THE PEMMICAN WAR: In June of 1816 in eastern Canada there was a battle between the mostly metis (descendants of European Canadian fur traders and Indian wives) forces of the Northwest Fur Company and rival interests represented by the colonial governor and the Hudson Bay Company. Fur traders displaced or in legal trouble due to this battle (such as Tom MCKAY) often found their way to the Northwest.
The British Earl of Selkirk had imported a large number of displaced Scots to found a colony at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers (an area southwest of Lake Winnipeg later called Manitoba Province). Clerks of the Northwest Company spread word among the metis free trapper/traders in the region that they were to be displaced from their homeland and cut off from their supply of Indian pemmican, a preserved food essential in the trappers' life. The metis first besieged Brandon House and then attacked Selkirk's settlement, killing the governor and 21 emigrants.
In 1816 the NORTHWEST FUR COMPANY established headquarters, named FT. NEZ PERCE, at the confluence of the Walla Walla and Columbia rivers. The fur trade headquartered here focused on the central Rockies and the Snake River watershed.
Donald MCKENZIE returned to the Columbia River in 1816 and formed the Snake River Hunting Brigade which, this year, included a number of Iroquois, Abanakees, and Hawaiians.
In 1816, a party of the Northwest Company killed an Indian chief near the Falls of the Willamette after they were fired upon while on their way down river. A second expedition set out from Ft. George with 45 men in 3 boats to restore peace. The Clackamas Indians stayed on the east bank of the river at the Falls while the Northwesters with their three field pieces faced them from the west bank. For three days, the Clackamas and Northwesters had a silent stand-off. Finally, after hours of speeches on the fourth day, the peace pipe (calumet) was smoked, a restitution to "cover the dead" accepted by the Indians, a peace agreement negotiated. Alexander Ross accepted and then returned a slave given as a token of the treaty with the Falls chiefs that allowed Northwesters safe passage past the Falls.
A French ship on a round-the-world exploring expedition, the Bordelais, anchored at Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, in September 1817. The ship's captain, Lt. Camille DE ROQUEFEUIL received a report about 4 Americans living "at Tchinouk [Chinook] behind Cape Flattery" and 3 were named specifically: CLARK, KEAN, and LEWIS [was this report a legend of the Lewis and Clark expedition that visited the area over a decade earlier? Or a report on a different group of Americans?].
Ross COX retired from the fur trade this year and headed east; along the way, July 1817, he met Tom MCKAY then going from the Red River region back to Oregon. Joseph LAROCQUE came west from Canada to the Northwest in 1817 with a reinforcement of 40 (mostly Iroquois) for the Northwest Fur Company.
Donald MCKENZIE, who had married Tom McKay's sister at Ft. William in eastern Canada, returned to Ft. George (formerly Ft. Astor) in the fall of 1817.
Arriving in the US sloop-of-war Ontario on August 9, 1818, Capt. J. BIDDLE received possession of Ft. George to enforce the agreement that ended the War of 1812.
In 1817, 25 TRAPPERS LEFT CANADA FOR THE NORTHWEST. Due to deaths on the way, only 18 arrived in Astoria (Ft. George) in 1818. [Information from Hubert Howe Bancroft's Oregon, vol. 1; it's unclear if this was a party separate from LaRoque's company]. The survivors included Andre LACHAPELLE and Louis PICHETTE dit DUPRE.
Captain J. HICKLEY and US Commissioner J.B. PREVOST arrived at Ft. George aboard the British frigate Blossom on October 6, 1818; the British formally ceded Ft. George at this time. The Canada Northwest Company, however, continued as the sole operators of the fort, now a trading post rather than military outpost of Britain.
During 1818, a fur trapper party led by P.S. OGDEN of the Northwest Company was attacked by inland Columbia River Indians. Ft. Nez Perce was fortified with a substantial stockade and cannons (later the fort was renamed Ft. Walla Walla).
In convocation held at the mouth of the Walla Walla River, Donald MCKENZIE received permission for the HBC from the leaders of many Indian tribes and family groups to trap beaver in the Snake River region.
While Alexander ROSS completed work on Ft. Walla Walla in 1818, Donald MCKENZIE trapped along the Bear and perhaps Green Rivers. He spent the winter of 1818-19 among the Shoshone along the Snake and Portneuf Rivers.
In September of 1818, McKenzie ordered 25 Iroquois to hunt in the Indian Creek area of the Northwest. Instead, the hunters dispersed among the local tribes. Michel Bourdin and others were meanwhile hunting in the Bear River region.
In the winter of 1818-19, Thomas MCKAY led a hunting brigade south towards the sources of the Willamette River. His mostly Iroquois hunters killed 14 Indians in a battle on the Upper Umqua River. The party fled back to Ft. George but Louis LABONTE, Joseph GERVAIS, Etienne LUCIER, Louis KANOTA, and Louis PICHETTE dit DUPRE (all "free" trappers--that is, without affiliation to companies) stayed to hunt in the region.
IN THE WEST:
In 1819, three Hawaiian fur trappers (also called Kanakas, Blue Men, or Sandwich Indians) were killed by Indians. The site of their deaths, the Owyhee River, was named in commemoration.
Louis LABONTE, Joseph GERVAIS, Etienne LUCIER, Louis KANOTA, and Louis PICHETTE dit DuPre (all free trappers) stayed to hunt in the Umpqua River region in 1819 while Thomas McKay led a Northwest Company brigade back to Ft. George.
IN THE EAST:
The US Army established CANTONMENT MISSOURI north of the site of present day Omaha.
Cantonment Missouri (US Army) was relocated to Council Bluffs and renamed FT. ATKINSON; the fort was named for General Henry Atkinson who commanded the right wing of the US Army Western Department and headquartered at St. Louis. Other forts and posts near this eastern end of the Oregon Trail were operated by private companies such as the Missouri Fur Company's Ft. Recovery and the American Fur Company's Ft. Sioux City.
