From: The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. X, No. 4. (December 1909).
Peter Skene Ogden's Snake Country Journal, 1825-26
Editorial Notes by T. C. Elliott.
The publication of the Ogden journals, four in number, is made possible by the courtesy of Miss
Agnes C. Laut, who for a very nominal consideration indeed consented to dispose of her copy of
these journals to the writer of these notes. Miss Laut is deserving of great credit for her success
in obtaining this copy from the originals in London, England.
The journal reproduced in this number of the Quarterly covers the period of Mr. Ogden's second
expedition to the Snake country. As yet no journal has been found of the first expedition, and the
reader will appreciate such brief mention of that expedition as is at this time possible from
original Hudson's Bay Company sources; particularly as some new light will be thrown upon a
certain oft mentioned occurrence of the fur trade involving the trapping parties of the H. B. Co.
from the Columbia river and of the Americans from St. Louis. (See entry of April 10, 1826 ultra.)
Let it be briefly stated here that Peter Skene Ogden, then in the thirtieth year of his age and
already a Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, on the 27th of October, 1824, at the mouth
of the Spokane river met (Deputy) Governor George Simpson of that Company (Gov. Simpson
passed down the Columbia that Fall in company with Dr. John McLoughlin and party to spend
the Winter at Ft. George) and on the 31st Inst. following received his instructions to proceed at
once to Flathead House and meet there Mr. Alexander Ross, who was returning from the Snake
Country, and there refit the Snake Country party and conduct it back to the hunting grounds.
These facts are taken from a journal of John Work, now in the possession of his descendants at
Victoria, B. C.
Of Mr. Ogden's party and his start toward the Snake Country at the beginning of Winter, 1824,
Mr. Ross gives us some glimpse in the "Fur Hunters of the Far West," and doubtless the
experiences were not much less strenuous than those of Mr. Ross the year previous; but travel
across the mountains and plains in the Winter season was not then regarded as a very unusual
thing. Mr. Ross in his book argues very strongly against the use of Spokane or Flathead House
as a base for the Snake Country operations and doubtless emphasized this with Mr. Ogden as
well as with Gov. Simpson; for the instructions were to return the party to Ft. Nez Perces (Walla
Walla). From various hints here and there it is certain that during the Winter and early Spring
Mr. Ogden's party trapped along the various streams forming the headwaters of Snake river and
in all probability (it is not possible yet to say with certainty), then penetrated to the northerly
borders of Great Salt Lake and the river and valley afterward named in his honor. The entry on
June 6, 1826 (ultra), suggests this and he is so credited by Amer. authorities (See Bancroft Hist.
Utah, pp. 21 and 22 note). The chapter entitled, "The Red Feather" in that rare book, "Traits of
American Indian Life and Character," may be considered a source as to the whereabouts of this
party that Spring, in the opinion of the writer. Perhaps because of finding the American trappers
already upon the waters flowing into the Pacific, Mr. Ogden became ambitious to cross to the
waters of the Missouri; for there he was in the month of July, as shown by the journal of Mr.
Work, already mentioned, from which the following quotations are drawn.
At Ft. Okanogan on the Columbia, 1825, "Tuesday, July 26. A little past noon an Indian arrived
from Spokane with a note from Mr. Birnie and a packet which had recently reached that place
from Mr. Ogden, dated East branch of the Missouri, 10th July. * * I deemed it my duty to open
the dispatch, which I am sorry to find contains intelligence of a disagreeable nature. A series of
misfortunes have attended the party from shortly after their departure, and on the 24th of May
they fell in with a party of Americans, when 23 of the former deserted. Two of this party were
killed, one by the Indians, and one by accident, and the remainder of the party are now coming
out by the Flat Heads."
Again when on Pend d'Oreille river en route to Flat-Head House, "Monday 15th (Aug.).
Embarked at 4 o'clock and reached the Indian camp at the Chutes at 11 o'clock, where I found
Mr. Kittson and two men from Mr. Ogden's party with 38 packs;" and "Wed. 17th, Joachim
Hubert accompanied, the Indians with the horses that brought the Snake furs and a small supply
of articles for Mr. Ogden, to whom I wrote and forwarded a number of letters and dispatches
addressed to him. The package was put in charge of Grospied, on[e] of the F. Head chiefs, as
being more safe. It was not till I was perfectly satisfied by Mr. Kittson that there was no danger
of these documents falling into improper hands that I would trust them. The chiefs are directed to
give them to no one but Mr. Ogden, and in case of any accident having befallen him to bring
them back. It was Mr. Ogden's directions to Mr. Kittson that only one man should be sent back to
him." And again at Flat-Head House on Thurs. 25th: "I found two of Mr. Dease's men who had
arrived with dispatches from the sea a few hours before. Now it is uncertain whether Mr. Ogden
may equip his men at the Flat Heads or take them to Nez Perces." And "Sat. 27th. A young
Indian was engaged to carry the dispatches to Mr. Ogden in the Snake country. He is to have a
horse for his trip and promises to make the most expedition he can." Monday, 5th Sept. "Three
of the freemen belonging to Mr. Ogden's party arrived here * * * Mr. Ogden's notes are dated on
the 15th of August, when all the freemen but six had parted from him, his party then being only
15 strong, and he was going through a dangerous country." And at Spokane House again on
Monday, Sept. 26. "Late last night Faneant, one of Mr. Ogden's men, arrived from the Missouri
with letters dated on the 11th inst. Mr. Ogden is now on his way with 20 men to Walla Walla by
the Snake country and has sent orders here for the part of his outfit that is at this place. He
expects to reach that place about the 20th October. He also requires Mr. Dears to be sent to meet
him with horses." And writing from Ft. Nez Perces (Walla Walla) to John McLeod on Nov. 9,
1825, Dr. John McLoughlin, who was there impatiently waiting, says: "I have this moment been
called off to receive Mr. Ogden; his men are to be here in two days. His horses are so knocked up
that we cannot send you any until he is supplied."
From these sources and references in the journals it is known that Mr. Ogden was absent upon
his first Snake Country expedition almost a year and met with reverses (not by any stampede or
physical encounter, but) by the desertion to the Americans of nearly all his free trappers
(French-Canadians) with their furs and outfits, and that he returned along the trails previously
used by an equally corpulent and resourceful predecessor, Mr. Donald McKenzie of the
Northwest Company, across Southern Idaho and by the valleys of Burnt River, Powder River and
the Grand Ronde to the Valley of the Walla Walla, a route afterward followed by the first wagons
ever brought to the Columbia (by Robt. Newell, Francis Ermatinger and others) and later by the
various migrations and still later by the steel rails. Reaching Ft. Walla Walla he found his old
companion Samuel Black just succeeding Mr. John Dease to the command there, and his chief
factor, Dr. Mc Loughlin; and while spending the twelve days of his brief vacation before starting
on the second expedition that "strange occurrence" took place which is related in Chapter III.
(entitled The Burial of the Dead and the Living) of the book "Traits," etc., already mentioned.
From the entry on Nov. 25th (ultra), it is seen that Dr. Mc Loughlin had selected in advance the
route for the second expedition and had sent ahead toward the headwaters of the Des Chutes a
party under Finan McDonald and Thos. McKay. This Finan McDonald had been in the Flathead
and Spokane country as early as 1809-10 with David Thompson, and Thos. McKay had arrived at
Astoria with his father, Alex. McKay, in March, 1811, both of the Astoria party on the Tonquin.
