Clackamas County History 1844 to 1848


Settlement in Clackmas County began to expand beyond the tiny towns at the future sites of Linn and Oregon City. Some 700 American newcomers reached Oregon this year.

In 1844, Capt. Avery Sylvester in the ship Chenamus brought Pettygrove and Foster's trade goods--salted salmon, cedar shakes, and barreled peas-- from Oregon City to the Grimes wholesalers in Hawaii. Oregon City--with its above-Falls portage at Canemah-- was a natural trading spot for upriver produce from French Prairie and the Twality Plains.

This same year, Francis Pettygrove and A.L. Lovejoy (both Oregon arrivals of 1843) bought William Overton's land claim at the future site of Portland for $50. (Lovejoy had acquired half the claim for 25 cents by putting up Overton's filing fee). Unlike Oregon City's location, the densely wooded site of Portland included a harbor deep enough for ocean-going ships and was situated on the Willamette River below the treacherous Clackamas rapids and the Willamette Falls. At first derisively called Stumptown, the new town surpassed Oregon City as a port within 6 years.

Lovejoy and Pettygrove wished to name the new place after familiar New England towns, but couldn't decide between New Boston or Portland. After a merry dinner party at Francis Ermatinger's in Oregon City, the two men chose the name Portland with a flip of a coin.

On his claim across the river from  Oregon City, Hugh Burns launched ferry service between Multnomah City and Green Point in Oregon City, the area of the Methodist Mission and George Abernethy's claim (that is north of John McLoughlin's and south of Hiram Straight's). The ferry route was just south of today's bridge over Willamette River on I-405.

On March 4, 1844 at Champoeg, a meeting was held to consider a petition to the US Congress to extend US authority over Oregon. The majority at this particular meeting were French Canadians (in spite of being outnumbered by English-speaking settlers in Oregon about 234 to 122). The proposal was voted down and Father Langlois presented a petition signed by many French Canadian settlers. This petition suggested a simpler form of government free of association with both the US and Britain.

Some among the English-speaking settlers and missionaries had kept a secret agenda towards US juristiction over Oregon from the very first Wolf Organization meeting. The French were not particularly interested in British/Canadian rule which left only Hudson's Bay Company authorities and distant British strategists to oppose the Americans. The sheer numbers of American settlers who arrived on the Oregon Trail made British possession a moot question.

In the evening of March 4, a melee on the Willamette River landing at Oregon City left two Americans and one Molalla Indian, warrior chief Cockstock, dead. Accounts vary, but apparently Cockstock was angered by an accusation that he had stolen a horse. He came to Oregon City with three companions, crossed the river by ferry to bring back an interpreter, and met with violence on his return to the City.

That night a party of Molalla horse-raiders harassed Kalapuyas living near Gervais (the Old Mission). Although this remnant of the Kalapuya was described as "dispirited and sickly" they mustered 20 warriors. The next morning the Kalapuyas in feathers and paint set out to pursue the Molallas but could not find them.

Five days later, due to the Cockstock Affair, a meeting was held at the home of Andre LaChapelle in Champoeg to create a militia, the Oregon Rangers. There was an (unsubstantiated) story that a "shower of arrows" had fallen on Oregon City from the cliffs behind the settlement. Although the militia was made official by one of the first acts of the new Provisional Government, the Rangers never were called upon to fight.

May 14, 1844, about 200 voters turned out to elect a new Oregon Provisional Government. The government met for the first time on June 18 at the home of Felix Hathaway in Oregon City. They elected officers, formed committees, and passed their first act on June 22. The first bill changed the name "district" to "county," and  created the new county of Clatsop.

Later bills passed by the 1844 Provisional Legislature established a militia, a one-man executive, and revised the 1843 rules on land claims. Each (white or Indian/white) man in Oregon could claim 320 acres, or a man and wife could claim 640 acres--an entire township section (one square mile).

The first all African American wagon train, led by George Washington Bush, came to Oregon in 1844 but was refused entry upon reaching the Dalles; the party then crossed the Columbia into future Washington territory. Unlike the 1843 government, the new 1844 Legislature banned free blacks as well as slavery. A petition--signed by 113 white settlers--asked the Legislature to allow George Bush's party of African American Trail emigrants to settle in Oregon. In 1846, the Legislature exempted Bush alone from the law.

