Compiled by Jacquelyn J. Alvord,

Chairman, Fort Hall Replica Commission

January 1999

Introduction: There have been many books, articles, stories, and legends written about the original Fort Hall built by Nathaniel Wyeth, the Fort Hall of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the subsequent military camp at Cantonment Loring. To gain a view of life at Fort Hall during both the years of its prime and decline, extensive research has been conducted to compile a history through the words of the traders and visitors. An effort has been made to use first hand accounts of people who were actually at Fort Hall based on their diaries, letters, memoirs, and other accounts. It is unfortunate that many key players in the history of Fort Hall left no written record. Whenever possible, each entry is presented as dated by the author of the quotation, but some accounts covered a period of time and the exact dates were not provided. The name of the author of each quote and some amplifying information is presented. There are considerable variances in wording and spelling thoughout the document, as these are direct quotes. It must be remembered that this is a work in progress and therefore does not contain all the attributions and references normally presented; however, an extensive biblography is prestented at the end of the document. Fort Hall has been called a place of destiny by many historians. The Fort Hall Diary tells us why.




















































































[May 30/June 1, 1850] "Next day, when about three miles from encampment, we met a number fo Indians and half breeds, who had some very good mules and horses to sell or trade. Our company made a number of exchanges, and bought several horses. About twenty miles further we encamped near Fort Hall, crossing several small streams. The last eight miles, heavy sand road and marshy streams.

There are two forts at this point, the upper one belonging to the United States, the lower one to the Hudson Bay Company. They are about five miles apart. No supplies are to be obtained at either place, except bacon and whiskey,-- the later at six dollars per gallon. I think the establishment belonging to the United States, was deserted a few months since, probably on account of the severity of a number of the winters. We were infromed that several hundred horses had died, during the winter of '49 and '50, from cold and want of food. Mr. Grant of the lower fort, received us very kindly, and gave milk to those of the company who applied for it, for which he would receive nothing. This was the first we had had since leaving the States.

These forts are situated on Lewis' Fork of the Columbia river, about 1,300 miles from St. Joseph.

At this time and for about ten days previously, great numbers of the Company were suffering from

"Rocky Mountain Fever," peculiar to these mountains. It is very mild, and brief in its duration, rarely requiring more than a dose of calomel followed, if necessary, by a few doses of Dover's Powder or Ipecac. Aside from this we were all in enjoyment of excellant health.

We left these forts about 9 o'clock, A.M. (June 1st.) and about noon forded the Port Neuf river seven miles below. This stream is about one hundred yards wide, and four feet deep. The opposite bank is rather marshy.-- The Panack River is seven miles lower down--would not be difficult to ford, but for its miry banks. There is a spring of good water six miles further, in the valley of the Lewis river. Here we encamped. We had considerable marshy road during the day."

Journal, George Keller, Physician & California Emigrant


Tuesday July 3rd [1850] "This morning was spent in trding off wagons for pack horses. 3 of Our messes concluded to pack from this point. They became frightened at the alarming tails that were told them of the roads from Fort Hall to California. Dr. Roach & Co. Of 9 men from N York sold their 2 good wagons & harness for one horse. Mullin's mess of Pendleton Co.Ky. Sold one wagon and all thier spair provisions for one unbroke horse. A.W.Harrison sold his wagon & 2 sets of hearness for $6.00 The traders knew that the men were bound to sell at those prices or leave their wagons. Ang therefore they would give them no more.

At this place we joined messes with Harrison. That is A.W. Harrison & Saml Dunlop joined with Pritchard and Abbott. The Other 2 of their mess packed from this point. All the loading was put into Pritchard's wagon & 6 good mules hitched on. We were no fited Out with 4 men & six good mules to one wagon & an extra horse to ride, with provisions enough to take us through with safety. Those who packed from this point from Smith's trading Post on Bear River were also here, and wateing for the others to get ready and all go on togeather. We left all hands at the Fort as busy as nailors fixing up pack saddles balnkets &c &c. And at 3 PM we resumed the line of march with our train reduced more than one half. We had however enough left. There is no advantage in a large train. It is true that I felt rather unwilling to separate in this remote wilderness for Good hearted clever men with whom I had been so intimately connected for such a length of time and surrounded by the trying circumstances through which we had passed in a journey of nealy 15 hundred miles, across dessert mountain an plain. At the some time I felt relieved from a heavy task, the charge of so many men & animals. In four miles we struck & crossed Port Neuf River. And passed 3 miles farther to Panack River and encamped for the night. We here have to block up our wagons to keep them above water. Our train now consisted of Dr. Thomas's team & 3 men, Jacob Hoovers & 4 men, Sidney Smith's & 4 men, J A. Pritchard's & 4 men--A very respectible train. Distance 7 ms."

James A. Pritchard, California Emigrant


Tuesday, July 9 [1850] When we came to the forks of the road we had decided to take the right-hand one, leading to Fort Hall, because of the advice and illustration given to us by an old Indian at the Soda Springs. He raised up the bail of the bucket to signify a hgiht montain, and passing his hand over the top, said, 'This is Myer's Cut-off." Then, laying the bail down and passing his hand around it, said, 'This is the Fort Hall road.' We were told afterward that this was correct."

Margaret A. Frink, California Emigrant


Thursday, July 11, 1850 "The road today was very hilly and rough. At night we encamped within one mile of Fort Hall. Mosquitoies were as thick as flakes in a snow-storm. The poor horses whinneid all night, from their bites, and in the morning the blood was steaming down their sides. At noon camp we found a thicket of wild currant bushes, from which we gathered cueeants enough to funish pies for the next two or three days. They were a luxury to people who had been without fruit of any kind for three months. In the afternoon we came to a creek that appeared to be deep and bad to cross. Just as we were beginning to examine for a safe place to ford it, three Indians on horseback came toward us. They rode across the creek fefore us, apparently to show us the best way. We crossed without difficulty and they afterwards accompanied us to where we encamped for the night. One of them, much older than the others, infromed us that he had traveled as far east as St. Louis; and in order to make us understand, he imitated with his mouth the puffing of a steamboat. He rode onwards after we had reached camp; but the other two turned their horses loose, and stayed near us all night. They told us that this was the Indian's country."

Margaret A Frink, California Emigrant


Friday, July 12, 1850 "We left our camp at half past five in the morning, and at seven o'clock reached a fromer trading-post of the Hudson's Bay Company, established many years ago, when the English people mad claim to all this part of our territory. It was in charge of Captain Grant, a Canadian, who had been here for nine years, and had entertained Colonel Fremont and his party, in September, 1843, while on their way to the mouth of the Columbia River.

We stopped here for a short time, and were hospitably received by Captain Grant, who treated us in a very gentlemanly manner, and fromally introduced us to his wife, and Indian woman, of middle age, quite good-looking, and dressed in true American style. Before we left, he very kindly presented us with a supply of fresh lettuce and onions, expressing regret that because of the lateness of the season, he had no other varieties to offer us. We thankfully accepted them as a very unusual luxuary.

We did not visit the United States Government post, Fort Hall, as it was a mile off the road, though it was in full view on our right as we passed along.

We have now reached the most northerly point of our wearisome journey. The latitude of Fort Hall is forty-three degrees one minute and thirty seconds north, according to Colonel Fremont's calculations. This is three and a half degrees north of Martinsville. The altitude of fort Hall is four thousand five hundred feet.

Margaret A.Frink, California Emigrant


[July 28, 1850] "In three miles we found the United States Station Ft. Loring, some twenty or thirty rods from the river, and five miles up above Fort Hall. It was established last season and is built in a square, the wall composed of low log houses with one roof covered with longs and dirt, some vacancies between the buildings fenced up with poles. It was garrisened with some 300 troops but last spring they got out of provisions, so Col. Porter who was in command marched them off to Ft. Van Couver on his own responsiblity, leaving two young men of the quartermasters department to take care of the government property, which there is considerable. The sutlers were also left here with their goods and on one to buy them as they are mostly unsuitable for Indian trade. They must lose greatly, so says one of them, Mr. Ritchie, who has two partners, out however, trading horses &c to the emigrants and have been trading with the Indians. It was these we passed on Bear River 25 mile before we reached Beer Springs, Ritchie talks very discouragingly of Cal., this from infromation he possesses that it will be nearly impossible for any teams as late as we are to get through, say that the grass was nearly all gone a month ago, and when we get there (if we should be so fortunate) we must starve if we have not provisions with us, as the immense numbers going can never be fed from the Pacific. He advises all that want to go live in Oregon and at the proper time go to Cal.

I should suppose that the Indians might take this place at any time in spite of the garrison of three men, hundreds of musquets & rifles and a few small cannon. Numerous large wagons here belong to Unkle Sam.

They infrom me that little can be raised here as they have frosts as often as once a week all summer, and the season is very short. In the winter the snow fall to a great depth, frenquently twenty feet deep in the bottoms along the the river, which brings down the bear, deer, sheep, elk, antelope, &c. in great numbers and they are then easily killed. All of these kinds of game are to be found in the summer as well by going into the hills, also hare, rabbit, sage hens, geese, ducks, &c. Buffalo sometimes but they are scarce late years. I notice their heads & bones here as also on Bear, Green, and all the small streams where grass grows. They have been killed 100 miles below here but are unknown West of that or in Cal., or even in the valley of the Humbolt. Our acquaintances with the 3 orphans are camped inside the fort spending the Sabbath. I was told that a few days ago a woman passed here driving her team, her husband lying in the wagon at the point of death and to had to their misfortunes one of their children had fallen out of the wagon and the wheel ran over it breaking its thigh. They kept on as they were late in the season to lay by and they were scant on provisions. I presume some company will assist them, though it almost seemed as if no one cared for any thing or any body but themselves. Thye have been paying $250 per month here for laborers. The express that left here last fall with the U.S. Mail for the States via Laramie were murdered by the Pawnees at Ash Hollow on the Platte. I heard of this at Laramie.

Byron N. McKinstry, California Emigrant


July 29th Monday [1850] "Cold enough this morning for frost. Got an early start and crossing several creeks and sloughs with fine grass and plenty of willow, or rather wet bottem land, rousing up armies of musquetoes, we reached Snake River in about 4 and Ft. Hall is 5 miles. The Fort is build of unburned or Adobe brick in the from of a square with towers at the corners. The walls are some 12 feet high, perhaps highter, as they aremostly houses, some of them two stories high. Col. Grant has charge of the Fort. They have one or two hundred horses, many of them brood mares and colts, but many fine geldings. But they would sell none. If nay one wished it they would kill them an ox at 12 1/2 cts. per lb. I saw two small gardens with potatoes, peas, &c. I saw a little wheat growing in one of the gardens. We had a talk with a storekeeper here. He has been here fourteen years, has a fine looking wife though she has at least 1/4 Indian blood in her viens, and several children. He says that the season is to short to raise much, they frequently raise a fell small potatoes--sonetimes the frost plays duce with them. Everything must be watered. He thinks wheat might succeed with irrigation. It is a fine place to raise stock. He much regrets that the Americans killed an Indian near here a few days ago. He gives him a good character, says he was a peacable fellow, and fears that troubles my grow out of it, as the Indians are greatly exasperated.

The circumstance were that an American had swapped horses with an Indian, and the next day a part of the same company being behind, met this Indian with their comrade's hors and accused him of stealing it. This alarmed the Indian, not knowing what they would do with him. He told them as well as he could how he came by the fhorse, and putting spurs to his horse tried to make his escape. The was taken as evidence of guilt, so the fired after him and killed the poor fellow.

I saw here belonging to the fort two white women and several half breeds & a few of the whole blood, together with the usual compliment of children with faces a shade paler then their mothers'. I notice that the little ones at all the trading postsa re much whiter than their mothers, all the same be the mother Snake, Flathead, Crow, Sioux, Blackfeet or Diger. The cause of this extraordinary phenonenon I shall levae to be solved by the learned in such matters.

They can spare no provisions at this other than fresh beef. The storekeeper said that they did not ofter have bread. They use jerked meat for bread & sauce with their frest meat. They have plenty of mild but not bread to go with it. They call it 300 miles to the first Hudson Bay Co's. Fort down the river, 100 m. The the Dalles, 800 to Oregon City, 600 to Sacramento, 180 to city of Salt Lake. There is a trail across to Salt Lake and they expect hereafter to get flour from there. Ft. Hall belongs to the Hudson Bay Fur Co.

Byron N. McKinstry, California Emigrant


July 30 [1850] "Left the water of Bear river, and struck the waters of Louis river. Had rather a rough road, but the best of water and wood. Encamped, ans was called to visit sick with with Diarrhiea. He was taken sick in the night from cold and bilious condition of the stomach.

July 31. Left camp at 7:30. Roads, feed, and water tolerable. Got to Fort Hall. Took supper. Found the mosquitoes so bad that it was impossible to keep the oxen or ourselves on that spot. Hitched up and come on to the fort and camped in the dust. Watched the cattle until the morning.

August 1 Left Fort Hall at 9. Sold rice, salt, soap to the traders; bought moccasins and one quart of vinegar. Carme on and crossed two braches of Lewis river. Traveled eighteddn miles. Camped on a ridge among the sage. Oh, god! The mosquitoes. Drove team up on the bluff to rest. Took in George the Second at the Fort. Sick all day and under the influence of..pills."

