
among them; they conducted me in triumph to their camp,
and received me there amidst volleys of musketry and the
sounding of trumpets. It would be impossible to describe the feelings of my heart at thus meeting with the
first band of my dear neophytes and children in God, and
to represent to you the real joy which animated them on
this occasion. How much had we not to communicate
to each other! I gave them some little and to them interesting details of the vast countries through which I had
traveled in order to promote the interest and welfare of
the Indians, since I bade them farewell, that is, within
fifteen months. I had crossed the great American desert,
and passed through many warlike, nomadical nations, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the frontier of the State
of Missouri. I had traveled over the United States from
New Orleans to Boston — visited Louisville, Cincinnati,
I r L  V
Pittsburg, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington and New
York — crossed the Atlantic — seen a great part of Ireland and England — the whole of Belgium, Holland and
France. From Marseilles I had passed by Genoa, the city
of palaces, Leghorn and Civita Vecchia, to visit the capital
of the Christian world. From Rome I had gone to Antwerp, and then, sailing round Cape Horn, touching at
Chile and Peru, and having twice crossed the Equator, I
had at length disembarked at Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia, and had the happiness to embrace, on .the 6th of
November [1844], my dear neophytes, who had prayed
so fervently for me, that, during all these long voyages, by
sea and land, passing through so many different climates,
and at all seasons of the year, I had not been troubled
either by sickness or any untoward accident. Glory to God
for so special a protection, and a thousand thanks to the
good Indians who, from the moment of my departure until
my return, had not ceased to invoke, morning and evening,
the blessing and assistance of heaven on its unworthy
The details which the young missionary gave me respecting their present dispositions are too interesting to be
here omitted; and I give them in proof of the divine grace
over the hearts of this well-disposed people. All that I
had recommended to them in the visits I paid them in
1841-2, had been strictly complied with. "The first
thing," says Father Adrien Hoeken in a letter home,
" which struck me on my arrival among them, was a truly
brotherly love and perfect union, which animated the
whole tribe and seemed to make them but one family.
They manifest great love, obedience and respect for their
chiefs, and what is still more admirable, they all, as the
chiefs themselves declare, speak and desire but one and
the same thing. These chiefs are as much the real fathers
of their people as is a good superior the father of a religious community. The chiefs among the Kalispels
speak calmly, but never in vain; the instant they intimate MMM!
their wish to one of their followers, he sets to work to
accomplish it. Is any one involved in difficulties — is he
in want or sickness — or does he wish to undertake a
journey, whether long or short — he consults his chief,
and shapes his conduct in accordance with the advice he
receives. Even with regard to marriage, the Indians consult their chiefs, who sanction or postpone or disapprove
of it, according as they deem it conducive, or otherwise,
to the happiness of the parties. A man who had a hereditary ailment would not obtain a marriage permit, "f Because," say the chiefs, j the village would otherwise soon
be filled up with people of that kind, and they would never
listen to reason." If such a rule prevailed in the civilized
world, would we see so many degenerates? And would
so many establishments be required to keep them in? The
chief, in quality of father, endeavors to provide for the
support of his people. It is he, consequently, who regulates hunting, fishing, and the gathering of roots and fruit.
All the game and fish are brought to his lodge, and divided
into as many shares as there are families. The distribution
is made with rigid impartiality. The old, the infirm, the
widow, all receive their share equally with the hunter. Is
not this something like the return of the golden age —
those happy times when everything was held in common
and all had, as the apostle informs us, but one heart and
one soul ? Complaints, murmurings and backbiting > are
here unknown; blasphemy has never been uttered by an
Indian: there are not even words in his language to express it." On the arrival of the Black-robe, the great
chief explained to him, with patriarchal simplicity, their
manner of life. " We are ignorant," he added, " but now
that we have the happiness to have a Black-robe among
us, we will listen to his voice and obey it; whatever changes
he may deem necessary to make, we will cheerfully
The Black-robe confirmed and approved all the good
practices and customs he found established in this little 460
corner of the world, where, notwithstanding their poverty,
the Indians all seemed contented and happy. It is really
affecting to hear them speak of the darkness in which they
had been buried; and to see them now exulting in the
light of the gospel and the knowledge of the Christian
virtues, which they cherish, and by which their hearts seem
to be inflamed. Their whole ambition consists in listening
with docility to the word of God, and in being able thoroughly to understand and recite their prayers. Piety is
what a young man seeks in her who is to be his future
wife — and what a young woman desires to find in him
who is to become her husband. In their leisure hours
they surround and, if I may be allowed the expression,
besiege their missionary. To the day they would add the
night, if he could bear the fatigue, in speaking of heavenly
things. Pride and human respect are absolutely unknown
to them. How often have we not seen gray-headed old
men and even chiefs sit down by the side of children ten
or eleven years old, who would teach them their prayers,
and explain to them the figures of the Catholic Ladder,14
with all the gravity becoming a teacher; and give to the
explanation, for one or two hours, all the attention of
obedient pupils. In seasons of scarcity, when the fishing
or hunting has failed, or in other misfortunes, they manifest no signs of impatience. They are quiet and resigned,
receiving them as punishments for their sins ; while their
success they attribute to the bounty of God and render to
him all the glory of it. One day the Black-robe was praising a young hunter for his skill. He blushed, and replied,
smiling, " I am no hunter at all. I pray, and when the
Great Spirit sends a deer my way, I let fly at him and he
is dead.
The usual place of residence of the Kalispels — that in
14 A chart, invented by F. N. Blanchet in 1839, for the more convenient instruction of the Indians, " representing on paper the various
truths and mysteries of religion in their chronological order."
which the Reduction of St. Ignatius15 is now established —
is an extensive prairie, called the Bay of the Kalispels,
thirty or forty miles above the mouth of Clark or Flathead river. A beautiful grotto exists in the neighborhood
of the mission, which I have named the grotto of Man-
resa,16 in honor of our holy founder. It is very large and
might, at a small expense, be fitted up for a church. May
the Indians gather in crowds into this new Manresa, and
after the example of their patron, St. Ignatius, be penetrated with a feeling sense of heavenly things, and inflamed
with the love of God!
