Fort Nez Perces was a fur trade post that differed from every other post in the HBC's domain.
It was constructed in 1818, by the North West Company's wintering partner, Donald McKenzie, cousin of Sir Alexander Mackenzie (not the different spellings of the names).
Donald McKenzie was a member of the famous McKenzie clan of Inverness, Scotland, and he emigrated to Montreal about 1800.
He had been given a liberal education (that means, one centered on culture and the arts) and was supposedly to go into a ministry, but in 1810 he joined the fur trade, working as a clerk for the North West Company.
Ten years later he was still a clerk, and very discontented with the Company.
In 1810, John Jacob Astor organized the Pacific Fur Company, and Donald McKenzie immediately joined that company.
Astor's goal was to make a fortune in furs in the west, and towards that end he proposed to build a strong trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River, to take advantage of the North west coast fur trade and that of the Columbia Basin, and the valuable China market.
If you want to know how valuable the China market was to both the Americans and the British traders of the North West Company, you need to read the book: Otter Skins, Boston Ships and China Goods: the Maritime Fur Trade of the Northwest Coast, 1785-1841, by James R. Gibson [McGill-Queen's University Press, 1992].
But I am getting off subject here...
The Pacific Fur Company proceeded to the Pacific coast by two routes: one by ship, the other by land.
Donald McKenzie shared the command of the overland party with Wilson Price Hunt, until they reached the Lower Missouri -- after that, by arrangement with Astor, Hunt assumed sole command of the expedition.
By October 1811 they had reached Andrew Henry's abandoned post on the Snake River, and leaving their horses there they continued down the Snake in canoes.
Disaster overtook them, and they broke up into several parties, each making its own way toward the Columbia River.
Donald McKenzie with five men reached Astoria "a full month in advance of Mr. Hunt, having succeeded in forcing his way through the rough mountains along the east bank of the Snake river and across the Salmon river to the Clearwater and thence to the sea in canoes." [T.C. Elliott, The Earliest Travelers on the Oregon Trail, Portland, 1912, p. 8]
In 1812 McKenzie established a trading post among the Nez Perces -- this was not Fort Nez Perces but another, the location of which cannot be positively identified unless more recent researchers have figured out where it was.
Later that year McKenzie learned of the war between the British and Americans, and hastened downriver to Astoria with the news.
It was decided to abandon the entire enterprise, and on October 16, 1813, Astoria was sold to the Nor'Westers and renamed Fort George.
Hunt returned to New York by sea, and Donald McKenzie and others travelled with the North West Company's brigade to Montreal, where they arrived in September, 1814.
He returned to New York with Astor's papers, but the American refused to rehire him.
From 1813 to 1816 the Snake river remained untrapped, except by Natives and perhaps freemen who worked the area.
But in October1816, Donald McKenzie was back at Fort George in the employ of his old employers, the North West Company.
They needed a man like him to set up a post in the interior and to traps the wealth of furs in the Snake River district.
His plans called for his setting up a post among the Walla Wallas, and James Keith, who was in charge at Fort George, reluctantly gave him 40 men.
He left Fort George in the fall but once past the Cascades found the Columbia River blocked with ice, and spent the winter with the Natives there.
In the spring he set out again; and on his return to Fort George that fall the fur traders were delighted by the wealth of furs he brought downriver with him.
It appears he made another expedition into the interior the next summer, but he had not yet built Fort Nez Perces.
He would not construct his post until the summer of 1818, when orders came from Fort William to get the new inland post constructed.
Without further delay, McKenzie was sent upriver with one hundred men and instructions to build a new post at the mouth of the Walla Walla River.
By July 11, he and his men were camped about half a mile north of the river mouth.
As there was no timber anywhere around, some men went upriver one hundred miles or more to cut timber and float it downstream, where other fur traders fished it out of the Columbia.
The fort was built; friendships were built with the local Natives and a brisk trade set up -- McKenzie purchased almost three hundred horses in the first few days of trade.
Fifty five men then set out on the first expedition inland, where they camped and trapped as far south as the Boise River.
Many of David Thompson's men were also there -- it is likely that free-trader Joseph Beaulieu was there with his family; Jaco Finlay, James Birnie, and William Kittson was there too.
So were many other unnamed fur traders.
They enjoyed many hair-raising adventures out there in the wilderness and a few men died and were scalped.