Lt. Steven H. LONG led a US Army exploring expedition up the Platte and South Platte rivers in 1820. They moved south along the Rocky Mountains and then returned in separate detachments along the Arkansas and Canadian River (Texas). Like Zebulon Pike, Long reported that the "American Desert" was uninhabitable. [Sources: Edwin JAMES, a member of the Army explorers, wrote Account of an Expedition ... under the Command of Major Stephen H. Long: published 1823, Philadelphia; also see The Personal Narrative of James O. PATTIE of Kentucky, during an Expedition from St. Louis: edited by Timothy Flint and published in Cincinnati, 1831.]
In September of 1820, John HALDANE sent a group of 50 or more Iroquois from Spokane House to hunt in the Flathead (Washington Salish) region. Meanwhile, Jacco FINDLAY had sent a rival force of hunters from Saskatchewan.
RUSSIA CLAIMED ALASKA south to 51o and forbid entry to Alaskan waters for the ships from any other nation in 1821.
The British government ordered the Northwest Fur Company to be absorbed by the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY in 1821. The HBC was franchised to control trade from west of the Rockies and north to 54o 40' (Russian Alaska). During the 1820's the HBC established 13 trading posts/forts with headquarters at Ft. Vancouver.
Trappers and traders who had been laid-off by the merger of the Northwest Company and the HBC formed the COLUMBIA FUR COMPANY to continue trade in the Yellowstone, Missouri, and Mississippi river regions without affiliation to Britain or Canada.
Michel BOURDON led the HBC's Snake Brigade from Oregon. During the summer of 1821, the hunters lost 2 and killed 7 in skirmishes with the Blackfeet.
That same summer, in St. Louis, Andrew HENRY and William ASHLEY organized a new fur company after raising a large amount of capital through their mining and manufacturing enterprises during the previous year.
IN THE EAST:
In St. Louis and Louisiana, the Henry/Ashley company advertised for "One Hundred Men, to ascend the river Missouri to its source, and there to be employed for one, two, or three years". Jedediah SMITH, age 23, answered Ashley's advertisement and left Ohio for St. Louis. Jim BECKWOURTH---who in 1850 scouted and improved a route through the Sierra Nevada Mountains later called Beckwourth Pass--answered a similar ad in New Orleans.
In March of 1822, William ASHLEY (who was Governor of Missouri) delivered supplies to a post at the mouth of the Yellowstone River and returned downriver to St. Louis, recruiting more men along the way.
April 3, 1822, Commander Andrew HENRY (Ashley's partner) and Daniel S.D. MOORE left St. Louis with a large company of men, and two keelboats for an expedition to scout fur trade possibilities in the upper Missouri River region.
Shortly after passing Council Bluffs, Iowa, in May 1822, one of Henry's boats hit a snag and sank with $10,000 in supplies. A small party with Moore hurried back to St. Louis while Henry and the remaining boat continued the expedition. Back in St. Louis, Ashley recruited a new crew of 46 and set out to follow Henry. At Ft. Osage (about 50 miles below the Kansas River), Ashley's boat picked up the 20 men marooned by the sinking of Moore's boat.
Daniel T. POTTS, one of 8 men who had deserted Henry's party at Cedar Post (near Ft. Recovery and the White River), wandered alone until he found Ashley's encampment.
In August 1822--at the Mandan Villages (present-day Bismark, North Dakota)-- Assinoboin Indians stole all of the expedition's horses.
Due to hostile Blackfeet, the company abandoned their original plans to build a fort at the Missouri River's Great Falls and instead established a base at the mouth of the Yellowstone River.
In October, the fur trappers replaced an old fort with a better post at the mouth of the Yellowstone. Although the old Missouri Fur Company still maintained post at the mouth of the Big Horn, Henry planned to make yet another fort in the Three Forks region. Commander Henry and 21 men built several huts and a palisade at the Musselshell. When Henry and 11 men left the Musselshell post to explore, they were attacked by Blackfeet. Four trappers were killed, many wounded, and Henry retreated to the Musselshell palisade. The Commander then gathered all the men of his company and beat it back to his post at the mouth of the Yellowstone.
In the autumn of 1822, Ashley returned to St. Louis, leaving over 150 trappers in the Yellowstone region to pursue the fur trade.
IN THE WEST:
Jean Baptiste LOLO dit St. Paul, an experienced interpreter for the Northwest Company, arrived at Ft. St. James in the New Caldonia District (north of the Fraser River in present-day British Columbia).
At Ft. Recovery (near White River on the Missouri), Ashley heard about an ATTACK BY ARIKARAS on a party of the Missouri Fur Company, a different attack on Ft. Cedar (Cedar Post), and Arikara Chief Gray Eye's vow to avenge the death of his son. Ashley decided not to trade with the Arikara but his route still took the voyageurs past the Arikara villages. Ashley and his interpreter, Edward ROSE, parleyed with Little Soldier and The Bear. Negotiations with the Arikaras were wary but the traders still arranged for over 200 buffalo robes and a score of horses.
In the middle of the night on June 2, 1823, trapper Aaron STEVENS was murdered at the Arikara village and Edward Rose ran back to warn Ashley. At that time 40 of Ashley's men were on shore (under the leadership of Jedediah Smith) with the horses; there were about 90 men in the boats.
At dawn, the Arikaras attacked the shore party. The boatmen refused Ashley's order to sail for shore and he was only able to save about 7 or 8 of the shore party in small skiffs (many in the party ashore also refused rescue, preferring to fight). Routed by the Arikaras, the shore party fled and swam for the boats. Fifteen were dead and over a dozen wounded.
Ashley picked up the scattered survivors and withdrew 25 miles downstream. The men refused to make another attempt to pass the Arikara villages and only about 30 were willing to remain with Ashley. The rest went downstream in one of the party's 2 boats while Ashley and company withdrew to the mouth of the Cheyene River. At this place Reed GIBSON and 2 others died of their wounds. Jack LARRISON, presumed lost, finally reached the camp after wandering four days naked and wounded. Mike Fink of Ashley's party shot CARPENTER dead while playing a William Tell-type game; the victim's companion, TALBOT, later killed Fink.
