Selected Letters of Nathaniel J. Wyeth

  1. To George Simpson, York Factory, dated Fort Colville March 12th 1833
  2. To Captain Bonneville of Salmon River, dated June 22d 1833.
  3. To Mr. Thomas Nuttall (Cambridge), dated Heads of Lewis River July 4th 1833
  4. To Doct. McLaughland, Fort Vancouver, sent by Mr. Ermatinger, undated
  5. To Mr. F. Ermatinger, dated Green River July 18th 1833
  6. To Mr Henry Hall and Mess Tucker and Williams, dated Cambridge Nov. 8th 1833
  7. To Mess. J. Baker & Son, dated Nov 17th 1833
  8. To Geo. Simson Esq, dated Boston Nov 20th 1833
  9. To Mr. M.G, Sublette, dated [Cambridge Nov l9th 1833]
  10. To Leond Jarvis Esq (Ba[l]to.), dated Cambridge Nov 31st, 1833
  11. To Mr Jas Worthington (Flonsante Co Missouri), dated Cambridge Dec 9th 1833
  12. To Mr. M.G. Sublette, dated Cambridge Jany 2d 1833[4]
  13. To Mr M Sublette (N York), dated Boston Jany 4th 1834
  14. To wife, dated St. Louis March 31st 1834
  15. To Thos Fitzpatric or Co., in the Rocky Mountains, dated One day this side the Blue May 12th 1834
  16. To Mess Thomas Fitzpatric & Co., dated Sweet Water June 9th 1834
  17. To Mess Tucker & Williams, dated Hams Fork of the Colorado of the West July 1st 1834
  18. To Mr. [M.] G. Sublette, dated Hams Fork July 1st 1834
  19. To Friend Ermatinger, dated Bear River July 5th 1834
  20. To Mr Francis Payette, dated Bear River July 5th 1834
  21. To Capt. Bonneville, dated Sept. 1st 1834 (at Grand Ronde)
  22. To Capt Bonneville, dated [No address given.] Sept. 1st 1834
  23. To Friend Weld, dated Wappatoo Island Ap 3d 1835
  24. To John McLoughlin Esqr, dated Fort Vancouver 5th May 1836


TO George Simpson
York Factory
Fort Colville March 12th 1833


I am induced by gentlemen in this country to suppose that you would enter into some arrangement for a supply of goods and therefore send the enclosed proposal. I left the Boston in March last with 32 men with the intention of forming on the Columbia or south of it [a post] for collecting furs and salmon to be sent to the States by vessells ordered therefrom such vessells to bring out the goods required for the trade. My plan was based on the following grounds viz. that Salmon (worth in the States 16$ per Bbl. of 30 gallons) would pay all the expenses that goods introduced by this route would be entitled to the drawback and this would be a consideration as they are nearly all foreign to the States and being coarse pay a heavy duty, that the saving made in the purchase of horses here instead of at St. Louis is at least 25$ per head, that the danger of transporting this side of the mountains is infinitely less than on the other and the distance to the Fur country much less. In the first part of said undertaking I have completely failed. All my men have left me and what goods and valuables I had with me have been expended or deposited where they will probably be lost to me. I am now on my return to the States for the purpose of forming new arrangements to carry my original plan into execution. In case I make no arrangement with the Co. I shall if I arrive in Boston by the 1st Nov. next come to the Columbia the following summer, if I arrive later I shall be delayed until the next.

It appears to me that as an American I posses some advantage that an Englishman would not inasmuch as I can visit parts of the country from which he is excluded and still not so remote in point of distance difficulty or expense as from St. Louis.

I have already lost largely from a capital at first small and am therefore desirous to proceed on a more secure plan even if it should offer less prospect of profit. I have to observe that in case of agreement being made I will give surety satisfactory to the Co. for fulfilling any part of the same or if required will deposit in their hands a sufficient sum for the same purpose. The only objection to the latter would be the difference in the rate of interest in the states and with you.

In case of an agreement for supply of goods the supply of men would still be a consideration. If men could come to this side of the Ry. Mts. as early as July a fall hunt might be made which is all that can be done from St. Louis. Canadians are to be had cheaper than Americans and are for some purposes better men. Their conveyance would not be so expensive as horses would be saved which cost 30$ at St. Louis and the same set of animals are fit for a full hunt. I would not wish more than 15 Canadians. These might be procured by myself or agent or furnished me by the Co. as they might elect and the residue of the men required might be procured in the Mts. without the expense of bringing them into the country or learning them the ways of it. If no political dificulty exists there must be some advantage in using a few Canadians. Should you deem it for the interest of the Co. to close with me an agreement not essentially different from the enclosed proposal you would much oblige me by forwarding to my address care of Mess. Jarvis & Brown Merchants Baltimore Maryland a contract to the purpose which I will execute and immediately proceed to fulfill. I request this mode of proceedure because I will have but one month after my arrival at Boston to prepare for a voyage to the Columbia, in case of failure of this negotiation with the Co.

Yrs &c N J W

Copy of the proposal enclosed in the two foregoing letters

[To Simpson and McLoughlin]

1st The Hon H.B.C. to furnish at their store at Vancouver to N.J.W. such goods as he may select at the same rate that the clerks of the said Co pay for the goods supplied them viz 50 pr ct on their original cost

2d The said Co to lay no obstruction in the way of the said Wyeths trading at any post or place for provisions or animals to be used in his business or to his trading furs anywhere south of the Columbia and not within a 100 miles of their posts and generally in matters indifferent to their interest to forward his views and operations and to give him such information as may be in their power and not inconsistent with their immediate interest

3d The said Co to Cr the acc. of said Wyeth at the rate of $5 for full Beavers and in proportion for kittens and yearlings and for all other furs and skins usually secured by the said Co. as merchandise at the same prop. to their markett value in London or wherever that Co. dispose of their furs as 5$ is to the markett value of the Beaver skin.

4th The said Wyeth to deliver all Furs and skins of every description of which he may get possession to the Co.

5th Said Wyeth to continue the arrangement for five years and in case of his not doing so to be bound not to do a Fur business in any country to which the H.B. Co. have access.

6th In case said Wyeth faithfully performs this said agreement, then the H.B.Co. at the end of the time agreed on is to pay over to him any balance that may be due him in cash or goods as the said W. may elect and at all times he is entitled to claim from them in case any balance which may be due him over and above $1000.


To Captain Bonneville of Salmon River June 22d 1833.