I might easily have forgotten, amongst our good Kalispels, that the season was already far advanced, and that I
must make haste to reach St. Mary's before winter. On
the 8th therefore I made my preparations, when toward
evening a little deputation appeared, which the Cœur
d'Alêne tribe had sent to find me among the Kalispels.
They had feared, and with reason, that I did not mean to
come to them very soon, because of the behavior of some
of their chiefs toward the Black-robe, and this was their
" Father Pierre, our chiefs speak to thee, we bring thee
their words. We heard that thou hadst crossed the big
water to see thy children of the mountains again, and our
hearts were very glad at the news. We had spoken often
of Father Pierre, since he left us, and we thought we would
be the first to see thee. This thought made us very glad.
But we have learned that thy heart is not the same
toward us, and this news makes us sorry. It is true,
Father, thou hast no cause to be much pleased with us,
15 See p. 474.
16 A town in Catalonia, where, in a cavern now called the Cueva de
San Ygnacio, Ignatius Loyola " lived for a year, fasting and submitting
himself to the severest penances, constantly gazing at the shrine of the
Virgin of Montserrat, who, he asserted, encouraged him in his
4. 462
for some among us have done very wrong; but the Great
Spirit has punished us, and this makes us think that he
will not reject us. We have lost our head chief and several
others this year, besides a number of children, who died
before they could be baptized. This last appeared to us
the greater loss, and made us think that the Great Spirit
wished to show us, by punishing us in this way, that it is
a great evil to forget his baptism. Now that we are all
together again at the village of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
we try to satisfy the Black-robe, or rather to satisfy our
Father who is in heaven; also we are trying to get our
hearts right for our first communion. To help us in this,
our Black-robe speaks to us four times each day, and our
chiefs almost all day and part of the night; several of us
are to have that happiness on the first great day of Mary
of the next moon, and perhaps all the others by Christmas.
Thou knowest better than we, Father, that those are two
very great days, and that of the first communion the
greatest of our life; come and see us, then, to witness our
happiness. Oh! if thou couldst be among thy children
on that day, it seems to us that we would have nothing
more to wish for. We wish to show thee that we know
now that the greatest good that thou couldst do us, was
to show us the way to heaven, as thou didst do, and to
give us Black-robes to keep us walking in it; and to show
thee that it is not with our words alone that we love thee,
but with our hearts; for we wish at present to do what
our fathers may tell us; those are the last words of our
hearts. Now, Father Pierre, we ask only one thing, that
thou wilt come thyself to say whether the Cœur d'Alênes
love thee as thou wouldst have them. We have spoken."
On the 9th I bade farewell to Father Hoeken and his
small but interesting colony of about 300 persons; 200
being away on the winter hunt.17   I yielded with pleasure
17 The following incident and narrative of the attempted journey to
the Flatheads are from the manuscript journal. Other incidents of the
same journey were published in Letter XXI of the Oregon Missions. ^mw
to the urgent solicitations of the Cœur d'Alênes, the more
readily that the season seemed still to permit the passage
of the lofty mountain-range which separates them from the
Flatheads. The three Cœur D'Alêne deputies and two of
the Kalispels accompanied me. The day was fine and the
trail easy; toward noon we skirted a beautiful little lake,
J   J '
which I named De Nef, in memory of one of the great
friends and benefactors of the mission.
On the ioth, the sun rose majestically and everything
promised a fine day; but all these fair appearances disappeared in threatening reddish clouds, and soon after the
first snow began to fall in great flakes, and the rain that
followed soaked us to the skin. We crossed the Spokan
river at the foot of the great rapids, and kept the road until
sunset. It rained heavily, but the stream-beds in the elevated plain that we had to cross were still dry. We
camped by a little spring that we found by the way. The
rain continued all night. I could only accommodate two
persons in my tent — the three others made themselves
some kind of shelter out of bark. They replenished the
fire from time to time, and rested wondrous well — I took
their word for this.
It continued to rain and snow all day on the nth. We
set out, however, hoping to be able to reach the mission;
but the trail had become so slippery, along the sides of
the high hills which we had to cross, that we barely made
twenty miles. A large part of this desert is more prairie
than forest, dotted with red pines, 100 to 200 yards apart,
and here and there with fine little bunches of spruce. We
camped by a pond, and as our provisions were nearly gone,
the Indians roasted a goose that they had picked up on
the road, half eaten by crows. We struck camp early on
the 12th, in a blizzard or pouderie of snow. We reached the
summit of a rather high mountain through a thick forest,
where the snow that fell off the branches inconvenienced
us greatly, and our horses slid and stumbled at almost
every step on the narrow winding path.    About two in the
I 464
afternoon we found ourselves on the banks of St. Joseph's
river, the southern fork that feeds the great Cœur d'Alêne
lake, and an hour later I was in the village of the Sacred
Heart, with Reverend Father Point and the coadjutor
brother, and surrounded by some 500 Cœur d'Alênes, who
ran up in crowds to shake hands and welcome me among
them. I returned thanks to divine Providence, which had
brought me through.
The whole tribe was actuated by a common spirit of
fervor and zeal, and was preparing with the greatest assiduity to make the first communion, at Christmas, in a
worthy manner. From morning to evening, and even in
the night, nothing was heard throughout the camp but
the recitation of prayers and the singing of canticles. They
added daily to my consolation and joy.
On the 19th I left the Mission of the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, accompanied by four Indians to serve me as guides
and hunters as far as St. Mary's. The rain and snow had
not ceased for several days, and were still falling. They
even increased, but after all kinds of difficulties and hardships, caused by the bad weather, we found ourselves on
the 27th, after traversing the valley of St. Ignatius, almost
at the foot of the mountain. For several days we now
wound through thick woods and along the side of cliffs,
among the most prodigious cedars. I doubt if Lebanon
ever bore any more majestic, or any as mysterious. The
silence of these places is unearthly.