But in the end the trapping expeditions were very successful, and Donald McKenzie and his men brought many rich furs back to their base camp at Fort Nez Perces.
Like the other posts in the district, Fort Nez Perces passed into the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821.
Donald McKenzie was made Chief Factor in the Columbia district; the next year he was on the Bow River and after that at Fort Garry.
He retired in 1835, and the fort he built still stood on the Columbia River.
The men placed in charge of the post over the years were many and varied: John Warren Dease, Samuel Black, George Barnston, Pierre Pambrun, and Archibald McKinlay.
Pierre Pambrun was in charge of the post when the missionaries established their missionary at Waiilatpu; in 1841 he was thrown from his horse and severely injured.
After lingering for a few days in the care of Dr. Marcus Whitman, Pambrun died a painful death.
[His horse ended up at Fort Alexandria, by the way].
Archibald McKinlay replaced Pambrun, and he said that he warned Whitman to leave his mission on many occasions, but Whitman would not leave.
On one occasion a Cayuse chief insulted Whitman by throwing his cap into the water, and McKinley told the Cayuse they "acted like dogs."
Shortly after that insult, a fire swept through Fort Nez Perces, destroying much of it.
It was determined to be an accident -- fire was always a hazard in these fur trade posts.
When McKinlay rebuilt the post, he built it with adobe, rather than wood.
I have several Fort Nez Perces stories to tell, and I think I will tell you the story I collected about George Barnston.
You might not know that when Alexander Caulfield Anderson left Lachine in 1832, he travelled in the brigade with George Barnston, who had just re-entered the fur trade after a short retirement.
He was still a young man.... I think he was just not impressed with the fur trade.
I have told you he was in charge of the post in 1830-31 -- one year before Anderson passed through that post for the first time, on his incoming express journey.
Here's the story:
Barnston had bought a fine horse from one of the Natives who lived near the fort; the horse was shortly afterwards stolen.
The following year the same Native man returned to the fort and tried to resell him the same horse!
Barnston immediately recognized both horse and man -- he seized his gun and shot the horse dead!
The Native (who had given up his gun at the gate) sprang on Barnston, who fought back.
A bigger and heavier man, Barnston easily outfought the Native and pummelled him out of the fort.
The fight continued all the way to the Indian camp some distance from Fort Nez Perces, where Barnston was set upon by a dozen Natives.
One Native came up with a large stone and smashed Barnston's face, knocking him unconscious.
At that moment the men from the fort rushed to Barnston's rescue and drove the Natives away.
They carried him to the fort, unconscious.
He recovered, but retired from the fur trade and returned to Montreal.
He rejoined the following year and travelled inland with Anderson as far as Albany (on Lake Superior); for some years he was in charge of Norway House and so Anderson might have rekindled their friendship there as he passed through in 1842.
He must have told Anderson many of his stories, and the two remained correspondents for years afterward; Anderson's daughter, Rose, collected botanical samples for Barnston many years later.
This is what Alexander Anderson had to say about his friend Barnston, many years later:
"George Barnston: This gentleman who was in 1827 attached to the party under Mr. McMillan, who in 1827 founded Fort Langley, entered the service of the NW Co. at an early age.
"Up to the Spring of 1831, he was in charge of Fort Nez Perces on the Columbia (Walla Walla) and retiring from the service in 1831 proceeded to Lachine, Montreal, in company with Chf. Factor Connolly.
"He re-entered the service in the following spring; we ascended the Ottawa River, and navigated the Great Lakes together in the spring of 1832 as far as Michipicoton on Lake Superior, where he diverged having been appointed to the Southern department.
"He afterwards was in charge for some years of Norway House, and subsequently of Tadousac below Quebec.
"He is now settled in Montreal and when I last heard from him, a year or two ago, had recently been elected president of the Natural History society of Montreal.
"He was a native of Edinburgh -- a man of great energy of character, of high education, and universally esteemed."
For those of you who might be researching George Barnston, there is a letter of his in Alexander Caulfield Anderson's fonds in BCA.
So that's one of my Fort Nez Perces stories: for now let us continue our express journey upriver toward Fort Colvile.
York Factory Express Journal (1827) by Edward Ermatinger:
[March] 29th. Heavy shower of rain in the evening. Day fine. Start at 5am. Pole all day. Encamp 8 or 9 miles up what is now termed the Marle Banks at the head of an island.