I send you the following proposition for a mutual hunt in the country south of the Columbia river which I visited last autumn and winter. As to the prospect of Beaver there I will only say that I have no doubt of taking 300 skins fall and spring. As much sign as would give me this I have seen. I have little doubt much more might be found, but in that country a hunt cannot be made with horses alone, boats must be used. I have obtained some maps of the country beside my own observations in it, and I have little doubt but I can make my way through it without guides, who cannot be procured. As this country is distant an immediate answer is required. As it regards the mules Horses would do but are by no means so good for grass in some places is very bad. If the number required is a very great objection 9 would do but goods enough to buy 3 more must be given in their stead. The men that are wanted must be good, peaceable and industrious, but need not be trappers. I would prefer good men who have not been more than one year in the country. In case of agreement being made you are to engage to deliver what letters I wish to send home, a boy about 13 years old and about 25 lbs. sundrys. The expenses of the boy in the States my brother in N. York will pay to whom he is delivered. The boy will have a mule to carry him. With so many animals as I have and so few men I cannot come to the forks [Henry's Fork and Snake River] and I think these Indians will go no further than where in your route to Green River you strike the plain of the Three Butes. There I hope to see you and in case you acceed to the proposal, with all the things required in it, this hunt to be for one year to meet you at your rendezvous of next year the furs to be equally divided between us and I to have the right to take mine at any time during the year yourself to have the right to send a man to see to your interests -


9 men, armed, clothed for the year with saddles &c
12 mules
9 skins dressed for making boats
40 good traps
1 doz files
4 doz knives
20 lbs tobacco
200 lbs grease, if possible
3 bales Indian meat
a few small tools
3 axes
12 pair Horse shoes (if you have them.)
4 pack saddles and Harness.
6 pair of lashes
25$ for cost of sundrys
25 lbs. powder and lead with it.

19 horses
3 mules
20 traps
3 men with myself
2 doz knives
1 Lodge
Cooking apparatus
fish Hooks a few sundrys.
10 lbs powder and lead.
14 pr. Horse shoes.
4 pack saddles and Harness.

- said man to do duty the same as the other men and to have no other control than to secure your interest in the division of the skins. In case you are ready to make this arrangement you need make no doubt of my being ready to enter at once on it except that in the mean time I loose my animals.

You to have the liberty of sending a load of goods to pay off the men you furnish. All property at the risk of its owner, neither to be responsible for the debts of the other.

Yrs &c.

[No signature.]


Heads of Lewis River July 4th 1833

Mr. Thomas Nuttall (Cambridge)

Dear Sir
I have sent through my brother Leond of N. York a package of plants collected in the interior and on the western coast of America somewhere about Latt 46 deg. I am afraid they will be of little value to you. The rain has been so constant where I have been gathering them that they have lost their colors in some cases, and they will be liable to further accident on their route home.

I shall remain here one more year. You if in Camb. may expect to see me in about one year from the time you receive this. I shall then ask you if you will follow another expedition to this country in pursuit of your science. The cost would be less than living at home.

I have several times attempted to preserve birds to send you but have failed from the moisture and warmth. Excuse the shortness of this as I have many letters to write and little time to do it in.

Resply Yr. obt. servt. Nathl. J Wyeth

P. S. By the notes on the paper my journal will show the place from which the plant comes if kept in its proper sheet until I come home.


["This letter sent by Mr. Ermatinger" written across the face.]

Dear Sir

Having arr[i]ved at the camp of Mr. Bonneville I take the liberty [of] writing you by this last opportunity to express how much I am under obligation to Mr. Ermatinger for the polite and agreeable manner in which he has dispensed your hospitality to me during the whole route.

I am here in a direct train for the States, and cannot without some extraordinary accident fail of reaching home in Oct. next. Should you visit the states I would feel myself highly honored by a visit or any intercourse which might be agreeable to you for which purpose I have enclosed my direction. Should any of your friends visit the States a letter would procure them any attention which may be in my power. It will be a pleasure to execute any business commands with which you may entrust me. Models of Agricultural implements, seeds and other matters connected with your tastes or business.

Resply. yr. obt. Servt. Nathl. J. Wyeth

To Doct. McLaughland Fort Vancouver.


Green River July 18th 1833

Mr. F. Ermatinger

Dear Sir
I arrived here on the 16th 9 days from your camp Saw no Indians but saw the bones of Mr More killed by the Blkfeet last year and buried them. He was one of my men who left me in Pier[r]es Hole last year. A Mr Nudd was also killed by them. All the rest arrived well in the States. I found here about 250 whites. A list of the Cos. and their Beaver which I have seen I subjoin. I should have been proud of my countrymen if you could have seen the American Fur Co. or the party of Mr. S. Campbell. For efficiency of goods, men, animals and arms, I do not believe the fur business has afforded a better example or discipline. I have sold my animals and shall make a boat and float down the Yellowstone and Missouri and see what the world is made of there. Mr. Wm Sublette and Mr Campbell have come up the Missouri and established a trading fort at each location of the posts of the Am. Fur Co. with a view to a strong opposition. Good luck to their quarrels. I have got letters from the States. The chief news are that the Cholera Morbus has swept through them killing 5000 people in N York and in proportion elsewhere. Genl. Jackson president an insurrection in the Southern States on acc. of the Tariff but quelled by Blocading their ports and the repeal of the most obnoxious parts of the same. About 25 Americans have been killed during the last year. A Snake village is here with us. I find Bonnevilles connections are responsible [A statement that he has a draft from B. for horses follows but is crossed out.] he being very short of them. He lost one entire party among the Crows that is the Horses and of course all the Beavers. A party under Bridger and Frapp also lost their horses by the Aricarees, also Harris party lost theirs by the same Inds. who have taken a permanent residence on the Platte and left the Missouri which is the reason I go by the last named river. Harris party did not interfere with any of my plans south of Snake River.

In my opinion you would have been Robbed of your goods and Beaver if you had come here altho it is the west side of the Mts. for Green River emtys into the head of the Gulph of California. I give you this as an honest opinion which you can communicate to the Co. There is here a great majority of Scoundrels. I should much doubt the personal safety of any one from your side of the house.

My Respects to Mr. Payette and believe me yr. sincere friend

Nathl J. Wyeth.

Drips and Fontenelle arrd July 8th 160 men a good supply of animals. Obtained 51 packs of 100 Ibs ea. Beaver.

Rocky Mtn. Fur Co. 55 packs 55 men well supplied one party not in Beaver sent home by Mr. Campbell.

Mess. Bonneville & Co. 22 1/2 packs. Few goods few horses and poor Capt. Cerry goes home B. remains.

Harris party now in hand 7 packs Beaver and are on foot.


Cambridge Nov. 8th 1833

Mr Henry Hall and Mess Tucker and Williams

In order to understand the nature of that branch of the Fur trade in which I propose to operate I deem it requisite to enter into a short account of its size and progress. The statements which I shall make are such as I have heard and am confident are in the main true, but I do not pledge my self that every circumstance is so but only that I have heard them and believe them to be so and that the inferences are such as my best attention to the subject warrant.

