A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A New Year, A New Life

On the 23d of December, 1811, the rag tag Hunt party left present-day Farewell Bend State Park (Oregon) and began their climb into the snow-covered Blue Mountains. The mountains were barren, and what food could be found was covered by snow, and not easily seen. From the journal entries I read, I gather that the snow was roughly knee deep, not nearly as heavy as it could have been. By the time they crossed the summit, and were on present-day McKay (pronounced as McKee) Creek, they were out of the snow.

However, they were still in the snow, probably somewhere around present-day North Powder, Oregon, on the 30th when they came to a small village or camp of Shoshone. They were friendly, but not welcoming. At this time, Marie, the boys, and Pierre stayed behind as the rest of the men continued on without them. Marie must have looked longingly at the tipis, wanting not just their warmth, but also the women to help as she gave birth to her third child.

As soon as it was light enough to see, Pierre bundled his family onto the horse and led them to the camp Hunt's men made. The men were surprised to see them, especially Marie with the baby in her left arm, and Paul in his sling in her right. There was no mention as to where Jean Baptiste was, but I imagine he sat behind her. Pierre led the horse. There is quite a bit of conjecture as to where this camp was, but it must have been between North Powder and present-day La Grande, as there were trees, and the men had a roaring fire going.

The next morning, New Year's Day, the men refused to travel. New Year's Day is an almost sacred holiday to the voyageurs, and they built up the fire, and sang and danced and partied the whole time. This day gave the weaker ones a chance to rest, including Marie, so it was not a day of contention.

The plain at the bottom of the Blue Mountains. Marie, of course, would
not have seen the barbed wire fence nor the yellow blossoms.

On the 7th of January, 1813, they had crossed the summit of the pass, and were not just on the downward trek, they were out of the snow and somewhere between the headwaters of McKay Creek and present-day Emigrant Springs. They could look out and see the plains where Pendleton, Oregon would later be located. And the baby died. Pierre dug a hole, wrapped the baby in a piece of cloth (from his shirt? By now, I doubt he had much in the way of trade goods), and buried it. The baby was never identified as being male or female, nor was a name recorded anywhere. When Pierre finished, he repeated a prayer he remembered from childhood, a part of the Hail Mary, "Pray for us now and at the moment of our death. Amen."

Sage when it's blooming, not at mid-winter. Horses could eat the sage,
people could not.
Pierre was a grumbly sort of man. Many have called him a wife beater, but the only accounts I could find of him actually beating, or trying to beat, Marie are told about in the book. Part of that was cultural, it was expected of the man to keep his wife in line. If he couldn't control his wife, no telling what kind of mischief she'd get into. There was obviously love between them, as he defended her against Hunt, especially when Hunt demanded her horse. I've often wondered if he blamed Hunt for the death of his child. Would the child have lived, had Hunt not wasted so much time backtracking, etc.? If the men had not wanted to rest and celebrate New Years Day, the child would have lived until they reached the Cayuse village at the bottom of McKay Creek. Could a wet nurse have saved the baby? It is known many of the men had little, if any, respect for Hunt. In Hunt's defense, it must be said he was a businessman, not a mountain man, and he was, truly, a fish out of water.
Marie probably saw lots of birds and wildlife. This was taken on the
Columbia River

On the 8th January, Marie and her little family were out of the Blue Mountains and into the Cayuse village, welcomed, and in a warm tipi with hot food and women to help Marie.

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