History of Oregon (Bancroft)/Volume 2/Chapter 2
EFFECT OF THE CALIFORNIA GOLD DISCOVERY.
And now begins Oregon's age of gold, quite a different affair from Oregon's golden age, which we must look for at a later epoch. The Oregon to which Lane was introduced as governor was not the same from which his companion Meek had hurried in poverty and alarm one year before. Let us note the change, and the cause, before recording the progress of the new government.
On the 31st of July 1848, the little schooner Honolulu, Captain Newell, from San Francisco, arrived in the Columbia, and began to load not only with provisions, but with shovels, picks, and pans, all that could be bought in the limited market. This created no surprise, as it was known that Americans were emigrating to California who would be in want of these things, and the captain of the schooner was looked upon as a sharp trader who knew how to turn an honest penny. When he had obtained everything to his purpose, he revealed the discovery made by Marshall in California, and told the story how Oregon men had opened to the world what appeared an inexhaustible store of golden treasure.
The news was confirmed by the arrival August 9th of the brig Henry from San Francisco, and on the 23d of the fur company's brig Mary Dare from the Hawaiian Islands, by the way of Victoria, with Chief Factor Douglas on board, who was not inclined to believe the reports. But in a few days more the tidings had travelled overland by letter, ex-Governor Boggs having written to some of his former Missouri friends in Oregon by certain men coming with horses to the Willamette Valley for provisions, that much gold was found on the American River. No one doubted longer; covetous desire quickly increased to a delirium of hope. The late Indian disturbances were forgotten; and from the ripening harvests the reapers without compunctions turned away. Even their beloved land-claims were deserted; if a man did not go to California it was because he could not leave his family or business. Some prudent persons at first, seeing that provisions and lumber must greatly increase in price, concluded to stay at home and reap the advantage without incurring the risk; but these were a small proportion of the able-bodied men of the colony. Far more went to the gold mines than had volunteered to fight the Cayuses; farmers, mechanics, professional men, printers—every class. Tools were dropped and work left unfinished in the shops. The farms were abandoned to women and boys. The two newspapers, the Oregon Spectator and Free Press, held out, the one till December, the other until the spring of 1849, when they were left without compositors and suspended. No one thought of the outcome. It was not then known in Oregon that a treaty had been signed by the United States and Mexico, but it was believed that such would be the result of the war; hence the gold-fields of California were already regarded as the property of Americans. Men of family expected to return; single men thought little about it. To go, and at once, was the chief idea. Many who had not the means were fitted out by others who took a share in the venture; and quite different from those who took like risks at the east, the trusts imposed in the men of Oregon were as a rule faithfully carried out.
Pack-trains were first employed by the Oregon gold-seekers; then in September a wagon company was organized. A hundred and fifty robust, sober, and energetic men were soon ready for the enterprise. The train consisted of fifty wagons loaded with mining implements and provisions for the winter. Even planks for constructing gold-rockers were carried in the bottom of some of the wagons. The teams were strong oxen; the riding horses of the hardy native Cayuse stock, late worth but ten dollars, now bringing thirty, and the men were armed. Burnett was elected captain and Thomas McKay pilot. They went to Klamath Lake by the Applegate route, and then turned south-east intending to get into the California emigrant road before it crossed the Sierra. After travelling several days over an elevated region, not well watered nor furnishing good grass, to their surprise they came into a newly opened wagon-road, which proved to be that which Peter Lassen of California had that season persuaded a small party immigrating into the Sacramento Valley to take, through a pass which would bring them near his rancho.
The exodus thus begun continued as long as weather permitted, and until several thousand had left Oregon by land and sea. The second wagon company of twenty ox-teams and twenty-five men was from Puget Sound, and but a few days behind the first, while the old fur-hunters' trail west of the sierra swarmed with pack-trains all the autumn. Their first resort was Yuba River; but in the spring of 1849 the forks of the American became their principal field of operations, the town of Placerville, first called Hangtown, being founded by them. They were not confined to any localities, however, and made many discoveries, being for the first winter only more numerous in certain places than other miners; and as they were accustomed to camp-life, Indian-fighting, and self-defence generally, they obtained the reputation of being clannish and aggressive. If one of them was killed or robbed, the others felt bound to avenge the injury, and the rifle or the rope soon settled the account. Looking upon them as interlopers, the Californians naturally resented these decided measures. But as the Oregonians were honest, sober, and industrious, and could be accused of nothing worse than being ill-dressed and unkempt and of knowing how to protect themselves, the Californians manifested their prejudice by applying to them the title 'Lop-ears,' which led to the retaliatory appellation of 'Tar-heads,' which elegant terms long remained in use.
It was a huge joke, gold-mining and all, including even life and death. But as to rivalries they signified nothing. Most of the Oregon and Washington adventurers who did not lose their life were successful; opportunity was assuredly greater then in the
Sierra Foothills than in the Valley Willamette. Still they were not hard to satisfy; and they began to return early in the spring of 1849, when every vessel that entered the Columbia was crowded with home-loving Oregonians. A few went into business in California. The success of those that returned stimulated others to go who at first had not been able. There was a complete revolution in trade, as remarkable as it was unlocked for two years before, when the farmers were trying to form a coöperative ship-building association to carry the products of their farms to a market where cash could be obtained for wheat. No need longer to complain of the absence of vessels, or the terrible bar of the Columbia. I have mentioned in the preceding chapter that the Henry and the Toulon were the only two American vessels trading regularly to the Columbia River in the spring of 1848. Hitherto only an occasional vessel from California had entered the river for lumber and flour; but now they came in fleets, taking besides these articles vegetables, butter, eggs, and other products needed by the thousands arriving at the mines, the traffic at first yielding enormous profits. Instead of from three to eight arrivals and departures in a year, there were more than fifty in 1849, of which twenty were in the river in October awaiting cargoes at one time. They were from sixty to six or or seven hundred tons burden, and three of them were built in Oregon. Whether it was due to their general light draft, or to an increased knowledge of the channels of the mouth of the river, few accidents occurred, and only one American vessel was wrecked at or near the entrance this year; though two French ships were lost during the summer, one on the bar in attempting to enter by the south channel, then changed in its direction from the shifting of the sands, and the other, by carelessness, in the river between Astoria and Tongue Point.