About 12 years since Mr Wm H. Ashley engaged in the Indian trade essaying by various means to obtain furs. At the time he engaged in this undertaking he was bankrupt, but was a person of credit, which enabled him to get the requisite means. His first attempts were predicated upon the possibility of trading furs from the Indians in the interior for goods. In this he was not successful, and in the event became much reduced in means, and credit, but in the course of this business perceived that there was plenty of Beaver in the country to which he had resorted for trade, but great difficulty to induce the Indians to catch it. After many tryals of trading voyages he converted his trading parties into trapping parties. In the first establishment of this business he met with all the usual difficulties incident to new plans but still made something. About this time [1825] a Mr. Gardner one of his agents met a Mr. Ogden clerk of the H.B. Co. in the Snake Country at the head of a trapping party. Gardner induced the men of Ogdens party to desert by promises of supplyes and good prices for furs. The furs thus obtained amounted to about 130 packs or 13000 lbs. worth at that time about $75000. The following year Ashley sold out to Smith Sublette & Jackson for about $30000 and left the business, after paying up his old debts, worth about 50000$. Smith Sublette & Jackson continued the business until 1829 and sold out to Milton Sublette Frapp Jervais Bridger and Thomas Fitzpatric, and in the stile of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. for 30000$, dividing among them about 60000$ for I think three years business. This last firm has continued the business since have paid the purchase money and have cleared their stock of goods and animals requisite for the business in the country but not being business men and unknown where the goods are to be bought have been dependent upon others for their suplies for which they have paid enormously to Mr. Wm. L. Sublette brother to a member of their firm. They have been together three years and have made two returns amounting to 210 packs of furs, value nett about 80000$ and received two outfits of goods, first cost about 6000$ for which they have paid about 30000$ and for returning their furs about 8000$ leaving them after paying the first purchase about 12000$ some of which must be due to men who have not received their pay in goods leaving them with little property except their Horses Mules and Traps and a few goods, and unavailable property.

Since the commencement of this species of business severall persons have attempted it, but all are now out of the way except Mess Dripps & Fontenelle fitted out by the Am. Fur Co. and Mess. Bonneville & Co. fitted out by men in New York. Neither of these last named Companies as far as I can ascertain have made money to any great extent, owing to enormous prices paid for the goods. The country to which these parties resort is extensive and there is plenty of room for them and many more, and if they made a little money, I do think if proper means are used that much could be made. After this short account of the present state of the business I proceed to sum up the expense of conducting it, as it is now done, in order to shew where a saving may be made. I shall omit saying any thing about duties on coarse woolens and other goods, used in this trade, which have to be paid when goods are sent by way of St. Louis and which may be saved when sent around the Horn.

The dry goods for an overland trip are best found in New York and the other articles in St. Louis. A small charge must be added for transport to St. Louis for those bought in N. York, say on 4000 lbs. including

Ins & Sundrys $ 160.00

Baling of the above and Sundrys bought at St. Louis 100.00

50 pack saddles and 50 Riding Do 250.00

Hobbles and Halters for 100 animals 150.00

Shoeing for 100 animals 50.00

Corn and sundry for Horses 50.00

Saddle Blankets 100.00

50 men for 5 months at 15 per month 3750.00

Provisions to Buffaloe 100.00

Pack covers 50.00

Am[m]unition 100.00

100 animals 3000.00

Guns 300.00

First cost of goods 3000.00

Six months interest on all charges except wages 222.00



being the Cost of transporting goods (including the first cost) of the value of $3000 from St. Louis to the Trois Titons Long 110 deg. west Latt. about 43, Air line distance 900 miles.

In making an estimate of the cost of transporting the same amt. of goods from the head of navigation on the Columbia I shall make the difference in time and force required which from some knowledge I think just and also cost of Harness and Horses.

50 pack Saddles and 15 Saddles and 15 riding do to be bought of the Inds for about 25 cts. ea in goods 17.00

Halters and Hobbles for 65 animals 17.00

Buffaloes for blkts 30.00

15 men for 4 months at 15 per month 900.00

Provisions 100.00

Pack covers 50.00

Ammunition 25.00

Guns 90.00

65 animals at $5 ea 325.00

First cost of goods 3000.00



Interest for 10 months on all charges except wages of men 182.00



being a difference of $6646.00 in fav of transporting goods from the first rapids on the Columbia to the Trois Tetons Long 110 deg. west, Latt. 43 deg N. (and 400 miles air line) over and above St. Louis.

I have assumed a calculation of $3000.00 because I have contracted to supply that amt. of goods as per the enclosed copy of contract and not because it is all that is required for the interior. The amt. now consumed in the section of country with which I am conversant is about 12000.00$ first cost in N York. Whether in the end I could supply all goods wanted may be a question and of which you can judge as well as myself, but that men can be employed to trap beaver and paid as far as their wants require in goods the same as is now done I feel now the least doubt and to almost any extent, and that it can be done to a profit is proved by the fact that the business is one of great profit even as it is now conducted from St. Louis.

I shall now detail what I think may be done in order to get the goods wanted to the Columbia and the Furs home in such manner as that no part of the expense of the vessell may be charged to them. Salmon have been brought from the Columbia to Boston and I think sold for about $16 per bbl. but I believe in not the best order which I suppose arose from their having been caught too long before they were salted. This I was told by persons who saw them put up. And if salmon are traded from the Indians there will always be some difficulty in this respect, but if salmon will bring $12 per bbl. they will pay all the expenses of the vessell and leave a large allowance for the expenses of the post, at which they are caught. I make no doubt that enough could be taken when once the proper mode is adopted, but I have not been on the Columbia below the first rapids in the Salmon season, and should feel doubtfull as to the expediency of ordering out a vessell before I have made a thorough examination at the proper time of the year. While there last winter I sounded the bottom to ascertain depth on the fishing grounds and if the bottom was clear of snaggs and rocks and found it favorable. I have every confidence when the proper mode is known and adopted that this branch of the business will pay all the expenses of the vessell and leave the fur trade free from all charges in the shape of freight. The prominent advantages of supplying my own or the trapping parties of other concerns from the Pacific instead of St. Louis are safty of the country traversed, and consequent saving of men, shortness of distance, and low price and abundance of Horses on the Columbia. The latter circumstance alone would enable any company doing their business by that route to make a proffit equal to all expenses of transporting. The Horses in the mountains are brought from St. Louis chiefly, and cost about $30, and when you consider that a trapping party uses 3 at least to a man this alone is a large and continual saving in the business.

I will now proceed to state what I propose to do if I can find the means, and for the security of such persons as shall furnish me, I can give such names as I believe would be satisfactory. These names I will bring forward at the proper time. The enclosed contract was made with Mr. Fitzpatric and Mr. Sublette of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. when I was in doubt whether I would be able to perform it but knew I would be able to pay the default. The contract as you will perceive will amt. to little more than carrying me into the Indian country free of expense and procuring the business of a very efficient concern, in this light I hold it to be valuable.

