Physician and pioneer, born in the parish of La Riviere du Loup,
Canada, 19 October, 1784; died at Oregon City, 3 September, 1857.
He is the great hero of Oregon's pioneer period. His paternal
grandfather was born in the parish of Desertegney, Ireland. He
emigrated to Canada and married there and his son John was the
father of Dr. John McLoughlin. The maiden name of the mother of
the latter was Angelique Fraser, born in the parish of Beaumont,
Canada. Her father was Malcom Fraser, a Scottish Highlander, who
went to Canada in 1759 with the army of Wolfe. Dr. McLoughlin's
father died while his son was a lad. He was brought up in the home
of his maternal grandfather, and educated in Canada and Scotland.
He became a physician while quite young, but did not practise
long. He became a partner of North-West Company. When that company
coalesced with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821, he was in charge of
Fort William on Lake Superior, which was then the chief depot and
factory of the North West Company. In 1824 Dr. McLouglin was sent
to Fort Gerge [Astoria] near the mouth of the Columbia River. He
soon moved the head-quarters of the company to Fort Vancouver, on
the northern side of the Columbia River. There he ruled for
twenty-two years as the absolute but kindly autocrat of what is
known as the Oregon Country. He had no military force, but by his
own personality and the aid of his officers and employees, he
established order and maintained peace so that persons
unaccompanied by escort could travel over the country without
danger from formerly hostile Indians. There were no Indian wars in
the Oregon Country until after he resigned from the Hudson Bay
Company. The Methodist, Presbyterian, and Catholic missionaries he
aided and protected, although at that time he was a Anglican . In
1842 he joined the Catholic Church, and became a devote Catholic,
being created a Knight of St. Gregory in 1846. In 1843 the first
of the Oregon home-building immigrants arrived in Oregon. Dr.
McLouglin fed and clothed them and cared for sick; he supplied
them with seed and farming implement, and loaned them domestic
animals. He gave similar assistance to the immigrants of 1844 and
1845. As he furnished most of this aid on credit and did not
discourage the settlement of Oregon by citizens of the United
States, he was forced to resign by the Hudson Bay Company in l846.
For the rest of his life he resided at Oregon City. Prior to 1840
he had taken up a land claim, but there was no legal way to
acquire ownership of land in Oregon before the Oregon land law of
27 September, 1850. This land claim was at Oregon City, which he
founded and named, where there is a fine water power. He developed
this power, and erected flour and saw mills which he personally
operated. It was asserted that as he was a British subject, he was
not entitled to take up a land claim. But this was merely a
pretext, for until 1846, when the treaty between the United States
and Great Britain settled the ownership of the Oregon Country by
the Americans and British, both having equal rights. Some of the
Methodist missionaries and their followers all of whom had been
befriended by Dr. McLoughlin -- started this action against him.
It was continued until in the donation land law a section was
inserted which deprived him of his land claim, and gave it to the
territory of Oregon for the establishment and endowment of a
university. It was restored to his heirs by the legislature of
Oregon five years after his death. The effect of this law was that
Dr. McLoughlin lost nearly all of the large fortune which he had
accumulated. He died a broken-hearted man, the victim of
mendacity, and ingratitude. He was buried in the churchyard of St.
John's Catholic church in Oregon City, where his body has lain
ever since. By common consent he has become known as the Father of
FREDERICK V. HOLMAN
Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the
Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by
New Advent, Inc.
Taken from the New Advent Web Page (www.knight.org/advent).
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