Portland, Oregon: Its History and Builders/Volume 1/Chapter 33
After long negotiations related by Ross, the conditions of a rude treaty were "that the Wallamitte should remain open; that the whites should have at all times free ingress and egress to that quarter unmolested. . . . The business being ended, the chief as a token of general consent, scraped a little dust together, and with his hand throwing it in the air, uttered at the same time the expressive word "hilow," it is done. This was no sooner over than the chief man presented us with a slave as a token of his good will, signifying by the act that if the Indians did not keep their promise, we might treat them all as slaves. The slave being returned again to the chief, we prepared to leave the Indians, paid our offering for the dead, shook hands with the living, satisfied the chiefs, and pushed down the current.
"On reaching Fort George, the articles of the treaty were read over and drew from Mr. Keith a smile of approbation that was no small credit to me, for he is a very cautious man and not lavish of his praise. 'Your success,' said he, 'removes my anxiety, and is calculated not only to restore peace in the Wallamitte, but throughout the whole of the neighboring tribes.'"
In 1829, Dr. McLoughlin, in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company of fur traders, built a log storehouse at the falls for the convenience of his men passing up and down the river in canoes, but the Indians tore it down.
In 1834 the Methodist missionaries passed the falls and went on up into the valley and established a mission near the present city of Salem.
November 24, 1835, Dr. Samuel Parker, of Ithaca, N. Y., arrived at the falls of the Willamette at 1 o'clock in the afternoon and hired eight Indians to carry the canoe by the falls, the distance of half a mile. He says, 'It was a pleasant day, and the rising mist formed in the rays of the sun a beautiful bow; and the grass about the falls, irrigated by the descending mist, was in fresh green. The opportunities here for water power are equal to any that can be named. There cannot be a better situation for a factory village than on the east side of the river, a dry, widespread level extends some distance, and the shores form natural wharves for shipping. The whole country around, particularly the east side, is pleasant and fertile, and can the period be far distant when there will be here a busy population? I could hardly persuade myself that this river had for many thousand years, poured its waters constantly down these falls without having facilitated the labor of man. Absorbed in these contemplations, I took out my watch to see if it was not the hour for the ringing of the bells. It was 2 o'clock and all was still, except the roaring of the falling water. I called to remembrance, that in the year 1809 I stood by the falls of the Genessee river and all was still except the roar of the cataract. But it is not so now, for Rochester stands where I then stood."
Mr. Parker went on up the river to visit the Methodist mission, and on Monday at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of November 30th, he arrived again at the falls on his way down the river and says, "Here I engaged two Indians belonging to a small village, who have a permanent residence a little below the falls. Wanaxka, the chief, came up to the falls where I was about to camp alone for the night and invited me to share his hospitality at his house. I hesitated what to do, not that I would undervalue his kindness, but feared such annoyances as might prevent my rest. On the other hand, there was every appearance of a cold, heavy storm, very little wood near which I could procure for a fire with only my hatchet, and I should be alone, exposed to ravenous wild beasts—the latter consideration, however, I scarcely regarded. But believing it would please the chief should I accept his invitation, I went with him to his dwelling, which was a long, permanent building on the west side of the river, up an elevation of one hundred feet, and near which were several other buildings of nearly the same dimensions. Besides the family of the chief, there were two other families in the same building, in sections about twenty feet apart, separated from each other by mats hung up for partitions. Their houses are built of logs split into thick plank. These Indians do not sink any part of their buildings below the surface of the earth, as some of the Indians do about and below the Cascades. The walls of the chief's house were about seven feet high, the roofs are more steeply elevated than what is common in the United States, made of the same materials with the walls, only the planks are of less thickness. They have only one door to the house, and this is in the center of the front side. They have no chimney to carry off the smoke, but a hole is left open above the fireplace, which is in the center of each family's apartment. This answers very well in calm weather, but when there is much wind, the whole building becomes a smokehouse. The fireplace of the chief's apartment was sunk a foot below the surface of the earth, eight feet square, secured by a frame around, and mats spread upon the floor for the family to sit upon. Their dormitories are on the sides of the apartment, raised four feet above the floor, with movable ladders for ascent; and under them they stow away their dried fish, roots, berries and other effects. There was not an excess of neatness within, and still less without.
"These Indians were also kind. They gave me most of one side of the fireplace, spread down clean, new mats, replenished their fire, and were ready to perform any service I should wish. I let them fill and boil my teakettle, after which I spread out my stores so bountifully provided by Dr. McLoughlin, and performed my own cooking. During the evening, the chief manifested a disposition to be sociable, but we had but a very little language common to us both besides the language of signs. The next thing when the hour of rest arrived, was to fortify myself against a numerous and insidious enemy. I first spread down the cloth of my tent, then my blankets, and wrapped myself up as securely as I could, and should have slept comfortably had I not too fully realized my apprehensions.
"As soon as daylight appeared, on December 1st, I left the hospitable habitation of Wanaxka, and with my two Indians, proceeded down the Willamette about sixteen miles before we landed for breakfast." Sometime after the destruction of the first building, Dr. McLoughlin erected a second storehouse at the falls, protected this time by a stockade of hewed logs, with a gate and padlock. At this place wheat was stored and Indian goods that were used in buying skins and salmon. In the edge of the forest this small stockade stood, about where the Oregon City woolen mill is now, and later it developed into a Hudson's Bay store for the convenience of incoming settlers. Dr. McLoughlin started to blast a race for a mill, but the company opposing, the mill was built on the Columbia above Vancouver, and the squared timbers he had prepared were left on the ground at the falls.
In May, 1840, the bark Lausanne brought into the Columbia a large company of Methodist missionaries. While the Lausanne was unloading by means of canoes, the brig Maryland from Newburyport, Capt. John H. Couch, passed them and entered the Willamette river, ascending on the high water of June to the falls, but being warned that with the recession of the water he would be left stranded, the captain hastily fell down to about where the city of Portland now stands. On the same high water, with a canoeload of goods, Rev. Alvin F. Waller and wife, missionaries of the ship Lausanne, went on up to the falls, where with the squared timbers borrowed of Dr. McLoughlin, he built a dwelling house only a few rods from the cataract, the first home in Oregon City.
In June, 1841, Commodore Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition, entered the Willamette. He says, "We reached the falls about noon, where we found the missionary station under charge of Rev. Mr. Waller. The Hudson's Bay Company have a trading post there and are packing fish which the Indians catch in great quantities.
"There was a petty dispute between Mr. Waller and the company, and he complained of them. It seems the company refused to buy any beaver skins except from the hunters and trappers, and he accuses them of monopoly in consequence.
"The company, on the other hand, says they have no idea of selling goods out of their own stores, for the purpose of enabling others to enter into competition with them, and that they will spare no expense to keep the trade as long as they can, in their own hands.
"Mr. Waller and his wife gave us a kind welcome and insisted on our taking dinner with them. As they have no servants Mrs. Waller prepared the dinner, while Mr. Waller took care of the outdoor business. Though the house was built of rough materials, it was very evident that neatness and order prevailed. Her management of the home-made cooking stove which stood in the room, claimed my admiration. At the same time she made herself quite agreeable, and although she had many, very many things to contend with, appeared quite satisfied with her lot and condition.
"After we had partaken of our dinner, consisting of salmon and tea, with bread and butter, Mr. Waller took us to see the falls. On our way thither, he pointed out a log house that had been built by the agent of Mr. Slacum, in order to secure the right of site or mill privilege. The Hudson's Bay Company have gone to considerable expense in blasting the rock for a mill-race for the same purpose, but from appearances, this work has remained untouched for several years. ... A Mr. Moore, from the western states, whom I saw on the Willamette, informed me that he had taken possession of the west side of the falls, under a purchase from an old Indian chief.
"At the time of our visit to the falls, the salmon fishery was at its height, and was to us a novel as well as amusing scene. ... I never saw so many fish collected together before; and the Indians are constantly employed in taking them. They rig out two stout poles, long enough to project over the foaming cauldron, and secure their large ends to the rocks. On the outer end they make a platform for the fisherman to stand on, who is perched on it with a pole thirty feet long in hand, to which the net is fastened by a hoop four feet in diameter. . . . They throw it into the foam and it being then quickly carried down, the fish running in a contrary direction are caught. Sometimes twenty-five large fish are taken by a single person in an hour. . . . The number of Indians at the falls during the season is about seventy . . . others visit in canoes, raising the number up to not far from one hundred."
Wilkes mentions an Indian village "swarming with fleas" on the west side.
This Mr. Robert Moore mentioned by Wilkes arrived in Oregon in 1840, and by purchase from old Chief Wanaxka, claimed a section of land extending two miles up and down the river, including the whole west frontage of the falls from the beginning up to the Tualatin river, and half a mile back. Perched on the steep hillside directly overlooking the cataract he had built a log cabin, appropriately named the "Robin's Nest."
Across the river, where his trading house stood, Dr. McLoughlin originally claimed from the Abernethy creek to the head of the falls, approximately two miles up and down the river, and a mile back, which he named Oregon City, and in 1841 donated a block for a Catholic church. After measurement, part of McLoughlin's claim was abandoned to Archibald McKinlay of the Hudson's Bay Company, and Moore, as his wife never came to Oregon, subsequently released half of his extensive holdings. Directly embraced by the cataract, between the two, an island lay, green and heavily timbered, around which swept and foamed the misty waters.
In 1841 the Island Milling Company was formed, to build saw and grist mills, and Felix Hathaway, in the employ of the mission, began to build a house on this island at the falls. Dr. McLoughlin remonstrated, and Hathaway desisted. About this time George Abernethy opened a mission store, bought wheat of the settlers, and salmon of the Indians, which he traded to Honolulu for sugar, molasses and other commodities. He also had a boat to transport passengers from the Clackamas rapids to the falls. "We began as an Indian mission; we ended as an American colony," said Abernethy.
