Jesse Applegate

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Jesse Applegate
Jesse Applegate.jpg
Member of the Provisional Legislature of Oregon
In office
Preceded bynone
Constituency Yamhill District
Member of the Provisional Legislature of Oregon
In office
Succeeded byposition dissolved
Constituency Polk District
Member of the Oregon Constitutional Convention
In office
Constituency Umpqua County
Personal details
BornJuly 5, 1811
Henry County, Kentucky
DiedApril 22, 1888(1888-04-22) (aged 76)
Yoncalla, Oregon
Spouse(s)Cynthia Ann Parker
Relations Lindsay Applegate (brother)
Oliver Cromwell Applegate (nephew)

Jesse Applegate (July 5, 1811 April 22, 1888) was an American pioneer who led a large group of settlers along the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Country. He was an influential member of the early government of Oregon, and helped establish the Applegate Trail as an alternative route to the Oregon Trail.

Settler person who has migrated to an area and established permanent residence there

A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. Settlers are generally from a sedentary culture, as opposed to nomads who share and rotate their settlements with little or no concept of individual land ownership. Settlements are often built on land already claimed or owned by another group. Many times settlers are backed by governments or large countries. They also sometimes leave in search of religious freedom.

Oregon Trail Historic route to and through the American Old West

The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile (3,490 km) historic East–West, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail in the United States that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas, and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon.

Oregon Country Early 19th century US fur trade district in North America

In the nineteenth century, the Oregon Country was a disputed region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from the Columbia River frequented by ships from all nations engaged in the maritime fur trade, most of these from the 1790s through 1810s being Boston-based. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended disputed joint occupancy pursuant to the Treaty of 1818 and established the British-American boundary at the 49th parallel.


Early life

Jesse Applegate was born in Henry County, Kentucky, on July 5, 1811. [1] In 1821, he moved with his family to Missouri where he soon was employed in the law office of Edward Bates. [2] He attended seminary in Illinois, worked as a schoolteacher, clerk, and deputy surveyor to the Missouri Surveyor General, where he met Jedediah Smith, William Sublette, and David Edward Jackson—men who were instrumental in blazing the Oregon Trail. Applegate married Cynthia Ann Parker on March 13, 1831 and settled outside Osceola, Missouri on the Osage River the next year. [3] His farmstead lasted for twelve years, with the labor force primarily slaves from neighboring farms, despite Applegate not owning any personally. [2]

Henry County, Kentucky U.S. county in Kentucky, United States

Henry County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky bordering the Kentucky River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 15,416. Its county seat is New Castle, but its largest city is Eminence. The county was founded in 1798 from portions of Shelby County. It was named for the statesman and governor of Virginia Patrick Henry.

Missouri U.S. state in the United States

Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City. The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. Missouri is bordered by eight states : Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska to the west. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border.

Edward Bates American politician, lawyer and judge

Edward Bates was an American lawyer and politician. He represented Missouri in the United States House of Representatives and served as the United States Attorney General under President Abraham Lincoln. A member of the influential Bates family, he was the first Cabinet appointee from a state west of the Mississippi River

The Great Migration

Along with his brothers Charles and Lindsay and their families, he joined what became known as the "Great Migration of 1843" on the Oregon Trail. He became one of the leaders of the expedition after it split into two parties over a dispute about whether the large amounts of livestock being driven by some members of the group would slow down their travel. Applegate's party became known as the "cow column" and the other party was called the "light column". [4] After leaving their guide Marcus Whitman at his mission and abandoning their wagons at Fort Walla Walla, the Applegate brothers built boats for traveling down the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver. Near The Dalles, a boat capsized and Jesse and Lindsay each lost a son to drowning. Lindsay later wrote, "We resolved if we remained in the country, to find a better way for others who might wish to emigrate."