The law's stipulation of harsh punishment followed by exile for any black person who entered the State was never enforced. Status as US territory (1849) changed this law to allow those already in Oregon to remain but upheld the ban on future African American emigration to Oregon. From the very beginning, however, a few African Americans remained in Oregon and were joined by others who arrived on the Oregon Trail.

Because no black or "mulatto" (mixed race excepting half or less Indian) person could formally make a land claim, few black emigrants chose Oregon as a destination. Hawaiians, also excluded from filing land claims, quit Oregon and returned to the Sandwich Islands in great numbers after 1844. The U.S. Constitution abolished this law in 1868 but it was not formally repealed by the Oregon Legislature until 1926.

Oregon City was named the first Capital of Oregon by the Provisional Legislature. At this time, a trip between Molalla and Oregon City took all day and, from Salem to Ft. Vancouver, over a week.

Oregon City also was incorporated by the Legislature--the first incorporated city west of the Rockies. The first municipal election took place the next year. For a few years, people still refered to Oregon City by its old name, Willamette Falls.

Rev. George Gary arrived by ship to dissolve the Methodist Missions in Oregon on orders of the east coast Methodist missionary board. Only Wascopam Mission at the Dalles operated for a few more years under American Board (Congregational/Presbyterian) leadership. The extent of Methodist land claims--one square mile around each mission, which over-lapped Dr. McLoughlin's claim at Oregon City--became controversial as the land passed to private hands.

The Methodist Church opened in Oregon City on the corner of Seventh and Main in 1844. Under the leadership of Rev. Gustavus Hines, it was the first Protestant church building (rather than mission) west of the Rockies. Methodist missionary Rev. Alvin F. Waller transfered to the Dalles while other missionaries ministered to the settlers or established their own farms and businesses.

This same year, Congregationalists organized the Presbyterian (unofficial) Church of the Willamette Falls.

George Abernethy took over the debts owed to the Methodist Mission for $20,000, bought the mission store's stock, and continued business in Oregon City.

The Hudson's Bay Company opened a general store this year in Oregon City to compete with Abernethy's, Couch's, and Pettygrove's establishments.

The credit and trade provided by stores was essential to Oregon because there was no currency and commerce proceeded by barter. At various times tobacco, wheat, and other commodities were treated as legal tender with set values.

John McLoughlin hired Jesse Applegate to survey more acres to the south of Oregon City's original plat.

James M. Athey opened a furniture factory in Oregon City. Although he had the only such factory in the Northwest, Athey's company could not compete with second-hand furniture arriving in large shipments from the East Coast.  Athey worked at the flour mill, made money repairing damaged cargo, built and operated a metal turning lathe in Oregon City. Around 1851, he took a land claim near the Tualatin River (Wankers Corner) and built a small steamship.

The Provisional Legislature authorized construction of a new jail. With the funds Clackamas County had received from Ewing Young's estate, the legislature authorized a more substancial institution for Oregon City and John McLoughlin donated a lot. The jail between Water Street and the river (between Fourth and Fifth) was the first public building in Oregon.

The Oregon Trail brought approximately 700 newcomers to Oregon after a miserable trip due to an early cold spell and a lack of food. During the winter of 1844-45, Robert Moore rented tents to the new arrivals at his settlement, Linn City, on the opposite bank of the Willamette River from Oregon City.

Sydney Moss personally financed the first school in Oregon City which was taught by J.P. Brooks. The N.W. Randalls also opened and operated a school in their home in 1844 which was a meeting place for the Legislature. (It was near the site of the Oregon City Seminary).

During the winter this year, the Willamette River flooded enough to allow the Falls to be navigated by canoe.


The second Oregon Provisional Legislature met at the home of T. Magruder in Oregon City. On July 25, they adopted a constitution and laws.

The borders of Clackamas County were modified by the Provisional Legislature in December of 1845. The County's southern border expanded slightly to include the town of Butteville (later returned to Marion County). The northern border followed the Columbia River and then stretched east along the 46th parallel to the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Finally, some of Clackamas County became a part of Tuality (later Washington) County as Clackamas's western border moved to the Willamette River and excluded the towns of Linn and Multnomah City.

The Hudson's Bay Company officially recognized the provisional government. The government's executive committee was reorganized and changes were made to allow British participation in the government. Two thousand settlers now resided in the Willamette Valley.

Without a formal treaty between Britain and the United States, the national status of Oregon was still in doubt. The Hudson's Bay Company brigade brought a two-man secret military exploration team from Canada on orders from the British head of the HBC, Gov. George Simpson.

