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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, August 27, 1911, Image 4

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1911-08-27/ed-1/seq-4/

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D-zring the past week a party of rep
resentative San Franciscans returned
from Astoria, Or., where they went to
join that thriving city at the mouth of
the grand old Columbia in celebrating
its one hundredth birthday. Few cities
in America have greater cause to be
proud of their history than has As
toria. Indeed, the founding of Astoria
marked the founding of American civ
ilization on the Pacific. It came, too.
at the end of the most arduous jour
ney ever made by trail breakers across
a vast continent. The story of As
toria is a vital chapter in the story of
the west. If you do not know this
story by heart, do not fail to read the
brief account which is given on this
A. H. Harris
THE story of the planting of civ
ilization on the Pacific coast goes
back to 1776, when the Spaniards
;*'•/ founded the trading post that aft
erward became San Francisco. .But the
real planting of white settlements
along the coast can he traced to John
Jacob Astor, whose expeditions to the
Columbia river in ISII resulted in the
founding of Astoria and in the perfect
ing of the claim of the United States to
'the vast territory known as the Oregon
None of the great events involving
territorial rights and settlement fol
lowing the dark days at Plymouth Rock
can be compared with the planting of
civilization on the Pacific coast. W-"i.
men dared the wilderness and sun.- «.
the isolation and privation which fol
lowed settlement in old Oregon It re
quired leadership like that of John
Jacob Astor to make the venture suc
cessful. How proper, then, that the
people of the United States should this
year Join in celebrating the centennial
anniversary of the great event.
Astor's crowning desire was to estab
lish a line of trading posts from St.
Louis to the Pacific coast. In further
ance of this object he laid plans to or
ganize the greatest company of his day.
In 1783 the Northwest Fur /company
was organized by wealthy merchants of
Montreal. For a long time this com
pany held sway over the wintry lakes,
and boundless forests of Canada. The
power and influence wielded was sim
ilar to that of the famous East India
company in the realms of the orient. In
fact, the Northwest company held feu-
dal sway over a vast domain of forest
and laka.
About this time the United States
government began to view with appre
hension the growing influence acquired
by a combination of foreigners over the
aboriginal tribes and made efforts to
counteract it. In 1796 agents were sent
through the northwest to establish gov
ernment trading posts on the frontier.
The object was to link the interests of
Indians,- hunters and trappers with that
of the government, to promote a better
feeling, and divert this growing and
important branch of trade into national
channels. The expedition was a failure.
Then there came to the front /the
man of iron • will—John Jacob Astor.
What -the United States government
could not accomplish was brought to a
successful conclusion, and quickly, too.
Astor Jumped,.into the breach and laid
his plans carefully and methodically.
Quietly :he gathered into his ranks men
of financial standing and men with
brains. In 1809 the New York/legisla
ture granted him ' a charter for the
American; Fur company, and the pre
liminary skirmish in/the succeeding
great battle was won. The capital of
the company was. $1,000,000. /
Articles of agreement by John Jacob'
Astor, Alexander McKay,/ Donald : Me-:
Dougal arid Donald McKenzie —one Ger
man and three Scots—were filed*, June
23, 1810, and the Pacific; Fur company
was launched. Astor was to control all
the movements of the .company from
the: home office In , New; York. ; He was
to furnish ships and >' money to f carry
out the enterprise by.sea and river and
land. ' Two expeditions had been de
termined on.
The mouth of the Columbia river was
the objective point .of one expedition.
The Tonquin, a ship of 290 tons with 10
t mounted guns and a crew of 20, was
purchased on which to embark the ex
pedition. A large cargo of merchandise
suitable for barter with the Indians
was loaded, also the frame of a coast
ing schooner. An assortment •of i seeds
for the soil was also / taken aboard.
Twelve clerks, some of whom had seen
service In Indian trading, were en
gaged for the trip. Lieutenant Jona
than Thorn of the United States navy,
was granted a leave of absence to com
mand the Tonquin. September 8, 1810.
the Tonquin set sail from New York
for the Pacific coast. It was a cosmo
politan crew that Commander Thorn
had to manage—Canadian voyageurs,
trappers, and'adventurers from
everywhere. -
/. The Falkland 'islands were sighted.