30th. Rain nearly all day. Embark at 1/2 past 4am. Encamp at 6pm about 2 miles above the Marle Banks 2 geese and 1 rabbit killed to day by the walking party.
31st. Fine weather. Proceed at 1/2 past 4am. at 11 o'clock Mr. A[rchibald] McDonald meets us with letters from N. Caledonia informing that their people go out by the new route. He returns with us. Proceed 1/2 way up the Priest's Rapid and encamp at 1/4 past 6pm.
April Sunday 1st. Fine weather. The Boat continues her progress up the Rapids (which are very bad this year, the water being remarkably low) at 1/2 past 5am. Clear the Rapids by 11 o'clock. Proceed up the River and encamp at 1/2 past 6pm. about 12 or 15 miles above. Hire an Indian canoe to carry some of the passengers.
2nd. Light rain in course of the day. Start 1/4 past 5am. Proceed as usual and encamp above Rapids a Potein [Paquin rapid] at 1/2 past 6 o'clock.
3rd. Fine weather. Start at 1/2 past 5am. Clear Isle des Portage [Rock Island] and take breakfast by 11 o'clock. (Hauled our boat up without discharging; gummed). Encamp 5 miles above the Piscouhoose River [Wenatchee River] at 1/2 past 6pm. Trade a little meat and a few roots (or canoe proceeds no farther).
4th. Fine weather. Embark at 1/4 past 4 o'clock. encamp a league above Clear Water Creek [probably Chelan River] at 8pm. The gentlemen afoot found a good deal of snow on the hills today.
5th. Fine weather. Resume our journey at 5 o'clock. Arrive at Okanagan at 5pm.
Friday 6th. Send off the Boat Manned by 12 men (4 being additional to return with the Doctor [McLoughlin], etc.) and Mr. [David] Douglas, Passenger, in order that they may pass the Dalles while the gentlemen remain behind to settle the accts. of this place.
7th. Fine weather. At 10 o'clock McLoughlin, McLeod, and E. Ermatinger leave Okanagan on horseback in order to join the Boat at the Grosse Roche whither they arrive at 3pm. having met with a great deal of snow the first half of the distance on the hills. The Boat only arrives at 7pm. Encamp.
8th. Fine weather. Embark at 5am. Reach nearly the upper end of the Grand Coulee and encamp at 7pm.
9th. Slight rain afternoon. Start at 5am. and encamp at 1/2 past 7pm. Perrault falls sick and is unable to work.
10th. Rain afternoon. Embark 1/2 past 4 o'clock. Pass the Spokane river at noon. Encamp from 12 to 15 miles above at 7pm.
Wednesday 11th. Fine weather. Start at 1/2 past 2 o'clock am. Pole and paddle all day. Encamp 4 miles below the Grand Rapid at 7pm. 4 pheasants killed to day.
12th. Fine weather. Proceed at 1/2 past 4am. Make 2 portages on the Grande Rapide which is extremely bad on account of the shoalness of the River. Arrive at the Kettle Falls at noon. Leave our Boat below the Portage for the Doctor's return. Get all our baggage up to Fort Colvile by 4pm. Mr. Dease only arrived yesterday from Flat Heads.
Sunday 15th. Laprade arrives from Okanagan in the afternoon with Mr. McDonald's dispatches, this being his third on horseback.
Express Journal, Spring 1828 [Edward Ermatinger]
Saturday 29th. Fine weather. Embark at 1/2 past 4am. and proceed the fore part of the day sailing with a light breeze. Afternoon the wind becomes ahead blowing fresh. Encamp at 1/2 past 7pm. a short distance above the Marle Banks. See a few Indians along the River in a miserable starving condition. One of our boats last night half filled, having been hauled up upon a stone which, the boat being very old, opened her seams. Some of our stores got wet.
31st. Fine weather, but sharp morning and evening. Start at 4am. Wind strong ahead. Arrive at the Priest's Rapids about noon and reach the head of them only at 8 o'clock pm. Encamp.
April 1st. Weather as yesterday. Start at 4am. Proceed all day against a head wind and encamp at 7 o'clock opposite the lower end of what is called the Grand Coulee.
