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Title: George Bell, Oregon to James Bell, Ohio.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileBell, George W/37
SenderBell, George W.
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationstore keeper
Sender Religionunknown
OriginOregon, USA
DestinationOhio, USA
RecipientBell, James
Recipient Gendermale
SourceT 3659/2: Deposited by Mrs M. R. Hawken.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9405079
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 03:05:1994.
Word Count2677
TranscriptTo: Mr James Bell
Millersburgh [Millersburg?]
Holmes County

From: George W. Bell
Oregon City
Oregon Territory

October 6th 1847

Dear Brother
I am happy to acknowledge
the recept [receipt?] of your kind favour of 1st April last
also that of sister Jane J. Miller of 12 march
the perusal of which afforded myself & Family much
gratification - Though clad in mourning for the
loss of our worthy sister Eliza Bingham, they ware [were?]
messengers of joy as well as grief, for why is there not
even pleasure in mourning for one departing so
calmly leaving all behind in peace, with the prospect
of a fine felicity at the end of her journey to the
tomb as that displayed by her whose absence
we are now called to lament - we are happy indeed
to hear of the wellfare [welfare?] and good prosperity of our
relatives in Ohio - I wrote you last spring by
the Backers Overland - since which time nothing
of note has occurred in my family other than we
have an addition of a son now about 6 weeks
old a hearty fine boy. Eugene Shepard his mother
has excellent health - the people of this valley have
been remarkably healthy the past sommer [summer?] in fact
the Country is healthy at all times. During my resid [residency?]
at this place of 15 months last passed a village of
some 5 or 600 Inhabitants - there has been but one
death from disease, that a child. Two by accident
being adults - a poor country this for Doctors
Some of them turn out farmers some mechanics
others Teachers. I know of no one who is wholly
is wholly [sic] sustained by his practice except one attached
to the Hudsons [Hudson?] Bay Company at Vancouver - This village
is the most healthy neighbourhood in which I have
ever resided - our crops in wheat has been light
this season - Potatoes and other vegetables are tolerably
abundant - wheat is light in consequence of late sowing
an [and?] dry weather in April & May - The longer I
remain in the more I become reconciled to the Country - the immigrants
of last year are generally well satisfied
though they ware [were?] not upon their arrival in the Country -
There are from 7 to 800 wagons of immigrants
from the States this year exclusive of several hundred
mormon wagons which are stopping at the
great Salt Lake in the Bear River Valley in N.E. [North East?] California
Some 3 to 400 of the 800 for this valley have already
got in to [into?] the Settlements - all will get in to [into?] comfortable
winter quarters: many of them ar [are?] much dissatisfied
with the Rough appearance of the Country - The
mormons we understand are destined for upper
California about the Bay of Monterrey [Monterey?] and San Francisco,
There are already some mormons in that
vicinity - where they will no doubt once more
rally around the Standard of their delusion
and pay penance in the degradation of their moral
& social Comunity [Community?] - by following the example
of their prophets lustfull [lustful?] prostitution and in dropping
the sweat of their Brows over the corner store
of another monument of their
Strange folly - The whites here at the present
time are on the most friendly terms with the indians
in this vicinity. An altercation however took place
a short time ago between some immigrants and a
party of Indians at the Dales of the Columbia in the
immediate vicinity of the Methodist mission at
the eastern Base of the Cascade mountains in which
one American was killed & two wounded. One
Indian Chief killed and two or 3 privates wounded
but a peace has since been concluded with this tribe
of Indians. they are known by the name of the Dales or
wascopum Tribe. a portion of the Wallowallah [Wallawalla?] Inds [Indians?]