A roster of others in the battle with Arikaras: Killed, John Matthews, John Collins, James McDaniel, Westly Piper, George Flager, Benjamin F. Sneed, James Penn Jr., John Miller, John S. Gardner, Ellis Ogle, and David Howard; wounded (Gibson and 2 others later died), Reed Gibson, Joseph Monso, John LARRISON, Abraham Ricketts, Robert Tucker, Joseph Thompson, Jacob MILLER, David MCCLANE, Hugh GLASS, Auguste Dufrain, and Willis (a black man).
In early June, Ashley ordered Jedediah Smith and a French Canadian to find Alexander Henry's party (then in the Yellowstone region) and warn them of the hostilities.
In late June of 1823, the Missouri Fur Company faced attack by Blackfeet about 10 miles from Crow Village on the Yellowstone River; Robert JONES, Michael IMMELL and 5 others were killed. In July of 1823, Blackfeet attacked a party of 11 traveling with Henry in the Yellowstone region and killed 4.
On June 22, 1823, Colonel Henry LEAVENWORTH, commander of Ft. Atkinson, marched with 200 soldiers in 6 companies against the Arikaras traveling overland and by keelboat. Indian agent Benjamin O'FALLON and Major William S. FOSTER remained at the fort in Leavenworth's absence. With Leavenworth were Lt. W.N. Witcliff, Major A.R. Wooley, John Gale (surgeon), Lt. N.I. Cruger, Maj. D. Ketchum, Sgt. Bradley, Lt. Morris, Capt. B. Riley, and Lt. M.V. Morris.
A company of 40 men led by Joshua PILCHER of the Missouri Fur Company set out from St. Louis on June 27, 1823 to join Leavenworth. Pilcher's party included some of Ashley's deserters as well as Sergeant PERKINS and Captain William VANDERBURG, both members of the Fur Company.
On July 4, 1823 a US Army keelboat accidentally sank, drowning Sgt. STACKPOLE and 6 privates. Leavenworth's army delayed for repairs at Ft. Recovery (near White River). Pilcher and his troops caught up with them at the fort.
Meanwhile, Jedediah SMITH reached Andrew HENRY in the Yellowstone country with the report of the Arikara massacre. Henry left 20 of his men to guard the fort and set out with the rest (some 18 to 20 men) to find Ashley. Shortly after Ashley and Henry met, they received news of Leavenworth's army and decided to join the battle. Their combined force numbered 80 and they joined Leavenworth near Ft. Brasseaux.
On August 9, 1823 the 500 Sioux warriors who had also joined Leavenworth's forces near Ft. Brasseaux raced ahead of the troops and engaged the Arikara in battle-they lost 2 and killed 15. The main force with Leavenworth killed 50 more and decisively defeated the Arikara. On August 10, 1823, after a peace parley with the Arikara, the Sioux withdrew homeward.
With the Sioux forces and most of his own round-shot gone, Leavenworth decided to make a treaty with the Arikara. Pilcher and the Missouri Fur Company strongly objected to this decision (they filed an official complaint later). Captain Riley, who complained about his nearly decade of duty without any action at his Ft. Atkinson post, was denied permission to attack the village. Talks were held August 11 and 12, 1823, and the Arikaras made token reparations to Leavenworth. The Arikara then fled for refuge among the Mandans.
Leavenworth's troops entered the Arikara villages on August 13, 1823 and were surprised to find the site totally deserted. After a fruitless attempt to find the Arikaras, they set out to return home the next day. Leavenworth specifically ordered that the abandoned village be left alone. Most of Ashley's company followed Leavenworths troop south on the Missouri River toward Ft. Atkinson. Two members of the Missouri Fur Company, however, Angus MCDONALD and William GORDON, stayed behind and torched the deserted Arikara villages. Trading-post operator TILTON later reported that homeless Arikaras among the Mandans were forming war parties.
After Ashley and Henry's company obtained new horses from the Sioux, Henry set out overland with 13 men while Ashley and the rest returned to Ft. Kiowa. Henry's party made a quick march along the Grand or Cheyenne River to the post at the mouth of the Yellowstone. Along the way, Hugh Glass was injured by a bear and Henry ordered John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger to wait with him while he died and the rest of the company hurried to Yellowstone Post. Bridger and Fitzgerald instead took Glass's rifle, knife, and possessions and followed Henry with a premature report of Glass's death. Glass slowly, starving, made way to the Missouri River, recovered, and vowed vengeance. He eventually forgave Jim Bridger (who was a greenhorn and only 17 at the time); meanwhile Fitzgerald had fled downriver to St. Louis where he joined the Army.
On August 20, 1823 another attack on Henry's trappers left two dead (James ANDERSON and August NELL) while another war party staged a horse-raid on his fort (TILTON, who kept a post in the Mandan village later reported that the attacks were by Mandans, not by Blackfeet as supposed.) Henry dispatched Moses HARRIS, John FITZGERALD, and George HARRIS to the lower Missouri River to report on the fur company's troubles. Moses Harris gave his report at Ft. Atkinson on December 18, 1823 and traveled on to St. Louis. Meanwhile HENRY and his company of trappers fled and ascended the Yellowstone River to the Powder. There they met with Crows, traded for horses, and set out westward.
The remnants of the Ashley company who still had the nerve, resumed the enterprise setting out from the Missouri Fur Company's Ft. Kiowa (South Dakota on the Missouri River near the mouth of the Cheyene). One party of about a dozen (including Hugh Glass) headed toward the mouth of the Yellowstone and lost 2 of their members in a skirmish with Arikaras. Jedediah Smith captained another group that set out at the end of September and included Thomas Fitzpatrick, William L. Sublette, James Clyman, and Thomas EDDIE.
After following the Cheyene River, with the men hungry, thirsty and exhausted, Smith sent Edward Rose ahead to the Crow Village (near Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone) for supplies. Three men and five horses were left behind as the main troop pushed on. Smith, hunting by himself, was attacked by a grizzly bear. Clyman stitched him up, reattaching his ear and most of his scalp, but Smith was left severely disfigured for life.