2nd, Wednesday. Fine weather. Embark at 1/2 past 4am. Breakfast below Isle des Pierres. Haul up these Rapids, then hoist sail with a light breeze which continues to assist us occasionally the rest of the day -- pole and haul up many rapids. encamp at 1/2 past 6pm. above the River Episcouhouse. find ice and snow in many places along the banks of the Columbia. country begins to assume a more fertile appearance than since we have left the Chutes. Scattered trees now seen upon the mountains and much snow.
3rd. Fine weather. Started at 1/2 past 4am. Head wind. Encamped 2 or 3 miles above Clear Water Creek.
4th. Fine weather. Started at 4am. Snow and ice very thick along the banks of the River. Met an Indian with a note and horse from Mr. A[rchibald] McDonald, Okinagan. Set off to the fort. Boats arrive at 5pm., find Messrs. [Joseph] McGillivray, McDonald and Ermatinger here.
5th. Fine weather. Remain at this place all day collecting the accts. of the District and settling other matters relative to men.
6th. Fine weather. Start with the Boats about noon. Our number of men are now increased to 20 -- 2 from New Caledonia and 1 from this place. Passengers J. McGillivrary, Esq., Messrs. A. McDonald and E.E. Left at Okanagan for the voyage down of Mr. Connolly and Mr. [Thomas] Dears voyage to N. Caledonia: 1 bag flour; 1 keg sugar; 3/4 keg pork; 2 hams; 2lb. Hyson and 2 Twankey; 2 gallons butter. Encamp at 7pm.
Monday, 7th. Fine weather. Start at 1/2 past 4am. Passed the Gros Rocher at 1pm. Here Messrs. McGillivray and McDonald embark, having ridden across from Okanagan. Encamp at 7pm.
8th. Fine weather. Embark at 5am. Patches snow on the hills. Encamp at 1/2 past 7pm a few (2 or 3) miles above Riviere a cens Poiles (San Poil River).
9th. Day very warm. Started at 4am. Pass the Spokane Forks at 3pm. Encamp a few miles above at 1/2 past 6.
10th. Fair weather. Embark at 4am. Afternoon a light breeze favours us. Encamp about 3 miles above the Grand Rapid.
11th. Fine weather. Start at 4am. Make a Portage at the Grand Rapids. Arrive at Kettle Falls at 11 o'clock. Find Messrs [John] Work and [William] Kittson at Fort Colvile. Mr. [John Warren] Dease not yet arrived.
James Douglas, Diary of a journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835:
Wed. 11 March. The boats left Fort Nez Perces at 11 o'clock, and I departed soon afterwards with a small party of 3 men on horseback to proceed direct across land to Colvile. During the first 9 miles we followed the banks of the Columbia to the entrance of Lewis and Clarke's River which we crossed by means of a wooden canoe borrowed from a native resident there. Our route during the remainder of the day never diverged from the North bank of that river. We encamped at 6 o'clock in the evening. Two of our horses having become fatigued we left them at an Indian camp and procured 2 better ones in their stead.
Thurs. 12. Nothing unusual occurred during the day. Our road continues to follow the North bank of the river. Passed several camps of Indians.
Fri. 13. Left Lewis & Clarkes River and proceeded direct across the country. Passed Flag river and halted, the horses at a small river 2 hours march from the former and encamped at a small lake.
Saturday 14. Favoured by a bright moonlight we continued our march at half past 3 o'clock and after five hours walk halted at a small lake to feed and refresh the horses. They are very poor and require to be managed with the utmost care in order that their strength may hold out to the journey's end. The country through which we are passing is not possessed of many attractions either in point of beauty or utility. Three varieties of soils have come under my observation which I will attempt to describe. The first and best quality is found in the vicinity of water and is evidently composed of decomposed vegetable matter, as in these situations the abundant moisture is highly conducive to vegetable life. This soil is of a glossy black colour and is thickly covered with grasses. I did not examine the subsoil but if it equals the surface in quality it will answer exceedingly well for agricultural purposes. The next in quality is a vegetable mould alloyed with a large mixture of sand of a reddish colour, and a subsoil of pure unmixed sand. It produces a kind of grass with a slender stalk bounded with pointed extremity, a number of stalks rising from a connected bunch of roots with spans between each, leaving nearly 2/3 of the whole surface quite unproductive and perfectly bare of vegetation. The grass is very succulent and nourishing and of so elastic a quality as to resist the weight and pressure of snow and moisture, and stands erect on its stalk throughout the winter which preserves it from speedy decay, and renders it as it were a kind of natural hay. This variety [is] susceptible of improvement and will I doubt not improve of itself by the annual decomposition of its own productions. the third kind is merely sand which produces the largest specie of the wormwood, with very little of anything else. Encamped in the Spokan woods. Between Nez Perces and these woods have not seen a single tree.
