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Published by KEVIN SAUNDERS, 2019-11-14 13:33:21






¾ PEOPLE TO KNOW Caught by Snow, a painting by Glen Hopkinsen, shows the trials of families who
left too late in the year and got caught by an early snowstorm.
Father Blanchet
George Washington 1834 Jason and Daniel Lee start the
first mission in the Oregon Country.
Isabelle Bush M MM
Mother Joseph
Daniel Lee TIMELINE 1780 1830
Jason Lee
John McLoughlin L LL L
John Mullan
President James Polk 1780s–1840s
Sager Children
Father de Smet The fur trade 1831 Four 1836 Marcus and Narcissa
Eliza Spalding era begins and Indian men Whitman leave New York
Henry Spalding lasts sixty travel to St. Louis State to start a mission in
Isaac Stevens years. and ask Clark to the Oregon Country.
Elijah White
Marcus Whitman
Narcissa Whitman


Walla Walla
Willamette Valley
Bush Prairie
East Coast
Pacific Ocean
Pacific Coast
Vancouver Island
Puget Sound
San Juan Islands


grade (roads)

send Christian

missionaries to



5Looking West

1843 First Wolf Meeting is held.

1844 The George 1848 Oregon 1856 Mother
Washington Bush Territory is created. Joseph comes
family goes to the to Vancouver.
Oregon Country. Gold is found in


1840 1850 1860


G 1842 Elijah 1847 The Whitmans are 1853 Washington The Mullan Road
White and 100 murdered by Cayuse Indians. Territory is created. is completed.
1838 Father people travel the Isaac Stevens is the
Blanchet builds Oregon Trail. 1846 The U.S. gains full first governor.
the first Catholic control of the Oregon Country.
mission in the
Oregon Country.

76 Washington I N T H E P A C I F I C N O R T H W E S T

W“ e have Christian Missionaries the Indians, Lee was later recalled by the
plenty of mission board and his mission was closed.
dry buffalo meat In the early 1800s, people in New
which we pur- England were excited about religion. Catholic Missionaries
chased from the The church was the center of village life,
Indians and dry it and crowds of enthusiastic worshippers Some members of the Hudson’s Bay
for meat. I can attended prayer meetings and revivals. Company were Catholic and wanted priests.
scarcely eat it, it Preachers shouted out sermons of heaven Father Francis Blanchet answered the call.
appears so filthy, and hell, and congregations enthusiastically He spent most of his time with the French
but it will keep us sang religious songs. Many people, espe- Canadian Catholics and not with Indians.
alive and we cially women, supported a worldwide mis- Later, a Jesuit priest, Peter John de Smet, and
ought to be thank- sionary effort. Protestant missionaries and other priests came and worked with the
ful for it. . . .” teachers were sent to Africa, China, and the Coeur d’Alenes and Flatheads. Many of the
American West. Missionaries tried to teach Coeur d’Alenes were baptized Christians,
— Narcissa Whitman the people how to read the Bible and dress, mixing in their own religious customs with
speak, and live like Christian Americans. that of their new religion.

A Request for Christianity Presbyterian Missionaries

In 1831, three Nez Perce and a Flathead Narcissa Prentiss was a kindergarten
Indian went to St. Louis to visit William teacher in rural New York State who
Clark, who, along with Lewis, had visited dreamed of being a Presbyterian missionary.
them during the famous exploration trip. A minister put her in touch with Marcus
The Indian men asked Clark to send some- Whitman, a young doctor who was planning
one to teach the Christian religion to their a mission in the West. Only married people
people. They thought Christianity would were sent to missions, so the two agreed to
help them understand the white people’s marry. They set out to build a mission in the
ways and their powerful God. A religious Rocky Mountains. They were joined by
newspaper printed the story. Reverend Henry Spalding and his wife Eliza,
who were also on their way to an Indian
Methodist Missionaries mission.