Dr. David S. Maynard, California Emigrant




[1-4 July 1851] "The county all around these springs (Steamboat Springs) bear unmistakable signs of some mighty shakings and that volcanic fires were not very far away then. A gentlemen with whom I conversed afterwards told me that a number of them went out on a hunt some ten or twelve miles north of these springs and in their ramblings they came to a depressed valley of small size and in various places over it smoke was coming out of the ground, showing there was fire beneath. The country around the springs and between there and Fort Hall was much better and richer in appearance than thousands of acres over which we had passed beyond Fort Bridger, or even the high plateau on which the fort stands.

It was near these springs that we met all of our old company who had gone the Sublet route, except the old gentleman and his family with whom we had started from Illinois. They got in a hurry and pressed on without any companions save their own and there were seven men and four women of them.

When they had passed Fort Hall and come to a small body of timber some Indians made an attempt to run in ahead of them, and had it not been for the bravery of one women, who had learned to handle a rifle, the Indians would have succeeded. But she with her bravery kept them at a distance until open ground was found, the Indians retreated to the great joy of the company.

The night after we left the Springs we camped near the foot of a mountain and close to our road there as a large flat rock and near the middle of it a fine soda spring with excellant drinking water came bubbling up. This was night of the Fouth of July, a day that should never be forgotten by any lover of his country...."

Charles Howard Crawford, Oregon Emigrant


5 July [1851] "Plenty of Snake Indians begging for bread or shirts or any kind of clothing. We could get a pair of moccasins for a bit of bread. At night we camped beyound a pool of soda water which is said not to be good at this place. There were two traders living with squaw wives. I took Helen and called upon them. They were going to Fort Hall with a band of ponies to sell."

Lucia Lorain Williams, Oregon Emigrant


[5 July 1851] "The next night we camped near Fort Hall, which at the time was only occupied by some French traders. Uncle Sam's boy were not there, not even one that we saw, and yet boys were not there, not even one that we saw, and yet the fort was among the Sohones or Snake Indians, one of the worst tribes that ever lived on the American continent for low cunning, meanness and treachery, which many emigrants found to their sorrow both before and after this.

Even that year the emigrants expected to have protection from the forts, but they were doomed to disappointment, and the savages did as they pleased, roamed where they liked and stole stock from the poor emigrants, yet all the time pretending great friendship.

The men at the fort warned us to look out for theiving Indians and said they would be likely to visit our camp at night whether we saw anything of them through the day or not. Sure enough the night we tarried in full view of the fort they came we supposed about midnight when the guards were being changed and took three horses and made their escape with them while no one knew they were gone until the next morning. We never saw or heard of them afterwards and knew they had not strayed of their own accord. There was a Frenchman at the fort who had traveled the road to western Oregon frequently and he gave us a guide written in English pointing out the best camping and watering places which we found afterwards to be of excellant service."

Charles Howard Crawford, Oregon Emigrant


Sunday July 6 [1851] "Traveled 20 miles found verry level road. The fore part of the day being very heavy sand. Struck a beautiful plain which is call the snake river valley. skirted along the banks of the river with better cotton wood and popple, arived at fort hall, about 2 o'clock, passed old fort Lorim an American post 5 miles away, fort hall. This is where the soldiers wer stationed, fort hall is about 50 yards from the river and is built of doby brick, only one large building two stories high and looks verry pretty. this is the Hudson Bays fort as the brittish Although they never had soldiers stations there it had been used as a fur traders establishment about there they can get any quantity of fur, plenty of otter and beaver, bear buffalo and many other kinds This old house is now filled up with dirty French, that have squaw wifes any quantity of Indians and half breeds. There are left 60 old United States waggons, and a great quantiity of plunder, belonging to soldiers, they left Fort Lorain last fall and were deposited at fort hall. There will have to be a station as another It will not be safe for emigrants to travel, camp about 2 miles from the fort on a fine stream delightful grass and a large feild "or as might say foild althought it is not enclosed) of wild wheat which at a distance looks like a beautiful feild of wheat. There are any quantity of wild currents of which are yellow, red, black. the red ones are like our currents in the states,are quite a luxury, could gather a bushel in a short time.

Monday July 7 Lay by today at camp. Plenty of Indians about us and some not verry well disposed to look rather suspious."

Amelia Hadley, Oregon Emirgrant


9th July [1851] "Arrived at Fort Hall, a desolute looking place filled with thieves. We saw one emigrant that had lost nine horses. He offered $100 reward. The Indians brought four back. He then offered much more. The Indians then started again; in all probability they were the ones that them. The whitemen traders were even worse than Indians. We heard of a great many emigrants who had lost horses, and on company who had lost twenty-four head of cattle near this place.

10 July [1851] Heard that Lockhart and Rexford wanted us to wait for them. Accordingly, laid by near a pond where was excellant grass. At night they came up minus two horses. One they recovered, belonging to a hand; the other belonged to Mr. R which he did not recover, making the 2nd that he had lost. The first was taken from him while in Kanesville.

11 July [1851] On starting, found that two head of our stock were staggering from the effects of alkali which they had eaten with grass--the ground in some places was white with it, under the grass. Mr. W fed one fat pork and lard and left it with a couple of men. The other a cow soon fell. He gave it alcohol and left it at night. The ox was driven in but the cow was dead--the last one that gave milk."

Lucia Lorain Williams, Oregon Emigrant


[1851] "Four of our oxen died. So we had to abandon our largest wagon at Fort Hall."

Judge William M. Colvig, Oregon Emigrant




[1852] "....and soon we made the head waters of the Sho-sho-nee River. It is now called the Snake River. This Indian name means 'snake in the grass.' There was an old fort, Fort Hall. The cholera was bad here. Men, women, and children dying from drinking the cold, clear waters of the springs that bubbled up from the melting snows of the shining Fremont Mountains."

Cincinnatus Hiner 'Joaquin" Miller, California Emigrant


[July 1852] "A majority fo the company voted to go by way of Fort Hall and to cross the Port Neuf near its junction with the Snake, instead of crossing it higher up, thus keeping continuously on the highlands. I protested, but finally yeielded to this almost unanimous desire. I think the agreeable companionship of some to the factors of the company with whom he ahd become acquainte, at Soda or Steamboat Springs on Bear River, had much to do with this determination. From the Fort , where we were hospitably entertained, to the bluff and the road beyong the Port Neuf was about 5 miles. The water of the Snake and the Port Neuf had but recently overflowed the valley between the two, and left it miry quicksand morass, almost impossible of passing. It took us three days of hard labor and strenuous efforts to reach the bluffs. The heavily-loaded wagon of the nincompoop and the virage was almost constantly mired. We had little to do with him, but with with her it as constant conflict. At last we got her wagon to the river. He was on the highlands with the loose stock. The river for twenty feer or more was from seven to ten feet in depth. With a true team and a proper wagon this space could be safely passed. Her team however, consisting of a horse and a mule, when they reached deep water made a lunge, then balked. The wagon fill with water and the current turned it over. She had insisted on driving and on having the little girl with her on the wagon. When it went over quite a number of us young men, who had been working nearly all day in our drawers and undershirts, plunged into the stream, and as we passed over the cover of the sinking wagon seized it and stripped it from itsl bows. Close by me the little girl popped up, I seized her, and with a few strokes took her over to the shore, but she needed the doctor's assistance. She had in ballast more water than was necessary, and by a rolling process was forced to give it up. Their team having been safely extricated--the wagon and its contents on shor, and soon transported to highlands, we found among their contents a large demijohn of first class brandy, to all appearances never opened, probably because the Snake country had not been reached; and as the dominant owner of said water was suffering from the too free use of water, we all drank at toast, with a delicate courtesy, for her speedy delivery. Oblivious to the fearful danger of microbes, each tipped the demijohn at an angle and for a duration of time as suited the occassion. This spiritual passage having become historic, we hitched up our teams and journeyed onward for the night."

Orange Jacobs, Oregon Emigrant


26 [July, 1852] "Traveling over a level bottom, partly covered with willows. We reach Fort Hall in six miles. It stands on a beautiful level plain of considerable extent, well covered with grass and different kinds of vegetation. Fort Hall is built of Adobes (sun dried brick). It belongs to the Hudson Bay Fur Company. During the Mexican was a regiment of U.S. soldiers were stationsed her and a great many government wagons are here yet. Two miles from the for twe cross Pannack Creek, a fine stream, ten rodes wide, four feed deep. Difficult fording, had to block up our loading. Ascending the Bluff and travelling a short distance, we camped and drove our stock dow the bluff to grass. Sage, sage, Everlasting sage plains. North of Fort Hall are Three Buttes, isolated mountain peaks, seeemingly in the distance rise from a level plain."

William N. Byers, Oregon Emigrant and Newpaperman


[July 1852] "A few miles beyong these spings [Soda Springs}, coming westward, the roads to California and Oregon separated, the latter turning sharply to the right and northward. Going over the range of mountains, we reached the valley of the Port Neuf which stream empties into the Snake River about fifteen miles below Fort Hall.

It is my recollection that as we drove down this valley newly made graves became so frequent that Susie and I agreed to count them, she taking one side of the road and I the other. Our count reached one hundred and twenty for the day. All these were in sight of the road and doubtless there were many we did not see. Most of these deaths were caused by cholera, which by this time was making frightful inroads upon the emigrants. Careful consideration and comparison of figures made then and later generally agreed that fully five thousand lost their lives on the plains that year from a total of fifty thousand going to California and Oregon...

So far as I have ever known, there was only one diary kept of our trip, and that by Aunt Edna Whipple.....I am not sure of the dates of reaching several different points except in a few instances. However I am sure we reached Fort Hall about the 20th of July.

This was one of the notable features of interest along the route. Its walls were "adobes" or sundried bricks with a roof of poles covered with sod. An American trader built it in 1834 but his trading ventures in Oregon were unsuccessful and in a year or so he sold out to the Hudson's Bay Company who continued to occupy for a third of a century.

At this point the evidences of the hardships, misfortunes, and general demoralization that had nearly overwhelmed a large part of the migration became painfully visable. Death of stock, breakdown of wagons, families who had lost the father and often the mother, all combined in necessity to lessen the loads. Wagons were cut down to carts; oxen and cows were yoked, together and unt unusual was the sight of an ox and a horse, both so poorly they could hardly put one foot before the other, fastened together and drawing a scanty load, that could almost have been transported in a wheel barrow. I heard it said at that time that the wagons, yokes, furniture, crockery, books, ironware, looking glasses and implements of all kinds covered the space of ten acres at least. This was often confirmed in later years. Any of this stuff was free to anyone who wished to take it. If one found a better wagon than the one he was using, he drove away with it leaving his own for the next one. Our people bought a few supplies here [Fort Hall] and drove on."

Memories of travel written for children and grandchildren, Clarence B. Bagley, Oregon Emigrant, President of the Washington University State Historical Society.


July 23d [1852] "We traveled 18 miles;;, twelve and a half miles brought us to fort Hall;; A half a mile ager we started in the morning we sturck a sandy road, and traveled in heavy sand for seven miles, with the dust and sand blowing so thick that was difficult to see our way. On this part of the road there is no vegetation but sage and a verys small amount of grass which is now perfectly dry; After leaving this sage plain we traveled five miles over comparatively good roads when we reached the Fort; This fort is built of sun burnt brick , It is rather shabby looking concern, but in case of an attak from without its inmates would be tolerably well protected It has port holes through the walls for the admission of guns,; This fort is now abandoned by the government and is occupied by some traders;; They had flour for sale at $20 per. Cwt,,: After leving the fort we had the first view of Snake or Lewis river There is timber enough on this river for farming purposes;; we in the evening crossed the stream which rises at the spring where we campeed on the 22nd; It has received numerous tributaries and where we crossed ti, was about bifty feet wide and three and four feet deep"

Abigail Jane Scott, Oregon Emirgrant


July 30, 1852 "Saw some Indians today as we neared Fort Hall. They seemed friendly. Several of the women had papooses on their back in sort of sacks, which looked very cunning."

Diary, Cecilia Adams, Oregon Emigrant


Saturday Aug the 7 [1852] "In the morning of a cool North wind blew very warm by noon. I found myself quite unwell last night and this morning probably occasioned by eating to freely of some Black whortlberries Or as little fruit that resembles a June or sarvis berry To day we reached the Vally of Snake and Lewis river this Vally is broad and high Mountains present their heads in various directions The soil does not appear to be of the best quality it a fine sand of nearly clay color where you firse come upon the vally as you advance the sand seems coaser and blacker and when you decend to the lowest level or bottom the land is reich Without time and everywhere abouds in springs and fine crystal springs and the playful speckled trout are to be seen in them This vally has greater width than any the side of the Mississippi river probably 50 miles from mountain to mountain Fort Hall is located in this vally about 22 miles after you leve the Mountain We traveled about 18 mils to day over a tolerable level road by considerable heavy sand and cme to camp on the second creek in this vally"

William Cornell, Oregon Emigrant


Sunday Aug the 8 [1852] "To day is the aniversary of my birth 40 years old. And I to day on Snake river vally near Fort Hall This place I had fixed upon as being the point we should reach at this date all Summer so my expectation her have been realized Now four months laking four days since I left home and dear friends Through the goodness of Providenc I have enjoyed almost uninterrupted good health Not so however with the one that started with me He sickened and died far from home and civilization Bertrand has also been sick and rattied long in a state of debility We are resting to day the day is pleasant But how are those most dear to me! Are they well are they alive near two months must elapse before I shall hear from them Nearly 2700 miles from home 750 yet to Oregon city The sun is at this moment just visible setting behind the Western horison of the broad vally of Snake river Our company thought it best to move a little to day and passed Fort Hall and old mud fort on the bank of Snake river and in the midst of a vast rich vally the day has been fine Some Musketos about us We have traveled about 9 miles and come to camp on the bank of the Ponacles creek a considerable stream full of fish saw a good many Indians offering to sell long strings of fish today"

William Cornell, Oregon Emigrant


Sun Aug 9 [1852] "Traveled about 5 miles, laid by, found good feed for our teams. Saw a quite acompany of Indians pass on their ponies. Weather good.