Sun. 15. Encamped at Spokane House.
Mon. 16. Little Falls.
Wed. 17. L. Fool's River.
Wedy. March 18. Adsieve (?)
Thurs. 19. Colvile.
Wednesday 25. Received letters from Fort Vancouver dated 14th March, and Nez Perces 21st March; 7 days to Nez Perces, 4 1/2 days to this. Total 11 1/2 days including stoppages.
Friday 27. Boats arrived from Okanagan this evening.
Thomas Lowe, Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847:
[April] Friday 2nd. Fine warm day. The two Boats started this afternoon for Colvile, in charge of Mr. [John Lee] Lewes. Mr. Burke also passenger. Martineau left at this place sick and I have taken .... to accompany me overland. The Fort fired a salute this morning, and another when the Boats started.
Saturday 3rd. Fine day. Started from Walla Walla at 3pm. to proceed overland to Colvile. We have 9 horses, including two light ones, and I have with me Mungo Marouna as guide, Alexis .[?]. and an Indian, besides J. Jentz.[?]. from the Fort, to take back the horses when we come to the snow. The Fort fired a salute when we started. Encamped at the Toosha River, having come about 25 miles.
Sunday 4th. Fine warm weather. Got as far as Pelluse [or Kelluse?] River, when it falls into the Nez Perces and encamped on the opposite side, having swam our horses, and crossed ourselves & property in a canoe. Found a large camp of Indians at this place, who have small patch of land under cultivation. Days march about 40 miles.
Monday 5th. Push on until 9 o'clock at night, and encamped near the lower end of the Big Lake, as there was no intermediate encampment. Made today about 60 miles. Fine in the fore part of the day, but snowing in the afternoon and all night. [One] of the horses gave out, and had to be left.
Tuesday 6th. Shortly after starting this morning, met with a party from Colvile, consisting of David Finlay and two Indians, on their way to Walla Walla for a Band of horses, as the Horses at Colvile have nearly all died this winter. Camped early, as there was a good deal of snow in the road, and no other encampment for a long distance. Made only about 15 miles.
Wednesday 7th. Fine day. Much snow on the road, and could only proceed with the [horses] about 15 miles, when we encamped and sent the horses back in charge of Wm. Mintzell. Got the snow shoes ready and the loads arranged. Slept about a couple of hours & walked the whole night. Engaged one of D[avid] Finlay's Indians to carry a load to Colvile. The snow was hard, and we walked fast.
Thursday 8th. Walked the whole day, and arrived at the Spokan River after sundown, having come upwards of 50 miles since we left the horses. Cross the River in a canoe, and encamped on the opposite bank, where were several lodges of Indians. Fine day.
Friday 9th. Started again this morning, and arrived in the forenoon at Messr. Walker & Eels, about 5 miles from the River. They supplied us with what provisions we required... Remained there until the moon got up, and walked the whole night.
Saturday 10th. Went on until 10am. when we encamped having come 20 miles since leaving the Mission. Started again at dark, but as it rained much, and the snow was too soft, we had to encamp about midnight.
Sunday 11th. Started early this morning, and got to the Colvile Mill Stream in the afternoon. Hired a canoe from an Indian, and went down in the canoe as far as [Alexander?] Dumond's, about 5 miles, at whose house we slept for the night, having come 20 miles today.
Monday 12th. Started this morning on foot, but without snow shoes, as the road is pretty clear between Dumond's and the fort. In the afternoon I had to leave Mungo and the two Indians behind, as they could proceed no farther & pushed on ahead with .... Galin, who carried the Packet Box. The road between the Farm and the Fort was very bad, and we did not reach the Fort until 10 o'clock at night. From Dumond's the distance is about 30 miles.
Colvile, Tuesday 13th. Fine weather. In the afternoon Mungo and the two Indians arrived with our luggage.
Wednesday 14th. Cloudy. The forenoon the Accounts arrived from the Kootanies.
Thursday 15th. Showery. The after Express arrived this evening from Vancouver. The English ship arrived at Victoria on the 21st March.
