From Oregon Historical Quarterly, 1910
THE PETER SKENE OGDEN JOURNALS
Editorial Notes by T. C Elliott
Readers of the Oregon Historical Quarterly for December, 1909, in
which the first of this series of journals was published, will
recall that Mr. Ogden reached Ft. Vancouver from his second
expedition to the Snake Country on the 17th of July, 1826; that
he had returned by way of the Willamette, having crossed Central
Oregon from East to West and the Cascade Range of mountains by
one of the middle passes, probably that at the head of the
Santiam river. Having had but twelve days vacation at Ft. Nez
Perces the previous year Mr. Ogden had earned his two months of
rest during this summer of 1826; and also probably enjoyed this
his first visit to the new (and original) Ft. Vancouver which Dr.
McLoughlin had built since the winter of 1824-5, the location of
which was upon the high ground back of and about one-fourth mile
East of the second stockade and buildings which were begun in
1828. His personal acquaintance with Dr. McLoughlin, who was
eleven years his senior in years and with whom he was intimately,
associated all the remainder of his life, up to this time had
been very slight.
We now find Mr. Ogden at The Dalles on September 19th, 1926, ready to start upon his third expedition of trapping and exploration, the indomitable Thos. McKay with him of course, and a party of thirty-five men which was a little later increased to forty-three, and the necessary horses over one hundred in number. The native families of these men and probably some native trappers also seem not to have been included in this enumeration.
Mr. Finan (also and more properly spelled Finnan) McDonald of the
previous year's party has meantime departed with his family for
the Red River country, as we learn from a letter in the John
McLeod journal, and is not again heard of West of the Rocky Mts.
To this Mr. McDonald, who was one of the very first engaged in
fur trading on the waters of the Columbia, as early as 1807,
evidently belongs the credit of having first reached the Klamath
country in Oregon (See entry Dec. 6th, infra.) From him then must
have come the first report of a name for the Indians of that
quarter, either a French-Canadian rendition of the native name or
a French name assigned by the trappers because of local
conditions, French then being the common language of these
A suggestion, not yet a conclusion, as to this name Klamath may
be made here. It is well established that many of the
geographical and tribal names of the Oregon Country come from the
trappers and traders of the various Fur Companies: some incident
or some local condition would suggest the name, as "Nez Perces"
or "Malheur." The conditions in the Klamath region suggest the
name given in this journal, Clammitte, from the French
CLAIR-METIS meaning a light mist or cloud. And it is quite as
easy to suppose that the Indians in later years attempted to copy
this name from the trappers as the reverse. Fremont adopted
TLAMATH as the more correct rendition of the Indian
In February of the previous year a trapper named Antoine
Sylvaille with others bad been sent by Mr. Ogden to the sources
of the Owyhee and Malheur rivers with instructions to rejoin the
main party upon its return. Sylvaille however returned to Ft.
Vancouver independently and reported finding a stream in that
quarter very rich with beaver, to which the name Sylvaille River
was at once given. This region and that of the Klamath Mr. Ogden
was instructed to explore upon this third expedition. According
to the series of maps published in London between 1830 to 1850 of
"British North America, by permission dedicated to the Honourable
Hudson's Bay Company, containing the latest information which
their documents furnish, by their obedient servant, J. Arrow-smith", Sylvaille's river is identical with the present Silver's
or Silvie's river of the Malheur Lake region of Oregon.
That this original name still remains in abbreviated form is
evidenced by a letter dated May 7th, 1910, from an early settler
(1873) of Harney County, Mr. M. Fitzgerald, who says: "The river
which flows through the valley from the North and empties into
Malheur Lake was then called Sylvies River. The spelling has
since been changed. It was said to have derived its name from a
trapper who followed his calling there many years before; just
when no one seemed to know."
The journal of this expedition does not cover the movements as
closely as could be desired, and it is difficult to follow the
party accurately at times. But speaking generally the course
deviated from that of the previous year by crossing the Des
Chutes at what is now Sherar's Bridge; thence following,
probably, the trail which afterward became the Willamette Valley
& Cascade Mt. Military Road toward the Malheur Lake country;
thence in November returning northwestward across the dry country
of Central Oregon to the head waters of the Des Chutes; thence
crossing south to the waters of the Klamath and spending the
entire winter months on the streams to the East and North of Mt.