Jason Lee and his nephew Daniel Lee, The Whitmans and Spaldings traveled to
both Methodist ministers from the East, were the Oregon Country with a party of fur
the first to answer the request of the Nez traders. Eliza and Narcissa rode horseback
Perce. Instead of staying with the Nez Perce, on sidesaddles most of the way because the
however, they stopped at Fort Vancouver, small wagon Eliza’s parents had given her
where John McLoughlin advised them to could not make it up the rugged trails. Eliza
settle in the Willamette Valley. The Lees con- and Narcissa were the first white women to
verted few Indians. The Indian people there travel across the entire continent.
did not take to the white people’s religion or
lifestyle, and their children did not like the The Whitmans and Spaldings finally
strict rules of the mission school. arrived at Fort Vancouver, where Dr.
McLoughlin sold them supplies and advised
Jason Lee returned to the states and them about locating a mission. During the
brought fifty more settlers to Oregon. They long trip, which had taken 207 days, the
opened new missions and started settle- Whitmans and Spaldings had a hard time
ments. Lee was active in setting a new gov- getting along with each other. As a result,
ernment for the settlements, and he they decided to build two missions. The
educated the children in his mission schools. Spaldings went to live with the Nez Perce
Accused of neglecting his commitment to Indians along the Clearwater River. The
Whitmans built a mission among the Cayuse
Indians on the Walla Walla River.


More Missionaries The Whitman Mission along the Walla Walla River was built to bring
Christianity to the native Indian people. Called the Waiilatpu Mission, it
Two years later, Congregationalist mis- also served as a rest stop for pioneers. This drawing was made in 1847.
sionary couples joined the Whitmans and
Spaldings. Mary and Elkanah Walker, along Sometimes tragedy struck the children.
with Myra and Cushing Eells, built a mis- The Whitman’s only child, two-year-old
sion among the Spokane Indians near Alice, drowned in the river near their home.
present-day Spokane. The Whitmans eventually adopted sixteen
more children.
Missionaries built log houses and school-
rooms and taught the American Indian men
and women how to raise animals, grow and
harvest crops, grind wheat to make flour, and
weave wool into cloth. Missionaries trans-
lated the Bible into the Indian languages so
they could teach the Indians to read.

The missionaries wrote many letters to
their friends and families in far-off New
England. It took two years for a letter to
receive a reply because everything had to
be sent by ship around the tip of South
America. The letters were published in
newspapers back east and read aloud in
church meetings.

Missionary Children WHAT DO YOU THINK? Narcissa Prentiss
Several children were born at the mis- Do you think people should share
sions—the first white Americans to be born their religious beliefs with others? Do
in the region. The children learned how to you think people should try to change
read and write from their parents. There the lifestyle of other people? Why or
were few supplies. Mary Walker once drew why not?
on a bird’s egg to show the children where
the earth’s continents and oceans were.


Fort Nisqually Lapwai Mission Disease and Death
(Demers) (Spaldings)
Something terrible and unexpected
• Waiilatpu Mission happened to the Indian men, women,
Mission ASTORIA (Whitmans) and especially children when explor-
Bottom Columbia ers, missionaries, and pioneer
R settlers arrived. Indians had no
(Lee) The Dalles Mission

Willamette R St. Pauls (Lee) Marcus Whitman


immunity to European diseases.

Ship’s crews brought smallpox,

measles, cholera, influenza (flu),

and malaria. Entire villages along

the coast were wiped away by


Both Catholics and Protestants opened missions in the In 1847 nearly 5,000
Oregon Country. American pioneers passed

78 Washington I N T H E P A C I F I C N O R T H W E S T

W hitman through the Whitman’s mission. The last doctor, or a shaman, he had special powers
College and wagon train of the season brought many over disease.
Whitman County sick travelers infected with measles. The
are named after Walker children got sick, and at the The angry Cayuse attacked the
the Whitmans. Whitman mission there were both Americans, killing Marcus and Narcissa
children and adults in sickbeds. Several Whitman and eleven others. They took
people died from the infection. forty-seven women and children hostage.
After bargaining with the Hudson’s Bay
At the same time, there was a measles Company officials, the angry Indian men
epidemic among Coastal Indians. The ransomed the prisoners for blankets,
Cayuse Indians near the Whitman mission shirts, tobacco, and muskets.
had no immunity to the disease. When they
came down with measles, over half the tribe The Whitman Massacre caused American
died. It was horrible and frightening for settlers in Oregon to clamor for vengeance
everyone. Dr. Whitman with his simple and protection. Five hundred volunteers
medicines could do nothing to save the assembled a militia. The first war between
people he had tried so hard to help. Some Indians and whites erupted across the
Cayuse, in fact, accused Dr. Whitman of region. The Cayuse War lasted for two years,
starting the disease and trying to kill the until the Cayuse people turned over five
Indians. They thought that since he was a men involved in the killings. The men were
tried and hanged.