Friday 16th. Fine warm weather. This evening Marineau & the retiring servants arrived with the Accounts from New Caledonia. Michel Ogden likewise arrived with the Thompsons River accounts.
Saturday 17th. Cloudy but no rain. this morning before breakfast the two Boats arrived, in charge of Mr. Lewes. The pieces were carted across in the forenoon, and the boats were likewise hauled across the Portage.
Sunday 18th. Cloudy, with occasional showers of rain.
Monday 19th. Fine weather. Had the boats gummed.
Tuesday 20th. Very warm. The snow has now all disappeared from the [ground] although it was covered when I arrived here on the 12th inst.
Wednesday 21st. Cloudy, and some distant thunder. Marineau started to return to New Caledonia.
Thomas Lowe, Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848:
April 1st, Saturday. Still blowing very strong but made a start in the afternoon, and encamped within sight of the Fort on the opposite side of the River. I have to take up 30 horses from this place to Colvile and as no men can be spared from the Fort, and no Indians can be procured, I have been obliged to give one man from each boat, who are to assist Mr. Peers and Robert Logan to drive them. The party with the horses are to encamp every night with the boats, for mutual protection against the Indians.
A pause, to remind you that this was only four months after the massacre at Waiilatpu, and three months after the rescue of the hostages -- the whole territory was in a state of war!
April 2, Sunday. Strong head wind, so that we could not start until noon. Got about 3 miles above the Nez Perces Forks.
3rd, Monday. Fine weather, and the wind has fallen. Breakfasted at the mouth of the Yackima River, and encamped near the commencement of the Grande Ecores.
4th, Tuesday. Fine weather, and calm. All the passenger got ashore today, and ride along in company with the boats. Made a good days work, considering that the River is at present remarkably low. Encamped about 10 miles below the Priest's Rapids.
5th, Wednesday. Breakfasted about 5 miles below the Priest's Rapids. when we got to the foot of the Rapid, it began to blow strong ahead, and increased so much, that we only got about half way up, although it was dark before we encamped. [It sounds as if there were no Indians to help them this year].
6th, Thursday. Blew very hard all night, and did not moderate until noon, so that we were unable to leave our encampment until this. During the forenoon employed drying some Bales for Colvile which got wet in Joe's boat. Encamped at the head of the Priest's Rapid.
7th, Friday. Had a strong aft wind before breakfast, which carried us a good distance, but afterwards it changed, and came right ahead with a little rain. Got to the travers below the Rocher de Bois about noon and crossed the horses to the South side of the River. There I left the boats to proceed overland to Okanagan with the horses, in company with Mr. Peers and two men, having placed Mr. Robert Logan in charge of the Boats during my absence. The boats started immediately after we had crossed, but we only went about 5 miles, as there was no other places for the horses.
8th, Saturday. Fine warm weather. Travelled over rough rocky ground during the fore part of the day, but in the afternoon had a much better road. Made a good distance, and encamped where the road falls into the Grand Coole.
9th, Sunday. Very warm. The road led through the Grand Coole most of the day, but in the afternoon we struck out towards the River, after having followed the Coole until abreast of the Fort. Encamped a good distance above Okanagan, near the bank of the Columbia.
10th, Monday. Beautiful day. Arrived at Okanagan before noon, but did not cross the horses. Mr. Peers and his two men are to remain here until the boats arrive. Having been about two hours at the Fort, and transacted what little business I had to settle with [Joachim] Lafleur, I started on horseback for Colvile accompanied by an Indian as Guide. As the South side of the River is too dangerous at present, party of Cayouse being scattered here and there along the road, I intend following the North bank. Took one horse to carry the Paper Box, bedding &c. Rode hard, and encamped where the path takes the River.
11th, Tuesday. Beautiful warm weather. Our road today led through a very ... country where there was not a tree to be seen. As there is yet too much snow in the Mountains, we had to follow the river, not being able to take the direct road which strikes inland from our last nights encampment. Considering the nature of the country, we made a good days work, and encamped at the mouth of the Sans Poile River, where there were 3 lodges of Indians, who were very friendly.
12th, Wednesday. Remarkably warm. In the forenoon crossed the Spokan Mountain, where there is yet a good quantity of snow, but not enough to retard us much. Having rode so hard from Okanagan, my horse got completely fagged in the afternoon, and we had to proceed very slowly afterwards in consequence. Encamped about 20 miles below Colvile at the crossing place.
