Sunday, April 28, 2013

William Henry McNeill, and his very old-fashioned conundrums

I found these conundrums in the British Columbia archives, in the front page of William Henry McNeill's sea log.
"Conundrums" are puzzles; and these puzzles are truly a puzzle -- the puzzle being is how anyone could have ever figured out the answers.
But these men were sailors, and long-distance or ocean sailing can be a very boring business (I know, I've been there).
The officers had time on their hands, and they used that spare time to create these terrible quizzes.
Here are the questions, for your enjoyment:

1. Why is a dandy like a haunch of venison?

2. Why are pens, Ink & Paper like fixed stars?

3. What word is that which by taking away the first letter makes you sick?

4. What is always invisible yet never out of sight?

5. Why is an empty room like a room of married people?

6. Where did Noah strike the first nail of the Ark?

7. What is smaller than a mite's head?

8. Why is a lover like a gooseberry?

9. Why is swearing like an old coat?

10. Where was Moses when his candle was blown out?

11. Why do ladies talk least in February?

So, who was William Henry McNeill?
First, he is the man after whom McNeil Island,in Puget Sound, was named.
McNeill was an American sea captain who joined the fur trade of the HBC.
According to Bruce Watson in Lives Lived West of the Divide, he was born in Boston, Mass., in 1801 or 1803.
He "started his sea-going career as an employee of Boston traders sailing between the Sandwich Islands and Boston. On October 16, 1824, he left Boston harbour in command of the Convoy, arriving back in Oahu the following year. By 1826, the command of the Convoy was given to John Dominis who along with McNeill, now in command of the Tally Ho traded at Norfolk Sound for the season. From 1830 he sailed the Lama from Boston and the following year was back on the Northwest Coast.
"In 1832, when McNeill brought the vessel to the Coast and heard from Dr. McLoughlin that the HBC was in search of such a vessel to replace the unservicable vessel, Vancouver, he quickly sailed to the Sandwich Islands where the Lama was purchased by Chief Factor Duncan Finlayson. Following this, on September 1, 1832, McNeill was hired on by the HBC in Oahu, an act to which the Governor and Committee reluctantly agreed, preferring an American to the incompetent English captains.
"In the early summer of 1834, McNeill ransomed three shipwrecked Japanese from the Cape Flattery Makah. In 1837, in command of the steamer, Beaver, he found Victoria harbour, a site which later that year McLoughlin rejected. In January 1838, when the crew of the Beaver mutinied against McNeill's discipline, John Work had to bring the vessel from Fort Simpson to Fort Nisqually with McNeill as a passenger. At that point he was ready to retire in 1838 but a promotion to Chief Trader in November 1839 induced him to stay on. In 1846 in response to the establishment of the international border, McNeill along with sixteen others, laid claim to 640 acres of land around Fort Nisqually, land to which the HBC/PSAC held possessory rights, a claim which never came to fruition.
"In 1849-1850 he superintended the construction of Fort Rupert and in 1854 he purchased a town lot in Victoria and in 1855, over 250 acres in the Victoria district. He took charge of Fort Simpson for eight years and became Chief Factor in 1856. When in 1861 he returned to the coast after a year's furlough, he was put in charge of Fort Simpson for two years before retiring. He settled on a farm near Gonzales Point, Vancouver Island, and in 1869 added his name to a petition to U. S. President Grant asking for annexation of British Columbia to the United States. for a time before his death in 1875, he commanded the HBC's steamer Enterprise."

McNeill was an interesting man and I didn't know all that about him.
He was also a man that the other fur traders disliked, and a difficult man to get along with.
At some point in time I uncovered, in the masses of information I have, that he and John Work had some problems working together, and that McNeill was jealous of Work's position in the Company.
On another occasion James Douglas thought of assigning McNeill to the charge of the Sandwich Islands.
That assignment was quickly cancelled on Governor Simpson's orders, and someone else took over the place -- it appears that Simpson did not think McNeill was the best man for the job.

However, James Robert Anderson, son of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, liked Captain McNeill, and had quite a bit to say about him in his Memoirs, written many years later.
He first met McNeill when he was a student at the school inside Fort Victoria in the early 1850's, and remembered that McNeill returned from the Sandwich Islands with oranges, which he gave out to the schoolchildren as a greatly appreciated treat.

As a grownup, James wrote: "The late Captain McNeill was born in Boston, Mass., in 1803; he came to the Coast in 1831 as Master of the American brig 'Llama', 144 tons, laden with merchandise for trading with the natives.
"Arriving on the Coast, he found that the Hudson's Bay Company was first in the field, and realizing that opposition to this powerful Corporation would result in possible serious loss, he, after some negotiations, wisely decided to sell ship and cargo to the Company and enter himself into the service of the Company and become a British subject.
"He was retained in command of the 'Llama' until 1837, when he succeeded Captain Home as Master of the 'Beaver."
"He was in Fort Nisqually in 1841, as he was mentioned by the late A.C. Anderson, who was then in charge of the Post, and by Commodore Wilkes, U.S.N of the 'Vincennes', then lying at that port.....
"Whilst in command of the 'Beaver' Captain McNeill made a survey of the southern part of Vancouver Island and reported favourably on the site of Victoria and Esquimalt.
"It was during the year 1833 that the brig 'Llama' under the command of Captain McNeill and the brig 'Dryad', Captain Kipling, conveyed the stores and material for the construction of Fort McLoughlin from Fort Nisqually and Fort Vancouver.....[see pages 34-39 of The Pathfinder for that story and McNeill's part in it.]
"In the year 1843 Captain McNeill resigned the command of the 'Beaver' to Captain charles Dodd and proceeded to England...
"After Captain McNeill's return from England he was for a short time put in charge of Fort Simpson and later given the command of the Hudson's Bay Company's brigantine 'Mary Dare', trading with Honolulu, whither was conveyed some of the products of the country such as salmon, potatoes, etc., bringing back sugar, molasses, etc.
"It was at this period that I, as a small boy, first became acquainted with Captain McNeill, an acquaintance which in later years, despite the disparity in our ages developed into a warm friendship.
"Some time prior to 1850, Captain McNeill was instrumental in rescuing the survivors of a Japanese vessel, which had been wrecked on the Washington coast, south of Cape Flattery. These survivors consisted only of two boys who were taken to Fort Vancouver. Japan being at that time closed to foreign commerce, the Hudson's Bay Company sent these much travelled boys to England for return to their native country.
"A vase of Japanese workmanship, which was salved [salvaged?] after the wreck is now in the possession of Mrs. Dennis Harris of Victoria."