In the autumn of 1842 an overland emigration of 137 people arrived and began to build houses for shelter during the winter. Medorum Crawford (whose daughter, Mrs. H. C. Stevens, still resides in Oregon City), says in his journal of 1842, "On the fifth day of October, our little party, tired, ragged and hungry, arrived at the falls, now Oregon City, where we found the first habitations west of the Cascade mountains. Here several members of the Methodist mission were located, and a sawmill was being erected on the island. Our gratification on arriving safely after so long and perilous a journey was shared by these hospitable people, each of whom seemed anxious to give us hearty welcome and render us every assistance in their power."
Dr. McLoughlin engaged Sidney W. Moss to lay out the town with a pocket compass he had brought across the plains. For lack of newspapers and other entertainment a lyceum and debating society was organized to while away the winter evenings, and one of the questions was, "Resolved, that it is expedient for the settlers of the Pacific coast to form an independent government." It was well known that Dr. McLoughlin favored an independent Pacific republic. "We are too far away, for either England or the United States to rule us," he said. After a warm discussion, the question carried by a great majority. George Abernethy leaped to his feet. "We are drifting from the union. I offer for the next debate, 'Resolved, that if the United States extends its jurisdiction over this country within the next four years, it will not be expedient to form an independent government.'" Everybody went and patriotism carried all before it—everybody voted for the union.
On account of this large increase of people, in December, 1842, Mr. Waller began to build a Methodist church, after securing subscriptions to the amount of $847 from the people, and a block of land from Dr. McLoughlin. Cornelius Rogers was engaged to build the church, but as he was arriving from above to undertake the work, the canoe containing himself and bride, and her little sister and another passenger, and two Indians, was caught in a current of the high water of February and swept over the falls. A wild cry was heard as the canoe made the frightful plunge into the depths below, and all were lost. This catastrophe cast a gloom over the little settlement, and in March many moved on to California, where they became prominent pioneers and founders of cities.
In May, 1843, the ship Fama arrived from Honolulu with supplies for the missions. Among the passengers were Peter H. Hatch, wife and child, who had been missionaries in the Sandwich Islands, Francis W. Pettygrove and family, with a stock of goods, and Philip Foster and family, who all settled at or near Oregon City. Mr. Pettygrove opened a store, and later became one of the founders of Portland. Both Mr. Hatch and Philip Foster later settled on the Mt. Hood road where their houses became the first civilized stopping places for hundreds of emigrants.In May of 1843, also, the discussions of the winter bore fruit when a meeting of organization was held at Champoeg and a committee of twelve was appointed to meet at Oregon City and report on a plan of government. Paying their own expenses, on May 10th, at the falls they met, in the old granary of the Methodist mission, a story and a half building, with a square room in front for a meeting house, and the rest used for the storage of grain. Robert Moore, who had bought his land claim of the Indians, was chairman, and George W. Le Breton, who came with Couch in the brig Maryland in 1840, was secretary. Mr. Moore wanted to locate the capital at Linn City, a level space below his Robin's Nest on the other side of the river, but the matter was deferred. After a week of strenuous work, the committee rested, and on July 5th, in a mass meeting of the citizens of Oregon at Champoeg, their articles of compact were ratified. The laws of Iowa, a single copy of which had found its way across the plains, were adopted as the laws of the provisional government of Oregon. Joseph Meek, a popular mountain man, was elected sheriff, and moved at once to Oregon City, where a quilt hung over his cabin door on the west side of the river.
In the meantime, in March, 1843, a petition was drawn up and signed by sixty-five leading citizens against Dr. McLoughlin, charging many deeds of oppression and wrong to the settlers; that the doctor as head of the Hudson's Bay Company had no right to an American claim; that he could build mills and saw lumber with cheaper labor and undersell the settlers; that he refused to allow the company's vessels to bring goods from the Sandwich Islands for settlers; that he refused to sell cattle to Americans, and other things, all of which were answered serially by the doctor who was simply following out his line of duty as head of the company. It was always a fixed principle of the Hudson's Bay Company to undersell anybody who came in their way, and never on any account to permit the use of their vessels by competitors. The settlers did not recognize themselves as competitors, but the doctor did so recognize all merchants and manufacturers who interfered with the profits of the Hudson's Bay fur traders.
As Indians for untold ages had fought over the falls, so now the whites were battling for this point of vantage. The Americans said that Dr. McLoughlin had taken claims at other strategic points and built trading houses for the Hudson's Bay Company. They did not understand joint occupancy to mean a monopoly of trading privileges among the settlers. Judging by the laws of their own country, the Americans did not consider Dr. McLoughlin personally a settler when he continued to remain at Fort Vancouver and did not himself occupy his land claim. They could not imagine the head of the Hudson's Bay Company as a private citizen. That he had chosen a claim at the falls and began improvements there meant simply that he was holding it for the company. As a chief factor of the company he necessarily represented the company. They, as American citizens, were working for American interests. He is an Englishman, was believed to be working for English interests. The conflict was inevitable.
Dr. McLoughlin was between two parties and distrusted by both. As an Englishman, Americans questioned his motives. As a benefactor of Americans, the English fur company compelled his resignation and dropped him from their service. Even after he left the company in 1845 and moved to his Oregon City land claim, those who had lived there first could not forget, and never did forget, that they had been bona fide settlers several years before his arrival. This, then, was the politics of 1843 and succeeding years.
None too soon was the provisional government established, for as early as August, 1843, boats of every description, canoes, batteaux and rafts came paddling up the Willamette with the new overland emigration, a thousand people with families and herds of cattle. The town could not shelter them all, camps were set up along the river bank, and Mr. Moss went up and down ringing a hand-bell calling the people to dinner where he had set up a half-faced barracks to feed the people. This was the beginning of Moss's hotel and of his fortune. Dr. McLoughlin, who had helped many at Vancouver, came up to Oregon City in his anxiety and assisted them in every way in his power. He also now had a Hudson's Bay Company store there and trusted them for goods when they could not pay, as also did Abernethy and Pettygrove. Every door was open, beds were laid on every floor, and in workshops and in the half built Methodist church. All winter long and into the spring belated ones came straggling in, having tarried at The Dalles and Vancouver, and at Whitman's in the upper country. Some passed on up the Willamette, founding the city of Salem; some went over to Tualatin plains, establishing Forest Grove; in fact Oregon City was the capital and center for which all steered from the moment of leaving Missouri, and from Oregon City they radiated, taking up the unsettled country. Oregon City has never lost this characteristic of a floating population looking for a place to settle.
Among the emigrants of 1843 who settled in Oregon City were Gen. M. M. McCarver, the founder of Burlington, Iowa, who, in trying to locate the future great city of Oregon missed Portland by about ten miles; James A. Athey and family settled on the west side somewhere beyond Wanaxka's village, where with a turning lathe he manufactured the first furniture made in Oregon; James W. Nesmith, who read that solitary Iowa law book by the light of a pine knot fire and became a lawyer and a member of congress; Hiram E. Straight and others. With this accession of immigrants, the Oregon Lyceum took on new activity. A committee was appointed to secure subscriptions to start a newspaper. In March, 1844, the committee reported $645, and in October George Abernethy, the treasurer, reported that he had sent $800 to "The States" for press, type, ink and paper.
Disquieting rumors followed in the track of the newcomers whose numbers excited the Indians, and when, early in 1844, a few painted Indians galloped through the town brandishing their tomahawks, many of the more timid looked for an immediate attack. After staying an hour "shooting up the town," Cockstock, the principal offender, recrossed the river to Wanaxka's village for an interpreter, that he might talk to the white folks, and tell his trouble. It seems he had been engaged by a colored man to grub the stumps off a piece of land, for which he was to receive a horse. When the land was done, he came for his pay, but the negro had sold the horse and refused to pay. Taking the law Into his own hands, Cockstock went and took the horse; the new owner complained to the authorities, and a warrant was out for Cockstock's arrest. Not understanding the white man's way of doing things, he came into town but was unable to tell his troubles. Having found an interpreter, he attempted to return, but was met by several citizens who tried to arrest him; a fight ensued, Cockstock was killed; also a Mr. Rogers, and George Le Breton was fatally wounded, dying a few days later. Of course, there was much excitement, and when the legislature met in June, at the house of Felix Hathaway, M. M. McCarver speaker, one of the first acts was to prohibit negroes forever from settling in Oregon. In view, also, of similar difficulties with Indians and some whites, the same legislature passed a prohibitory liquor law, forbidding the introduction, sale or distillation of ardent spirits in Oregon. This prohibitory liquor law was the first in the United States, antedating the Maine law by several years.
In December the legislature met at the house of Dr. John E. Long, the pioneer physician of Oregon City, and among other things passed an act for the erection of a jail with money from the estate of Ewing Young, who had died without heirs. Dr. McLoughlin offered a lot and Peter H. Hatch, a blacksmith, forged the iron for this, the first prison in the colony. An emigrant wrote home to the east, "We are getting along finely, we are building a jail." At this legislature, also, Robert Moore and Hugh Burns were granted rights to keep public ferries on the Willamette, one crossing just below the falls, and the other at about where nth street now is, and John McLoughlin was given a permit to construct a canal around the falls, which he did about where the basin now is, facilitating the landing of boats.Again in the autumn of 1844 all eyes were turned toward the Columbia, whence boats were paddling into the Willamette bearing another thousand immigrants, ragged and weary. Dr. McLoughlin gave some employment at a mill he was building at the falls, others engaged at Abernethy's mill on the island, and on his new store, the first brick business house in the settlement. At the first annual election, held in June, 1845, Mr. Abernethy was chosen governor while he was absent at the Sandwich Islands buying goods for his new store. Dr. John E. Long became secretary of state, but was drowned soon after, while fording the Clackamas river on horseback, and lies buried in the Catholic churchyard at Oregon City. Frederick Prigg was chosen in his place and he, too, was drowned soon after. Francis Ermatinger, clerk in the Hudson's Bay store, was made treasurer, and James W. Nesmith, judge. Marcus Ford became district attorney, Sidney W. Moss, assessor, and Joseph L. Meek, sheriff again. Thirteen representatives were elected, among them H. A. G. Lee, Hiram Straight and M. M. McCarver of Oregon City. At this legislature of 1845, wheat was made a legal tender in the payment of debts, and Sheriff Meek took a census of the population, reporting 2,110 people in Oregon, all but ninety-one of whom lived in the Willamette valley.