In the vicinity of many of the missions amongst
the Indians you find portions of them much
more troublesome than elsewhere the above uncountre [encounter?] was
brought on by a robery [robbery?] having been perpetuated
by the Indians on the whites - These Indians have
been under the religious tuition of the methodist
Church for some years past last - and many of
them profess Christianity - adopting in some degree
the forms of that Church yet still they lack
the cultivation of the moral principal of civilization
so necessary to the carrying out or even understanding
the effects - that the Church would impress
upon them as a community or on their minds
respectfully as individuals - we find the
Indian in a more civilized state in the vicinity of
the trading establishments where they have been
entirely free from religious teaching - This goes to
establish the doctrine in my mind that in order to
improve the moral condition of the savage you must
first teach him the principal of civilized life,
before you enisciate [initiate?] him in the tenets of
church doctrine or the forms an [and?] ceremonies of the
Christian religion - For instance the Indian in your
employ under Solemn Contract and who has all the forms
of a consistent church member - has no idea of the moral
obligation of a contract or of acting honestly with
regard to property - he will get up from
prayers and steal your horse or other property
and apply it to his own use - in fact a religious savage
becomes a devil instead of a Christian - he must be taught
the habits and doctrines of civilized life and
then he will be able to reconcile with these
principles the peculiarities of various church
doctrines and live and practice both of them
consistent with the usages and customs of civilized
society - The mechanic the farmer the merchant and
common school teacher ought to preceed [precede?] the
clergyman in all attempts to better the Condition
of the savage in my point of view - This
doctrine you will not believe - but the pen of the
future historian will be employed in confirmation
of this position In this vicinity we are well
supplied with missionaries of the various
missions established in older Settled portions of the
world. There are several Catholic establishments
One Nunnery attached to their mission at the
Station at the Willamette River south of this place some
with 10 to 15 Nuns - they have a fine building in this City
for their services - The M.E. [Methodist Episcopal?] Church has also a
comfortable house at this place, The members of
this Church are probably the most numerous
of any now in Oregon Next in point of numbers
is the Christian Baptists - Alias Campbellites
and next come the Catholics who are pretty numerous
almost all the foreigners in Oregon are Catholicks [Catholics?],
all the persons attached to the Hudsons [Hudson?] Bay
Company, Whether Scotch English Aboriginees [Aborigines?] or
in half Bloods belong to that sect - we have Catholic priests Holy fathers
nunns [nuns?], and Laymen, from Sweden, & France
a School is taught by the holy sisters at their
Station. Schools of a respectable character are
numerous Throuought [Throughout?] the valley. 3 Common
private Schools are sustained in this City and
one in the immediate vicinity. A very respectable
School is kept by the methodist association
at the Methodist Institute 60 miles South of the
point - So although we are off here towards
Sundown. There is an opportunity for intellectual
and Religious Culture for all who feel enclined [inclined?]
that way - It may Sir be interesting to
you to know that all of the clerks factors
and other white persons in the employ of the
Hudsons [Hudson?] Bay Company in Oregon have Indian Wives
Some however have half Bloods - many of these
Indian women ware [were?] brought from the Red River
County. On the N [North?] of the western United States - These
factors and clerks mostly have large families
of half Blood Children thus forming rather
a novel Society in Appearance. That is with
the people of this Company as they form a society
and almost a nation amongst themselves
of every possible shade of Complexion - however
the pale face of the Anglo Saxon will in a few
years lessen the prominence of that feature in
our Society - Of Politics we have but little
unless in a local point of view the interests
of Americans opposing the practice and interests
of the Hudsons [Hudson?] Bay Company, During
the negotiations pending the Settlement of the
Oregon question their views and interests
in that matter appeared to conflict with
that of the Americans. And the Austere
and Autocratic manner in which the
Business of the concern is conducted with
regard to its customers goes far in keeping
with the feelings of partisans - A large portion
of trade of the Country is done by
the Hudsons [Hudson?] Bay Company but a small
amount of capital is invested yet by American
Merchants - And what is not sufficent [sufficient?]
to create any competition Consequently what
Yankee Merchants we have are Content to
go hand in hand with the Company Consequently
the former high prices for Goods is fully
maintained - namely Coffee 25 to 33 Teas
Blk [Bulk?] 1" c 125 Green do 125 to 175 pr [per?] lb
Noe'ls [Noel's?] 20 to 25 Thick or Cowhide Boots 5 to 7$ Stout-Brogans
3 to 5$ Kipp 3 to 4.50 Calf 3.50 to 5$ Simmons
and Collins Chopping Axes 4 to 5$ 36 in Bio Domestic
20 to 28 cts [cents?] Bio Drills 20 to 25 Blue 25 to 33 a 37
mens mix Sommer [Summer?] Cottons 40 to 60 cents - Mens
Mac Blue Pants 30 to 37 inferior fancy pts [pants?]
20 to 30 Midling [Middling?] 30 to 37 cts [cents?] - inferior eastern
Jeans termed K.G. Jeans 87 to 125 - No Midling [Middling?]
or good quality in Market - Manufactured
tobacco from 40 to 1.00 &c. This is a sample
of retail prices in Oregon at the present time
in the various Kinds of pay recived [received?] for them
which is comprised of specie. Wheat at 80 to
100 cts [cents?] pr [per?] Bushel Potatoes 50 cts [cents?] hides at 2$
each Beef at 2 1/2 & 3 cts [cents?] pr [per?] lb Pork 8 cs [cents?]
