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Supported in part by an award from the Wyoming State Historical Records Advisory Board, through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), National Archives and Records Administration.

A Peak into the collections

 

  From the Library - "The Adventures of Captain Bonneville" by Washington Irving

 

Captain Bonneville left on a military assigned expedition in 1832 to explore the West,

document its topography, and look into trade with the Native American tribes.

After three years Bonneville returned and sold his journals to author Washington

Irving, known for famous works such as Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

As the cover page notes, this is a "digested" version of Benjamin Bonneville's 

experiences in the mountains. Now known as one of the "most literate, readable

description of the fur trapper era."

Within the journal are first hand accounts of the beauty, and harshness of the Wind

River Mountains. Found on pages 256 & 257 are timeless descriptions of what you might

find if you go up and explore those mountains today.

"He soon found that he had undertaken a tremendous task; but the pride of man is never more

obstinate than when climbing mountains." - pg. 257

 

 

 

 

 

 


                                                                                                                                                   

Benjamin Bonneville

Courtesy Oregon Historical Society, neg#000808

Wyeth to Wife from For William

From: Nathaniel Wyeth, Fort William
To: Wife, Baltimore Maryland, c/o Charles Wyeth
Date: September 22, 1835

Text

                                Fort William, Sept 22d, 1835

Dear Wife
                I have been sick, but have got well, and
shall be on my way to the mountains, to winter at
Fort Hall, in about six days, I expect to be at home
about the 1st Nov. 1836, Mr. Nuttall is here and
well.  I have sent you half a bbl. of Salmon which
I hope will be in good order. I can not attend to putting
them up myself, therefore they may not be so good.
   The season has been sickly, we have lost by drown-
ing, decease and warfare 17 persons to this date, and 14
now sick.  Keep up good spirits my dear wife, for I
expect when I come home to stop there, and altho I shall
be poor, yet we can always live.  I hope to find my
trees growing when I come, and all things comfortable,
I think this will be the last until I see you.  Give
my respects to your mother and Aunt Rebecca. My love
to Sister Mary and Brother Pery, if you see them.
                and believe me yr. aftc. Husband
                                Nath. Wyeth

 

 

 

Some Information on Nathaniel Wyeth in the Fur Trade

Columbia River Fishing & Trading Company

Nathaniel Wyeth’s first expedition to the west in 1832 had been a financial failure.  However in 1833, he brought back to Boston a contract to supply the Rocky Mountain Fur Company at their 1834 rendezvous.  That contract was enough to entice investors to put up $40,000 to start the Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company.  Wyeth intended to establish a fort on the Columbia River to both provide supplies by boat from Boston, but also take Salmon back to Boston.  Early in 1834 he started overland with supplies for the rendezvous and sent the ship May Dacre around Cape Horn to meet him on the Columbia River.

 

Fort Hall

Reaching the Ham’s Fork rendezvous on June 20, 1834, Wyeth found William Sublette had already arrived with supplies and his contract with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company had been broken.  With nobody to trade his supplies, Wyeth headed west to the Snake River to built and supplied Fort Hall near present day Pocatello, Idaho. 

 

Fort William

Leaving men in charge of Fort Hall, Wyeth proceeded to the Columbia River and built Fort William on what is now Sauvie Island, just north of present day Portland, Oregon.  However, his supply ship May Dacre did not arrive until September, too late for the 1834 salmon season. It had been struck by lightning and was delayed three months for repairs.

 

“we have lost be drowning, decease and warfare 17 persons to this date, and 14 now sick”

Wyeth’s 1835 season was worse than 1834.  While he lost men to both Indian attack and drowning, most of the 17 died of a bout of billious fever that had infected 1/3 of his men.  Although he downplays it in this letter to his wife, Wyeth also got very sick and, at one point, contemplated writing final letters to his family before dying.  Billious fever was a term used in the 19th century referring to any fever that exhibited symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

 

“altho I shall be poor, yet we can always live”

During the 1835 season, Wyeth was only able to fill half of the ship May Dacre with salmon, which would not be enough to pay off the investment or continue another year.  By the fall, when he is writing this letter to his wife, he had already decided to abandon his western ventures and return home in 1836.  Wyeth had lost $20,000, but after his sickness, appears to be happy to be alive.