After the emigration of 1843 had arrived, Sidney W. Moss found in a tent on the bank of the river a widow, with several children, whose husband had died on the journey. Engaging the lady to take charge of his boarding house, he set out with the hand of her little son in his to find a schoolmaster. Hailing John P. Brooks, he engaged him on the spot, gave him a room in his house, and paid him himself to open the first public school in Oregon City. In this year also the Catholic sisters opened a private school.
In May, 1844, Rev. Harvey Clark, a self-supporting Congregational missionary, was preaching at the house of Peter H. Hatch when it was proposed to organize a church. With Robert Moore, Osborne Russell, a trapper from a Baptist family in Maine, who had been converted while reading his Bible in the Rocky mountains, and Peter H. Hatch, as deacon, the church was organized. Mr. Moore desired the name to be "The Presbyterian Church of Willamette Falls," and being the oldest man, influential and of strong convictions, the others yielded the name, although the mode of constituting the church was essentially congregational. About this time, also, the Methodist church, begun in 1842, was completed and dedicated, the first Protestant house of worship west of the Rocky mountains.
In the fall of 1843, Rev. Modeste Demers of Canada, conducted the first Catholic service in Oregon City in a small house owned by a Mr. Pomeroy, and here services were held until a Catholic church was built in 1845, and dedicated in 1846.
In December of 1845, Rev. Hezekiah Johnson and Rev. Ezra Fisher arrived in Oregon City, and commenced preaching at private houses and in outlying neighborhoods. A Baptist church was organized at the house of Peter H. Hatch, on Fourth and Water streets. In October, 1847, Dr. McLoughlin donated two lots, and Mr. Johnson built a meeting house, largely with his own hands, thus completing the first Baptist church west of the Rocky mountains. In the fall of 1848, Mr. Johnson started a school in his meeting house, that later, with Rev. Ezra Fisher in charge, was called the Oregon City University, and finally removed, became the Baptist college at McMinnville. From Oregon City as a center, Mr. Johnson traveled as an evangelist by canoe, on foot and astride his trusty cayuse. He said this was his best study, and his best sermons were worked out on horseback. Rev. Fisher also traveled extensively organizing churches. One time his pony "Dolly" threw him and a rib was broken. Some months after an eastern paper printed this item, "Rev. Ezra Fisher of Oregon, while on his way to one of his appointments, was thrown from his carriage and one of his ribs was broken." This created amusement when read on the Willamette, for there were few carriages in Oregon, and none for poor Baptist ministers who were preaching and supporting families on two hundred dollars a year.
Every autumn immigration was greater than the last, and 1845 proved no exception. Earliest of all came Col. William G. T'Vault, who brought news of the election of James K. Polk to the presidency on the cry of "'54, '40 or fight." In the midst of the enthusiasm of this report, Colonel T'Vault was chosen editor of the Oregon Spectator, the first newspaper published west of the Rocky Mountains, and amid general rejoicing, in February, 1846, the initial number was run off the new Hoe hand press that had arrived from New York around "the Horn."
Three thousand people are estimated to have come in 1845. Never the world saw more eager, restless, self-directing spirits, splitting into innumerable caravans, and dividing at the very start. William B. Ide led off a party to California, where the next year they raised the famous bear flag for independence from Mexico. Many came trooping down The Dalles on frail barks at the risk of their lives, and up the Willamette to Oregon City. It was a season of constant excitements. News arrived of the "Lost Immigrants," a party that turned off at Fort Boise to find a shorter route than the one by The Dalles. "I have trapped on the headwaters of the John Day, and often met Canadians from the Willamette who came over a pass by the Santiam," said Stephen L. Meek, and sixty wagons and several hundred people set out for the new short cut race into the Willamette valley. But wandering in the wild highlands of eastern Oregon they became frightened and lost. There was a pass, but they could not find it. Horsemen scoured the hills for water, provisions failed, stock died, mountain fever came, seventy coffinless graves were dug in the grassy, rocky desert. Word of their sufferings reached Oregon City. Captain Cook, an Englishman at Oregon City, had built a scow schooner, the Calapooia, and engaging this, the townspeople dispatched it loaded with necessaries to meet the lost train that was now falling back on The Dalles. Lost for six weeks in the inhospitable wilds of eastern Oregon, the decimated company of men, women and children at last reached Oregon City with nothing at all.
Immediately followed another sensation, Capt. Samuel K. Barlow, impatient of the crowding throng and the lack of boats at The Dalles, resolved to make or break a road of his own by a cattle trail around the south side of Mt. Hood. Thirteen wagons and forty people followed, and they, too, were lost, in the frightful snowy mountains. Half perishing with exposure, William Barlow, the son, got out ahead and carried word to Oregon City. Eleven horses laden with flour, sugar and other provisions for their relief were sent up the devious deer trails of Mt. Hood. For days the rescuers searched, and discouraged, turned back, but when six miles on the homeward course, determined to try again, met the famishing people and saved their lives. Of the eleven horses sent with that relief party, every one perished. Today pleasure parties traversing that historic Mt. Hood route, look up at that special frowning ridge where the immigrants wandered, and are amazed that any emerged alive. Still another company that started for Oregon City in 1845, wandered into the Sioux Indian country and never were seen, never were heard of again.
Each year brought new and unforeseen alarms and suffering in the untried paths that entered Oregon. In 1846 a party attempted to enter by the southern route; heavy rains set in; the deep, dark canyons were flooded with water, and abandoning property and wagons, on the backs of their trusty oxen, the entrapped fugitives barely escaped with their lives. For years the Umpqua canyon was strewn with the wrecks of wagons, crockery and featherbeds, looted by the Indians and scattered to the winds. Many of these people became founders of towns on the Willamette, but a goodly number came back with the relief parties sent out from Oregon City.
Out of this, disaster George L. Curry, editor of the Spectator, and future governor of Oregon, rescued his sweetheart, Chloe Boone, greatgranddaughter of Daniel Boone; but the old compass was lost, the one that Lord Dunmore of Virginia, gave Daniel Boone when he went out to explore Kentucky in 1774- Judge and Mrs. John Quinn Thornton escaped out of this wreckage, and arriving at Oregon City in February, 1847, Mrs. Thornton opened a private school for young ladies in which were taught "all the branches usually comprised in a thorough English education, together with plain and fancy needlework, drawing and painting in mezzotints and water colors." James Douglas, of the Hudson's Bay Company, and many other prominent people, sent their daughters to Mrs. Thornton's school. To supply an immediate necessity, a large edition of Webster's old blue-backed spelling book was printed on the Spectator press, and also an almanac for Oregon, California and the Sandwich Islands.
The news of the Spectator, six months old, was obtained from papers brought by the immigrants, from Honolulu, sailing vessels, and from the Hudson's Bay Company ship from London, or overland mail from Canada. Some very good poetry appeared in the Spectator, written by Curry himself, and by Sidney W. Moss, who also wrote a book, "The Prairie Flower," that was sent east and published by Emerson Bennett at Cincinnati, running up to 90,000 copies, for all of which Mr. Moss received not one cent. The mother of Edwin Markham also contributed verse, and the famous poet himself was born soon after in a little cottage on Main street in Oregon City.
A charter for the first Odd Fellows lodge on the Pacific coast, was requested in 1846 by Oregon City Lodge No. i. This charter, granted and sent out by ship by way of Cape Horn, was miscarried. Contrary winds prevailing, the ship, instead of entering the Columbia, went to Honolulu, where Gilbert Watson, to whom it was entrusted, died. Taking the charter, the Odd Fellows there drew a pen through the name "Oregon City" and writing above it "Excelsior Lodge No. I," hung it on the walls of their lodge room at Honolulu. This was not discovered at Oregon City for three years, and while waiting for the charter, Salem, and then Portland, organized, and finally Oregon City in 1851.
The first Masonic charter for Oregon was hauled from Missouri across the plains by Pierre Barlow Cornwall in 1848. After escaping attacks by Indians and other adventures, on arriving at Fort Hall, Mr. Cornwall heard of the discovery of gold and promptly turned off on the California trail, leaving the charter to Joseph Kellogg, who brought it safely through the scene of the late Cayuse war to Oregon City, where Multnomah Lodge No. 84 was organized September II, 1848, in the Thomas Pope house on the bank of the river. Immediately after, the members left for the mines, and no other meeting was held for some time. Almost all the other benevolent orders followed in later years, and have been a marked feature of the social and philanthropic life of the town.
The legislature of 1845, in December, enacted a law establishing a general postoffice at Oregon City with W. G. T'Vault as postmaster-general. The first contract to carry mails overland was let to Hugh Burns, in the spring of 1846, to carry the mail from Oregon City to Weston, now Kansas City, Missouri, at fifty cents a letter. For lack of patronage this was discontinued some months later.
A British warship, the Modeste, in the Columbia river in the summer of 1846, determined the Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July with more than usual splendor. Benjamin Stark, who had arrived on the bark Toulon from Boston, presented Oregon City with a twelve-pound cannon, the first in the colony. William Holmes, an immigrant of 1843, presented a liberty pole, which was erected, and a salute of thirty-one guns for the thirty-one states was fired. A procession was formed at the city hotel and marched to the Methodist church with a home-made flag at the head. Prayer was offered by Rev. Josiah L. Parrish of 1840, the Declaration of Independence was read by Asa L. Lovejoy, of 1843, and the oration was by Judge Peter H. Burnett, afterward the first governor of California. Then all marched back to the hotel, where a public dinner was served, followed by thirteen regular toasts, and ten volunteer ones, full of the spirit of '76, but without the use of wines or liquors, as Oregon was then a prohibition state.
The Americans were particularly outraged by the conduct of the officers and crew of the Modeste who defied the colonial law and dealt liquors in every direction, and certain unpatriotic Americans were detected in secretly selling watered whiskey to the Indians.
