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Echoes there are even yet of the brigade of boats which came down the Columbia to Fort Vancouver in June, when the river was at its flood and all the world was beautiful. And over that brigade floated the red flag of Great Britain's commerce, and on the lower folds of the red the white half-monogram, HBC, of the famous old English fur company.

It is now just two centuries and a half since, in 1670, to Prince Rupert, a cousin of Charles II, and his fellow-adventurers was given that great parchment charter, still hanging with its immense leaden seal on the walls of Hudson's Bay House in London. It gave these adventurers the right to all trade in the lands whose waters drained into Hudson's Bay, and for two centuries and a half it has been the foundation of a great British trade. The days of chartered monopolies were oyer in 1857, when the Sepoy Rebellion ended the East India Company's monopoly, though the Hudson's Bay Company is still a power in British commerce.

A century ago, when the great company came into Old Oregon, it was at the height of its power. It was on the eighth of November, 1824, that Governor George Simpson and Chief Factor John McLoughlin, in two light canoes, with square sails spread to the pleasant breezes, came down the Columbia with their singing voyageurs and landed at old Fort Astoria.

The old fort was much the same as it had been for years under the Canadians, though larger than when the Americans left it in 1814. It was a rectangle, the back walls of the buildings forming part of the palisade, and the gate opening toward the river, a hundred yards away.

But winds are chill at the mouth of the Columbia, and rain and the soft, dripping Oregon mists made moldy the furs, and the boards in the fort yard became so slippery with mold and slime "that if a man as much as steps upon a piece of wood, he measures his length in the mud." Sails rotted and ropes gave way in that incessant dampness.

The new chief factor had but little liking for agriculture, but even furtraders cannot starve and still trade, and all food shipped from England to that distant coast, whether by trail or around

the Horn, was far too expensive. The new management took quick action.

Ninety miles up the Columbia, in an entirely different climate, near one of the mouths of the Willamette River, were two prairies, one almost above the other, quickly picked out as just the place. And Fort Vancouver was built on the upper prairie, almost a mile from the river. It was a noble site, with a magnificent view out over the mighty Columbia, miles wide in flood-tide, the islands in the river, and the densely forested hills rolling back on all sides, crowned by the snowy peak of Mount Hood.

The genius of the Hudson's Bay Company was expressed in the quickness with which they seized upon the possibilities for agriculture. Their success as fur-traders actually depended upon it. Yet their success as farmers was misconstrued by every fur-trader, missionary, or settler who saw it, a misconstruction emphasized again and again upon the floor of Congress in the charge that the company was holding "the Oregon Country" for the British crown.

The building of that first Fort Vancouver, in the spring of 1825, was no easy matter. Indian jealousies were aroused. The tribes nearest the fort held the approaches to trade, and red-skinned tribesmen stood on the river-bank, cooing at one another,"coo being the most opprobrious word in the Indian language," as one trader put it, on the alert for a pot-shot at any bronze skin. There were not men enough to guard the old fort, with all its trading goods, and to build the new. Yet in some way the new chief factor, capable, energetic, imperious to the point of domineering, accomplished the task. The new fort was built.

But the gates were still lacking when the Indians decided upon an attack. Council after council was held in the forests. But McLoughlin acted first. The great white chief called a council of. all his red brother chiefs. One by one, at the time set, solemnly and in much paint, the Indians entered the gateless yard and formed the usual semicircle, squatting on the sides of their heels. But McLoughlin was a very great chief. To convince them of it, he kept them

awaiting him one full hour. During that hour a recently arrived Scot, armed with his bag-pipes, marched up and down that yard in full Highland costume. Charmed, fascinated, the Indians watched the Scotchman as he strode about bare-kneed and in plaid, with the wailing pipes. When the tall, whitehaired chief factor did finally appear, White Eagle Chief they called him, because of his flowing white hair, the Indians promised friendship. There was no attack on Fort Vancouver then, and never another threat of one.