Shasta, which he named; and probably reaching the Rogue River
valley also; thence in the Spring crossing Northeast to the
Malheur country again and descending that stream to Snake river,
and from there in July returning to Ft. Walla Walla by the usual
Although not traveling through much of what we know as the Snake
River country, the expedition was designated by the Hudson's Bay
Company as the Snake Expedition.
From this journal we learn many interesting things about
conditions in Central and Southern Oregon before the coming of
the white men; for instance the unusual number and extreme
poverty of the Snake Indians near Harney Lake and the evidence
that buffalo once ranged there; the dwellings of the Klamaths;
the first mention of the Shastas and the giving of that name to
the mountain; and negatively the complete silence as to any
Indians living in pits.
We also are becoming more intimately acquainted with Mr. Ogden
himself and his views of life; and with the vicissitudes of a fur
trader's career. The reader is referred to the Oregon Historical
Quarterly for December, 1909 (Vol. 10, No. 4) for previous notes
about Mr. Ogden and these journals.
JOURNAL OF PETER SKENE OGDEN: SNAKE EXPEDITION, 1826-7.
(As copied by Miss Agnes C. Laut in 1905 from Original in
Hudson's Bay Company House, London. England.)
Monday, 12th Sept. (1826). Took my departure (from Fort
Vancouver) 2 boats 12 men bound for Snake Country and reached
main Falls of Columbia 100 miles from Ft. Vancouver 4th day
early. Found Mr. McKay and party with 100 odd horses waiting my
arrival. The natives had already succeeded in stealing one prime
horse. I sent back boats under La Framboise and 5 men and wrote
Jno. McLoughlin. 17 and 18 employed giving horses to men with
their loads. Sent off Mr. Black's(1) men with 1100 salmon as far as
falls whence they will proceed in canoes to Nez Perces Ft.
19th. Gave call to collect horses and raise camp. 35 men in all
assisted by Mr. McKay, who discovered an Indian stealing 2
(horses) which he secured. Followed banks of Columbia for 2 miles
and bade it adieu. God grant we reach it again in safety. Course
from Columbia S. E. 6 miles.(2) Many horses are wild and throw
their loads. Indians are moving in all directions. Strict watch
is kept day and night. The natives are already starving.
Tuesday, 20th. Raised camp early to avoid the heat of the day. S.
W. distance 8 miles.(3)
Wednesday, 21st. Left our old tracks of last year for a fork of
River of the Falls.(4) A fall 40 ft. high, 20 yds. wide. 2 wild
horses made their escape into mountains and an Iroquois lost his
with its load. Mr. McKay and 6 men are to go in search. 5
Indians visited us and returned a blanket stolen last year. Their
numbers are few or they would not deal so fairly: distance 15 m.
S. S. E.
Thursday, 22nd. The horse with his load was found neighing across
the river last night; but not the two wild horses. Proceeded down
River of the Falls to the Falls(5) where we found an Indian camp of
20 families. Finding a canoe also a bridge(6) made of slender wood
we began crossing, 5 horses were lost thro' the bridge. I am
informed the salmon do not ascend beyond these falls. Course N.W.
Friday 30. Gervais(7) and party of 8 men with horses and mules
Wednesday, 5th Oct. We had certainly a most providential escape. Last night the Indians crossed the river(8)
and set fire to the
grass within 10 yards of our camp. The watch perceived it and
gave the alarm. Had there not been a bunch of willows to arrest
it everything would have been lost; a gale blowing at the time.
This morning every Indian had decamped. If ever Indians deserve
to be punished these do. They were well treated and fed by us and
in return attempted to destroy us. This is Indian gratitude.
Saturday, 8 Oct. At an early hour Mr. McKay with 25 trappers 2
horses each well loaded with traps started for the river
discovered last summer by Sylvaille, 3 days from here. The
different streams here,(9) I am of opinion discharge in Day's
Tuesday, 11th Oct. Reached the river(10) and joined Mr. McKay. 18
beaver from the traps.