That all this sudden influx of shipping, where so little had ventured before, meant prosperity to Oregon tradesmen is unquestionable. Portland, which Pettygrove had turned his back upon with seventy-five thousand dollars, was now a thriving port, whose shore was lined with a fleet of barks, brigs, and ships, and where wharves and warehouses were in great demand. In Oregon City the mills were kept busy making flour and lumber, and new saw-mills were erected on the Columbia.
The farmers did not at first derive much benefit from the change in affairs, as labor was so high and scarce, and there was a partial loss of crops in consequence. Furthermore their wheat was already in store with the merchants and millers at a fixed price, or contracted for to pay debts. They therefore could not demand the advanced price of wheat till the crop of 1849 was harvested, while the merchant–millers had almost a whole year in which to make flour out of wheat costing them not more than five eighths of a dollar a bushel in goods, and which they sold at ten and twelve dollars a barrel at the mills. If able to send it to San Francisco, they realized double that price. As with wheat so with other things, the speculators had the best of it.
When the General Lane sailed from Oregon City with lumber and provisions, there were several tons of eggs on board which had been purchased at the market price, and which were sold by the captain at thirty cents a dozen to a passenger who obtained for them at Sacramento a dollar each. The large increase of home productions, with the influx of gold by the return of fortunate miners, soon enabled the farmers to pay off their debts and improve their places, a labor upon which they entered with ardor in anticipation of the donation law. Some of those who could arrange their affairs, went a second time to California in 1849; among the new companies being one of several hundred Canadians and half-breeds, under the charge of Father Delorme, few of whom ever returned alive, owing to one of those mysterious epidemics, developed under certain not well understood conditions, attacking their camp.
On the whole the effect of the California gold discovery was to unsettle the minds of the people and change their habits. To the Hudson's Bay Company it was in some respects a damage, and in others a benefit. The fur-trade fell off, and this, together with the operation of the treaty of 1846, compelling them to pay duties on goods from English ports, soon effected the abandonment of their business in United States territory. For a time they had a profitable trade in gold-dust, but when coined gold and American and Mexican money came into free circulation, there was an end of that speculation. Every circumstance now conspired to drive British trade out of Oregon as fast as the country could get along independently of it; and inasmuch as the fur company had, through the dependence of the American community upon them, been enabled to make a fair profit on a large amount of goods, it was scarcely to be regretted that they should now be forced to give way, and retire to new territory where only fur companies properly belong.
Among the events of 1849 which were directly due to the mining episode was the minting of about fifty thousand dollars at Oregon City, under an act of the colonial legislature passed at its last session, without license from the United States. The reasons for this act, which were recited in the preamble, were that in use as currency was a large amount of gold-dust which was mixed with base metals and impurities of other kinds, and that great irregularities in weighing existed, to the injury of the community. Two members only, Medorum Crawford and W. J. Martin, voted against the bill, and these entered on the records a formal protest on the ground that the measure was unconstitutional and inexpedient. The reason for the passage of the act was, really, the low price of gold-dust, the merchants having the power to fix the rate of gold as well as of wheat, receiving it for goods at twelve dollars an ounce, the Hudson's Bay Company buying it at ten dollars and paying in coin procured for the purpose.
The effect of the law was to prevent the circulation of gold-dust altogether, as it forbade weighing. No steps were taken toward building a mint, which would have been impossible had not the erection of a territorial government intervened. But as there was henceforth considerable coin coming into the country to exchange at high prices for every available product, there was no serious lack of money. On the contrary there was a disadvantage in the readiness with which silver was introduced from California, barrels of Mexican and Peruvian dollars being thrown upon the market, which had been sent to California to pay for gold-dust. The Hudson's Bay Company allowed only fifty cents for a Peruvian dollar, while the American merchants took them at one hundred cents. Some of the Oregon miners were shrewd enough to buy up Mexican silver dollars, and even less valuable coins, with gold-dust at sixteen dollars an ounce, and take them to Oregon where dust could be readily obtained at twelve or fourteen dollars an ounce. The gold coins in general circulation were Spanish doubloons, halves, and quarters. Such was the scarcity of convenient currency previous to this overplus that silver coin had been at a premium of ten per cent, but fell rapidly to one per cent.
The act of the legislature did not escape criticism. But before the law could be carried into effect Governor Lane had issued his proclamation placing the territory under the government of the United States, and it became ineffectual, as well as illegal. The want, however, remaining the same, a partnership was formed called the Oregon Exchange Company, which proceeded to coin money after its own fashion, and on its own responsibility. The members were W. K. Kilborne, Theophilus Magruder, James Taylor, George Abernethy, W. H. Willson, W. H. Rector, J. G. Campbell, and Noyes Smith. Rector "being the only member with any mechanical skill" was deputized to furnish the stamps and dies, which he did, using a small machine for turning iron. The engraving was done by Campbell. When all was in readiness, Rector was employed as coiner, no assaying being done or attempt made to part the silver from the gold. Indeed, it was not then known in Oregon that there was any silver in the crude metal, and all the pieces of the same denomination were made of the same weight, though the color varied considerably. About thirty thousand dollars were made into five-dollar pieces; and not quite the same amount into ten-dollar coins. This coinage raised the price of dust from twelve to sixteen dollars an ounce, and caused a great saving to the territory. Being thrown into circulation, and quickly followed by an abundance of money from California, the intended check on the avarice of the merchants was effected. The Oregon Exchange coinage went by the name 'beaver money,' and was eventually all called in by the United States mint in San Francisco, a premium being paid upon it, as it was of greater value than the denominations on the coins indicated.
I have said that the effect of the gold discovery was to change the habits of the people. Where all was economy and thrift before, there was now a tendency to profligacy and waste. This was natural. They had suffered so long the oppression of a want that could not be relieved, and the restraint of desires that could not be gratified without money, that when money came, and with such ease, it was like a draught of brandy upon an empty stomach. There was intoxication, sometimes delirium. Such was especially the case with the Canadians, some of whom brought home thirty or forty thousand dollars, but were unable to keep it. The same was true of others. The pleasure of spending, and of buying such articles of luxury as now began to find their way to Oregon from an overstocked California market, was too great to be resisted. If they could not keep their money, however, they put it into circulation, and so contributed to supply a want in the community, and enable those who could not go to the mines, through fear of losing their land claims, or other cause, to share in the golden harvest.