Lindsay Applegate trailblazing pioneer, U.S. politician

Lindsay Applegate was a pioneer known for his participation in blazing the Applegate Trail, an alternative route of the Oregon Trail. The trail was blazed with his brothers Charles and Jesse in 1846. Charles Applegate was not a member of the party that blazed the Applegate Trail from the Willamette Valley to the Humboldt River. According to an original manuscript written by Lindsay Applegate in 1877, the members of the expedition were: Capt. Levi Scott, John Scott, Henry Boygus, Lindsay Applegate, Jesse Applegate, Benjamin Burch, John Owens, John Jones, Robert Smith, Samuel Goodhue, Moses "Black" Harris, David Goff, Benit Osburn, William Sportsman, and William Parker.

Marcus Whitman American physician and Oregon missionary

Marcus Whitman was an American physician. In 1836, Marcus Whitman led an overland party by wagon to the West. He and his wife, Narcissa, along with Reverend Henry Spalding and his wife, Eliza, and William Gray, founded a mission at present day Walla Walla, Washington in an effort to convert local Indians to Christianity. In the winter of 1842 Whitman returned east, returning the following summer with the first large wagon train across the Oregon Trail. The new settlers encroached on the Cayuse Indians living near the Whitman Mission and were unsuccessful in their efforts to Christianize the Tribe. Following the deaths of many nearby Cayuse from an outbreak of measles, some remaining Cayuse accused Whitman of murder, suggesting that he had administered poison and was a failed shaman. In retaliation, a group of Cayuse killed the Whitmans and twelve other settlers on November 29, 1847, an event that came to be known as the Whitman Massacre. Continuing warfare between settlers and Indians reduced the Cayuse numbers further.

Fort Nez Percés

Fort Nez Percés, later known as (Old) Fort Walla Walla, was a fortified fur trading post on the Columbia River on the territory of modern-day Wallula, Washington. Despite being named after the Nez Perce people, the fort was in the traditional lands of the Walla Walla. Founded in 1818 by the North-West Company, after 1821 it was run by the Hudson's Bay Company until its closure in 1857.

Settlement and involvement in politics

In 1844, Jesse Applegate started a farm in present-day Polk County, and also built a mill and worked as a surveyor, including surveying the site of Oregon City. During the elections for the Legislative Committee of the Provisional Government of Oregon 1845, Applegate was elected without his prior knowledge [5] as the representative of Yamhill County (one of five counties in Oregon at the time). [6] Soon he was appointed along with David Hill and Robert Newell to draft a revision of the Organic Laws, eventually being voted and adopted by the settler population. [7]

Polk County, Oregon U.S. county in Oregon, United States

Polk County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,403, making it the least populous county in the Willamette Valley. The county seat is Dallas. The county is named for James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States.

Oregon City, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Oregon City is the county seat of Clackamas County, Oregon, United States, located on the Willamette River near the southern limits of the Portland metropolitan area. Established in 1829 by the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1844 it became the first U.S. city west of the Rocky Mountains to be incorporated.

Provisional Government of Oregon

The Provisional Government of Oregon was a popularly elected settler government created in the Oregon Country, in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Its formation had been advanced at the Champoeg Meetings since February 17, 1841 and it existed from May 2, 1843 until March 3, 1849, and provided a legal system and a common defense amongst the mostly American pioneers settling an area then inhabited only by the many Indigenous Nations. Much of the region's geography and many of the Natives were not known by people of European descent until several exploratory tours were authorized at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Organic Laws of Oregon were adopted in 1843 with its preamble stating that settlers only agreed to the laws "until such time as the United States of America extend their jurisdiction over us." According to a message from the government in 1844, the rising settler population was beginning to flourish among the "savages", who were "the chief obstruction to the entrance of civilization" in a land of "ignorance and idolatry."