Sunday, 16 Oct. Having dried our lodges we followed the banks of
the river till 1 p.m. when reaching 12 of our trappers we
encamped. From this point 7 horses were stolen yesterday and two
men wounded. Mr. McKay related the particulars. The night before
last 3 Snake Indians stole 7 horses and crossing over a point of
land to their surprise met Payette and Baptiste the Iroquois
visiting traps. The latter pursued. The Indians offered no
resistance and delivered up the horses. This did not satisfy the
two men who demanded payment. The Indians offered 2 boats. This
did not satisfy Baptiste who said "let us beat them well but not
kill them" began with his whip handle. The Indians endured but
becoming vexed one seized Bap. the other Payette. A scuffle
ensued. One Indian was killed, both our men severely wounded,
only saved themselves by flight leaving arms and horses. The
Indians killed 4 of the stolen horses, then seeing a man coming
made off with 3 horses, and guns and rifles of wounded men. The
whole thing is disgraceful to us;(11) 65 beaver to-day; distance 10
Tuesday, 18 Oct. 134 beaver and 1 otter, a (Indian) woman missing
from the camp. She is either lost or a victim to the Snakes--the
men have gone in search of the missing woman, leaving their
traps. Mr. McKay and party found the woman with her horses.
Benighted, she had very prudently camped.
Saturday, 29 Oct. In the afternoon Mr. McKay and party arrived,(12)
and reported--their Snake guide conducted them to a country of
rivers and lakes, one of the latter the water is salt; its length
they could not ascertain; it is a swampy country and the waters
of this river as well as the other streams discharge into this
lake. It must be low and deep to receive no less than 3 different
streams without one discharging from it. Their traps they left
from whence the party returned. As far as they could see, the
country was level. The country is destitute of animals and we may
prepare to starve altho' wild fowl seem to abound.
November, Tuesday 1st. At sunset we reached the lakes. A small
ridge of land an acre in width divides the fresh water from the
salt lakes. These two lakes(13) have no intercourse. The fresh
water has an unpleasant taste 1 mile wide 9 long. In this (salt)
lake discharge Sylvailles River and 2 small forks; but it has no
discharge. Salt Lake at the south end is 3 miles wide. Its length
at present unknown to us but appears to be a large body of
saltish water. All hands gave it a trial but none could drink it.
All the country is low and bare of wood except worm wood and
brush. We had trouble finding wood to cook supper. The trappers
did not see a vestige of beaver. Great stress was laid on the
expedition visiting this quarter. Here we are now all ignorant of
the country, traps in camp, provisions scarce prospects gloomy.
Buffalo have been here and heads are to be seen. Fowl in
abundance but very shy.
Wednesday 2nd. At an early hour Mr. McKay with a party started
well loaded with traps following Salt Lake(14) west to ascertain
its length; and if any rivers discharge into it. I await him
here. The rest of the men hunting fowls.
Thursday 3rd. From 4 a. m. snow has fallen. This will make it
difficult for my 2 express men from Ft. Vancouver to find our
tracks though every precaution was taken making marks at
different camps, if only the Indians do not destroy these marks.
It is incredible the number of Indians in this quarter. We cannot
go 10 yds. without finding them. Huts generally of grass of a
size to hold 6 or 8 persons. No Indian nation so numerous as
these in all North America. I include both Upper and Lower
Snakes, the latter as wild as deer, fit subjects for the
missionary who could twist them in any form they pleased. What a
fine field for the society; one equal to it not to be found. They
lead a most wandering life. An old woman camped with us the other
night; and her information I have found most correct. From the
severe weather last year, her people were reduced for want of
food to subsist on the bodies of relations and children. She
herself had not killed any one but had fed on two of her own
children who died thro' weakness. Unfortunate creatures what
privations you are doomed to endure; what an example for us at
present reduced to one meal a day, how loudly and grievously we
complain; when I consider the Snake sufferings compared to our
own! Many a day they pass without food and without a murmur. Had
they arms and ammunition they might resort to buffalo; but
without this region the war tribes would soon destroy them. This
country is bare of beaver to enable them to procure arms. Indian
traders cannot afford to supply them free. Before this happens a
wonderful change must happen. One of Mr. McKay's party was sent
back to request us to raise camp and follow his tracks. A chain
of lakes was all they had seen, no game. Truly, gloomy are our
Friday, 4th Nov. Raised camp taking west course and soon reached
the end of Salt Lake(15) not near so long as I expected, in some
parts nearly 5 miles wide and deep, its borders flat and sandy.
At evening, we camped near three small lakes. Swans numerous.
Tho' 100 shots fired, not one killed. Nothing but worm wood this
day. Salt ( ?) Lake may be 10 miles in length. Mr. McKay and
party arrived with the following accounts--no beaver, same level
country a chain of lakes of fresh water. This adds to the general
gloom prevailing in camp, with all in a starving condition, so
that plots are forming (among) the Freemen to separate. Should we
not find animals our horses will fall to the kettle. I am at a
loss how to act.