At the Powder River, Rose reappeared with 15 or 16 Crows and fresh horses. In mid-November, with Smith's group trailing Rose and the Crows, they crossed the Tongue River and trekked south along the Big Horn. After several days march up Wind River, they made winter camp. Here they survived on buffalo and mountain sheep.
Meanwhile, the party with Henry spent the winter at the post at the mouth of the Yellowstone River and trapped a good harvest of beaver.
By the end of 1823, Missouri Fur Company partner, Captain Joseph PERKINS, had brought $24,000 in furs from the Yellowstone country to Franklin, Missouri in this single year.
Also in 1823, Ewing YOUNG led an expedition from Missouri to New Mexico that included Joseph WALKER, later a well-known pathfinder.
Michel BOURDON, in charge of the Snake Brigade for the HBC, was killed by Blackfeet on the Salmon River with three of his trappers. Finan MCDONALD and his menf then killed 70 of the (Piegan Blackfeet) tribe and won their concession to allow the HBC passage through Lemhi Pass down the Missouri River.
Deep snows kept Jedediah Smith, Fitzpatrick, Sublette and their party from heading north out of their Wind River winter camp, so they took a southerly route along the Popo Agie to the Sweetwater. By late February they'd left the Sweetwater River, again heading southwest. At this place, Smith and his men rediscovered SOUTH PASS through the Rocky Mountains (the same pass traveled by the Astorians on their return trip in 1814). This was later the route of the main Oregon Trail. From South Pass the men pushed on to the Big Sandy River and again headed due south.
At Green River, February 20, Jedediah Smith set off with seven men (the bulk of the company, probably including Sublette and Harris) to travel further south (to the Black Fork region) for hunting. Fitzpatrick, Clyman and a couple of others remained behind on the Green. All expected to rendezvous on June 10 on the Sweetwater River.
Fitzpatrick and his party didn't arrive at the Sweetwater until June 15 and saw no sign of Smith. After a few days wait, and since the Sweetwater at this point was too shallow to navigate, Clyman traveled down stream alone. He planned to wait for his comrades at the place where the Sweetwater became deep enough to canoe. Instead he was surrounded and hunted by hostile Indians, and, after 12 days of hiding, set out for civilization alone.
A few days after Clyman left the Sweetwater rendezvous, Smith and his party rejoined Fitzpatrick (who was with Stone and Branch according to Clyman). Since the snow had since melted, Fitzpatrick and his men constructed a canoe and voyaged out with the company's cache of furs. Smith and his party remained in the mountains to hunt over the next winter in the Bear River region.
Fitzpatrick passed Clyman's hiding place and guessed that he had been murdered by hostiles. The stream became rocky again, the boat ruined, and so Fitzpatrick's party cached the furs at Independence Rock and set off down the Platte on foot.
Clyman, who had also been making his way down the Platte, was so overjoyed to see the flag over Ft. Atkinson that he fainted. Fitzpatrick, Stone, and Branch straggled into the refuge (then commanded by Leavenworth and Riley) ten days later.
Despite this horrible experience, both Clyman and Fitzpatrick rejoined Ashley's caravan for another trip into the west in Autumn of 1824.
In late October 1824, William ASHLEY led a caravan up the Platte from Ft. Atkinson to pursue the fur trade in the Green River region. With the company encamped on the Kansas River at the mouth of the Big Blue, Ashley sent Moses Harris and James P. Beckwourth ahead to the Pawnee Town (on the Republican River) to acquire more horses. Although the two men found no horses for sale, they took a route that made a connection between Kansas River and the Platte, the same route that would be followed later on the Oregon Trail.
General Henry ATKINSON traveled with a party to make official treaties with the Missouri River tribes in 1824. Edward ROSE, hired as a guide and interpreter to the Yellowstone region, left the company in Montana to live among the Crow Indians.
On April 17, 1824 a TREATY BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES set the southern border of Russian Alaska at 54o 40' and the eastern border at 141o.
IN THE WEST:
Freemen like Finlay--and American trappers who were independent or in private partnerships--undermined the British/Canadian system. Said Simpson, "These freemen are a pest in this country, having much influence over the Native which they exert to our disadvantage by inciting them against us....their present independence and high tones importance is very injurious to us and in my opinion fraught with danger to the concern."
Granted a monopoly franchise over trade in all of the west, the HBC expected to pay its servants a flat salary, collect their furs for resale in the east, and then send the servants out of its franchise at the end of their term of service. This system would have created less conflict with Native Americans because it protected their land from settlement and controlled the whites among them. But the HBC operated solely for the benefit of remote shareholders, not for the trappers who came west and forged ties with the land and its people.
Joseph PORTNEUF was with the Hudson Bay Company party sent to establish a post on the Fraser River in 1824.
Alexander ROSS led the Snake Brigade from Flathead Post in 1824 to trap in the eastern interior. John GREY (the same part-Iroquois individual known as Jean Gray or Ignace HATCHIORAUQUASHA) and Old Pierre TREVANITAGON led a group of dissidents and received permission to hunt for their own, rather than the Company's, benefit. They returned to the main Snake Brigade with 7 Americans (including Jedediah SMITH) whom they had met in Bear Valley. The dissidents' furs had mysteriously disappeared, probably into the caches of the better-paying Americans.
Most of the Americans wintered over in the Bear/Green River region while the HBC troop returned west to Oregon. In Fall of 1824, Americans, a small party with Etienne PROVOST, and their Snake Indian allies fought local Idaho/Utah Indians (the ones that P.S. Ogden called "Utas"). During this battle, Patrick O'Conner (who had deserted the HBC in 1822) was killed.