Butter 20 cents - Cheese 15 to 18 cts [cents?] Lumber 15 to 25$ pr [per?]
An apparent improvement has occurred
in the appearance of our Commerce during
the Sommer [Summer?] as sufficient vessels have been
in the Columbia to ship all the produce that
that [sic] was offered for Export during the season
Salmon is worth 8$ pr [per?] lb for export
the Columbia Salmon is probably equal to any
in the world
in quality and can be taken in great abundance
at various places on the Rivers
they will soon form a very considerable article
of export - as well as home consumption -
the facilities for manufacturing Lumber are
immense and an inexhaustable supply can
be had from the Bank of the Columbia the
Willamette and Puget Sound.
The scenery in every portion of
this Country is of that rugged though romantic
nature, that at once impresses the mind
with the sublimity of natures grandest scale.
Oregon although her
farming districts are comparitively [comparatively?] small
is destined ere [before?] long to be densely populated
notwithstanding the many dangers and difficulties
that emigrants undergo in making
the journey thither they continue to come
year by year in Thousands generally seeking
homes more healthy than those they have
left in the Mississippi Valley.
James Morgans 3 Sons from
Skunk River Iowa have arrived in Good
health. John Harrison & family ar [are?] in
good health and - suited with the
Country. Wm [William?] A. Hutchinson has gone by
sea to California.
Oregon at no distant
day will be a famous wool growing County
Sheep do remarkably well. Some hundreds
of them have been drove from the States
this season, they bear driving remarkably
well and are worth now for good American Blood about
10$ pr [per?] head in cash.
Should my time permit I may send
you a transcript of a Diary kept by me on
our journey from Iowa to this County should
I do so it will give you some idea of the
manner in which an emigrating party make their
way to this Valley. I have many friends
that I should be happy to see in Oregon
but knowing the difficulties that emigrants
are sometimes subject to in accomplishing
the journey I will not take responsibility
of advising any of them who are Comfortably
Situated to sell out and make the journey
though ware [were?] they here and settled they would
do well.
We are happy to hear of the victorious
march of our Army through the Territory of and near to
the City of Mexico and hope the war may
be brought speedily to a close giving to the
United States, California and the Country
East of the Rio Delwest [Dell West?] - No doubt the U.S. [United States?]
had just cause of war with Mexico as a Civilized
Nation - for she does not merrit [merit?] the appelation [appellation?]
- and Priest-ridden as she is by the Catholic
Church that dark shade to Civilizations,
she will not very soon even
merit - the name of a Republic - The
War - no doubt will prove a blessing to the
mass of the population of Mexico - the
acquisition of California by the United States
will be of vast importance to Oregon its
settlement - by a civilized race of men will open
to some extent - a market for our Lumber and
some other articles of our production.
If I am correctly informed there are
about 8 wagons loaded with merchandise amongst
the emigrants of this year, principally dry
Goods they ware [were?] purchased in Saint Louis
& shipped on wagons at Independence was for
this market - a small lot of Dry Goods has
also been brought on Pack Animals from
Independence: On all of which the parties
concerned I have no doubt from present
prices will do well.
This town is improving
as rapidly as could be expected under the circumstances
of the County being the unsettled State of
claims to and titles of lands and the enormous
prices that the people are under the necessity of
paying for hardware trimming for buildings. Glass
has heretofore and I think is now selling for about
20$ pr [per?] Box of 100 feet say of 8 by 10 to 10 by 12 inch.
Though prices Cannot long remain so
high - We have at this place 2 Flouring
Mills and 3 Saw Mills on the E [East?] Side of the
falls of the Willamette - (The Whole river falls about
30 feet Perpendicular) other Mills will be erected
on the West Bank during the coming Seasons.
Amongst all the hands employed in and
about the Business of these Mills I know of
no case of sickness of any kind during
the past Sommer [Summer?]. I state this because I
consider it a remarkable indication of the
healthfulness of the Climate. I fancy that
no village on the Continent affords more flattering
prosperity of healthfulness. Some few cases of
ague have occurred on the River bottom in the
vicinity of inundated and marshy lands
also one case of fever has Occurred to my knowledge
at Portland. I am informed that
the immigrants of this season who are unhealthy
in the back companies with Camp fever
brought on by exposure, warts, and the effects
of the pernicious influence of the dust of the
road through the Mountains which in many
places is impregnated with substances injurious
to health. Should you ever come to
this County bring some useful school Books
for your own use, they are remarkably scarce
an [and?] very high in price. With my Love to Mother
as also to you all I am Sir with proper feelings of
Regard Your Brother, G. [George?] W. Bell.

Mr James J. Bell.