I propose to fulfill this contract. This done if the Rocky Mountain Fur Co will sell me their remaining furs at such rate as I can make money or will pay me for transporting them to St. Louis I will fit out a party sufficient to send them down with all other furs then on hand. That they will do so I believe because if I supply them with goods no other party will be there to do it, and they will not have the means of doing it themselves in the country. If they should not do so, then I will proceed to a safe country on the Columbia River where some furs may be traded and there leave them with a few men leaving some men and a trusty person to keep them and trade as many more as he can. The residue of my party (their apparatus having been brought out at the same time with Sublettes goods) will be employed in the trapping business. During the last of the salmon season of 1834 I will be on the Columbia in order to see in what mode the Salmon may be taken in such quantity as will do for a vessell and also endeavor to make returns by some vessell that may happen to be there. If no such opportunity should occur then the furs must either remain in the country until a vessell can come out to receive them such vessell bringing apparatus salt bbls. &c for taking home a cargo of salmon and bringing also goods to supply the parties or when the first outfit is exhausted the whole return, and afterwards commence the undertaking by sea. In the mean time a proposal has been made to the H.B. Co to supply goods in the country and receive the furs as per the enclosed copy of proposition. Should I have no partners in this business I might in case of their acceding to it deem it for my interest to close with them, if I had partners I should probably not. Should you agree to give me the requisite supplys and I should afterwards close with them then you shall be entitled to your commissions the same as though the affairs passed through your hands. Should you join me as partners you will of course exercise your judgement in regard to it, but I have no expectations that the Co. will accede to it and made it with a view to get their ideas on the subject as much as with any expectation that they would close with me.

In case you agree to supply me for commissions and Interest the amt. wanted will not be far from 8 to 10,000$ and wanted some by the first of January and from that to 1st March and in any case the cash would be required at the same period but the amt might be varied if you took partnership according to your views but I deem the smallest investment the best until more experience is obtained.

I will in conclusion observe that I consider all the coast and country North of the Columbia completely occupied by the English, and all east of the mountains by the Americans. From these countrys I expect nothing, but all that country lying south of the Lewis Fork of the Columbia and west of the mountains as far south as the settled parts of the Mexican territory is yet unexplored or nearly so. Into this section of country I have been, and have myself taken more than a pack of beaver in less than a month, and the furs of this region are excellent from their color, and goodness, and without doubt are reasonably abundant. One reason why this country has been so much neglected is that in it there are no Buffaloe, and hunters cannot live in the luxury that they like. Still with good economy of food enough may be found from the beaver, Elk, deer, and goat, of which there are some. Otter are plenty and good. Furs in this country would be good except about three months in the summer and by approaching the sea coast where the climate is warmer the hunt might continue all winter and thus add a great amt. to the years hunt without adding any thing to the expense.

&c &c N.J.W.

Enclosing copy of contract with Fitzpatric and Sublette and proposal to the Hon. H.B. Co.


[No address.] Nov 17th 1833

Mess. J. Baker & Son

Below you have an estimate of the furs brot. in by the way of St. Louis for 1832 and 3. I have marked those which I have seen. The rest are from information which is as nearly correct as is requisite for your purpose. These furs are Beaver and otter, Land, about 1-20 of the latter.

I am Yr. obt. Servt. Nathl J Wyeth

90 packs from St. Fee
Seen- 30 Am. Fur Cos. party in the Mts. under Dripps and Fontenelle
Seen- 140 Rocky Mt. Fur Co. brot home by Wm. L. Sublette
120 Traded by the Am. Fur Co. at their posts on the Missouri (Astors Co.)
380 packs of 100 lbs. ea. 1832.
Seen- 62 Am. Fur Cos. party under Dripps and Fontenelle in Mts.
Seen- 61 Rocky Mtn. Fur Co brot home by Wm. L. Sublette
Seen- 30 Bonneville & Co brot home by Cerry to Alfred Seaton N. York.
90 Am. Fur Co Traded at their posts on the Missouri
60 probably from St. Fee returns not made when I left St. Louis.

The above are nearly all that came into the western States From the Arkansas and the Mississippi few Beaver are brot and whatever the quantity may be it must decrease yearly.


Boston Nov 20th 1833

To Geo. Simson Esq

Since my last from Baltimore dated Oct. 26th 1833 I have ascertained that there was still time to forward a vessell to the Columbia to reach there by first of the salmon season and a vessell is now in a state of forwardness for this purpose, consequently all further negotiations for the present are at an end in regard to this subject. Had I been sure that you would have accepted I would have entered into no other arrangement but uncertain of this I could not let the opportunity pass. I regret that I have troubled you so much in this matter.

I am Yr. Obt. Servt. Nathl. J. Wyeth


[Cambridge Nov l9th 1833]

Mr. M.G, Sublette

This is to inform you that I am now ready to fulfil the contract made with Mr. Fitzpatric and yourself on the 14th Augt 1833 at Big Horn River and to request that you will as soon as possible come to N. York where I will meet you. If by letter you inform me when you will be there please use this letter as an introduction to my Brother of the firm of Cripps and Wyeth Pearl St. N York importers of Lace goods, and leave with him directions where you may be found. I particularly wish to see you soon as I am about dispatching a vessell round Cape Horn to the mout[h] of the Columbia and would if possible wish to make contract to supply your Co. the following year.

I am &c. Nath. J. Wyeth


Cambridge Nov 31st 1833

Leond Jarvis Esq (Ba[l]to.)

Dear Uncle
On my return from a journey eastward I found your very acceptable fav. of the 17th inst. In regard to the matter on which I asked advice I am happy to find that we agree. I did not ask your advice because I had any doubts as to the best course to pursue but because it was a matter in which the feelings of my friends were more concerned than my own. Had you advised different your advice would have been followed because I think one who has done so much for the respectability of his family has a right to be consulted in such matters. You say to all whose opinions you value on proper occasions vindicate your self. I value your good opinion much and will therefore explain a few circumstances of which Bells letters treat. John Wyeth tells many little lies but they are of not much consequence. In Bells first letter to S.K. Livermore he says "One landing was at Point Comfort. Here our Captain was determined to make up lost time, and accordingly treated himself and some of the company very liberally to champaigne and the usual effects of intemperate drinking succeeded." I deny none of these facts, but I deny the intended inference. Some of the men were worse of what they drank and Bell much more drunk than any other. If Bell had told that he threw a handkerchief full of eggs from the pier into the boat, or that I ste[e]red the boat to the vessell through a thick fogg about three miles with nothing to guide me but the stars he would have told the truth and the inference would have been somewhat plainer who "exhibited the effects of intemperate drinking." Beside this it is nonsense to suppose I had any lost time to make up. If I had had such a strong disposition to loose no time in drinking I might have carried a plenty of liquor with me. The fact that I carried some shews that there was no very strong desire for it. The facts out of which this very popular story was made are these. After a long and squally voyage during which most of the men had been sea sick and had lived very poor on salt beef and pork, we anchored off old Point Comfort and I went ashore with some five or six of the men to procure some oysters eggs &c. I ordered a supper for those with me and after supper I think two Bttles of Champagne and one of Made[i]ra were drank and I believe some ardent spirit. Afterward the landlord treated to some more I presume on acc. of the novelty of the Enterprise or some slight acquaintance with myself. Having got what stores I could for those on board and seeing that the frolic had gone far enough I returned on board with no more wine in my head than I have carried from your table. The answer to what Bell says of promises about purchase of Horses is all a lie. I never verbally or otherwise engaged to make other provision than what I might deem suitable and proper. All discression in this matter was reserved to myself by agreement, and the fact that they started is proof, that I did not. Can one man compel 24 men to go with him against their will, and would the men have started if I had broken my promises in the manner stated, or would they have gone at all if the equipment was evidently insufficient. The fact is that no other idea was ever held up to them except that of marching. If this was not the case why did they march across the Aleganys. S.K. Livermore well knows this, for with him I corresponded on the subject of Thomas learning music for marching and in my letters to him dated Jany 23d & Feb 6th 1832 of which I have copy he will have the same expressed, the same in regard to hunting dresses &c. Tis all a lie that I made any promises on these subjects. The agreement states that the party shall be provided in the usual way and manner of trading parties, and this I can prove. Bell states that Weeks expressing a determination not to go I compelled him by put[t]ing him under arrest and afterward let him off on paying over to me all the money he had, and adds "leaving him almost destitute of means to accomplish his return" he might have said quite, if the first part of the statement was true.