The United States schooner Shark, twelve guns, had been repairing at Honolulu, and endeavored to reach Oregon City for that Fourth of July, but the commander was unable to bring the Shark up in the falling water. Taking a boat, Lieutenant Howison arrived at Oregon City and reported a United States squadron of frigates and sloops of war on the coast of California. The rejoicing people fired a salute in honor of the lieutenant and the news he brought. He became the guest of Governor Abernethy at his Green Point home, and together they made a tour of the Willamette valley. The two became warm friends, and in returning down the river, the lieutenant entertained the governor on board his schooner, the Shark. Much then was the consternation of the people at Oregon City to hear that in passing out of the Columbia in September, the Shark became a total wreck. All her crew were saved and housed in Astoria, now becoming quite a village. Lieutenant Howison presented the stand of the colors of the Shark, the only thing saved, to Governor Abernethy for the use of the colony, and as many guns as could be recovered. Three of the guns went ashore at low water at Cannon Beach, giving it its name, but were never brought to Oregon City.
Word that congress had passed the notice bill for the termination of the treaty for the joint occupation of Oregon, in the meantime had arrived, and had been brought in dispatches to Lieutenant Howison by Selim E. Woodworth, son of the author of "The Old Oaken Bucket," who was a young midshipman in the navy. This same September the bark Toulon brought Honolulu papers with news of the boundary settlement. At last the Oregon question was ended. Up went the flag at Oregon City, and cannon and anvil rang. Men grasped each other's hands, and the Spectator spread across its front in big capitals, "Hail Columbia, Happy Land."
In August of this year, 1846, the jail at Oregon City was burned by an incendiary. In September and October travelers began to arrive direct to Oregon City over the Mt. Hood road, that Samuel K. Barlow with forty axemen had been cutting all summer to save future immigrants from the losses and dangers his own party had suffered the autumn before. Said Judge Deady, a later eminent jurist of the state, "The opening of railways since has been of less importance than the opening of that road."
Another significant event also had occurred. In 1844 Captain Couch with his Boston brig was again in the river just in time to meet the immigrants. He foresaw the future. By the next year he had laid the foundation of the townsite of Portland on the banks of the Willamette, at the head of ship navigation. He still had a store at Oregon City, as also had Frank W. Pettygrove, but each nailed up a shingle to cabins on their claims: "Capt. John H. Couch claims 640 acres of land on this spot. Call on me at Oregon City." "F. W. Pettygrove claims this 640 acres. Call on him at his store in Oregon City."
In a letter to the Oregon Spectator, in July, 1846, General McCarver said, "The best families of the country are eating their meals and drinking their tea and coffee—when our merchants can offer it to them—from tin plates and cups." The tin cups and saucers he referred to cost $2.50 for?ix in the Oregon City stores. Honolulu was the chief market for Oregon produce, with a freight rate of $24 a ton. Tea in 1847 was $1.50 a pound, and calico 25 cents a yard, bought with orders on merchants, wheat, or beaver skins. Salt in 1845 at McLoughlin's store was $2.00 a bushel. In 1846 not a single ship from Atlantic ports arrived in Oregon, and all supplies for the year were brought from the Hawaiian Islands by the Toulon, and yet thousands of people were arriving destitute of all household commodities.
In March, 1847, the brig Henry, Captain Kilbourne, arrived from Newburyport and sailed directly up to Oregon City. Captain Kilbourne brought a lot of second-hand furniture that sold at an enormous profit; Mr. Athey, with the furniture shop on the west side of the river, said it was more than it was worth to fix it up. But Captain Kilbourne traded that furniture to newcomers, thankful to get it, for lumber, flour, salmon, beef, potatoes, cabbage, onions, cheese, cranberries and turnips. Whatever any settler had, he traded to Capt. Kilbourne for furniture, and the brig- Henry sped away to California stowing along with the vegetables an invoice of that first almanac ever adapted to the meridian of California. This was the beginning of an important trade between the two states.
The brig Henry was also the first ship to bring out any goods for women's wear, delaines, muslins, cambrics, cassimeres, cottons, shawls, hose and handkerchiefs. Clothing had been so scarce that Mr. Straight, elected to the legislature in 1845, was distressed because he had no coat, and feared he would have to sit in his shirt sleeves; but Mr. Moss, fortunately owning a spare coat, sold it to him for forty dollars.
There were now five stores in Oregon City, kept by the Hudson's Bay Company, Abernethy, Couch, Moss and Robert Caufield, who had just arrived with two wagon loads of goods hauled over rivers, plains and mountains all the way from Cincinnati. Pettygrove had gone to Portland.
In December, 1847, the Oregon legislature met at the Methodist church in Oregon City, and the governor read his message, making special mention of excitement among the Indians on account of the increasing immigration. Here at 2 p. m. on the second day of the session. Governor Abernethy presented a second, and special message, announcing the actual outbreak of Indian hostilities in the Whitman massacre at Walla Walla, word of which had been brought by a panting messenger from Fort Vancouver. Only a few weeks before, Dr. Whitman had been in Oregon City, urging the governor to make a special effort to arouse Congress for the protection of Oregon. Scarcely had the governor given his emergency message before James W. Nesmith was on his feet with a resolution for the dispatch of a company of riflemen to The Dalles, to wait for reinforcements. The governor called a meeting that night, a company of forty-five was organized, and the next day at noon, December 9, 1847, they set out in boats cheered by the city cannon and shouts of spectators. Above them floated a flag presented by the women of Oregon City. Already three commissioners had gone ahead of them to obtain a loan of supplies from the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver. Chief factor James Douglas, who had succeeded Dr. McLoughlin in command, politely but firmly declined to let them have anything except on their personal credit, and, in order properly to equip the company, Jesse Applegate, Asa L. Lovejoy, and Governor Abernethy, signed a note for a thousand dollars, and giving them their outfits, sent the volunteers on to The Dalles. Returning immediately to Oregon City, the commissioners called a meeting of merchants and citizens that night, at which a thousand dollars was pledged for the war, and later raised to $3,600 from all parts of the valley. These loans were for the most part in wheat, provisions of all kinds, arms and ammunition, leather, clothing, whatever could be used, lead, horses, bridles, trail-ropes, etc. A few days later Governor Abernethy issued a proclamation calling for more men, each man to furnish his own horse, arms, clothing and blankets and this company also was dispatched to the field, the women of Oregon City presenting a second flag to Capt. Thomas McKay and his company of Canadian Frenchmen passing through to the seat of war.
Two special messengers were dispatched to Washington, Joe Meek by land and Judge Thornton by sea, to notify the president and congress, and to obtain assistance. Also letters and messengers were sent to the American consul at Honolulu, and to the United States naval and land forces in California. But, unknown to Oregon, war had been declared with Mexico, instead of obtaining help from, a ship was on its way north calling for help down there.
In the meantime, Peter Skeen Ogden, the same diplomatic Ogden who thirty years before paved the way for the original treaty with Indians at Oregon City, had gone from Fort Vancouver with blankets and other commodities to ransom the captive women and children held by the Cayuse Indians. On a Sunday morning in January, 1848, a courier arrived at the falls with a dispatch to Governor Abernethy, that was delivered to him in church. The sermon stopped as the governor, rising in his seat, read a letter from Douglas, that Ogden had arrived at Vancouver with three boats, containing all the women and children, and several missionaries from other stations in the upper country. All was excitement as the next day the boats bringing the captives were reported at Oregon City. Afar off, as soon as they were sighted at Clackamas rapids, the river banks were lined with people, and as the grizzly old fur trader drew up to the landing at the tail-race of the present woolen mill, the jubilant cannon rang again and again in gratitude and honor for their deliverance. Governor Abernethy indited a letter of thanks to Mr. Ogden in behalf of the colony. Peter Skeen Ogden afterward came to live at Oregon City, and died there, and is buried in the cemetery, but no name marks his grave. Unless something is done soon, it may become lost and forgotten. One of the rescued children, now an old and grayhaired man, recently made a pilgrimage to the spot, and with tears in his eyes exclaimed, "There should be a monument there. Maybe I will be the one to build it, maybe I will." The captives were delivered to Governor Abernethy, and soon found homes among the sympathetic people of the colony. In June matters quieted down and the volunteers came home, leaving a few in temporary forts to guard the line of march of incoming immigrants.
With the Cayuse war closed, and the provisional government of Oregon established, then occurred an event that startled the world and changed the face of history. Gold was discovered in California. Barely had those trains of self-governing immigrants established title to that Pacific shore, when James Marshall, of 1844 to Oregon, and 1846 to California, uncovered the treasure store of ages. General McCarver mounted his horse and with a few friends and pack-animals started for the land of gold in August, 1848. Peter H. Burnett followed in September, with a hundred and fifty men and fifty wagons, laden with provisions and mining implements. Peter W. Crawford, with a hundred young apple trees, would not wait to go to his claim, but stuck them into a garden near the Robin's Nest, where they grew into an orchard. Soldiers just home from the Indian war remounted their wild cayuses and galloped away. Oregon City was deserted. The Spectator suspended for want of printers, the legislature adjourned for lack of a quorum. Women began to gather the crops and attend the stores. A call came for 20,000 barrels of flour, several thousand bushel? of wheat, meat, butter and potatoes to feed California. A schooner built at Oregon City, loaded with farm produce, ran directly to McCarver's new town, Sacramento, where several tons of eggs sold at a dollar apiece. Apples brought their weight in gold, flour $16 a barrel. Sawmills at Oregon City were kept running day and night to supply the ever-increasing demand for lumber at $60 a thousand feet. Oregon's two greatest needs had been money and a market; both had come.
