Fort William (Oregon)


Fort William (Oregon)

infobox generic | color = khaki
name = Fort William
sub0 = Fur Trade Outpost
img1 =
width1 =
cap1 =
hdr1 =
lbl1 = Constructed:
row1 = 1834
lbl2 = Built for:
row2 = Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth
lbl3 = Location:
row3 = Sauvie Island, Oregon
lbl4 = Continent:
row4 = North America
lbl5 = Later Ownership:
row5 = Hudson's Bay Company
lbl6 = Abandoned:
row6 = unknown
style21 =
row21 =
sub21 =

Fort William was a fur trading outpost built by American Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth in 1834. It was located on the Columbia River on Wappatoo Island in what is now part of Portland, Oregon. It was the site of a murder and the first Euro-American trial in what is now the state of Oregon. After a few years the post was leased to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1837.

Background

The fort was built as part of the Pacific Trading Company, a joint-stock company formed by Wyeth to exploit the fur trade in the Oregon Country.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Oregon History: Land-based Fur Trade and Exploration
work = Oregon Blue Book
publisher = Oregon Secretary of State
date =
url = http://bluebook.state.or.us/cultural/history/history06.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-01-23
] The island chosen was previously visited by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and was previously inhabited by natives. However, by the time Wyeth established his outpost the island was void of any human habitation due to diseases that had swept through the lower Columbia wiping out nearly 90% of the native inhabitants. [ [http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/learning_center/dspResource.cfm?resource_ID=F8920874-9FF4-C82C-0C2809AC7DB19FE2 Oregon History Project: Spreading Old World Contagions.] Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved on February 26 2008.]

Location

Wappatoo Island, now Sauvie Island, lies just north of the main confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, with the north end of the island being the location of the confluence with the Multnomah Channel. The post was built on the north end of the island, but was moved the next year towards the center of the island due to flooding.cite web
last = Payette
first = Phil
authorlink =
coauthors = Pete Payette
title = Oregon Forts
work = American Forts West
publisher = American Forts Network
date = 2007
url = http://www.northamericanforts.com/West/or.html#william
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-08-12
] Fort William was west of and on the opposite side of the river from the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver that was established in 1822 on the north side of the Columbia. It was about convert|90|mi|km upriver from the mouth of the Columbia and the Hudson's Bay Company post of Fort George (formerly Fort Astoria).

Operation

Wyeth and crew attempted various commercial interests from their outpost in the Pacific Northwest. They cut lumber and exported it to the Hawaiian Islands, built boats and canoes, and built a convert|60|ft|m|sing=on long building to use in processing fish.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Wappatoo Island Ap 3d 1835
work = Selected Letters of Nathaniel J. Wyeth
publisher = Library of Western Fur Trade Historical Source Documents
date =
url = http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/mtman/html/wyethltr.html#23
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-01-23
] Wyeth and his employees also attempted to trap animals in the Deschutes River watershed of central Oregon. However, this proved unsuccessful and they young company was unable to overcome the competition of the Hudson’s Bay Company and, in the Rocky Mountains, the American Fur Company. John Ball, one of Wyeth's men, wrote that they were no match for the Hudson Bay's Company, which would bid up fur trade prices as much as ten to one whenever any American trader appeared on the lower Columbia River.cite book
last = Mackie
first= Richard Somerset
title= Trading Beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific 1793-1843
year= 1997
publisher= University of British Columbia (UBC) Press
location= Vancouver
isbn= 0-7748-0613-3
pages= pp. 99-100
online at [http://books.google.com/books?id=VKXgJw6K088C Google Books] ] The post also had difficulties with its own operations when the first supply ship sent to the Northwest Coast wrecked, and the second ship was late. This first ship then only shipped out salmon. These problems led Wyeth to abandon the fort in 1836, but subsequently leased the installation to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1837. After Wyeth left the Pacific Northwest, John McLoughlin, the Chief Factor at Fort Vancouver, ordered Fort William demolished and a dairy farm to be built on the island.
Fort Hall in present day Idaho, the other outpost in the enterprise, was sold off to the HBC the following year.

Murder

Fort William also served as the backdrop to the first public trial by Europeans in Oregon.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Narrative of a Journey
work = New and Recent OSU Press Books
publisher = OSU Press
date =
url = http://oregonstate.edu/dept/press/m-n/NaraofaJourneyIntro.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-01-23
] This situation occurred in 1835cite web
last = Bevan
first = Dane
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Public Meeting at Champoeg, 1843
work = Oregon History Project
publisher = Oregon Historical Society
date =
url = http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/historical_records/dspDocument.cfm?doc_ID=40889788-92F9-C578-96471494DA12A34C
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-01-30
] when the post’s gunsmith, Thomas J. Hubbard, attacked and killed the fort’s tailor in an argument over a young native girl. The case was overseen by Wyeth’s friend and naturalist John Kirk Townsend who was appointed magistrate. The gunsmith, Thomas Hubbard, was acquitted by a jury when they ruled the death was justifiable homicide. This verdict was likely the result of evidence about the tailor's alcohol induced rages.

References

External links


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