According to the entry of April 10th (ultra), by some advantage held over them (the full nature of
which is not yet understood) the deserters of the previous year were compelled to pay their debts
to the H. B. Co. by turning in over four hundred dollars' worth of beaver (not eight thousand one
hundred and twelve beaver skins). There are later references to this incident under which it will
be more appropriate to discuss it. It will be noted that whenever Mr. Ogden could start for the
Columbia with more than three thousand beaver skins in the packs he was a happy man.
Readers of these journals will be interested in reading in comparison Chapter XXXI. of Miss Laut's "Conquest of the Great Northwest," and, a sketch of the life of Mr. Ogden soon to appear in this Quarterly.
JOURNAL OF PETER SKENE OGDEN; SNAKE EXPEDITION, 1825-1826.
(As Copied by Miss Agnes C. Laut in 1905 from Original in Hudson's Bay House, London,
Monday, November 21, 1825. Having sent off all hands yesterday in company with Mr. Dears(1) I
took my departure from Ft. Nez Perces(2) and about 10 o'clock I overtook my party who were
waiting my arrival. Tho 6 horses were missing I gave orders to raise camp. We followed the
banks of the Columbia, course S. W., and encamped near the Grand Rapid, distance 9 miles - the
road hilly and sandy.
Tuesday, 22d. Altho many of our horses were not to be found this morning, I gave orders to raise
camp, leaving 6 men to go in quest of them. Several of the fort Indians followed us, more with a
view of giving us trouble. We reached the Utaka(3) River and encamped. Here we found a large
camp of Indians from within. We traded some salmon and firewood; distance 8 miles; course
west-, road hilly; we have great trouble with our wild horses; weather hazy and foggy.
Wednesday, 23d. The party I sent off yesterday in quest of our horses did not return, and 4 more
being missing this morning, I sent Mr. Dears with two men in quest of them, but provisions being
so scarce, I was obliged to raise camp - in fact the sooner we can get rid of the Indians the safer
our horses will be. We came this day only 6 miles and encamped late in the evening. All hands
with the exception of one man arrived with all our lost horses excepting one, which the Indians
had killed for food;, road fine; weather fine.
Thursday, 24th. I this morning received a note from Mr. Black(4) informing me that he had
recovered four of our six horses missing on the 21. The absent man also made his appearance. He
informed me that 4 Indians had pillaged all his ammunition, but I doubt the truth of this. Altho
we commence at the dawn of day to collect our horses, we are never ready to start before 10
o'clock. We had a fine road this day and encamped at the long island distant 10 miles; weather
very mild; grass in abundance for horses.
Friday, 25th. Rain all night. Altho weather was bad we raised camp and continued marching until
evening our route along the banks of the river. We met with two of the Cayuse chiefs who
proposed to me to follow their route, that the road was shorter to Mr. McDonald's(5) camp. But
my guide being of a different opinion, I gave way to him, however anxious I feel to join Mr.
McDonald, and provisions being scarce, I must comply. Course S. W.,15 miles; rainy.
Saturday, 26th. Rain all night. Some Indians came to our camp this morning and traded a horse.
It was midday before we found all our horses. The road this day very hilly and sandy; very
fatiguing for our horses; two of them could scarcely crawl when we reached the encampment; it
is distressing to undertake a long journey with such miserable creatures, and I seriously
apprehend if the Winter is severe 2-3 will die; distance 8 miles S. W.; cloudy.
Sunday, 27th. Started early, camped at sunset; 20 Indians came to our camp; all very quiet; our
route along the banks of the Columbia; distance 12 miles; course S.; cold and hazy.
Monday, 28th. Rain prevented starting. We were so lucky as to trade 3 horses; 40 salmon fish
Tuesday, 29th. As we were starting an Indian arrived and brought the goods back for one of the
horses we traded, which was returned to him, although it was fair trade. I did not think it prudent
to comply with his request. One of the men's horses missing this morning. Altho search was
made it was vain. We reached John Day's River and found our old Walla Walla chief waiting our
arrival; 10 miles; course west.
Wednesday, 30th. A great many Indians collected about our camp this morning. In the night 2
traps were stolen from the men. We traded 2 horses at an extravagant rate, but were too much in
need, and well do the natives know this, and act accordingly. We raised camp late, altho it was
rainy, but I am not only anxious to reach Mr. McDonald, but to get rid of the natives, who are
troublesome; distance 4 miles; course south. This day I forwarded dispatches to Ft. Vancouver.
Thursday, December 1. Again horses missing; no doubt stolen. It was late ere we started and we
reached the River of the Falls(6) early and camped. We found upwards of 100 Indians. The 2 traps
stolen were recovered. Many horses offered for sale but too extravagant in demands. Toward
night one Indian stole some ammunition out of the free men's tents. The Walla Walla chief
started in pursuit of the thief and returned in the night with the stolen property; road stony and
hilly; course S. W.; distance 6 miles.
Friday, 2d. Three of the men's horses wanting, also some belonging to the natives. This did not
prevent raising camp, as by remaining here we should lose more than gain, but tomorrow shall
send party back in quest of our horses. We had some difficulty in crossing over the river, its
banks being overflowed owing to the mild weather and late rains. Having crossed, we bade
farewell to the Columbia River and took S. E. direction and camped on a small river(7) which
discharges into Columbia below Grand Dalles; distance 6 miles; commenced keeping watch as I
fear now the Indians know of our leaving them they may attempt to take a band of our horses.
Soil firm and well wooded; few oak trees; no signs of beaver.
Saturday, 3d. It was late ere we started; number of Indians that followed us yesterday traded 30
salmon and bade us farewell. I engaged a chief to return with 3 men in quest of our stolen horses.
On starting we left the river, crossed over a point of land 9 miles, then followed the river about a
mile. It being dark, we camped. It is scarcely credible, altho we are yet so short a distance from
the Columbia what a difference there is; soil rich; oak of a large size, abundant; grass green,
weather warm; route hilly; high hills at a distance covered with snow; distance 10 miles; course
S. S. W.; men constantly employed about our horses.
Sunday, 4th. Started at 10 o'clock. Change in weather since yesterday; cold and cloudy. We
commenced ascending and descending high hills; came 10 miles. Finding a small brook, camped;
course south. The 3 men and Indians in quest of stolen horses returned with all; they found them
on north side of Columbia and to get them were obliged to pay 30 balls of powder - no doubt the
thief himself restored them, a corn- mon practice with the Columbia Indians. Shortly after we
camped an Indian arrived who told us he left Mr. McDonald's party 8 days since, all well but
starving, having taken few beaver; prospects bright; fine oaks, but wood scarce; soil good.
Monday, 5th. Started at 8 A. M. Our guide informed us there were some small deer to be seen. I
despatched 3 hunters; about 12 o'clock came to the end of the hills - a grand and noble sight -
Mount Hood bearing due west, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Nesqually(8) Northwest, covered with
eternal snow, and in a southern direction other lofty mountains in form and shape of sugar
loaves. At the foot of all these mountains were lofty pines, which added greatly to the grandeur of
the prospect. Could anything make it more so? After descending the last hill, which occupied
nearly 2 hours, we reached a fine plain; sandy soil covered with wormwood. We crossed over to
this place, a large fork of the River of the Falls; another fork of the same was also seen near,
taking its course S. E., and the latter S. W. Both forks were wooded and formerly stocked with
beaver, but the Nez Perces Indians have destroyed all; both appear to take their rise from a
mountain not far, and covered with snow. The mild weather must account for the high water and
muddy colour - in fact so thick we could scarcely swallow it. My hunters had no success. An
Indian who killed an antelope gave me a share; a most acceptable present; the first meat since we
left the fort. Some petrifactions of the fir tree were collected. Course S. E.; distance 15 miles.