Arriving from Canada in October 1824, Peter Skene OGDEN met HBC Governor George Simpson at the mouth of the Spokane River. The governor ordered Ogden to meet with Alexander Ross who had just returned to the Flathead Post from 1824's HBC Snake County expedition. Ross urged Ogden to depart for the next expedition from Ft. Nez Perce. For these yearly fur-hunting expeditions, the HBC dispatched trappers to travel largely unexplored territory for four or five months. They were expected to provide for themselves through forage during the dead of winter and early spring. This was the season when beavers have the richest coats and respond best to castoria-baited traps.
According to William KITTISON, Ogden's right-hand man, Ogden's winter expedition included some 131 people with more joining along the way. Kittison recorded 53 men, 30 women, and 35 children organized into 22 lodges (extended families/partnerships). The expedition left Flathead Post on December 20 and reached a spot just northwest of present-day Missoula, Montana, on Christmas Eve, 1824.
Near this place, on December 29, Jedediah SMITH joined with the HBC Brigade for travel back to the Bear River region. About 25 American trappers wintered 1824-25 near the HBC men in the Bear/Green River country.
Back at Ft. Vancouver, in February 1825, Antione SYLVAILLE reported on a region that showed great promise for beaver trapping. Sylvaille had been dispatched by P.S. Ogden in 1824 to explore the sources of the Owyhee and Malheur rivers. [Sylvie's or Silver River at Malheur Lake bears the scout's name].
Governor George SIMPSON, commander of Hudson Bay Company operations in North America, christened Ft. Vancouver by smashing a bottle of rum against the flagstaff in March 1825.
Governor Simpson sent the sons of two chiefs (Spokane Nicholas GARRY and Flathead J.H. PELLY) to Canadian missionaries for education. The two returned in 1829.
In spring 1825, Gov. Simpson ordered all Iroquois HBC employees to be exiled from the Columbia River to eastern Canada. He also cancelled HBC operations at Spokane House.
WEST TO EAST:
At this place, in April 1825, Jedediah Smith and his companions left the HBC brigade and turned upstream on the Bear. After he left, seven men from one of Ogden's scouting parties returned with beaver pelts but also a report of trouble with Blackfoot Indians; a trapper named Benoit had been killed.
Ogden complained that the Americans--who had made winter camp near this place 1824-1825--had nearly trapped out the beaver. He turned his expedition in the opposite direction of Smith and followed the Middle Fork of the Bear River, eventually traversing the Cache, Ogden, and Weber Valleys of Utah.
On May 12, Thomas McKay, Ogden's translator, spied the Great Salt Lake from a peak near the HBC camp.
EAST TO WEST:
Short on supplies, Ashley's's party descended the Green River and met Etienne PROVOST (PROVO) at his encampment in the Uintah Basin. At Salt Lake they met Hudson's Bay Company members with P.S. OGDEN. This huge party of Americans and Canadians also included SUBLETTE and Moses HARRIS, who had been trapping in the Rockies, as well as Jim BECKWOURTH and Caleb GREENWOOD.
IMPROMPTU RENDEZVOUS AT THE GREAT SALT LAKE:
Gardiner loudly announced that the HBC men were now in US territory whether freemen, engaged, or indebted. Furthermore, said Gardiner, the Americans would pay more for pelts and charge less for goods. John Gray (a half Iroquois) promptly transferred his lodge from the HBC. Pierre TREVANITAGON and 2 Iroquois entered Ogden's tent to resign but Ogden refused to allow Travanigan to pay the Iroquois' debts with notes. Lazard TREVANITAGON (who had spent much of his two year since deserting the HBC in 1822 with the Americans) hollered, "Let's fire and pillage them!"
A scuffle ensued which Ogden held off with the aid of Thomas McKay, Kittison, QUINTAL, and ROY. But eleven of Ogden's freemen (including Duford, Perrault, and L. Kanota) defected to the American side taking with them their catch of furs. On May 25, Gardiner returned and warned Ogden to stay out of the Flathead, Columbia River, and Kutenai country. ANNIANCE and SANSFACON left the HBC with Gardiner when he returned to the nearby American camp. [Anniance and Alexander Carson both paid their HBC debts before leaving]. Later two men (Francois Sansanare and Antione Crevais) out of an HBC scouting party of six returned to Ogden and reported that the Americans had "pillaged" the scouting party's furs; Ogden received this report with disbelief.
During the next few weeks, more men (including Thiery GODDIN and Jean Baptiste GERVAIS) left Ogden. In July, John WORK at Ft. Okanagan received a letter from Ogden who wrote that 23 servants in all had deserted. By August, Ogden's brigade was reduced to just 15 or 20, only six of them freemen. (One of the loyalists was Joseph Portneuf). Two more of the HBC trappers died in fights with Blackfeet during the summer. Rather than trap the Walla Walla region as intended, Ogden decided to head directly for Salmon River and home. Even so, half his company wanted to proceed immediately to Fort de Prairie.
Ogden and the few men who remained with him traveled the valleys of the Burnt, Powder, Grand Ronde, and Walla Walla rivers on their way back (roughly the route of the later Oregon Trail). Ogden's outriders reached Flathead Post on September 15. John McLoughlin was on hand to greet Ogden when he returned to Ft. Nez Perce in November 1825.
After Rendezvous, William ASHLEY, Jedediah Smith, and Moses HARRIS returned to St. Louis with the season's catch of furs.
A fur trapper caravan of 60 men under Jedediah SMITH (now a partner of Ashley) left St. Louis in November 1825 while Ashley stayed behind in St. Louis. They traveled the south side of the Missouri River and saw Indians (Kaws) for the first time on this trip passing through Jackson County. At the mouth of the Kansas (Kaw) River (just north of the present-day site of Kansas City), traders Ely and Curtis sold Smith's party some beef.
The trappers with Smith wintered on the Republican Fork of the Kansas River.
MEANWHILE IN OREGON:
The HBC trappers with Ogden caught up with the scouts on December 8, 1825.
IN OREGON; FROM WEST TO EAST:
A passing Indian assured Ogden that eventually their course up a fork of the John Day River would lead them to the Snake River. By mid-February, Ogden and his men were exploring upriver on the Snake. Although they were still low on food, they had at least found plentiful beaver in the Owyhee and Burnt River regions.