British lieutenants M. Vavasour and I. Warre, an artist, surveyed the Oregon country while pretending to be "gentlemen of leisure". They surveyed for possible forts at Cape Disappointment, Point Adams, and Tongue Point. The spies' mission also considered plans for reinforcing Ft. Vancouver and the British occupation of Oregon City.

The international border treaty, signed just a year later, made British interest in Oregon a moot point. Warre's Map of Oregon City

In 1845 George Abernethy built a large, two-storey mercantile in Oregon City, the first brick structure in Oregon. Abernethy also would create the first "money" in the Northwest. He hired an Indian arrowhead-maker to shape rocks; on these Abernethy pasted dollar denominations. A man who was flush would say he "had a pocket full of rocks."

Abernethy was elected Oregon governor this year but recieved word of his election while he was on a business trip at sea. He was re-elected in 1847.

Portland, which later eclipsed Oregon City as a center of commerce, was platted this year as a mere 14 blocks. It had only a cabin or two in 1845 but within 10 years became the richest city in Oregon.

Consortiums developed to control river traffic on the Willamette River. Robert Newell and company operated the ships Mogul and Ben Franklin; Indian crews plied these vessels between Champoeg farm lands and the Willamette Falls portage at Canemah. Medorum Crawford then off-loaded goods and transported them to Oregon City. There, the cargo was loaded onto Englishman Aaron Cooke's schooner Calipooia for the four- day voyage to Astoria.

Moore's Robin's Nest grew to 15 buildings by 1845 from the two cabins and many tents of the year before. In December, Moore renamed the settlement Linn City to honor his friend (and Oregon champion) Senator Lewis F. Linn.  A few structures were in place at the nearby future site of Multnomah City by 1845.

Multnomah Circulating Library was established at Oregon City

St. John's Church, the first Catholic church (rather than mission) in the Pacific west north of California, opened in Oregon City at the corner of Water and Tenth.

Francis Ermatinger--former brigade leader for the Hudson's Bay Company and a familiar figure on the Oregon Trail--settled and built a home in Oregon City this year. (The 1845 Ermatinger House, the oldest surviving home in Oregon City, has been preserved as a museum on Sixth Street).

This year, the Baptists dispatched Hezekiah Johnson and Fisher to the Oregon country. Fisher settled in Clatsop while Johnson remained in Oregon City to begin a church.

The first court under the Provisional Government was held at Oregon City

Thomas Jackson, an Oregon Trail arrival this year, planted the county's first crop of oats on his land claim west of Molalla. Wheat was the usual crop of choice (to the extent that units of wheat were used as currency for a time in Oregon).

Settlement began in the New Era region this year with the land claim of Joseph Parrot. John G. and Elizabeth (Ensley) Gribble moved there the next year and, in 1849, the widow Elizabeth Alprey became a neighbor.

This year, the Oregon Trail brought approximately 3000 into the Willamette Valley by fall, most ending their travels on the Trail with transport by canoes and rafts along the Columbia River. As in other years, a few were able to herd cattle and horses along the Columbia shore or on the Daniel Lee Trail north of Mt. Hood--both land routes were mere footpaths which required many river crossings and provided poor forage. After 1845, the addition of the Barlow Road to the western end of the Trail allowed a more direct route to Oregon City which was passable for wagons.

In September of 1845, Samuel Kimbo Barlow, William Rector, 13 wagons with 19 adults and several children, plus about 50 head of livestock arrived at Wascopam Mission (at the Dalles) in a ragged and needy state. Supplies at the mission were meager and expensive. Worse, the travelers faced a long delay before they could make arrangements for pricey and dangerous transport down the Columbia River.

So many in the party set off to find an alternate route to the Willamette Valley. Heading south from the Columbia at Dog (Hood) River, they made way along Indian trails into the Tygh Valley where they made camp. Barlow and Rector left the main body of their party and scouted ahead to look for a route around Mt. Hood but found no passage for wagons on the northern route. This route, sometimes called the Daniel Lee Trail, led south from Hood River toward the north side of Mt. Hood, through Lolo Pass and down the Sandy River into the Willamette Valley. Just before the two scouts returned, Joel Palmer and a larger group-- 23 wagons and 15 families-- joined the party in the valley.  In early October, the combined parties-- with some 30 wagons-- headed west across Kilp Creek and White River, occassionally having to haul the wagons upslope by rope. They made camp at a spot near what is now Barlow Creek.