Presently we met two Nez Percés, who were just down
from the mountains. They gave us a most terrifying description of the state of the trail. In view, therefore, of
the unremitting snowfall, we concluded that the passage
was at present impracticable and impossible; moreover,
the waters were now coming down from the mountains so
fast and in such volume, that we thought of nothing but of
returning in haste. We were confronted by a new deluge;
the little brooks of the day before were now swollen torrents, rushing uproariously down.    They arrested us con-
tas^. ■Jf*
tinually, to make bridges or throw trees across, and unload
and load again our pack-animals. After endless miseries,
tumbles and headers, we at last came again to the St. Ignatius river, which had risen over ten feet, and was carrying
down great masses of tree-trunks. It was not crossed without the greatest danger. Once I found myself under water,
and under my mule; but I held fast to my beast, which
dragged me to the farther shore. We camped for the night
near the large cross planted on the territory of the chief
Paulin. The river was still severaLfeet below the top of the
bank, and we all lay down to sleep without the least uneasiness ; but toward midnight one of my men was surprised and
amazed to find both his legs in the water. He put his head
out of the tent, and lost no time in giving the alarm to his
companions. It was, in fact, high time ; we found ourselves
surrounded by water, as by an immense lake. The plain
was flooded throughout its entire extent of some seventy
miles. I had barely got on my shoes and cassock and tied
up my baggage and provisions, when I found myself in
water up to the knees. But here, as in a hundred other
places, Providence had furnished us a means of escape;
there were two infirm little canoes of bark at the precise
spot where we had encamped, and by their means we were
enabled to take refuge, with arms and baggage, though all
soaked, upon an eminence two miles away. Our horses and
mules had made their way to the mountain-side during the
night, where there was still abundant grass. We elected one
of the Cœur d'Alênes to go to the mission with the news
of our distress, and two days later, five canoes, under two
of the chiefs, came to our rescue and carried us back to the
village. The savages seemed to rejoice in the mishaps that
had brought me to them again, and manifested the same
cordiality and gladness with which they had received me
the first time.
On the 4th of December, I started off again to try to
reach the Flatheads, by way of Clark's Fork.    On the 8th
four Kalispels took me, with two canoes, and we ascended
.   r   > 466
the river unhindered for four days. When we reached the
great lake, the ice began to impede our progress. We were
constantly having to land, to re-gum the thin bark of which
our canoes were composed. Thus I found myself stopped
for the second time. All navigation had ceased a month
before — my pilots declared that to advance was to expose
ourselves to imminent danger. I had learned by a letter
just received from Father Mengarini that he had only escaped with the greatest difficulty from the snow and the
water, and that twelve of his horses had perished in the
" evil forest." One of the Kalispels offered to carry a message to St. Mary's, on snowshoes — so I wrote to Father
Mengarini, saying, among other things, " I have done what
I could, with prudence, to come to you ; but I have found insurmountable barriers in the snows of the Cœur d'Alêne
mountains and the overflowed rivers, and now finally the
ice stops me on Clark's Fork. I find myself frustrated in
my most earnest desire, that of seeing the mother mission
once more — of embracing my dear brothers in Jesus Christ,
and pouring out upon the hearts of our dear good Flatheads
all the attachment and godly love that I bear them. Tell
them all sorts of things for me ; I shall pass but a sad winter
away from them. Tell them that I hope the Lord will grant
me the favor of seeing them and taking their hands at the
beginning of next spring; for as soon as the river is navigable I shall set out once more."
I was not long in descending the river, and on the 17th
I reached the Kalispels' winter quarters. They seemed to
have nothing more pressing to do than to procure me the
best lodge in the camp, and to make all arrangements to
make my stay among them as agreeable and comfortable, as
the place and their poor circumstances permitted.
I shall always remember with pleasure the winter of
18.44-5, which I had the happiness of spending among
these good Indians. The place for wintering was well
chosen, picturesque, agreeable and convenient. The camp
was placed near a beautiful waterfall, caused by Clark river MMMfc——mm
being blocked up by an immense rock, through which the
waters, forcing narrow passages, precipitate themselves. A
dense and interminable forest protected us from the north
winds, and a countless number of dead trees standing on all
sides furnished us with abundant fuel for our fires during
the inclement season. We were encircled by ranges of lofty
mountains, whose snow-clad summits reflected in the sun
their brightness on all the surrounding country.
At the beginning of winter, as soon as the snow begins
to fall in abundance, thousands of deer come down from the
mountains. Sometimes the snow attains a thickness of two
and three feet, and when the surface is frozen, it often happens that forty hunters will kill 300 in a day. You may
judge of the great numbers of deer that fill the valleys and
low places in winter. Where we were encamped we lived
entirely on the chase. But if the snow is light, the Indians
go hungry, and though the ground is frozen they have recourse to the Camas-root, which is very abundant in that
region, and which the natives call Sxâaolot.18
The place for wintering being determined, the first care
of the Indians was to erect the house of prayer. While the
men cut down fir trees, the women brought bark and mats
to cover them. In two days this humble house of the Lord
was completed — humble and poor indeed, but truly the
house of prayer, to which pure, simple, innocent souls repaired, to offer to the Great Spirit their vows and the tribute
of their affections. Here the missionaries continued with
care and diligence their instructions preparatory to baptism.
How consoling was it to see ourselves surrounded by this
fervent band, who had renounced the chase of the buffalo —
a pleasure so attracting to an Indian — and had come from
various parts of the country to place themselves under our
direction, in the well-founded hope of being speedily regenerated in the saving waters of baptism.    They had al-
18 Apparently in the Kalispel or Pend d'Oreille language. In a Cœur
d'Alêne vocabulary, Father De Smet gives the name for the Camas as
Sxa-o-lo-it-xoa. 468
ready learned their prayers and all those things which it
was necessary they should practice. They applied with
ardor to become acquainted with the nature and obligations
of the sacrament of regeneration and the dispositions required for its worthy reception.
The great festival of Christmas, the day on which the
little band19 was to be added to the number of the true
children of God, will never be effaced from the memory of
our good Indians. The manner in which we celebrated midnight mass may give you an idea of our festival. The signal for rising, which was to be given a few minutes
before midnight, was the firing of a pistol, announcing to
the Indians that the house of prayer would soon be open.
This was followed by a general discharge of guns in honor
of the birth of the Infant Savior, and 300 voices rose
spontaneously from the midst of the forest, and entoned in
the language of the Pend d'Oreilles the beautiful canticle :
" Du Dieu puissant tout annonce la gloire."—1 The Almighty's glory all things proclaim." In a moment a multitude of adorers were seen wending their way to the humble
temple of the Lord — resembling indeed the manger in
which the Messiah was born. On that night, which all at
once became bright as day, they experienced I know not
what, that which made them exclaim aloud, " O God ! I
give thee my heart." Oh ! I trust that the happy impression
which this unwonted spectacle made upon their hearts will
never be effaced.