Still, in mid-March near Caldron Linn, Ogden complained that the company should have had 3000 beaver pelts and full bellies rather than 174 pelts and near starvation.
Worse news came on March 20, when Ogden encountered a group of Shoshone (Snake) Indians on the Raft River (south side of the Great Lake Lake). The Snakes told him that they had received an American flag from the big group of Americans and Iroquois (former HBC employees) who had wintered over with them on the Bear River. The Americans, the Snakes reported, were only three days away from Ogden's troop.
The Shoshones (Snake Indians) were in a state of near constant war. In late March, Ogden encountered a Blackfoot war-party near the American Falls. This party, although friendly to Ogden, had traveled all the way from Saskatchewan in pursuit of Snake Indian raiders. A few days later, seven Nez Perces told Ogden they were in Snake territory to raid the Snakes for horses.
But Ogden and his men had collected 1000 beaver skins by the time they reached the Portneuf River in April 1826. Here the HBC brigade met 28 Americans traveling with some of the men who had deserted Ogden's Snake Country brigade in 1825. About half of the former-HBC men either sold beaver pelts to Ogden or paid them to discharge their debts to the HBC. Patrick PRUDHOMME, MONTAIN, and Pierre SAANITOGANS [Tinanitogans] signed IOUs.
Only two men however, young Finlay and a Canadian named LOUNGE, left the Americans for the Hudson's Bay Company. While most former-HBC trappers declined to rejoin Ogden's brigade, they did agree to come back to Ft. Nez Perce after trapping season. The Americans paid three pelts toward Godin's HBC debt so he could join his father in the American camp. Unlike HBC expeditions of the past three years, Ogden would report no "desertions" (other than young Godin's) in 1826.
After this peaceful encounter, the Americans proceeded up river and the HBC brigade downstream on the Portneuf.
On April 15, a Piegan Blackfoot chief warned about a coming war and frightened some of Ogden's men. Three would-be deserters were subdued when Ogden beat one of them. On May 21, Ogden heard that 30 Americans (then descending the Raft River from the Salt Lake) had found no beaver. The next month, June 1826, a party of Snake Indians bragged to Ogden that they had killed 15 Americans in 1825 and, during 1826, had plundered 180 traps while stealing numerous weapons.
Ogden's men fared far better. Trapping was successful as the troop retraced their journey back to a fork of the Owyhee River (mid-June), to the Burnt River (late June), and to the foot of the Blue Mountains.
Here, just east of the Blues at the end of June, Ogden and a small party traveled through Santiam Pass. They reached the Willamette River in July, at a place just about a day's march above the Falls. Meanwhile, the main body of the HBC brigade under Thomas McKay followed the Powder and Grand River valleys into the Walla Walla.
The HBC Snake Country expedition finished the hunting season with 2740 large beaver pelts and 837 small ones-- a better catch than Peter Skene Ogden had hoped for.
FROM EAST TO WEST:
Jedediah SMITH's party crossed the Kaw (Kansas) River in January of 1826 to winter on the Republican Fork. Supplies were scarce and one-third of the company's mules died. Smith dispatched Moses HARRIS and Jim BECKWOURTH ahead to the Pawnee Village and another small party back to Ashley in St. Louis for resupply.
In Spring 1826, William ASHLEY, William CAMPBELL, Moses HARRIS, and the trapper caravan left St. Louis. A party with Campbell traveled via the Platte River and the others followed the Sweetwater River. In the mountains they met William O'FALLON who had spent the winter in the high country.
After working in small parties in the Salt Lake region, the trappers gathered for RENDEZVOUS at nearby Cache (Willow) Valley with Louis VASQUEZ, James CLYMAN, Henry G. FRAEB, Daniel T. POTTS, and many others. After Rendezvous, Jedediah Smith, David JACKSON, and William Sublette bought out Ashley's interest in their company and formed a new partnership.
Ashley took a party back to St. Louis while others wintered 1826-27 at the confluence of the Weber and Ogden rivers in the Salt Lake Valley.
After Rendezvous, Jedediah Smith and a party of 15 traveled south through the Virgin River region (Utah), through Nevada, and then across the Mojave Desert. Edward ROSE joined SMITH's party for the trip only as far west as South Pass in the Rocky Mountains. Robert CAMPBELL was also with Smith for at least part of the trip.
The journey was so difficult and supplies so scarce that Smith's party had to consume their horses and mules. They reached Mission San Gabriel (just north of present-day San Diego) in California on November 27, 1826.
Rather than obey Spanish Governor Don Jose Marie Echeanda (who ordered the Americans to immediately retrace their steps back to the States) Jedediah Smith and his party headed north.
FROM OREGON EAST AGAIN:
The Hudson's Bay Company abandoned Spokane House this year. Jocco FINLAY remained in residence until his death in 1828.
Finan MCDONALD and his family made a return trip to the Red River Country soon after he returned from 1826's Snake Country expedition. In September, the Hudson's Bay Company was ready to launch a new hunting expedition, once again under the leadership of Peter Skene Ogden. This time, Ogden was to explore the Klamath River region as well as the lands (upriver Owyhee and Malheur) that had been scouted by Antoine Sylvaille the year before.
Once again, Thomas MCKAY set out with the main HBC troop (September 12) and once again Ogden followed a little later with about 10 men. By the time they reunited at the Dalles (September 19), McKay's force had swelled from 35 men to 43. Here at Celilo Falls, Oregon's main salmon catching and trading site, the company camped.
Ogden sent [Michel La?] FRAMBOISE and 5 men back to McLoughlin at Ft. Vancouver with messages. A group of Samuel Black's (Ft. Nez Perce's commander) men went back to stock Ft. Nez Perce with salmon. By the end of September, Jean Baptiste Gervais and 30 companions had joined the HBC force and Ogden had hired 17-18 local Indians.