It has been held by some that the discovery of gold at this time seriously retarded the progress of Oregon. This was not the case in general, though it may have been so in particular instances. It took agriculturists temporarily from their farms and mechanics from their shops, thereby checking the steady if slow march of improvement. But it found a market for agricultural products, raising prices several hundred per cent, and enabled the farmer to get gold for his produce, instead of a poor class of goods at exorbitant prices. It checked for two or three years the progress of building. While mill-owners obtained enormous prices for their lumber, the wages of mechanics advanced from a dollar and a half a day to eight dollars, and the day laborer was able to demand and obtain four dollars per day where he had received but one. Men who before were almost hopelessly in debt were enabled to pay. By the amended currency law, all debts that had to be collected by law were payable in gold instead of wheat. Many persons were in debt, and their creditors hesitated to sell their farms and thus ruin them; but all the same the dread of ruin hung over them, crushing their spirits. Six months in the gold mines changed all, and lifted the burden from their hearts. Another good effect was that it drew to the country a class, not agriculturists, nor mechanics, nor professional men, but projectors of various enterprises beneficial to the public, and who in a short time built steamboats in place of sloops and flatboats, and established inland transportation for passengers and goods, which gradually displaced the pack-train and the universal horseback travel. These new men enabled the United States government to carry out some of its proposed measures of relief in favor of the people of Oregon, in the matter of a mail service, to open trade with foreign ports, to establish telegraphic communication with California, and eventually to introduce railroads. These were certainly no light benefits, and were in a measure the result of the gold discovery. Without it, though the country had continued to fill up with the same class of people who first settled it, several generations must have passed before so much could have been effected as was now quickly accomplished. Even with the aid of government the country must have progressed slowly, owing to its distance from business and progressional centres, and the expense of maintaining intercourse with the parent government. Moreover, during this period of slow growth the average condition of the people with respect to intellectual progress would have retrograded. The adult population, having to labor for the support of families, and being deprived through distance and the want of money from keeping up their former intellectual pursuits, would have ceased to feel their former interest in learning and literature. Their children, with but poor educational facilities and without the example, would have grown up with acquirements inferior to those of their parents before emigrating. Reared in poor houses, without any of the elegancies of life, and with but few of the ordinary conveniences, they would have missed the refining influences of healthy environment, and have fallen below the level of their time in regard to the higher enjoyments of living. The people being chiefly agricultural and pastoral, from their isolation would have become fixed in their ideas and prejudices. As the means of living became plenty and little exertion was required, they would become attached to an easy, careless, unthinking mode of existence, with a tendency even to resent innovations in their habits to which a higher degree of civilization might invite them. Such is the tendency of poverty and isolation, or of isolation and rude physical comforts, without some constant refining agency at hand.
One of the immediate effects of the mining exodus of 1848 was the suspension of the legislature. On the day appointed by law for the assembling of the legislative body only nine members were present, representing four counties; and this notwithstanding the governor had issued proclamations to fill vacancies occurring through the resignation of members-elect. Even after the sergeant-at-arms had compelled the appearance of four members from Champoeg, Polk, and Linn counties, there were still but thirteen out of twenty-three allowed by the apportionment. After organizing by choosing Ralph Wilcox speaker, W. G. T'Vault chief clerk, and William Holmes sergeant-at-arms and door-keeper, the house adjourned till the first Monday in February, to give time for special elections to fill the numerous vacancies.
The governor having again issued proclamations to the vacant districts to elect, on the 5th of February 1849 there convened at Oregon City the last session of the provisional legislature of the Oregon colony. It consisted of eighteen members, namely: Jesse Applegate, W. J. Bailey, A. Cox, M. Crawford, G. L. Curry, A. F. Hedges, A. J. Hembree, David Hill, John Hudson, A. L. Lewis, W. J. Martin, S. Parker, H. J. Peterson, William Portius, L. A. Rice, S. R. Thurston, J. C. Avery, and Ralph Wilcox.
Lewis County remained unrepresented, nor did Avery of Benton appear until brought with a warrant, an organization being effected with seventeen members. Wilcox declining to act as speaker, Levi A. Rice was chosen in his place, and sworn into office by S. M. Holderness, secretary of state. T'Vault was reëlected chief clerk; James Cluse enrolling clerk; Stephen H. L. Meek sergeant-at-arms, and Wilson Blain chaplain.
Abernethy in his message to the legislature informed them that his proclamation had called them together for the purpose of transacting the business which should have been done at the regular session, relating chiefly to the adjustment of the expenses of the Cayuse war, which it was expected the United States government would assume; and also to act upon the amendments to the organic law concerning the oath of office, the prohibition of the sale and manufacture of ardent spirits, and to make the clerks of the several counties recorders of land claims, which amendments had been sanctioned by the vote of the people at the regular election. Information had been received, he said, that the officers necessary to establish and carry on the territorial government, for which they had so long hoped, were on their way and would soon arrive; and he plainly indicated that he expected the matters pointed out to be settled in a certain way, before the new government should be established, confirming the acts of the retiring organization.
The laws passed relating to the Cayuse war were an act to provide for the pay of the commissioned officers employed in the service of the territory during the hostilities, and an act regulating the issuing and redemption of scrip, making it payable to the person to whom first issued, or bearer, the treasurer being authorized to exchange or redeem it whenever offered, with interest. Another act provided for the manner of exchange, and interest payments. An act was passed making a change in the oath of office, and making county clerks recorders of land claims, to which the governor refused his signature on the plea that the United States laws would provide for the manner of recording claims. On the other hand the legislature refused to amend the organic law by putting in the word 'prohibit' in place of 'regulate,' but passed an act making it necessary for every person applying for a license to sell or manufacture ardent spirits, to take an oath not to sell, barter, or give liquor to any Indian, fixing the penalty at one hundred dollars; and no distilleries were to be allowed beyond the limits of the white settlements. With this poor substitute for the entire interdiction he had so long desired, the governor was compelled to be so far satisfied as to append his signature.
Besides the act providing for weighing and stamping gold, of which I have spoken, little more was done than is here mentioned. Some contests took place between members over proposed enactments, and Jesse Applegate, as customary with him, offered resolutions and protests ad arbitrium et propositum. Another man, Samuel R. Thurston, an emigrant of 1847, displayed indications of a purpose to make his talents recognized. In the course of proceedings A. L. Lewis, of Vancouver county, offered a resolution that the superintendent of Indian affairs be required to report, presently asking if there were an Indian superintendent in Oregon at all.