The facts were these. The day before I left the last of the settlements I sent John Wyeth with a yoke of oxen and some sheep out to horse guard. He returned near night stating that the sheep strayed, and that he tied the oxen, and went after them, but when he returned they had broke loose and he could nowhere find them. I suspected all was not right, and sent a man to the place with John. This man returned and told me that John could shew no place where cattle had been tied, such place he would have known by the tracks (before morning they [were] found tied in a different direction). About this time Thomas Livermore told me that Johns gun was not in camp. I had the men called to arms. When it was discovered that Weeks and John Wyeth had no equipments they we[re] called upon to produce them, and refused. I put them under guard, and a short time afterward Weeks offered to go and get them, and while out attempted to escape from the man sent with him, but finally produced the equipments. In the morning the Company was called together. I stated to them that I had no power to release any of the parties to our compact, that in regard to John he being a minor having been put under my charge by his father and having no means of satisfying the concern for the expenses incurred on his acc. I should carry him on, but this I would propose that Weeks should be released provided that he would indemnify for expenses incurred by the concern over and above what he had paid in. This passed by a vote according to form and by vote also it was provided that he might be released by paying $40 and keep his cloths and equipments, which were Co. property This Weeks at first refused to do. I then told him that he should go if I tied him to the tail of a horse. Soon after he paid the $40 and was released. The whole business was done by vote of the Co. and at the time recorded by the clerk of the same. Now if the Co. as Bell says had been deceived and abused could one man have exercised such control over them. The fact is that the Co. generally felt much insenced at this attemp[t] at desertion and secconded me fully and strongly in punishing it. The companion of Bells desertion, was the person who informed against those fellows viz. Livermore. In regard to the arbitrary conduct during the twelve days which Bell remained with me after this, I have only to say that I expected implicit obedience to my orders and was determined to enforce it at all hazards. Notice was given that those who lagged behind would be put on guard. They lagged to get rid of some work which is always to be done immediately on reaching camp, and those who avoided this labor I thought ought of right to make compensation by doing some other. Jacob was once put on guard for this offense. Livermore might have been but I do not reccollect it. It was the business of any one sick or disabled to report himself to the Doct. and after examination he was entitled [to] and received any indulgence that the circumstances of the party would allow. Livermore complained of his feet once. I required to examine them, he refused and said his word was enough. I did not think so, and required him to do the same duty as the others. I had before experienced much impudence from Livermore. He at one time told me, I lied. I told him to prepare himself to return home from the next landing for that he should go no further with me. Before we got to the next landing he came and expressed a willingness to go before the whole Co. and make an apology. After this the matter was overlooked. His conduct was always bad. The night before we left Boston he and Bell were out all night and said they slept at a friends in Boston. When we arrived at Baltimore Bell had a clapp and this was the reason that he rode over the mountains at my expense. He takes care to tell none of these things and this was the tyranny to which he was subjected. Livermore spent on this trip beside the $50 which his father gave him for his outfit near $50 which he borrowed on various pretences of me, and something which you gave.

["Insert here the Postscript" is written across the beginning of the following paragraph.]

The suggestions in your letter concerning family quarrels prevented me sending to Mr Livermore a letter which I had written not in anger but in a spirit of just rebuke for what I consider great meanness. I allude to his suffering a letter written to Bell to be published and Bells letters to be addressed to him. If these things were done without his consent he should have disclaim[ed] them, but he has aided in the dissemination of them and thereby made it a positive consent instead of an implyed one. I cannot overlook that as far as he is able he has assisted to get up an impression against me, when I had no chance to rebut it. If on the one hand I withhold an expression of my feelings for the course he has pursued on the other I shall withhold all explanations of things concerning which he might otherwise have enquired. I have enquired for Kendal at the Stables and Tavems, he appears not to be known at either place. My impression is favorable to him I hope he will turn out well, as much that you may get the suitable reward of your exertions for him as for his own good. In regard to my own plans I say that I would now entirely change my plan of life and as old as I am not deem success unatanable, could I once convince myself that my talents are as good as you seem to believe they are but in this matter every man must judge of himself and make up his own mind as to what he is most fitted for. I have never allowed myself to abandon any serious project that I had formed. Pursuant to this plan of life I have urged on from the beginning this western enterprise and I shall give it up only when I am convinced I am destitute [of] the means to pursue it. I have obtained the means of pursuing it and by relinquishing too much of the profit I have avoided responsibility beyond such extent as I am able to meet.

Please give my respects to my good aunt and accept for yourself the best wishes of - [Subscription written but crossed out.]

Postscript inserted in the body of the letter.

In regard to the fitness of the arrangements for the voyage There were purchased 34 animals. There were 19 loads of goods leaving 15 spare animals, beside two that were individual property and 24 persons started. I call all animals loaded with provisions spare ones because in less than 20 days they would all be released from their loads. If the men had took good care of the animals they could have rode half of the way but instead of this they lost or stole two horses before they lef[t] the settlements. Livermore stole three and I killed one more in trying to overtake him. Beside this some who were fearful to go on and disliked to back out endeavored to ruin the expedition by ruining the horses. Tin pots and picketts have been found under the pack saddles and the backs of many of the animals were soon ruined and in consequence we were all on foot except the sick or disabled or those who were hunting. It is not true that I rode the day before Livermore and others deserted. That day myself and Mr. Bache went out to hunt on foot. This fact I distinctly recollect from having found a horse that day. The day that they deserted I rode the newly found horse to hunt and being out of camp and able to go ahead of the party they were enabled to effect their intention, a thing they would not have dared attemp had I been in camp. The provisions carried with the party wer one chest Tea pepper and salt, Corn meal 450 lbs. Bacon one yoke oxen sixteen sheep this to last until we should reach the Buffaloe country which we did in 22 days.