Has that last line caused you to perk up your ears? It should have.
We brushed up against the Japanese shipwreck story a few weeks ago; I will return to tell you the rest of the story soon.

But before I do that, I will give you the answers to Captain McNeill's terrible Conundrums:

1. Because he is a bit of a buck.

2. They are stationary.

3. Music.

4. The letter g.

5. Because there is not a single person in it.

6. On the head.

7. That which enters it.

8. Because he is easily made a fool of.

9. Because it is a bad habit.

10. In the dark.

11. Because it is the shortest month.

Ho Ho Ho!

These "Conundrums" came from the British Columbia Archives Reel No. 7A (1), "Journal of a voyage kept on board Brig Lama bound for the Sandwich Islands & North West Coast of America."
If I remember correctly, they are written on the inside front cover of the sea-journal that begins "Boston Harbour, Wednesday, October 6th, 1830."
I hope you manage to solve a few of them, at least.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fort Nisqually: many tiny stories from multiple resources

I am amazed at how many stories I have about Fort Nisqually, even though Anderson was only there for one year and a half!
Mind you, much of this information comes from my research for the next book -- William Fraser Tolmie and Fort Nisqually will play an important part in that story!
The information also comes from my being a member of the very active Descendants of Fort Nisqually Employees page on Facebook, where we share a ton of information!

First, I have to tell that people on above Facebook page have informed me that the Fisgard Island [now Anderson Island]  map credited to U.S. surveyor James Tilton was not drawn by Tilton -- but by a fellow named Chapman.
Nor was the map published in 1855, which is the date it carries: it was published a few years earlier than that date.
So I am now digging through the Fort Nisqually journals and other papers that I have downloaded, to see if I can figure out and confirm that story!
And sure enough! On Monday, the 19th of April 1852, the journals record that: "J[ohn] Chapman of Steilacoom City having been engaged to survey the lands claimed by the Puget's Sound Co[mpany], he started to commence operations, accompanied by Mr. [Edward] Huggins and also Barnes, G. Dean and 6 Indians."
Saturday 24th April: "A visit from Mr. Huggins, reports about 30 miles of survey finished. Work arduous & fatiguing."
On Saturday May 1st, 1852: "The surveying party came home, their operations having been stopped today by part of the squatters settled on the lands claimed by the P.S. Co., who would not allow them to proceed any farther. The surveying would have been finished in three or four days more if not stopped, more than three parts done."
Monday 3rd: "Mr. Chapman arrived. Commenced making a plan of the portion of the Company's lands he has lately surveyed."
Wednesday 19th: "Both myself, Barnes & Fiander have been since Monday at surveying part of the Comp[an]y's claim, commenced at the corn 1 miles below Steilacoom & finishing at the point where Mr. Chapman was interrupted on Saturday, 1st May."
So Chapman did the survey of the Fort Nisqually lands in 1852.
In April 1853, a note in the Fort Nisqually journals says this: "The extent of land claimed by the Company according to the survey of Mr. Chapman is 15 miles square."
It covers most of Tacoma, in fact, though it does not include the present site of the replica Fort Nisqually in Point Defiance Park, it does extend up to the park and down to include Dupont and the old location of the first fort, directly opposite Anderson Island.
Clearly it was a big piece of farmland that all the American squatters wanted to get a piece of -- which is why the HBC men had such trouble in fighting off the squatters at Fort Nisqually.
But that is a story for the future; I am working on it now.
If you want more information on the Chapman map, read "Deconstructing Chapman," by Steve A. Anderson, Columbia Magazine, Winter 2011-12, Vol. 25, No. 4. You can't view it online unfortunately, you have to go to your library or order a copy of the magazine.

So who was James Tilton?
And why was James Tilton's name so immediately familiar to me, when I saw the map at Fort Nisqually?
James Tilton was the first Surveyor General of the new Washington Territory, from August 1, 1854 to July 17, 1861: I must have run into him in my Fort Vancouver research.
He arrived in Washington Territory, at Olympia probably, in the spring of 1853, with his wife, children and other family members -- and a young mulatto slave boy named Charles Mitchell, supposedly a gift.
Now, here's where James Tilton's story gets really interesting!
On September 24, 1860, the young slave, Charles Mitchell, was smuggled aboard the steamship apparently by the ship's cook, James Allen, and stowed away.
His hiding place was discovered by the ship's captain, who intended to return him to his Washington State master: he locked the boy in his cabin before sailing into Victoria's harbour on the 25th of the month.
Apparently the blacks who lived in Victoria got wind of Charles Mitchell's imprisonment on the steamship, and through legal means got a writ of habeas corpus that forced the captain to release the boy into British custody.
The captain objected for a minute or two, but allowed the boy to be removed. The next day, Chief Justice Cameron ruled that because Charles Mitchell had stepped onto British soil, he was free.

You've probably heard this story: it just hit the newspapers here in Victoria and in Seattle area.
You can see how recently this story broke by googling, "Charles Mitchell, slave."

But the Charles Mitchell story happened in 1860: Now we are going back in time -- to sometime before 1821!

Who was the first fur trader who ventured through the area where Fort Nisqually later stood?
It is generally stated that John Work and Archibald McDonald were the persons who founded Fort Nisqually.
But who was the first fur trader to visit the site of future Fort Nisqually?
If you have no answer to that question, than you might be interested in this statement, written by Peter Skene Ogden to Governor Simpson in 1847:
"As I now entertain some serious thought of retiring from the fur trade .... I know it will appear egotistical of me to call your attention to my long and arduous service on the West side of the Mountains.
"....Prior to the junction of the two Companys [NWCo. & HBCo in 1821] I also explored the whole of Puget's Sound and was the first who opened the communication by the Cowlitz River to the former place & in that direction extended my travels to within hail of Fraser River (Point Roberts) but unfortunately the credit... was given to another."
Now, isn't that interesting?
Peter Skene Ogden, the fur trader who explored most of what is now the western United States, also once explored north and west from Fort Vancouver as far as the mouth of the Fraser River.
So much fur trade and exploration history must be uncovered by reading letters written many years later.