Of what was our little church of the wilderness constructed? I have already told you — of posts fresh cut
in the woods, covered over with mats and bark ; these were
its only materials. On the eve, the church was embellished
with garlands and wreaths of green boughs; forming, as
it were, a frame for the images which represent the affecting
mysteries of Christmas night. The interior was ornamented
with pine branches.    The altar was neatly decorated, be-
19 Fr. 124 adults.
spangled with stars of various brightness, and covered with
a profusion of ribbons — things exceedingly attractive to
the eye of an Indian. At midnight I celebrated a. solemn
mass and the Indians sang several canticles suitable to the
occasion. That peace announced in the first verse of the angelic hymn — the Gloria — " Peace on earth to men of
good will," was, I venture to say, literally fulfilled to the
Indians of the forest. A grand banquet, according to Indian custom, followed the first mass. Some choice pieces of
the animals slain in the chase had been set apart for the
occasion. I ordered half a sack of flour and a large boiler of
sweetened coffee to be added. The union, the contentment,
the joy and charity, which pervaded the whole assembly,
might well be compared to the agapé of the primitive
After the second high mass, all the adults, with the chiefs
at their head, presented themselves in the church to receive
baptism, the fulfilment of their longing desires. The old
man and woman whom I baptized two years before were
sponsors for all. The men were placed on the one side,
according to the custom of Paraguay, and the women on the
other. I was assisted during the ceremony by Father
Hoeken, their worthy and zealous missionary. Everything
was done in order and with propriety. Permit me to repeat here that I should be delighted could I but communicate to the zealous and fervent those pleasurable feelings —
that overflowing of the heart, which one experiences on such
occasions. Here, indeed, the Indian missionary enjoys his
greatest consolations: here he obtains his strength, his
courage, his zeal to labor to bring men to the knowledge
of the true God, in spite of the poverty, the privations of
every description, and the dangers with which he has to contend. Yes, surely, even in this life is the promise of the
Savior fulfilled with regard to him, " Ye shall receive a
hundredfold." The trifling things of the world he abandons
are nothing to be compared with the blessings he finds in the
wilderness.   The priest does not address in vain to the In-
dians those beautiful words of the Roman ritual : " Receive
this white garment," etc., " Receive this burning taper," etc.
He may be certain that the greater number of his catechumens will wear that spotless garment — will preserve their
baptismal innocence, to the hour of their death. When I
have afterward asked them if they have not offended God ?
if their conscience does not reproach them with some fault ?
how often have I received this touching and consoling answer : " Oh, Father ! in baptism I renounced sin, I try to
avoid sin, the very thought of offending God frightens me ! f
The ceremonies of baptism were closed by a second instruction and by the distribution of beads, which the Indians
are accustomed to say every evening in public.20
About three o'clock in the afternoon the solemn benediction of the blessed sacrament was given for the first time,
immediately after which upward of fifty couples, many of
whom were eighty years old, came forward to renew before
the church their marriage promises. I could not help shedding tears of joy at witnessing this truly primitive simplicity,
and the love and affection with which they pledged again
their faith to each other. The last instruction was then
given, and thanks were returned to God for all the blessings
he had vouchsafed to shower upon them on this ever-memorable day. The recitation of prayers and the chanting of
hymns were heard in all the lodges of the camp till the night
was far advanced.
Fathers Mengarini and Zerbinati21 (the last-mentioned
Father has since died), had the consolation to see the whole
tribe of the Flatheads, among whom they had been laboring,
approach the holy table on this day.   Twelve young Indians,
20 " I have received sad news from the Pend d'Oreille nation, where I
founded a mission in 1844. They write me that all the principal chiefs
of this tribe have been killed by some hostile bands, belonging to the
nation of the Blackfeet."—Letter to Mrs. Parmentier, January, 1851.
21 Reverend Peter Zerbinati, S. J., came across the plains with Joset
and Magri in 1843; was drowned September, 1845; the first Catholic
priest to die in Montana.
taught by Father Mengarini, performed with accuracy several pieces of music, by the best German and Italian composers, during the midnight mass. Fathers Point and Joset
had also the consolation of admitting for the first time nearly
the entire tribe of the Cœur d'Alênes, on this auspicious day,
to the holy communion. Father Point has given the particulars of this first communion in a letter, which has been
published, and which you have, no doubt, read with pleasure.
The Christmas of 1844 was, therefore, a great and glorious
day in the Rocky Mountains.
I will close this already lengthy letter with a few words
more concerning the Pend d'Oreilles of the Bay. Early
in the spring of 1845 they began to build upon the spot
selected for the reduction of St. Ignatius, and to open fields.
On Ascension day of the same year Father Hoeken administered baptism to upward of a hundred adults. At
my last visit, which I paid them in July, 1845, they had
already put up fourteen log houses, besides a large barn,
had the timber prepared for a church, and had upward of
300 acres in grain, enclosed by a substantial fence. The
whole village, men, women and children, had worked most
cheerfully. I counted thirty head of horned cattle — the
squaws had learned to milk the cows and to churn ; they had
a few hogs and some domestic fowls. The number of
Christians had doubled since Christmas, 1844.
A flour and sawmill, a few more plows, with other
agricultural implements, and carpenter's tools, were much
wanted in the village of St. Ignatius. All is to be commenced among these poor, good Indians, and to us they
look for means and supplies, which we readily grant as
far as we are able. Already was an appeal made to the
generous and charitable Christians, and it is consoling for
me to say, that appeal found an echo in the hearts of the
friends of the Indians which enabled us to enlarge our missionary operations, and I may add that the grateful prayer
of the Indians is daily ascending to the throne of the Almighty, to implore the blessings of heaven on their bene-
1 f r
factors. In 1845 and 1846, several stations were formed,
and the extensive mission of New Caledonia was commenced.
In the beginning of February, [1845] I set out to Y1Sli
our different settlements and stations, and to form new
ones among the neighboring tribes of our reductions.