Cambridge Dec 9th 1833

Mr Jas Worthington (Flonsante Co Missouri)

Dear Sir
I shall be going to the Mts. as early next spring as the grass will permit and shall be glad of your company with as many persons as you may have with you and such goods as you may choose to carry. I shall have a vessell sail for the mouth of the Columbia in about ten days with goods and if you should follow the business of Beaver catching I do not doubt that I could hereafter supply you with goods in the Mts. much cheaper than you could pack them up yourself.

You will know my movements from Mr. E.M. Samuel of Liberty. In the mean time I remain

Yr. Obt. Servt. NJ. Wyeth

If you write direct to Cambridge Massachusetts.


Cambridge Jany 2d 1833[4]

Mr. M.G. Sublette

Dear Sir
Yr. esteemed fav of the 26 ulto. is at hand. I am at this moment much engaged in fitting out a vessell for the mouth of the Columbia. I have written to my brother to urge you to come at once to Boston as the gentlemen who are concemed with me are desirous of seeing you, but if haste renders this out of the question, I will come to N. York as soon as I know that you are there, of which I have requested my brother to inform me immediately on your arrival. If you cannot come to Boston and are in much haste you can select the goods that you want when you please, and I have requested my brother to assist you in this matter, I would prefer however that you would not begin until I come but in this do as you please.

I am Yr. Obt. Servt. Nathl J Wyeth


Boston Jany 4th 1834

Mr M Sublette (N York)

Dear Sir
I have received a note from my brother informing one of your having arrived in N. York. I should come immediately to see you were it not that I have already written to urge your coming here and am afraid of passing you on the road. When I have got your answer whether you will come here or not I shall move to see you. In the meantime permit me to suggest that there are great advantages to be derived from an interview between yourself and the gentlemen who are concerned with me in this undertaking, among the most important of which is the establishing in your mind of a perfect confidence that any contract that may be entered into with you or your partners will be fulfilled. When you have arrived here you will be able to satisfy yourself in this matter. Also it is important that you make some arrangement for sending home your furs over and above those which you pay us for the goods which we are to deliver to you. If you should wish to avail yourself of the opportunity afforded by our vessell an agreement for the same can be made here and also for transporting them to the vessell. If it is possible to come to any agreement on these subjects an insurance might be effected to cover the risk of the sea on such amt. as might be shipped. Beside the above reasons, there are many goods which can be purchased as well and some better here than in N. York. The great difficulty which your concern has encountered and the enormous expence in getting your supplies has induced me to suppose that you would avail yourself of any opportunity which on reasonable terms would obviate all the difficulties and much of the expense. Such opportunity is now within your reach. By means of our vessells employed in the salmon trade we can take out goods and bring home furs to any extent to the Columbia. These goods we can purchase cheaper than goods can be purchased to send over the mountains because on some of them we get the drawback of the duties. The packing up from the Columbia is neither difficult nor expensive, horses there are comparatively cheap and in that country there is little danger consequently few men are required. These advantages we are willing to divide with you, in order that by getting your goods on reasonable terms you may be able to monopolise in a great measure the trade of the mountains, and thus, much enlarge the amt. of goods which you will take from us. One other convenience of this route is that all your men which are wanted for camp keepers could be had from the islands these men would be better than those you get from the States for such purposes and much cheaper. One other advantage to be derived from pursuing the business through this route is that if you succeed in breaking up the other companies as you certainly can do, when you get your goods so much cheaper you will prevent the influx to [oft] small traders and others who by their competition continually injure your business and spoil your men. Should the above considerations strike your mind as they do mine you will I have no doubt you will see of how much importance it is that parties who in the course of events may have such large engagements with each other should meet and establish a mutual confidence which will afterward facilitate all business and in such case I shall expect to see you in Boston in the course of the week. I was in hopes that you would be able to spend the winter with me and go to St. Louis together in the spring, but if your business prevents we will let you go after you have spent a week with us.

I am Yr &c NJ.W. To M. Sublette Esq.


St. Louis March 31st 1834

Dear wife (Cambridge)

Your fav. of 13th came to hand this morning and was very acceptable. I am glad to find you will take some care of the trees. Perhaps they will not grow for our use but some one will get the benefit and it will be pleasant to leave even such a memorial of our having once existed. It is true that Mr. Fitzpatric was robbed by the Crow Indians but I was in hopes that you would not hear of it. I knew it before I left Cambridge but did not wish to alarm you. I do not think there is much danger with so large party as I shall have.

Mr. Nuttall and Mr. Townsend another naturalist passed through this place to the rendezvous last week and their goods went by the vessell so there is no doubt of his going. The Missionarys came here this morning. Mr. Abbot is at the rendezvous taking care of the horses. Batiste and the Indian I have also sent up to the rendezvous. Batiste continues a pretty good boy. I shall think of your request for seeds and pretty stones while I am on my way out, and certainly shall not forget my promise to send for you if there is any chance of doing so with propriety but you must not be too sanguine a thousand circumstances may prevent it altho I desire it much. I feel as much as you can do the lonesomeness of my way of life itself to me and if I do fail in it they shall never say that it was for want of perseverance. But this is my last attempt and if I am not successfull I must come home and endeavor the best way I can to get a living and to pay the debts which will then be heavy. Still I am yet sanguine that I shall succeed. I will take good care of myself and perhaps the life which began in turmoil may yet end in quiet and peace and our sun go down from a clear sky. I should be desolate indeed if I thought that the residue of life was to be as unsettled as the past, and I cannot but reproach myself that I have made you in some measure a widow while you ought to be enjoying yourself. I am afraid that you will brood over hopes that have been blasted by me who should have been with you to fulfil them and at hand in time of need to cherish and support. These things make me melancholy and I half believe I have got the Blues.

Jacob writes me that he is about getting married. The people from Galena all say that he is doing well. I hope so but cant. help doubting whether it is permanent.

Good bye My Dear wife and may God bless you.

NJ. Wyeth


One day this side the Blue May 12th 1834

Dear Sir
Wm Sublette having passed me here, I am induced to write to you by this opportunity and hope you will get it. You may expect me by the lst July at the rendesvous named in your letter to Milton which you sent by Dr. Harrison who opened it and I presume told Wm Sublette of the place. I am not heavily loaded and shall travell as fast as possible and have a sufficient equipment of goods for you according to contract. Cerre will be much later than me and also the Am. Fur Co. Milton left me a few days since on account of his leg which is very bad.

To Thos Fitzpatric or Co.

In the Rocky Mountains.