Saturday, 5th Nov. Bad as prospects were yesterday they are worse
to-day. It snowed all night and day. If this snow does not
disappear our express men will never reach us. I hope they will
not fall a prey to the Snakes. I intend to take the nearest route
I can discover to the (16)Clammiitte Country. My provisions and are
fast decreasing. The hunters are discouraged. Day after day from
morning to night in quest of animals; but not one track do they
Saturday, 12 Nov. 2 herds of antelope seen but the hunters did
not get a shot. They were fortunate with a small black bear. This
with 9 beaver and 1 otter infused general joy among all. Tracks
of Indians seen not of old date. This gives hope of finding a
river. Snow scarce for water. Tho' repeated attempts have been
made to melt snow in skins, they will not drink. Two Indians give
a hunter to understand, the river is still 3 days' march distant.
Within the last 10 days we have had only 6 meals. It was now 2
mos. since we set out, and we have only 500 beaver.
Wednesday, 16th Nov. Ascended the divide(17) descended and had the
pleasure of finding 2 lakes(18) one small the other large due west
Salt Lake. These lakes are a God-send. It was a consolation to
see our poor horses quench their thirst. Pines and hemlocks are
the only trees. Numbers of bear tracks seen. This is the season
bears seek winter lodgings and are fat. Our hunters came in
Thursday, 17 Nov. Reached a river at sunset. It must discharge in
the Clammitte Country or near the River of the Falls.
Friday, 18 Nov. Reached the River of the Falls so desired by us
all. Thank God! The road to the Clammitte we all know.(19) 7 white
tailed deer brought in.
November 25th, Friday. We had a view of the Umqua Mts. to-day, no
snow on them.
Sunday, 27th Nov. We are to leave the River of the Falls and
cross over to the waters of the Clammitte. One horse killed for
food to-day. My provisions are nearly exhausted. The waters of
the Clammitte do not discharge in the Columbia and must discharge
in some river to the ocean. It is from this river I have hopes of
Wednesday, 30th Nov. Course south to Clammitt River(20) 25 miles
from River of the Falls. Mr. McKay proceeded ahead to an Indian
village distant 3 miles. It was composed of 20 tents built on the
water surrounded by water approachable only by canoes, the tents
built of large logs shaped like block houses the foundation stone
or gravel made solid by piles sunk 6 ft. deep. Their tents are
constantly guarded. They regretted we had opened a communication
from the mountains. They said "The Nez Perces have made different
attempts to reach our village but could not succeed. Even last
summer we discovered a war party of Cayouse and Nez Perces in
search of us; but they did not find us. Now they will have yr.
road to follow. We have no fire arms. Still we fear them not."
They are well provided with bows and arrows. They have only one
horse. Snow is so deep, horses perish for want of food. In
winter, they live on roots. In summer on antelope and fish.
December 1st. 30 Clammite Indians paid us a visit; fine men in
good condition, but wretchedly clad. They say the river to the
ocean is far distant and beaver they do not know. They say the
Indians become more numerous as we advance to the ocean.
Friday 2nd. Late last night I was overjoyed by the arrival of one
of my express men. One of the men gone back in quest of horses
discovered them, otherwise tho' the distance is only 4 miles,
they would never have reached the camp. They could no longer walk
or crawl. For 14 days they were without food; for 9 days without
quenching thirst. Their horses were stolen on the River of the
Falls by the Snakes. One mule escaped. On entering the lodge the
man fell from weakness and could not rise. I immediately sent for
the other man and about midnight they brought him in, thank God,
Saturday 3rd. 2 horses, killed for food; terrible storms of snow
and sleet! What will become of us? Course S.
Tuesday 6th. Reached Indian village of five huts, hut large size
square made of earth flat on top the door at the top a defence,
against arrows but not balls. 200 of them collected about our
camp and traded 4 days. The 2 chiefs delivered traps lost by Mr.
McDonald last year with 8 beaver. This is much in favor of their
honesty. On our march this day, we passed the camps from wh. Mr.
McDonald turned back last year and are consequently strangers to
the country in advance.
Thursday 8th. About 300 Indians around our camp. We advanced 6
miles south following the river south. I estimate the Clammitte
nation 250 men.