Tuesday, 6th. Hunters off in quest of deer; 2 horses missing, one of the Company's. Remained in
camp till 11, hoping to find him, but in vain. Before leaving sent an Indian and one mean in quest
of him Crossed over the S. E. with some difficulty over route hilly; country very stony. We
reached the foot of the mountains. Our guide killed a deer. The Walla Walla chief departed from
us; traded a horse from him; distance 12 miles S. S. E. Man and Indian returned without horse.
Wednesday, 7th. Broke camp an early hour; began ascending; continued so for 3 1/2 hours.
However great the ascent, the descent was not great. By the time we reached level ground our
horses were greatly fatigued, and tho early, we encamped; road very stony; country covered with
rocks and stones; deer abundant; upwards of 100 seen; travel too swift to be overtaken; hunters
killed 3 - distance 10 miles.
Thursday, 8th. Rain all night. We started at 10 o'clock - passed over a rugged country, stony and
hilly; horses sinking knee deep in the mire; late ere we found a small brook to camp; course
south; distance 10 miles; hunters killed 2 deer and a mountain sheep. Shortly after camping, were
joined by Mr. McKay(9) and 4 men. He informed me Mr. McDonald was at a short distance,
anxiously waiting my arrival. Their success had not been great, only 460 beaver, but this is solely
owing to the poverty of the country and not to want of effort. Their wait has recruited their
horses, which mine greatly require. Anxious to find beaver ere I make a halt; weather cloudy and
Friday, 9th. Started early. Route, as usual, over a hilly country for 8 miles, when we reached Mr.
McDonald's camp on the bank of the Falls River; fine large stream. Both parties pleased to meet.
Many of the hills we crossed are of blood red color, very rich from grass On them - In this
quarter are 3 boiling fountains(10) which I did not see, but am told are sulphur. The country since
the 4th has been bare, only a few fir trees - flint stones in abundance; animals scarce; all the
rivers being discharged into the Columbia. From the chief factor, McLoughlin, I expected to have
found Mr. McDonald provided with guides, but it is the reverse and places me in an unpleasant
situation. I must find an Indian who knows the country. If not, must make the attempt without;
this will cause loss of time, it being such a mountainous country; course south.
Saturday, 10th. Remained in camp. As we cannot ford the river with out horses we have a canoe
made. Indians who had accompanied Mr. McDonald from Ft. Vancouver took their departure for
this quarter and I forwarded letters by them to the Columbia; also sent 4 men invalided to
Vancouver; were not benefit here. Paid our guide from Nez Perce, though from his conduct he
was not entitled to any payment. The anxiety and trouble Indian guides give is known only to
those at their mercy. An Indian promised to go for his family and accompany me on my voyage,
but the evening has come without his appearance. Four of our horses missing-had the rest sent
across. The current strong, but not a horse drowned. More fortunate than I expected. An Indian
brought the two horses missing on the 6th. So far lucky.
Sunday, 11th. Very foggy. Horses missing yesterday found today; the rest crossed also part of the
property with men to guard the horses. Made Charley Nez Perce a present for past services, also
as a bait to induce some Indian to accompany us. Of many here, two only are acquainted with the
country I wish to reach. A Snake Indian, who has lived for many years with the Cayuse Indians,
consented to come. A more fit person could not have been selected. If he does not desert us we
may consider ourselves fortunate.
Monday, 12th. At daylight began crossing over the river the rest of the property, but it was near
night ere all was transferred. Having remained on this side with Mr. McKay to watch the motions
of our new guide, I was not a little surprised to learn of the death of a slave who belonged to Mr.
McDonald's party. The particulars are: Joseph Despard and deceased were employed taking the
goods to the top of the hill when words took place between them, but no blows. Despard loaded
himself to ascend and when nearly at the top of the bank, the deceased came up to him and struck
him on the back. D- then threw down his load and a battle took place, continuing for about 5
minutes, when deceased went to his camp. During the night he threw up blood, and this day at 2
P. M., expired, prior to death suffering greatly. On examining the body, I could not observe any
marks of violence or blows, except a hard swelling on the abdomen. A report having circulated
that D- kicked the deceased, I made enquiry, but found it incorrect. I had a grave made and the
body interred. It is not in my power to send D- to Vancouver. I have allowed the affair for the
present to remain quiet until we return to headquarters. The poor man is miserable and unhappy.
Tuesday, 13th. Rainy and stormy, which prevented starting. I delivered to Mr. McDonald's men
each 1 horse, also 1 lb. tobacco, also took account of furs on hand and gave traps to some of the
party who were in want. We learned from Indian report that a party of Cayuse are off to warn the
Snake Indians that we are coming to pay them a visit, but I am not of opinion it is the case; if so,
it is with a view of taking beaver on the borders of this territory before we reach it.
Wednesday, 14th. The rain continued all night, but clear this day. We collected our horses and
raised camp. Ground hilly and stony. Many of our horses lame. We reached a small creek and
encamped; distance 10 miles; 20 traps out, but no great hopes of success. Saw a fine herd of
sheep, but too swift for us. Course S. E.
Thursday, 15th. Raised traps and started; only 2 beaver. Hunters off in quest of food. Route is
stony. In the mountains snow is to be seen - the hills covered with wormwood; rivers scarce;
poor prospect of beaver; found a small creek and camped; distance 9 miles. Course S. S. E.; 3
sheep killed this day.
Friday, 16th. Started early with camp. Our hunters off before daylight over route; for 4 miles a
fine valley, then S. E over hills; encamped on same brook as last night. Hunters came in with 3
deer. One saw an Indian scampering off. This must be a Snake. Consequently had our horses well
guarded during the night within call of camp.
Saturday, 17th. Started early. Horses safe this day. S. E. for 4 miles across a high mountain
covered with firs; descended to a large plain, crossed due S. and fell on another fork of the River
of the Falls and camped; nearly 100 traps set out; in crossing the mountains we saw 40 huts of
Indians not more than 10 days abandoned, resembling in form and shape those I saw last Fall in
the lower Snake country; concluded they must be Snake Indians. Of course we shall soon see
them. This day 8 miles.
Sunday, 18th. Had remainder of our traps set, as I want to give the river a chance and rest our
horses. Being on the border of the Snake Land we require to watch by day and night and regulate
our march accordingly in case Winter should be severe. Winter mild; no cause to complain. God
grant it may remain so; 14 beaver this day.
Monday, 19th. Cloudy, with showers of rain; fine weather for hunting beaver. We did not raise
camp. This day took 38 beaver.
Tuesday, 20th. Really warm. One-third of traps are in the rear. I did not raise camp. If this river
had not been visited by the Nez Perces it would have yielded 400 to 500 beaver. This day 21
beaver. Many of the trappers have obtained permission to sleep out of camp and have not come
in. One caught a raccoon the size of our Indian dog. I presume this fellow was also in quest of
beaver. Indeed beaver are a prey to man and beast.
