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HON. PETER PAQUET – This pioneer of 1852, who is the son of F.X. Paquet and Marie Louise Lannadier de Langdeau, was born in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, on the 13th of January, 1839. He received an education in the private and public schools of St. Louis. In the spring of 1852 he left the city of St. Louis with his parents, who had determined to emigrate to Oregon, the family then consisting of father, mother and six children. They came up the Missouri river on the old steamer Timour No. 2, and in eight days reached the town of St. Joseph, where they completed the outfit.
Sometime in the month of May, with their ox-teams and wagons laden with the provisions for the trip, they took their lives and fortunes in their hands, and started to cross the great American desert, known as the plains. They pursued their journey without particular incident or accident, barring the usual sickness and privations which were the lot of most of the emigrants of that year, until they reached the crossing of Snake river. Here some rascally traders had established themselves for the purpose of swindling the tired emigrant, and buying the running gear of his wagons, after persuading him that he could get into a boat, conjured out of an old wagon-bed caulked up tight with rags, and that he could float down the Snake river into the Columbia, and down the Columbia to the mouth of the Willamette, and up the Willamette directly into the settlements, without any obstruction whatever. To the weary and travel-worn emigrant, who had inhaled the usual amount of alkali dust, this was indeed an alluring prospect.
The Paquets, with several others, concluded to try this river route. a busy scene followed. The running gear of the wagons was sold to the traders, who were there for that purpose, at their own price. Nine wagon-beds were speedily converted into nine little flatboats; and these nine little flats were lashed together three abreast and three deep, making a craft about eleven feet wide, and about thirty feet long. Into this frail craft all the household goods of these sturdy pioneers was placed, oars were rigged, and the command given to start; and this novel craft, with its living freight, consisting of eight men, five women, and about one dozen children, glided gracefully down the stream, the voyagers little thinking of the troubles in store for them. The first afternoon was all that could be desired, and justified the assertions of the traders, about fifteen miles being made. The next day, however, they began to encounter rapids and a rough, rocky bottom; and on the fourth day the great falls were reached, where it became necessary to unlash and detach the wagon-beds, and, taking each one separately, to carry it on the shoulders of men over steep, rough mountains for over half a mile, before it could be placed in the water again. It requir3ed three days of almost superhuman effort to accomplish this result; but it was done successfully, and the journey resumed. Every day brought its new troubles; and such were the difficulties to overcome that it required twelve days to accomplish the journey to the crossing of Snake river near old Fort Boise, a distance that can be traveled by land in about four days.
There our voyagers were informed that it was impossible to reach the settlements in that way, and the journey was given up. The wagon-bed flatboat was sold to some parties for a ferry-boat, and our travelers compelled to resort to ox-teams and wagons again. The weary journey was resumed; and without further incidents, except the usual ones, of stock stampedes, losses of stock, Indian scares, and such trifles, the party reached The Dalles in October. Making the voyage by water to the Upper Cascades and overland to the Lower Cascades, they took passage on the old steamer Multnomah, and arrived in the little village of Portland in November, having been about six months on the journey. The Paquets resided in Portland during the winter of 1852, and in the spring of 1853 moved to Canemah, and in the fall of 1854 moved out on the plains now known as the Paquet Donation claim. The subject of our sketch spent the next seven years of his life on that place, much of the time having charge of the farm, his father being absent working at his trade of boatbuilding.
From 1861 to 1866 he followed the trade of boatbuilding, and then went into the sawmill business till 1869. In 1870 Peter Paquet was elected a member of the legislature from Clackamas county, and served with such satisfaction to his constituents, that he was nominated in 1872 for the office of county clerk, but failed of election by a few votes. In 1874 he was nominated for state senator, and in 1882 for county judge, but shared the fate of most of the Republican ticket, and was unsuccessful. In 1888 he was again nominated by the Republican party of Clackamas county for the legislature, and was elected, receiving the highest number of votes cast for any candidate for the legislature. He served as a member of the house of representatives during the fifteenth regular session, and was recognized as one of the ablest members of that body, and as a hard-working and faithful representative of his constituents. Mr. Paquet has been elected nine times a member of the city council of Oregon City, several times receiving the votes of both parties. He served three times as president of the board of delegates of the Oregon City Fire Department, of which he is an exempt member, and has served one term as mayor of Oregon City.
He was married September 5, 1871,to Miss Sarah E. Hamilton, and has three children, – Louise J., Florence C. and Victor H.H. Mr. Paquet has been a resident of Oregon City since 1870, and has followed the occupation of a general contractor and builder, and has built some of the finest bridges, steamboats and buildings in the state. He is a prominent member of Multnomah Lodge No. 1, A.F. and A.M., and has been engaged for some time in writing up a history of Multnomah Lodge and a biography of its past masters.
In politics Mr. Paquet is an uncompromising Republican, but always aims to be fair, and has the respect and confidence of his political opponents. As a citizen he is a man of high moral character, and where best known is most respected.