Location: Fort Vancouver Washington

Biography of Archbishop F. N. Blanchet

ARCHBISHOP BLANCHET. – The Most Reverend F.N. Blanchet ranked among the apostolic men who laid the deep foundations of the Catholic faith in this country. He was born at St. Pierre, Riviere-du-Sud, Quebec, Canada, September 5, 1795, was educated in the Petit Seminaire, Quebec, and was ordained July 18, 1819, by Archbishop Plessis. At that time Oregon was simply the name given to a territory extending along the Pacific coast from latitude forty-two degrees to fifty-four degrees, forty minutes north, until finally, in 1846, – the year of the accession of Pius IX. to the see of Peter, – all the territory south of the forty-ninth parallel was ceded to the United States. In 1811, the Pacific Fur Company, of which John Jacob Astor, a furrier, and the founder of the New York house of Astor, was a leading member, established a trading-post called Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia river. Afterwards came the Hudson’s Bay Company, employing many Canadians, most of whom were Catholics. Many of them settled and intermarried with the Indians of the territory; and with these there was a demand for Catholic priests and Catholic worship. Application was first made to the Right Reverend J.N. Provencher, bishop of Juliopolie (RedRiver). The demand for Catholic priests was earnestly indorsed by Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, writing from the British capital (1838)....

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Biography of Sir James Douglas, K. C. B.

SIR JAMES DOUGLAS, K.C.B. – The first governor of British Columbia is worthy of more than a passing notice in this work. With a peculiar though undesigned poetical fitness, he first came to the land of his fame on the famous old steamer Beaver. On her he came to Esquaimalt harbor in the summer of 1849. He had gone from Fort Vancouver, where he had been head clerk, to be chief factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in British Columbia. Having founded the city of Victoria, he made his home there, conducting with great ability the work of the company. In 1849 the first governor, Blanchard, had arrived from England; but owing to ill health he resigned in two years and returned home. Douglas was appointed his successor, and took the oath of office in November, 1851. His first official act was to summon all the Indians around Victoria, and pay them in full for their lands. This was one of the numerous similar acts which showed the strong sense of justice possessed by the man. On the other hand, he conducted a most vigorous administration. He restrained outbreaks with a strong hand, and brought offenders to justice with prompt impartiality. The result was that acts of injustice and violence were rare, though a ruffian horde from California tried to manage affairs to suit themselves. But the Governor was...

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Biography of Major Theodore J. Eckerson

MAJOR THEODORE J. ECKERSON. – Major Eckerson, so long and favorably known among the old pioneers of our coast, enjoys also a like enviable reputation in military circles. He was born January 22, 1821, in New York City, and on December 20, 1838, in his eighteenth year, entered the United States army. He served throughout the Seminole Indian war, 1840-42, and in the Mexican war from its commencement to its close. He was a member of the storming parties in the battles of Cerro Gordo and Churubusco. He came to Oregon with the first troops sent after the settlement with England, arriving at Fort Vancouver May 15, 1849. He here established and taught the first school north of the Columbia river in the then territory of Oregon, for the benefit of American settlers, under the auspices of Governor Joseph Lane, and the military commander, Major John S. Hatheway. He was commissioned an officer in the storekeeper’s branch of the United States ordnance department in September, 1853, and held the position until March 21, 1865, when he was appointed to a commission in the United States quartermaster’s department. He was brevetted a major March 21, 1865, “for faithful and meritorious services,” and promoted to the full rank of major January 24, 1881. He served actively until January 22, 1885, when he was retired by law, being then sixty-four years of...

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Biography of Joseph Holman

JOSEPH HOLMAN. – This pioneer of the North Pacific was born in Devonshire, England, in 1817, and came to the United States when nineteen years of age. Three years later he was at Peoria, Illinois, at which place he listened to a lecture on Oregon by Reverend Jason Lee, and was one of the party organized to cross the plains which left early in the spring of 1839, reaching the Willamette after fourteen months of travel, toil, hardships and privation. Many of the incidents of his trip are mentioned in the biographical sketch of Francis Fletcher in this book, he being one of the party of four that remained together during the entire trip to Oregon Territory. The party that left Peoria consisted of sixteen, all of whom but four became dissatisfied upon reaching the junction of the Fort Bent and Santa Fé roads, and turned off upon the later. Holman’s party of four was determined to come on to Oregon, and adopted a motto, “Oregon or the Grave;” and Oregon it was. The three companions of Holman were Francis Fletcher, Amos Cook and R. Kilborne. They reached Brown’s Hole on Green river, where they wintered with Doctor Newell, chief trader of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the Indians, leaving early in February for Fort Hall, where they arrived after two months of desperate traveling over a route that...

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Biography of Rev. John McCarty, D. D.

REV. JOHN McCARTY, D.D. – The Reverend John McCarty, D.D., reached the Pacific coast first in January, 1853, as chaplain of Fort Vancouver. For a time he also had charge of Trinity church, Portland. It was with great difficulty, oftentimes, that he met his appointments at Trinity. There were no easy and frequent communications between the two places then; and he generally walked from Vancouver to Portland. This was no easy matter when the Columbia river was swollen and had overflown the lowlands. It is related of him that he did more than once, when he found the water too high to wade in with simply his shoes and stockings off, take off all his clothes, put them on his head, and proceeded to wade through to the other side. When over he would dry himself, put on his clothes, and proceed on his journey. This was certainly performing duties under difficulties; but it was characteristic of the man. In October, 1854, he removed to Fort Steilacoom, on the Sound, where he remained about a year. While there, he did not confine himself to his duties at the fort, but held church services in the town of Steilacoom, at Olympia and other places. In November, 1855, he went on a visit to the Atlantic states, but returned in April, 1856, and resumed his chaplaincy of the fort and his...

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Biography of Hon. William Lair Hill

HON. WILLIAM LAIR HILL. – The distinguished lawyer, author, versatile writer and thorough student whose name introduces this sketch was asked to furnish such data as might contribute in its production; and he diffidently and reluctantly responded. Among other hastily prepared notes, he answered: “Have lived an honest a life as my environments seemed to allow, mainly for the reason that, according to my hereditary creed, one who is not at least indifferently honest, cannot be very happy. In all my laborious life the one single fact in which I have the slightest pride is that, like Jim Bludsoe, I ‘never flunked,’ even when I thought the laboring oar in work or responsibility was unjustly given me.” Again: “Was a radical Republican from the time of the organization of that party, but really had no particular views on politics except bitter hostility to slavery.” As to his literary tastes, he said: “I have always had a passion for the study of languages; and, though I never had proper advantages at school to gratify that desire, I have employed numbers of private tutors, and have given much time to the acquisition of that branch of learning. I have a reading knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish and Italian, though I will not pretend to any great proficiency or degree of scholarship in any of them. I have been an...

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