Wednesday, 21st. Rain all night. Three-fourths of trappers are in advance with their traps. I
ascended main fork 3 miles and encamped. Course east. Soil rich. Grass 7 feet high, making it
difficult to set traps. We must now change our course; 39 beaver, 2 otter.
Thursday, 22d. Froze last night, 2 inches thick; not in our favor. If we do not soon find animals
we shall surely starve. My Indian guide threatens to leave us and it was with trouble I persuaded
him to remain. Few can form any idea of the anxiety an Indian guide gives. The fellow knows we
are dependent on him. If we can but reach the Snake waters, he may go to the devil. We raised
camp. Ascended a small fork; a fine valley; fine hills; 16 miles due east. All the trappers set their
traps with little hope of success, they are so crowded. Today 15 beaver, 3 otter. Did not see the
trace of an animal and as the cold increases, I feel very uneasy regarding food. As the beavers do
not lay up a stock of provisions for the winter, as is the case in cold countries, I hope the cold
spell will soon pass; otherwise how can they exist, as we well know without food we cannot.
Friday, 23d. Very cold. About mid-day 2 Nez Perces arrived, having 2 traps, to accompany us for
beaver. They left the fort some time after I did and are ignorant of the country;- 23 beaver and 1
otter; many of the traps fast in the ice; 2 lost by chains breaking. I sent 2 men to examine the
source Of this fork. They report no appearance of beaver. Mr. McKay and 6 men started to follow
the large fork we left on the 22d. We shall follow. Juniper and fir here.
Saturday, 24th. Cold increasing fast. It is far from pleasant in cold weather to ride at snail's pace,
but it must be so or starve. We ascended a light stony hill. The frozen ground made it difficult for
horses to reach the top. We crossed a sky line 10 miles, descended gradually, reached the fork we
left on 22d and camped. Course S. S. E. River here wide and lined with willows. Mr. McKay and
party joined us. They have not found beaver, and their traps are all fast in the ice. Saw another
old camp of Snake Indians about 10 days old. I wish from my heart I could see them. It would
free us of our present guide; 15 beaver this day; a feast tomorrow.
Sunday, 25th. This being Christmas, all hands remained in camp. Prayers were made. Cold
increases; prospects gloomy; not 20 lbs. of food remain in camp, and nearly all our traps out of
Monday, 26th. Cold. Raised camp and ascended river now fast with ice, our route over hilly
country, being obliged from the cut rocks to cross over the river 3 different times; had some
difficulty; two bales of goods and some skins got wet; our hunters are in search of deer;
encamped early; distance 5 miles east. Toward evening the weather became overcast and the
water rising fast, the trappers set out with their traps. Hunters brought in 4 small deer, miserably
Tuesday, 27th. Weather very cold. On collecting horses, we found one-third limping and many
Of them could not stand; were found lying on the plain. Some of the trappers started trenches, the
rest visited the traps, returned at night with no success, their traps fast in ice, and no beaver from
the trenches. The river is so wide we cannot get beaver with the ice chisel. The hunters came in
with 5 small deer. If this cold does not soon pass my situation with so many men will not be
pleasant, but last year I met with so many reverses, men grumbling and discontented, that I am in
a manner prepared, but can afford them no relief. If we escape starvation it will depend on the
hunters. God preserve us. Today 4 beaver.
Wednesday, 28th. Early this A.M. Mr. McKay and 7 men set off in quest of deer; trappers off
with their ice chisels, much against their will. The cold is greater than I ever before experienced
on the Columbia; 2 beaver this day. Ice chisels produced nothing, nor will in this river, tho no
scarcity of beaver.
Thursday, 29th. I intended raising camp, but stormy weather and non-arrival of McKay
Friday, 30th. Cold increases. My guide refuses to proceed; says there are no animals in the Snake
Country, nor any beaver, and our horses will die; that we cannot cross the mountains. This is
discouraging, but we must make a trial. On promising him a gun at Fort Nez Perces he consented
to go. Followed the river S. E. for 5 miles; 6 small deer, 57 beaver.(11)
Saturday, 31st. Great severity of weather. No beaver to be expected. One of the freemen, being 3
days without food, killed one of his horses. This example will soon be followed by others. The
only chance we have is of finding red deer, but from our guide we can learn nothing. He appears
unwilling to give any information. Two hunters returned, but with no success. The deer very
wild; 1 beaver today. Gave the men half rations for tomorrow, which will be devoured tonight, as
three-fourths of the party have been two days without food.
Sunday, Jan. 1, 1826, Remained in camp. Gave all hands a dram. There was more fasting than
feasting. The first New Year's day since I came to the Indian country when my men were without
food; 4 beaver today.
Monday, 2d. Altho 6 men are absent since 30th, I ordered camp raised. Followed up the stream 6
miles S. E. Altho bank is well lined with willows, only a few trees to be seen on the hills of the
juniper species. Trappers report favorable beaver signs, but ice prevents taking any; 3 beaver
today. The absent men still out.
Tuesday, the 3d. Cold has decreased, but still severe for Columbia. Followed stream S. E. 12
miles and camped at an Indian barrier made last Summer for taking salmon (weir). I wish I could
discover some of these Indians. One man reported be had seen 12 beaver houses. I must steer my
course this way on my return. Another horse killed for food. Except for 7 beaver the men without
food this day.
Wednesday, the 4th. Proceeded 3 miles, when we came to a fork from south, but our guide did
not follow it. Continued 4 miles and camped. The river free of ice. All hands out with traps. Our
course this day 3 miles N. E. 4 miles. The mountains(12) appeared about 30 miles distant, covered
with snow and trees. They gave hope of red deer. A small red deer killed this day was divided,
making 3 oz. of meat per man. Absent men have not yet come; 4 beaver today.
Thursday, the 5th. Snow at night. Mr. McKay with 3 men started for the mountains seen
yesterday in quest of deer, also the trappers in quest of beaver. Wind veered S. W. with rain. I
wish it might continue for 40 days and nights. We require it. One of the absent men arrived at
night with a small deer - this will make a meal for all hands; 11 beaver today.
Friday, 6th. Sent 3 men for mountains. Mild this A. M. Many of the horses can scarcely crawl for
want of grass, owing to frozen ground. March they must or we starve. We proceeded about 5
miles, encamped on a small fork lined with aspen. We are now on very high land and expect
soon to see another river from the long range of mountains visible. From our guide is no
information, tho I am confident the country is well known to him. In the evening Mr. McKay and
party arrived without seeing the track of an animal, reporting 4 ft. of snow in mountains, so this
blasts my hopes of finding deer. What will become of us? Nine beaver this day and 2 otter. All
our traps set, but very crowded, in ice and rain.
Saturday, 7th. Rain and snow all day, with appearance of cold. So many are starving in the camp
that they start before day to steal beaver out of their neighbors' traps if they find nothing in their
own. Altho strong suspicions against the men, we could not prove them guilty. Our traps gave us
Sunday, 8th. Snow today. Absent men arrived with 2 small deer; divided it fairly amongst all.
Had the pleasure of seeing a raven this day. Some wolves were also seen by the trappers; 12
beavers and 1 otter.
Monday, 9th. Our horses assembled, we started early N. N. E. for 4 miles and crossed over a fine
fork, then ascended some high hills, very stony. A violent storm obliged us to encamp. General
course N. N. E. and E. 8 miles. Two Nez Perces intimated they would leave us to morrow.
Starving does not agree with them; 2 beaver this day.