The entire surface of this region was then covered with snow-
five feet deep; and I was compelled to go from the Bay of
Pend d'Oreilles to the Horse Plain, in a bark canoe, a
distance of 250 miles.
I was among my dear Flatheads and Pend d'Oreilles of
the mountains, during the Paschal time, and had the great
consolation of finding them replete with zeal and fervor in
fulfilling the duties of true children of prayer. The solemn
feast of Easter, all the Flatheads at St. Mary's devoutly approached the most blessed sacrament during my mass ; and
about 300 Pend d'Oreilles (the greater number adults),
belonging to the station of St. Francis Borgia, presented themselves at the baptismal font. Five chiefs
were among the number; the most distinguished are Stiet-
tiedloodsho, or chieftain of the Braves; Selpisto, the head
chieftain, and Chalax, that is to say the White Robe, sur-
named the Juggler or great medicine man. The word
" medicine man," in their language, is synonymous with
How consoling it is to pour the regenerating waters of
baptism on the furrowed and scarified brows of these desert
warriors — to behold these children of the plains and forests
emerging from that profound ignorance and superstition in
which they have been for so many ages deeply and darkly
enveloped; to see them embrace the faith and all its sacred
practices, with an eagerness, an attention, a zeal, worthy
the pristine Christians.
Were I to give you the history of these chiefs, I should
greatly exceed the limits I have proposed. Suffice it to say
that these heroes of the Rocky Mountains have been for
years the terror of their enemies.    Chalax had acquired AN INDIAN WHO HAD VOICES.
great celebrity as a juggler, and in predicting future events;
if we may credit the Kalispels and the whites who have
traveled in company with him, these prophecies have always
been verified. He indicated the day, the place, and the
number of Blackfeet who would attack their camp. Having interrogated him relative to this affair, he, with great
simplicity and candor, replied: "I am called the great
doctor, yet never have I given myself up to the practices of
juggling, nor condescended 4o exercise its deceptions. I
derive all my strength from prayer ; when in a hostile country, I address myself to the Master of Life and offer him
my heart and soul, entreating him to protect us against our
enemies. A voice had already warned me of coming danger ; I then recommend prudence and vigilance throughout
the camp; for the monitory voice has never deceived me.
I have now a favor to request : the mysterious voice calls
me by the name of Chalax, and, if you will permit, I desire
to bear that name until my death." I willingly consented,
and then explained to him the ceremony of the white garment he was about to receive, in the holy sacrament of
baptism. To the name of Chalax I affixed that of the prince
of the apostles. This is the same chief who on my first visit
to the mountains, aided by only sixty men, sustained during five days an obstinate struggle against 200 lodges of
Blackfeet, whom he put to flight, leaving on the ground
eighty men, whilst among the Flatheads only one man was
wounded. He died three months later, the day after he
was baptized.
With regret I parted from these good Indians and my
beloved brothers in Jesus Christ, the Reverend Fathers Mengarini, Zerbinati, and four coadjutor brothers; who are
laboring with indefatigable zeal in this portion of our Lord's
As the snow was fast disappearing, the Kalispels of the
Bay were awaiting my return. I re-entered my fragile
canoe, guided by two Indians, and made all possible haste
to descend Clark's river.   You may judge of its impetuosity
h hl
1 Lu
il f *
H 474
when I inform you that we were sixteen days ascending the
river, and but four in descending the same. On returning
to the Bay, accompanied by Reverend Father Hoeken and
severakchiefs, my first care was to examine the lands belonging to this portion of the tribe of Kalispels and select
a fit site for erecting the new establishment of St. Ignatius.22
We found a vast and beautiful prairie, three miles in extent, surrounded by cedar and pine, in the neighborhood of
the cavern of New Manresa and its quarries, and a fall
of water more than 200 feet, presenting every advantage for the erection of mills. I felled the first tree, and
after having taken all necessary measures to expedite the
work, I departed for Walla Walla, where I embarked in a
small boat and descended the Columbia as far as Fort Vancouver.
The melting of the snow had occasioned a considerable
freshet and our descent was very rapid. The place was indicated to me where, a few months previously, four travelers
from the United States had miserably perished, victims of
their own temerity and presumption. When advised to provide themselves with a guide, they answered they had no
need of any ; and when warned that the river was dangerous
and deceptive, the pilot, with a scoffing boast, replied, " I
am capable of guiding my barge, were it even across the infernal gulf." The monitor wished them a fortunate voyage,
but at the same time trembled for their fate, saying :   " This
22 Further history of the first Mission of St. Ignatius, among the
Kalispels.— This establishment was maintained for ten years by Father
Hoeken, but in 1854 it was abandoned for a more favorable site, that
of the present St. Ignatius Mission, a few miles from Selish station on
the Northern Pacific railroad, at that time considered the territory of
the Upper Pend d'Oreilles. The reasons for the change are thus given
by Father Palladino: "It was subject to inundation at the melting of
heavy snow-falls in the mountains, and, further, the missionaries having now acquired a better knowledge of the country, a more central
position with reference to other tribes was deemed preferable, as
greater good could be accomplished. Consequently, at the request of
the Indians themselves, the mission was removed."
pilot is not a native Indian, he is not an Iroquois, nor even a
Canadian." The turbulent stream soon engulfed its presumptuous and daring victims. They steered out into the
midst of the river, and in an instant the canoe was borne
along with the rapidity of lightning, leaving in its train a
thick foam, caused by the violent plying of oars. Approaching the rapids, they fearlessly hurried onward. Alas, their
fate was soon to be decided. Drawn by the eddy into the
center of a whirlpool, vainly they struggled to extricate
themselves — they beheld the dread abyss yawning to receive its prey! Yet an instant the ill-fated barge twirled
upon the surface, and then sank amidst the despairing
shrieks of the helpless crew, which the roaring waves rendered the more appalling, whilst the dismal sounds, reechoing from shore to shore, proclaimed a new disaster
of the Columbia. Soon the waters resumed their wonted
course, and left no trace of the sad catastrophe. This fatal
spot might appropriately be designated Presumptive's
Rapids ; doubtless it will be a lesson to future boasters not to
venture, without pilot or guide, upon this formidable tributary of the western ocean.