The governor replied that H. A. G. Lee had resigned the superintendency because the compensation bore no proportion to the services required, and that since Lee's resignation he had performed the duties of superintendent, not being able to find any competent person who would accept the office. In a second communication he reported on Indian affairs that the course pursued had been conciliatory, and that the Indians had seemingly become quiet, and had ceased their clamor for pay for their lands, waiting for the United States to move in the matter; and the Cayuse murderers had not been secured. With regard to the confiscation of Indian lands, he returned for answer that lie believed Lee had invited the settlement of Americans in the Cayuse country, but that he knew nothing of any charter having been granted to any one, and that he presumed the settlement would have been made by each person locating a claim of six hundred and forty acres. He reiterated the opinion expressed to Lee, when the superintendent sought his advice, that the Cayuses having been engaged in war with the Americans the appropriation of their lands was justifiable, and would be so regarded by the neighboring tribes. As to liquor being sold to the Indians, though he believed it was done, he had never yet been able to prove it in a single instance, and recommended admitting Indian testimony.
The legislature adjourned February 16th, having put, so far as could be done, the provisional government in order, to be confirmed by act of congress, even to passing an act providing for the payment of the several departments—a necessary but hitherto much neglected duty of the organization—and also to the election of territorial officers for another term. These were never permitted to exercise official functions, as but two weeks elapsed between the close of the session and the arrival of Lane with the new order of things.
Note finally the effect of the gold discovery on immigration. California in 1849 of course offered the great attraction. The four or five hundred who were not dazzled with the visions of immediate wealth that beckoned southward the great army of gold-seekers, but who suffered with them the common discomforts of the way, were glad to part company at the place where their roads divided on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains.
On the Oregon part of the road no particular discouragement or distress befell the travellers until they reached The Dalles and began the passage of the mountains or the river. As no emigration had ever passed over the last ninety miles of their journey to the Willamette Valley without accident or loss, so these had their trials with floods and mountain declivities, arriving, however, in good time, after having been detained in the mountains by forest fires which blocked the road with fallen timber. This was another form of the inevitable hardship which year after year fell upon travellers in some shape on this part of their journey. The fires were an evidence that the rains came later than usual, and that the former trials from this source of discomfort were thus absent. Such was the general absorption of the public mind in other affairs that the immigration received little notice.
Before gold was discovered it was land that drew men to the Pacific, land seen afar off through a rosy mist which made it seem many times more valuable and beautiful than the prolific valleys of the middle and western states. And now, even before the donation law had passed, the tide had turned, and gold was the magnet more potent than acres to attract. How far population was diverted from the north-west, and to what extent California contributed to the development of the resources of Oregon, the progress of this history will show. Then, perhaps, after all it will be seen that the distance of Oregon from the Sierra Foothills proved at this time the greatest of blessings, being near enough for commercial communication, and yet so far away as to escape the more evil consequences attending the mad scramble for wealth, such as social dissolution, the rapine of intellect and principle, an overruling spirit of gambling—a delirium of development, attended by robbery, murder, and all uncleanness, and followed by reaction and death.
- J. W. Marshall was an immigrant to Oregon of 1844. He went to California in 1846, and was employed by Sutter. In 1847 he was followed by Charles Bennett and Stephen Staats, all of whom were at Sutter's mill when the discovery of gold was made. Brown's Will. Vol., MS., 7; Parsons' Life of Marshall, 8–9.
- Burnett says that at least two thirds of the population capable of bearing arms left for California in the summer and autumn of 1848. Recollections, MS., i. 325. 'About two thousand persons,' says the California Star and Californian, Dec. 9, 1848. Only five old men were left at Salem. Brown's Will. Val., MS., 9. Anderson, in his Northwest Coast, MS., 37, speaks of the great exodus. Compare Crawford's Nar., MS., 166, and Victor's River of the West, 483–5. Barnes, Or. and Cal., MS., 8, says he found at Oregon City only a few women and children and some Indians.
- The Spectator from February to October. I do not think the Free Press was revived after its stoppage, though it ran long enough to print Lane's proclamation. The Oregon American had expired in the autumn of 1848.
- Atkinson, in the Home Missionary, 22, 64; Bristow's Rencounters, MS., 2–9; Ryan's Judges and Criminals, 79.
- There was the usual doggerel perpetrated here as elsewhere at the time. See Brown's Or. Miscel., MS., 47.
- Ross' Nar., MS., 11; Lovejoy's Portland, MS., 26; Johnson's Cal and Or., 18–6.
- After proceeding some distance on Lassen's trail they found that others who had preceded them were as ignorant as they of what lay before them; and after travelling westward for eight miles they came to a sheer wall of rock, constituting a mountain ridge, instead of to a view of the Sacramento Valley. On examination of the ground it was found that Lassen and his company had been deceived as well as they, and had marched back to within half a mile of the entrance to the valley before finding a way out of it. After exploring for some distance in advance the wagons were allowed to come on, and the summit of the sierra was reached the 20th of October. After passing this and entering the pine forest on the western slope, they overtook Lassen and a portion of his party, unable to proceed. He had at first but ten wagons in his company, and knew nothing more about the route than from a generally correct idea of the country he could conjecture. They proceeded without mishap until coming to the thick timber on the mountains; and not having force enough to open the road, they were compelled to convert their wagons into carts in order to make the short turns necessary in driving around fallen timber. Progress in this manner was slow. Half of the immigrants, now fearfully incensed against their leader, had abandoned their carts, and packing their goods on their starving oxen, deserted the other half, without knowing how they were to reach the settlements. When those behind were overtaken by the Oregonians they were in a miserable condition, not having had bread for a month. Their wants were supplied, and they were assured that the road should be opened for them, which was done. Sixty or eighty men went to the front with axes, and the way was cleared for the wagons. When the forest was passed, there were yet other difficulties which Lassen's small and exhausted company could never have removed. A tragedy like that of Donner Lake was averted by these gold-seekers, who arrived in the Sacramento Valley about the 1st of November. Burnett's Recollections, MS., i. 328–366; Lovejoy's Portland, MS., 27; Barnes' Or. and Cal., MS., 11–12; Palmer's Wagon Trains, MS., 43.