When Joe Meek and Judge Thornton presented their dispatches to President Polk and to congress, there was a stir in Washington. Indian massacre, war — an infant state out there was crying in its cradle. President Polk appointed Joseph L. Meek United States marshal for Oregon, and delegated him to carry a territorial governor's commission to Gen. Joseph Lane in Indiana. Lane had no previous intimation, but accepted on the spot, and in three days closed up his affairs and set out with Joe Meek on horseback for Oregon. After months of travel over the long and dusty Santa Fe trail, they came into California—to hear an astounding story that had not yet reached the east when they left. At San Francisco Oregonians with bags full of gold dust were waiting for a ship, and together all sailed to the Columbia river. Impatiently chartering a canoe, Joe Meek and the governor arrived at Oregon City March 2, 1849. George L. Curry, living in the largest house in town save McLoughlin's and the Moss Hotel, saw the approaching boat, and with T'Vault hastened to welcome the new executive. "Don't you know me?" inquired the postmaster. "T'Vault of Kentucky," answered the quick-eyed official. Engaging Curry as secretary, all night the two sat in an upper room of the T' Vault house, where the court house now stands, preparing a proclamation. In the morning Curry himself in his shirt sleeves set the type, George Boone turned the hand press printing them off and the governor's proclamation was distributed announcing the extension of federal jurisdiction over Oregon territory. Thus on the very last day, March 3, 1849, Joseph Lane, "Marion of the Mexican War "kept his promise to bring in Oregon during President Polk's administration A barbecue in honor of the new governor was held at the Holmes' claim a mile square in the woods, just out of the settlement, at which a hundred and fifty invited guests sat down to a baronial board groaning with half an ox, chickens, turkeys, venison and salmon galore.
At once Governor Lane ordered a census, and took up his duties as superintendent of Indian affairs. One of his first acts was in behalf of Wanaxka, whose Indian fishing village on the west bank of the Willamette, near the falls, had been maliciously burned by a party of white fishermen who coveted the spot. A similar Indian rancherie at the mouth of the Clackamas, mossgrown and drooping with age, disappeared as one of the sequels of the Cayuse war.
The pressing need of money that could be handled, led to the organization of a private company to coin dust into five and ten-dollar gold pieces. A Salem blacksmith forged the dies out of wagon tires and scraps of old iron; W. H. Rector did the lathe work, and John G. Campbell the engraving, and in a small wooden building on Main street, gold dust to the amount of $60,000 was coined into money stamped with the Oregon emblem—the beaver. Then the dies were ordered destroyed. From a high rock that stands below the falls they were said to have been thrown into the river, but some years after D. P. Thompson, in cleaning out the rubbish in a room on Main street, found those dies and sent them to Salem where they are now in the vault of the secretary of state. It has even been suggested that there may have been two sets of dies, as one authority claimed he saw Campbell throw those dies into the chasm below the falls. The set now in the office of the secretary of state is said to be of slightly different workmanship. But as this coin was made of pure gold without alloy, it was gladly bought up by the San Francisco mint at a premium and recoined.
In July, of 1849, the legislature held a brief session at Oregon City, and in the fall the first mounted rifles, recruited at Fort Leavenworth, arrived tattered and worn, having lost their goods in a wreck on the Columbia, and two-thirds of their horses in crossing the Barlow road over the foothills of Mt. Hood. The girls of Mrs. Thornton's school, where Mrs. Lena Charman's house now stands, flocked to the windows to see the soldiers march up Main street. Over the hill at the Methodist church they came, an elevation long since leveled, down into the corduroy-bridged mud hollow at Eighth street, tramp, tramp, with flag flying and drums beating, the finest martial music ever heard in Oregon.
No quarters were ready for the soldiers at Oregon City, and they were housed for the winter in tenements rented at exhorbitant rates. Dan O'Neil, a boy of twenty-one, of the mounted riflemen, took command of a fleet of four or five Hudson's Bay batteaux, bringing stores from Vancouver to Oregon City. Of this event, he himself wrote, "With a crew of six Indians to each boat, and a load of about five tons, we would leave in the afternoon, making our first landing and camp somewhere near where St. Johns now stands. On the second night we would reach Milwaukie and on the next afternoon make our arrival at Oregon City. Getting over the rapids below Oregon City was a tedious but exciting part of our journey, the Indians wading and towing through the swift current, patient and enduring, good-natured and willing, as long as they received their dollar a day and plenty of fresh beef. Occasionally one would lose his hold and go whirling down the rapids for some distance before he would recover himself, and several times while poling on the head boat, I lost my balance and took a spin in the rapid waters."
In April, 1850, Governor Lane went up to The Dalles and brought down the five Cayuse murderers who had surrendered to the government. They were confined on an island in the midst of the falls, connected with the mainland with a bridge and guarded by a detachment of riflemen. The trial was set for May 2,2, 1850, the prosecution was conducted by Amory Holbrook, and the defence by the territorial secretary. After a fair trial. Judge O. C. Pratt sentenced them to be hung on the third of June. There was some fear of a rescue on the day of execution, and hundreds of settlers came armed, concealing their weapons in convenient places in order not to excite the suspicions of numbers of attending Indians. But all passed off quietly; the gallows stood on the site of the present city waterworks.
With the returning gold seekers, conveniences and even luxuries were for the first time known in Oregon City. McCarver came back in his own bark, the Ocean Bird, with an upright piano, the first in Oregon, a lot of furniture and a house to put it in, built in Boston of Maine lumber, knocked down and shipped to San Francisco, whither all the world was sending commodities at that time. Whole towns of Long Island Dutch farm houses were being built in Brooklyn, to be carried by sea to the Pacific, and one was brought to Oregon City. Berryman Jennings, Samuel S. White, Dolph Hanna and General McCarver cleared $12,000 more than they had paid for the Ocean Bird on the very first voyage, bringing passengers to Oregon. On another trip to Honolulu she brought them $16,000. Even China was sending houses to America, and three Chinese houses of teak wood were brought to Oregon City, where they were bought and set up by Robert Caufield and David Burnside. Some of the panels of those Chinese houses are in use to this day in Oregon City. McCarver paid his foreman, Andrew Hood, $16 a day to set up that Boston house on his farm, displacing the original log cabin. Dr. McLoughlin and Dr. Barclay brought interior finishings for their houses, even to the fire brick and flagstones, from England. Furniture for ex-Governor Abernethy's fine home at Green Point, was brought at this time, and pianos for the Holmes's and others, but the oldest piano of all was brought for the daughter of Dr. McLoughlin on the bark Lausanne in 1840.
Oregon apples were as good as gold in California. It is related that one day Mrs. Hedges met General McCarver and told him she had just sold her apples to Mr. Strowbridge for $11 a bushel. "'And I have sold my apples to Mr. Strowbridge for $17 a bushel," answered Mr. McCarver.
In 1851 the brig Henry, Captain Kilbourne, arrived again at Oregon City, this time with a lot of millinery. "You can get bonnets at your own price, Mrs. C," said Dr. McLoughlin, hurrying into the Caufield store. "But, Doctor, I cannot, I haven't the money." "Tut, tut, tut," laughed the Doctor, "didn't I say you could fix your own price? They can't sell or give them away." Mrs. Caufield went down to the brig and bought the whole outfit, and set up the first millinery establishment in Oregon. People came all the way from Salem to buy Leghorn bonnets of Mrs. Caufield.
In June, 1848, Rev. George H. Atkinson and wife arrived at Oregon City, a few weeks before the news of gold nearly depopulated the place. He preached in the south room of the house owned by Deacon Hatch, on the bank of the river, corner of 4th and Water streets, the same room in which four years before Rev. Harvey Clark had organized a church. He found now seven members, having services once a month and carrying on a union Sabbath school with Rev. Hezekiah Johnson's Baptist church. Deacon Hatch came four miles over the hills with his ox team from his new farm on the Clackamas river, with his wife and children, to superintend this pioneer Sabbath school. Rev. David Leslie was at this time pastor of the Methodist church. The next week Deacon Hatch had horses ready to take Mr. Atkinson to West Tualatin Plains, now Forest Grove, to plan with Rev. Harvey Clark for the establishment of a college in Oregon.In September, just when the gold seekers were starting away, a council of ministers and churches met for this purpose at Oregon City, and organized an association and board of trustees, and gave the first donation of $100 for Tualatin Academy and Pacific University at Forest Grove. Deacon Hatch, a trustee, moved over there for a while as its agent, and helped erect the first hewed log building of the institution, and on horseback Dr. Atkinson rode back and forth from Oregon City to Forest Grove, summer and winter, looking after the school he had helped to found.
Across the Willamette at his Robin's Nest, Robert Moore had organized a Reformed Presbyterian church with Wilson Blain as pastor; early in 1849 the name of Dr. Atkinson's church was changed to "The First Congregational Church of Oregon City." A lot had been given by Dr. McLoughlin for a church, but being considered too far up the hill to be available, another one was purchased and a church was built at a cost of $3,900. In August, 1850, Rev. J. H. Wilbur of the Methodist church, Rev. Hezekiah Johnson of the Baptist church, and Rev. St. Michael Fackler of the Episcopal church assisted in the dedication!
Early in 1849, shortly after Gen. Joseph Lane arrived with a commission as governor. Dr. Atkinson consulted with ex-Governor Abernethy, George H. Curry, and other citizens, upon forming a school district and establishing a system of free public schools. A meeting was called and the subject discussed. Governor Lane's first message to the legislature recommended the establishment of free public schools, and Dr. Atkinson was appointed the first school commissioner to district the county and encourage the establishment of schools.
As free graded schools were deemed too expensive for Oregon City at the time, Dr. Atkinson suggested a female seminary, and collected subscriptions for it to the amount of $4,000, of which amount he himself gave $1,500. Dr. McLoughlin gave the block of land on which the seminary was built, now the Barclay school—Dr. Barclay in his own person was the first school board—and a seminary was erected at a cost of ten thousand dollars. Dr. Atkinson sent to Governor Slade of Vermont for. teachers, and five ladies arrived in 1851, two of whom. Miss Lincoln of Portland, Maine', and Miss Smith of New York, were employed by Dr. Barclay at once to open the school. The next year the teachers having married. Dr. Atkinson was permitted to go east for ten months to secure teachers and funds for this seminary and Tualatin academy. With the new teachers, Professor E. D. Shattuck and wife, the seminary attained a high standing. In 1861 Dr. Atkinson was invited by the city school board to take charge of the seminary which had become a free graded school. He took it for one year with Mrs. Atkinson and Mr. Randall as assistants, established the grades and continued preaching as usual. In a sketch of this period Dr. Atkinson says school teaching for six terms aided him in getting free from debt for the first time in fifteen years.