After a prosperous voyage of five days I debarked at Vancouver, where I had the happiness of meeting Father Nobili,
who during eight months had applied himself to study the
Indian language, while he exercised his sacred ministry
among the Catholic employees of the fort and the Indians
of the neighborhood. More than a tenth of the latter had
been swept off by a mortal disease ; happily, they all had the
consolation  of receiving baptism before they  expired.
Father Nobili accompanied me in a Chinook canoe up
the beautiful river of Multnomah or Willamette, a distance
of about sixty miles, as far as the village of Champoeg,
three miles from our residence of St. Francis Xavier. On
our arrival all the fathers came to meet us, and great was
our delight in being again reunited after a long winter season.   The Italian fathers had applied themselves chiefly to PROGRESS OF RELIGION IN OREGON.
the study of languages. Father Ravalli, being skilled in
medicine, rendered considerable services to the inhabitants of
St. Paul's Mission; for every dwelling contained several
sick. Father Vercruysse, at the request of Right Reverend
Bishop Blanchet, opened a mission among the Canadians
who were distant from St. Paul's, and he succeeded in causing them to contribute to the erection of a new church, in
a central location. Father De Vos is the only one of our
fathers of Willamette who speaks English. He devotes his
whole attention to the Americans, whose number already
exceeds 4,000. There are several Catholic families, and our
dissenting brethren seem well disposed; many among them
are eager to be instructed in the Catholic faith.
Nowhere does religion make greater progress, or present
brighter prospects for the future, than in Oregon Territory.
The Very Reverend Mr. Demers, vicar-general and administrator of the diocese in the absence of the bishop, is preparing to build a brick cathedral. There is now being built,
under his superintendence, a fine church at the Falls of the
Willamette, where, three years ago, was commenced the first
town of Oregon. This rising village numbers more than
100 houses. Several lots have been selected by the respectable Mr. McLoughlin, Governor for the Hudson Bay Company, west of the Rocky Mountains, for a convent and two
schools.   A Catholic church has been erected at Vancouver.
The Convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame is fast progressing, and it will be the finest building of Willamette.
The church is eighty feet long, and proportionably wide;
it is under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin. The nuns
have already fifty boarders. The Bishop's College, under
the management of the Very Reverend Mr. Bolduc, is very
prosperous. The number of pupils has augmented; forty
young men, chiefly half-breeds, are receiving a Christian
education. Some years ago a church was erected at Cowlitz, and the inhabitants are now preparing to construct a
convent under the direction of Reverend Mr. L^hglois. A SUMMARY OF RESULTS.
Our residence of St. Francis Xavier is completed; it will
hereafter serve for a novitiate and seminary, to prepare
young men for the missions.
Measures, which I trust will be realized, have been taken
by our fathers for visiting during this year the numerous
tribes inhabiting the Pacific coast north and south of the
Columbia; where already the visits of the bishop and his
grand vicar have been so productive of favorable results.
The 17th of February, 1842, Bishop Blanchet thus wrote
to the Bishop of Quebec : " God has deigned to bless our
labors, and to fructify the divine word. The adorable name
of Jesus has been announced to new nations of the north.
Mr. Demers bent his steps to Fort Langley on Frazer's
river, in which place he administered baptism to upwards of
700 children. Many of them already enjoy the precious
fruits of regenerating grace."
In my preceding letters, I gave you the details of our missions among the mountains of the higher Oregon ; of the conversion of two tribes, the Flatheads and the Cœur d'Alêne
or Pointed Hearts ; of the first communion of the latter, and
conversion of a large number of Kalispels of the Bay, on
the solemn festival of Christmas. From 1839, when the
mission was established, to July, 1845, the reverend Canadian missionaries baptized 3,000 persons. The number of
Catholics residing at the different stations of the Honorable
Hudson Bay Company in Oregon, together with the colonists of the same nation, amounts to several hundreds. By
adding to these 2,857 baptized since 1841 in the different
mountain missions, it gives us a total of more than 6,000
Catholics in Oregon. The diminutive grain of mustard is
fast extending far and wide its branches over this once sterile
and neglected region. In the month of June Father Nobili,
accompanied by a novice brother, left Willamette to visit
the tribes of New Caledonia. The Very Reverend Mr.
Demers saw there in 1842^-3 the following named tribes:
Kameloups, the Atnans or Shouwapemoh, the Porteurs or
Ltaoten,23 which names vary according to the different
>laces where the tents are pitched. They affix the word
ten which signifies people, i. e., Stelaoten, Nashkoten, Tchil-
koten, Nakazeteoten. Reverend Mr. Demers had the consolation of baptizing 436 children among these tribes.
Such has since been the fervor and zeal of these poor
Indians, that, though deprived of a priest, they have built
three churches, hoping that a nepapayattok, or father, would
settle among them.
Many Catholics reside in the different forts of this country. The honorable gentlemen of the Hudson Bay Company,
although Protestants, were strongly interested in favor of
these savages, and did all in their power to facilitate the
introduction of a clergyman into this portion of their jurisdiction.
A few days after the departure of Father Nobili, who
obtained a place in a barge belonging to the Honorable
Hudson Bay Company, I started by land from St.
Francis Xavier's with eleven horses laden with plows,
spades, pickaxes, scythes and carpenters' implements. My
companions were the good Brother McGil, from Ireland
[J. B. McGean?]. and two metis or mongrels [half-breeds].
We encountered many obstacles and difficulties among
the Cascade Mountains owing to the water which at this
season descends on every side in torrents and with irresistible fury upon the rocks, over which we were compelled
to cross. In the narrow valleys between these mountains,
the rhododendron displays all its strength and beauty; it
rises to the height of fifteen or twenty feet.   Entire groves
O J o
are formed by thousands of these shrubs, whose clustering
branches entwine themselves in beautiful green arches,
adorned with innumerable bouquets of splendid flowers,
varying their hues from the pure white to the deepened
tint of the crimsoned rose.