Seven Alone Mother Joseph

Eight Sager children were orphaned when their Esther Pariseau,
parents died while traveling west on the Oregon a young
Trail. One was only an infant. Another child was on Catholic girl,
crutches, having broken her leg when she was run joined a convent,
over by a wagon. was sent to
Vancouver. During
Members of the wagon train her forty-six years
cared for the children for the in the Northwest,
rest of the journey. Like most she was known as Mother
other pioneers, the group stayed Joseph. She built hospitals,
for a while at the Whitman mis- Indian schools, academies, and
sion. The Whitmans, whose own orphanages. She did men’s
daughter had drowned, work—unusual in those days—
adopted all of the children. drawing plans, checking
construction, laying bricks, and
The Sagers later experienced carving beautiful woodwork.
the tragic murder of the
Whitmans. Two of the Sager boys Mother Joseph raised
were killed during the assault. money for her projects by
Years later, the Sager girls wrote traveling around the country on
about their experiences in their horseback with other nuns. In
new land. A movie called Seven towns and mining camps, the
Alone was made about them. woman in the black robe asked
for donations to her causes.
This homemade doll once belonged to one
of the Sager girls while they lived with the There is a statue of Mother
Whitmans. It is on display in the museum Joseph in the Capitol Building
at the Whitman Mission National Historic in Washington, D.C.
Site at Walla Walla.



A fter the explorers, traders, trap- explorer found South Pass in years, the trail was used by over
pers, and missionaries came to Wyoming in 1832, and two men 300,000 men, women, and children.
the Pacific Northwest, pioneer made it through the Blue Mountains
families in wagon trains rode or of Oregon in 1840. This opened up Reasons for Going West

walked to the rich new land. The first the way for more pioneers to follow. Why did people go west?

pioneers settled near Fort Vancouver Elijah White, a former missionary • There was a chance to see new
country and to be part of an
or Oregon City, but later groups to Oregon, brought a group of 100

spread out over the fertile land. settlers from Independence, Missouri, adventure.

Traveling across the flat plains to Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1842. • Good farmland was available for a

was relatively easy. The main prob- Their route became known as the low cost. In the eastern states,

lems were crossing the wide rivers Oregon Trail. For the next thirty-five land was crowded, and the over-

and dealing with the weather on worked soil had lost its

the six-month journey. It was fertility.

often hot and dusty or wet and • Merchants, doctors, and

muddy. lawyers came to start busi-

Crossing the high Rocky nesses.

Mountains was difficult, how- • Many people wanted to
ever. Weary families who did escape the problems of slav-

not make it through before the ery, including disagreements
snows fell had to wait until between slaveholders and

spring. Finding passage Most of the earliest pioneers settled near Fort abolitionists.
through steep mountain ranges Vancouver or in Oregon City. This is Oregon City • People wanted to live in a
was not easy. A government in 1846. mild, healthful climate.