I am yr obt. Servt. N. J. W.

P.S. I have sent a vessell around the Horn with such goods as you want and would like to give you a supply for winter rendesvous or next year on such terms as I know would suit you.


Sweet Water June 9th 1834

Mess Thomas Fitzpatric & Co.

I send this to inform you of my approach with your goods. I am now two days behind Wm Sublette, who I presume is with you by this. Milton informed me that you would rendesvous near the mouth of the Sandy. In case you do not I wish you would immediately inform me by express. I am now one days march above rock Independence and shall continue to come on at a good rate and for the present follow the same route which I came by two years since. I wish that you would defer making any contract for carrying home any surplus furs that you have or for a further supply of goods untill I come as I have sent a vessell to the mouth of the Columbia with such goods as you want and am ready to give you a supply for winter rendesvous if you wish, or for next year, and also to send home by her, at a low rate, such furs as you may have and can make you advances in St. Louis on them to pay men &c.

I am yr. obt. Servt. Nathl. J. Wyeth.


Hams Fork of the Colorado of the West July 1st 1834 Latt. 41 deg. 45 min. Long, 112 deg. 34 min.

Mess Tucker & Williams

I arrived here on the 17th inst. and Wm Sublette arrived two days before me. This he was enabled to do by leaving one half of his goods and horses on the route, which of course I could not do. On arrival the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. refused to receive the goods alledging that they were unable to continue business longer, and that they had disolved, but offered to pay the advances made to M.G. Sublette and the Forfeit. These terms I have been obliged to accept altho they would not even pay the interest on cash advances for there is no Law here. I have also sold a few goods at low prices. The proceeds of the Forfeit &c and Sales after deducting a small amt. for payment of wages of men who have gone home, from this place, I have forwarded to Mess. Von Phull & McGill of Saint Louis subject to your order, in one draft Four months from date July 1st 1834 for $864.12 1/2 and for $1002.81 same date 12 months both by Fitzpatric Sublette & Bridger, accepted by Sublette & Campbell of St Louis.

In addition to not fulfilling their agreement with me every exertion is made to debauch my men in which they have had some success, but I have hired enough of theirs to make up, and do not fear falling short of troops. These circumstances induce me to quit their neighborhood as soon as possible.

I shall proceed about 150 miles west of this and establish a fort in order to make sale of the goods which remain on my hands. I have sent out messengers to the Pawnacks, Shoshonees, Snakes, Nez Perces and Flatheads to make robes and come and trade them at this Post. I am under the impression that these Indians will make a good quantity of Robes whenever they find they can sell them and I believe the Transportation will not be too expensive for the value of the article beside which I have no doubt that tolerable good returns of Beaver may be made at this post. I propose to establish it on a river called Portneuf on Snake or Lewis River.

I feel much disappointed that the contract was not complied with. Had M.G. Sublette been able to come I think it would have been. I much fear that the gentlemen at home will get discouraged if no returns are made the first year. I shall do the best I can but cannot now promise anything immediate. If I find on arrival at the mouth of the River that [Capt.] Lambert has not done much I shall think myself justified in detaining him another year.

I have drawn no drafts from these mountains.

Bonneville & Co. I have not seen, but he is not far from me on my proposed route. I fear that he has done nothing of consequence. I shall endeavor to take home his Beaver what there is of it if I can get an adequate price. I think his concern is finished.

I should forward you an Invoice of goods on hand and a memorandum of transactions here but have not time without delaying my march. Capt. Thing altho a first rate man is even a worse scribe than myself and it is all we can do to make the proper charges and to look after our men and Horses and having to lose some time in making a fort, time is the more precious. I think that I will be with the vessell about the 10th Sept. next and after arranging at the Post on the Columbia shall try my fortune at a winter Hunt for Beaver.

I have now with me 126 horses and mules in good order and 41 persons all told that are in the employ, and can hire as many more as I want. The amount due for wages is trifling. Almost all the men take up as fast as they earn, and would faster if I would let them, in goods at about 500 per ct. on the original cost. Our expenses after this year will be very small, and I have strong hopes as ever of success notwithstanding appearances so far.

I am yrs Nath. J. Wyeth


Hams Fork July 1st 1834

Mr. [M.] G. Sublette

Dear Sir
I arrived at Rendesvous at the mouth of Sandy on the 17th June. Fitzpatric refused to receive the goods. he paid however, the forfeit and the cash advance I made to you this however is no satisfaction to me. I do not accuse you or him of any intention of injuring me in this manner when you made the contract but I think he has been bribed to sacrifice my interests by better offers from your brother. Now Milton, business is closed between us, but you will find that you have only bound yourself over to receive your supplies at such price as may be inflicted and that all that you will ever make in the country will go to pay for your goods, you will be kept as you have been a mere slave to catch Beaver for others.

I sincerly wish you well and believe had you been here these things would not have been done. I hope that your leg is better and that you will yet be able to go whole footed in all respects.

I am Yr Obt. Servt. NJ. Wyeth


Bear River July 5th 1834

Friend Ermatinger

Your esteemed fav. of 12th ulto. reached me by the politeness of Mr. [Robert] Newell on Hams fork of Green River. Mr. N. also informed me of the particulars of the battle with the Blkfeet. It must have been a capital mixture of Wine and Gunpowder. I am happy to hear that you had some success last year but am afraid that you will do but little this season.

I am quite happy to hear that the Doctor remains at Vancouver. I shall soon have the pleasure of seeing him. I suppose that Mckay has "thought of it" by this time and perhaps felt of it too, and you too seem to have done more than thought of it.

The latter part of your letter I shall answer when I see yhou, which will be, I think in the course of the year.

I am now on my way to meet a vessell that I sent from Boston to the mouth of the Columbia and hope to be there by the 1st Sept.

You have also enclosed a letter for Mr. Payette whose son is now with me.

I came up with goods and about 50 men 130 horses. The goods I will have to leave for sale somewhere her[e] abouts with part of the men. I have got no Beaver and have sold but little and that for Drafts which I hope are good.

I have again to repeat to you the advice which I before gave you not to come with a small party to the Am. Rendesvous. There are here a great collection of Scoundrels.

I have a great desire to see you and repay you in part for all the kindness which I received from you last year. Please give my respects to Mr. Horon [Francis Heron] and all my acquaintances that you may happen to see and believe me

yr obt. Servt and Friend Nath. J. Wyeth


Bear River July 5th 1834

Mr Francis Payette

Dear Sir
I received your esteemed fav. of 14th May from Fort Nez Perces.

Your son [Baptiste] is now with me and will go to the mouth of the Columbia to arrive there about the 1st Sept. He has learned to speak English to read write and cypher tolerably well. He learns fast considering how broken his time has been. We teach him a little on the route but cannot do as much as I could wish. He is an active lad and appears contented. I should be pleased to hear from you at all times and especially good news. Letters addressed to the care of the Doctor at Vancouver would reach me.