In 1865 Dr. Stephen D. Pope took charge of the school, graduating the first class, six girls, in 1870. "The proudest day of my life," said Dr. Barclay, as he signed their diplomas both as mayor and school commissioner. Professor Pope afterward went to Victoria, B. C., where he was superintendent of public schools for many years. Oregon City now has half a dozen handsome school buildings, the Barclay, the Eastham named for State Senator E. L. Eastham, and built on another block donated by Dr. McLoughlin, a new $40,000 high school in process of erection, besides new graded school buildings in the suburbs at Park Place, Gladstone, Bolton, Canemah, Mt. Pleasant and West Oregon City. In 1885 the Catholic St. John's parochial school was opened by Rev. James Rauw, succeeded by Rev. A. Hillebrand in 1888, who has developed it into McLoughlin institute, a handsome structure on Main street, dedicated October 4, 1907.
The pioneer of the Episcopal church in Oregon was Rev. St. Michael Fackler, who in 1847 found a few members of his denomination in Oregon City, and held occasional services in the house of Archibald McKinlay, a retired clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company and son-in-law of Peter Skeen Ogden. In 1852 Rev. James A. Woodward held Episcopal services in the Congregational church until a room was fitted up for the purpose. In 1861 Bishop Scott built the present Episcopal church.
On May 30, 1849, Dr. McLoughlin filed his intention to become an American citizen, but this did not end his troubles, although he had resigned from the Hudson's Bay Company and moved to Oregon City before the treaty of joint occupancy was abrogated. On the anti-Hudson's bay platform Samuel R. Thurston was elected Oregon's first delegate to congress, and although ill, set out in a boat from his home on the west side of the river at Oregon City, on the journey to Washington. There he so presented the case that congress withheld the claim of Dr. McLoughlin, while confirming that of every other settler. When news of this arrived at Oregon City, a public indignation meeting was held at which fifty-six leading citizens signed a memorial declaring the reservation unjust, and later, in 1862, the state legislature restored the title to his heirs; but, meanwhile, the doctor, overwhelmed with distress and grief, had died in 1857, owing more than he could pay to the Hudson's Bay Company for outfits and favors granted to the early impoverished American immigrants. By united request of the chief factors of the west, the Hudson's Bay Company cancelled the claim in view of the very great services of Dr. McLoughlin. No officer surpassed him in executive ability. During this time the uncertainty of Oregon City titles drove more and more settlers to other towns.
Senator Thurston, dying on his way home, was succeeded in congress by Joseph Lane. Abraham Lincoln was appointed governor of Oregon but declined, and General John P. Gaines, of Mexican war fame, accepted and arrived at Oregon City with his family and furniture in 1850. Among other things. Delegate Thurston had secured an appropriation of $20,000 for public buildings. Oregon City wanted these, so did Salem, Corvallis and Eugene, and the capital location fight began in earnest. It became a political issue, the democrats going for Salem and the whigs for Oregon City. In December, 1851, the legislature met at Salem, except a minority of one senator and four representatives, who resolved that Oregon City was the capital, and continued to meet and adjourn for two weeks. At the old legislative hall, corner 6th and Main streets, Columbia Lancaster elected himself president of the upper house, and made motions and seconded them himself, and prepared a memorial to congress that was signed by himself and the speaker of the house of representatives, at Oregon City. At this same time a majority of the legislature met at Salem and a majority of the supreme court met at Oregon City. Governor Gaines said Oregon City was the capital, and when Judge O. C. Pratt ordered the territorial library brought to Salem, Judges Strong and Nelson ordered it to remain at Oregon City.
To end the trouble, by request of the president, congress fixed the capital at Salem, and Oregon City, for years the social, commercial and political center of the northwest, the home of governors, judges and other prominent people, lost the capital in 1852. In 1853 there were one thousand people at Oregon City, and two thousand at Portland. On December 4, 1850, Thomas J. Dryer began the Oregonian at Portland, and three months later, March, 1851, Asahel Bush issued the first number of the Statesman at Oregon City. When the capital was changed to Salem, the Statesman followed; when it went to Corvallis, there, too, went the Statesman. Some laughed at the "paper on wheels." "Wherever the seat of government is, there is the statesman," answered Asahel Bush, as back with the legislators it finally went to Salem for a permanent home.
But Oregon City had other papers, the Spectator, the Free Press started by George L. Curry, when he left the Spectator. In 1855 W. L. Adams bought the Spectator press for $1,200 and started the Oregon Argus, which he edited for nine years as a republican journal. With the old whig stronghold, Oregon City, as his headquarters, Adams stumped the state, writing his editorials on his knee, armed with two revolvers and a bowie knife, and called the first republican convention ever held in the state. He is known today as "The Father of the Republican Party in Oregon." Says an admirer, "Through the Argus, with D. W. Craig as foreman and right hand man, he overthrew all opposition, dismantled their guns, licked the republican party into shape, and laid the foundation for free Oregon." Abraham Lincoln read the Argus, and leading eastern journals testified their admiration of him as a writer. In six weeks after he was inaugurated, Lincoln appointed Adams collector of customs for the district of Oregon, the first appointment made by Lincoln in the state.
In 1864 D. W. Craig bought the Argus and moved it to Salem, where it became merged in the Statesman, and the old Spectator press went to Roseburg. In 1866 D. C. Ireland, formerly with the St. Paul Pioneer, came to Oregon City and started the Enterprise that is still the popular local paper with Edward E. Brodie as editor. A former reporter on the Enterprise was Ella , now Ella Higginson, whose books published by Macmillan of New York, have become a permanent part of American literature. In 1906, in conjunction with the Enterprise, H. A. Galloway published the Daily Star, which aroused local pride and gave the town a new impetus, and in 191 1 Mr. Brodie launched the Morning Enterprise, a newsy little daily. In 1882 the Oregon City Courier, democratic, was established, that later combined with the Herald, populist, into the Courier-Herald, and is now the Courier again, under the efficient management of W. A. Shewman.
Around Willamette Falls centers the dramatic history of Oregon City. Gateway to the interior, every enterprise paid tribute to that upheaval of rock that for half a mile cuts the river in two, and lifts the shores into precipitous benches like colossal stairways. With the river the only highway, all travel, freight and immigration, must halt at the foot of the falls, and portage over almost insurmountable obstacles to the head beyond. This created the old immigrant road on Canemah hill that wound directly up over a basaltic bluff overlooking the cataract below. This was the immigrants' entrance to the Upper Willamette, and in due time back came loads of grain down the rocky stairway, to mill and to market, slow-going ox-teams in long trains, fifty, sixty and seventy wagons a day, creaking up and down where today it seems impossible for wheels to go.
This old hill road was superseded by a shore road on the bank of the river to Canemah in 1852, when Captain Peter H. Hatch blasted a highway out of solid rock under the bluff, costing $20,000, made up by popular subscription in Oregon City. This has since been further widened for railroad and trolley lines. This river road now became a scene of still busier traffic, teamsters working all day and night, freighting ever increasing merchandise around the falls. Main street of Oregon City used to run where the basin now is, and warehouses at Canemah above, and where the Hawley mill is below, were bursting with the surplus of the fertile valley.
A still further advance was made when D. P. Thompson, Asa L. Lovejoy and the Dement brothers constructed a horse railway, transferring from boats at Canemah, along Main and Water streets, to a warehouse dock at the foot of Eighth street below the present court house. Two boats ran constantly on the lower river, and nine on the upper, bringing fruit, grain, cheese, butter, eggs, poultry and other farm products from the interior down the river to Portland and the Columbia. The next step was a water basin blasted out to take the place of the land portage.
Canemah, an Indian word for "canoe-place" had always been a deep-water landing above the falls. Between Hawley's paper mill and the woolen mill, a sandspit below a reef of rocks had been for ages the landing below the falls. From here a wagon road ran up a little canyon into Main street. The frontage is deep, ships from the Pacific came up there on the high tide of June, and to connect the two was a future scheme of business adventure.
The chasm under Hawley's present warehouse was blasted out by Dr. McLoughlin, and his mill was between the site of Hawley's warehouse and the river. Bolts in the rocks yet show where it stood. He also had blasted a small basin and channel as a millrace, where the present basin is, which was then heavily timbered with cottonwoods and firs.
Along with the Argonaut, S. S. White of Oregon City, went to California to buy a vessel for the Oregon trade, intending to get but one, but finding really fine vessels deserted by their crews for sale for a song, he bought three, one of which, the Ocean Bird, with Berryman Jennings and McCarver as partners, became a moneymaker. Then he bought the Louisiana, on which the Lot Whitcomb machinery had come out, and with cargoes of Oregon produce made voyages to China. It is probable that in this way the Chinese houses came to Oregon City.
But boats that could run on inland waters were now in pressing demand. In September, 1849, David Wilkins, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, addressed a letter to the merchants and business men of Oregon City, asking for information as to the practicability of building a light draft steamer to run on the Willamette. Mr. Wilkins offered to build and ship in a sailing vessel around the Horn a hundred-fifty-ton steamer for $8,000. Nothing was done about this, but on July 4, 1850, there arrived at Oregon City on her trial trip, the first steamer built in Oregon, the Columbia, of Astoria. A celebration was held in her honor, and on Christmas day, 1850, the Lot Whitcomb, in which many Oregon City men were interested, was launched at Milwaukie amid much rejoicing. But the Lot Whitcomb was never able to get above the Clackamas rapids. Thirty thousand dollars were expended in improving those rapids in 1852, but, in the meantime, Oregon City developed an industry of which there is little actual record. In a natural depression of the rocks at the falls, just back of where Mill A now is, a dry dock was established, with a dam of crib work and a gate in it, to let boats in and out, and in this natural dry dock at Canemah in the fifties and sixties whole fleets of steamers were built, that ran on the upper Willamette, and some taken below ran on the Columbia and all the rivers of the northwest.