Mon Aug 9. Got up before daylight and went to the old fort (Fort Hall) and laid by for the day. Found (unredable) best feed and remains fo an old fort. Found very goodbuildings, good rooms with good fireplace in them and furniture. Found one good large stove which we used to cook in. Found good yard for out cattle. This fort, we hearhas been deserted about 3 years. We washedand cooked and had the fine times in our houses. Weather very warm and mosquitoes plenty.

Tue Aug 10 Traveled 14 miles Came the trading post at Fort Hall. here we stoptand bought flour. Paid 15 dollars a hundred. Saw but a few Indians. Here is a small place. There are but four white men here at present."

Martha S. Read, Oregon Emirgrant


19 Thursday [August 1852] "Today came to Fort Hall on snake River and passed it at one in the P.M. It is made of unburnt bricks and is little larger than a good sized barn. It is not now occupied by the soldiers but is used for a trading station. Some 50 or 100 wagons, marked U.S. in large letters stand thererotting. Encamped about 2 miles fort on Pannock creek and had very good feed -- Made 14m"

Ceclia Adams & Parthenia Blank, Emigrants


[1852] We followed down the south side Snake River, but a great many crossed the river and proceeded down the north side. It was the most treacherous river I ever saw. I hve seen the emigrants swimming their treacherous river I ever saw. I have seen the emigrants swimming their horses and cattle across to islands in th stream in order to get better feed, and some of the stock would sink, apparently without a struggle, and a great many men were lost in the same way. The under current was fatal in great many men were lost the same way. The under current was fatal in many places and it required a man with nerve to undertake it. We never attempted to cross the river in order to better our condition. As we had been on the trip a long time, our stock of provisions was getting low, and buying anything on the route was simply out of the question. Those that had a quantity of provisions would not sell for fear they would run short themselves. There was nothing to be had a Fort Hall, and that twas the only place on the route that we could reach without crossing the river."

Al R. Hawk, Oregon Emigrant




July 19, 1853 "We left Fort Hall to the right eight miles, no travel through on account of the high water washing the road away, the new road is a cut off and saves some fifteen miles."

Dinwiddie Journal


Wednesday, August 3rd [1853] "Took breakfast this morning before starting early enough for the last one to leave camp 10 minutes after 6. Came 6 or 8 miles through a beautiful valley. Reached Soda Springs and stopped for noon....After running about for a considerable time we jumped into the carriage, the wagons and sheep having gone on , and came on to find a good place to stop for dinner. We soon came up to a log house and two Indian lodges. Here we found Capt. Grant. Mr. Gray knew him years ago when he was in the Hudson's Bay Company. From his appearance I think he must once have been a splendid looking man. He has his second wife. His first was a native woman, a half-breed. She was a widow when he married her. I is perfectly ashonishing to me how a man who has ever seen civilized people can intermarry with the native and be contented to to settle down and live as they do. His wife and 2 or 3 little girls had dresses on and looked decent, but were in an Indian lodge, and nothing about them looked decent or comfortable. There was a good many Indians around them, probably their servants. I heard the Capt. speak to his wife. He spoke pleasantly, even fondly to them. He has charge of Fort Hall but is up here to trade with the emigrants."

Rebecca Ketcham, Oregon Emigrant


Monday, Aug. [6-8th. 1853] Portneuf. "Arrived at this place Saturday, Aug. 6th, after a long, warm, dusty, tedious drive in the afternoon. It was probably 5 o'clock when we arrived at the brow of a hill the other side of the river or creek. Before we could see the river we noticed a trail turning to the left, on a little further another, on a little further wagon tracks turning off all along. Beside, we saw two trains on the other side which seemed to be on the other side the rive, far up that say. So Mr. Gray said he could not tell where the crossing was but would go all the way others seemed to have gone and see. Pretty soom came right on the ridge of the hill which was so steep we could not see down till we came to the edge. At the foot of this we saw the river, on the other side the tents and fixings of the company stationed at Portneuf. Of course we all left the carraige, prefering to have our own feet carry us down the hill. The water was pretty deep but we came over without any difficulty.

We stopped for the sheep to come up, they being but a little distance behind us. When they came Mr. Gray, instead of coming to look himself, sent John to see what kind of a stream it was. He went back and said it was only a little creek, os without any preparation they let the sheep come on. The drivers were all pretty nearly tired out and did not feel like taking hold with any energy. The sheep rushed to the eater to drink but would not come any further. Mr. Gray sent Phil over to help them but there was no starting them. The bank was very muddly in some places and some of the sheep were pretty mired into it. Mr. Gray went over himself and began at them at at great rate. James said something to somebody about doing something. Mr. Gray told him he had better do it himself. Then James came out to him the worst kind. Sone the Hill came with their wagons. They crossed the stream with them, then went back to help with the sheep. By this time a few of them had started but the rest were in no notion of coming after them. The oxen, being left to themselves, kept moving on. We to them to whoa, but they wouldn't at all. A gentleman and lady came down from the establishment as sooom as we were over to see if they could get in to go on with us. The lady talking with Mr.Godley asked her if sho could cut dresses. When she told her she could, she said she had offered to make one for a little half breed girl, not thinking but that it would be cut, so that she could not cut it at all, and was so much afraid of the revengeful disposition that she did not dare refuse to do it. Mrs. G. said she could cut the lining while we were waiting. The lady went for the lining and she commenced. When the oxen started she ran to stop them, her piece of muslin streaming behind her. One wagon nearly tipped over. Mrs. Godley held the wheel, Mrs. Dix got a stick and went to the heads of the oxen, trying to turn them the other way. The lady ran for her husband to stop them. He came and unloosed them from the wagon and let them run.....

Sunday morning they found good grass for the animals not very far away and we remained for the day. The gentleman who has charge of Fort Hall and the establishment [Neil McArther], and an American officer from Fort Vancouver took dinner with us. Fort Hall belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company. We all dressed up a little by putting on clean calico dresses. I put on a new one....."

Rebecca Ketcham, Oregon Emigrant


Tuesday, Aug. 9th. [1853] "This morning there was some errand to the Fort. Mr. Gray sent Phil on one of the new, the mate to the one that cut up so with Mr. Gray. He went off and when we were nearly through breakfast we heard him outside saying, 'Well, I'm in fot it. He has thrown me flat as a flounder.' He jumped several times with him, did not succeed in throwing him until the saddle turned. The horse ran, broke one stirrup. Phil caught him but little trouble and would have tried him again if the stirrup had not been gone. After breakfast Mr. Gray rode him off and he went nicely as he could be. By this time it was ascertained that the mules were among the missing. One of the Hills went on one horse, Mr. Gray with his, and sent an Indian beside. Mr. Gray rode about 4 miles. Hill came back first but neither of them found them. After all else was ready we moved on, the two new ponies before the carriage, the three ladies in the ox wagon, leaving those who brought the loose horses to wait for mules. After harnessing the ponies Mr. Gray took the lines, Phil a long rope around the neck of one, and Hill the other. Drove them around for some time in that way, then put them to the carraige and drove off the some way."

Rebecca Ketchem, Oregon Emigrant




[May 1855] "In the spring of 1855, at the April Conference, I was called to take a mission to the house of Israel. This took all I could do to raise an outfit for myself, but realizing that the call was from God I accepted it in good faith and went to work with a will to prepare for it. This took everything I could raise to fit myself out, and a very poor outfit it was that I had......the first Indians we saw were at Fort Hall on the Snake River. I went right to work on my missionary labors.

We were encamped on the Portneuf River about fivemiles from the fort. We had just encamped when, on looking over to Fort Hall, I discovered Indians coming directly towards us. It seemed to me that I knew them and I told the boy who were with me, 'there comes some of my children and I am going to baptize them.' This created some merriment among the boys, but on they came, arriving at our camp. They got off their horses, shook hands with us and stopped with us. I went on talking to them as well as I could, telling them who we were and what our business was.

The next day we moved on up to the ferry, the Indians accompanying us, when on coming into camp the president called upon me to preach to them; this I did as well as I could which was very poor indeed. When they called for baptism I took them to the river and baptized them in fullfillment of my prediction when I first saw them in the distance. This was my first Indian baptism."

George Washington Hill, Morman Missionary



May 30th [1856] "The company examined the river for six miles but could not find a ford and had to send ten miles to Fort Hall for calking tools. The rest of the company went to work and moved an old boat down to the river bank to the river and shored the boat up for calking. Brother George W. Hill had preached and explained the Book of Mormon to Indians and on the 30th they came to camp fna Brother Hill baptized three of them. Their names were Warrahoop, Iockick, and Chemi. They were confirmed by Nathanieal Levaitt, Benjamin F. Cummings and Isreal Justice Clark.

Israel Justus Clark, Morman Pioneer at Fort Lemhi


June 1st [1856] "This morning the camp made a general move to cross the Snake River. After a hard day of labor we got across with our wagons and teams. In swimming our cattle some of them swam and some would not. Our Indian brethren helped us and then bade farewell. We camped one mile from the river."

Israel Justus Clark, Morman Pioneer at Fort Lemhi

17 Tuesday [July 1856] "Mr. Ogden (Peter Skene Ogden) passed En Route for Fort Hall The H. B. Co. abandon the Post & M. O. goes to bring away the property Mr. Adams arrived from Salt Lake & Salt Lake & Fort Hall left M Ma Carther one camp up the Vally probably will be down to day reports n Emigration Genl Harney through with the Sioux War & Exceedingly dull times in Salt Lake City &c"

Diary, John Owen, Major U. S. Army, Trader at Fort Owen


23, Saturday [August 1856] "Women folks gathered a Small dish of raspberries it is about the last of them----This is Mr. Ogden's 37th day-- I think he should be back---I fear something has happened to him. The Snakes put to rout some time since by Col. Shaw in the Grand Rond. Came in direction of Fort Hall and May have crossed his path.

25 August [1856] Mr. Ogden retd. from Fort Hall reports things quiet in that region Met Mr Mc Arthur in the Big Hole getting along finely--- No word from the people of this section that went ot the road lst Spring to trade with the Emigrants futher than that they werer doing well "

Major John Owen, Trader


[December 1856] "I now made ready to fill a misson on requirement made to me by President Young, and on December 5th, Brother B. F. Cummings and myself started on this journey, a distance of 185 north. Snow was deep and weather very cold. We suffered much. The object of our mission was to try to obtain by purchase the Fort Hall Reservation, the agent [Mr. McArthur} , or so we thought, but our mission was of little benefit for we did not find him hence, so were did not accomplish our mission."

Pleasant Green Taylor, Utah Morman



[April 1857] "I have frequently asked with regard to the location of Fort Hall, and the replies have been been, 'It is built near Snake River.' Is there anything of a vally? 'Yes, something.' Is there any timber there? 'I think there is pretty plenty fo timber on the river, such as cottonwood, quaking asp, and willows.' Is it anything of a country for settling? 'I should think likely it might be.' Is there any timber in the mountains? 'I should presume there is.' How are the mountains situated? 'Similar to other mountains in other countries.' That is about all I have ever been able to learn of the country, previous to my late journey.

When we began to approach Fort Hall, we learned we could see over it and all around it to a great distance; and, if our eyes had been good enough, we might have seen the little Fort some 30 miles before we reached it. It is located on Shanghi Plains. From the Rocky Mountains at he source of the Snake River, this plains extends some 150 miles to 200 miles in a westerly and south westerly direction; and from the mountains south of the Snake River to the north is about 90 miles. I never had this idea before, nor could I get it from any man I had conversed with. It is a vast, desert plain, and we called it Shanghe Plain. I think it is as desert a country as as was ever brought together to aid in holding the earth from parting asunder.

Upon the banks of the Snake River, when it does overflow, there is a lengthy, narrow strip of good soil, varying from a quarte of a mile to ten rods wide, and in some places not six inches wide. It is a sterile, barren, desert country, filled with belts of rock and sand."