The Provisional Government had tense relations with the Hudson's Bay Company centered on Fort Vancouver across the Columbia River, and Applegate led the way for a political settlement. He created a new oath for members of the government that was inclusive for British subjects as well as American citizens. In a meeting with John McLoughlin and James Douglas the Yamhill legislator was able to induce the men to join the Provisional Government. A previous episode of an American squatting on Fort Vancouver's farmland and his subsequent threat of burning the Fort down helped produce the agreement. [5] The Provisional Government was to tax the Hudson's Bay Company only on transactions with the settlers. [8] Douglas was one of the judges elected to the newly established Vancouver district, encompassing the lands of north of the Columbia. Upon hearing of an upcoming battle between two men over a woman, Applegate was able to get dueling banned. [9]

Hudsons Bay Company Canadian retail business group

The Hudson's Bay Company is a Canadian retail business group. A fur trading business for much of its existence, HBC now owns and operates retail stores in Canada and the United States. The company had sold most of its European operations by August 2019 and its remaining stores, in the Netherlands, were to be closed by the end of the year. HBC owns the Saks stores in the US; most other US operations had been sold by mid-2019 and the last remaining stores were to be sold prior to the end of 2019.

Fort Vancouver United States historic place

Fort Vancouver was a 19th-century fur trading post that was the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department, located in the Pacific Northwest. Named for Captain George Vancouver, the fort was located on the northern bank of the Columbia River in present-day Vancouver, Washington. The fort was a major center of the regional fur trading. Every year trade goods and supplies from London arrived either via ships sailing to the Pacific Ocean or overland from Hudson Bay via the York Factory Express. Supplies and trade goods were exchanged with a plethora of Indigenous cultures for fur pelts. Furs from Fort Vancouver were often shipped to the Chinese port of Guangzhou where they were traded for Chinese manufactured goods for sale in the United Kingdom. At its pinnacle, Fort Vancouver watched over 34 outposts, 24 ports, six ships, and 600 employees. Today, a full-scale replica of the fort, with internal buildings, has been constructed and is open to the public as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

John McLoughlin Founder of the Oregon Country

Dr. John McLoughlin, baptized Jean-Baptiste McLoughlin, was a French-Canadian, later American, Chief Factor and Superintendent of the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver from 1824 to 1845. He was later known as the "Father of Oregon" for his role in assisting the American cause in the Oregon Country. In the late 1840s, his general store in Oregon City was famous as the last stop on the Oregon Trail.

The Cayuse War was one of the last series of events in Oregon that Applegate was active in. After the Whitman massacre, a commission led by Applegate contacted Douglas to request a loan from the HBC, [10] to fund a military intervention. Douglas stated that he was not authorized to make a loan, but recommended the peace keeping mission of Peter Ogden sent to the Cayuse. A loan of $999.41 was raised from the contributions of Applegate, Asa Lovejoy and George Abernethy, with others raised as well. [11] Due to the isolation of the settler communities in the Willamette Valley Joseph Meek and Applegate were appointed to request aid from other parts of the United States. Meek traveled to Washington, D.C. to deliver a memorial written by Applegate appealing for military support. [2] While attempting to reach his destination of California, Applegate had to turn back due to the mountain passes being impossible to traverse in the winter. [11]

The Cayuse War was an armed conflict that took place in the Northwestern United States from 1847 to 1855 between the Cayuse people of the region and the United States Government and local American settlers. Caused in part by the influx of disease and settlers to the region, the immediate start of the conflict occurred in 1847 when the Whitman Massacre took place at the Whitman Mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington when fourteen people were killed in and around the mission. Over the next few years the Provisional Government of Oregon and later the United States Army battled the Native Americans east of the Cascades. This was the first of several wars between the Native Americans and American settlers in that region that would lead to the negotiations between the United States and Native Americans of the Columbia Plateau, creating a number of Indian reservations.

Whitman massacre The murder of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, and 11 other missionaries, in 1847 marked the beginning of the Indian Wars of the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

The Whitman massacre was the murder of Oregon missionaries Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa, along with eleven others, on November 30th, 1847. They were killed by members of the Cayuse tribe who accused him of having poisoned 200 Cayuse in his medical care. The incident began the Cayuse War. It took place in southeastern Washington state near the town of Walla Walla, Washington and was one of the most notorious episodes in the U.S. settlement of the Pacific Northwest. Whitman had helped lead the first wagon train to cross Oregon's Blue Mountains and reach the Columbia River via the Oregon Trail, and this incident was the climax of several years of complex interaction between him and the local Indians. The story of the massacre shocked the United States Congress into action concerning the future territorial status of the Oregon Country, and the Oregon Territory was established on August 14, 1848.