Tuesday, 10th. Wrote the gentlemen of Columbia, gave the Indians presents for the trouble of
carrying the letters. Came only short distance, when wind obliged us to encamp; 9 beaver; 2
horses killed for food. Seeing our horses killed makes me wretched, for I know full well in the
Spring we will require them all. Two of the hunters arrived starving. They had been gone three
days and did not see the track of a thing.
Wednesday, 11th. Started early; weather mild. About dusk we reached the sources of the Day's
River, which discharges in the Columbia, 9 miles from main falls. Here we camped; 15 miles; 3
Thursday, 12th. Nearly two-thirds of horses too lame to move, but require food, and followed
down stream 3 miles on a horrid road, one continued rock and stone, ascended a high hill,
descended to a fork of the river and camped -course N. N. W. 3 miles, E. 4; 1 beaver; 12 colts
killed for food.
Friday, 13th. Five men absent since the 10th. I am obliged to wait, altho we are starving. A
mountain must be crossed ahead and it is necessary our horses should rest. We have taken in all
265 beavers and 9 otters. This day 2 beavers.
Saturday, 14th. At daybreak Mr. Dears and a man started in quest of the 5 absent men. Rain all
night. I apprehend they will not be able to find the tracks of the lost. Our course W. by N. 2
miles, then N. 6 miles along the main branch of Day's River, a fine large stream nearly as wide
again as it is at the Columbia. From appearances this river takes its source the same quarter as the
River of the Falls and Utaka * * * We found Snake huts not long abandoned. I sent 20 men with
traps ahead of us. It was night ere we camped. The horses sink knee deep in mire all day. The
road cannot be surpassed in badness in so short a distance. Here the grass is green, no snow, the
frogs croaking as merrily as in May; 2 beaver this day.
Sunday, 15th. I intend to try luck here and await Mr. Dears. Set all the trappers off well loaded
with traps. Tracks of small deer were seen and 2 killed. One of my men saw 2 Snake Indians. He
conversed by signs with them, but they could not be persuaded to come to camp. As soon as he
parted from them they disappeared, no doubt to hide and watch an opportunity to steal horses and
traps; 12 beaver, 1 otter this day.
Monday, 16th. Rain all night. The river rises 2 feet, so no hope from traps. Our horses all safe,
but some of the traps gone; 6 beaver and 2 otter.
Tuesday, 17th. Rain again. No word of Mr. Dears and the absent men. Gave orders to raise camp,
but sent a young man to raise a fire in the mountains so if the party have lost our track the fire
will direct them. Our course N. by E. for five miles to large fork bearing east and camped. The
horses sank knee deep in the mud. Mr. McKay, who was in quest of deer, found a Snake Indian;
hid in the rocks, secured him and brought him to the camp, treated him kindly and in the evening
he informed us that this fork will conduct us nearly to Snake River. The road fine, no snow and a
few beaver; 25 beaver today and 2 otter. Our guide killed a small deer.
Wednesday, the 18th. This A. M. sent out 6 men well loaded with traps. The Snake Indian left us
this morning. I sent my guide with him, as he said he had 10 beaver skins, to induce him to return
to trade. About mid-day Mr. Dears with the absent men arrived. He found them in the mountains
we crossed on the 11th. They were in quest of us and from the route they were taking would
probably never have found us. They have 15 beaver and 1 otter. Well I sent for them. At night my
guide returned and informed me the Snake Indian on reaching his hut, found all abandoned; his
family and followers had fled, but the Snake had gone in pursuit and would bring them to my
camp; 4 beaver and 2 otter this day, making in all 19 beaver, 2 otter; 4 traps lost, owing to high
water. Mr. McKay came back with one small deer.
Thursday, 19th. Early 5 Snake Indians paid us a visit and traded 6 large and 2 small beaver for
knives and beads and 10 beavers with my guide for a horse. I treated them kindly and made a
trifling present to an old man with them whom they appeared to respect. They were fine, tall
men, well dressed, and for so barren a country in good condition. None of my trappers returned.
From this I conclude they are doing well.
Friday, 20th. Ascended fork 8 miles, our course due east, our route over Barren Hills, but a lofty
range of mountains visible on both sides of the river, well wooded with Norway pines; today 27
beaver and 4 otter.
Saturday, 21st. Seventeen beaver and 2 otter today; nearly sufficient to supply us with food.
Sunday, 22d. Cold increasing. Ice will soon form again. This day 26 beaver.
Monday, 23d. Severe cold. Two horses missing. Course west; distance 9 miles; beaver 7.
Tuesday, 24th. Floating in the river 2 horses supposed to be stolen by Snake hunters; killed an
antelope; 27 beaver and 2 otter.
Wednesday 25th. Continued ascending river easterly 6 miles, then N. E. 6 miles. From the
starving state we are in I cannot wait for the men in the rear; 6 beaver and one otter.
Thursday, 26th. Ice forming on river; course east by north 8 miles over a lofty range of hills bare
of wood N. E. Here we leave the waters of Day's River. Since joining Mr. McDonald, allowing
we had one hundred hunters, had we not our traps we must have starved to death. Where the
Indians of this part resort in winter I cannot (tell) ; have no doubt concealed in the mountains; 6
horses to and work to reach camp last night 12 beaver and my Snake hunter killed one antelope.
Friday, 27th. My guide refuses to proceed; says road is bad and horses require day's rest. I was
obliged to comply. Thank God, when we get across the mountains I trust I shall soon reach Snake
River or south branch of the Columbia; 9 beaver and 1 otter.
Saturday, 28th. Our guide says there are 6 ft. of snow in mountains; impossible to pass in this
direction; must try another. Many in the camp are starving. For the last ten days only one meal
every two days. Still the company's horses must not fall a sacrifice. We hope when we are across
the mountains to fare better; today 4 beaver.
Sunday, 29th. Three inches of snow; raised camp for S. E. 6 miles; our guide says he intends to
return. A horse this day killed; on examining his feet, the hoof entirely worn away and only raw
February 2. We are now on the waters of the south branch of the Columbia.
February 3. This surely is the Snake Country; as far as the eye can reach, nothing but lofty
mountains. A more gloomy country I never yet saw; too (?) horses killed for food today.
Saturday, Feb. 4th. We have taken 85 beaver and 16 otter on Day's River; my Snake guide
brought in 4 sheep (Ibex). He says this is Burnt River.
Feb. 5th. Course E. N. E, Crossed river three times and found the ice sufficiently strong to bear
our horses. One of the men detected this day stealing a beaver out of another man's trap; as
starvation was the cause of this, he was pardoned on condition of promising not to do it again.
10 Feb. Followed the banks of Burnt River S. S. E. 10 miles. One horse killed. Nearly every bone
in his body broken. Two of the men could not advance from weakness. We have been on short
allowance almost too long and resemble so many skeletons; one trap this day gave us 14 beaver.
11 Feb. Crossed Burnt River within 3 miles of its discharge into Snake River on south branch of
Columbia. It has given us 54 beaver and 6 otter.
Sunday, Feb. 12. Following the banks of the river(14) we discovered a fire on the opposite side of
the river; two Indians came down to the beach. I signed them to follow us; but on a rocky point
of land we lost sight of them.