Brigham Young, Utah Emigrant, President LDS Church




Tuesday Sept 28 [1858] "....We also Soon after getting out of the Canon had the three Buttes in View to our right. The Crk We followd down yesterday & Campd on lost Night we followed to day 3 hrs & crossd it at a place where there was Some good sized Cotton Wood trees & left it & Struck across the Sage plain without any track whatever the Crk runs off toward the Buttes. We had a large road up to last Crossing from which point we rode 3 hrs to next Crk & halted for dinner. Met at Mth of canon a Bannac Ind & his family he Said he was hungry I gave him what bread and tobacco I could spare for which he appeared very greatful Soon Sturck the trail we had left before crossing the Sage plain Some 8 Miles from dinnner Struck the Morman trail which we followed to Snake river which We reached in 3 hrs brisk travel from Where we dined

Tuesday Sept 28 [1858] "followed the Morman trail met Anderson & Meeks crossed Snake river Blkfoot Butte passed Cantonment Loring Campd close to Fort Hall on a Sough Night overtook us traveled Eleven hrs without halting"

Major John Owen, Trader




June 13th [1860] "Major Howe with the three companies of dragoons that have lately been stationed at Camp Floyd, passed through the city on Thursday last en route to Fort Hall, where they will be stationed during the coming season to protect the emigration on the northern route. No better place for safety could be selected for them, as they would be further west, where the Indians are less troublesome. By the movement of the dragoons northward, in the absence of the artillery company on the mail and express route, Camp Floyd is nearly deserted, there being but two skeleton companies--E and 1 10th Infantry to guard the stores; and some report that the post has a very desolate appearance."

Deseret News


[July 1860] "There we met some Indians who told Johnny [Grant] they had seen his squaw about five days before, and she and her father and mother were fixing to come down to meet him at Fort Hall. Johnny had a great many questions to ask these Indians---how they fared during the winter, what they had done, and where they had been. By this time the

boys were way ahead of us again. We rode up pretty lively and caught them just as they were going up a hill leading onto some upland. We rode along with them until we again came to the Portneuf River, where there were lots of willows. (This place is now in the town of Pocatello, a little north of main street).

There we camped for the night, turning our horses east to graze. Next morning I gathered the horses, numbering about two hundred and fifty head, which were scattered over the flat, where the principal part of Pocatello is now. Little did I think that I would ever see a flourishing city covering the whole flat as it does now.

We packed up and started for Fort Hall, arriving there about one o'clock.

We were met by Joe Pattee, who, in fromer years, was foreman for the Hudson's Bay Company. We also met Mrs. Pattee and her daughter, Lizzie, a young lady of seveteen years of age.."

George W. Goodhart, Idaho Pioneer, Memories


[1860] "About the time they got things ready, Mr. Pattee came in with about a dozen Indian men and the same number of squaws. Mr. Pattee had hauled losts of wood. We took some of it and made four big bonfires around the outsid of the dancing circle, which illuminated the fort about as light as day. They the dance commenced. The men fromed one first, and then the sqaws joined in. We had no music, but the Indians kept up the pow-wow dance tune. We danced until about the middle of the night then quit. We fromed a circle around the kettles of fish and meat, ate heartily, and told stories. One old Indian told of going over to buffalo country in Wyoming, killing lots of buffalo and having big feasts. He said he would like to go there again. Other spoke up and said they were ready to go along any time. So they made up a party and started in about three days....

We were sitting in the fort around the fires thinking of nothing in particular, when all of a sudden we heard war whoops, hallooing, and the clattering of horses hoofs. We grabbed our guns and went to the door of our cabin, thinking that wee wer surrounded by Blackfeet. We ran to shut the gate, the enterance to the fort, but when we were halfway across the square, their lead horses came in, crowded by the Indians who followed. To our surprise we found our they were out brave buffalo hunters. The squaws in their wickiups, hearing the voices of their bucks, came running and shouting with joy, and the papooses came running and crying.

When they all came into the fort, there was a meeting of joy and welcome. Each Indian caught his own pack horses, led they to his wickiup, unpacked them, and turned them out. Mr. Pattee built a big bonfire in the middle of the fort. The Indians gathered around it and gave an account of their trip, talking until after midnight. When they started to go home they found papooses lying asleep all around the fort. We retired for the night."

George W. Goodhart, Idaho Pioneer, Memories


[August 1860] "We were left more lonely than before. We had felt the security of traveling with such a large number...but how soon it all changed when we parted with our friends of the California train, and traveled westward, knowing that were every day nearing the dangerous part of our journey. While with the California train, when we camped at night we would prepare the ground by cutting down the brush, leveling ans sprinkling the ground, and have a good old fashioned dance.

It was not much work to make our toilets, for most of us wore for convenience a costume called Bloomers and did not have many changes. We would sing our songs, tell stories, ans amuse ourselves with all the sports of our school days, feeling pretty safe and secure, for in union was our strength, but how soon all changed when we parted with our friends of the California train, and traveled westward, knowing that we were every day nearing the dangerous part of our journey. But still we kept on over hills, through forests, across mountains and rivers, until we came to Ft. Hall, where the soldiers were stationed. As we deemed it unsafe to go farther alone, we called for the troops to go with us. There had one company already gone with a train but a few days ahead of us, and we had to wait for the soldiers to make preparations.

While waiting, Col. Howe, in command of Ft. Hall, sent in a request to have the women and girls of the train come into their tents and hava a dance, which we refused to do, which very much displeased the Col., and at first he refused to send one of his men with us, but upon considering the matter over he dared not refuse, so sent out a small force, with instructions not to go more than half as far with us as those he sent with the train ahead. "

Memories published in 1892, Emeline Utter Trimble, Survivor of Utter Massacre


[22 August 1860] "Camp on Left Bank Port Neuf River [near the abandoned fur trading post of Fort Hall] , W. T., Hq end scouts enroute to Salt River, 100 East [on Lander Road], and to City of Rocks 93 miles, and to Salmon fall 140 miles west, and have not heard of any diturbance by Indians till the 16th wounded at Bluffs 15 m East of Salt River."

Marshall Saxe Howe, Lieutenant Colonel, 2nd Dragoons


[1-9 Sepember 1860] "[Lieutenant Colonel Howe by Portneuf Bridge near old Fort Hall] detailed an escort of ten or twelve men, under Sergeant Barry, to accompany them on their way a few days. After proceeding some sixty miles or seventy miles, seeing no sign of Indians, the escort returned back [to Fort Hall] on the morning of the 6th, leaving the company to pursue their jouney unprotected. Without molestation they proceeded to within five miles of the City Rocks, near the junction of the Salt Lake road, where they encamped on the evening of the 7th, by a small stream known as Rapid creek.

At about eleven oclock at night an attack was made on them by a small party of Indians who, on finding the emigrants ready to give them a warm reception, drew off, after firing eight or ten guns, and came up again on the other side of the camp, where,

by taking advantage of the light of the moom which had just risen they could fire upon the company with greater accuracy, and , at the same time, be hid from the v iew of the emigrants and measurably secure from their fire."

John Hagerty, Member of Wagon Train Attacked at the City of Rocks


September 19th [1860] "One of the dragoon companies that has been stationed near Fort Hall, during the summer, passed through this city on the 12th inst. returning to Camp Floyd. The other are expected shortly."

Deseret News


[Events of 10-13 September, 1860] Another Indian Outrage [Two men from attack at City of Rocks were sent for help and intercepted the troopers before they reached the the Fort Hall encampment. The soldiers short of rations returned to Fort Hall and Colonel Howe sent a detachment of 25 dragoons. the troopers] "met the women and children almost in a perishing conditions, having traveled two days and a half with out food, most of them without shoes, with no more clothing for day or nighit then they had when they fled....[the troopers] arrived at the scene of the disaster some time on the afternoon of the 12th [September}, much to the joy of Haggerty, who was in very perilous condition. The Indians seeing the troops soon hid themselves and kept out of sight....the stock had all been driven off and the wagons plundered of every article of value they contained....fortunately [all emigrants] escaped without any one being killer or dangerously wounded..."

J. C. Wright, Deseret News, Published 3 Oct 1860


3 October 1860 "RETURN OF TROOPS FROM FORT HALL Yesterday morning, between 9 and 10 oclock, companies E and H of the second Dragoons, under the command of Lieut. Norris, passed through the city en route for Camp Floyd. They numbered 86 men and 4 officers, with 18 mule wagons. They left Portneuf on the 24th of Sept., and will reach Camp tomarrow. Accompanying them are about 20 men, women, children, of the emigrant company alluded to elsewhere in this issue [City of Rocks Indian Attack}."

Letter to Deseret News, Mr. J. C. Wright, Citizen Salt Lake City


[October 1860] "There have traveled West this season over the Port Neuf River Bridge [near Fort Hall], by register kept 769 men, 325 women, 474 children with 359 wagons, 1045 horses, 4075 cattle, 3415 sheep and East 16 men and 200 horses."

Marshall Saxe Howe, Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. Army


8 October 1860 "ATTACK UPON AN EMIGRANT TRAIN, FOURTY-FIVE PERSONS SLAIN BY INDIANS Last week a report reached us that an emigrant train [Utter and Van Ornum Train] had been attacked by Snake Indians , and one man killed and another seriously wounded.' This occured on the road between Salmon Falls and Fort Boise. Another, and a still more painful rumor reached us on Monday last, [I October] through Thomas Burke, who tells the following, as he receieved it from Henry Snyder, at Willow Creek, some sixty-five miles from the Dalles:

Henry Snyder, a discharged soldier from Utah with two comrades, joined an emigrant train which left Fort Hall under a Dragoon escort, and traveled with it to Snake River. When near Salmon Falls, the escort returned to Fort Hall, having accompanied the emigrants as far as the supply of rations would allow them to go. The emigrant party then numbered fourty-six souls, including women and children. When they reached a point about twenty miles west of Salmon Falls, their oxen having been obliged to do for a day and a half without water, the train was directed toward the river in order to supply them. This was the evening of Sept. 13th. Just as they reached the river bank, the Snake Indians appeared in large numbers upon the hills near and attacked them with arrows and rifles. A running fight ensued which lasted two days.

....he was found by some teamsters who were in the service of the Indian Department and bought to Willow Creek." {This report was inaccurate. Synder and two other recently discharged soldiers and an army deserter escaped carrying their rifles and revolvers without firing a shot on horses belonging to members of the emigrant train while the attack was in progress and most of the emigrants were still alive}.

Dalles Mountaineer




[1861] "Four of our oxen died, so we had to abandon our largest wagon at Fort Hall. Near Salt Lake /city our train divided, some going to California, and others decided to lay over for a while. With six others we decided to press on to the Willamette Valley where we arrived on October 5."

William Colvig, Judge Medford Oregon


[1861] "It did not take long to get them [horses] in the fort and get the gate shut. We then got out the packsaddles and a big pile of saddle blankets made from undressed deerskins with the hair on, cut square.

The wasy we fitted the packsaddles was to catch a horse, put the blanketson, set the saddles on, fit the cinch to the horse, taking it up or letting it our according to the size of the horse, and so with the breeching.

It took us all forenoon to get fifteen fitted up in proper shape. We then got a couple of saddle horses for myself and four more for two Indians that were going with me, while Mr. Pattee was getting out beads and jewerly and putting them in little buckskin sacks, which was quite a chore, for there were many beads of so many different colors, and they had to be kept separate...

A spoonful of beads was valued at a certain amount in a trade. For instance, a large beaver skin was equal to two spoonfulls, and others in proportion according to their size. Otter skins were traded the same as for beaver. Mink and marten varied in price according to quality. The Indian jewerly had no fixed price; its value depended on how badly they wanted it. I have traded a pair of large earrings, perfectly round, about an inch and a quarter across, made out of brass wire cut off square and the ends pressed together, for a big beaver skin. These rings cost the company in St. Louis only about six cents a pound. The rings and bracelets were made of the same material. I put my jewerly and beads in the pack pockets, and by that time Mr. Pattee had the ammunition issued out. He gave me several very small sacks of black power and about three sizes of bullets in three different buckskin sacks. I then wrapped all my little sacks of powder up in a piece of buckskin, tied it up solid, and put it in the pockets; the bullets I put in as he gave them to me, dividing them so as to have the weight equal on each side.

I carried the ammunition and jewerly on a horse that was easily caught, and one that was a little slower than the others. The reason I did this was to have him behind the other pack horses, so that when I was driving them along and met any Indians or came to an Indian wickiup, I could have him handy so I could make the trade for their furs and buckskins."

George W. Goodhart, Idaho Pioneer, Memories




January [1862] "We found a place where there were many islands. Here it was necessay to keep up the stream in oder to follow the ford, the water to our front and right being exceedingly deep. Some of the provisions became soaked, and to cap the climax, the animals bearing the provisions, on reaching the opposite bank fell into a quicksand and thus completed the ruining of them. It was forntunate for us that we were so near a depot where we could replenish our stores. From the crossing of the Snake we had an excellant road for twelve miles to Cantonment Loring, five miles above Fort Hall, where we arrived at sunset.

Arriving at Cantonment Loring we were most kindly received by Captain Grant, fromerly of Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Hall, who invited us into his house, and spread before us all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life, and gave us a comfortable bed under his hospitable roof--all of which none more than ourselves coud appreciate, and thus we passed the night--once more in the abodes of civilizations. Here Captain Grant is comfortably situated surrounded by a happy family; with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life he lives as happily and contentedly as he so well deserves."

John Mullan, Lieutenant


8th [August 1862] "Started earley this morning. Our captain & one of tour men with two others started on to Fort Hall & went in advance of the train some eight miles and found an Indian who they supposed to be a scout. They went on and saw about twenty Indians and come back. Soon after we saw about 12 men comeing to our corrall. We got our guns in trim but they proved to be a party of Californians on a prospecting tour who had just had a fight with a party of Indians. They had fourteen horses shot and also all their packs taken and four men wounded one shot through the lungs one through the hips one through the thigh and one in the knee. We took them in & waited for another train to come up and get a doctor. Bound up their wounds by best we could. With them & the other train who will verry probably travell with us we number something near 90 men. Traveled today 10 m.