The Oregon Rifles was the first military force organized for the protection of Oregon Country in the northwest of North America. Shortly after the Whitman Massacre, Oregon Governor George Abernethy communicated to the legislature his concern about the seriousness of the conditions, and issued a call for volunteers. A company of 45 men, furnishing their own rifles and equipment, organized in Oregon City and arrived in The Dalles on December 21, 1847.

Applegate Trail

A safer alternative to boating the Columbia River was still needed for settlers wishing to reach the Willamette Valley. The Barlow Road was safer than the river passage, but was considered to be worst stretch of the entire Oregon Trail. Another attempt at finding an alternate route, the Meek Cutoff, resulted in the deaths of at least 23 people. Applegate wrote legislation that authorized him to survey a southern route to the Willamette Valley that would avoid the Columbia River. Daniel Waldo, one of Applegate's fellow emigrants from the Great Migration of 1843, was made the expedition's outfitter. Also known as the South Road, the Applegate Trail started at Fort Hall in present-day Idaho and followed the Humboldt River before crossing the Klamath Basin. Jesse Thornton traveled along the trail in 1846, its first year, and later accused Applegate of starving his party to give him a stronger negotiating position for giving relief. [12] Applegate was however defended by men who surveyed the road. [13]

Later life

Applegate settled on a land claim in the Umpqua Valley in 1849. He named the place Yoncalla after the local Indian tribe. In 1857, he represented Umpqua County at the Oregon Constitutional Convention though he withdrew from the gathering before it was complete. [2] In an address in 1865 Applegate expressed a then-progressive position that "Every member of the commonwealth, no matter of which sex, what color or where born, if free from the tutelage imposed by the domestic relations should have the right to vote, if morally and mentally qualified to do so." [2] Applegate died on April 22, 1888 and is buried in a small private cemetery near Yoncalla, Oregon with his wife. [14]


  1. "Biographical Sketch of Jesse Applegate". Crafting the Oregon Constitution. Oregon State Archives . Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Schafer, Joseph (July 1907). "Jesse Applegate: Pioneer, Statesman and Philosopher". The Washington Historical Quarterly. University of Washington. 1.
  3. Long, S.A. (June 1908). "Mrs. Jesse Applegate". The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society. Oregon Historical Society. 9.
  4. Applegate, Jesse (1900). "A Day with the Cow Column in 1843". Oregon Historical Quarterly. 1. (Originally published in The Overland Monthly , 1868.)
  5. 1 2 Land of giants; the drive to the Pacific Northwest, 1750-1950, Lavender, David S., Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1958
  6. Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide, Provisional Government Legislators and Staff: 1845 Special Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on June 20, 2016.
  7. The Oregon Archives, Gorver, La Fayette, Salem: A. Bush, 1853, p. 72
  8. McLoughlin and Old Oregon, Dye, Eve. E, Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1902, p. 314
  9. Jesse Applegate: A Dialogue with Destiny Neiderheiser, Leta Lovelace, Mustang, Oklahoma: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2010
  10. Victor, Frances Fuller. Eleven years in the Rocky Mountains and a life on the frontier, Chapter XXXII .
  11. 1 2 History of Oregon, Carey, Charles H., Chicago: Pioneer historical Pub. Co., 1922, pp. 405-406
  12. Oregon and California in 1848, Thornton, Jeese Q., New York City: Harper & Brothers, 1849, p. 324
  13. For the Oregon spectator, Goff, David, Oregon Spectator (Oregon City, OR), April 29, 1847, p. 4 (accessed July 21, 2014)
  14. Browning, James A. (1993) Violence Was No Stranger. Barbed Wire Press. ISBN   0-935269-11-8.

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