Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/263

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Oregon Historical Society.

Volume X
Number 3

[The Quarterly disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages.]


By Edwin V. O'Hara.

In the present article the writer intends to present a narrative of the missionary activities of Father DeSmet in the Oregon Country. A recital of the story of this modern "Apostle of the Nations" can scarcely fail to be of interest at a time like the present, when the memories of early frontier life are growing dim and the very names of the pioneers seem to be borne to us from a distant heroic age. The "Oregon Country" is selected as the theater of the events we are to recount both because DeSmet's most effective and permanent work was accomplished here, and because of the historical and geographical unity of the territory lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, bounded on the south by the Mexican Possessions and extending as far north as latitude fifty-four degrees and forty minutes, a territory known in DeSmet's day as the "Oregon Country."

The first tidings of the Catholic faith reached the Oregon Indians through the trappers of the various fur-trading companies who had learned their religion from the pioneer missionaries of Quebec and Montreal. Large numbers of Canadian voyageurs accompanied the expeditions of Lewis and Clark in 1805 and of John Jacob Astor in 1811. This latter expedition especially—which resulted in establishing at the mouth of the