February 13. Two Snake Indians came to camp. They had nothing to trade; encamped on same
spot as last Fall. Found a camp of Snake Indians, 3 tents, 5 men, women and children. It is not
long since they left the buffalo country. They appeared in good condition, but have nothing to
trade. Two trappers came in with nothing, starving for the last 3 days, but they have no
encouragement here, so off again tomorrow; 3 beaver today.
Tuesday, 14th. Started early; sent my two Snake hunters out with 6 traps each and 2 horses to
north side of river. I also gave them 2 scalping knives, 1/2 dozen rings, 1/2 dozen buttons, to
trade, and 20 balls to hunt. I have now all my trappers in motion. We encamped on River au
Malheur (unfortunate river) so called on account of goods and furs hid here discovered and stolen
by the natives. Gervaise killed 2 Small deer; 3 beaver.
Thursday, 16th. Cold last night; very severe; rain froze; Our prospects gloomy; we must continue
to starve; now all are reduced to skin and bones; more beggarly looking beings I defy the world
to produce. Still I have no cause to complain of the men; day after day they labor in quest of food
and beaver without a shoe to their feet; the frozen ground is hardly comfortable; but it is an evil
without remedy. The Snake Indians paid us a visit empty handed; they, too, complain of
starvation. Were our horses in good condition, in 10 days we could make the buffalo ground. In
their present weak state we cannot go in less than 25; 1 small deer and not one beaver.
Friday, 17th. About 10 o'clock we started our course S. and E., distance 15 miles, and camped
South Branch on leaving Riviere a Malheur. This day saw a large fork on north; it was in this
region called Payettes River, that in 1819, 3 Sandwich(15) Indians were killed by the Snake
Indians; cold is intense; what little beaver there is we cannot take; while this weather continues
starve we must.
Saturday, 18th. Severe cold. It was late ere we started; our horses, many of them, could scarcely
stand this morning. Grass scarce in this quarter; out course south 4 miles, when we reached
Sandwich Island River, so called, owing to 2 of them murdered by Snake Indians in 1819. This is
a fine large river; on the north side opposite this fork is Reed's River, who was also with all his
party, to the number of 11, murdered by the Snakes and their establishment destroyed. This party
was in the employ of the Pacific Fur Company. Subsequent to this Mr. D. McKenzie made a post
at the entrance to the river, but it was abandoned from want of food and hostility of natives;
fortunate they did(16) for 2 Canadians were killed only 3 days after, it is gloomy to reflect the
number of lives that have been lost in this quarter and without the death of one being revenged,
not from want of will, but circumstances which prevented it. Hunt this day 2 beaver, altho 50
traps were out; such a tardy Spring.
Sunday, 19th. Two horses killed this day for food.
Tuesday, 21. From the weak state of our horses and want of food I this day decided to send back 2 parties with the weakest horses to trap the country we have traveled. Jean Baptiste Gervaise(17)
with 7 men, to await our arrival about July 15, and Antoine Sylvaille with 5 men to trap
Sandwich Island and Unfortunate River until they receive tidings from me. By this means, in
regard to food, we shall be 14 less, and the horses will recruit.
Wednesday, 22. At an early hour I started the rear party and have only to add I wish them success
and that we may all meet again. Until we do, I shall feel uneasy from the number of accidents we
have met with in this cursed country; but there is no other alternative.
Sunday, 26 February. On our travels this day we saw a Snake Indian. His hut being near the road,
curiosity induced me to enter. I had often heard these wretches subsisted on ants, locusts and
small fish, not larger than minnies, and I wanted to find out if it was not an exaggeration of late
travelers, but to my surprise, I found it was the case; for in one of their dishes, not of small size,
was filled with ants. They collected them in the morning early before the thaw commences. The
locusts they collect in Summer and store up for their Winter; in eating they give the preference to
the former, being oily; the latter not, on this food these poor wretches drag out an existence for
nearly 4 months of the year; they live contented and happy; this is all they require. It appeared
strange, and the only reason I can give for it is the poverty of this country and food, that few or
no children are to be seen among them. We have seen upwards of 30 families and only 3 children
among them. Before many years, not many will be living; ants and locusts will again increase.
Thursday, March 2nd. This day took an account of beaver and otter taken during the last month,
in all 174, had the weather been mild, we should have had from this country at least 3000 beaver
and not one horse would have fallen for the kettle.
Friday, 3d. Reached River Malade, Sickly River,(18) and encamped on this river, a fine large
stream; derives its name from the beaver living on a poisonous root. Formerly, in 1819, all who
ate of the beaver taken here were seriously ill. Beaver here must subsist on roots. Saw incredible
number of deer, black-tail and white, miserably poor, skin and bone but most exceptible[sic] to
Saturday, March 11. My men four days without food.
Sunday, March 12. We are now encamped within 100 yards where the Pacific Fur Company
traders lost a man by the upsetting of one of their canoes. We cannot be far from the place where
the Blackfeet killed one of my party last spring. If the Americans have not visited this place since
I left, we surely shall find beaver and buffalo.
Monday, March 13. Hunters arrived with 13 elk; never did men eat with better appetite; many did
not stop to go to bed till midnight.
Friday, March 17th. A Snake Indian of the plains informed us buffalo were near. I gave the call
to start in pursuit and with the assistance of Indian horses, two buffalo were killed; our horses
being too poor for buffalo running. Mr. McKay killed four elk.
Sunday, March 18th. The Snake Indian who arrived yesterday left today. The villain in going off
discovered a woman belonging to our camp near at hand collecting wood. He forcibly threw her
on the ground and pillaged her of some beads and other ornaments she had on her leather dress.
This fellow we shall not see again.
Monday, March 20. I sent two men with traps to examine Raft River.(19) About 30 Indians paid us
a visit. They report that a party of Americans and Iroquois are not three days march from us; near
the spot one of my party was killed last spring. If this be the case, I have no doubt our hunts are
damned, and we may prepare to return empty handed. With my discontented party I dread
meeting the Americans. That some will attempt desertion I have not the least doubt, after the
sufferings they have endured. This stream is lined with Snake Indians preparing to descend to
avoid the Blackfeet Indians. They left us promising to return to trade; but appeared independent
of our goods; well armed and well stocked in ammunition, knives and iron; not a beaver skin
among them all.
Wednesday, March 22d. We have upwards of 100 traps set. The Snake camp began to move
about sunrise and continued passing till night; not less than 400 heads, nearly double that number
of horses, with buffalo meat. This camp is bound to Sickly River for roots and salmon. In the fall
they will return to winter in the Buffalo plain. This is the life they lead. The Blackfeet are fast
diminishing their numbers and before many years all will be killed. Two of the chiefs paid us a
visit; they are well dressed, and comport themselves decently. I made each a present of a knife
and an awl. They are to meet the Nez Perces Indians at the entrance of Burnt River to trade. We
are now in a country of danger and guard at night. Nine beaver today.
Friday, March 24th. Retraced back our steps to the entrance of Raft River. Saw another Snake
camp of 200 who wintered with the Americans and carry an American flag. They had 60 guns
and ammunition not scarce. It was this camp that destroyed Mr. Reid and party, on Sandwich
Islands, 10 Americans and pillaged free men two years since. They informed me the American
camp of 25 tents were on Bear's River and it is a month since they left. This day 36 beaver and
Saturday, March 25th. The Snakes continued to move. I had no idea the Snakes were so
numerous. The Plains Snakes, said to be 1000 men, annually go to the Spanish settlements to
trade and steal horses. The Lower Snakes are not less than 1500 men, independent of women and
children. The Blackfeet steal great numbers of horses from them; they retaliate in kind; they have
150 guns. Our horses are well guarded, day and night. No less than 13 traps stolen by the natives.