9th [August 1862] Layed by all day. 18 men of us went out to look after the Indians and found 4 men killed and scalped laying on the road with indications of a hard fight Their waggon was left, flour coffee bacon &c laying scattered around. We found a waggon track leading off toward the hills. Followed it about tree miles & it got so late in the evening that we could not follow any further as we were afraid that they would attack our train in our absence at night. As we come home saw 15 Indians. I stood guard tonight. The Indians come in the night within 200 yds of camp. I gave the alarm & roused the train. They let us alone that night.

10th [August 1862] Drove 10 miles. Came to where the men were killed. Took them and put them in the waggon. Brought them to where we camp, gave them as decent a burial as we could.

11th [August 1862] Drove 6 miles, come to a deep canyon. When our train was farily in the canyon our scouts come in on the run & reported Indians. G. Walker, Neil Howie & I with 3 others took to the rocks to gain the high ground sa as to fight them away from the train. They come up and proved to be a part of the train who had been attacked going back with the ferryman & some friendly Indians to bury the dead. Drove 2 miles through the canyon & entered a large valley wigh a round mountain some 8 miles further.

12th [August 1862] We layed bye till 2 o'clock. Found it 800 miles the Salmon River mines & 200 to Deer Lodge Valley. Nobody new where they were going. Some wanted to go to Oregon some to California some to Wallah Wallah & some to Deer Lodge. Walker & I were for Deer Lodge but could not get our things hauled. Here my friend Neil Howie, Madison, Wisconsin, left us for Deer Lodge. We drove 3 miles and encamped."

E. S. McComas, Oregon Emigrant


13th [August 1862] "Drove 8 m., crossed Port Neuf River on a ferry boat made out of two skiffs. Layed bye till morning & wrote a letter to Lit and father to send to Salt Lake by our wounded Californians, four of who let us here for the States. Eight go on with us. Here also Tom Laven struck for Salt Lake to winter. We go to Wallah Wallah Valley.

14th [August 1862] Drove 20 m., encamped on the bluffs near Port Neuf's junction with Snake. Mosquitoes oh God! "

E. S. McComas, Oregon Emigrant


[August 1862] "When it started to get dark they [the Indians] lit up their torches and commenced to dance, and the old trappers joined in with them. They kept begging us to join with them, and finally we did. We kept it up until twelve or one o'clock. Then we broke up, and all went to bed and slept until morning. Then some squaws came down and told us that old Mr. Grant was dead.....We laid him out on a buffalo robe and went back to the dance and danced on until about three o'clock. Then we broke up and all went to bed and slept until morning. About nine o'clock Johnny woke me up and said his father wsa in the hot sun and that we ought to do something for him.

...He asked if I would get those trappers to help me dig the grave...I then woke them up, got them started digging the grave, and by twelve or one o'clock they had it dug. We then went and carried the corpse over, wrapped it up in some old bedding, and laid it in the bottom of the grave. We covered him up nicely, then we went out in the cedars, cut a big cedar down, and chopped it off about two and a half feet long. We chopped in on both sides and split off a plank, which we hewed smooth on both sides.

One of the men took a pencil and wrote on it:







We all felt sorry for his old woman and his son Johnny.

The next morning we all pitched in a packed her horses for her. We got an old Indian and his squaw and a couple of young Indians that I had with me on my trip to go down with her to Fort Hall and take care of her horses. We all packed up our own horses, and the old traspper went back to the Blackfoot river and young Johnny Grant stated on his trip to Deer Lodge."

George W. Goodhart, Idaho Pioneer (this account of Richard Grant's death is disputed by other facts)




June 3, 1863 "The region immediately about the Snake River at this ferry, which is about ten miles east of old Fort Hall, is a dry, barren sand plain, the road to the ferry being exceedingly heavy and difficult to traverse."

General Patrick E. Connor, General U. S. Army, Commanding Officer, Bear River Massacre


[August, 1863] "We crossed a few more small streams, usually finding good water and grass for our stock, but frequently a serious drawback to our comfort, was a dearth of wood. Green willow, the size of a pipe stem, being the only substitute. Over this sizzling, smoky apology for a blaze we managed to heat water for our tea. I must say I preferred the willow to buffalo chips, which many emigrants used for fuel.

Fort Hall now lay before us in the near distance. To this point, located in Eastern Oregon, which we thought lay near the end of our journey, our longing eyes continually turned.

Arriving at Fort Hall, weary and worn with our long journey of more than a thousand miles, after the slow, plodding oxen, our hearts sank with dismay when we learned that eight hundred miles still streched their toilsome lengths between us and the coveted goal of our ambition. Had we known of the desolation and barrenness of the route that lay before us, I fear we would have been tempted to give up in dispair, for its proved by far the roughest and most trying part of our journey.

Looking back over the many conquered obstacles that lay behind us, we were inspired to press forward with renewed courage. We had passed through many rough and dangerous scenes, where the waters were deep, mountains high, and the Indians treacherous, and no serious accident had befallen us, and all were in good health. Surely we had reason to acknowledge Divine protection; and in a hopeful, trustful spirit we pushed forward, up and down over more rough hills interspersed with springs of water, and soom after made our first encampment on the Snake river, and name ominous of treachery and tribulations."

Phoebe Goodell Judson, Oregon Emigrant


August 24, 1863 "Our present camp is on the Port Neuf River, about four miles from Fort Hall and about eighteen miles below the ferry across Snake River, at the mouth of Blackfoot Creek...I arrived at and crossed Snake River on the 17th, when I maet Captain [Medorem] Crowford of the Overland Excort, both reaching the ferry at the same hour. He had left his camp on Ross Fork, where the routs for the north and south sides of the Snake River separate, and was undetermined as to which he would take..."

Reugen F. Maury, Colonel, U. S. Army




August 26th, 1864 "Here we are, upon a sage plain, with roads running in every direction. We are at a loss which to take. We know ther are two ferries across the Snake River; one at Fort Hall and the other above. We finally agree up a road and travel until noon... There is a train a short distance ahead, and from them Durbin learns that we ar on the road to Salt Lake. We turned back to the creek we had left, which we reached about 3 o'clock P. M. And camped for the night. But little besides sagebrush for feed. Willows for wood. Here we find (as many suspected) that Kennedy and wife are not man and wife. There are many such who cross the plains. A majority of them have families in the States.

Julius Merrill, Idaho Emigrant


August 27th [1864] "Succeeded in getting upon the right road. Travel in the direction of Butt Mountain (one of the Three Buttes). Road quite sandy for six miles, when we cross Blackfoot River (am not sure of the name). We now cross several small streams with water clear as crystal. These streams are fromed by springs fomr whence the water boils forth, the largest of which I should judge to be near fifteen feet across. These springs are all upon the river bottom. The bottom must be several miles in width.

To the emigrant who has seen nothing for months but sagebrush and sage plains, nothing could be prettier than this river bottom. Along the larger streams are tall cottonwoods and vines, while along the smaller are willows and thorns. The latter were red, with their ripened fruit rich and tempting yet nearly tasteless, for I ate no small quantity and was about as well satisfied when I quit as when I began. The cottonwood and underbrush are so thick that one can scarely crawl through, yet as the road crossed some of these places we would soon be upon a field as smoot as a prairie, with a luzuriant growth of grass. Some of these fields were small, and some would make a princely farm. I could but compare them to gardens and lawns surrounded by hedges of magnificant size. The soil must be very fertile.

We camped at night near Old Fort Hall. There is nothing left but the ruins fo several adobe buildings, a few graves, and several bodies (or beds) of old freight wagons. In its palmiest days it must have been a small affair. Had the Indians been hostile, no place could have suited them better for attack. The stage company has two mowing machines at work cutting hay. We were told they had five hundred tons in stack and were still cutting. A goodly number of stacks was in sight. There appeared to be enough to last the whole year were they so disposed.

We saw a few prarie chickens, but they were rather shy. Succeeded in shooting one. They were the first we had seen this side of the mountains."

Julius Merrill, Idaho Emigrant


August 28th. [1864] Goodale's Cutoff "One mile from Fort Hall is a good ferry across the Snake River. We swam our cattle. The river is quite low, but the current strong. It should judge it to be fully thirty yards in width. Considerable timber along its banks. Pass several large springs, and four miles from the ferry is the last one. After leaving this we get no more feed or water for thirty-five miles across the desert to Butte Mountain. We arrive here about 2 o'clock P.M. We took a lunch, but the cattle were not allowed to eat because the majority voted nay


[September, 1864] "Fort Hall was our next point of interest. We reached it without mishap, but had to travel over a long stretch of uninviting country before we arrived. Some of our companions had decided to to go on to California. And Fort Hall would be our parting place. The family bereaved by the tragedy on the Platte were also leaving at this point. The mother had never wholly recovered from the shock, but seemed always sad and depresses and showed no interest in anuthing around her, not even the care of her smaller children. [The husband had been killed by lightening}.

The daughter, however, had become her normal self again. She was very mucy devoted to her mother and to her small brothers and sister, and she cared for them all patiently. She had won a great admirer in the person of the young man who drove their wagon, and we all really hope the interest was mutual and would ripen into a sincere love affair which would lead to marriage; for these people were so longly and helpless, and so much in need of someone to protect them and look after their welfare, that the young man's interest seemed a godsend.

He was a nice young man, seemingly very dependable, but we knek nothing of this financial status an dof his means of caring for the family. They had mothing, apparently, and their wagon was very unstubstantial; the hubs cracked and the spokes loosened in dry weather, and the wagon would now have to be repaired before they could resume their journey. Several times previously some of our men had had to fix the wheels and tighten up the hubs in order to make it serviceable. But the wagon carried a light load and the team of cows kept in good shape, so there was nothing more we could do for them. Of course we were sorry to see them go, and had we known what a long, hot, dry desert road they would have to travel down the Humboldt Valley in Nevada, our concern for them would have been much greater in view of their poor equipment.

Since they were in the company of others, however, who we felt would look after them, we parted with not great reluctance. I have since been by rail over the route they had to travel, and I have thought of them and wondered if they came through safely, and what was their ultimate fate. But I never heard of them again.

We obtained a few needed supplies at Fort Hall but saw nothing of much interest. A few soldier were stationed at the Fort and a number of Indians were lounging around it.

Out next point of interest was the Snake River crossing.

This we learned, would be somewhere near the mouth of the Blackfoot River, an d we would cross on a ferry which was operated mainly for the benevit of the soldiers at Fort Hall."

Arabella Clemens Fulton, Early Boise Valley Settler, [Memories written 1930].




Saturday, 14 [July, 1866] "Father felt poorly. 25 miles out of our way. Crossed the Snake Toll 4.50 verry wild stream."

Eakin's Family Diaries


[1866] Court of Inquiry Portland, Oregon to determine probable value of Fort Hall based on Claims of the Hudson's Bay Company. Questioning of Mr. Ankeny

{Questions by United States Attorney}

Q: Are you aquainted with the Hudson's Bay post at Fort Hall; if so, state when you first saw it and the length of time you remained there?

A: I saw it first in the summer of 1849, and saw it in 1850 also. I was only there about two days-- camped close to it.

Q: Describe if you can the improvements of the company there at that time, and state what was the condition, and who was in charge?

A: It was adobe improvements, such as the enclosure of the fort and buildings. I am unable to describe their partiuclar dimensions, and number. At the time I was there, they seemed to be comfortable. The walls seemed to be scaled in places, and looked as if they had been used and knocked about a good deal; My impression is that Captain Grant was in charge; there was also a Mr. Johsnson there with whom I did some business.

Q: What was the nature of the soil about Fort Hall?

A: In places it seemed to be pretty good, there were spots of good land, which seemed to be better than the average in that country.

Q: What, in your judgement, would be the value per acre of a tract of land one mile square, around this post- then, or at any time....

A: Well, I should not regard it as being worth much more than any other good government land in that vacinity.....

Q: When you were at Fort Hall in 1849 and 1850, what were the appearance as to the amount of trade carried on there?

A: It gave evidence of a good deal of trade there, packing and so forth, and there were a good many goods and furs there; I had some conversation with them by no means of judging the amount.

Q: Up to what date in your judgement, did the Indian trade in that country remain of any value?.....

A: I could not tell at Fort Hall. I understand that the trade at that post to be from the Indians to the north and east; I don't know if they were hostile or not.

[Cross examination by Hudson's bay Attorney]

Q: Can you undertake to state definitely, after a lapse of sixteen years, the condition of the improvements at Fort Hall?

A: Only as I saw it in 1850.

Q: Can you definitely state the number of buildings within the walls?

A: No sir, I could not.

Q: State how much land was under cultivation at Fort Hall, as near as your can recollect?

A: I could not say: they had quite a nice garden, and there might have been other fields cultivated; but I did not see them; I was about over the pasture grounds.

Q: Were not the pasture grounds extensive and of great importance, in

consequence of the company's having a large amount of stock?

A: The whole face of the country, up and down, was good pasture land. The company had a considerable stock when I was there.

Q: Would not the land be worth more than $1.25 per acre to persons having stock to pasture?

A: I think not, outside of improvements. There is a good deal of that kind of land there.

Q: Is not the land in the vacinity of Fort Hall easily irrigable?