Monday 12th. Reached the lake(21) 1 1/2 x 15 miles well wooded with
maple and hazel; course S.
Sunday 25th, Christmas. I did not raise camp and we are reduced
to one meal a day.
Saturday 31 Mr. McKay started in advance. Our hunters have no
success. Discontent prevails. I gave rations to all. This closes
the year; and my stock of provisions also. They have been
measured out with a sparing hand. We have yet 3 mos. of winter.
God grant them well over, and our horses escape the kettle! I
have been the most unfortunate man; but the Lord's will be done!
1827, Sunday 1st. New Years commences with a mild day. The men
paid me their respects. I gave each a dram and tobacco. Goat
killed. Mr. McKay reports as far as he could see one chain of
mountains and no water. Return we must to seek food.
Wednesday 18th. I am wretched! No beaver! The country trapped by
Mr. Ross 3 years since(22) may yield a few beaver but will not give
us big returns.
Sunday 22nd. Late last night two of my Iroquois came in with 7
deer. This news caused joy in camp.
Sunday 29th. We are indebted to the late American Fur Company for
introducing rifles on the Columbia. From a gun of 10 shots, 1
only kills. There is waste of ammunition; course now N. N. W.
Friday, 10th Feb. The Indians here have a contemptible opinion of
all traders. Of the numerous murders and thefts committed,(23) not
one example has been made. Indians in general give us no credit
for humanity, but attribute our not revenging murders to
cowardice. When ever an opportunity offers of murder or theft,
they allow it not to pass. I am of opinion if on first discovery
of a strange tribe a dozen of them were shot, it would be the
means of preserving many lives. Had this plan been adopted with
the Snakes, they would not have been so daring and murdered 40
men. The same is the case with all Indians. Scripture gives us
the right to retaliate in kind on those who murder. If men have
means of preventing, why not put the means in execution. Why
allow ourselves to be butchered and property stolen by such vile
wretches who are not deserving to be numbered among the living
the sooner dead the better. Trappers would make hunts and traders
become rich men. Here we are among the Sastise.(24) Course this
day west. The stream(25) we are on has no connection with the
Clammitte River; it flows south then west to a large river. These
Indians know nothing of the ocean.
Mr. McKay roused me last night to say the Indians were on the
point of attacking our camp. Our numbers amounting only to 8 men.
Sunday, 12 of February. The croaking of the frogs last night
surprised me. This is certainly early. The weather has been
cloudy. From appearances, we shall soon have rain. A number of
Indians paid us a visit. There being 2 who understood the
Clammitte language, that it(26) takes a western course. These forks
have become a large river. The further we advance the more beaver
will be found. These Indians eat beaver meat raw. Among the
visitors was one who had only one arm. On questioning how he lost
the other, he informed me he had been severely wounded in battle
the wounds would not heal and were most painful, so he cut it off
about 3 inches below the socket with his flint knife and an axe
made of flint. It is 3 years since. He healed it with roots and
is free from pain. He is about 30 years of age and of slender
frame. 15 beaver to-day.
Monday 13 Mr. McKay roused me from sleep to say an Indian had
arrived with word the Indians had assembled in numbers and were
on the eve of attacking our camp. We were soon on the alert our
number being only 8 men, the rest of camp afield, as half of my
men had never fired shots, resistance would not last long. The
night was very dark and blowing a gale. This morning our scalps
and horses are safe. I am inclined to believe it was a false
report, given to receive a reward. He will be disappointed. We
all know Indians are treacherous, bloodthirsty. The sooner the
exterminating system be introduced among them, the better. The
rear party of trappers arrived tonight with 29 beaver.
Tuesday 14th. Wind blew a gale. If the ship destined for the
Columbia be on the coast in this stormy weather, I should feel
anxious for her. Having 40 beaver to skin and dress I did not
raise camp. It is a pleasure to observe the ladys of the camp
vieing who will produce on their return to Ft. Vancouver the
cleanest and best dressed beaver. One of the trappers yesterday
saw a domestic cat gone wild. It must have come from the coast.