The Fort Nisqually Brigade Trail: a new brigade trail to me, and I'm the expert (well, sort of):
Brigade trails is my field of interest, but I embarrassed myself by announcing to the members of the Descendants of Fort Nisqually Employees that, in 1855, clerk Angus McDonald brought out the Fort Colvile and Walla Walla brigades by pack-horse, to Fort Nisqually. Did they know?
"Well," they said, "of course we know -- that's the brigade we celebrate every year [dummy!]."

In the Fort Nisqually journals, on June 3rd, 1855, I read: "It is reported that the Colvile and Walla Walla brigades are at the mountains on their way to this place."
On June 23rd, 1855, Dugald McTavish wrote from Fort Vancouver that: "The returns of Colvile & Walla Walla will this season be taken out to Nisqually with horses and it is my intention to go over there in a few days for the purpose of meeting Mr. McDonald, who I am in hopes will reach Puget's Sound with his brigade by the 1st May."
McDonald definitely did not make Nisqually on the 1st of May -- the Fort Nisqually journals indicate that on Wednesday 17th of June: "Three Canadians from the interior arrived this evening presenting two orders for flour from Mr. [Angus] McDonald, he is expected to be here five days from hence with the Colvile Brigade."
Monday, July 2nd: "Mr. A[ngus] McDonald arrived this day with the Colvile and Walla Walla Brigades consisting altogether of about 200 pack horses."
They travelled out from the Yakima River area, through the Cascade Mountains and over Naches Pass, north of Mount Rainier -- the same difficult trail that Wilkes' Americans had traversed in 1842, and that Anderson had brought his cattle drive only a few months later.
From Fort Vancouver McTavish reported, on July 31st: "that Mr. Angus McDonald arrived at Nisqually on the 2nd Inst with the interior furs (amounting to 173 packs) in order -- he found the road from the Yakima very wet & stony. Twelve horses of the Walla Walla brigade got knocked up and were left en route but they will probably be found on the return of the party."
Although no mention of the fun the brigaders had at Fort Nisqually is made in the journals, Steve Anderson, author of Angus McDonald of the Great Divide: the Uncommon Life of a Fur Trader, 1816-1889, tells us [on page 105] that "Puppet shows, athletic feats of strength, speed and skill, as well as a great deal of betting amongst the men broke up the hard work.
"Angus enthralled everyone with his stories, while late night drunks and early morning pranks were documented by Huggins in his later years."
Finally, on Wednesday 25th of July, "Mr. McDonald with the Colvile brigades started this day with 151 pieces goods."
He arrived back at Fort Colvile "with his brigade from Nisqually on the 12th August and found everything in order."
Apparently, it was hoped that the Naches Pass Road would be a future brigade trail, saving the Fort Colvile men the difficulty of bringing out their furs to Fort Langley over the Coquihalla brigade trail, or downriver to Fort Vancouver as they had done for years.
It was not to be. 1855 was the only year that the Fort Colvile fur traders brought their furs out to Fort Nisqually.
In later years, they carried the furs out through British territory, via the Similkameen Trail to Fort Langley, making plans at the same time to build new posts in British territories north of Fort Colvile.
In 1855 the fur trade of the Columbia district, and at Fort Nisqually, was changing rapidly.
It would never again be what it used to be.

General Fort Nisqually information, in the words of Alexander Caulfield Anderson:
This is how Anderson described the workings of Fort Nisqually when he arrived there in 1840 [the following is edited for clarity]:
"Nisqually was established in 1833 by the Hudson's Bay Co. for the purposes of the fur trade. When the Puget Sound Company was organized it continued to be carried on by the Hudson's Bay post, the business of the P.S.Co. being transacted after the manner of an agency.
"At the time the chief expenses of the establishment were incurred for the P.S. Co., and corresponding charges were made against the P.S. Co by the H.B. Co..
"Large herds of cattle and extensive flocks of sheep were on the gorund when I assumed charge in October 1840, also a considerable band of horses.
"The sheep at that time were in several flocks, and the pasture pounds varied daily. The shepherds lived with their flocks in temporary huts and a moveable house on wheels. The whole were under the direction of a head shepherd -- one Mr. Lewis, an experience shepherd engaged in Scotland for the purpose.
"At certain seasons the flock of imported rams were herded at a distance with great care in order to regulate the period of breeding.the sheep on the ground at that time were, as far as I remember, all of improved breeds -- the product of ewes originally imported from California, crossed by valuable rams from England. I could not state from memory the number; there were some hundreds -- a reference to the inventory made by me in spring of 1841 and forwarded to Vancouver would enable me to do so with certainty.
"The herds of sheep were folded nightly within distinct enclosures for the purpose of manuring the ground for agricultural purposes. These pens were shifted periodically as the ground became enriched. To promote the comfort of the sheep they were washed and shorn in summer, and the wool picked and sent to Vancouver for shipment to England.

"There were at the same time large herds of cattle. I cannot speak as to the numbers save under the same conditions as before mentioned. I can state, however, that during the summer of 1841 upwards of 100 cows (I think 120) were tamed and milked for dairy purposes at the district dairy, 4 1/2 to 5 miles from the old Fort.
"Other cows were milked for home use daily at the fort. The cows at the dairy were not all milked at once, but as soon as a certain number of the young cattle had been sufficiently habituated to being handled and milked they were discharged, with their calves, and replaced by others. About 1/3 were probably at each period of the division. All the cattle, milk cows excepted, were penned at night in the same way as the sheep, partly to habituate them to being driven and herded, but chiefly to improve the light soil for agricultural purposes. Mounted herders (Indians) were employed to attend to and collect the cattle.

There were "no settlers at the time, save only the Wesleyan Mission, under Dr. Richmond, established near the present site of the Fort with the aid and concurrence of the Company."
The crops raised were "wheat, pease, oats, turnips, potatoes, colsa for sheep, in addition to the ordinary culinary vegetables -- probably some barley, but if so, not much.
There were "apple trees in growth but not yet bearing.
"The dairy was conducted by an English dairy woman, whose husband (Ancock) superintended the farming operations." It produced "butter, but not cheese, made by the Indians and other assistants."