- Hancock's Thirteen Years' Residence on the Northwest Coast, a thick manuscript volume containing an account of the immgration of 1845, the settlement of the Puget Sound country by Americans, the journey to California of the gold-hunters, and a long list of personal adventures with Indians, and other matter of an interesting nature, is one of my authorities on this period. The manuscript was written at the dictation of Samuel Hancock, of Whidbey Island, by Major Sewell. See Morse's Notes of the History and Resources of Washington Ter., ii. 19–30. It would seem from Hancock's MS. that the Puget Sound Company, like the Willamette people, overtook and assisted a party of immigrants who had been forsaken by that pilot in the Sierra Nevada, and brought them through to the Sacramento Valley. This may have been the other division of Lassen's company, though Hancock says there were 25 wagons, which does not agree with Burnett.
- One of the first companies with pack-animals was under John E. Ross, an immigrant of 1847, and a lieutenant in the Cayuse war, of whom I shall have more to say hereafter. Ross states that Levi Scott had already settled in the Umpqua Valley, and was then the only American south of the Calapooya Mountains. From Scott's to the first house in California, Reading's, was 14 days' travel. See Ross' Nar., MS., passim.
- Ross' Nar., MS., 15; Crawford's Nar., MS., 194, 204. The American pioneers of California, looking for the origin of the word Oregon in a Spanish phrase signifying long-ears, as I have explained in vol. i. Hist. Or., hit upon this delectable sobriquet for the settlers of that country. With equal justice, admitting this theory to be correct, which it is not, the Oregonians called them tar-heads, because the northern California Indians were observed to cover their heads with tar as a sign of mourning.
- Among those who went to California in 1848–9 are the following: Robert Henderson, James McBride, William Carpenter, Joel Palmer, A. L. Lovejoy, F. W. Pettygrove, Barton Lee, W. W. Bristow, W. L. Adams, Christopher Taylor, John E. Ross, P. B. Cornwall, Walter Monteith, Horace Burnett, P. H. Burnett, John P. Rogers, A. A. Skinner, M. M. McCarver, Frederick Ramsey, William Dement, Peter Crawford, Henry Williamson, Thomas McKay, William Fellows, S. C. Reeves, James Porter, I. W. Alderman, William Moulton, Aaron Stanton, J. R. Robb, Aaron Payne, J. Matheney, George Gay, Samuel Hancock, Robert Alexander, Niniwon Everman, John Byrd, Elisha Byrd, William Byrd, Sr, William Byrd, Jr, T. R. Hill, Ira Patterson, William Patterson, Stephen Bonser, Saul Richards, W. H. Gray, Stephen Staats, J. W. Nesmith, J. S. Snooks, W. D. Canfield, Alanson Husted, John M. Shively, Edmund Sylvester, James O'Neal, Benjamin Wood, William Whitney, W. P. Dougherty, Allen McLeod, John Edmonds, Charles Adams, John Inyard, Miriam Poe, Joseph Williams, Hilt. Bouser, William Shaw, Thomas Carter, Jefferson Carter, Ralph Wilcox, Benjamin Burch, William H. Rector, Hamilton Campbell, Robert Newell, John E. Bradley, J. Curtis, H. Brown, Jeremiah McKay, Priest, Turney, Leonard, Shurtzer, Loomis, Samuel Cozine, Columbia Lancaster Pool, English, Thompson, Johnson, Robinson, and others.
- P. W. Crawford gives the following account of his efforts to raise the means to go to California: He was an immigrant of 1847, and had not yet acquired property that could be converted into money. Being a surveyor he spent most of his time in laying out town sites and claims, for which he received lots in payment, and in some cases wheat, and often nothing. He had a claim on the Cowlitz which he managed to get planted in potatoes. Owning a little skiff called the E. West, he traded it to Geer for a hundred seedling apple-trees, but not being able to return to his claim, he planted them on the land of Wilson Blain, opposite Oregon City. Having considerable wheat at McLoughlin's mill he had a portion of it ground, and sold the flour for cash. He gave some wheat to newly arrived emigrants, and traded the rest for a fat ox, which he sold to a butcher at Oregon City for twenty-five dollars cash. Winter coming on he assisted his friend Reed in the pioneer bakery of Portland. In February he traded a Durham bull which he purchased of an Indian at Fort Laramie and drove to Oregon, for a good sailing boat, with which he took a load of hoop-poles down the Columbia to Hunt's mill, where salmon barrels were made, and brought back some passengers, and a few goods for Capt. Crosby, having a rough hard time working his way through the floating ice. On getting back to Portland, Crawford and Williams, the former mate of the Starling, engaged of the supercargo Gray, at sixty dollars each, steerage passage on the Undine then lying at Hunt's mill. The next thing was to get supplies and tools, such as were needed to go to the mines. For these it was necessary to make a visit to Vancouver, which could nob be done in a boat, as the river was still full of ice, above the mouth of the Williamette. He succeeded in crossing the Columbia opposite the head of Sauvé Island, and walked from the landing to Vancouver, a distance of about six miles. This business accomplished, he rejoined his companion in the boat, and set out for Hunt's mill, still endangered by floating ice, but arriving in time to take passage. Such were the common incidents of life in Oregon before the gold products of the California mines came into circulation. Narrative, MS., 179–187.
- About the last of December 1848 the Spanish bark Jóven Guipuzcoana, S. C. Reeves captain, arrived from San Francisco to load with Oregon productions for the California markets. She was fastened in the ice a few miles below the mouth of the Willamette until February, and did not get out of the river until about the middle of March. Crawford's Nar., MS., 173–91. The brig Maleck Adhel, Hall master, left the river with a cargo Feb. 7, 1849. Following are some of the other arrivals of the year: January 5th, schr. Starling, Captain Menzies; 7th, bk. Anita, Hall; brig Undine, Brum; May 8th, bks. Anita, Hall; Janet, Dring; ship Mercedes; schrs. Milwaukie; Valdova; 28th, bk. J. W. Carter; brig Mary and Ellen; June 16th, schr. Pioneer; bk. Undine; 23d, bk. Columbia; brigs Henry, Sacramento, El Placer; July 2d, ship Walpole; 10th, brigs Belfast, L'Etoile du Matin; ship Silvie de Grasse; schr. O. C. Raymond; brig Quito; 28th, ship Huntress; bk. Louisiana; schr. Gen. Lane; Aug. 7th, bk. Carib; 11th, bks. Harpooner, Madonna; ship Aurora; brig Forrest; bks. Ocean Bird, Diamond, Helen M. Leidler; Oct. 17th, brigs Quito, Hawkes; O. C. Raymond, Menzies; Josephine, Melton; Jno. Petit; Mary and Ellen, Gier; bks. Toulon, Hoyt; Azim, McKenzie; 22d, brig Sarah McFarland, Brooks; 24th, brig Wolcott, Kennedy; Nov. 12th, bk. Louisiana, Williams; brigs Mary Wilder; North Bend, Bartlett; 13th, ship Huntress, Upton; 15th, bks. Diamond, Madonna; 25th, brig Sacramento; bk. Seguin, Norton; brig Duc de Lorgunes, Travillot.