Again men were sent ahead while the main body of wagons, families and livestock remained encamped. This time Porter Loch joined Barlow and Palmer to scout for a southern route around Mt. Hood. By the second week of October, with winter pressing in, the scouts returned; they had not found a wagon route but had found a likely camping spot at (present day) Summit Meadows just a few miles from the peak. Here the party built Ft. Deposit to temporarily stash wagons and supplies. Most of the travelers returned to the Columbia either going back to Wascopam or making way on the north side of Mt. Hood on the Daniel Lee Trail.

Barlow and Rector left their families with some others at Ft. Deposit . The two pressed ahead on foot to go for supplies inOregon City, a disasterous expedition that left them starving and lost. Eventually, they encountered a group of drovers at the Sandy River (near present-day Zigzag) and traveled with them on a stocktrail into Oregon City. There they secured provisions and headed back toward Ft. Deposit.

Meanwhile: a heavy snow-storm hit Ft. Deposit shortly after Barlow and Rector set out. Joel Palmer, William Buffams and wife, and Mrs. Arthur Thompson decided to leave the miserable conditions at the fort and headed down the mountain. On Oct. 19th they met a party of drovers on their way up to Ft. Deposit with rescue supplies. The Buffams and Mrs. Thompson went on to Oregon City (arriving Oct. 22) while Palmer turned back to the fort. When he was again heading toward Oregon City, Palmer met Rector and Barlow on their way back to Ft. Deposit (Oct. 25). Rector took his wife back to the Dalles while Barlow, his wife Susannah, and the Caplingers set out for Oregon City. This last party reached Oregon City on Christmas Eve. William Berry, perhaps with one companion, returned from Oregon City to stay at the now-deserted fort and guard the party's supplies throughout the harsh winter of 1845-46.

Unlike Barlow, Palmer had discovered southern route around Mt. Hood which led to McSwain Prairie (later Foster Farm), an area with several settlers and a good road to Oregon City. But it was Samuel Barlow who spent his first days in Oregon City lobbying for construction of a wagon road through the Cascades on the south flank Mt. Hood. This final overland stretch of the Oregon Trail became the Barlow Road.

The Molalla area increased in population as William Barlow (son of Samuel K.), Absolom Hedges (Sam K. Barlow's son-in-law), and William Larkins (William Barlow's father-in-law) took claims with adjacent corners. This pattern-- extended families taking up claims near each other-- was typical of the type of settlement fostered by the Oregon Trail.

Mt. St. Helens erupted in a column of black smoke this year.


Wagons on the Trail this year featured a painted slogan, "54'40 or Fight," an expression of determination to make the Pacific Northwest American rather than British.

The Applegate Trail was established off of the Oregon Trail just after Ft. Hall, Idaho, as a more direct route to southern Oregon.

Provisional Legislature authorized Sam K. Barlow to construct a toll road over the Cascade Mountains south of Mt. Hood to Oregon City. With a $4000 loan from Philip Foster, Sam Barlow hired 40 men to construct the road. The road was ready for the late summer travel season and tolls ($5 per wagon and 10 cent per livestock head) would repay the investment. Foster, who kept meticulous records, recorded 152 wagons on the Barlow Road in this first year, 1846. (Barlow and his sons William and James collected the tolls at the gate at Strickland Farm near Gate Creek during 1846 and 1847, near present-day Wamic; half the proceeds went to Foster to repay the loan).

Map of the Barlow Road

Rueben Gant was the first to drive a wagon on the new Barlow Road from (the now abandoned) Ft. Deposit to Oregon City as the route became open in July. The road would officially open-- and begin collecting tolls-- in September, the main Oregon Trail travel season. By October, about 145 wagons passed that way with 7 coming a bit later.

The United States and Great Britain agreed on an international border for the Pacific Northwest. The border between British Canada and the United States was set at the 49th parallel by the Treaty of 1846. President Polk signed the Treaty on June 15 and it was ratified on the June 19. News of the Treaty took a while to reach Oregon; chief factor of the HBC, James Douglas, was notified in November 1846 and sent word to Gov. George Abernethy in Oregon City via the bark, Toulon.

The treaty allowed for British subjects to keep their land claims and for the HBC to continue business (non-military) for a dozen years in Oregon Territory. North of a line tentatively set at the Columbia River, the Hudson's Bay Company was allowed to operate as usual until 1858.