A: I could not answer that question; I did not go to see.

Q: Is not Fort Hall a central point of meeting for the great routes from the United States to Oregon and California, with roads diverging thence to Salt Lake and Utah, to British Columbia and to Manitoba?

A: It may have been before I arrived there; I came by way of Salt Lake both times I was at Fort Hall; it was a branching point for the different road mentioned.

Q: Do you not know whether that post was not one of the great importance for convenience and protection to the early emigrants of Oregon?

A: It was very convenient to be able to get supplies there, such as they had; it was very convenient to any traveler coming to this country; I cannot say how that was regarded as to protection; but that it was very convenient to camp there.

Q: Do you know that trapping parties made their headquarters going thence down the Missoure, down the Green River, and Colorado, north to the Flathead country and south to Salt Lake country, and coming there to exchange their goods and obtain supplies?

A: I have heard mountain men speak frequently of being at Fort Hall, and of obtaining supplies and starting from there.

Q: Can you from any estimate of the cost of the improvements at Fort Hall?

A: I have not paid but little attention, and I as in the fort but little--only in one room where I did business, I would not like to state any estimate.

Q: Was it not necessary to transport from a long distance, and at great expense, men, material and provisionss for the construction of the extablishment except the adobes?

A: Aside from what little groceries they need, it looked to me that he material was all obtained there, except the bolts, hinges, and other things of that kind.

Q: What do you mean by groceries?

A: What is what they generally carry: they generally obtain all their meat there. I speak in general terms.

Q: Were there any tools necessary?

A: I should think it would come under that head; packers generally carry a hatchet, axe, and augar.

Q: Could such an establishment as Fort Hall have been constructed by such tools as a hatchet, axe, and augar alone?

A: With the addition of a saw, hammer, plane, and a few nails, and a spade also.

Q: Do you believe hat such tools alone were employed in the construction of the fort?

A: I could not state as to that. There might have been others used.

Q: Were there any windows in the fort or building?

A: It think there was: there wre doors and some small windows, if I recollect right.

Q: Was not all the lumber used there brought from a long distance, and at great expense?

A: I don't know the distance it was brought. It must have been attended with some expsense.

Q: How near the fort did you see any wood growing that would bwe suitable to make doors and windows of?

A: I don't know of any wood around there except cottonwood; I don't know whether the doors and windows were made of that or not; it was not a great distance to that; I don't know how far.

Q: Did you see any other wook within 100 miles?

A: Yes, driftwood in the river; could make any kind of lumber that the wood would make; it could be sawed out of it.

Q: Was there any growing wood within 100 miles to your knowledge?

A: I don't know, I was not about much; it might have been within ten miles and me not know it.

A. P. Ankeny, Merchant of Portland, President of a Steamboat Line

Court of Inquiry Portland, Oregon 1866 to detemine probable value of Fort Hall based on Claims of the Hudson's Bay Company.


[1866] Court of Inquiry Portland, Oregon to detemine probable value of Fort Hall based on Claims of the Hudson's Bay Company. Questioning of Mr. Meek [Joe Meek]

[Questions by the United States Attorney]

Q: When did you first come to the western slope of the Rocky mountains and in what capacity?

A: In the month of August, 1829; in the capacity of hunter and trapper in the Blue montains in the east by the forks of the Platte, in the south by the Gila; and north by the northern branch of the Missouri.

Q: Are you acquainted witht he Hudson's Bay post at Fort Hall? If so, state when and by whom it was built, how long it was in the course of construction, and if you know how many hands were employed in it.

A: I am; It was built by Captain Wyeth in 1835 [1834] , that is, a temporary post, that was built that fall. It was a wooden fort, but a short time of it; 10 or 12 men only. Captain Wyeth came up the next year from down here (it might have been 1837 when he came up), and brought up 10 to 12 Kanakas when he came up, and put up the adobe fort.

Q: How long were those 10 or 12 Kanaka building the adobe fort?

A: I don't know it was a very short time; I went on a fall hunt and when I came back it was done.

Q: What wages were paid to these men and to the Hudson Bay men generally?

A: Captain Wyeth's Kanakas, that he brought up, always told me that they got from 17 to 24 pounds sterling per year; a great many of the Hudson's Bay men have told me the same thing; some say they got 17, some as high as 24; the new ones got the lowest price.

Q: Were they furnished with clothing or were they required to by this themselves?

A: I think that they bought it themselves, but goods with them was very low.

Q: What in your opinion did the building of Fort Hall cost, as it was finally completed?

A. I suppose it cost about $1,000; I don't think it cost any more than that.

Q: Describe the soil about Fort Hall, and state how much it is worth per acre for agricultural and pastoral purposes.

A: There are some pretty good spots about Fort Hall; the bottom is about a mile wide, and 10 or 12 miles long. The pasturage is good, the land perhaps worth $1.25 per acre; have seen thousands of acres of as good land sold for that price.

Q: What kind of food and provisions were generally furnished to the Hudson's Bay men?

A: At Fort Hall, meat was generally furnished by the hunter, and such as they could purchase from the Indians--buffalo, elk and so forth, game being in great abundance in that country, about Fort Hall. I think they had nothing else.

Q: Were, or were not provisions transported from Vancouver for the use of their servants at the interior post?

A: I think not. I think some little for trade, sugar and tea, and some little flour; these were not furnished by the men.

Q: State, if you know, what the company usually paid for whant was usually called a pack of dried meat, at Fort Hall?

A: A pack of dried meat was generally a piece of 90 pounds. In the fall of the year when the Indians came in, you could get a pack of meat for a butcher knife and about a foot of rope tobacco. The whole country was full of buffalo at that time.

Q: What distinction in names, if any, did the Hudson's Bay agents teach the Indians about the nationality of white men?

A: Whenever they fell in with us, they called us in jargon 'Boston men' and the Hudson's Bay men 'King George's men'. Near the Rocky mountains they did not speak jargon at all- them upper tribes.

Q: How did the Indians manifest their difference of feeling towards Americans and Hudson's Bay men?

A: Where the Hudson; Bay influence was great, their men could go where we were not go unless we had force.

Q: How many Americans were necessary to protect each other, when a single Hudson's Bay man could go in safety?

A: It would be owing to where we were going; it generally took us from twenty-five to fifty to pass through this lower country, that is about Fort Hall and Fort Boise, and all that region of the country and north of there.

Q: What badge did the Hudson's Bay men wear when you say it required from twenty-five to fifty Americans to go alone, where a single Hudson's Bay man could go alone, do you mean to say that you ever knew of one Hudson's Bay man going where it would be have been unsafe for Americans to go except in such large parties?

A: Yes, sir; they used to go from Boise to Fort Hall, one or two, alone, where it is unsafe for twenty Americans to go. Rome [Remeau] used to come down. I don't know whether he used to come down by himself, or one man with him.

Q: Was it not, however, usual for the Company's men to travel in parties, and armed going from one post to another, or traveling about the country?

A: Yes, it certainly was.

[Cross examination by Hudson's Bay Attorney, Mr. Holbrook]

Q: Do you not believe that the great reason why the Indians respected and feared the company and its men, was because of their knowledge that the company had power to punish wrong; and also because the company always instructed its agents to act fairly and justly toward the Indians?

A: The upper Indians had no knowledge of this except by the company cutting off their supplies if they did wrong. Some time after Fort Hall fell into the company's hands, they had complete dominion over that country, Indians and all. I think they always instructed their agents to act fairly and justly toward the Indians. The name of the company passed me through to Fort Bridger, in 1848; when the Indians came to me I told them that Tom McKay was behind, with a larger party, going to Fort Hall to trade; I wore the Hudson's Bay dress out and out.

Q: And what time in 1836-37 did Captain Wyeth arrive at Fort Hall, with the Kankas spoken of by you in your direct examination?

A: I don't remember exactly. I think the Kanakas came up with Captain King. I don't think Captain Wyeth came up until the winter some time; I was not at the fort.

Q: When did you leave the fort for your fall hunt, and how long were you absent.

A: I didn't belong to the fort at all; I belonged to the American Fur Company at that time, I think, or to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and would pay a visit to the fort every once in a while, when we got beaver to trade.

Q: How long were you absent on the fall hunt, spoken of by you?

A: We would generally start out about the 20th of August, and generally came back about the middle of October, or the first of November, when it got too cold to trap.

Q: Do you mean to say that Fort Hall was completed between the 20th of August and the 20th of October, or the first of November, by ten or twelve Kanakas?

A: I think the fort was put up in about the time; I don't know whether the inside was complete or not; the fort was up- the walls were up.

Q: What was the length., height, and width of the walls?

A: I don't know sir.

Q: Was it about thirteen feet high by 19 inches thick?

A: I do not know, sir; it looked like quite a fort- as though it might measure thirteen feet high.

Q: Was it not about 100 feet square?

A: I think it was about 100 feet square.

Q: How far from the fort were the adobes made?

A: They were made right at it, very close-- on the banks of a along the Snake river.

Q: When you returned, how many men were at Fort Hall?

A: I suppose there about 150, or near that many.

Q: How many of those men belonged to Captain Wyeth's party, and were under his directions, or that of this agents?

A: I don't know exactly, they were all under his direction, while about Fort Hall; there were a good many freemen- men not hired to him.

Q: Do you know that the greater part of those men had been employed in the construction of the fort, as well as ten or twelve Kanakas mentioned?

A: I presume there were a good many men worked on the fort besides the Kanakas; I speak of the Kanakas because they were workman, and understood their business.

Q: How long did you remain at Fort Hall at that time?

A: I think I was there three days; it generally took me one day to get drunk and two to get sober.

Q: When were you next at Fort Hall?

A: I was there some time in February; we wintered in the forks of the Snake river, and came down to have another spree.

Q: Were not Captain Wyeth's men still employed in completing the improvements within and about the fort?

A: No, sir; it was extremely cold then; snow two feet deep, and they laid in winter quarters.

Q: Had not a large amont of work been done since you were there in the fall?

A: I think there were some houses put inside the fort- no great amount of work done- and the bastions fixed, I think.

Q: Do you believe it would be possible to build that fort and make all improvements, within and around it, counting the cost of transportation of men, the necessary tools, provisions, and clothing all for $1000.

A: Yes, sir; provisions would cost very little, at that time, in that country.

Q: What was the cost of transportation, per pound, from Vancouver to Fort Hall?

A: I do not know, sir; I don't know what they charged; they transported nothing but their goods and men; they didn't transport the adobes, they made them there.

Q: Were there Indians ther, and about there, at that time hostile or friendly?

A: They were friendly.

Q: How was the lumber obtained; where and how far was it transported?

A: Lumber was obtained by whipsawing by two men; transported about a mile or mile and a half from the fort.

Q: In fixing the cost you have named, is it a mere guess, or have you estimated in detail, the different items of expense necessarily incurred?

A: I have not estimated it in detail, exactly; I have studied a good deal about it; when men were hired for nineteen pounds sterling per year, they could put up a fort for $1,000.

Q: What wages did Captain Wyeth's American laborers get?

A: I think they were to get $250 for fifteen months; these were the men that were hired in St. Louis, and came out,- not hired in the mountains.

Q: How much did he pay his hunters employed at the fort?

A: I can't remember, hunters were generally paid a big price, about

$1000 ot $1200 a year; they would generally give a man who spent his money a much larger price, than those who did not.

Q: How much of the cost price did you fix for the labor done?

A: I don't know, sir, some $60 or $100 perhaps.

Q: What part would be required to pay for their transportation from the east, or from Vancouver to Fort Hall?

A: In don't know, sir.

Q: Must it not have cost at least $50 a man, to transport these men to Fort Hall, and to pay for the expenses of their journey?

A: I don't know what it cost, I never transported men.

Q: Was not Fort Hall a very important position, where routes concentrated from all directions?

A: It was in a very important position after it fell into the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company. Most all trappers resorted there because they coud get cheap for beaver and good clothing.

Q: Did not the Company have large hunting and trapping parties, out in all directions, through that country, who made their Headquarters at Fort Hall:

A: There were a great many small parties out through that country, who made their headquarters at Fort Hall.

Q: Were they sent out by the Hudson's Bay Company chiefly?

A: The Hudson's Bay Company supplied them, and I think they were bound to the company for their furs.

Q: Was not the trade with the Indians at Fort Hall very extensive, and profitable, so long as you were in that country:

A: No. sir, I don't think it was worth but very little; the trade with free trappers was immense.

Q: Was not Fort Hall a place for general resort for emigrants, when they began to come to Oregon and California?

A: I think it was, sir; they generally passed Fort Hall.

Q: Did not the position of that fort, in the Indian country, hove the effect of protecting the emigrant route?

A: I think it had, sir. I suppose it was a great protection to the emigrant route.

Q: Was not the same true of Forts Boise and Walla Walla?

A: I don't think that Fort Boise was of any consequence at all, except the name of the Hudson's Bay Company; that was a protection along there. The emigrants hardly ever came by Walla Walla but I presume it was protection.

Q: Was not the bottom land, near Fort Hall, cultivated by the company, and did it yield good crops?

A: Not in my day there; I never saw any good crops raised, except a little patch of wheat by McDonald; there might have been four or five bushels.

Q: In what year was that?

A: 1838 or 1839.

Q: How did Fort Boise compare with Fort Hall in size and appearance?