All the Indians persist in saying they know nothing of the sea. I
have named this river Sastise(27) River. There is a mountain equal
in height to Mount Hood or Vancouver, I have named Mt. Sastise. I
have given these names from the tribes of Indians.(28)
Tuesday, 21st Feb. Late last night 7 of the 9 absent trappers
made their appearance;(29) only 93 beaver and 9 otter. The Indians
where they have been most numerous and friendly, villages built
of planks, large enough for 30 families in each, fine large
canoes resembling the Chinooks, have various trading articles
from the American ships, they informed the men it was only 4 days
to the sea. The two missing men remained in the rear to trap.
Wednesday 22nd. We have this day 15 beaver, wh. completes our
first 1000 and have 2 to begin our 2nd.
Thursday 23rd. The two absent men made their appearance with 14
Saturday 25. Should we not find beaver soon, starvation will make
its appearance. We have only 2 mos. more but they are the most to
be dreaded in the mountains. I wish they were past and our horses
escaped from the kettle. Some already complain of scarcity of
food; but fortunately our camp contains many sick and while they
remain so, will be the means of destroying less food. One woman
is so ill she must be tied on a horse. Nor can we afford her any
relief. A sick person in this country is not only a burden to
himself but to all; and the Canadians are not overstocked with
Wednesday 29. I propose sending Mr. McKay to cross the Clammitte
River,(30) and I shall proceed down this stream as far as we can
Thursday 1st Mar. Mr. McKay with 13 men separated from us.
Payette, a steady man accompanied him. My party is 24. We left
taking an east course to falls and cascades. Soon a village large
enough to contain 100 families of Indians. On seeing us they
ascended a hill with their women and children.
Friday 2nd. All are more or less without food. Traps set gave but
2 beaver. On an average we require 15 a day for food.
Monday 5th. Men killed 2 deer and report bears numerous. These
gents will soon leave their winter quarters and ravage about in
quest of food after 4 mos. of quiet.
Friday 9th. At early hour with aid of 2 small canoes crossed over
Sasty River, all safe over by 4 P. M. Huts no sooner made than
rain came in torrents. Our leather tents are in a rotten state
and I can swear our blankets have not been dry for 20 days. I am
afraid this rain will be snow in the Mtns.--and I apprehend for
Mr. McKay. Indians troublesome and numerous. It is almost a sin
to see the number of small beaver we destroy. Some of the females
have no less than 5 young. This is the effect of traps. They
spare neither male or female.
Sunday 11th. The trappers have come in with 72 beaver and 1
Tuesday, 13 Mar. We left the Sasty Forks in our rear taking W.
N. W. 8 miles encamped by a lofty range of mountains. Had trouble
to persuade our guide to ride nor would he till he made me
promise to lead his horse. He had many falls and I was obliged to
tie him on by ropes, wh. caused my men great diversion. All
obliged to sleep out in pouring rain and without blankets. Not
one complaint. This life makes a young man sixty in a few years.
Wading in cold water all day, they earn 10 shillings P. beaver. A
convict at Botany Bay is a gentleman at care compared to my
trappers. Still they are happy. A roving life suits them. They
would regard it as a punishment to be sent to Canada. God grant
some kind friend to succeed me, and I wd. steer my course from
whence I came although I am a Canadian.
Thursday, 22 March. Reached a fine large river having crossed the
mtns.(31) where we had to throw our horses over banks--storm of
wind and rain saturated us--course W. Our guide went to visit the
Indians and returned with the information the Umpqua chief with
the trappers from Williamette has visited this region and taken
all the beaver. These waters have no communication with Umpqua
but discharge in Clammitte. Gervais with 4 men will trap the
forks of this river, and open a way to Ft. Vancouver.
Monday, 26 March. The Indian guide saw a grizzly bear of large
size, wh. the trappers fired at and wounded. The Indian requested
the loan of a small axe with bow and arrows. Stripping himself
naked, he rushed on the bear but paid dearly for his rashness. I
do not suppose he will recover. He was injured in the head and
lost one eye wh. was literally torn out. The bear remained in the
April 6. Retraced our crossing the Sasty River.
Sat. 7th April. We shall proceed slowly to Clammitte Lake and
await Mr. McKay's party.
Sunday, 22nd April. Late this afternoon I was surprised by Mr.
McKay's arrival. He left his party crossing over their furs. His
success amounts to 735 beaver and otter taken on 2 small streams
that discharged in Clammitte River. My returns now amount to 2230
beaver and otter. McKay's party were obliged to kill, their
horses owing to their feet.
May 13th. Have sent Mr. McKay to explore the sources of the
Willamette,(32) wh. to this day have not been discovered. This
party with Gervais may collect some skins.