 

“I hope to find my trees growing when I come”

After leaving the West for good in 1836, Wyeth returned to the ice business and became successful with many new innovations and patents.  Later in life, Wyeth was able to develop a profitable business shipping refrigerated garden produce, including fruit from the trees he planted in the fall 1833 when he was home between his two expeditions.

 

 

 

Cover:

This letter was initially mailed to “Mrs. Nath. J. Wyeth, Cambridge Mass”.  It would have been carried on the return voyage of the May Dacre around Cape Horn to Boston, where it should have been hand- delivered to Mrs. Wyeth with no need for postal markings.  However, it appears Mrs. Wyeth was in Baltimore visiting Nathaniel’s brother, Charles, at the time. Someone crossed out “Cambridge, Mass” and wrote in “Care of Charles Wyeth, Esq., Merchant, Baltimore, Md.” and mailed it from Boston on June 10th 1838, as indicated by the postmark.  Leaving Fort William in September, 1835, the letter took nine months to finally reach Nathaniel’s wife.

Scrap Bookin'

Today many women, love scrap booking! The reason for this? A way to present your family's pictures in an aesthetically pleasing way. Who wouldn't be into that right? Because of our modern technology when it comes to taking and printing pictures, it comes at great ease to compile family pictures, sometimes alot of pictures!

Did you know that Scrap booking was a big thing back in the 1900's as well, but not quite like you would think. Because taking family photos was a special occasion it was not common to have a stack, or box, or even file cabinet full like we do today. Still it was a fun hobby for the women of the day to cut out catalog and magazine pictures to make their scrapbooks. Here are a few pictures taken from Mrs. Eva Jenkin's (P.W Jenkins wife) Scrapbook.

For all you fancy sewing folk

Pins, pins and pins. For anyone who sews you know how dangerous it can be if you don't have a proper pin cushion. Ever stepped on one of those? Ouch!

Here we have quite a find from our inventory. A ornate carved cow horn with a green velveteen pin cushion built into the top. A huge comparison to our little tomato pin cushions today huh?

They're not corn cobs

Any idea what they might be?

Back before Ipods, MP3 players or CD's, the invention of the Player Piano charmed many households. Now many families could have music in their own homes.

"The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sales peaked in 1924, then declined as the improvement in phonograph recordings due to electrical recording methods developed in the mid-1920s. The advent of electrical amplification in home music reproduction via radio in the same period helped cause their eventual decline in popularity, and the stock market crash of 1929 virtually wiped out production." - Wikipedia

One of these Piano Rolls here are entitled  "Little Maggie May" it is a traditional liverpool folk song about a prostitute who robs a homeward bound sailor.
Curious what the lyrics to one of these songs were? The Original tune is lost in time but here is an idea for you....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HL-7fANKCU

"Litttle Maggie May"

Over yonder stands little Maggie
With a dram glass in her hand
she's a drinkin-away her troubles
and a-courtin a nother man

Oh how could I ever stand it
Just to see those two blue eyes
They're shinging in the moonlight
Like two diamonds in the sky

Pretty flowers were made for blooming
Pretty stars were made to shine
Pretty girls were made for loving
Little Maggie was made for mine

Sometimes I have a nickel
Sometimes I have a dime
Sometimes I have ten dollars
Just to pay little Maggie's fine

Lay down your last ol' dollar
Lay down your gold watch and chain
Little Maggie's gonna dance for daddy
Listen to this old banjo ring

Oh the last time I saw little Maggie
She was sitting on the banks of the sea
With her forty four around her
And a banjo on her knee

I'm going down to the station
With my suitcase in my hand
I'm going to leave this country
I'm going to some far and distant land

Go 'way, Go 'way little Maggie
Go and do the best you can
I'll get me another woman
You can get you another man

  Today, constant entertainment is in the palm of our hands.

With the touch of a screen we can instantly see a movie right before our eyes.

Back then they did not have that commodity.

Featured below is an item that was actually common in most households.

It is a Stereoscope with a few of it's Stereograms.

Invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838 it was

meant for a way to view pictures with more depth, and to see images, usually of exotic and unknown placesin a way that the viewer could imagine himself there.

 

  This was quite popular until the 1930's when interest in motion pictures became more prevalent. A family member who would have traveled about would usually bring back a picture

to their family of the location they went to so they as well 

could "view" what their family member saw. Stereoscopes have 

been accredited to the technology that brought us the 3D movies that we all love today.

A "look" in the past...