The "Fort has been changed to its present [2nd] site, and subsequently to 1841 had been transferred to the P.S. Co." I "visited Nisqually winter 1851 [when] Dr. Tolmie was in charge. Again in January 1852, assuming charge for a few weeks during Dr. Tolmie's visit to Victoria.
"Cattle wild as compared with former years. Settlers troublesome in various ways -- squatting on lands, molesting cattle" but I "cannot speak of any particular act of aggression."
I "witnessed the altered habits of the cattle, and speak of the aggressions of squatters from what I learned generally at the time, but particulars have escaped my memory."
Anderson wrote this in 1865; here and below you can see how much the fur trade at Fort Nisqually had changed in the years after 1842, when he was stationed there.
I "paid a visit of a few days to Nisqually in the winter of 1860" when "I heard general complaints of aggressions by squatters, and formed the opinion that the P. S. Co.'s business there was in a very insecure and unprotected state. There may have been safety but there was not security."

By the way, the colsa mentioned above was also known by the name of "Rapeseed."
We now know the plant as Canola; canola is colsa which has had the harmful erucic acid bred out of it.

I have a little more on the killing of Leander Wallace, too, from "History of Puget Sound and the Northwest Coast," by W.F. Tolmie [Mss. 557, Vol.1, File 11, BCA]
I have added a little punctuation so the story is easier to follow.
For further information on the killing of Wallace, go to my Sunday March 31, 2013 post, titled: "More stories about Fort Nisqually and Anderson Island."

"In May or June 1849 some thirty armed Indians chiefly Snoqualimi [sic] came to Fort Nisqually, ostensibly to see their relative. At this time a large number of other Indians engaged in washing and shearing sheep were encamped around the post. They, at the midday our seeing the armed Indians approaching, rushed tumultuously into the fort with their women and children, making a great din.

"The chief of the Snoqualimi, Pattakynum, was admitted into the Fort, the gate closed, and a whiteman with an Indian labourer placed to watch it -- this Indian foolishly fired his gun into the air. This caused the Snoqualimi to rush out of the deserted lodge of the working Indians, where they had been smoking. One of them fired between the pickets into the fort yard wounding an Indian lad in the shoulder, another mortally wounding a young American named Wallace who had arrived for the purpose of trade. He [Wallace], with a companion whose shoulder (just below the insertion of the deltoid muscle) was glanced and bruised by a ball, was standing watching the hubbub outside quite unapprehensive of danger.

"The white gatekeeper (Thibeult, a French Canadian) ran to the bastion, fired amongst the retreating Indians and killed one. Just before the firing began I, who had been out and in previously, was engaged in a daily visit to an invalid Hudson's Bay officer living at Nisqually. I rushed outside to see poor Wallace breathe his last and helped to carry his remains into the Fort.

"The hostiles, as I was afterwards informed, levelled [their guns] at me -- they were by this time under cover, but a Sinhomish amongst them protested, saying "harm enough had been done for one day."

"When some time after, the Oregon Indian superintendent, Quinn Thornton came to Nisqually, he by my counsel offered a large reward in blankets to such Indians as would bring for trial the six named men who were observed by native spectators to discharge their guns outside Fort Nisqually gate. I knew who the real culprits were, but in order that their suspicions might not be aroused, six men were named.

"In course of the summer months, in August or September, three or four companies of U.S. soldiers under Captain (now General) B. F. Hill of the Artillery, were stationed at Steilacoom some six miles north of Nisqually. Indians not friendly to the Snoqualimi managed in course of the autumn to get the six named men to come to Fort Steilacoom, where they were at once disarmed and imprisoned by the military. At a special Circuit Court held at Steilacoom somewhat later -- Cussass who had shot Wallace, and Qullawowt, who had given the Indian lad a wound from which he soon died, were condemned and hung, before the jury left Steilacoom, I think. Several of the jury who dwelt at safe distance from the seaboard were urgent for having the whole six Indians condemned and hung. Others living on the coast opposed this, fearing immediate reprisals from the Snoqualimi."

And so I have given you a few more stories of Fort Nisqually, loosely strung together and not even in chronological order.
This is what writing history is all about -- you take these bits and pieces of information and put them together,  figuring out where each piece fits; sorting out dates and possible situations; and in the end fitting all the pieces into the background of the times.
This, too, a historian must research and understand.
Writing history is not a simple thing to do; any tiny story can present a complex puzzle with many important details and lots of unanswered questions that the writer part of said researcher needs to explain, as best he can.
That is what makes history so much fun -- at least it's fun if you find a story you can eventually explain in a clear and concise manner that allows others to follow it.
It's hard work finding a good story: it's also hard work taking the work that the researcher side of you has done, and "storifying" it.
The writer-side of the researcher/writer must craft a story from many random and often conflicting details, and make the story both believable and readible.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Japanese Junk shipwrecked amongst the Makah, 1834

As the result of a special request, I am writing part of the story of the Japanese shipwreck on the shores of what would become Washington State, in 1834.
Although Alexander Caulfield Anderson never saw the Japanese boys for himself, the fact that he wrote so much about the shipwreck in later years makes him a major resource for all who want to research this story.

So, from The Pathfinder, I will quote a bit of the story and go on from there:
[p.40] "After spending the winter of 1833-34 at Fort Vancouver, Anderson once again boarded the brig Dryad, along with 40 other men, on May 1, 1834.
"At Fort George [Astoria], Chief Trader Peter Skene Ogden joined the party, and the ship continued its journey downstream to the river's mouth.
"Once there, the captain found the breezes too light to carry the ship safely across the bar, and the Dryad anchored in Baker's Bay."

"Sometime during the eight days of forced inactivity at Baker's Bay, Queen Sally, a Cathlamet Native who lived near the mouth of the Columbia River, boarded the vessel and told the story of a shipwreck.
"Anderson wrote of this encounter: In 1834, at Cape Disappointment, on our way to the northwest coast, Indians boarded our vessel and produced a map with some writing in Japanese characters, a string of the perforated copper coins of that country; and other convincing proofs of a shipwreck.

"The Hudson's Bay gentlemen examined the drawing and admired the coins, but as they were unable to take any actions, Ogden sent the woman to Fort Vancouver with her message.
"McLoughlin dispatched Captain William H. McNeill to locate the site of the shipwreck, and the Lama eventually returned to Fort Vancouver with three Japanese sailors who had been enslaved by the Natives."