December 4, and December 7 the Ton
- quin was ;' brought to anchor in Port;
Egmont, where a fresh supply of wa
. ter /" was taken on. Cape Horn was
rounded/without incident and anchor
was dropped at the Sandwich Islands
in ': February.; ' Here a fresh supply of.,
water and provisions was obtained.
February/28 the ship left the Sand
wich , Islands, and March 22 arrived
off the mouth of the Columbia river
with all on board in good health. .Cap
tain Thorn thought it prudent to stand
off until the seas had calmed.
After a few days the captain became
impatient : and" 1 determined to , send a
boat's crew to, find the -channel. Chief
Mate Fox, John Martin and three
Canadians /were ordered to man the
boat. Chief Mate Fox, in , the ; face of
the; angry seas, protested vigorously,
but the captain was inexorable/and the k
boat was sent out; No trace of 5 boat
or crew was ever found. Two other 4
men, Aikin and Coles,- were also,
drowned on a similar expedition:'.
The waters having calmed, the Ton
quin wat sailed into Baker's bay April;
6, 1811, and the founding/of a trading;
post was begun. April 12 a called
Point George, was selected. The great
ftmbltlon of John Jacob Astor's life
was being realized.
The story of the daring and hard
ships of the land expedition sent to the
mouth of the/Columbia river by John
Jacob Astor at the same time /reads
like fiction. The undertaking
of the time, the * most uniques expedi
tion in ; the / history "of /America,/ tre
; mendous :in results, the plan of Astor
Judged coolly in/the. light of later days,
appear •as the dream r > of a man
whose ; foresight / has seldom, -if/ever,*
Planting American
Civilization on the
Pacific Coast
been equaled In this country.
/In 1809 Great Britain and the United;
States were recognized rivals-, for the
possession of the undeveloped north-,
west. The territory covered half a
million of square miles. The acquisi
tion at this would enhance the power
and wealth of any nation: very mate- ;
rially. The wise men of England and
of America were-slowly getting', their
eyes open to the great possibilities of
this unexplored region.
The Astor land expedition started
from Montreal in July, 1810, in charge
of: Wilson P. Hunt,'" inexperienced,. in
Indian trade. Hunt took /with him
Donald McKenzie, who had traded and
associated with the redmen for 10 years.
Thirty men comprised the ,- expedition.
The men were mostly Canadian voya
geurs, hardened to toil and abounding in
Indian experience. A large amount of
stores, among which were plenty of
arms and . ammunition, were. embarked
In a large canoe arid the party started
up the Ottawa river. Mackinaw, at
the confluence of s lakes Huron and
Michigan, was reached July, 22. Needed
supplies were obtained here and August
-12 the expedition was/en route to -St.
Louis, - ; Mo. The route chosen was via;
Green bay,' the Fox and Wisconsin
rivers, to Prairie dv Chien, thence
down the Mississippi. / At/Mackinaw,'
Peter Dorm, a well known , and exper
ienced interpreter, was attached to;the
party. :'//// * ','.
St. Louis was reached without Inci
dent September 3. Here the expedi
tion encountered.the Missouri Fur com
pany. The latter threw every obstacle
possible in the way of Mr. 1, Hunt; In car/
rying out project. : He succeeded In
: recruiting 30; more men, however,/ and
on October 21 embarked > his party and
started .up the Missouri . river.'... At the
mouth the Nodawa river,; 450. miles
from St. Louis, he ; decided to ?.. remain
for the winter, as the river had begun
to freeze.
Having heard alarming reports about
the ; lndians along the [ route he-was/to
follow. Hunt concluded ,to augment his
force. He -„ left for St. Louis ; January
1, 1811,: one yof j his purposes . being to
obtain the services of , a Sioux Inter
preter. /He ; reached / the ', camp *; or: / the
Nodowa April 17 ; with several/re
cruits. Breaking camp, the party on
the 2Sth reached the mouth of the Ne
braska and Platte rivers May- 10,
the expedition arrived at ;Omaha, 830
-. . ~\-. ..--■- .--. -- t" .mi ii, irr ■>i Hi Jti r* n ,m' ■— n._~lwn V
miles from the mouth of the Missouri.
