The Oregon Country
On September 3rd, leaving their
horses and cattle in the care of Mr. Pamburn, the missionary party embarked
in a Hudson's Bay Company boat for Vancouver. After a twelve day voyage
the group arrived at the fort and were greeted with great kindness by Dr.
McLoughlin. News of the arrival of the Maydacre with the supplies was
received. It was decided that Shepard, Edwards and Walker would
remain at Vancouver while Jason and Daniel Lee made preparations to continue
into the Willamette Valley to seek out a mission site. They would include
the Maydacre in their route.
Arrangements being made they embarked in a canoe and proceeded down the Columbia to the Maydacre twenty miles; them up the west channel of the Willamette for a ways where they proceeded up a small creek to the farm of Mr. Thomas McKay, their friend from the mountains. It was here that they obtained horses and set out for the Willamette settlement passing through a high, extended ridge that later became known as the Tualatin Plain. The area they entered was described thus by Daniel Lee: "a beautiful, rich, extensive, gently-rolling prairie, well watered, and in some parts well timbered. Beyond this.......a delightful hilly tract several miles in extent, thinly wooded at intervals and then open, and covered with grass." From this point they descended into the valley and, reaching the river, crossed to the east side where the settlement commenced. Along the river were about a dozen families, mostly French Canadians, who had been hunters and trappers that had retired to farming. Most appeared prosperous and happy, and they heartily welcomed the newcomers. The Lees stayed with Mr. Gervias while they explored the area. A site about two miles above Mr. Gervais', on the east bank of the river, and sixty miles from its mouth, was found for the mission. It was considered an ideal location with "a broad, rich bottom, many miles in length, well watered, and supplied with timber, oak, fir, cotton-wood, white maple, and white ash, scattered along the borders of its grassy plains, where hundreds of acres were ready for the plough."
Having chosen a site for the mission, they hastened back to Vancouver, obtained horses in exchange for those left at Walla Walla, oxen and cows on loan, men to drive the cattle and a boat and crew to transport the supplies. After loading the supplies from the Maydacre, the men ascended the west channel of the Willamette, opposite of McKay's farm. At that point Jason Lee and Courtney Walker continued on by boat while Daniel Lee and Mr. Edwards went to the farm to take charge of the horses they had procurred from Hudson's Bay Company so they could bring them on to the mission site. Leaving McKay's farm they crossed deep slues and rode about another mile through high wet grass to the farm of LeBonte. Staying the night they continued on their journey the next morning accompanied by the son of LeBonte, Louis. The party struck the river at the lower end of the settlement called by the French "Campment du Sable or "Sandy Encampment". The Indian name was Champoeg. It was at this place that the Lees met and changed places. Jason Lee continued on by land and Daniel Lee joined Mr. Edwards in the canoes. After sixteen miles of intermittent stretches of swift water, the destination was reached on October 6th. The cattle, eight oxen and ten cows, had also arrived in safety. Mr. Shepard remained at Fort Vancouver, his health being such that exposure to the elements while the mission was being built would have been fatal. While residing at the Fort he began teaching a small school which he continued until the next spring when he moved to the mission.
Setting Up the Mission