So let us look at some resources and see where the information for this story comes from.
The first glimpse any fur trader had of the wreck appears in the Journal of Occurrences at Fort Nisqually:
January 1834: [p.22] "Wednesday 29th. Two men employed squaring wood for Bastions.... An Indian arrived with the unpleasant intelligence that a vessel has been lately wrecked at Cape Flattery and that all hands perished except two men who are now with the Indians there.
"Thursday 30th. ... Ouvre getting a canoe in readiness to set out tomorrow to ascertain the truth of the Indian report about the ship wreck. Rained heavily during the day.
"Friday 31st. ... Ouvre set off with an Indian for the purpose above stated. Rained all last night and this day with a hurricane wind."
The wind blew at hurricane force for five more days, and Ouvre finally returned to Fort Nisqually.
February 1834: [p.23] "Friday 7th. ... Late in the evening Ouvre returned and reported that the story about the shipwreck is a mere fabrication which he ascertained at the Chlallum village New Dungeness."

But the story wasn't a fabrication, and Captain William McNeill was able to rescue the boys and bring them to Fort Nisqually, on his way to Fort Langley and Vancouver.
Hence, in later Fort Nisqually Journals, more mention was made of the Japanese boys:
June 1834: [p.28] "Monday 9th. the men resumed squaring logs for the Store and roofing this building. About 3pm we heard a couple of Cannon shot, soon after I started in a canoe with six men, and went on board the Llama with the pleasure of taking Tea with McNeill who pointed out two Chinese he picked up from the Natives near Cape Flattery where a vessel of that Nation had been wrecked not long since.
"There is still one, amongst Indians inland, but a promise was made of getting the poor fellow on the Coast by the time the Llama gets there."
McNeill remained at Fort Nisqually for three days and then sailed for Fort Langley.
On his return to the west coast of Washington where he found the first two Japanese sailors, he picked up the third and brought them down to Fort Vancouver.

The source for these following letters is Fort Vancouver Correspondence, B.22/b/10, fo. 13-20, HBCA:
On the 28th of May, 1834, John McLoughlin wrote to the Governor and Committee:
"Last winter the Indians informed us that a vessel had been touched somewhere about Cape Flattery, and I sent a party along the coast to recover the crew from the natives but our people could not reach the place and a few days ago I received through the Indians a letter written in Chinese characters and I have written to the captains of our vessels to do their utmost to recover those unfortunate men from the Indians.
"I am informed that only three of them are alive and that forty of them are either dead of sickness or have been drowned.
"The Indians say the vessel was loaded with China wares."
On June 23rd McLoughlin wrote to William Kittson, who I presume had just taken charge of Fort Nisqually: "If Captain McNeil fails in recovering the Chinese from the Indians you will do your utmost to accomplish the humane object."
But in July he addressed McNeill: "I am happy to find that you have been so successful in procuring the poor Chinese whom it seems the natives were much inclined to keep in slavery."

On November 15th, 1834 McLoughlin gave instructions to Captain Darby of the brig Eagle, sailing for London:
"The three Japanese you will take to England and I request you will have the goodness to see that they are as comfortable and as well taken care of as their situation will admit. They are supplied with clothing &c sufficient to take them to England but if they should be in want of any little necessary article you will please supply it on the Hudson's Bay Company's account."

In his report to the Governor and Committee, on November 18th, 1834, McLoughlin reported on the incident:
"A Japanese junk was wrecked last winter in the vicinity of Cape Flattery and out of the crew of fourteen men only three were saved and [rescued] from the Indians by Captain McNeill on his voyage this summer to Fort Langley......
"The Japanese intrusted the letter W to the natives and it was forwarded from tribe to tribe till it came to us.
"I also send a piece of carved wood with Chinese characters on it, and if I understand the Japanese correctly it is the name of the vessel that she was from Yahongau and bound to Yidda, the capital of Japan with a cargo of rice nankins and porcelain ware.
"They were first driven from their course by a typhoon and subsequently a sea unshipped their rudder or broke their rudder irons when the vessel became unmanageable, and that they were about a year from the date they left their home when they were wrecked at which time they had plenty of rice and water yet on board but that a sickness had broke out among the men which carried off all except these three.
"A little after the vessel grounded and before the natives could get any thing worth while out of her a storm arose and broke her up."

I have previously told you that Alexander Caulfield Anderson was with Peter Skene Ogden when Queen Sally came aboard their ship and showed the fur traders the collection of papers and coins that she carried south, toward Fort Vancouver.
According to Anderson's various writings (all of a much later date), this is what he witnessed at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1834:

From: "Notes on the Indian Tribes of British North America, and the Northwest Coast," Historical Magazine, March 1863 [this resource is available online]:
"All the tribes of this portion of the Pacific Coast, I look upon as originating from the islands of the West -- from Japan, the Kuriles and elsewhere.
"Nor is it unsupported hypothesis alone that leads me to this conclusion: within the limited period of my own experience on this coast, I have learnt the possibility of a fortuitous immigration, such as we may be justified in assuming to have led to the gradual peopling of this portion of the continent in the earlier ages.
"For instance, in 1834, at Cape Disappointment, on our way to the northwest coast, Indians boarded our vessel and produced a map with some writing in Japanese characters; a string of the perforated copper coins of that country; and other convincing proofs of a shipwreck.
"Rumors of this had been heard before, and after this corroboration, the company dispatched a vessel to the point indicated.
"It was south of Cape Flattery (at Queen-ha-ilth, I believe).
"Three survivors of the crew were ransomed from the natives, afterwards sent to England, and thence to Japan.--
"In as far as could be understood by us, they were bound from some port in the Japanese Island of Yesi, to another port in the Island of Niphon.
"Losing their reckoning in a typhoon, they drifted for many months, at the mercy of wind and wave, until at length stranded at the point of shipwreck.
"The crew had originally consisted of forty, of whom the greater portion had perished at sea during the transit; three only surviving to reach the shore...."