By the middle of April old Fort George (Fort Astoria of the Americans) was abandoned, and the goods were safe at Fort Vancouver. But the fort was nearly a mile from the river, and up the hill, and all water for the fort had to be carried from the river, and all the furs and the trading goods carried back and forth. In 1828 it was decided to build anew on the lower prairie, even though its lower edge was frequently inundated in the spring. This second Fort Vancouver was the one well known to missionaries and settlers. At this second fort, too, occurred that display of Indian pomposity, as told by the artist Kane, of Chief Casinove, when he came to trade his furs. Paddled to the landing by his slaves, he walked to the fort over a carpet of the furs he had brought. He returned to his canoe on a carpet formed of the trading goods received in exchange. Poor old chief! Fifteen years later, he, left alone of all his tribe by the epidemic, ate his meals at his own table, in grave dignity, in the great dining-hall of Fort Vancouver.

But it was in the first fort, up on the hill, that one August night in 1828, Dr. McLoughlin heard a great banging at the locked gate and clamorous Indian voices calling out that they had an American prisoner. An American! It was fourteen years since Astoria had been sold to the Nor'westers, and save for the American commissioner, to whom a formal restoration of the post had been made in 1818, on a British war-ship, though, and an occasional fur-trader at the mouth of the river, not an American had been seen. There was nothing to keep them out, for under the treaty of 1818-a commercial treaty, contain

ing a joint-occupancy paragraph-they had a perfect right to come.

McLoughlin ordered the gates opened, and in came the Indians with an exhausted American, the only one, he said, when he could speak at all, saved out of Jedediah Smith's party of eighteen men who had gone from the Snake River country into California, and, finding no opening in the mountains to the eastward, had traveled northward up the coast until, on the Umpqua River, in what is now southern Oregon, they had been attacked by the Indians. Smith and two men had left in a boat before the attack, but were supposed to have returned. This man escaped through the woods, with the Indians in full chase.

Jed Smith's name was not a new one at Fort Vancouver. Three years before, he and his men had come up from the Snake River country into what is now northern Idaho, and had appeared at Fort Flathead, encamped near by for several weeks, and had triumphantly informed the British traders that the country was American and that the Americans were coming to claim it.

"In case the Americans come to the Flathead country," wrote McLoughlin, August 10, 1825, to the clerk in charge of the fort, "they must be opposed as much as we can, but without, if possible, wasting property, as the right to remain there will be decided between the two governments." It was a characteristic direction.

And now this same Jed Smith, if he was still alive, was somewhere in the region of the lower Columbia, and one of his men was appealing to the Hudson's Bay Company for safety:

The Indians were well rewarded for bringing in the American in safety, and at daybreak Indian runners were sent out with tobacco to chiefs in the Willamette and down the Columbia, ordering them to go in search of the white men, and telling them, if any Indians hurt these men, they would be punished. This was the order of the White Eagle Chief, who insisted always upon the prestige of the white man. McLoughlin equipped a strong, well-armed party of forty men for the further search, "but as the men were embarking, to our great joy, Smith and his two men appeared."

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For the safety of every white man in the country, his own officers included, McLoughlin then sent a strong, capable party of armed men into the Umpqua country, invited the Indians to bring their furs to trade, and then laid aside those marked with the private marks of Smith's party. The others were bought, but the Indians holding the marked ones were informed they had got those from the Umpquas who had murdered the Americans, and must look to them for compensation. All furs were taken back to Fort Vancouver, with some of Smith's horses that had been recovered, and since Smith had no way of getting his furs back to his own people, he sold them there. McLoughlin paid him

thirty-two hundred dollars for the furs, and charged him nothing for the expedition to the Umpqua, since that was done as a general policy. As for the Indians, "We could not distinguish the innocent from the guilty," wrote McLoughlin, afterward. But the Indians themselves knew, and "a war was kindled among them, and the murderers punished more severely than we could have done."

From August, 1828, until March, 1829, Smith remained as a guest at Fort Vancouver, his men being housed outside the fort, in the little village of working-men. In March, with the eastbound express for over the mountains and Hudson's Bay, Smith was escorted

in safety back to Fort Flathead, whence he knew the way to the Snake River country and the rendezvous of his own people.