A: I remember looking at Fort Boise and admiring it. It was finished off much nicer than Fort Hall. It was made of beautiful adobes- much better than Fort Hall.

Joe Meek, Trapper and Mountain Man




[1870's] "One late afternoon we came to a destination we had heard so much talk about: the Snake River. The we made a camp near the river'sbank. While my first look at the Bear River had not pleased me, I liked the Snake River at once. It looked cleaner and more refreshing. We were told that Fort Hall once stood nearby and wa a big help to covered wagon people because they could buy badly needed provisions there. But the Fort was long gone."

Maude Sommers Maple, Oregon Pioneer




1876 "FORT HALL, IDAHO. Established in May 1870. Lat. 430 3', long. 11 0 27'. Situated in Lincoln Valley on the northeastern portion of the Shoshone and Bannock Indian reservation. Postoffice at Cortett's station, 12 miles distant. The nearest railroad station is at Franklin, I. T., 100 miles to the souty. Corinne. Utah, on the Central Pacific railroad, 140 miles due south. Telegraph office at post. Fort Bridger 150 miles southeast.

Buildings. Quarters for one company. Officers' quarters, four sets; connissary and quartermaster's storerooms, one building 30 X 100; hospital; guard house; bakery; corral and stable 100 X 150; offices; laudress' quarters; workshop, etc. Frame and log buildings, all in good condition.

Supplies. Quartermaster's and commissary stores are to be furnished from Ohama and Cheyenne by rail to Franklin, present turminus fo Utah Northern railroad, and thence by wagons. Water obtained from springs near post. Wood, forage and fresh beef supplied by contract. Six months' subsistance on hand.

Indians. The Indians in the vicinity are the Shoshones (Boise Snakes) and Bannocks from the agency at Ross Fork, about 17 miles from the post. They number about 1,300 and are friendly and peaceably disposed. Reservation. Declared by the President October 12, 1870. Area 1 square mile.

Discription of Country, etc. The valley is well sheltered from the winds by the surrounding hills; is fertile and grassy; affords excellent grazing; and, wtih irrigation, yields good crops of cereals, vegetables, &c. Timber is very scarce; a stunted growth of pine and cedar is found in isolated sports on th foot hill. Red sandstone, considered suitable for building, is found a mile east of the post. The climate is generally pleasant, though subject to wide ranges in temperature."

Posts in the Military Division of the Missouri Commanded by Lieutenant General P. H. Sheridan




[Sept. 1877] "...The deer added some fresh meat to hour rations. By the next day's travel we could have reached Ft. Hall [military camp] but concluded to camp a little short of the post, in order to dust off our equipment and freshen up ourselves before venturing into the more civilized life of an army post. We camped early at about four miles from the post. Shortly agter camping the packer who guarding the mules reported that he had heard at least 35 to 40 rifle shots in the direction of Fort Hall. Said that he knew it could not be target practice because the firing was too rapid and only continued for a short time.

We learned the next day the cause of the firing, and the incident is mentioned here only because it illustrates an extreme instance of inconvenience, which was experienced by more than one western post. The firing referred to was due to an attempt to exterminate a colony of skunks that had availed of homes in and around the nearby public buildings of.

These animals usually came out of their dens at certain hours on fair days and made themselves a nuisance. That day a squad of the post's best marksmen was detailed to kill as many of them as possible, hence the firing heard. I forgot to get a record of the number killed.

On Sept. 12th the two topographers and myself ascended Mr. Putnam, near Hall which was to be the most northern triangulation station of our season's work in that area. We started very early and reached the summit at 8:00 A. M. The veiw afforded deserves a discription beyond my powers. From the top the mountain down 1,00 or 1,500 feet was bright in sunlight, while a dense fog concealed below that level for many miles in every direction. Above that level was the beautiful blue dome of a cloudless sky. The seething and boiling of the great rolling waves and tumbling cumule masses which could be seen for many miles over the lava covered desert. Four or five volcanic peeks protruded through this great vapor ocean, giving the impression of "peaks of a sunken continent." At the far distant limit of my vision the horizon line appeared circular and calm as that one views on a bright day in mid-ocean.

At the above date, I received orders from Washington directing me to turn over my party to Lt. Willard Young [son of Brigham Young] and myself to proceed to Fort Ellis, Montana, establish a base there and carry a system of triangles back down to Fort Hall and connect up with our work in that area. I was directd to take two men, a two horse wagon, and the necessary intruments for the work. I was authorized to use my own riding mule for conveyance.

There was with my outfit only one spare mule, and so far as we knew he had never been ridden, though he had been packed a few times. Under these conditions I suggested to Lt. Young that he take my riding animal and that as I had considered over 200 miles ride ahead of me in the immediate future, that I could break the spare mule to the saddle. This arrangement was accordingly adopted.

On Sept. 18th with the two horse wagon, one enlisted man and one of the packers and myself mounted on the spare mule we left Hall for Ft. Ellis, Montana, the latter place being about 20400 further north than the fromer.

My enlisted man was a German named Hans Gutman. He was a little below medium height, not in the least talkative, but not in the least talkative, but not in the least ill-mntured, but very confident in his own conclusions and entirely devoid of all kin of superstitions. The packer was a tall, loosely built man 6'3" from Mo., and possessed of many local beliefs and other superstitions. They were both good workers, and I found them interesting characters when I chose to dismount occasionally and ride with them in the wagon."

Samuel E. Tillman, 1st Lt. U. S. Army, Surveyor


[Oct./Nov. 1877] "On Oct. 26th I saw that it was too late in the season to accomplish the work prescribed and decided to close it and began packing to that end. My two men and the wagon left for Ft. Hall on the 27. I left at 3:oo A. M. On the 29th for Virginia City by stage and reached there by 8:00 P. M. ...

By steady marches we got back to Ft. Hall on Nov. 7th. My arrival at this date gave me the three most interesting days the greater portion of which were spent in watching th e conduct of the Bannock Indians there assembled at the Agency to receive certain annuities which were then being distrubuted to them, a short distance from Fort Hall. The heads of the families received the articles alloted to each family. Upon my arrival at the point of distribution on the morning of the 8th some of the bucks were already riding about enrobed in varied colored blankets which had just been issued to them. Before noon they had arranged a number of race, some of which were contested between mounted men and other between a mounted man and a runner on foot, the footman of course, receiving a certain distance at the start. The races of both kinds were generally over long distance, as much as 5 or 6 miles. Such racing was of some interest, but not as exciting as the closely contested runs for shorter distances. While the bucks were dispercing themselves in their new blankets, the squaws guarded the remainder of he family supplies.

With a young officer of the post, who had been a pupil of mine a few years before at West Point, we returned to the agency after sundown and we when witnessed the gambling game of Cache whcih was being played by eight bucks, two sets of four, sitting on the ground in parallet lines about five feet apart with a spead blanket between them. When the games started the players on each side set with forearm, from the elbow, pointing vertically upward. One set of fours had their fists tightly closed. The set had the lead and one of the number held in his hand a short stick (about two inches long I was told). The game required the opposite set of fours to guess in which fo the eight uplifted hands contained that stick. The side holding the stick of course had concealed it entirely out of sight of their opponents.

When the starting signal was given, the side holding the stick began swaying their trunks and uplifted arms from right to left accompanying it with a low monotonous note. The guessers swayed their bodies in with the holders and each guesser pointed a finger at one of the uplifted hands of the opposite side.

After continuing this swaying motion for a short time, one of the guessers with a finger continually directed at a particular uplifted hand, designates it as the hand holding the stick. If the guesser correctly indicates the location of the stick, he has so to speak made a tem strike and the stick goes to his side. If he fails to point to the hand holding the stick, which he clearly has many chances to do, he loses for his side a certain amount, depending upon how many hands were between the one designated and the one holding the stick.

If the few principles fo the game as indicate in the above partial discription are correct it is at once evident that the game is one of numerous possibilites. My friend did not profess much knowledge of the game but he said that it was a fact that the same Indians always did the guessing for the same players, those individuals being picked out because of greater ability to see and read change of expression in their opponents, as for instance when a holder of the stick might give evidence of alarm should he see two or three of his oponents pointing at this hand, might cause him to change his expression. During my limited stay at Ft. Hall I was not able to procure other infromation fo the game of Cache, from the French"cacher." The stakes that evening at the game watched by us were piles of newly issued blankets.

My friend wasmost anxious for me to visit the Agency the next morning because he said that by that time the Indians would have had time to make certain changes in some of the articles of clothing issued to them to better adapt them to the purpose for which they desired. Morever he said that changes made by the Indians indicated their advance in civilization. It was a strange thing, he said but as a rule the older Indians were advancing more rapidly than the younger in adopting the ways of civilized life. I did go out to the Agency the next morning and my friend was delighted and amused for we found exactly what he wished to show me. He first pointed to a yound Indian who had received a pair of old army trousers from our late interstate war 61-65. He had cut off the leg of the trousers just below the knee, and wearing them as leggings or puttees and had discarded all the remainer of the pair.

Now, said my friend I hope we will see how an old man treats his trousers if we are so fortunate to see one. Pretty soon we saw an old man approaching with a blanket over his shoulders and apparently wearing a complete pair of trousers. Now, said my friend, he has tailored his old trousers quite differently which consisted in cutting out a large piece from the rear side, but retaining the front and legs entire. Now the agent, my friend said, considers that this old man has advanced much more rapidly than the young one and the agent terms all those who have tailored their trousers like this old man "grangers." We saw other Indians, both bucks and squaws wearing corn or meal sacks with the mill signs still on them.

On Nov. 10th I, with my two companions, left Ft. Hall for Ogden, and reached this town on the evening of the 13th."

Samuel Tilden, Ist. Lieutenant U. S. Army




[1874/1884] "All Indians on the Reservation were under the charge of the Agent, an appointee of the Government. He was always called Major...The custom presisted after the control of Indians affairs passed from the War Department to the Department of Interior. An agent, though a civilian, is still commonly addressed as Major.

A newly-appointed agent coming tenderfoot form the East was due to receive some surprises and possibly some shocks. Major High came on the stage, arriving at midnight and asking to stay the rest of the night at the Post. We had no accomdations for travelers, but told him he could sleep on a couple of buffalo rodes spread on the floor in the log warehouse, he was, of course, welcome. On waking in the morning, he found his silk hat resting on a side of bacon. He took it all in good part and was one who soon adapted himself to the ways of the country....

During the Nez Perce War, I, for a short time, incurred the serious ill-will of a few of our Bannocks. As soon as the Nez Perce Indians had started on the warpath, the Bannocks became greately, agitated, and tried in every way by taunts and jeers as well as persuasion, to induce the Shoshones to join with them. The plan being that a biand of warriors from both tribes should go north, intercept the Nez Perces and accompany them on their tour of pillage and murder. But the Shoshones steadfastly refused to entertain the project and their arguments prevailed.

One headstong young Bannock, however, started out on horseback on his own account. In the vicinity of my office, he shot the first two white men that he met, one of them died fromthe bullet wound within a few weeks.

The Indian escapted to the mountains, where he remained in hiding until driven out by the cold of winter. Then, by the advice of friends, he gave himself up. The sheriff, coming to take his prisoner to the county seat, kept him in my office until the arrival of the stage. This gave some of the Indians the idea that I was co-operating with the sheriff. The next day there was a great excitement, and on the following evening one of my employees was shot dead in my back yard. The supposition being that the shot was intended for me. At this juncture I deemed it best to send my wife and children away for a time.... The little garrison at Fort Hall being insufficient to cope with the situation, U. S. troops were sent from Fort Douglas, Utah.

The Indians soon became quiet.

The following spring the Bannocks went on the warpath without the Shoshones. Ostensibly going on a hunting trip, they started from the Snake River to a previously arranged place of rendezvous. A few months later they were brought to subjection in Yellowstone Park by the U. S. Troops.

The last years at Ross Fork were undisturbed by Indian uprisings. With the railroads drawing near and settlers coming in, much of the picturesqueness of the old life was gone."

W. N. Shilling, Licensed Trader, Fort Hall Reservation




[1902] "There at Fort Hall the final conquest was made, which resulted in the United States obtaining possession of a good share, at least of the Northwest coast. Previous to 1836, when Dr. Whitman cam to the coast, in nearly every contest which the Americans had had with the British subjects here they had been defeated. Severeal fur companies, among which werthe Pacific Fur Company, Wyeth's Salmon Cannery and Trading Company, Captain Bonneville, and others, which swelled the number to eleven, had fought the battle with the Hudson Bay Company and retired defeated. The American Society for Encouraging Settlements in the Oregon Territory, with Hall J. Kelly at its head, had lost $30,000 and retired from the field. Astoria, built in 1811 before the Hudson Bay Company was here, and Fort Hall, built in 1834, by N. J. Wyeth, had fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Thus, previous to 1834, every American effort was defeated. In that year Rev. Jason Lee and other crossed the continent, and, though it was not in their first plan, actually began a settlement in the Willamette, which greatly assisted in the final victory. The same year Rev. Samuel Parker began to arouse the Congregational and Prysbyterian churches and the American Board of Commissers for Foreign Missions in regard to missions on this coast, and the next winter found Dr. Whitman and interested him in the work. Then it was that the tide began to turn in favor to of theUnited States. In 1836, when Mrs. Spaulding and Mrs. Whitman crossed the Rocky mountains, the first white women who ever did so, it was a victory. When during the same journey, Dr. Whitman brought the first wagon that ever broke sagebrush to Fort Boise, it was another victory. When four years later, Dr. Robert Newell and company took three wagons to Walla Walla, the enemy was again overcome. When, again, Dr. Whitman made his journey east in 1843 through terrible suffering, and gave such information at Washington that the opinions of the rulers as to the value of the country and the possiblity of reaching it with wagons were changed, still another victory was won. But the results of all these would have been well nigh or completely lost had Captain Grant at Fort Hall induced the emigration of 1843 to do as he wished. There was no flurish of trumpets or sound of drums, no rattle of musketry or roar of cannon at that battle. The contest was simply between two men, and was a battle of brains and diplomacy, but the result were greater than oftentimes when many thousands have been slain. Each of the parties felt in a measure the responsibility, and Whitman won.