He gives more information in: The Dominion at the West; a Brief Description of the Province of British Columbia, its Climate and Resources [Victoria: Richard Wolfenden, 1872]:
"Whether the immigration in the remote past has been voluntary or fortuitous, it is of course vain to conjecture: but the possibility of the latter supposition has been convincingly established, even within the limit of my own experience.
"For in 1834, in consequence of Indian rumours which had reached the Columbia River during the preceding winter, a vessel was dispatched from Fort Vancouver to Queen-ha-ilth, south of Cape Flattery, to enquire into the circumstances of a reported wreck.
"Captain McNeill, the Commander, on arriving there, found the remnants of a Japanese junk, and purchased from the natives a quantity of pottery and other articles that had formed portions of her cargo.
"He likewise brought away three Japanese, the survivors of a crew originally consisting, as we understood, of forty; the rest having perished at sea of hunger.
"It appeared that, having been dismasted in a typhoon and lost their reckoning, the junk had drifted for many months until at length stranded....."

An identical description as above can also be found in Anderson's Guide to the Province of British Columbia. 

In addition to these resources, there is a more important one that is a little more difficult to find.
This is Alexander Caulfield Anderson's "Historical notes on the commerce of the Columbia River, 1824 to 1848," in the Beinecke Library, Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn.
The collection consists of an somewhat inaccurate article labeled "Pioneer Ships: History of Early Commerce on the Columbia River," author unknown -- and Alexander Caulfield Anderson's written response when he corrected some of the information contained in the piece.

In the article itself, the author writes (somewhat inaccurately) about William H. McNeill:
"In March 1833, a Japanese junk was cast away fifteen miles south of Cape Flattery.
"Out of seventeen, three survived the wreck, to be made captive by the Makah Indians.
"Dr. McLoughlin, hearing of the captivity of the wrecked Japanese, sent overland to Nisqually, and thence down the Sound, Thomas McKay, to redeem them.
"Of this trip and its hero, Dr. W. F. Tolmie writes: Dr. McLaughlin had sent the renowned 'Tom McKay' to Puget Sound to endeavour to reach Cape Flattery by canoe, with the view of bringing about the liberation of the Japanese.
"Tom got no further than the Sinahomish camp, Nigwadsooch [Scadjett Head], and idled away time there as it was suspected.
"On being cross-questioned by the late 'hyass Doctor,' as to the cause of his failure, all he could say, that is remembered, was: 'It blowed, sir, it blowed -- my God! How it did blow!"....[end of W.F. Tolmie's supposed quote].
"After Tom Mackay had returned from his unsuccessful mission, the Llama, Capt. McNeil [sic], was sent to Neah Bay to redeem the Japanese captives.
"In June 1834, [McNeill] was at Fort Nisqually with two of them rescued, the third being in the interior.
"McNeil [sic] returned to Cape Flattery, received the third, proceeded to Fort Vancovuer, and in October the three were sent to London, educated in the English language and sent to their native country."

In Alexander Caulfield Anderson's handwritten letter, not necessarily included with this article, is his response to the above statement:
"From notes in my possession, supplemented by memory, I may state, regarding the Japanese Junk, as under -- Vague memory had reached Ft. Vancouver during the winter 1833/34 of the wreck of a ship upon the coast at some indefinite point between Gray's Harbour and Cape Flattery.
"Mr. Thomas McKay was dispatched in canoe via Baker's Bay and the portage to Shoalwater Bay, with orders to follow the Coast and endeavour to ascertain correct tidings, if not to afford relief.
"The severe storms prevalent in the early spring prevented his accomplishing the object of his mission; and he returned, having penetrated, as I understand, no further than Gray's Harbour (Chehalis) -- and bringing little intelligence beyond what had already [been] received through the Indians.
"It was not till May that direct confirmation was received.
"Mr. [Peter Skene] Ogden was then on his way, accompanied by myself, to establish a fort on the Stikine River (1834), and our vessel, the Dryad, was anchored in Baker's Bay.
"Sally, the widow of Old Chenanium, boarded the vessel on her way from Shoalwater Bay to Chinook Point, bringing with her a number of articles, including perforated copper coins and a rude chart drawn in Chinese or Japanese paper, with writing in their common character, which at once proved to us the fact of the wreck and indicated the probable nationality.
"Mr. Ogden forwarded the articles to Vancouver, and Captain McNeill was afterwards sent with the Llama -- affecting the release of the surviving as stated in the notice.
"Captn. McNeill afterwards told me that the Inds: were averse from giving up the men (3 in number); that he then seized one or two of the Chiefs as hostages, after which the survivors of the crew were brought on board the Llama and ransomed by him.
"He afterwards bought from the Inds a large quantity of crockery-ware saved from the wreck, which was subsequently sold in the sale-shop at Vancouver....."

The Cathlamet woman Sally was known by the fur traders as Queen Sally, and so I referred to her in that manner in my book.
The crockery-ware mentioned here is an important story in itself, and I will speak of it on a later occasion.
Right now we will continue following Anderson's remarks, in his response to the newspaper article labelled "Pioneer Ships":

"I think Dr. Tolmie has confused Mr. McKay's visit to the Skatchet, as connected with the Japanese wreck, with another occasion -- probably connected with the murder of McKenzie in 1828.
"I was at Vancouver (after my return from the coast in the Cadboro) when McKay returned from his fruitless attempt to reach the [Japanese] wreck before referred to, and I never heard any imputation cast upon the good faith of his proceedings on that occasion....
"McKay... was a zealous and daring officer; and not likely to be deterred by trivial difficulties or to advance a questionable excuse to cover an obvious failure to fulfill his orders.

"It may be interesting to know that the spot where the Japanese Junk of whose wreck Mr. McKay was in quest, was stranded very near, if not identical with, the locality in which his father lost his life, on the destruction of the "Tonquin" in 1811."
Thomas McKay's father, Alexander, was one of the first to die when the PFC ship Tonquin was attacked by Natives at Clayquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in 1811.
So Anderson appears inaccurate here, but he does say he believed that the Japanese junk was wrecked at a place the fur traders called Queen-ha-ilth.
In some research I did some years ago, I seem to remember having discovered that Queen-ha-ilth was at Destruction Island, on the Washington coast.
If that was where the Japanese shipwreck actually occurred, Destruction Island is a very good name considering how quickly their ship was destroyed.

