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Title: George W. Bell, Oregon, to Sarah Bell, Ohio, U.S.A.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileBell, George W/2
SenderBell, George W.
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationstore keeper
Sender Religionunknown
OriginOregon, USA
DestinationOhio, USA
RecipientBell, Sarah
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceT 3659/1A: Deposited by Mrs. M. R. Hawkem.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, N. Ireland.
Doc. No.9802476
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 09:02:98.
Word Count1550
TranscriptTo : Mrs. Sarah Bell,
Millersburg, Holmes County, Ohio.

From : George W.Bell,
Portland, Williamette or Wallamutt River,
Oregon Territory,
Fbr [February?] 24th, 1846.

Dear Mother,
I wrote you last May when at Kansas River in the
Territory of Mo [Missouri?] I will now say something of
our journey etc. since that time. The Oregon Emigrants
of about 600 waggons in number travelled in detached parties
of from 15 to 25 waggons in each. The families with an
average of 5 souls to each waggon. We were generally
very healthy though had two deaths amongst the adults
and one amongst the children. The distance travelled;
great to be performed with waggon and oxen through a
country entirely uninhabited by civilised beings, the
distance after leaving the white settlements on the
Missouri Border until you reach them at Vancouver on
the Columbia River is by the road we travel about 1875
miles and by the other road 1950 miles. this we
performed from Fort Madison Iowa in about 6 months
being out from 14 April to 14 October at which time
we reached this village having lived and lodged in
our waggons and tents during all the time. The
journey is one of continual hardship, anxiety and
fatigue for those who have families to see to. I
drove an ox team all the way. I enjoyed as good
health as usual and now my health is probably better
than it has been for some time. Mrs. Bell enjoys
excellent health now and our little sprout of 18 months
Jas. [James?] Frederick enjoys excellent health although he
with his mother on the latter part of the journey
narrowly escaped drowning by our waggon upsetting
in a small stream in the night - the child was with
great difficulty brought to life apparently dead for
half an hour. -- Of this 1875 miles or 2175 from Fort
Madison, Iowa, it is all travelled by land except
this last 75 miles to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia
River travelled by water in Canoes and small boats
that are propelled by hand, the Canoes by Indians
and the Boats by white men in this way area all the
Families and Goods waggons [etc?] transported to
Fort Vancouver, and to this valley there being no
Road over the Cascade Mountains over which the waggons
can pass but there will be by next July, the cattle
and Horses are all drove over this mountain. The
Companies separating some taking charge of the Families
etc and others charge of the Stock - This part of
the road is most tedious and more dangerous than any of
the balance - The road is as follows from Independence,
Mo [Missouri?] to Fort Laramie at Eastern Base of R
[Rocky?] Mountains 611 miles of Excellent Road. From
Laramie to Fort Hall on the West side of R. [Rocky?]
Mountains 530 miles, some good and some bad Road &
from Fort Hall to the [Falls?] of the Columbia R
[River?] at Eastern Base of Cascade Mountains where
we take water is 654 miles mostly hard Roads to
travel : of the 2 last sections there are different
places in all [about?] 400 miles of very sandy Roads
over which it is very tedious hard travelling and where
many of the Oxen will give out, particularly those
that are old and have been worked hard on the Roads.