80 Washington I N T H E P A C I F I C N O R T H W E S T


Fort Whitman’s ROCKY
Vancouver Mission

Oregon City

Fort Hall M O U N TA I N S

Fort Laramie


South Pass Independence

• Independence


Follow the trail from Lucia Loraine Williams wrote in her 1851 LINKING THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
Independence, diary:
Missouri, to Oregon. How would a trip to a new place
What rivers did the Some . . . were going for wealth change a person’s life? What changes
trail follow? What and honors. Others, who had suf- would a person have to make to
kinds of land did fered from ill health for years, and move to a place that was wild and
people travel over? to whom life had become a burden, unsettled?
What landmarks did expected to regain health . . . For
they see along the some, life was too prosy and tame Getting Ready
way? At what forts did in their old environments. They
they stop to rest and wanted more action, more diversity, Despite rumors of Indian attacks and
get supplies? more thrilling experiences with other hardships on such a long trip, hun-
man and beast. dreds of settlers took the gamble. A family
needed a strong wagon and a team of either
Many young people went west because four oxen or six mules. People had to prepare
their families did. Sixteen-year-old Eugenia enough food for the trip and some to live on
Zieber learned that she would be going on once they reached the new land. Families
who planned to farm (and most planned to
the Oregon Trail do that) also had to take tools and seed.
when she was a stu-
dent at a seminary During the winter before the trip, families
for young ladies in spent the evenings drying apples and grapes,
Pennsylvania. A letter making jerky, baking crackers, and sewing
came from her father cloth sacks and quilts. Even the wagon cover,
just two days before made of canvas, had to be stitched by hand.
Christmas, telling Flour, sugar, tea, salt, and other items were
her about the plan. packed in cloth sacks or barrels.
He wanted to move
the family to a People purchased almanacs or guide-
healthier climate. books and took them along on the trail for


guidance. Some books were reliable, while
others were written by authors who had
never left New York City. After making the trip
westward, travelers joked that they had
tossed their guidebooks away when the going
got rough and the book proved to be useless.

Overland Travel Children were expected to gather buffalo chips, care for younger children,
and not get lost. Painting by Glen Hopkinson
Traveling by wagon was both difficult
and exciting. Many people took diaries with Roles of Men and Women S“ ometimes the
them and wrote about what they saw and dust is so
experienced. Later, diaries were copied and Men did the heaviest work and probably great that the
sent back to relatives, encouraging others to had the most fun. They hunted, bartered with drivers cannot see
make the trip. Indians, drove wagons, and herded cattle. their teams at all
They also raced around on horseback, fired though the sun is
Most people came as family units. Some guns, and went swimming. shining brightly.”
traveled with neighbors with whom they
would settle when they reached the Oregon Women also worked hard driving — Elizabeth Wood,
Country. Other wagon groups were made wagons, setting up camp, cooking over a 1851
up of people who belonged to the same fire, tending the sick, and caring for bored,
church. tired, and hungry children.

People traveled west in groups for sev- Animals of Choice
eral reasons. One was the safety of traveling
with others. Bandits, who were sometimes Oxen were the best choice for T he trip went
dressed as Indians, robbed wagon trains. pulling wagons. They ate quickly from
Another reason was for help with emergen- prairie grass, could pull heavy awe to boredom.
cies. When animals sickened and died, loads, and were not as likely to “If we were only
when wagon axles or wheels broke, or be stolen by Indians as horses in Willamette
when someone got sick, there were other were. Those who could afford it Valley, for I am so
people to rely on. took an extra team in case any- tired of this.”
thing happened to the animals
Pioneers had to wait for spring and the on the trip. — Elizabeth Wood
grass to grow up before making the jour-
ney. With oxen and horses to pull their Cows were taken along to pro-
wagons, they needed to be sure there vide milk. One traveler wrote:
would be grass along the way. The first “The milk can stood nearby and
weeks of travel were usually pleasant. The always yielded up its lump of but-
spring weather was mild and there were ter at night, churned by the
grassy plains and wild flowers along the movement of the wagon from the
way. Rain and mud were sometimes a surplus morning’s milk.”
problem, however.
Families took horses for riding
As the trip went on, the trail dried to and exploring and to have in the
dust. The thousands of oxen and mules new home. Chickens, goats, and
kicked up so much dust that it was nearly dogs also walked the thousands
impossible to breathe if your wagon was in of miles to Oregon.
the rear of the train. Other times, the rain
made the road so muddy the animals could-
n’t pull the wagons through it. The people
got wet and cold. It was hard to prepare
and cook food.