23 This name is given variously as Ltaoten and I tea ten in different
letters of Father De Smet's. Mackenzie, who met these Indians in
1793, gave their native name as Nagailer. ^s^^l
Our path was strewed with the whitened bones of horses
and oxen, melancholy testimonies of the miseries endured
by other travelers through these regions. We passed the
foot of Mt. Hood, the most elevated of this stupendous
chain. It is covered with snow, and rises 16,000 [12,225]
feet above the level of the sea. Captain Wyeth, on beholding this ridge from the summit of the Blue Mountains,
thus speaks of it in his journal:24 "The traveler on advancing westerly, even at the distance of 160 miles, beholds the peaks of the Cascade Mountains. Several of
them rise 16,000 feet above the level of the sea. Every
other natural wonder seems to dwindle, as it were, into
insignificance when compared to this. From one single
spot I contemplated seven of these majestic summits extending from north to south, whose dazzling white and
conic form resemble a sugar loaf."
We were twenty days going from the Willamette to
Walla Walla, across desert and undulating lands, abounding in absinthium or wormwood, [sage brush] cactus,
tufted grass, and several species of such plants and herbs
as are chiefly found in a sterile and sandy soil. Game is
scarce in these latitudes; however, we found large partridges and pheasants, aquatic fowls, small birds of various
new kinds, hares and rabbits. Salamanders [horned
toads?] swarm in sandy places, and armadilloes are not
rare in the vicinity of the Great Dalles.
Fort Walla Walla is situated in latitude 46 ° 2', and longitude 1190 30e The sandy neighborhood of this settlement likens it to a little Arabia. The river Walla Walla
discharges its waters a mile distant from the fort. The
lowlands, when watered, are tolerably fertile, and produce
maize, barley, wheat, potatoes and pulse of every kind.
Cows and hogs are easily raised, and horses abound in
this part of the country.
24 Father De Smet is apparently in error here. At any rate, the
quoted passage is not to be found in the published journal of Nathaniel
J. Wyeth.
• J!
Having already spoken to you of the Nez Percé and
Spokan desert, I have nothing further to add relative to
this dreary region. On advancing easterly toward the
Blue Mountains, we find beautiful and fertile plains, interspersed with limpid and wholesome streams. The valleys
are picturesque, covered with luxuriant prairies, and forests
of pine and fir. The Nez Percés and Cayuses inhabit these
delightful pastures. They are the most wealthy tribes in
Oregon; even some private families possess 1,500 horses.
The savages successfully cultivate potatoes, peas, corn,
and several kinds of vegetables and fruits. No situation
affords finer grazing for cattle; even in winter they find an
abundance, nor do they need shelter from the inclemency
of the weather. Snow is never seen, and the rains are
neither destructive nor superabundant.
About the middle of July I arrived safely with all my
effects at the Bay of the Kalispels. In my absence the
number of neophytes had considerably increased. On the
feast of the Ascension Father Hoeken had the happiness of
baptizing more than 100 adults. Since my departure in
the spring our little colony has built four houses, prepared
materials for constructing a small church, and enclosed a
field of 300 acres. More than 400 Kalispels, computing
adults and children, have been baptized. They are all animated with fervor and zeal; they make use of the hatchet
and plow, being resolved to abandon an itinerant life for
a permanent abode.
The beautiful falls of the Columbia, called the Kettle
Falls, in the vicinity of Fort Colville, are distant two days'
journey from our new residence of St. Ignatius. From
eight to nine hundred savages were there assembled for
the salmon fishery. I repaired thither in time to spend
with them the nine days preceding the feast of our holy
founder. Within the last four years, considerable numbers of these Indians were visited by the " Black-gowns,"
who administered the sacrament of baptism.    I was re- PAST PRIVATIONS FORGOTTEN.
ceived by my dear Indians with filial joy and tenderness.
I caused my little chapel of boughs to be placed on an
eminence in the midst of the Indians' huts, where it might
not inaptly be compared to the pelican of the wilderness
surrounded by her young, seeking with avidity the divine
word, and sheltering themselves under the protection of
their fostering mother. I gave three instructions daily;
the Indians assisted at them with great assiduity and attention.
Last year the feast of St. Ignatius proved for me a day
of danger, trial and uneasiness. I love to recall it to my
mind, for it terminated joyfully, and so gloriously that I
know my companions can never forget it, and they will
return lasting thanks to the Almighty for the display of
his mercy. Without a chart or any knowledge of the
mouth of the Columbia, we traversed, as if borne on
angels' wings, the bar of this formidable river. This year
I passed the feast of St. Ignatius amidst many occupations, but they were of such a nature as to console the
missionary's heart, and repay him a hundredfold for the
trifling privations, pains and fatigues he endures.
More than 100 children were presented for baptism, and
eleven old men, borne to me on skins, seemed only awaiting the regenerating waters to depart home and repose in
the bosom of their divine Savior. The eldest among them,
an Okinagan, apparently about 100, and blind, addressed
me in the following pathetic words : " My life has been
long on earth, and my tears have not ceased to flow; even
now I daily weep, for I have beheld all my children and
early associates disappear. I find myself isolated among
my own nation, as if I were in a strange land; thoughts
of the past alone occupy me, and they are of a mournful
and bitter nature. Nevertheless, I find consolation in remembering that I have avoided the company of the wicked.
Never have I shared in their thefts, battles or murders. This
blessed day, joy has penetrated the inmost recesses of my
soul; the Great Spirit has taken pity on me, I have received
! 482
baptism, I return him thanks for this favor, and offer him
my heart and life."
A solemn mass was celebrated, during which the Indians
chanted canticles in praise of God. The ceremonies of
baptism followed, and all terminated in the most perfect
order, to the great delight and edification of the savages.
It was indeed a most imposing spectacle; all around contributed to heighten the effect. The noble and gigantic
rock, the distant roar of the cataracts breaking in on the
religious silence of that solitude, situated on an eminence
overlooking the powerful Oregon river, and on the spot
where the impetuous waters, freeing themselves from their
limits, rush in fury and dash over a pile of rocks, casting
upwards a thousand jets d'eau, whose transparent columns
reflect in varied colors the rays of the dazzling sun.