13th, Thursday. Clear warm weather. Crossed over to the South side of the Columbia this morning having procured a canoe from the Indians. Proceeded very slowly, on account of our horses. It was an excellent road through clear open woods, a delightful contrast to the bare and rocky country through which we pass before coming to the Spokan Mountains. Arrived at Colvile about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Here I found that C.T. [Paul] Fraser had arrived from New Caledonia with the accounts and retiring Servants, and Michel Ogden from Thompson's River. The Revd. Messrs. Walker & Eels with their families have likewise been here for the last 6 weeks, having been obliged to abandon their Mission at Tchimakain on account of the Indians who were threatening to murder them, as they had done Dr. Whitman & his people.
14th, Friday. Beautiful day. I have not yet begun to work with the Accounts, not feeling in proper trim after so hard a ride.
15th, Saturday. Splendid weather. In the forenoon the Revd Mr. Eels arrived from Tchimakain, with some property he had left behind there.
16th, Sunday. Beautiful warm weather. The Revd. Mr. Walker read prayers this forenoon in the Hall.
17th, Monday. Cloudy but no rain. Mr. Eels started after breakfast for Spokan, intending to return about Thursday. the river has been rising considerably for some days past.
18th, Tuesday. Warm weather. Working hard at the Accts.
19th, Wednesday. Cloudy and sultry. Mr. Peers arrived with the horses after breakfast. The boats got to Okanagan on the 12th and started the next day. He left Okanagan on the same day as the boats and came up on the North bank of the River. Having got amongst the snow in the Spokan mountains, he had to make towards the river where the road was clear and lost upwards of two days in consequence. He has brought 5 additional horses from Okanagan, but left one of those from Walla Walla on the road.
20th, Thursday. Fine weather. This morning at breakfast time the two boats arrived, and we had them and the property brought across at once. In the afternoon Berland arrived from the Kootanies with his returns, his own Indians driving the horses.
21st, Friday. Good Friday. Warm oppressive weather. Our men did nothing today, as I will not be able to start until Monday.
22nd, Saturday. Overcast. Mr. Eels returned from Spokan today, and has received letters from below where everything is going on quietly. The large bands of Cayuse and Pelluse Indians who were within a couple of days ride of this place have dispersed. Gummed the boats.
23rd, Sunday. Oppressively warm. the Rev. Messr. Eels & Walker had Divine Service in the fort, and Bishop Demers was in one of the houses outside with the Canadians. This is Easter Sunday.
And the final journal is, of course, one of the most interesting ones, it belonging to John Charles --
At the front of the journal [typscript] was a list of items that Charles had to bring back, from York Factory, for the various gentlemen in the Columbia district. Here it is:
Memo for York Factory:
Per Messrs. Barclay and Grahame -- 13 3/4 yds. worsted furniture fringe
Per Mr. Kenneth Logan -- 2 sets Fiddle Strings
Per A.C. Anderson, Esq. -- 2 Pepper Castors and 1 Vinegar Cruet
Per Thomas Hett [Flett?] -- 6 buns. assorted seed Beads, 1 bun. aqua marina necklace, 4 pieces colored Ribbon on a/c
Per Mr. Thomas Charles -- 6 bunches small seed Beads a/c Mr. Thomas Lowe
Per James Goudie -- 1 set Fiddle Strings and 1 box percus[sion] Caps
Memo per Jasper's House -- To speak to Mr. Colin Fraser about getting some Mocassins made for Mr. Thomas Lowe, payment to be brought up from York Factory.
John Charles, Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849:
March 30th, Friday. Everything being ready for our overland journey to Colvile, we started from Walla Walla at 1pm. with twelve horses, five of which were loaded, the remaining seven being mounted by Michel, Louis, Indian Guide, Mr. [Thomas] Lowe, Mr. Menetrez and myself. We reached the Touchee where we camped about 7pm., the distance from Walla Walla is computed at twenty miles. Fine weather.
31st, Saturday. Had breakfast the first thing in the morning. The sun was near about setting when we reached the Nez Perces River. Camped on the beach, but soon regretted having done so, for the Wind having suddenly sprung up the sand was blown about in such clouds that we were obliged to hurry to bed for fear of being blinded by it.