Hudson's Bay Company headquarters moved from Fort Vancouver to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. John McLoughlin resigned his position as Chief Factor for the Hudsons Bay Company and moved to Oregon City from Ft. Vancouver. He soon became an American citizen.

The John McLoughlin family moved into their new two-storey frame house in Oregon City at the corner of Third and Main. (This home was moved to Central Street on Singer Hill in 1909 and preserved as a museum).

The Treaty of 1846 officially reduced the size of Clackamas County by 200 miles, by all of the territory north of the Columbia River. (While all the land up to the future northern border of Washington State was now under U.S. jurisdiction, the county only extended as far north as the border of Provisional Oregon).

The Oregon Spectator, the first newspaper west of the Rockies, began publication in Oregon City in February, 1846. The paper's publisher, the Oregon Printing Association, included William Green T'Vault as salaried editor plus the corporate board of J.W. Nesmith, John P. Brooks, and Governor George Abernethy.

By April, T'Vault was fired as editor; he was a Jeffersonian Democrat while publisher Abernethy was a staunch Whig. H.A.G. Lee succeeded as editor while T'Vault became both editor and publisher in the Jacksonville area.

By this year, Oregon City's population was about 500. There were about 1500 Americans in all of Oregon Country.

The Provisional Legislature of 1846 (16 members) met in the home of H.M. Knighton in Oregon City. (He later succeeded Joe Meek as US Marshall for Oregon).

In 1846, Oregon City was declared the first Roman Catholic ecclesiastical province in the Northwest.

R.R. Howard operated a mill at his land claim on Milk Creek near the later site of Liberal. George Abernethy took control of the Island Milling Company (formerly a mission enterprize) in Oregon City.

Beginning this year, Col. Aphonse Boone ( the grandson of Daniel Boone) operated Boone's Ferry over the Willamette River between the south end of Boone's Ferry Road (Wilsonville) and Oregon City. The ferry operated until 1954 when it was replaced by the Baldock Freeway (I-5).

A tannery opened at Canemah in 1846. Frontier life in Oregon made buckskin trousers preferable to cloth.


The US Post Office took over the (now and then) mail service operated by Oregon's Provisional Government. This year, 1847, the first US post office in the Pacific Northwest opened at Oregon City.

Oregon City achieved some other firsts this year: Mrs. N.M. Thornton opened a female school in Oregon City; the first stock of dry goods and women's wear arrived in Oregon City aboard the brig, Henry; Judge Skinner opened the first Circuit Court in Oregon City; Sidney W. Moss opened Oregon City's first livery stable; Oregon Printing Association published the first almanac for the Pacific Coast at Oregon City; Carlos W. Shane bound the first books ever printed in English in Oregon; M.M. McCarver, resident of Oregon City, brought the first piano to Oregon; and the First Baptist Church, under Hezekiah Johnson, opened in Oregon City.

Oregon City's Spectator newspaper advertised goods for sale at Couch's, at Abernethy's, and at Kilborn, Lawton and Company.

Gov. George Abernethy dispatched J. Quinn Thorton as a secret delegate from Oregon to Washington D.C.; Abernethy planned to counter the Legislature's delegate, Joe Meek, and to promote the missions' interests. The claims of former missionaries-- to large acreage and to merchandise (Abernethy) and a mill-- were resented by some as taking unfair advantage of funds and goods donated to mission charities.

In March, artist Paul Kane explored places in the Willamette Valley such as Oregon City and St. Paul (Champoeg). He published his sketches as "Wanderings of an Artist Among the Indians of North America...".

In Spring of 1847, Mt. St. Helens had two minor eruptions.

Absolom Hedges, who had wintered on Moore's land after arrival on the Trail in 1844 before he took a land claim at Molalla, moved to a piece of land just above the Willamette Falls on the east bank. He became partners with William Barlow who had also sold his claim at Molalla to take up business in Oregon City. Together they platted a new town site.

The piece of land above the Falls was called Canemah (after the Kalapuyan word "kanim" or canoe place) where the Clowwewala Indian band had maintained a small camp. The small, deep-watered cove was a traditional landing spot for portage around the Falls. Although Hedges dubbed his town plat "Falls City", everyone continued to call it "Canemah." (The first steam ship on the upper river was also named Canemah.)

Walter Fish settled near a big bend in the Willamette River northeast of Canby. This family name--not abundant salmon--gave the place the name Fish Eddy (originally Fish's or Fishes Eddy).