Fort Hall had been built nine years previously an American, but in the contest between the trading companies quickly fell into the hands of the British. Now it was the scene of another contest, when settlements, not furs, were at stake, and the American gained the victory. All that was done after this was simply to gather up the spoils and make the treaty of peace. And when, in 1846, the treaty was signed between Great Britian and the United States, it was simply writing in an official way what had been written de facto three years previous at Fort Hall."

Reverand Cushing Eells, D. D. Oregon Resident




[1925] "Historians are all agreed that the site of Fort Hall is the most historic spot on the Oregon Trail. The building of the fort unquestionably hastened the completion of the wagon road over the trail, and thereby enabled tousands of home builders with their families to push on to the Pacific Coast and finally to overthrow British rule, resulting in the treaty of 1846, thus ending a controversy of nearly half a century. The home builders did it."

Ezra Meeker, Oregon Emigrant and founder of Oregon Memorial Trail Association




[July 1935] "...The battered face of old Mount Putnam looked down into the sheltered Fort Hall bottoms while we in our dingy car rested like a disregarded gnt on its whiskery creek. Below us a trail slighered down a hoary wrinkle and, resolutely, we steered along. The long July day was slipping into evening.

....Ahead of us and across the great Snake River stood the Three Buttes--purple cardboard mountains pasted against a murky gray flat and an tinsel sky, just as they had looked to the Oregon missionaries a century ago--ancient landmarks to tell us we had reached Fort Hall.

We stayed the night in Pocatello. It was off our route, but we needed information about the site of old Fort Hall, which well informed authorites seem to agree had been inundated by the waters of the American Dam project. For months we had been regretful that this should have happened to a site so vital to the upbuilding of the West, but we certainly intended to get a boat and see what the submerged ruins would look like.....

We passed without hailing, a number of intelligent-appearing Indians whose imperturbable dignity, as they rode slowly on small dirty ponies, or in big dirty automobiles, precluded light or unnecessary conversation. Instead we stopped a car containing two couples and a baby. One of the young wives was Shoshone, good-looking, and cultured to the point of causing all the Paden family's casual speech habits to vanish. She offered to show us the old wagon trail, and we set out in their wake as closely as the clouds of dust permitted.

When the road arrived at the short, steep bluff that edges the bottoms it plunged directly down to the flat. The trail did the same a short distance to our left, having come straight across the valley from where we had left it at the foot of Mt. Putnam. The young Shoshone girl then showed us the old ford over Clear Creek and pointed to wagon ruts running straight down to the bottoms, paralleling the river. They continued, she said, to where Fort Hall lay submerged but visible under the waters of the dam... 

The next morning at nine, we moved in on the Chamber of Commerce determined to get some definite information.

The pleasant-faced woman in charge gave it her attention. Dr. Howard might know, she said: Dr. Minnie Howard. A telephone call produced the information that she was on her way downtown. A hasty sortie at the door discovered her just passing the corner.

Thus easily did we annex Dr. Minnie Howard--not to return her until she an dwe had stood with the foundations of old Fort Hall, submerged under nothing but wheat grass.

Dr. Howard was a physician, wife of a physician and mother of several sons, all physicans; but at heart she was a historian...

All day she talked with power and passion and an unshakable knowledge of her subject; but the item most pertinent to this record was that in 1916 she and her husband, with an Indian and a local cattleman, had accompanied Ezra Meeker when he succeeded in locating the site of Fort Hall, and that they had definitely identified the place to their complete satisfaction. The old Indian, who had been familiar with the fort in the day of its usefulness, recognized the particular curve of the river and, from that point, worked inland through the shoulder-high wheat grass to the foundations. Once there, he had told them just where to look for the well---which they found without difficulty.

Many years had passed, and Dr. Howard was uncertain as to the exact location of the foundations; but she was positive that they were not under water, and that she would recognize the vacinity if she ever got close enough. For the rest of the morning and on into the afternoon, we bumped here and there though the outspread unreason of the Bottoms with the fullest expectation of getting results.

...A clearing strung itself like a bean on our latest set of wheel ruts, and then another and another. Small log cabins and tiers of chopped wood indicated that people sojourned there, but there were no gardens or other sign of occupation. A short period of excitement punctuated our search as we found and explored excavations at Loring Cantonment, the old military post which we knew to be about three miles from the fort....

My always nebulous ideas of geography had completely curdled long since; but as we crossed for the nth time the great swale of the old trail and found that it turned sharply and was now going purposefully toward the river, it occurred to me that this be the place where the wagons had turned in toward the fort. Just then Dr. Howard caught a glimpse of a point of willows ahead on the next decisive bend of the river. She evidently recognized them and asked my husband to stop. None to soon, for, as it proved, we were within a hundred yards of our objective.

We might have easily passed it, for there are no walls remaining, and the site was hidden under a four-foot growth of wheat grass through which we breast-stroked our way to a partial clearing where stood Ezra Meeker's monument. The old fort itself was located., in its day, on a very slight elevation a few feet distant....

'Here is a hole,' said Dr. Howard in high excitement, "I'm sure it must be--yes, it is the place where we dug in 1916.'..

'We wanted to get all the proof we could,' she continued; 'so, after we checked the size and shape of the outline of the walls and the position fo the well and what Ezra Meeker called the rifle pits, we dug to see what we could find. They let me choose the spot, and I picked the inner angle fo the walls. You know how it is in a ruin with the roof caved in. Things get shoved or rain washed into the corner. So we dug there and we found,' she went on with satisfaction, 'buffalo bones with knife hacks in them, great bolts from the wagon door into the fort, lime fragments of stove grate and some bottle glass. But the most interesting find was some broken pieces of blue English china and a piece of a bronze luster bowl decorated on the outside with apple blossems.'...

We had no shovel with us, but by poking a bit we found the rotted wooden fundations and more bones with knife hacks in them. The men, also, under some difficulty, managed to pace the length and breadth of the structure and checked the position of the well and the rifle pits. There was no doubt that we stood within the confines of Fort Hall itself, of which not a wall remains, close beside the hungry river which ever laps out toward it.

'The channel of the Snake has changed in the last hundred years, hasn't it?' asked my husband. 'The old fort is supposed to be a mile from it.'

'Certainly,' said Dr. Howard crisply. 'We know it has changed a lot upstream near Ferry Butte. There used to be an old ferry there, and the bank where it landed on this side is now completely washed away. A big river can do a lot of moving in a hundred years. Never you mind the river.

Here's Fort Hall.'

And, after all, that was the main thing."

Irene D. Paden, California Resident, Retraveled the Oregon Trail in 1930's




[April/May 1947] "It stood, a thing of gleaming white, amid the green meadows, but the side of the silver Skake. It was the heart'd desire of the thousands of weary men and women who came across the plains in the Great Migration. Often the burden of their talk, as they gathered around their campfires at night, had been this: 'When we come to Fort Hall we can rest, we can renew our fast dwindling supplies, we can start out all fresh and new on the last part of our journey. We will have come thirteen hundred miles from Independence. We will have only one thousand more to go."

When they rounded the mighty mass of Mr. Putnam they looked off across the far-reaching plains of the Snake and saw the walls of the Old Fort. Then a shout wuld go up and even the very oxen that pulled the heavy wagons would seem to gain new strength and increase their speed.

Down the Ross Creek Valley they would go, and how short the ten or twelve miles would seem. How gratefully, as they splashed down into the waters of an intervening creek and up the banks on the farther side, would they come to rest in front of the old supply station, 'The White Walled Fort.'

The trading posts and the forts stood like mountain sentinels and havens of safety along the way. The men who traveled the plains were hardy and fearless. Yet they msut often have longed for the rest, the safety of Old Fort Kearney there in Nebraska, Laramie, Bridger, and Casper in Wyoming, and Fort Hall at the crossroads of the trails in Idaho.

It was with something of that longing, now traveling back over the Old Trail, we fixed our faces and sent our horses with springing step toward Fort Hall, still gleaming white in our imigination, on the banks of the Snake. It gave us a thrill to think that now, as we pursued our dream, we had passed out of Oregon and had come into Idaho.....

.....Here at Raft River, the trails of early day met and parted....When they come out of Fort Hall, they found two trails, one leading to California, the other leading north and west to the Willamette Valley, which was the objective of most of the emigrants as they left Independence....

Before us also, three ways opened.....But our dream of some fifty years or more with it's glorious expectation was calling, ride years more with it's glorious expectation was calling, ride on into the Sunrise and towards the White Fort is not very far away. We rode on into the Sunrise and toward the White Fort.....

Chaplin John W. Beard, Oregon Resident, Traveled Oregon Trail Eastward on Horseback in 1947.


[May 21/23, 1947] "As we came into Pocatello, we were met by some newspaper men, who after interviewing us, and taking some pictures, informed us that arrangements had been made for the horses to camp out at the fair ground and that oats for the horses could be obtained at the Tillman Riding Academy...We could hardly sleep that night for tomarrow we would go on to the place where Old Fort Hall, 'the White Fort' of the emigrants dream and of our own dream, had stood.

As the old emigrant used to stop at Fort Hall for rest and refreshment and to replenish his dwindling supplies, so we made Pocatello our supply fort...

After dinner we contacted Dr. Minnie Howard and Mr. W. P. Havenor, county surveyor, two persons deeply intested in histroical thins, especially of the Old Oregon Trail and of Fort Hall. They arranged to take us out to Fort Hall the next day...

It is a lonesome spot, some eight or ten miles off the highway, down on the flat near the river--somewhat nearer the river than in the old days, for the Snake has changed it's bed, perhaps several times, since the building of the fort by N. J. Wyeth in 1834. Wild grass grows now, tall and luxuriant,where the buildings once stood, and where the white winged wagons were parked. There is a marker erected here by Ezra Meeker, who was very sure of the location.

As we stood looking at the rise in the ground that plainly showed a rectangular outline where the outer walls stood, and at the depression on the northeast corner--probably rifle-pits for the outer defense--the historians,

Dr. Howard, Mrs. Hall, and Mr. Havenor, began to recall many of the stirring events that had happened here and to name over many of the historical characters that had visited the Old White Fort....

Here, then, stood this old supply station, this old fort at the crossways of primative Indian trails and at what was later to be the cross-trails and road to half a continent. With its adobe walls, white-washed and gleaming, it had stood, as a Mecca to travelers of the early day. Here it stood, and here it witness the drama of drunken debauchery and pur spiritial religion, of eternal loyalities and disgraceful desertions. Here it stood, witness to the eternally facinating drama of life.

Standing at this historic spot, which, for long years had been the Mecca of our dreams, and listening to these stories coming up out of the past, we began to long for some little token, some artifact, that would prove conclusively to ourselves that the Old Fort stood here...

Feverishly beginning to dig, I made a hole about three feet wide and two and a half deep, unearthing some wood that had evidently been part of one of the logs of the old building.

It is said that the original structure, the American Old Fort Hall, was in form some sixty feet square and that it was constructed of cottonwood logs. These logs were twelve feet in lenght and set two feet deep in the ground.

Quarters for the men and goods were built inside the larger walls. Provisions were made for defence by contructing two bastions where armed men could command the approaches to the fort. It was evidently some part of this old, original structure from which the rotten wood had come.

A few shovels more and a thrill like an electric shock passed over me, for the blade of the spade had struck something of a metallic nature. From the dirt and gravel, where it had been buried for perhaps nigh on to a hundred years, we pulled out a great, square-linked log chain, six or eight feet long, if it could have been untangled form it's cust-congealed folds of iron, that had once been around the hubs of a Conestoga wagon. We were all very sure now that the Old White Fort had stood there.

Dr. Howard and Mr. Havenor both gladly suggested that these artifacts should be sent to the University to be kept among other relics of that time when the Old Fort had stood at the cross-trails of half the continent.

Next day, we passed though the Indian Agency, turned the heads of our horses up Ross Creek, took the Old Trail around the mighty bastion of Mt. Putnam. Here the old trail would lead us down into the Portneuf Valley, though the Falkner ranch, though Chesterfield and over some forty miles to Soda Springs."

Chaplin John W. Beard, Oregon Resident,



"In later days, when the spirit of war was aroused for the whole of Oregon or war, the question was raised whether it was to be taken under the walls of Quebec or on the Columbia. Neither was the place. Oregon was taken at Fort Hall; for it well be seen that from this time the grand result in the Oregon case was no lonter an open and doubtful issue; only details and minor adjustments required attention."

Dr. William Burrows in Burrow's Oregon, p.249



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Copyright 1999, Jacquelyn J. Alvord