May 14. Mt. McKay will not go as I intended. We shall cross the
Wednesday, 23 May. I did not raise camp, but sent 6 men in
different directions. One of the men hunting fowl saw an Indian
on horse back on the opposite side of the river. He made signs to
him to cross but the fellow disappeared. How vexing! Within the
last 10 days, 3 horses have been killed for food.
Thursday 24. Two of the men report they found springs of fresh
water ahead, south east. Of course I shall take that direction.
Proceeded to the main stream of Salt Lake River. Crossed a stony
point, reached the entrance of Salt Lake south of the lake level
covered with worm wood. The men I sent in quest of Indians
returned without success.
Friday, 25th May. Two fine mares dead from lack of water, the
carcasses purchased by men for food. Some of the men tried
bathing in the lake but their limbs were as red as if pickled and
I am without guides nor has a person in camp the slightest idea
of where he is.
Sunday 27th. Our horses found scattered--all the men on the
alert. They returned reporting 56 stolen. This was a blow I did
not anticipate in this barren country nor could I credit it, and
I gave orders to make strict search. At 9 all but 7 were found,
the missing no doubt stolen as tracks have been discovered. Shd.
the thieves be Snakes we may find a guide. Mr. McKay with 12 men
pursued the tracks 5 of them were returned with word the thieves
had gone east, then turned back on their tracks west taking stony
ground to conceal their course. They followed to Upper Salt Lake
River which they crossed tho' the water had risen 4 feet. Mr.
McKay was the first to plunge in and 7 followed, the other 5
Monday, 28 May. At 8 A. M. 2 of McKay's men arrived with 2 of the
stolen horses. The thieves from some high hill had seen the
pursuit, and these horses being fatigued abandoned them. At 1 P.
M. another man arrived with another horse. He left Mr. McKay at
dawn of day with full hope of rescue.
Tuesday 29th. At 12 A. M. Mr. McKay and rest of his men arrived
with 2 more of the horses. The thieves escaped with 2 only, and
this owing to the cowardice of the 5 men who turned back, the
thieves' camp consisted of 14 tents. I have done my duty
examining this barren country, but our loss has been greater than
our profit. The horses that pursued as well as those that were
stolen can scarcely crawl.
Wednesday 30th. Proceeded along the border of Salt Lake east,
then S. E. over a hilly country to a small fresh lake. The
country appears to be a level plain covered with worm wood. The
lake is 15 miles long, the south bank high and rocky, the east
low and stony which lamed our horses so they can scarcely crawl.
An Ibex killed to-day, and a young one taken alive. I shall feed
it with mare's milk till we reach Ft. Vancouver.
Friday, June 1st. Rain all night; our course southeast over a
level plain; I sent 3 men off in advance; they report no
appearance of water; this is critical. I have no cause to
complain of the conduct of the men, altho' obliged to subsist on
horseflesh and scanty at that. Still the country must be explored
as long as we find water or the means of advancing. Unfortunately
this country has been too long neglected. We cannot advance till
we find water. On the borders of these muddy lakes we found huts
of Snakes, I suppose.
Saturday, June 2nd. At dawn of day I started 2 men to proceed S.
E. to return tomorrow morning; as they have 2 meals, they will
march all night and I wish them success. If we do not succeed in
that direction, our starvation will be most distressing and in
Sunday, 3rd of June. 8 A. M. The two men arrive and report so far
as they have been, and the distance must be great, as they did
not encamp, they only found water in a small lake at no distance
from this, and the country they traveled over continued barren
plains covered with worm wood; no appearance of mountains and
unfortunately for us, no river. No hope in that quarter. On
receiving these tidings, I ordered the men off again in a
northeast course, one to return this night or tomorrow if they
found water, the other to proceed. At 9 A. M. they started.
One-fourth of the party sick owing to the muddy, stagnant water.
If I escape this year, I will not be doomed to endure another.
Monday 4th. At dawn of day the man arrived and reported he had
found water and a high hill which he saw when we were here last
fall.(34) On giving the call for our horses, two were found
missing; their tracks seen; also Indians. At 9 A. M. we started
northeast over a hilly and stony country; at 2 P. M. we reached a
deep gully; finding water, encamped.