In the face of ■ a' cold wind the men
set out ■ to cross the Rocky mountains.
Astoria, Oregon, Celebrates the Centennial of Its
Founding by John Jacob Astor's Men as the
i-"SSL Climax of One of the Most Arduous and
V Heroic Expeditions in All History.
Hunt, however, made/the: mistake of
going in a southwesterly direction.; The
party ■}. became lost f and struck .the \ Big
Horn mountains in Wyoming. /' Hunt
followed the Big Horn and /Big Wind
rivers arid after many days reached
the Rocky mountains. The ; crossing of
this great range involved intense suf
-■ - ' ' • '. ' ' v .l h*""(h-/-*.«* i*"V - , * v * t -» -'-V?
fering. At times the men nearly fam
ished t for want of .food and had to kill
one of the horses to allay their hunger.-;
The ; ; passage ;of the mountains being
accomplished the expedition moved on
until it •; struck Mad river. / Crossing
; the river the party proceeded westward.
Here the greatest trials :of the ad
venturers began. Wandering for weeks
and months In the wilderness,
reduced to the necessity of eating horse
or dog meat, and worn out by; continu
-£.» i .4,..■-*""'.'*■' /".*- ' ** - •"-•- , "- • » '-* "•
ous walking,! the men were on the. verge
In" i mmtm*-vf- r -.. in ii(iiini««iiiAii| in iimihiiii ij
of despair. Hunt, however, never gave up.
Pushing forward, a post built by
Major Henry, but abandoned, was found
on. the upper i'Columbia. and here; Hunt
decided .to establisn a permanent post
r-*-or.-i|i*^^w«^'«^»)WiWißM«B^^^f#z^,.- :"*~f.7<*»"- '-» i-- - - -»-,-" .%,*,.
but the idea was abandoned. The con
struction of canoes at this point was
begun, and fifteen were finished. Octo
ber 18, the weary pilgrims embarked
and floated onward toward the west.
October 21, a dangerous point was cm
countered where the canoes had to be
cautiously passed down the rapids with
a line. The expedlti6n had traveled
280 miles without seeing a human be
ing except themselves or catching sight
of a habitation. Here a wandering
tribe of Shoshones welcomed and dl
v provisions with the party. • Hunt
camped' here for nearly two weeks, dur
ing which time foria was obtained from
v< the Indians. // -~r v „
On resuming, the Journey rapids were
encountered wherein a canoe was upset
land Antone Clapplone was drowned and
//the contents of the canoe lost At the
mouth of the Watia Walla river a band
of Indians was met who said that white
men had gone down the river some time/
before. Hunt was rejoiced to hear this,
as he believed they were of the party
led by McKenzie and McLellan, who left
Million f - .-..-•- . •
The San Francisco Sunday Call
the- expedition; In ; the wilderness. The
Great FaUs of the Columbia (Cascade
locks)/were reached January 31. Here
the expedition learned the first tidings
of the settlement of Astori^ "by parties
sent out on the ship Tonquin from New
York city, September 8, 1810. The blow
ing up of the Tonquin by the heroic
Lewis and the destruction of more than
one hundred Indians was told .with awe.
February 5 the canoes were" again
placed on the river and the party pro
ceeded leisurely toward trie: sea.
February 15 the party came in sight
■ of the infant settlement of Astoria,
and a shout of gladness went up from
the tired and hungry party that awoke
an answering cry among handful
of men In the new settlement.*' The
long Journey was ended./
The /Astor land expedition < stands -
without a peer in the annals of> Ameri
can history. Lost in the wilderness, /
reduced to eating horse and dog
; meat. • menaced by hostile tribes of In
dians, ; deserted; by half of the party,
with; af > record - of one year, seven
months-and five, days en route, with the
less of only two men by death, the
expedition managed by Hunt rivals any
expedition of its character in the world.
McKenzie and McLellan, together
with the men who \ left the main party
in the wilderness, • were on hand to
greet Hunt and hie :.' men. There was
great rejoicing when the Astoria con- ;
tlngent was reinforced by nearly «0 „Xr
men of experience. Hope, the buoy- ™
ant star, shone brighter / upon the »
horizon for the few white men who
were to establish civilization on the
Pacific coast.

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