Often with McKay and a small party making short scouting forays ahead, the HBC company crossed the Descutes River and turned south toward the Malheur Lake county. On October 8, McKay and a party of 25 were dispatched to trap Silvie's (or Silver) River. Three days later, two of McKay's men--[Francois?] PAYETTE and Baptiste the Iroquois-- were badly wounded in a battle with Shoshones.
McKay and his companions returned to find the main body of the HBC company encamped near Malheur Lakes in miserable conditions---no wood, no game, lake water low and salty, and no beaver. Ogden's men, especially the freemen (those not under contract to the HBC) began to grumble in earnest when the snow began to fall.
Again on a northwest course, the company reached the headwaters of the Deschutes River in November 1826, and crossed from the Deschutes to the Klamath River by the end of the month. Toward the end of the year--nearly out of supplies and without a single beaver pelt to show for their hardship-- the HBC expedition camped for the winter on streams just east and north of Mt. Shasta, California.
The British ship Cadboro arrived on the Columbia River from England for the first time in 1827 to become one of the regular HBC ships in the Oregon trade. The Broughton, a sloop built at Ft. Vancouver, was launched this year.
Beginning in 1827, Major PILCHER and a party of trappers from the Missouri Fur Company traveled from St. Louis to the Colorado basin and as far to the northwest as Ft. Coleville, WA, on a two-year trading expedition.
Robert CAMPBELL and Pierre TREVANITAGON were with the Smith-Jackson-Sublette partnership in 1827-28.
William SUBLETTE made his first journey back east in 1827 since he came west with Ashley in 1823. Sublette and Moses HARRIS set out on snowshoes in January 1827 and reached St. Louis by March. The route that the two men followed between the Platte and the Kansas rivers was an earlier version of the route of the Oregon Trail.
Meanwhile, William ASHLEY was advertising for a new company of fur trappers and had made overture to Pierre CHOUTEAU of Pratte, Chouteau, and Company. William Sublette, who had bought Ashley's fur company interest in 1826, was furious. After negotiation with Sublette, Ashley agreed to send James B. BRUFEE and Captain Hiram SCOTT with supplies to be delivered to Sublette's company in exchange for future furs (this complex arrangement also included deals with the Missouri and American fur companies).
After some successful trapping in the San Juaquin Valley of California, Jedediah Smith and two of his men set out for American Rendezvous near Salt Lake to recruit reinforcements. They nearly failed make it. Their horses and mules died early in the journey which the men completed on foot, including seventy-five waterless miles through the Salt Lake desert. Smith gathered a group of 18 men, some with women, and began the return trek to California. Eight of the men and two of the women died on this journey back to California.
BACK TO OREGON FROM CALIFORNIA:
The Hudson's Bay Company expedition from Ft. Nez Perce on the Columbia River to northern California during the previous Fall and Winter had brought severe hardship and precious few beaver skins. Modoc Indians constantly harassed the travelers on their way to and from winter camp near Mt. Shasta. Peter Skene Ogden, the expedition's commander, grumbled that he believed that shooting a few members of each new tribe encountered would be good policy.
In mid-February 1827, Ogden and his men were back among the friendlier Shasta Indians at Pitt River. As the company moved north--dispatching small parties of trappers along the way-- life improved.
On March 1, Thomas MCKAY, PAYETTE, and 13 trappers rode off leaving Ogden with 24 men. In late April, when McKay's party returned, Ogden happily counted 2230 beaver pelts within the HBC camp. In May, McKay declined but Jean Baptiste GERVAIS and a small party accepted Ogden's orders to explore the headwaters of the Willamette River. Meanwhile, from mid-May to mid-June, the main HBC expedition struggled northeastwards through country without water, forage, or food.
They reached Malheur Lake on June 8; the water was high, the beaver plentiful, but the HBC faced more travel through bleak country. The men were eating their horses by the time the company got to Harney Lake where there was water but little food. In early July, near the sources of the Malheur River, Ogden sent a small party to trap along the Snake River and 7 others to the Owyhee. Meanwhile, Ogden and the main company proceeded homeward.
On July 18, Ogden left the main company with McKay at Ft. Nez Perce while he and four men rode to report at Ft. Vancouver.
IN THE MOUNTAINS:
Americans with Sam TULLOCK and the HBC Snake Brigade with P.S.OGDEN shared winter camp 1827-28. [Although Ogden's journal makes no mention of the journey, he and his brigade had probably come east from Oregon during the fall or early winter as they had in previous years].
In spring 1828, Indians attacked Americans near the mouth of the Portneuf River. About this time, Archibald GOODRICH married Nancy of the Dalles (later Mrs. J.B. DOBIN), the widow of another HBC man who had been killed in an earlier battle.
Pierre TREVANITAGON was killed by Piegan Blackfeet. Pierre's Hole, on the west side of the Tetons, bears his name. In 1828, Thierry GODIN was also killed by Blackfeet.
In January, Jedediah Smith and a party of his trappers set out for Oregon from northern California (then a Spanish territory hostile to Americans). Near the mouth of the Umpqua River (at what is now the Smith River) in southern Oregon, Smith and his party were among a people, the Lower Umpquas, who were not particularly friendly to outsiders; the region was a prime target of Indian slave-raiders from the north and east.
When an Umqua tried to bury the party's only axe in the sand, Smith assumed an attempted theft and beat the culprit. Shortly after, Smith and John Turner left the men in camp while they scouted a route to the Willamette Valley. One of the men who stayed in camp molested (and possibly raped) an Umpqua woman. The Umpquas withdrew and that evening, July 14, took revenge. The Umqua attack, led by the woman's brother, killed all but one man (Arthur Black). Smith and Turner returned to find the campsite deserted.
McLoughlin, chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company's Ft. Vancouver, dispatched a party to recover Smith's goods and to punish his attackers. Smith stayed at the Fort until the following Spring.