From Independence to Laramie is a Country entirely
destitute of timber except a few Bushes & Small
Trees at intervals along the streams. The country
is high & rolling though not mountainous in any part,
and covered with green grass. Inhabited by Indians
Buffalo, Elk, Deer, Moose, Antelope [H&C?] The 2
sections embracing the R. [Rocky?] Mountains is high,
Mountainous, Sterile, & Barren, destitute of timber
except some small Pine & Cedar trees & Bushes on
the Hills which are only occasionally seen at a
distance from the Roads. The country is covered
unless in places near the Streams on which there is
grass with a Shrub that grows from 18 inches to 4 feet
in height. It is all of one species, that of the
[-------?] which is raised in the states. Country
Inhabited in the small vallies [valleys?] that pass
through it with Indians : a few White Trappers and
found Buffalo in Places with Wolf, Panther, blk
[black?] & Grizzly Bear of which the Grizzly Bear is
by farr [far?] the most powerful and dangerous
animall [animal?] the buffalo although very
powerful is killed and devoured by him with
unfortunately but few of them are ever killed by
hunters or Indians for if not shot dead at once
which is very hard to do as they persue and destroy
their assailant unless he be mounted on a swift animal,
in that case he can make his escape. The 3rd section
is a hilly Mountainous Region of country with but
very little soil for for Cultivation with some good
grazing Country but almost destitute of timber
unless on over side in the vicinity of the Blue
Mountains winds pop through this section, the Eastern
portion of it on the east of the Blue Mountains
compares with the 2nd section : those next the Blue
Mts [Mountains?] is better adapted for grazing
purposes. The western portion of Oregon is of some
importance for Farming, grazing and lumbering there are
some fine Plains or Prairies with that portion on the
streams covered with the largest and finest Timber on
the Continent Comprised of White, Red & Yellow Fir,
Bedona, Pine & Cedar. I have seen many trees from 250
to 300 feet high.
Oregon city 12 miles above this place on the East
side of this River is the largest Town in the Territory
contains about 400 in population. Next is Vancouver
on the Columbia, it has a population of 150 to 200 most
of whom are in the Service of the Hudson Bay Co. [Company?]
3/4 of whom are Indians half Breeds, Sandwich Islanders.
That is the main depot of the H B Co [Hudson Bay
Company?] for this Territory. This is a Town Recently
laid out by the Americans and has 10 houses, one Store
a Cooper, a Smith and a Wheelwright also a Tanner all of
whom are preparing to follow their different occupations.
At Oregon City are 2 Fine Flouring Mills 2 Saw Mills 3
Stores and other tradesmen. this place is at the Falls
in the River where the water Falls perpendicularly about
40 feet it affords about as much water as the Ohio River
and at that place one of the finest water [----?] in
the world. The River is navigable for boats for one
hundred or 150 miles from this point and navigable for
ships as far as this place, the ship Toulon left here
in December last for the S.wich [Sandwich?] Islands,
and will return in May. She is American and left the
States last Spring. At Oregon City is a small paper
printed weekly, the only one in the Territory - The
winters here are mild - no snow except on the
Mountains at Mount Hood Mount Washington. We have
but little frost and the leafs [leaves?] remain green
fall & winter. There is or was a great deal of rain
during the Winter commencing about the 15 October
and continuing to March or April. During May and
June much of the rain falls we live comfortably not
[torn] all winter in houses that are not heated
[torn] in [-------?] [------?] daubing or Plastering
the cracks. I have seen Pinks and other flowers in
the Gardens in the month of January - I think I have
a prospect of doing well in this country although I am
very destitute at present. I have made a claim 14
miles from Oregon City East, of 640 acres of good land
on which I have a Cabbin [cabin?] - I am in the employ
of an American merchant at 500 Dollars a year I am in
Charge of a store at this place There is but little
Money in Circulation here though commodities and
produce of all kinds are high. Business is mostly
done by Barter the Surplus Rations are Flour Wheat,
lumber and Salmon - these and the Furs that are
bought by American Merchants are shipped to the S.wich
[Sandwich?] Islands and Sold for Cash or Exchanged for
Goods. Surplus Productions continually will be in
addition to those noted Pork Beef Hides Tallow Butter
Cheese [Rus?] Beans [-&C?] The whole White Population
of Oregon is about 6000 souls The greater Portion
of the Ships visiting the Columbia R.[River?] Belong
to the Hudson Bay Company. The Ship Modest a British
Man of War is lying in the River at Vancouver during
the Winter. The H [Hudson?] Bay Company monopolizes
all the Fur Trade of this country and this here is just
part of the Trade throughout - This letter will Start
in a few days by a company of young men returning to
the States some to remain and others for visits And
will return wives are scarce in Oregon there being
about 3 Males to One Female Our Indians are very friendly,
and Rapidly on the [dec-----?]. Missionaries have been
operating this Country for Some years but have done little
towards Enlightening the Indians their attention being
entirely concerned to Speculations in land claims Milling
Mrs Sarah Bell
Very affectionately Your Son
G. [George?] W. Bell