Smith's report on the crops of Fort Vancouver, four years after McLoughlin's arrival there, tells its own story of energy. In the crop of 1828 were seven hundred bushels of good wheat, fourteen acres of corn, the same acreage of peas, eight acres of oats, four or five acres of barley, a fine garden, with some small apple-trees and grape-vines. There were two hundred head of cattle, fifty horses, three hundred head of hogs, and fourteen goats. Gunsmiths, carpenters, a cooper, a tinner, and a baker were employed. A good sawmill was on the bank of the river, five miles above the fort, and a grist-mill, which was worked by hand, but intended to be by water. Two coasting vessels had been built, one of which was then on a voyage to the Sandwich Islands. The heaviest cannon Smith saw there, for protection against a possible Indian attack, were twelve-pounders; but the guns at Fort Vancouver were never used except for salute.

It was four years before another American appeared, and again it was a rival trader. This was Nathaniel Wyeth of Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a small borrowed capital, plans that looked well on paper, and a few untrained, undisciplined, and discontented men. Wyeth had sent a ship, the Sultana, around the Horn. She carried trading goods, and was to return with furs and fish, for Wyeth's plans included salmon-fishing as well as fur-trading. From time to time, as he crossed the continent, his men deserted him, until by the time he reached the Rockies, in company with regular American fur-traders, only eleven were left, and they ragged and half starved. Indian runners gave notice of their coming to Fort Walla Walla, at the junction of the Snake and Columbia rivers, and the word was quickly passed on to Fort Vancouver. The order was sent to Walla Walla to treat them with every courtesy, to supply their needs, but not to sell them trading goods.

In a Hudson's Bay Company boat, manned with recommended Indian boat

men, the rival American traders came down the river to Fort Vancouver.

"We arrived at Fort Vancouver, it having taken us nine days to come down the river, some two hundred miles," wrote John Ball, one of the party, on October 29, 1832.

"We were a hard-looking set," he went on, "owing to our hard life, but we were most hospitably received in spite of the awkward and suspicious circumstances in which we appeared."

They went down the river to see the Pacific, to feel that they had really crossed the continent, and to learn, if they could, of the Sultana. They were worried about her crossing the bar. Though Wyeth did not know it until he had recrossed the continent, the Sultana was wrecked long before she reached the Columbia, and with her had gone his hopes of trade and salmon.

Meanwhile the entire party-one died after reaching the fort-were at the mercy of their British rivals. Ball's journal continues:

The next day [November 17] Mr. Wyeth and myself were invited by Doctor McLoughlin, the oldest partner and nominal governor, to his own table and rooms at the fort. Others were quartered out of the fort. I soon gave Doctor McLoughlin and Captain Wyeth to understand I was on my own hook, and had no further connection with the party. We were received with the greatest kindness as guests, which was very acceptable, or else we would have had to hunt for subsistence. But not liking to live gratis, I asked the doctor [he was a physician by profession] for some employment. He repeatedly assured me that I was a guest and not expected to work. But after much urging, he said if I was willing he would like me to teach his own son and other boys in the fort of whom there were a dozen. Of course I gladly accepted the offer. So the boys were sent to my room to be instructed. All were half-breeds, as there was not a white woman in Oregon. The doctor's wife was a "Cippewa" from Lake Superior, and the lightest woman was Mrs. Douglas [afterward by parliamentary order made Lady Douglas], a half-breed, from Hudson Bay. I found the boys docile and attentive and they made good progress. The doctor often came into the school and he was well

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waited on the table, and we saw little of the women, they never appearing except perhaps on Sunday or on horseback. As riders they excelled.


That dining-table at Fort Vancouver was an unusual one for a fur-trading post in the wilderness. Seated around it were well-dressed, cultivated gentlemen, they wore evening dress for dinner, many of them with university training in England or Scotland. were men who not only knew something of the world of books, but had traveled over much of the world and through the wilds of the great lonely land of Canada, and now found themselves out on an unknown coast in the Indian country of the Columbia River. They were of all

natives, for Tom was the son of that Alexander McKay who had been Alexander Mackenzie's first officer in that effort of 1793 to find the Pacific by way of the Peace River. There was Captain McNeill, a year or two later, who found fur-trading pleasanter and more profitable with the great company than as an independent American trader competing with them. David Douglas, the botanist, was well known at that table, and Dr. Schouler, the scientist. Kane, the artist, knew it well and painted many Indian chiefs of that region. Dr. and Mrs. Marcus Whitman, the missionaries, knew it to their own pleasure, and other missionaries. The traders who came down to the fort every summer from interior posts looked upon it as a

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