Horace and Jane Baker settled at a spot just off the Barlow Road near the future site of Carver (at one time called Stone). Because Baker was a stonecutter by trade, he decided to settle near the large basalt outcropping on Holcomb Hill (about a mile north of the Clear Creek crossing on the Barlow Road). The rock that Baker quarried and shaped was rafted down the Clackamas River to barges on the Willamette. Baker's quarry supplied the stone for Portland Pioneer Courthouse, the Portland Hotel, Willamette Falls Locks, and Tillamook Lighthouse.

James Marshall Moore (son of Linn City's founder, Robert Moore) established a claim just north of his father's and built his home near the mouth of the Tualatin River. Within two years, James Moore had a lumber and grist mill and, in the early 1850's, operated the ship facilities and mill at the upper Willamette Falls. The site later became Willamette neighborhood near West Linn.

The  Luelling family arrived on the Oregon Trail this year with a stock of seedling fruit trees. Settling near Milwaukie, Seth Luelling became a renowned orchardist and cherries eventually became a major Clackamas County crop. Other well-known orchardists were George W. Walling, William Meek, and Joseph H. Lambert. The Lambert, Bing, Royal Anne, and Black Republican cherry varieties were all born in the county. The popular Bing cherry was developed, and named for, Luelling's Chinese nurseryman, Bing Ah.

George Walling settled on the west bank of the Willamette and his brother Gabriel directly across on the east. George Walling is credited with the Major Francis cherry and the Champion prune.

Champing Pendleton became the first white settler in the Canby area and soon operated a ferry across the Willamette. (Micajah Baker may have wintered near the site of Canby in 1813-14 and James Baker was there in the 1830's-- perhaps explaining the name Baker Prairie). Local Indians had periodically burned clearings in the region to maintain a plentiful supply of strawberries and other berries. In time, Canby was famed for its bulbs.

Late in the year, Philip Foster bought half of McSwain's land claim at Eagle Creek and began a farming business arrangement with McSwain and R. McEwan who held the adjacent properies.

The Whitmans and twelve others were killed by Cayuse Indians at the Waiilatpu Mission (Washington) in November 1847. News of the Massacre reached Oregon City in early December 1847--the day after the Legislature convened for the first time--and the Willamette Valley was up in arms. Gov. Abernethy appointed Robert Newell, H.A.G. Lee, and Joel Palmer as a peace commission while the Legislature appointed Col. Cornelius Gilliam to lead troops.

Account of the Whitman Massacre


The Hudsons Bay Company's Peter S. Ogden, with the help of Umatilla area priests, ransomed hostages taken during the Whitman Massacre in January 1848. Some of the children orphaned in the Massacre were taken into Oregon City homes. Further news about the Massacre also reached Oregon City and brought reports of rapes and shocking accounts of the murders.

Major Henry A.G. Lee organized a Willamette Valley voluntary militia (from Champoeg, Salem, and Oregon City) and joined them with regular forces (less than 100 men) under Col. Cornelius Gilliam near the Dalles in late January or early February 1848. At the time the Oregon treasury held $43.72 (with debts of $4000) so the merchants of Oregon City donated $1000 for the war effort; Willamette Valley farmers donated bushels of wheat, at this time legal tender in Oregon.

The Whitman Massacre and the subsequent Cayuse War led to one battle in the Willamette Valley, the Battle of Abiqua Creek, followed by a shameful massacre. Some whites claimed local Molallas and Klamaths became more aggressive during 1848. Certainly, everyone in the Valley was fearful--and armed--during this time.

Klamath Indians (led by Red Blanket) had come, as usual, during the winter of 1847-48 to winter over with their Molalla allies (under Crooked Finger) in Clackamas County. In late February or early March, a settler's calf was stolen and his neighbors ordered all Indians to leave the County. Crooked Finger urged the Klamaths to stay with him and remain in the county. But Red Blanket led his people south of Butte Creek and camped near Abiqua Creek (north of Silverton, Marion County).

Local white settlers organized a militia in Marion County headed by Ralph C. Geer and Daniel Waldo. They fought the Klamaths on March 4, 1848 and routed them. The next day--with the Willamette Valley Home Guard cavalry under Allan Davies joining the militia force--a more decisive battle took place on Indian Bluff. Twelve Klamaths, including Red Blanket, were killed and one militia member wounded.