I am yr obt Servt. N J Wyeth


Sept. 1st 1834 (at Grand Ronde)

Capt. Bonneville

Dear Sir
Yours of this morning I have, and in answer can only say that I shall send a clerk and an outfit of goods up to the fort as soon as I get down, and shall come myself with it as far as where you now are, and probably be there in about 7 weeks from this time. I will enlarge the outfit a little so as to meet this trade, and will trade with them personally at your present camp, if they will be there, or I will send a clerk to them at any place they shall designate, provided they do so before my passing the Grande Ronde. The time and place must be designated in time in order that I may give the proper directions to the clerk.

I shall bring up goods so that in case you should alter your mind as to purchasing you could still get a supply. But if I could see you personally at the Grande Ronde when I return it is likely that we might make a joint business of it.

It is very like that I may detain the Brig until next summer, in which case I would like to freight home your furs, which I will do at 37 1/2 per lb. Insurance included and receive them at the Grand Ronde.

[No signature.]


[No address given.] Sept. 1st 1834

Capt Bonneville

Dear Sir
I got your note of to day late this evening, and am obliged to you for the trouble you have taken. I will meet the Nez Perces at the A-show-to River within 8 weeks. I Hope to meet you before this, and would be pleased to make a joint affair of it much better than to proceed alone.

Your Beaver traded from the Skiuses [Cayuses] is so much seized from the common enemy in trade, so far so good.

Respectfully yrs. Nathl J. Wyeth


Wappatoo Island Ap 3d 1835

Friend Weld

I write, but do not know when I will have an opportunity to send. I am in the mood which you know is always enough for me. If I were at Cambridge the wine would suffer to night and you pretty well know who would be the company. I have had a severe winter of it. All my men have been sick except myself and one man and nothing but pure obstinacy has kept me from being hauled up. It may be interesting to you to know a little of what I am doing. In the first place I got here somehow not worth relating. When here found my Brig not arived but outside the bar. Went down the river and met her coming up. This was on the 11th Sept. and entirely after salmon time. Her late arrival was occasioned by having been struck with lightening and being in consequence obliged to put in to Valparaiso to repair. After shaking hands, set about arranging a party to send to a Fort which I have built among the Rocky Mts. This party consisted of Capt. Thing 13 Sandwich Islanders and 8 whites. They proceeded about 200 miles up the Columbia inland at the same time I took a party of 4 Sandwich Islanders and 16 whites and followed inland 150 and got news that Capt Things Islanders had all run away from him. This obliged me to spare all my Islanders, and all but 6 of my whites to enable Capt. Thing to proceed to Fort Hall. With the residue I proceeded to look up the deserters. I struck south thinking that they might have started for Califomia. This was the middle of Nov. During Dec. Jany. and Feb. I got no news from them. About the first of march I heard that some of them were near the Columbia. On this I changed my route and struck that river where I learned from the Inds. that 7 of them had passed down five days before. I followed and overtook them about 80 miles from the mouth of the river 7 in number and took them to Fort William our establishment on Wappatoo Island about 75 miles up the Columbia at the mouth of the Multnomah. Two were killed by the Indians one was drowned and one froze to death in the Mts. and two are still unacounted for as yet. On arriving here I set about preparing for fishing. Have commenced a house Boat 70 feet long for a conveyance about to the different fisherys. Have finished a canoe 60 feet long 3 feet wide 2 feet deep of one tree which has not a shake or not in it, and this after cutting off thirty feet of clear stuff from the same tree, and still this is by no means a large tree here. I think I could find trees here free from shakes or nots that would square 4 feet one hundred feet long. It is quite a job to make one of these canoes. I have heard to day that our Brig has arrived at the mouth of the river from the Sandwich Islands whither she went last winter with a cargo of Lumber, and I expect more business more company and more provisions soon the last not the least desirable of the three. This Wappatoo Island which I have selected for our establishment is about 15 miles long and about average of three wide. On one side runs the Columbia and on the other the Multnomah. It consists of woodlands and praire and on it there is considerable deer and those who could spare time to hunt might live well but a mortality has carried off to a man its inhabitants and there is nothing to attest that they ever existed except their decaying houses, their graves and their unburied bones of which there are heaps. So you see as the righteous people of New England say providence has made room for me and without doing them more injury than I should if I had made room for myself viz Killing them off. I often think of the old knot of cronies about the town with whom I used to spend so much time especialy of an evening. When I sit down in my lodge on the ground and contrast the past with the present and wonder if the future will give as much difference and which way the difference will be for better or worse?

It has rained almost continually from last Oct. to this time but still there has been no cold weather except in the mountains at great elevations.

Now I do not wish this letter published I do hate every thing in print.

I am yr Friend and Servt. Nathl. J. Wyeth


Fort Vancouver 5th May 1836

From Nathaniel Wyeth to
John McLoughlin Esqr.


The following proposal is made with a view of establishing a permanent fur business on the Upper Waters of Snake River and countries to the Eastward and Southward, not much, if any frequented by your parties, it is not made with a view of eventually limiting the Supplies to the amount named, but to increase the same to any extent that may be found profitable. I wish to obtain some assurance from the Honble. Company of Supplies, in order to be able on my return to Boston to make my present partners an offer for the property we have in this Country, if you approve of the plan, & could yourself furnish any positive assurance of the Supplies before I arrive in Boston, it would assist me in my transactions there, or if you would place the subject before the Honble. Company in England so that I could receive their answer during the coming winter, it would effect the object. The proposal which I wish to make is as follows.

1st The Honble. Company to furnish Supplies at 75 p. Cent advance on prime Cost and Charges to the Amount of L700 deliverable at Vancouver.

2d The Hble. Co. to furnish the produce & manufactures of the Country at the Tariff of the Country, Horses not over Seventy five the first year, & afterwards according to the exigency of the busniess at their Cost at Walla Walla, and men not exceeding fifteen the first year, and thereafter according to the wants of the Trade, at the Cost of their wages commencing from the time said men shall leave the place where they are hired, the honble. Co. to send the said men home free of charge on the termination of their contracts with N. Wyeth.

3d The Honble Co. to furnish one or more clerks if required charging their Wages.

4th N. Wyeth to deliver over at Vancouver all the furs and peltries that he may obtain, amd receive therefore a credit of L1 p.l merchantable Beaver of 1 lb. Weight, and all smaller to be considered as half Beaver, and for all other furs and peltries usually receive by the Co. at prices to be hereafter determined.

5th N. Wyeth to agree to abandon Fort Hall if required and in no case to trade or barter with any Indians or freemen below the scite of said Fort on the waters of Snake River, and also agree to establish no posts on the Columbia or any of its waters without the consent of the Honble. Company, but to pursue his trade on the waters of the Salt Lake, the Colorado, del Norte, and the Rivers of the Atlantic.

I am respectfully
Your obedt. Sert.

Nathl. Wyeth