Forty-five beaver this day.
Tuesday, March 28th. Course northeast. We reach the Falls, commonly known as the American
Falls; not high, about 10 feet; tracks of Indians, supposed to be Blackfeet, as we are now in their
territory. Forty-two beaver today.
Wednesday, March 29th. At the break of day, the morning watch called us to arms; "Blackfeet,"
resounded from one end of camp to the other; horses were scarcely secured when they were in
sight and advanced slowly singing, but not with bad intention; bows unstrung, cases on their
guns, we advanced to receive them, when the chief came forward and presented his hand. I was
surprised to recognize an old acquaintance of mine in this chief. They were soon seated and
requested to speak. They informed me they left the Saskatchewan in December last and were in
quest of the Snakes to steal horses; they discovered our men last night and did not venture to
come to the camp; the truth is, they found our horses too weak and well guarded. We were now
fully convinced we were in a country of danger. This party consists of 80 men and as usual with
them their reserve amounts to 20 and cannot be far distant; they are poorly armed, only 15 guns;
scarcely any ammunition; bows and arrows scarce among them. If rascals deserve reward, they
do for the distance they came in quest of horses and scalps. Well may the Snakes dread. They
remained about camp all day. Many of our traps were not visited and those near at hand were all
brought into camp late at night; the reserve camp of Piegans made their appearance, ten men and
two women; every precaution taken with our horses for the night to keep them snug. Ten beaver.
Thursday, March 30th. It was 12 o'clock before the Piegans set out in quest of the Snakes. They
left in our camp one sick man and two women. Our course, north north east.
Friday,, March 31st. Counted 40 horses dead in Snake winter camp; 27 beaver today, which
makes our first thousand, and leaves two to begin the second thousand. I hope to reach
Vancouver with 3,000.
Saturday, April 1st. A stormy night, at daylight a call from the guard "to arms." We were soon
out and seven men came to our camp. Fort Nez Perces Indians, who passed the winter with the
Flatheads and left them 40 days since. These fellows are in quest of Snakes to steal horses and
seemed disappointed to find the Piegans before them.
Sunday, April 2d. Course north nor'east. Camped Portneuf Fork; a finer country for beaver never
seen; if the war tribes do not oblige me to change quarters, we shall do well. Today 27 beaver.
Monday, April 3d. We are not more than two miles from Benoit's grave,(20) who was killed this
season last year. Large head of buffalo seen near camp.
Tuesday, April 4th. Blackfeet seen near camp, but secreted themselves. These villains appear
determined to watch every opportunity to steal our horses. Forty beaver today.
Friday, April 7th. Mr. McKay and man who went buffalo hunting arrived safe about 10 o'clock;
had a narrow escape; saw the enemy at a distance and had full time to conceal themselves. So far
well. Shortly after four of the party in pursuit of the Snakes arrived; starvation obliged them to
return; they have seen the track of a war party; we are surrounded on all sides by enemies; if we
escape, we shall be lucky; little done towards progress home; obliged to keep on our guard. One
Saturday, April 8th. Early this morning upwards of 100 Indians came; many strange faces. We
did not allow them to come too near our camp; many are well armed, but not stocked with
ammunition; one of the trappers was again pursued by the Blackfeet; these rascals will not allow
us to remain quiet till an example be made of some of them. Some meat dried today for the
Sunday, April 9th. Forty Blackfeet seen near camp; we did not allow them to enter; traded horse
slings from them. About 10 a.m. we were surprised by the arrival of a party of Americans and
some of our deserters of last year, 28 in all. If we were surprised they were more so from an idea
that the threats of last year would have prevented us from returning to this quarter, but they find
themselves mistaken; they camped a short distance away; all quiet. With the glass we could
observe Blackfeet scattered about the hills watching our motions. Five beaver.
Monday, April 10th. The second watch gave us a start from our beds, Mr. McKay having fired on
an Indian detected in the act of stealing a horse. This fellow will not make another attempt. The
strangers paid me a visit and I had a busy day settling with them, and more to my satisfaction and
the Company's than last year. We traded from them 93 large and small beaver and two otter
seasoned skins at a reasonable rate and received 81.12(21) beavers in part payment of their debts
due the company, also two notes of hand from Mr. Monton (Montain) for his balance, Patrick
Prudhomme and Pierre Sinanitogans.(22) We secured all the skins they had. Our deserters are
already tired of their new masters and from their manner will soon return to us. They promised to
reach the Flatheads this fall. I cannot imagine how the Americans can afford to sell their beaver
to reap profit when they pay $3 per pound for coarse or fine, but such is the case.
Tuesday, April 11th. Separated from the Americans. They ascended the stream; we descended.
Goddin's son, having requested to join his father, and being a worthless scamp, I gave him his
liberty, the Americans having advanced three beaver to make up his debt. Young Findlay has
joined our camp, a Canadian by name Lounge has joined with traps and horses. Not one of our
party appeared the least inclined to desert; so much to their credit.
Thursday, April 15th. The Piegan chief will leave us tomorrow; he tells us we cannot be too
much on our guard; that we are surrounded by war parties.
Saturday, April 15th. Weather mild, wind strong. The Piegans have set fire to the plains to
destroy us or collect war parties to surround us.
Saturday, April 22d. Guard informs us three halfbreeds are bent on desertion. I secured their
horses, arms and blankets. They do not relish the idea of a journey on foot and followed us; one
of them, for his impudence, received a drubbing from me. We camped within two miles of the
Saturday, April 29th. Twelve buffalo killed for provisions back.
Saturday, May 6th. Over hilly, stony country, bare of wood to Raft River; began to snow and
continued the greater part of the night. Many of the trappers came in, almost froze, naked as the
greater part are, and destitute of shoes, it is surprising not a murmur or complaint do I hear; such
men are worthy of following Franklin. Two-thirds without a blanket or any shelter, and have
been so for the last six months. Thirty-four beaver today.
Tuesday, May 9th. Half the camp ill from meat of beaver fat from eating hemlock.
Sunday, May 21st. The Snakes inform us a party of Americans, about 30 in number, has
descended this stream on their return from Salt lake, without beaver; this agrees with the account
of Mr. Montain.
Tuesday, May 23d. We saw the corpse of an Indian lying on the plains. The Snakes have a mode
of burying their dead different from all other natives; where he falls be is allowed to remain,
without a grave or covering; a feast for the wolves and crows; nor is any ceremony observed or
grief of long duration; how pleasant to part with friends without regretting them. The Snakes
have one advantage over us; I envy them.
Friday, June 2d. Proceeded but a short distance when we met with a Snake; this Indian I saw last
year on Bear's River;(23) it was this rascal who headed the party who pillaged us two years ago. He
also headed the party who murdered nine Americans and pillaged all their property, and last year
again pillaged the Americans of all they had.
Saturday, June 3d. Mr. Dears started from Indian tent in the hope of trade, but without success. In
fact, with the Snakes, you must take them by surprise; take their property ere they have time to
secure it, and recompense them for it. By any other means, you cannot obtain anything from
them, so averse are they to trade provisions, nor do I blame them in such a wretched country; nor
would they remain in this quarter, but the dread of losing their scalps. They are surrounded on all
sides by enemies; are at peace with Flatheads and Nez Perces, but have the Crows, the Utas, the
Saskatchewan tribes to guard against.