The first experimental steamer built at the Canemah dry dock was the Hoosier, made from a ship's long boat, with a pile driver engine and boiler, a little side wheeler with Captain George A. Pease as pilot and purser. She was finished in May, 1851. About that time Captain Irving in the bark Success arrived at Oregon City with three small steamers on deck, the Little Eagle, the "Bully Washington," a small iron steamer picked up on the Sacramento and launched above the falls in June, 185 1, and the Multnomah, built in the east and brought out in sections and taken piece by piece above the falls where it was set up, also, in June, 1851, and ran between Canemah and Corvallis, the first boat to ascend as far as Corvallis, bringing down a thousand bushels of wheat at a trip. Captain A. F. Hedges, who laid out Canemah in 1844, went east and brought out steamboat machinery to build the Canemah, the fourth boat above the falls, launched in 1851, a side wheeler, bluff bow and square stern, that carried mail and passengers.
The James Clinton was built at Canemah in 1856 by Captain Cochran, and others, who constructed the Surprise the next year. With Cochran as captain the James Clinton was the first boat to reach Eugene, arriving March 12. 1856. This was considered a great feat. The citizens of Eugene had promised to take five thousand dollars worth of stock if a boat could be brought up. Before, the grain had gone down in flat boats paddled by Indians. The Franklin, built at Canemah, was owned by McCarver and son, and the Shoalwater, later renamed the Minnie Holmes for a popular young lady of Oregon City.In 1853, a rival company projected transportation on the west side of the river, with hoisting works to lift goods above the falls and deposit them in steamers, instead of wagoning them a mile or more, as had been done. A basin and bulkheads were constructed and mills erected at the lower edge. The hoisting works were made of ropes, wheels and an elevator, in which passengers and goods were transferred.
On account of traffic diverted this way, Linn City sprang up on the river shore on the west side; a hotel and other buildings gave the settlement a consequential air. Money for steamers and construction work was obtained by a man named Page, backed by California capital, but misfortune attended the enterprise from the start. They also had a dry dock, in which their first steamer was burned on the stocks October, 1853. About six o'clock in the evening of October 8, 1854, Oregon City heard a boom like a cannon, the second steamer built by this company, the handsome Gazelle, had exploded with fifty people on board, twenty-two of whom were killed outright and many others injured. A sad day followed when the mangled dead were carried in one long funeral train to the newly opened cemetery. The only explanation was that the boiler of the Gazelle was made of poor iron and gave way under the strain. Some also were injured on the Wallamet, alongside the Gazelle.
In March, 1857, the steamer Portland, after loading at the mills, in turning round broke a rudder and backed over the falls. Balancing on the verge, she strained the whistle cord, blowing a long blast as breaking in two she plunged to the bottom. The hull and machinery of the Portland lie now as she fell, and the safe with $700 in gold. The captain, Arthur Jamison, jumped, but too late, and he and Bell, a deckhand, went down together. The pilot house and upper works floated off down the river and came ashore at Portland uninjured. The captain's coat and watch hung in their usual places, not even wet. At low water the hog chain shows still; a diver once tried to get the safe, but boulders from the falls had rolled on top.
F. X. Matthieu and others built the Elk at Canemah; she blew up, and her captain, George Jerome, went up with the boiler and lodged in a cottonwood tree unhurt. This same George Jerome was the only man on the Wallamet, when she was lined over the falls in July, 1854, to carry mails at Astoria. In the same manner, in July, 1858, the steamer Enterprise, Captain Tom Wright, was lined down over the falls, going north where she coined money on the Eraser river. This new gold rush caused a greater boom in boats than ever.
Another favorite spot for building steamers was on a sand spit out of the canyon at the foot of nth street, where Bush's furniture factory now stands. In the deep water there the finest stern wheeler yet built, the Carrie Ladd, named for a Portland banker's daughter, was launched in October, 1858, constructed for Jacob Kamm and Captain Ainsworth. Her engines were brought from Wilmington, Delaware. She was fitted up more like modern steamers than any yet made, and in her day was queen of the rivers. The steamer Relief was also built at that point in 1858.
In the autumn of 1861 there was great excitement over the outbreak of the Civil war. Captain D, P. Thompson recruited a company, of which John T. Apperson was first lieutenant and Jacob S. Rinearson was major, and they were directed to report forthwith to Colonel E. D. Baker on the Potomac. But Oregon Indians had heard of the trouble in the east, and were again hostile. Those who had enlisted in the hope of going east were imperatively needed to protect the Oregon frontier, and to guard incoming immigrants.
In December, 1861, the river rose to an unprecedented flood, and in one fell swoop carried away most of the improvements on both sides of the falls, all the mills, the breakwater, the hoisting works of the Milling and Transportation Company, the foundry, the Oregon City Hotel, Abernethy's brick store, and many more structures. Linn City with gardens, groves and more houses than were in Oregon City was swept clean down to the bed rock. Not only was Abernethy's mill taken off the island, but also the trees and very earth down to the solid rock. On the Oregon City side McLoughlin's mill was carried off leaving not a vestige behind. The Willamette Iron Works that the year before had made engines and machinery for the first two steam saw mills of eastern Oregon, at Walla Walla and The Dalles, was carried away bodily; and where a grove of gigantic firs stood on the site of the present basin not a trace remamed either of trees or soil in which they grew. The entire raging river was covered with uprooted trees, barns, fences, cabins, bridges, the annihilated toil of pioneers. Above the falls Canemah was laid waste; and below, Abernethy's peach orchard and acres of river front were dumped into the torrent. In view of this pioneer catastrophe, it is comforting to know that the flood of 1890, ten inches higher, carried no such destruction in its wake. The country was better prepared to meet it.
When the flood of 1861 was at its highest the falls of the Willamette were the scene of an exciting feat in steamboating when Captain George W. Taylor resolved to take his boat, the St. Clair, to the lower river. A sale was to be made on condition that the St. Clair could be landed below in safety. The short December day passed in hesitation, the Canemah women made fires on the hills to see the St. Clair go over the falls, friends bade the daring captain adieu, when with all in readiness he launched upon the toboggan slide of waters. A breathless suspense was relieved when cheerful toots of the St. Clair's whistle proved she had made the leap in safety. The ease with which the St. Qair made the plunge proved the passage could be made, but no one has ever tried it again. But this baptism did not wash away political animosity. In 1862 democrats and republicans refused to celebrate the 4th of July together, the democrats going to Holmes park on the hill, and the republicans celebrating where the C. C. store now is, where they had erected bowers and tables. Both parties quarreled for the only cannon in town, but the democrats carried it off.
After the receding flood of 1861, bare rock from landing to landing suggested a deeper basin where Dr. McLoughlin had made his pioneer attempt a quarter of a century before. The valley demanded an outlet, and sixty-five stockholders from Eugene to Portland organized the People's Transportation Company, constructed a basin and canal at Oregon City, built boats at the Canemah dry dock, drove all rivals from the river, and held the monopoly for ten years in which time they spent over a million dollars in steamboats, docks and improvements to handle freight expeditiously. They held the key to the upper Willamette.
Then, just as had happened before, a rival company, the Willamette Transportation and Locks Company, started in on the other side. The People's Transportation Company paid no attention, but went on and built two more steamers at Canemah, the Albany, and then the Dayton, the first commander of which was Captain J. T. Apperson. When in 1870 the state legislature granted a bonus of $200,000 to the Willamette Transportation and Locks Company, the doom of the old, uncertain portage was sealed, and the next year, 1871, all the People's Transportation Company's interests went into the hands of Ben Holladay, who now had all the steamships, boats and railroads of Oregon in his hands. The little fleet of home built boats, the Enterprise, Fanny Patton, Albany, E. N. Cook, Alice, Active, Alert, Echo, Success and Onward, all went to Ben Holladay for $200,000. The business was of great magnitude at this time, five thousand tons of freight being brought to Oregon City in the one month of January, 1871. The Alice, one of the last boats built at Canemah, ran on the upper river until she was burned in the basin at Oregon City.
The locks were completed in 1872, and when, on New Year's day, 1873, the first steamer, Maria Wilkins, puffed down through the water gates, she had on board Jacob Kamm, Governor Grover, Ex-Governor Whitaker, Harvey W. Scott, and other guests of distinction. On March 16, the Governor Grover, a Portland steamer, went up, the first large steamer to go so far up on the river.
Today the General Electric Company lights Portland from Willamette Falls, and claims the locks, with toll from every boat that passes through, and statesmen are studying how to secure to the people free navigation of the Willamette. Government engineers are surveying the falls, to ascertain whether it will be best to buy the locks, or build new ones.Fifty years have worn away fifteen feet of the falls, but this has been stopped by a big rock wall, a concrete dam, half a mile around and five feet thick.
cemented on top of the falls, thereby heightening and increasing their efficiency.
In 1882, at a cost of more than $10,000, a fish ladder was built at the falls, all of which was swept out by a flood in 1885. Other attempts have been made, money has been spent in blasting, building, and repairing, but with indifferent success, owing to the building of dams at the mills, changing the course of the currents.
As early as 1846 the citizens of Oregon City held a mass meeting and sent a petition to congress for a government railroad across the Rocky mountains to Oregon City. At intervals from that time the subject was agitated and preliminary surveys were made, until in the sixties arrangements were made for rights of way for the Oregon and California railroad.
Before the Locks and Transportation Company had completed their open river to the interior, the Ben Holladay line had blasted a roadway and laid its rails under the bluffs at Oregon City. The old Cliff House and McLoughlin House were turned into hotels and were full of men when the railroad was building in 1870. The first Clackamas bridge washed out, another must take its place before the close of 1870 to hold the right of way. December was flitting by. "Can you, or can you not complete this bridge?" Ben Holladay demanded of the foreman. The man hesitated. "Speak," commanded Ben Holladay, "Say the word. If you can't I'll find a gang who will." The bridge was done on time, men working by the flare of torches on the last night of 1870, and on New Year's dawn of 1871 the road was open and a train passed through on the new laid irons. The struggle of ages was ending. Canemah hill was no more a scene of toiling oxen, the falls were practically annihilated, and by land or water grain, merchandise, wealth, could pass the old Thermopylae where red men fought in ages gone and white men struggled for a foothold. (This railroad subject properly belongs to Mr. Gaston.)
MANUFACTURES AT OREGON CITY.