The following day, March 6, troops followed Indians who had retreated down into a steep canyon and slaughtered a great number, all of them women and children. The soldiers had believed they were pursuing Klamath warriors and did not intend the tragedy. A short time later, Fred McCormick shot and killed Crooked Finger in Clackamas County.

Skirmishes in the Dalles region of Oregon during February became a general war with the Cayuse and Palouse by March 1848. The Cayuse War, fought mainly in the Walla Walla River area, ended when the Cayuse (at the urging of Nez Perce neighbors) surrendered five of their tribesmen as the Massacre culprits. The five men became prisoners on March 5. One last battle, on the Touchet River, was fought after the Cayuse surrendered. Troops disbanded in July 1848 leaving a small force at the Waiilatpu (Walla Walla) and Wascopam (Dalles) missions.

Pettygrove, one of the founders of Portland, sold his land claim to Daniel Lownsdale for $5000 and headed for California. (Pettygrove had already sold some lots in Portland).Pettygrove's Oregon City store was left in the hands of his partner, David McLoughlin, son of former Hudson's Bay Company chief, Dr. John McLoughlin.

The Oregon Country was made a United States territory. At this time, Oregon City boasted a population of 1000 with a Catholic Church, a Methodist Church, a Baptist Church, two flour mills, and two saw mills. Just a couple miles north, a little village had begun to form on the Clackamas River (present day Park Place). Twelve miles further north, tiny Portland had its beginnings as Stumptown.  

The bill making Oregon a U.S. Territory was signed by President Polk in August 1848. Former fur-trapper Joseph Meek, a delegate to Congress from Oregon, was appointed as US Marshall for Oregon. Meek and a detachment of soldiers escorted the newly appointed Oregon governor, Joseph Lane, from Washington D.C.

Meek, the Legislature's choice for Congressional delegate, urged Congress to pass a land claim law.  Meek believed missionary land claims should be on the same basis as any resident's. In contrast Oregon's Provisional Governor, George Abernethy, championed the former missionaries.

Catholic Sisters from Belgium, invited by John McLoughlin, opened the Young Ladies Academy of Notre Dame in a building near the Oregon City Catholic Church. They had previously founded a similar school in Champoeg.

William Livingston Holmes built Rose Farm at Oregon City, an estate named for rose bushes imported from France.

Philander and Anna (Green) Lee settled in the Canby region this year. The home they built in 1860 became a landmark. Orrin Kellogg settled near Lot Whitcomb in Milwaukie. He later platted the city of Oswegon while Whitcomb (with Torrence) platted Milwaukie.

Across the river from Oregon City, Linn City was doing well. A.H. Frier had opened the Linn City Hotel and two stores (David Burnside and W.P. Day & Robinson's) opened this year.

The newspaper Free Press began publication in Oregon City and folded within three months.

The first U.S. Flag to fly in the Oregon Territory was raised at Oregon City. For the first time, there was a spectacular Fourth of July celebration at Oregon City with a parade, speeches, and picnic. A 31-gun salute honored each State of the US. The HBC brig Toulon donated its 12-pound canon to be fired for the celebration.

Sam Barlow sold his franchise to collect tolls on the Barlow Road to Philip Foster but kept his claim to right of way. In Oregon City, Barlow went into the restaurant business. (Barlow sold the right of way in 1912 to Henry Wemme who willed the road to the State three years later). The Road paid for itself but required extensive rebuilding after every winter. It was not even passable for its entire length until this year when the toll gate moved to just east of Zigzag.

Near Eagle Creek and the end of the Barlow Road, Philip Foster moved his family to a new home on the property he had purchased the year before from Samuel McSwain. Within a few years, Foster added to his small farm and orchard by establishing a grist mill, a small store, and finally a post office at Eagle Creek. (Pettygrove, Foster's previous partner in business at Oregon City, and their associate Peter Hatch, established farms adjoining Foster's by 1849). John Foster (no relation) settled on land across from Philip Foster.

For several years, Foster's place was the first sign of civilization seen by travelers nearing the end of the Oregon Trail along the Barlow Road. His new general store added medicines, hardware, and other supplies to its stock. Road travelers could also graze their livestock in Foster's pasture and enjoy a large 50 dinner. The fresh food and supplies were welcome after the miles of empty country on the last segments of the Oregon Trail.

Go to Next Timeline, 1849-1859

References and Links

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Patricia Kohnen