82 Washington I N T H E P A C I F I C N O R T H W E S T

T he wagon Effect on the Land and
roads were so Native People
heavily traveled
that they looked Thousands of oxen, mules, and horses
like highways. grazed their way west. They often spread out
Father de Smet, a for a mile or more beside the wagons. So
Catholic mission- many animals passed through each summer
ary, wrote that the that watering holes were drained by heavy use.
trail was “as Natural grasslands were depleted, so wild
smooth as a barn animals had trouble finding food.
floor swept by the
winds, and not a Always looking for fresh meat, the travel-
blade of grass can ers hunted along the way. This meant that
shoot up on it on the supply of deer, elk, and buffalo that
account of the Indians relied on for food dwindled.
passing.” Pioneers observed Indians and wrote
about them in diaries. One woman observed:
exchange for needles, thread, tools, shirts,
Indians ketch crickets and dry them, and socks. Blankets were also in high
pound to powder, mix with berries, demand. Indians also made moccasins for
and bake it for bread. trade. “Swap, swap” was a common term.
— Catherine Washburn, 1853
End of the Trail
At first the Indians had been friendly and
helpful to the travelers, but after a while As settlers arrived in the Oregon
they grew angry. Sometimes Indians tried to Country, Hudson’s Bay Company officials
get the pioneers to leave the area by burn- directed them to settle south of the
ing the prairie grass. When this happened, Columbia River. The British company
the pioneers’ animals had nothing to eat. wanted to keep Americans out of the area
north of the river, hoping that the region
The Indians had set all on fire except would one day be under British rule.
here and there a spot. The blackness
of praire under our circumstances Americans thought differently. They
presented a dismal sight. We found wanted the excellent harbors of Puget Sound
the grass mostly burned ahead. . . . for American ships. Some people settled
we had to stop because of the fire around Puget Sound and in the Cowlitz River
and smoke. Valley. Places such as Tumwater, Tacoma,
— Levi Jackman Olympia, Centralia, Alki Point (Seattle), and
Port Townsend were founded. At first, how-
LINKING THE PAST TO THE PRESENT ever, most people settled south of the
Columbia River in Oregon.
• Why were the American Indians
angry at the pioneers for killing

• How are wild animals protected
today? Why?


In the Oregon Country, trading between
Indians and pioneers was common. Indian
men offered large pieces of dried salmon in


GEORGE WASHINGTON BUSH WaP sh i ngto n one of the most productive in the area.
was a war veteran and success- George Washington Bush was always
ful cattleman in Missouri. Then OR T RAIT interested in improving his farm and
Missouri passed a law making it spent his last years studying new tech-
illegal for free Negroes to live GEORGE niques. Bush’s son was elected to the leg-
there. Afraid his property would WA S H I N G T O N islature in 1889.
be taken because he was black, Bush sold
his home and business and outfitted six BUSH Bush Prairie
large wagons full of supplies.
George Washington Bush brought his •
George, his wife Isabelle (a white family and neighbors to settle in the
woman who had been a nurse), and their West. Painting by Leandro Della Piana. The town of Bush Prairie
sons left for the Oregon Country. One of is named after George
the Bush children later remembered his land. Congress responded, giving Bush Washington Bush.
father hiding $2,000 in silver underneath legal right to his original homestead.
the floorboards of a wagon. The money H e provided the settlers
made the trip safely. A few years later, the Bush farm was with food for their
first winter and with seed
A few other families joined the Bush for the first sowing. If they
family, and the group joined a wagon had no money, he still
train. When the Bushes arrived in supplied them with what
the Willamette Valley, they discovered they needed.
they could not stay. A law had been
passed that said no Negroes could — Bush’s neighbor
live in Oregon.
Slavery, or Not?
So the Bush party headed north
of the Columbia River. They figured The people who
there would be few Americans there moved to the
to challenge them. They were right. Pacific Northwest
Bush and about thirty others spent brought one big prob-
another month walking beside their lem with them—what
wagons to their new home. to do about slavery.
To keep the question
The little group built log of slavery from creat-
homes, plowed the ground, and ing problems, Oregon
farmed. Nisqually Indians taught residents passed laws
the new settlers to gather oysters, to keep all blacks—
dig clams, and fish for trout and free or slave—out of
salmon. The farms prospered, but the territory.
within a few years the Bush family
once again faced the loss of their

A law said that only white Americans
and mixed-blood Indians could own land.
New settlers wanted the Bush farm
because it was so valuable. Fifty-three
neighbors signed a petition asking that
Bush be allowed to keep his 640 acres of