The present proprietors, the Jacobs Brothers, began as peddlers with Oregon City as headquarters. Samuel Marks, a merchant, furnished them goods. Presently they bought Marks out, owned the store, and quietly began buying up woolen mill stock at fifty cents on the dollar. Good financiers, today they own the Oregon City woolen mills, now grown to be the largest west of the Mississippi river, and manufacture for the wholesale trade, blankets, robes, cassimeres, flannels, shirts, pants, mackinaws and have also a large garment factory in connection. Several fires have devastated the plant, which has each time been rebuilt larger, and now 350 hands are employed, using 1,500.000 pounds of wool with an annual output of a million dollars per annum. This substantial brick establishment stands on the site of the old Hudson's Bay stockade and store. The only serious labor trouble occurred in 1885, when forty Chinamen, awakened from their beds at midnight, were escorted by a committee to a boat in waiting, and told never to return. Their places in the woolen mill were immediately filled by white men and women.
The flood of 1861 cleared the way for the paper mills that now occupy the site of old Linn City. Paper of a coarse quality was first made at Oregon City in 1867, by W. W. Buck, a pioneer of 1845. Later Mr. Buck built another mill with capital furnished by the publishers of the Oregonian, and successfully manufactured printing and wrapping paper, which was all consumed in and about Portland. In 1888-89 larger paper mills began to be built at the falls, until now the three, the Crown-Columbia, the Willamette Pulp and Paper and the Hawley mills are among the largest in the world. Between five and six million dollars are invested in the paper industry at Oregon City, employing a thousand men with a payroll averaging about $70,000 monthly. Seventy-five million feet of logs per year are converted into paper to be shipped to every Pacific port, China, Chili, Australia, Alaska and New Zealand. The Willamette, the largest of all, manufacturing newspaper only, with a daily output of 170 tons, received one of the largest orders for print paper on record in December, 1910, the contract calling for two million dollars' worth, to be delivered to Harrison Gray Otis of the Los Angeles Times.
Besides the woolen and paper mills, Oregon City has a number of sawmills in the town and suburbs, an iron foundry, and the electric plant that lights the city of Portland. A trolley line connects the two cities, completed in 1893 by James and George Steele. The first suspension bridge in Oregon, costing $30,000 was built in 1885-6, connecting east and west Oregon City. A commission house is doing an extensive business, an ice plant, steam laundry, a water system owned by the city, a public library and free reading room, are also features of the town. A commercial club with rooms in the new Masonic Temple is doing splendid work, as also are the Woman's club, of which Mrs. J. W. Norris is the president and leader in civic improvement; the Rose club founded by Mrs. George A. Harding; the Derthick, a musical organization established by Mrs. E. E. Williams; the McLoughlin Memorial Association, E. G. Caufield, president, that has restored the historic home of the founder of the city; the Willamette Valley Chautauqua Association, the largest educational gathering in the state, that for seventeen years has met at Gladstone park, attracting thousands of people and the most noted talent in the country. The present population of Oregon City is 4,287, and probably 10,000 including its suburbs. West Oregon City, Bolton, Canemah, Park Place, Gladstone, and Mt. Pleasant. In a professional way, besides the clergy and school teachers, Oregon City has eight physicians, nine dentists and sixteen practicing lawyers. Churches of all denominations are now represented, some of them with enlarged and modern buildings.
INDIANS AT OREGON CITY.
From time immemorial the "Hyas Tyee Tumwater" was a rendezvous for Indians in the fishing season; over the Willamette falls they fought, Clackamas and Klamath, Multnomah and Molalla. But dead men tell no tales. Indian burial places overlooked the falls on both sides, perched in trees, on rocks, on scaffolds, and later in the ground after the white man's fashion. As late as the sixties these graves might be seen decorated with strips of blankets, tin pots, kettles, and whatever the departed had prized in life. Twenty feet of the Canemah bluff cut off by the railroad was an Indian burial ground, also across the river along the present picturesque walk to- the paper mills. All these places have been dug over by relic hunters who carried away skulls, jawbones and archaeological treasures.As settlers advanced, the Indians moved their camps to the first bench, the second, and finally to the third, where for years boys and girls found small Indian pockets or caches with beads and arrow heads. All over the present McLoughlin heights and beyond, old timers point out localities of Indian camps and graves, A larger Indian cache was a cave in the face of the high bluff between sth and 6th street. This cave was entered from above, out over the edge, where a single frail sapling is all that prevents the adventurer from slipping to death below. In this cave, extending sixty feet back under the rocks,
the Indians used to lie in wet weather and look down upon the building of the settlement. In early times timid women were afraid to pass the spot for fear of arrows. H. C. Stevens has a collection of arrow heads dug from the sand in front of the old Governor Abernethy place on the river, that seems to have been the factory of an ancient arrow maker, scattered with fragments and chippings of stone from far-away fields. The old Indian rancherie at the mouth of the Clackamas was described by Elisha Applegate of 1843 as "a house three hundred feet long, seven feet high at the eaves, the sides being made of cedar puncheons a foot broad and two inches thick, all smooth. Indians said the building was a hundred years old. A porch ran the whole length of the south side, and the main building was divided about every fourteen feet by a partition, while each room had a door on the outside. It was headquarters for the Clackamas tribe which acquired its name from a reduplication and extension of all 'k' sounds as "K-k-klack-kmas."
Another noted spot was the Indian slave mart on the bank of the river at 11th street, where savage Klamaths in canoes brought captive Indian children from southern Oregon, and exchanged with other Indians for blankets and salmon. In the early forties these little Shasta and Rogue river Indian slaves were found all over the Willamette valley, at The Dalles, and down the Columbia. Once Judge and Mrs. Thornton, looking down upon the pitiful scene, had their sympathies so aroused that they, themselves, purchased several abused children, adopted and educated them. They also educated a nephew of the famous chief Leschi, from Puget's sound, and just before the outbreak of the Yakima war Leschi made a visit to him at Oregon City. Peter H. Hatch released one of these unhappy children. Rev. Gustavus Hines also had one that had been rescued from a dead house at The Dalles, where he had been bound to his dead master and fastened in the tomb. The Jennings family educated a very bright Indian boy who is now on the Warm Springs reservation, Indian Dave, the son of an Idaho chief, brought from the Snake river by Major Rinearson in the sixties, is a civilized and popular Indian of Oregon City today; Klamath Susan, the last of her race that ventured here, is a pensioner of the whites in her old age; Sousap, the last of the Clackamas, remains, and Indian Molly, who washes for white people.
Dr. Forbes Barclay, a prominent physician and surgeon of the early day, kept a bateau with an Indian crew, and, on errands of mercy, traversed the rivers from Vancouver to Salem. "Uncle Billy" Vaughan, of 1843, said he had killed many a deer in the thickets along Indian creek by the 7th street steps. In 1845 James McMillen saw Indians chasing a deer that leaped into the Willamette falls and was shot by an Indian below, as it emerged, valiantly battling for its life. As late as the sixties a deer chased by hounds jumped off the bluff, breaking its legs on the rocks near the present Southern Pacific depot. With the last of the deer the Indians departed.
Never town was built on a wilder spot than Oregon City. Wherever a stream leaped down the bluff, it tore a canyon to the river, marking in several cases the present intersections across Main street. The Methodist church, the first west of the Rocky mountains, was built on a wooded knoll that sloped down into Indian creek canyon at 8th street. This creek, rising in springs at Holmesfarm and vicinity back of the bluffs, meandered on to the edge of the precipice at 7th street, where it fell in a wild cascade behind the present Weinhard building ploughing its tumultous way down between the present court house and the E. G. Caufield place, where it leaped again in a second cascade to the Willamette. No wonder the earliest comers looked upon the land as a home of rills and waterfalls, and potential energy for mills.
Indian creek, also called Bull creek, from a fractious Spanish California bull that mired and drowned there before it could be rescued, became the seat of several pioneer industries. Near the foot of the bluff, Nineveh Ford had a tannery, the first in the state, in the days when Oregon City wore moccasins; the second tannery in Oregon was located on the same stream higher up toward the Holmes' place. Bricks for Governor Abernethy's store, the hrst made in Oregon, were manufactured on Indian creek, on the corner of the present court house yard at 8th and Main. A log bridge across this creek was the first improvement on Main street. An early brewery on Indian creek tainted the air back of the Weinhard building, and a man by the name of Singer built a large grist mill near the head of the 7th street stairs, where at certain seasons the stream became a raging torrent.
Another canyon extended from the bluff at the Congregational church, to the river at nth streeth. Down this zigzag way Indians trooped to the slave market at the foot of nth street. Peter H. Hatch, an early contractor, blasted the bluff away, opening a road up the hill. The canyon was bridged with logs, as also was the Abernethy canyon at Green Point, where the governor's house was the first civilized structure visible to boats coming up the river. The next edifice seen was the Catholic church, on the spot where it still stands. Water street, that later caved away, was then the principal promenade of the city, looking down on the river panorama of Indian canoes, Hudson's bay bateaux, and now and then a stately ship from the ocean.Back of the Methodist church to the present railroad track, a mosquito-haunted, skunk-cabbage swamp extended its malarial ooze. The bluff at 5th street was climbed by a ladder, a distance of eighty to a hundred feet, and the second bluff to Falls View, two hundred and fourteen feet up to the reservoir, also was scaled at certain points by ladders. At the present 7th street stairs an Indian trail wound up through the bushes along Indian creek, and at 8th and 9th streets an uncertain wagon road, later known as the "Baptist Slide," clung to the steep, slippery and dangerous edge until the beginning of the Singer Hill road was blasted out of the rocks along the side of the bluff. Not Edinburgh, nor cliffs along the Rhine have possibilities greater than these rocks of Oregon City. Draped with vines and greenery they yet may rival the best the world affords. The roads out of early Oregon City were still more unspeakable. Crude and inadequate ferries, with caving slippery banks, led into the village across the Clackamas, the Pudding and the Molalla. In later years these country roads have been improved, and in the town, thousands of dollars are being expended in filling canyons and extending modern streets and cement walks in every direction.