I almost forgot that I said, on Twitter, there was a movie.
It is a Japanese film, entirely in the Japanese language but with subtitles in English for the part of the movie when the sailors are at Fort Vancouver.
Johnny Cash plays Dr. John McLoughlin!
The movie's title is Kairei; it was filmed in the 1980's, and its ISBN is 4-264-02095-6 (Life Entertainment, World Wide Pictures, website: or http:/
But for more information on the film (which I was sure was filmed at Fort Langley, not Fort Vancouver) follow this link to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, NCRI Report, and see page 6, "John McLoughlin and Johnny Cash."
John McLoughlin and Johnny Cash
Just so you know, it is not historically accurate, but it is fun!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Answers to Questions Asked

In the months after my book, The Pathfinder, was published, readers and historians asked me a few questions that I was unable to give good answers to at the time.

The first came from an anthropologist and archaeologist who teaches at a local University.
His email said this: "I am really looking forward to your book."
Then he told me a story of a Native man who remembered that, many years earlier, his many-times-great-grandmother had been hidden away for safety, because "some strange person was coming down the [Lillooet] river."
He figured out the generations, and said he thought that the stranger might have been Alexander Caulfield Anderson, on his 1846 journey down the Lillooet River to Fort Langley.

Great story! But the anthropologist finished his email it with the question:
"Anderson does not seem to mention much in the way of villages as he went down the Lillooet river -- any idea why?"
At the time I did not have the answer.
But while I never consciously thought about the question, it simmered away and eventually answered itself.
I realized that most of what Anderson put in his expedition journals related directly to the business of searching for a suitable brigade trail.
It was, in other words, entirely a business journal, and only things that were important to the business of a brigade trail made it into his journal.
The journal's name tells us that -- his 1846 journal is titled: "Journal of an expedition under command of Alex C. Anderson... undertaken with the View to ascertaining the practicability of a communication with the interior, for the import of the annual supplies."
Like his other journals of exploration, it has a specific purpose: to report back to the Board of Management at Fort Vancouver the route taken and its availability, or non-availability, as a brigade trail for heavily laden pack-horses.

I figured this out when I learned, from a historical geographer friend, what the requirements were for a good brigade trail.
He gave me the information that I included in my book, and I added a bit to it:
From page 106: "Besides considerations regarding the route itself, the Hudson's Bay men had developed strict requirements for an overland brigade trail, based on experience, good and bad.
"The Company was looking for a trail that hundreds of horses could travel safely without injury.
"A path that might work for a man on foot would not necessarily work for the heavily loaded brigade horses.
"Sharp rocks on the trail bed would damaged the horses' delicate hooves and cut their fetlocks.
"If the ground was too soft, the passage of so many horses would turn the trail into a quagmire that later brigades could not cross.
"Safe fords over rivers and creeks were essential, especially as so much of the travel was done in early summer, the season of high water.
"Gradient was important, but they could accept a steep slope if the hillside allowed room for switchbacks.
"The horses needed food and water, and trail builders could sow alfalfa and white clover along the edges of the horse road if the ground was good, but they could not manufacture streams.
"Anderson would have to keep all these concerns in mind as he explored the potential brigade trails."

So when I re-read the journals after processing and writing the above, I understood them more fully.
Anderson wrote nothing of the journey along the south shore of Kamloops Lake to modern day Savona, as this road was good and well-known to all the fur traders -- there were no problems here.
When he "found River du Defunt much swollen" because of the rainy spring, he is warning of difficulties future brigaders might have in crossing the river.
Of course, the fur traders would build an easily maintained bridge here.
On the 17th of May he does describe the rock indented with hat-like cavities: rather unnecessarily. But he goes on with a description of the "picturesque valley, richly covered with herbage, and bordered by hills sprinkled with Fir trees."
There was plenty of feed for the horses here, and fresh water only a short distance further on.

Then at the Lower Fountain, where the Kamloops men traded for salmon, he noted that: "The banks of the [Fraser] river hereabouts are extremely broken and precipitous; and many of the adjacent hills are white with recent snow."
You will remember that I informed you that "Sharp rocks on the trail bed would damage the horses' delicate hooves and cut their fetlocks."
Anderson's next line was this: "One of our horses got his leg cut in crossing a small brook, this afternoon, and is lame in consequence."
It may not have had meaning to us on the first read, but it would have meant a lot to the members of the Board of Management at Fort Vancouver.

On Tuesday 19th Anderson wrote: "The spot which had been described to me as likely to afford a passage for horses is at the Riviere de Pont, opposite to the Lower Fountain, but to my disappointment I find it quite unsuitable for the purpose -- at least at this season, if indeed at any time practicable with a large band of horses.
"The proposed track passes over a mountain 1,500 to 2,000 feet in height, the summit of which even at this advanced season, is still thickly covered with snow, and obviously impassable save with snow shoes.
"In short there does not exist the slightest probability of a horse road in this direction, suitable for our purposes, from the spot alluded to, to that where I am now encamped...."
When he wrote this, he was on Seton Lake, having crossed the Fraser River to walk down its west bank to the Seton River.
I am looking at this paragraph now, and wondering...
Was he talking about Fountain Ridge, or was he describing the mountain across the Fraser from the end of the ridge?
I haven't been up to that spot since 1993 -- I may have to return and take a good look.

Whatever route was described to him by John Tod, at Fort Kamloops, was then discarded, and the second choice taken -- an expedition via Seton and Anderson Lakes to the Lillooet River.
He says this in the line: "Finding my views disappointed in the direction at first proposed, I determined on proceeding by the lakes...."
I now believe it was his plan to go down the Fraser River through the canyons, but he chose to travel the second route, by the lakes, when the first did not work.
I also now know that Pahallak, or another Sto:lo guide, was waiting for him at the forks of Thompson's River and the Fraser.
They did not meet that summer.

Anderson tells no stories of the Salish Wool Dogs, though he certainly saw them on this journey and in his later expedition down the banks of the Fraser River.
He does describe the Natives he found there, and the discomfort the fur traders felt because they were alone amongst all these men who could easily have overwhelmed them.
But the Native name for Seton River -- Pap-shil-qua-ka-meen -- is mentioned only in a later piece of writing, though he can only have learned the name from the guides who accompanied him on this particular journey.
As far as I know, he never returned to the mouth of the Seton River.