- The schooner Milwaukie, built at Milwaukie by Lot Witcomb and Joseph Kelly, was of planking put on diagonally in several thicknesses, with a few temporary sawed timbers and natural crooks, and was sold in San Francisco for $4,000. The General Lane was built at Oregon City by John McClellan, aided by McLoughlin, and ran to San Francisco. Her captain was Gilman, afterward a bar pilot at Astoria. She went directly to Sacramento with a cargo of lumber and farm products. The Pioneer was put together by a company at Astoria. Honolulu Friend, Sept. 1, 1849.
- The brig Josephine was becalmed, whereupon her anchor was let down; but a gale blowing up in the night she was driven on the sand and dashed to pieces in the breakers. She was loaded with lumber from the Oregon City Mills, which was a total loss to the Island Milling Company. Or. Spectator, Jan. 10, 1850.
- This latter wreck was of the Silvie de Grasse which brought Thornton home from Boston. She was formerly a packet of 2,000 tons, built of live-oak, and running between New York and Havre. She loaded with lumber for San Francisco, but in descending the river ran upon a rock and split. Eighteen years afterward her figure-head and a part of her hull stood above the water. What was left was then sold to A. S. Mercer, the iron being still in good order, and the locust and oak knees and timbers perfectly sound. Oregonian, in Puget Sound Gazette, April 15, 1867. The wreck on the bar was of L'Etoile du Matin, before mentioned in connection with the return to Oregon of Archbishop Blanchet, and the arrival of the Catholic reënforcement in 1847. Returning to Oregon in 1849, the captain not finding a pilot outside undertook to run in by the south channel, in which attempt he was formerly so successful, but its course having shifted, he soon found his ship fast on the sands, while an American bark that had followed him, but drew 10 feet less water, passed safely in. The small life-boats were all lost in lowering, but after passing through great dangers the ship was worked into Baker Bay without a rudder, with a loosened keel and most of the pumps broken, aid having been rendered by Latta of the Hudson's Bay Company and some Indians. A box rudder was constructed, and the vessel taken to Portland, and landed where the warehouse of Allen and Lewis later stood. The cargo belonged to Francis Menes, who saved most of it, and who opened a store in Oregon City, where he resided four years, finally settling at St Louis on French Prairie. He died December 1867. The hull of the Morning Star was sold to Couch and Flanders, and by them to Charles Hutchins, and was burned for the iron and copper. Eugene La Forrest, in Portland Oregonian, March 28, 1868.
- Couch returned in August from the east, in the bark Madonna, with G. A. Flanders as mate, in the service of the Shermans, shipping merchants of New York. They built a wharf and warehouse, and had soon laid the foundation of a handsome fortune. Eugene La Forrest, in Portland Oregonian, Jan. 29, 1870; Deady, in Trans. Or. Pioneer Assoc., 1876, 33–4. Nathaniel Crosby, also of Portland, was owner of the O. C. Raymond, which carried on so profitable a trade that he could afford to pay the master $300 a month, the mate $200, and ordinary seamen $100. He had built himself a residence costing $5,000 before the gold discovery. Honolulu Friend, Oct. 15, 1849.
- McLoughlin's miller was James Bachan, a Scotchman. The island gristmill was in charge of Robert Pentland, an Englishman, miller for Abernethy. Crawford's Nar., MS.
- A mill was erected in 1848 on Milton Creek, which falls into Scappoose Bay, an inlet of the lower Willamette at its junction with the Columbia, where the town of Milton was subsequently laid off and had a brief existence. It was owned by T. H. Hemsaker, and built by Joseph Cunningham. It began running in 1849, and was subsequently sold to Captain N. Crosbey and Thomas W. Smith, who employed the bark Louisiana, Captain Williams, carrying lumber to San Francisco. Crawford's Nar., MS., 217. By the bark Diamond, which arrived from Boston in August, Hiram Clark supercargo, Abernethy received a lot of goods and took Clark as partner. Together they built a saw and planing mill on the Columbia at Oak Point, opposite the original Oak Point of the Winship brothers, a more convenient place for getting timber or loading vessels than Oregon City. The island mill at the latter place was rented to Walter Pomeroy, and subsequently sold, as I shall relate hereafter. Another mill was erected above and back of Tongue Point by Henry Marland in 1849. Id.; Honolulu Friend, Oct. 3, 1849.
- In the Spectator of Oct. 18, 1849, the price of beef on foot is given at 6 and 8 cents; in market, 10 and 12 cents per pound; pork, 16 and 20 cents; butter, 62 and 75 cents; cheese, 50 cents; flour, $14 per barrel; wheat, $1.50 and $2 per bushel, and oats the same. Potatoes were worth $2.50 per bushel; apples, $10. These were the articles produced in the country, and these prices were good. On the other hand, groceries and dry goods, which were imported, cost less than formerly, because, while consumption was less, more cargoes were arriving. Iron and nails, glass and paint were still high, and cooking-stoves brought from $70 to $130.
- F. X. Matthieu, who was one of the company, says that out of 600 only 150 remained alive, and that Delorme narrowly escaped. Refugee, MS., 15; Blanchet's Hist. Cath. Ch. in Or., 180.
- Roberts' Recollections, MS., 81; Anderson's Northwest Coast, MS., 38.