Two British SHIPS WRECKED AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER in 1828. The wreck of the William and Ann killed 26 of the crew, most of them victims of an attack by Clatsops [Clallams]. Two Clatsop leaders were later killed in retaliation. The crew and officers of the second ship lost in 1828, the Isabella (Capt. RYAN) abandoned their vessel without fatalities. After the loss of another ship in 1830, the HBC occupied Ft. George continuously. The American ships Owyhee (Capt. DOMINUS) and Convoy (Capt. TOMSON) arrived at Ft. Vancouver in 1828 without mishap.
Trader Frances ERMATINGER and LOLO dit St. Paul were stationed at Ft. St. James in New Caledonia.
The Hudson Bay Company's Alexander MCLEOD led the Southern Brigade from Ft. Vancouver to northern California in 1828 while Peter Skene OGDEN was in charge of the Snake Brigade (which between 1828 and 1831 also included the 3 FINDLAY brothers, Augustin, Miequim, and Pinesta).
(THE HBC OPERATED YEARLY CARAVANS: the Montreal or York Factory Brigade to Hudson's Bay from Ft. Vancouver; the Snake Brigade, to mountain Rendezvous and back to Ft. Vancouve from 1829-1843; the New Caledonia Brigade between forts Vancouver and Alexandria; and the Southern Brigade from Ft. Vancouver to northern California).
William CANNON and J. GERVAIS were with the 1828 Southern Brigade that suffered a difficult return journey due to heavy snows in the mountains near Shasta.
FROM THE EAST TO THE WEST:
W.H. ASHLEY's fur company traveled again into the mountains from Missouri in 1828. Trapper Hiram SCOTT died this year in western Nebraska.
RENDEZVOUS was again held at the south end of Sweet [or Bear] Lake.
A party with Ewing YOUNG traveled this year from Missouri to Southern California.
The Missouri Fur Company's Major PILCHER and a party of men returned to St. Louis in 1829 traveling from the Northwest by way of the Athabasca River. The troop--which had set out in 1827 and journeyed as far as Ft. Coleville, Washington--faced near starvation on a harrowing trip back to the States.
William SUBLETTE, Moses HARRIS, and company trapped in the Yellowstone region in 1829.
This year, 1829, there were two Rendezvous. One was at Pierre's Hole (near present-day Tetonia, Idaho) and the other was on the Popo Agie River (near present-day Lander, Wyoming).
William SUBLETTE, Moses HARRIS, Joe MEEK, Jedediah SMITH, David E. JACKSON, and Thomas FITZPATRICK met at Pierre's Hole in 1829. They traveled together and at the Shoshone River on the Big Horn Plains joined Milton SUBLETTE and a company of 40 men. The combined company reached Wind River in December 1829.
At Ft. Vancouver, Dr. John MCLOUGHLIN used the case of Etienne LUCIER in 1829 to formulate a new policy for ex-HBC employees. Company rules forbade ex-employees from settling Indian lands and mandated their return to their place of origin.
Since settlement seemed inevitable, McLoughlin encouraged ex-employees to farm in the Willamette Valley only. He provided loans for discounted supplies and a pair of cattle (the animals on loan for founding the settler's own herd). [TOPA 1880 has McLoughlin's memoranda on Etienne Lucier and settlement].
The two chiefs' sons, Spokane Gary and Flathead J.H. Pelly, sent for missionary education in Canada in 1824 returned to their tribes. Their experiences were impressive enough that the tribes sent a delegation to St. Louis with Lucien FONTENELLE and Andrew DRIPPS from the next Rendezvous.
Beginning in this year and peaking in 1833, epidemics decimated tribes in the Lower Columbia, the Willamette Valley, and Klamath Lakes. Small pox had reached the Oregon coast by 1782 and continued to appear ever further inland. From 1830 onward, a yearly "ague" (malaria) affected both whites and Indians.
In February 1830, Moses HARRIS, William SUBLETTE and others in their fur-trading party returned to St. Louis. In Spring, they again headed west.
The SMITH-JACKSON-SUBLETTE partnership caravan from St. Louis to Wind River region for summer Rendezvous in 1830 was the first train of wagons to travel up the Platte River trail. The caravan included 10 wagons, two dearborns, and 81 men. Some historical narratives call this expedition THE OPENING OF THE OREGON TRAIL.
The partners wrote to John Eaton, US Secretary of War, and reported the need for a Platte River Road and the feasibility of traveling with wagons upon it.
SUBLETTE had demonstrated that a wagon road was possible by bringing 10 wagons from St. Louis to Rendezvous. Rendezvous was a huge trade fair and celebration that attracted trappers from out of the mountains, suppliers from St. Louis, local Indians, and many travelers heading West or to the States. This year, 1830, Rendezvous took place near the Wind and Popo Agie rivers (present-day Riverton, Wyoming).
In 1830 new partnerships and reorganized fur companies began to rival the Hudson Bay Company's exclusive dominance in the trade. Jedediah SMITH, William SUBLETTE, and David JACKSON reformed the ROCKY MOUNTAIN FUR COMPANY in August 1830 by buying out their former partners: Jim BRIDGER, J. Baptiste GERVAIS, Willaim CRAIG, George EBBERT, and Thomas FITZPATRICK. Henry FRAEB and Milton SUBLETTE were also members of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.
Also in 1830, Andrew DRIPPS and Henry VANDERBURGH re-established the AMERICAN FUR COMPANY. Free trappers, estimated to number in the hundreds by this time, joined one or another company or made their own partnerships. (Lucien Fontenelle replaced Vanderburgh as Dripps's partner after Vanderburgh's death in 1832)
After selling his interest to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, Jedediah SMITH led a party, including Joe MEEK, into the Judith Basin (Shoshone country). After 1830, Jedediah Smith and his partners concentrated on trade along the Santa Fe Trail; Smith was killed the next year, 1831, by Comanches at the Cimarron River, age 33.
IN OREGON, Joseph PORTNEUF of the HBC and 2 of his children drowned at the Dalles. Portneuf River, Idaho, was named for him.
During 1830, from St. Louis, William WALKER of the Ohio Wyandots and G.P. DISOWAY urged a Protestant mission to be organized and sent to the Flatheads.
Content provided by Patricia Kohnen