Question on children in Oregon Country 1800s-30s

Discussion in 'Rocky Mountain Fur Trade' started by hyuzu, Nov 19, 2018.

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  1. Nov 19, 2018 #1

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

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    This question is focused west of the Rockies, I didn't know where else to ask, so sorry if it's in the wrong section.

    During the period after Lewis and Clarks trip down the Columbia and before the Oregon Trail migrations of the 1840s, there were instances of trappers, sailors, and employees of the HBC or NWC having children in the Oregon Country, usually with local indigenous women they'd married. I'd like to know a bit more about how, prior to the 1840s, these couples would have raised and educated their locally born children.

    Judging from my own family history, it seems there were at least a few of these mixed couples who chose to raise their kids locally.

    But when I was reading about Ranald MacDonald (the half-Scot, half-Chinook who later became a pioneering English teacher in Japan), one source said he was sent as a kid from Oregon to the Red River Colony to be educated.

    I know the 1830s brought several missionary parties who would have been able to provide Euro-American style education in the Oregon Country. Not sure about kids being educated like that earlier though...

    If anyone can share primary or secondary sources, or any info at all, that gives an idea of how kids born in the Oregon Country (who weren't full blood indigenous) were raised before the 1840s, I'd be very interested to hear it.
     
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  2. Nov 19, 2018 #2

    Cruzatte

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    Are there any HBC records you can obtain copies of either from the Oregon Historical Society, the State Library in Salem, or HBC itself in Canada? This sounds like an interesting topic to research. Good luck from an expat Oregonian.
     
  3. Nov 19, 2018 #3

    necchi

    necchi

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    Geez, did you bother to read the L&C story?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Baptiste_Charbonneau

    That's just one example,,
    Just like today,, some parents care,, some don't. The stories are out there and not too hard to find.
     
  4. Nov 19, 2018 #4

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

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    Thank you. I don't live in North America, so I'm not able to visit any of those folks and browse through their collections. I wonder if they might be willing to share anything online though, guess it's worth a try...
    I was hoping, given how this forum seems to have a majority of users from North America, that there might be some folks here who had read more of this sort of primary documentation and could share their knowledge.

    There's no need to be rude. I know "examples are out there", I mentioned two in my opening post (one of my ancestors, and Ranald MacDonald). In fact, your "example" isn't even about a child born in Oregon Country, so not at all what I'm asking about.

    Given the wide range of knowledge I've seen on this forum, I was hoping some better-educated folks here, who might actually have a background studying Oregon Country life in this time period, would be able to share some of their knowledge or at least point me toward some good documentation to read myself.

    Curiosity should be encouraged, not dismissed. If my question here seems useless to you, then you're under no obligation to answer it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
  5. Nov 22, 2018 #5

    Bo T

    Bo T

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    It seems that, as far as my family is concerned, the NA women took their husbands surname and the children were probably given a rudimentary education at home or a mission (if it was close). My gggrandfather (Metis) was a clerk for one of the posts but may have been educated back east. In retrospect, there wasn't much reason to get a formal education at that time and place. Reading sign was more important than reading a book and sign language was more important than writing.
     
  6. Nov 22, 2018 #6

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

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    Yes, that seems to be the picture I was getting. Like your family, mine also acquired a European surname from the husband.

    The book 'The Global History of Childhood Reader' (ed. Heidi Morrison) seems to have an interesting chapter on mixed-blood children in the Pacific Northwest during this period (titled 'A Most Remarkable Phenomenon', by Juliet Pollard). I don't own a copy of the book right now, but google books has a preview available if anyone is interested:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=rUJ4epMWM5UC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Global+History+of+Childhood+Reader&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwilzaG48ejeAhXQGewKHUL7DcAQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=juliet pollard&f=false
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  7. Nov 23, 2018 #7

    tenngun

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    Looking at examples from the East children were oft educated as were the parents. Girls learned distaff duties from mama, boys learned from pa. Indian uncles filled in their knowledge.
    Illiteracy was not much of a handicap socially. And that has a tendency to teach real good memory skills. Often the illiterate can quote verse and recall stories well. They oft have extensive maps in their heads.and speak several languages sans difficulty.
    Most French and French descendant groups had ample exposure to priest. Who had a lot of knowledge to pass on even if reading and formal education wasn’t done.
     
  8. Nov 23, 2018 #8

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

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    Good point tenngun. One doesn't always have to be literate to be considered "educated", there are plenty of skills that I know were passed down in these fur-trade families which didn't involve books. Actually when asking about "education" in my opening post I wasn't only thinking of formal schooling, but also of the broader definition of "education" which can include life skills passed on through parents and grandparents.
     
  9. Nov 23, 2018 #9

    tenngun

    tenngun

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    Adding to that skill learning there was a the richness of lore. Esoteric knowledge as it were. Social life was full of classical references. People learned classical stories at home. Poe could write for common folks, but they knew who Helen was, they knew the inquisition.
    People socialized in church on Sunday in the public house the rest of the time. Politics was as much a topic then as now.
    Much of what people knew we might call superstition or religious today, but it was the fabric of society. Still that being the case, even the illiterate had an enormous base of moral ethical and classical knowledge learned at church home and the pub then we think of today.
     
  10. Nov 23, 2018 #10

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

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    Well, Christian church life probably wouldn't have been as significant a factor for children in the Oregon Country during this time, at least until missionaries started showing up in the 1830s. Not saying kids wouldn't have had religious influences from the Whites around them, but I don't think it would have been the same as a bunch of villagers living around their parish priest back in Europe. Indigenous American religious beliefs and their teachers were definitely around for those mixed children who wanted to learn from that side of their family. I imagine it was possible in those early years for mixed kids to have grown up with a kind of syncretic belief system from both their parents own faiths.

    As for public houses, I'm not sure how the HBC and NWC regulated alcohol at their trading forts, but I know it was around at least for celebrations. I've definitely seen references to "a couple of drams" among company employees when the occasion called for it ;)
     
  11. Nov 24, 2018 #11

    tenngun

    tenngun

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    Beer and sprits were even issued for the military, and it played a bigger part of life then today. ‘Beer, it’s not just for breakfast any more Even if it was a light issue there was a time of relaxation set aside for socializing. At sea there was the dog watches between 4 pm And 8pm where half the crew had a chance to relax and shoot the bull. Even without sprits people would gather to talk.
     
  12. Nov 25, 2018 #12

    BillinOregon

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    Hyuzu, very interesting question you pose here. I was born in Salem, Oregon, just south of the farming districts most intensively settled by HBC retirees -- Gervais, St. Louis, St. Paul, Labish Prairie, Champoeg, French Prairie. I am not sure what kind of instruction might have been available at the main HBC outposts of Fort Vancouver and Fort Umpqua. Of course, Astoria was around from 1811, but I've no idea when the first school might have opened. Jason Lee and the Methodists arrived in 1834, and Father Blanchet in 1838-39 to start Catholic missions. I would tend to think formal education would have come with, or after the faith. I suggest you contact the Oregon Historical Society in Portland. It has been many years since I read about the expeditions of Peter Skene Ogden and John Work through the Oregon Country, but I'm pretty sure they had some families with them. If you find out more, please share it with us.
    Here lies the resting place of Marie Dorion, who raised children in Oregon.
    [​IMG]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Aioe_Dorion
     

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