84 Washington I N T H E P A C I F I C N O R T H W E S T

As [there] is no The First Local in 1843 and asked the U.S. Congress for the
laws in this Government creation of the Oregon Territory. But the
country we do the area was still claimed by both Britain and
best we can. The first rules were made by the British the United States. Both countries wanted
Hudson’s Bay Company. As the num- the rich farmland in a mild climate and the
— Early trapper ber of people grew, and the people natural harbors of Puget Sound.
spread out away from Fort Vancouver, the
BOUNTIES settlers wanted an American government, In the East, James Polk used as his presi-
with a sheriff and courts. dential campaign slogan the phrase “Fifty-
A bounty was a four Forty or Fight.” This meant that the
fee paid for Wolf Meetings U.S. wanted land north of today’s present
killing an animal: boundary, all the way to the 54th latitude
$5.00 panther “Wolf Meetings” were the earliest forms line, the southern border of Alaska. Polk
$3.00 large of local government in the region. Settlers won the election and became president.
held meetings to decide how to handle the
wolf many wolves that were killing cattle and Britain and the United States negoti-
$2.00 bear sheep. Panthers, bears, and bobcats were ated a compromise. They agreed that
also a problem. Settlers agreed to pay a tax Britain would give up its claims to the land
that would be used to pay hunters boun- below the 49th parallel—the area that forms
the border between the United States and
ties for dead wolves. The meetings led Canada today. Finally, the land belonged to
to the first real government in the the United States.
Oregon Country.
In Washington, D.C., there was a lot of
After the Wolf Meetings, about a hundred discussion about the Oregon Territory.
Americans and French Canadians gathered in Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois had
the Willamette Valley store to start a local already proposed that Oregon be admitted
government. There was much discussion as a free territory—free of slavery. Southern
about whether or not the group should senators opposed this because it would
make laws at all. A popular story says that Joe upset the even balance of free and slave
Meek, a fur trapper, finally suggested that the states and territories. The arguments went
noisy group go outside. He directed the men on and on.
in favor of government to stand in one place
and those against to stand in another place. Finally, on the last day that Congress was
The vote was close, but several officials were in session, President Polk created the
elected and laws were written. The first laws Oregon Territory. It was August 1848. Salem,
banned alcoholic drinks. Oregon, became the capital. A young man
from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, was offered
The Oregon Territory the job as governor of the territory, but he
turned down the job.
Thousands of American settlers had
located in the Willamette Valley. They What Is a Territory?
organized a temporary government
Territories were different than states.
The people in a territory could vote for
leaders to send to Washington, D.C., but
the representatives could not vote there.
They could only try to persuade Congress
to make laws that were favorable to the
people in their territory. Back home, most
officials and judges were appointed by
Washington instead of being voted in by
the local people.



Oregon Continental Divid Unorganized The agreement between Britain and the United
Ter ritor y States left one thing unclear: who owned the San
e Juan Islands? Citizens from both countries had settled
1848–1853 there and each thought the other was trespassing.

The new territory included both present-day Tempers were short when a British neighbor’s pig
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of got into an American farmer’s garden and ruined the
Montana and Wyoming. Two of its borders were potato patch. The farmer shot the pig. This set off a
the Pacific Ocean and the Continental Divide. fight between the Americans and British on the island.
Slavery was not allowed in the territory. Sixty-six American soldiers took a position near the
Dividing up the Land
The British were furious and sent three British war-
Because so many Americans wanted to ships to remove the men without firing on them. They
come to Oregon, Congress passed the refused to budge. Eventually five British warships and
Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. It was a over 2,000 soldiers came. Americans, with 155 men
homestead law that allowed each white stationed behind earthen walls, waited it out.
male citizen over eighteen years of age to
claim 320 acres of land for free. If he had a When news reached Washington, D.C., President
wife, they could claim another 320 acres. All James Buchanan sent a commander of the army to
they had to do was live on the land and solve the situation. The British retreated to one end of
grow crops for four years. Because the law the island and the Americans to the other. It stayed
gave land only to white people, few minori- that way for twelve years, until a German leader was
ties came to the region. asked to study the situation. He declared that the
islands belonged to the United States.

The “Pig War” was settled. The only casualty?
One pig.