- Grover's Or. Archives, 311, 315. The act was approved by the governor Feb. 16, 1849. According to its provisions the mint was to be established at Oregon City; its officers, elected annually by the house of representatives, were to give each $30,000 bonds, and draw a salary of $1,999 each per annum, to be paid out of proceeds of the institution. The director was empowered to pledge the faith of the territory for means to put the mint in operation; and was required to publish in some newspaper in the territory a quarterly statement, or by sending such a report to the county clerk of each county. The act provided for an assayer and melter and coiner, the latter being forbidden to use any alloys whatever. The weight of the pieces was to be five pennyweights and ten pennyweights respectively, no more and no less. The dies for stamping were required to have on one side the Roman figure five, for the pieces of five pennyweights, and the Roman figure ten, for the pieces of ten pennyweights, the reverse sides to be stamped with the words Oregon Territory, and the date of the year around the face, with the 'arms of Oregon' in the centre. What then constituted the 'arms of Oregon' is a question. Brown, Will. Valley, MS., 13, says that only parts of the impression remain in the Oregon archives, and that it has gone out of the memory of everybody, including Holderness, secretary of state in 1848. Thornton says that the auditor's seal of the provisional government consisted of a star in the centre of a figure so arranged as to represent a larger star, containing the letters Auditor O. T., and that it is still preserved in the Oregon archives. Relics, MS., 6. But as the law plainly described the coins as having the arms of Oregon on the same side with the date and the name of the territory, then if the idea of the legislators was carried out, as it seems to have been, a beaver must have been the design on the territorial seal, as it was on the coins. All disbursements of the mint, together with the pay of officers, must be made in the stamped pieces authorized by the act; and whatever remained of profits, after deducting expenses, was to be applied to pay the Cayuse war expenses. Penalties were provided for the punishment of any private person who should coin gold or attempt to pass unstamped gold. The officers appointed were James Taylor, director; Truman P. Powers, treasurer; W. H. Willson, melter and coiner, and G. L. Curry, assayer. Or. Spectator, Feb. 22, 1849.
- Barnes' Or. and Cal., MS., 9; Buck's Enterprises, MS., 8; Brown's Will. Vol., MS., 14. This condition of the currency caused a petition to be drawn up and numerously signed, setting forth that in consequence of the neglect of the United States government the colonists must combine against the greed of the merchants in this matter. There was gold-dust in the territory, they declared, to the value of two millions of dollars, and more arriving. Besides the losses they were forced to bear by the depreciation of gold-dust, there was the inconvenience of handling it in its original state, and also the loss attending its frequent division. These objections to a gold-dust currency being likely to exist for some time, or as long as mining was followed, they prayed the legislature to pass a coinage act, which was done as I have said. Or. Archives, MS., 188.
- Deady's Hist. Or., MS.
- W. H. Rector's Oregon Exchange Company, in Or. Archives, MS., 193.
- Moss' Pioneer Times, MS., 59.
- Some severe strictures were passed upon it by A. E. Wait, a lawyer, and at that time editor of the Spectator, who declared with emphasis that the people of Oregon desired no law which conflicted with the laws of the United States; but only asked for the temporary privilege under the provisional government of coining gold to meet the requirements of business for the present; and that if this act was to be numbered among those which congress was asked to confirm, it was a direct insult to the United States. Wait may have been right as to the general sentiment of the people, or of the best and most patriotic men of the American party, but it is plain from the language of the memorial to the legislature that its framers were in a mood to defy the government which had so long appeared to be unmindful of them.
- The ten-dollar pieces differed from the fives by having over the beaver only the letters 'K. M. T. R. C. S.' underneath which were seven stars.
Beneath the beaver was 'O. T., 1849.' On the reverse was 'Oregon Exchange Company' around the margin, and '10 D. 20 G. Native Gold' with 'Ten D.' in the centre. Thornton's Or. Relics, MS., 5.
- Or. Archives, MS., 192–5; Buck's Enterprises, MS., 9–10. Rector says: 'I afterward learned that Kilborne took the rolling-mill to Umpqua. John G. Campbell had the dies the last I knew of them. He promised to destroy them;' to which J. Henry Brown adds that they were placed in the custody of the secretary of state, together with a $10 piece, and that he had made several impressions of the dies in block tin. A set of these impressions was presented to me in 1878 by Mr Brown, and is in my collection.
- Or. Archives, MS., 191, 196. Other mention of the 'beaver money' is made in Or. Pioneer Asso. Trans., 1875, 72, and Portland Oregonian, Dec. 8, 1866.
- Anderson's Northwest Coast, MS., 37–9; Johnson's Cal. and Or., 206–7.
- Sayward's Pioneer Remin., MS., 7.
- Deady, in Overland Monthly, i. 36; Honolulu Friend, May 3, 1851.
- Brown's Autobiography, MS., 37; Strong's Hist. Or., MS., 15.
- Strong's Hist. Or., MS., 21.
- The members elect of the legislature were: from Clackamas, A. L. Lovejoy, G. L. Curry, J. L. Snook; Tualatin, Samuel R. Thurston, P. H. Burnett, Ralph Wilcox; Champoeg, Albert Gains, Robert Newell, W. J. Bailey, William Porter; Yamhill, A. J. Hembree, L. A. Rice, William Martin; Polk, Harrison Linville, J. W. Nesmith, O. Russell; Linn, Henry J. Peterson, Anderson Cox; Lewis, Levi L. Smith; Clatsop, A. H. Thompson; Vancouver, Adolphus L. Lewis. Grover's Or. Archives, 258.
- The members elected to fill vacancies were Samuel Parker, in Champoeg County; D. Hill, in Tualatin; A. F. Hedges and M. Crawford, in Clackamas. Id., 260. Two other substitutes were elected—Thomas J. Lovelady of Polk county, and A. M. Locke of Benton, neither of whom served.
- Ralph Wilcox was born in Ontario county, New York, July 9, 1818. He graduated at Geneva medical college in that state, soon after which he removed to Missouri, where on the 11th of October 1845 he married, emigrating to Oregon the following year. In January 1847 he was appointed by Abernethy county judge of Tualatin vice W. Burris resigned, and the same year was elected to the legislature from the same county, and re-elected in 1848. Besides being chosen speaker at this session, he was elected speaker of the lower house of the territorial legislature in 1850–1, and president of the council in 1853–4. During the years 1856–8 he was register of the U. S. land office at Oregon City, and was elected in the latter year county judge of Washington (formerly Tualatin) county, an office which he held till 1862, when he was again elected to the house of representatives for two years. In July 1865 he was appointed clerk of the U. S. district court for the district of Oregon, and U. S. commissioner for the same district, which office he continued to hold down to the time of his death, which occurred by suicide, April 18, 1877, having shot himself in a state of mental depression caused by paralysis. Notwithstanding his somewhat free living he had continued to enjoy the confidence of the public for thirty years. The Portland bar passed the usual eulogistic resolutions. Oregon City Enterprise, April 26, 1877; S. F. Alta, April 19, 1877; Cal. Christian Advocate, May 3, 1877; Portland Oregonian, April 21, 1877; Deady, in Or. Pioneer. Asso. Trans., 1875, 37–8.