There were besides the Skoyelpi or Chaudière Indians,
the Sinpoils and the Zingomènes, and several Kalispels,
Indians from the great lakes of the Columbia and Okina-
gans, accompanied me in the capacity of singers and
I gave the name of St. Paul to the Skoyelpi nation, and
placed under the care of St. Peter the tribe inhabiting the
shores of the great Columbia lakes, whither Father
Hoeken is about to repair, to continue instructing and
baptizing their adults. My presence among the Indians
did not interrupt their fine and abundant fishery. An
enormous basket was fastened to a projecting rock, and
the finest fish of the Columbia, as if by fascination, cast
themselves by dozens into the snare. Seven or eight times
during the day these baskets were examined, and each
time were found to contain about 250 salmon. The Indians, meanwhile, were seen on every projecting rock,
piercing the fish with the greatest dexterity [with spears].
They who know not this territory may accuse me of
exaggeration, when I affirm that it would be as easy to
count the pebbles so profusely scattered on the shores, as
to sum up the number of different kinds of fish which this AGRICULTURE AND BUILDING.
western river furnishes for man's support. As the buffalo
of the north, and deer from north to east of the mountains,
furnish daily food for the inhabitants of those regions, so
do these fish supply the wants of the western tribes. One
may form some idea of the quantity of salmon and other
fish, by remarking that at the time they ascend the rivers,
all the tribes inhabiting the shores choose a favorable location, and not only do they find abundant nutriment during
all the season, but, if diligent, they dry, and also pulverize
and mix with oil a sufficient quantity for the rest of the
year. Incalculable shoals of salmon ascend to the river's
source, and there die in shallow water. Great quantities of
trout and carp follow them, and regale themselves on the
spawn deposited by the salmon in holes and still water.
The following spring the young salmon descend toward
the sea, and I have been told (I cannot vouch for the authenticity) that they never return until the fourth year. Six
different species are found in the Columbia river.
I left Kettle Falls August 4th, accompanied by several
of the nation of the Crées to examine the lands they have
selected for the site of a village. The ground is rich and
well suited for all agricultural purposes. Several buildings
were commenced; I gave the name of St. Francis Regis to
this new station, where a great number of the mixed race
and beaver hunters have resolved to settle, with their
families. The 6th I traversed the high mountains of the
Kalispels, and toward evening reached the establishment
of St. Ignatius. The Reverend Fathers Hoeken and
Ravalli, with two lay brothers, superintend this interesting
little settlement. These fathers likewise visit the different
neighboring tribes, such as the Zingomènes, Sinpoils, Okin-
agans, the stations of St. Francis Regis, of St. Peter, and
that of St. Paul, the Flatbows and the Kootenais. I purpose visiting these two tribes, who have never yet had the
consolation of beholding a Black-robe among them. All
these tribes number, on an average, about 500 souls each.
1/MiJm «M
Sets out for the Flatbow country — Meets Ogden in the woods —
De Smet on the Oregon Question — The country and its products —
The camas root — Fish festival of the natives — Dense forests —
Precious metals and their bearing on the Indians' welfare — Meets
Kootenais in Tobacco Prairie — Good trail to sources of Columbia —
Starts to find the Blackfeet — Notes on bears — On Canadians — Is
well fed — Wild scenery — Quotes much poetry — Bow river — Dreams,
omens and more poetry — Comes upon an Assiniboin camp— They are
untidy and their dogs steal — Porcupine lore — How to ride in the
woods — Mineral deposits — The prairie ocean — Survey of the Indian
field — Comes to Rocky Mountain House — Kindness of Harriote —
Something about the Crées — A crafty medicine-man — Thirteen Blackfeet come in — A hard year for Blackfeet — Some of their traditions —
Sets forth again in search of the main camp — Loses a bad interpreter
and pursues a good one — Gives up and repairs to Fort Augustus.
Monseigneur t2
^"HE 9th of August I continued my route toward the coun-
^■^ try of the Arcs-à-plats [Flatbows]. The roads were
still inundated by the great freshet. I preferred ascending
the Clark or Flathead river in my bark canoe, and sent
my horses across the forests bordering the river to await
me at the great lake of the Kalispels. I had here a very
agreeable and unexpected interview; as we approached the
forests, several horsemen issued forth in tattered garments.
1 This chapter follows the English text of the Oregon Missions, and
comprises Letters VI, VII, VIII. IX, X, XI and part of XIII of that
work (Letters V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and XII, Missions de l'Orégon), published as letters to Bishop Hughes and dated as by footnotes
inserted at the proper places.
2 Letter dated Station of the Assumption, Flatbow country, August
17, 1845.
The foremost gentleman saluted me by name, with all the
familiarity of an old acquaintance. I returned the gracious
salutation, desiring to know whom I had the honor of addressing. A small river separated us, and with a smile he
said, " Wait until I reach the opposite shore, and then you
will recognize me." He is not a beaver hunter, said I to
myself; yet under this tattered garb and slouched hat, I
could not easily descry one of the principal members of
the Honorable Hudson Bay Company, the worthy and respectable Mr. Ogden.3 I had the honor and good fortune
of making a voyage with him, and in his own barge, from
Colville to Fort Vancouver in 1842; and no one could desire more agreeable society. It would be necessary for you
to traverse the desert, to feel yourself insulated, remote
from brethren, friends, to conceive the consolation and
joy of such an encounter.
Mr. Ogden left England in the month of April last, accompanied by two distinguished [? engineer] officers. It
was a source of great pleasure to receive recent news from
Europe, but the Oregon question appeared to me somewhat
alarming. It was neither curiosity nor pleasure that induced these two officers to cross so many desolate regions,
and hasten their course toward the mouth of the Columbia.
They were invested with orders from their Government to
take possession of Cape Disappointment, to hoist the English standard, and erect a fortress for the purpose of securing the entrance of the river, in case of war.4 In the Oregon question, John Bull, without much talk, attains his
end, and secures the most important part of the country;
whereas Uncle Sam loses himself in words, inveighs and
storms ! Many years have been passed in debates and useless contention, without one single practical effort to secure
3 See p. 384.
4 Probably their orders in this regard were somewhat elastic. Father
De Smet met them returning eastward the following spring; see p. 542.
He there says their names were Ward and Vavasseur. DE SMET   A   GOOD   AMERICAN.
his real or pretended rights.5 The poor Indians of Oregon,
who alone have a right to the country, are not consulted.
Their future destiny will be, undoubtedly, like that of so
many other unfortunate tribes who, after having lived peaceably by hunting and fishing for centuries, will finally dis-
5 The following letter to Senator Benton, written about November 3,
1849, is of interest in this connect