From Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1842–1880. (Oregon Superintendency)
National Archives Microcopy 234, roll 607, frames 0112-0119
Abstracted by Connie Lenzen, CG
In 1842, Dr. Elijah White, the first Oregon Indian Agent, led a wagon train of pioneers from "the States" into the Willamette Valley. This was a return home for him. He had been appointed by the Methodist Church as a physician to its Willamette Valley mission in 1836. In 1841, he resigned, due to differences with Jason Lee over mission policies and returned to the States. One of the first things White did when he returned to Oregon was to take a census of settlers in the Oregon Territory. It included the numbers of men, women, and children and a summary of their crops for the 1841–1842 year. White intended to show that it was possible to farm the Territory and that the British had a foothold. Unless American settlers moved in, the Canadians (British) would be in the majority. The Territory was under a "joint occupancy" agreement, but an overwhelming number of British settlers could tip the balance of power, and Oregon could become an English possion.
In 1842 Oregon extended from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and from Canada to northern California. The people named in this census, however, were living in the Willamette Valley and at Wailatpu near present day Walla Walla, Washington. Most were in the area called French Prairie, north of present-day Salem, Oregon. They were an eclectic mix of retired Hudson's Bay employees, American Mountain Men, Methodist Ministers, and Catholic priests.
Dr. White used phonetic spelling.The current genealogical standard is to not correct spelling in historical documents but to leave it as it is viewed. Not only is this historically accurate, it gives a clue as to how the people spoke. We can "hear" their dialects.
It appears as the names are in neighborhood order, meaning that next door neighbors are next to each other in the list. This is valuable for many of the early settlers were related to each other by marriage.
There are eight pages in this list. The names are not indexed, but it does not take long to scan through the pages. There are navigation links at the bottom of each page. Copies of the microfilm containing the census, in Dr. White's own handwriting, are located at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon; the Oregon State Archives in Salem; and the Alaska-Pacific Branch of the National Archives in Seattle, Washington.
|First Sheet, Frame 116|
|Name of head||Males over 18||Females over 18||Children||Acres under improvement||Bushels of wheat in 1842||Bushels of grain in 1842||Horses||Neat stock||Sheep||Hogs|
|Moss, S. W.||1||50||3||12|
|Wilkins||1||1||2||In partnership with Everts|
|Doughty,Wm.||1||1||3||Partner with Meek above|
|Meek, Steph||1||2||Just arrived|
|Walker, C M.||1||1||2||200||12||5||20||16|
|Phlett, John||1||1||2||Three Brothers late from Red River|
|Smith, A. T.||1||1||Partner with Clarke|
|Johnson, Wm.||1||3||4||Just arrived|
|Spence||1||1||5||1||Late from Red River|
|Griffin, J. J.||1||1||1||40||60||400||7||9||10|
|Obeshaw, A. C.||2||2||5||50||300||400||15||19||13|
|Crawford, M.||1||1||4||Just arrived|
|Coombs, E.||1||1||Just arrived|
|Pomeroy, D.||1||Just arrived|
|To page 1||To page 2||To page 3||To page 4||To page 5||To page 6||To page 7||To page 8|