Friday, June 8th. Had a visit from the Snakes. Within the last 10 months they have plundered 180
traps from the Americans and guns, knives and other articles. This, with 13 men murdered in
1825, is sufficient to make them independent of trade. The Americans swear to make an example
of them; I do hope from my soul they may.
Saturday, June 10th. We started at an early hour; one of the trappers reports that yesterday he saw
a party of Indians, 30 in number, who, on seeing him, went off at full speed and took to the
mountains. Some are of the opinion they have killed our men left here, or suspect us to be
Americans. I feel most anxious about the six men we were to find in this quarter; so far no
tidings of them; this gives me hope they are safe; by the route we are taking we cannot be long
without hearing from them; I only hope we shall find them alive and well loaded with beaver; we
require all to make up our three thousand.(24) Saw a family of Indians on the move; they had no
horses and are well loaded - men, women and children with roots; they endeavored to escape
from us. They were allowed to pass without molestation. This is the season of roots in this
quarter the bitter and another a good substitute for flour, if it were dried. The seed of the
sunflower they also collect for food, but it does not appear to be common here. Six beaver from
50 traps today; course, northwest north, 14 miles.
Sunday, June 11. We have every cause to apprehend some treachery from suspicious manner of
the Indians. At this season beaver are not easily taken. The bait of castoreum is no inducement as
they discharge this castoreum, abandon the female to the young and will live on grass till the sap
of the trees ceases flowing and flowers from blooming, when they commence preparing their
winter habitation; they are at present very shy. Our last party were to have ascended Sandwich
Island River and to have trapped it; and I am surprised not to see them. I rewarded our guide to
the amount of eight skins, Indian tariff, and he was highly pleased. Mr. McKay discovered some
Snake Indians concealed in the hills, no doubt to steal our horses. This day 44 beaver, which
enables us once more to feast. The discontent was dispelled. Gaiety reigns in camp.
Monday, June 12th. Last night we were alarmed by the guide calling out "Thieves." An Indian
was seen near the horses, but made his escape; had he delayed two hours longer, when all the
camp would have been asleep, he would have succeeded; it will have a good effect on the men.
Canadians in general require an alarm every few days to keep on guard. Some of our traps were
stolen last night; suspect men ( ?) the camp's. This day we finished our second thousand beaver.
If our absent men are safe I trust them to add a thousand more.
Wednesday, June 14th. We trust to chance now as we have no guide and all are equally ignorant
of this country. Two Snake Indians, well-mounted, came boldly to camp; they gave us some idea
of the road, and no tiding of our absent men. God grant no accident has befallen them.
Thursday, June 15th. All along our route this day the plains were covered with women digging
roots; at least 10 bushels were traded by our party; the men (Indians) all gone to join the Fort Nez
Perces Indians. Reached a fork of Owyhee River. Still no account of our men.
Sunday, June 18th. The stones are as sharp as flints; our tracks could be followed by the blood
from our horses' feet.
Monday, June 2&h. Very evident our absent men have passed here; Burnt River, but how long
since we could not from the tracks discover. Tomorrow I shall separate from my party leaving
Messrs. McDonald, McKay and Dears to proceed to Nez Perces and then go to Fort Vancouver in
boats with the furs. The appointment to meet Gervais on July 15th is the cause of my going. Our
horses are in a low state to undertake it, but I cannot abandon my men and must see if they be
dead or alive.
Thursday, June 29th. Separated(25) this morning for my camp of February 3d. Saw tracks and
hopes of our men, but found a bit of Spanish blanket which makes me conclude this must be the
path of Snakes.
Tuesday, July 1st, Reached the waters of Day's River; a bad road from trees lying crosswise.
Saturday, July 8th. Encamped on waters of Willamette.
Sunday, July 16th. Arrived at Willamette River at 2 P.M., where we found a freeman encamped.
The man can accommodate us with a canoe. I was happy to learn our friends on the Columbia are
safe and well, and Sylvaille and party safely arrived, but no word of Gervais and party.
Monday, July 17th. Embarked; arrived at falls at 10; exchanged our two canoes for a large one. I
should suppose the height of the falls to be about 45 feet. We reached Ft. Vancouver a little after
sunset; received by Dr. McLoughlin with every mark of attention. Distance from where I started
this morning to Ft. Vancouver is 56 miles. With the exception of the falls not a ripple to be seen;
a finer stream than the Willamette is not to be found; soil good; wood of all kinds in abundance;
roots, elk, deer, salmon and sturgeon abundant; man could reside here and with but little industry
enjoy every comfort. The distance from the ocean is 90 miles. No doubt ere many years a colony
will be formed on the stream, and I am of opinion it will, with little care, flourish, and settlers, by
having a seaport so near them, with industry, might add greatly to their comforts and to their
happiness. Thus ends my second trip and I am thankful for the many dangers I have escaped with
all my party in safety. Had we not been obliged to kill our horses for food, the success of our
expedition would have yielded handsome profits as it is fortunately no loss will be sustained.
FINAL EDITORIAL NOTE.
We are fortunate in having a statement of the exact returns of this expedition, as made up after
the arrival at Ft. Vancouver of both Mr. Ogden by way of the Willamette and his furs by way of
the Columbia. It is given in a letter written by Dr. John McLoughlin to John McLeod, the original
of which is now in the Dominion Archives of Canada at Ottawa, as follows: "Fort Vancouver 8th
August, 1826. Enclosed is a copy of the Snake Expedition A/C current; ...... 2740 Large Beaver
W't 4285 lbs. 837 small Beaver w't 551 lbs. 114 Large Otter 9 small Otter 3 Misquash 12 Beav'r
Coating apparent gain L2,533-18.
(Sgd) John McLoughlin."
1. Mr. Dears, a clerk; not to be confounded with Mr. Dease, who was a chief trader.
2. Fort Walla Walla.
3. Perhaps intended for Utalla in Original Journal, Umatilla River.
4. Mr. Black, then in charge at Fort Walla Walla, but murdered at Kamloops in 1841.
5. Finan Mc Donald. See Introduction.
6. Des Chutes River
7. Fifteen Mile Creek
8. Mt. Adams, from near Tygh Valley.
9. Thomas McKay, a sure shot at Indians; son of Alexander McKay, of the Astor party.
10. In neighborhood of Warm Springs Indian Agency
11. On headwaters of eastern branch of Des Chutes River.
12. Blue Mountain Range.
13. Next three days evidently crossing the divide from head of John Day River to head of Burnt River.
14. Snake River, east of Huntington.
15. Sandwich Islanders; Owyhee River named after them.
16. Fort Boise of Hudson's Bay Company, afterwards in the same vicinity.
17. Afterwards a settler on French Prairie, between Aurora and Salem, Marion County.
18. On north side of Snake River.
19. On south side of Snake River.
20. Indicted on map as south side of Snake River.
21. Eighty-one pounds, twelve shillings.
23. Probably the date of Mr. Ogden's first trip to Great Salt Lake.
24. Confirms note on entry of April 10th.
25. Mr. Ogden himself with small party proceeds west across Blue Mountain Range and Central Oregon and the Cascade Range to Willamette River by some route. He evidently had never before seen the Willamette as far south as that. His men and furs proceed direct to Ft. Walla Walla by way of Powder River and Grand Ronde Valley, as usual.