Tuesday, 5th June. 5 A. M. Advanced at a quick pace sauve qui
peut. At 3 P. M. we overtook our 2 absent men and camped, altho'
water was scarce and muddy--over a dreary, desolate country, soil
sandy and stony. Horses suffer from thirst.
Wednesday, 6th June. 6 A.M. N. N. E. over stony road. At 3 P.M.
reached camp of last November, to the great joy of all, and now
that we know where we are, we must look for beaver. To return to
Ft. Vancouver with our present returns will be most galling.
Friday, 8 June. Did not camp until we reached the end of Salt
Lake,(35) seen last fall. The water is very high. The waters of
Sylvailles river and lakes discharge into it. The stench of the
lake is terrible.
Tuesday 12. From illness unable to leave my bed and so continued
to 22nd. During my illness the trappers have not been idle,
collecting 74 beaver; but the Snakes are most numerous and
daring, determined to steal Horses. The natives have destroyed in
this region upwards of 60,000 [?] beaver, not one of which
reached our forts.
Sunday, 24 June. Reached Sylvailles River and crossed; one horse
Tuesday, 26 June. Reached the source of River Malheur. Took 81
beaver, all in prime state, which I cannot explain except on
account of moist climate.(36) The trappers have not averaged 100
beavers each this year.
Tuesday, 3rd July. Seven trappers left for upper part of Sandwich
Tuesday, July 10. Three of Payette's men back--seven men about
100 beaver; others are at Snake river, having crossed Frazer's
[?] river. We have taken 300 beaver in the same time. The heat is
terrible and all are short of food.
Monday, 16 July. Started at 6 A. M. and reached the Snake river
below River Malheur.
Wednesday, 18 July. 5 A. M. Not wishing to lose any time at Ft. Nez Perce, I take my departure,(37) with 4 men to make necessary preparations, leaving Mr. McKay in charge of the party.
1. Mr. Samuel Black, still in charge of Ft Nez Perces or Walla Walla.
2. Along Fifteen Mile creek.
3. Camped near Dufur evidently.
4. The year before they kept further to the West; this year direct to White river and the falls, where electric power plant now is.
5. Falls of Des Chutes River below White river.
6. First and original "Sherar's Bridge."
7. See P. 354, No. 4, Vol. X of Quarterly.
8. Somewhere on Crooked River or John Day River. (?)
9. Now between headwaters Crooked and John Day rivers.
10. Sylvailles or Silvies river, which they descended.
11. The usual policy of the H. B. Company traders; a "square deal" to the Indians as well as to their own men.
12. From advance trip to Malheur marshes and lake.
13. Malheur and Harney lakes; some confusion follows in reference to salt and freshwater lakes, probably due to transposition.
14. Undoubtedly Harney lake, although not salt.
15. Still refers to Harney lake. They now proceed Northwestward across Central Oregon and do not enjoy the journey.
16. Klamath. Note this spelling and use of the name before they reach that region.
17. Pauline Mountain (?)
18. Probably Pauline lake and East Lake.
19. Route known to Mr. McKay who accompanied Mr. McDonald the previous year.
20. Probably the present Williamson river. In December, 1843, John C. Fremont crossed from head of Des Chutes river to Klamath Lake in two days. Compare with his journals.
21. Probably the Lower Klamath Lake; their course from now until May 14th difficult to follow.
22. The upper Snake river country trapped by Alex. Ross in spring and summer 1824.
23. This quite characteristic of the Modoc tribe; the party now probably in N. E. California.
25. But this is a very good description of Pitt river, a source of the Sacramento.
26. The Klamath river or some branch of it, in all probability. A party has been sent ahead.
27. First known mention of the name Shasta applied to mountain and river. Arrowsmith spells it SHASTY and places both to North of the Clamite, as he spells that name, and Mt. Pitt in California.
28. Note Bancroft's explanation in comparison.
29. This advance party has been nearly to the Coast on some stream, probably the Klamath.
30. Probably to the southward.
31. Probably the Siskiyou divide to the waters of the Rogue river valley.
32. Quite interesting as to an early spelling of the name, as well as otherwise.
33. They are to cross the unexplored regions of Klamath, Lake and Harney counties, a hard journey of 24 days. Again compare Fremont. The Applegate "cut off" to the Willamette crossed the same country.
34. Getting into Harney Lake region again.
35. Malheur Lake: some of the stench still remains.
36. Beaver fur usually poor in summer.
37. For Fort Vancouver by way of Walla Walla.