Anderson's party continued on to Lillooet Lake from Anderson and Seton Lakes.
On the Lillooet River, Anderson hired "a fine canoe, with two expert boutes. In the evening... we encamped at the head of a rapid or fall, where it is necessary to drag the canoe."
Then he said: "I find the river very different from what I expected. At this stage of the water it is a perfect torrent; and at a higher stage (it is now at half-water) must afford a very precarious navigation.
"In fact, but for the expertness of our Indian boutes, who are thoroughly versed in the intricacies of the river, we should, I fear, have much difficulty in getting through."

Anderson had already disqualified this route as a brigade trail for horses.
Clearly, by now, he is now mentally eliminating the travel of this rough river as a possible route for the boats the fur traders used -- if they could make their way downriver (which seemed unlikely), how would they ever come upriver again?
From this point onward, he and his party continued downriver to Fort Langley as quickly as they could: there was no further need to look around.
His work was done, and he spent little time in describing the country he saw.

But the question was: "Anderson does not seem to mention much in the way of villages as he went down the Lillooet River -- any idea why?"
My answer, at last: This was a business journal, and the Native villages along the lower Lillooet River were not important to the fur traders, especially as he had already mentally disqualified this route as a possible brigade trail.
He was travelling downriver with Native guides who had no reason to dally -- the sooner they reached Fort Langley, the more quickly they would be rewarded for their work.
Anderson also had a reason to reach Fort Langley as quickly as he could.
He wanted to begin his return journey to Kamloops, exploring for an alternate route on the way.
He still had a job to do, and this first trail was not the route he was looking for.

Anderson never returned to the Lillooet River, and wrote very little about it later.
In his unpublished draft manuscript "British Columbia" he noted that: "The Lakes of British Columbia are a great feature in its geography....
"Harrison's Lake, in the lower portion, I have already referred to.
"This lake is connected with two other lakes, in close contiguity with each other, the united length of which is about 25 miles.
"These lakes, distinguished by their Indian name Lillooet, are connected with Douglas [the town of Port Douglas, at the head of Harrison Lake] by by a wagon road.
"They are navigated by steam boat.
"From the upper end the road is continued through a depression in the Lillooet spur of the coast Range, twenty four miles to Lake Anderson.
"A channel 1 1/2 mile in length connects this lake with Lake Seton, the lower end of which is within three miles of the town or village of Cayoosh, on the bank of the Fraser River, some 40 miles above Lytton.
"The united length of Lakes Anderson and Seton is about thirty eight miles.
"The scenery of the shores, and especially of the latter, is extremely grand.
"These lakes, like the Lillooet, are navigated by steamboats.
"The depth of all is great."
He is describing now the 1858-1859 Harrison Lillooet trail, which was developed over the route of his first exploration down the Lillooet River.
In 1858 he visited what is now called Port Douglas, a town built a year or two later at the mouth of the Lillooet River on Harrison Lake.
He played a major part in naming the future town for his friend, James Douglas.
But he never travelled over the Harrison-Lillooet trail, and so never saw the Lillooet River again.

The second question I was asked, in person, when I was in Hope, B.C., after my one hour & a half talk there:
My sister and I were in the Blue Moose Cafe (a wonderful place, if you are ever in Hope), waking up with our morning coffee the morning after I had given my talk and slide show.
Two men came in and sat down at the coffee table and chairs where we were reading the newspapers and sleepily drinking our coffee.
They talked to each other, and then they talked to us; they knew who we were.
One, a young Native man who said he came from Spuzzum, asked me whether I thought I would ever write about any person or thing other than my great grand-father, Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
Now, isn't that an interesting question?
I had no answer for him at that time.
My first thought was this: that in order to write about someone else or something else I would have to set aside my ten years of research on Alexander Caulfield Anderson and his fur trade, and begin all over again.
To me, that was a huge objection.
I wasn't ready for that question.
I was still deeply involved in writing talks and articles to promote the current book, published only three months earlier -- a year and a half later I am still involved in promoting the book.
The question came too quickly, and at the time I did not have an answer.
Again, it had to simmer.

It took me six or more months for the answer to emerge, and in the meantime I wrote two or three more speeches and an article for the Annual Report of the Okanagan Historical Society, 2012.
I fooled around with other ideas, and you can see the result of my blog where I wrote about "The Salmon in the fur trader's New Caledonia," on Saturday, February 18, 2012.
This is Anderson's own writing but it is a merged manuscript -- that is, I took four of his manuscripts and merged the information in them in order to create this future chapter of a book I could write.
And maybe I will write this book, sometime in the future.
I have, however, four missing A.C. Anderson manuscripts I want to find before I do this -- if they still exist.

I also considered other choices in addition to the "Memoir."
I can write about the years of the Indian Reserve Commission of 1876-1877 -- that's a fascinating story in itself and much of the story is omitted from this book.
I can write a more detailed story of the four explorations and the end result of those expeditions and the crisis that followed, and I am extremely interested in that time period.
I can write about Fort Victoria during those years; but, frankly, of all the things I could write about, Fort Victoria is the one thing that has the least interest for me, in spite of the fact I live in Victoria.
The fur trader Sam Black fascinates me, but that involves a great deal of research and writing with very little information about his later life at Kamloops.
Interesting as his life may have been, his story would be skimpy at best.

I can write about Peter Skene Ogden or Donald Manson or other fur trade characters, but his descendants are planning to do this -- not that that should stop me.
In a way I am writing about them, because their story will be a part of my next book.
I do now know what I am writing about, and I am already learning things that will add to or change the information I put in The Pathfinder.
There will be many characters in this book; and yes, Alexander Caulfield Anderson will be one of them.
Yes, he will play a major role in a complex story, but he will disappear from the story, too.
Yes, it is a fur trade story: I don't think I will ever move outside the fur trade, or at least, not until I write about the Indian Reserve Commission and that is, in its way, still a fur trade story.
This next book will be a thick book: I think it is possible that it will be two books by the time I am done.
I have a feeling I know which way the book or books will lead me.
However, books sometimes lead the author to some unexpected places.
We will have to see where I end up.

So anyway, if anyone in Hope or Spuzzum is reading this post, please tell the young Spuzzum artist who designed the stage decorations for the stage play "Where the Blood Mixes," that I have answered his question.
Tell him, thank you for the question!
It was a tough one to answer.