- This information seems to have been brought to Oregon in January 1849, by O. C. Pratt, one of the associate judges, who happened to be in California, whither he had gone in pursuit of health. His commission met him at Monterey about the last of Nov., and in Dec. he left for Oregon on the bark Undine which after a long voyage, and being carried into Shoalwater Bay, finally got into the Columbia in Jan. Salem Or. Statesman, Aug. 7, 1852; Or. Spectator, Jan. 25, 1849.
- He submitted the report of the adjutant-general, by which it appeared that the amount due to privates and non-commissioned officers was $109,311.50, besides the pay of the officers and those persons employed in the different departments. He recommended that a law should be passed authorizing scrip to be issued for that amount, redeemable at an early date, and bearing interest until paid. The belief that the general government would become responsible would, he said, make the scrip salable, and enable the holders to whom it should be issued to realize something immediately for their services. Grover's Or. Archives, 273. This was the beginning of speculation in Oregon war scrip. As to the report of the commissary and quartermaster-general, the governor left that for the legislature to examine into, and the accounts so far as presented in these departments amounted to something like $57,000, making the cost of the war without the salaries of the commissioned officers over $166,000. This was subsequently much reduced by a commission, as I shall show in the proper place.
- The first act mentioned here I have been unable to find. I quote the Or. Spectator, Feb. 22, 1849. In place of it I find in the Or. Laws, 1843–9, 56–8, an act providing for 'the final settlement of claims against the Oregon government for and on account of the Cayuse war,' by which a board of commissioners was appointed to settle and adjust those claims; said commissioners being Thomas Magruder, Samuel Burch, and Wesley Shannon, whose duty was to exhibit in detail a statement of all accounts, whether for money or property furnished the government, or for services rendered, 'either as a citizen, soldier, or officer of the army.' This might be construed as an act to provide for the pay of commissioned officers.
- Ever since first passing through southern Oregon on his exploring expedition, he had entertained a high opinion of the country; and he brought in a bill to charter an association called the Klamath Company, which was to have power to treat with the natives and purchase lands from them. Mr Hedges opposed the bill, and offered a resolution, 'that it was not in the power of the house to grant a charter to any individual, or company, for treating for wild lands in the territory, or for holding treaties with the Indian tribes for the purchase of lands,' all of which was very apparent. But Mr Applegate introduced the counter resolution 'that if the doctrine in the resolution last passed be true, then the powers of the Oregon government are unequal to the wants of the people,' which was of course equally true, as it was only provisional.
- He wished to know, he said, whether the superintendent had upon his own or the authority of any other officer of the government confiscated to the use of the people of Oregon any Indian country, and if so, why; if any grant or charter had been given by him to any citizen or citizens for the settlement of any Indian country, and if so, by what authority; and whether he had enforced the law prohibiting the sale of liquor to Indians. 'A. Lee Lewis,' says Applegate, 'a bright young man, the son of a chief factor, afterward superintendent of Indian affairs, was the first representative of Vancouver district.' Views of Hist., MS., 45. Another British subject, who took a part in the provisional government, was Richard Lane, appointed by Abernethy county judge of Vancouver in 1847, vice Dugald McTavish resigned. Or. Spectator, Jan. 21, 1847. Lane came to Oregon in 1837 as a clerk to the Hudson's Bay Company. He was a ripe scholar and a good lawyer. He lived for some time at Oregon City, and afterward at Olympia, holding various offices, among others those of clerk of one branch of the territorial legislature of Washington, clerk of the supreme and district courts, county auditor, and clerk of the city corporation of Olympia. He died at The Dalles in the spring of 1877, from an overdose of morphine, apparently taken with suicidal intent. He was then about sixty years of age. Dalles Mountaineer, in Seattle Pacific Tribune, March 2, 1877.
- The salary of the governor was nominally $500, but really nothing, as the condition of the treasury was such as to make drafts upon it worthless except in a few cases. Abernethy did not receive his pay from the provisional government, and as the territorial act did not confirm the statutes passed by the several colonial legislatures, he had no redress. After Oregon had become a state, and when by a series of misfortunes he had lost nearly all his possessions, after more than 20 years' waiting Abernethy received his salary as governor of the Oregon colony by an appropriation of the Oregon legislature Oct. 1872. The amount was $2,986.21, which congress was asked to make good to the state.
- A. L. Lovejoy was elected supreme judge in place of Columbia Lancaster, appointed by the governor in place of Thornton, who resigned in 1847. W. S. Mattock was chosen circuit judge; Samuel Parker, prosecuting attorney; Theophilus Magruder, secretary of the territory; W. K. Kilborne, treasurer; John G. Campbell, auditor; W. H. Bennett, marshal; and A. Lee Lewis, superintendent of Indian affairs. Or. Spectator, Feb. 22, 1849.
- Gen. Smith in his report to the secretary of war said that the roads to Oregon were made to come into it, but not to go out of it, referring to the steep descents of the western declivities of the Cascade Mountains.
- A long dry autumn in 1849 was followed by freshets in the Willamette Valley in Dec. and Jan., which carried off between $40,000 and $50,000 worth of property. Or. Spectator, Jan. 10, 1850.
- When J. Q. Thornton was in Washington in 1848, he had made a seal for the territory, the design of which was appropriate. In the centre a shield, two compartments. Lower compartment, in the foreground a plough; in the distance, mountains. In the upper compartment, a ship under full sail. The crest a beaver; the sinister supporter an Indian with bow and arrow, and a mantle of skins over his shoulders; the dexter supporter an eagle with wings displayed; the motto—alis volet propriis—I fly with my own wing. Field of the lower compartment argent; of the upper blue. This seal was presented to the governor and secretary in 1850, and by them adopted. By act of Jan. 1854, it was directed to be deposited, and recorded in the office of the secretary, to remain a public record; but so far as can be ascertained it was never done. Or. Gen. Laws, 1845–1864, p. 627. For fac-simile of seal see p. 487, this vol.