April 1st, Sunday. Crossed the Nez Perces river about 10am., Indians assisting us. Encamped at an early hour. Travelled about five and twenty miles to day. Had a passing shower of hail towards the evening.
2nd, Monday. Had breakfast, and started, before sunrise. Gave the horses a rest at a small stream. Camped pretty early, in consequence of no firewood had we proceeded further to day.
3rd, Tuesday. Travelled about 15 miles to day. The Horses being very poor and in a weakly condition we were under the necessity of camping early. Met with a great deal of snow on our route. Passed a good many small lakes and springs. Wild fowl, very numerous. Passed the night under a large red pine tree.
Pause for a note here: Remember that the winter of 1848-1849 was very severe and great amounts of snow fell on the interior forts, causing havoc to the fur traders in general!
4th, Wednesday. Left our encampment about two hours after sunrise, but were obliged to return to it almost immediately as the horses were utterly unable to proceed in the great depth of snow, which lay around us. Towards evening two Indians arrived from Walla Walla with the accounts of the Snake Country.
5th, Thursday. Not being able to proceed to Colvile with horses, Mr. Lowe, Michel myself and the Indian started on foot about 10 pm. leaving Mr. Menetrez and Louis Aruihunta to take charge of the horses and property until the Indian with a few others were sent to relieve them. We travelled the whole night and a greater part of the following day. Encamped on a hill, in sight of Spokan river. Sent our Indian Guide to the Spokan lodges to procure snow shoes for us. About sunset, three Indians arrived at our fire with the much longed for snow shoes, they slept at our fire.
6th, Friday. Blowing very hard all night. Left our encampment one hour before daylight for the Spokan lodges which we reached a little after sunrise and where Mr. Lowe procured three Indians, 2 to bring my property as also Michel from where we left the horses and 1 to remain with Tatae our Guide to take charge of the horses until the snow disappeared. Snowshoes were also taken by them, for the Rev. Mr. Menetrez and Louis. We crossed the Spokane River after breakfast, having previous engaged two Indians to accompany us, one to carry the Express and the other our provisions, shoes etc. Passed the night at Walker's and Eel's deserted Mission. Road tolerably good.
7th, Saturday. Left the Mission about two hours before sunrise. Encamped at 1pm. the snow being much too soft for us to proceed much further to day. Travelled about 18 miles. Beautiful weather.
8th, Sunday. Arrived at Dumond['s] in time for breakfast which we found uncommonly good. We continued our journey on foot having failed to procure horses from the Freemen. We arrived at Louis' Brown's [sic] (18 miles from the establishment at Fort Colvile) about 4pm. where we passed the night comfortably.
9th, Monday. Left Brown's at broad daylight -- breakfasted at Eneas' or Terre Blanche and arrived at Fort Colvile about half past 3pm.
10th, Tuesday to 14th, Saturday. Mr. Lowe and I employed in closing the Snake Country and Fort Colvile accounts. On the 12th, Louis Aruihunta arrived. Momentarily expecting the New Caledonia express which ought to have arrived at this place some days ago.
15th, Sunday. Dull day. Divine service held by C.T. [Alexander Caulfield] Anderson. No arrivals from New Caledonia or elsewhere.
16th, Monday. Cloudy weather. A party of Colvile Indians gone to the lakes to hunt deer. Ploughing commenced.
17th, Tuesday. Cloudy weather. Pere Menetrez with Pere de Voss paid us a visit in the morning. Michel the Guide getting the boats ready for the Mountain.
18th, Wednesday. Sultry weather. Indian arrived from the Kootanies with the accounts of that place.
19th, Thursday. About 5pm. Joachim Lafleur from Okanagan, and Marineau with five other men from New Caledonia arrived with the accounts. Warm weather.
20th, Friday. Beautiful weather. About noon, Tatae the Indian that we left the horses in charge of arrived with all the horses, property etc. Report among the Indians here that the Company's barque Columbia and an american steam vessel have arrived in the Columbia River.
21st, Saturday. Fine weather. Snow disappearing from the Hills. Mr. Lowe and I using the utmost despatch to get the accounts closed.
22nd, Sunday. Cloudy weather. Prayers read by C.T. Anderson.
I think it appropriate that we end, here, at Fort Colvile with Chief Trader Alexander Caulfield Anderson leading the prayers.
We will continue the upriver journey next week.