Washington Becomes Who Owns Oregon?
a Territory
• Convention of 1818—Great Britain and the United
Soon, settlers living north of the States agree to joint occupation of the Oregon
Columbia River wanted to separate Country.
from the Oregon Territory and form
their own government. They thought the • Adams-Onis Treaty, 1819—Spain gives its claims to
government leaders in Oregon were too far the Oregon Country to the United States.
away and that the territory was too big.
After several requests, Washington Territory • Oregon Treaty, 1846—Great Britain retreats north-
was created in 1853. ward. International boundary is drawn at the 49th
parallel. The Oregon Country is finally owned by the
The people wanted the territory to be United States.
named Columbia, but Congress changed
the name so there would be no confusion
with the District of Columbia. It was a huge
piece of country but had only 4,000
American residents and 17,000 American

86 Washington I N T H E P A C I F I C N O R T H W E S T


Wa s h i n g t o n Continental Divid Unorganized L t. John Mullan was given the job of
Ter ritor y building a road between Fort Walla
e Walla and Fort Benton, Montana. The
Oregon road was needed to move supplies and men
State between the two distant forts.

“Below us, in The new territory, created in 1853, included Mullan hired ninety men to do the work.
a deep parts of present-day Idaho and Montana. Six They took fifty pack mules, a herd of cattle
mud, were a few years later, Oregon became a state. for fresh meat, and teamsters to drive forty-
low wooden five freight wagons. A hundred soldiers went
houses at the The First Governor along to protect workers from Indian
head of Puget attacks.
Sound. My heart The first governor of Washington
sank. . . .” Territory was Isaac Stevens. He was also The work was hard. The men had to
appointed as Secretary of Indian Affairs. chop down huge trees. Then they cleared
— Mrs. Stevens, Stevens had been born and raised in the brush and graded the roads, using
after arriving by Massachusetts. He was smart, with lots of mules to drag logs over the ground.
ship energy and ambition. He dreamed that a
railroad would cross the continent, bringing Workers had accidents with axes and
people to Washington Territory. falling trees. One hunter was lost for days.
His legs had to be amputated because of
Stevens traveled west with a group of frostbite. Finally the workers made it to Fort
men who helped survey the route. In Benton.
Olympia, the territorial capital, he worked
to organize the first legislature and create Settlers, traders, and gold seekers used
laws and schools. the road more than the soldiers did. One
entrepreneur used a pack train of seven
camels loaded with merchandise. The odd-
looking camels frightened horses and
caused them to run off.

Indians and Settlers

Isaac Stevens was appointed the first governor of Washington Territory. W hen sea traders and fur trappers
first came to the Pacific
Northwest, Indians were willing to
trade with them and most got along well.
Indians worked for the fur companies and
helped missionaries build homes and

As thousands of settlers came west on
the Oregon Trail, relations between Indians
and whites changed. After 1848, so many
gold seekers used the trail that wild game
could hardly be found. Disease wiped out
whole Indian villages. An era of warfare
lasted thirty years.

You will read more about the conflict
between settlers and Native Americans in
the next chapter.



1. Why did Christian missionaries come to the Oregon Country?

2. Who were some of the early missionaries to Oregon Country?

3. How did disease affect Native Americans? Why did the Cayuse
murder the Whitmans?

4. Why did the Hudson’s Bay Company want Americans to settle
south of the Columbia River?

5. What were the main reasons people wanted to move to the West?

6. What preparations did people make before heading west on the
Oregon Trail?

7. What laws did the early Oregon settlers make to handle the
problem of slavery?

8. Why did George Washington Bush settle north of the
Columbia River?

9. What were some of George Washington Bush’s GEOGRAPHY TIE-IN
admirable personality traits?
10. Why did Britain and the United States both want the
Pacific Northwest?

11. How was the question of ownership of the Oregon
Country and its boundary an example of negotia-
tion and compromise?

12. After the Pig War, which country finally got
ownership of the San Juan Islands?

13. What year was the Washington Territory sepa-
rated from the Oregon Territory? What was the
capital city of Washington Territory?

14. Who was the first governor of the Washington
Territory? What was his other title?

15. What road was built to connect army forts
in Washington and Montana? Who used
the road?

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