Jesse Applegate (1810 - 1880) MP

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Birthplace: near, Lexington, Henry, Kentucky, USA
Death: Died in Yoncalla, Douglas, Oregon Territory, USA
Managed by: Arthur Whittaker
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About Jesse Applegate

JESSE APPLEGATE. - The following brief obituary sketch of the late "Uncle" Jesse Applegate was written by General E.L. Applegate, than whom none is better fitted to perform the task, - unwelcome in the occasion of its necessity, yet grateful in the opportunity it offers to pay the well-earned tribute of respect and veneration to the wisdom, the worth and the influence of the "Sage of Yoncalla."

The subject of this sketch was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1810, and died in Yoncalla valley, Oregon, on the 23d of April 1888, being in his seventy-eighth year. He was the youngest son of Daniel Applegate, a revolutionary soldier who served in that memorable struggle for human liberty for seven years, and then volunteered to help Jackson beat the British at New Orleans, in which campaign he lost his eldest son, Elisha. His ancestors belonged among the charter proprietors who founded the province of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. Upon the close of the revolutionary war Daniel, along with the Boone's and others of their relations and acquaintances, pioneered his way into the wilderness of Kentucky. In 1819, he moved on with his large family, consisting of Milton, Lisbon, Lucy, Charles, Lindsay and Jesse, to the then territory of Missouri, and settled near St. Louis.

Jesse, while yet a boy, attracted the attention of leading men of St. Louis; and it was believed that he gave indications of uncommon abilities. He graduated in his eighteenth year at Rock spring Seminary, an institution of learning founded by the celebrated Doctor Peck of St. Louis. By the kind offices of his friend Milburn, who was chief clerk in the surveyor-general's office, he was introduced to Edward Bates, who was then surveyor-general of the western territory, and who appointed Jesse to be the draughtsman in his office. Being now situated in a good position the young man, before he was twenty, was married to Miss Cynthia Parker, and settled down to house-keeping and the prosecution of his work in the office, in which he displayed great thoroughness and proficiency, and at the time was regarded by men of learning as a prodigy in the mathematical sciences. But the monotony of office routine was too confining for his restless disposition; and, therefore, he soon took the field as a United States deputy surveyor, and prosecuted the work with such energy and success that in a few years he was regarded as a wealthy man.

In 1843 we find him located upon his magnificent home farm on the Osage river, within three miles of the town of Osceola, the county-seat of St. Clair county, Missouri, surrounded by all the comforts and then elegancies of life. His house was the open resort of the great people of the state and of the western territory. Such guests were frequently found at his hospitable board as Bates, Doctor Peck, Benton, Doctor Linn, Doctor Redman and Colonel Beal, the Bells, the Dodges, the Marmadukes, the Jackson's, the Hutchings, the Breckenridge's, the Waldos, the Sappingtons, the Austins, the Ashworths, the Mayos and the McKinzies. Here national affairs were discussed and among other matters the exceedingly captivating subject of the Oregon country.

During the severe winter of 1842-43 letters were received from Oregon from Robert Shortess, descriptive of the comparatively mild climate and, above all, the perpetually green hills of this wonderfully favored land. Carried away by the enthusiasm of romance and adventure, he, together with his brothers Charles and Lindsay, with Waldo, Looney and many others, resolved to rent out their farms, trade off their personal property for oxen, wagons and stock cattle, and roll out for the perpetually green and grassy hills and plains of the far-off Oregon. Accordingly by the middle of May, 1843, their trains were winding their way westward upon the broad plains beyond the western settlements. At the first encampment west of the Big Blue, Jess Applegate was chosen captain of the emigration, and held that office and discharged its arduous duties to the disbanding of the emigration on the Umatilla river at the western foot of the Blue Mountains, after the severe struggle of cutting the road through the forests of that mountain. It was understood that Lieutenant Fremont, a son-in-law of Senator Benton, being selected by him for that purpose, should go before, with a cannon, to look out the way, and awe off the Indians with his big gun. But, going too far up the South Platte, he fell behind, and never caught up with the emigration until he reached Soda Springs in Bear river valley. Then he found he could not "proceed in the advance," because his carriages were too light to break the sage; so he quietly followed along behind to the encampment on Grande Ronde river, about two miles north of where the city of La Grande now stands. Here Fremont crossed the river and struck through the mountain in a northwest course for the headwaters of the Walla Walla river, while the emigrant train pulled up the mountain where the city just mentioned now stands, on to the head of Rock creek; and from thence they cut their way through the forest.

From Umatilla, Jesse Applegate, his brothers and their immediate friends, proceeded northward by way of the Whitman Mission to Fort Walla Walla with the view of leaving their cattle for the winter under the protection of Captain Armintinger of the Hudson's Bay Company. Thus leaving their wagons and cattle, they proceeded down the river by water; but at Celilo Falls they met with a great calamity which cast a shadow over the whole company and over Jesse Applegate's whole life. Bringing with them a complete supply of a variety of tools, when these people arrived at Fort Walla Walla, located at a point on the river where the town of Wallula now stands, they were prepared to readily work both wood and iron. Therefore, immediately erecting shops and saw-pits, in an incredible short time they had built and launched a sufficient number of well-constructed boats, some of them quite large, in which to navigate the waters of the Columbia. They had built, also, for light and contingent purposes, a couple of small skiffs. It was one of these that went over Celilo Falls. among those of the families lost was his son Edward, named after his benefactor, Edward Bates. His first son he had named Milburn, to honor his friend Milburn of St. Louis. This son was burnt to death by his clothes catching fire when he was a mere child. He used to mournfully say: "Thus by the elements of fire and water have I lost the pledges of my gratitude for my early benefactors; and this I regard as a bad omen upon my life." This Columbia river calamity led to that most expensive and severe expedition to explore and open the south road in 1846, that a safer way for emigrants might be found to Oregon than by way of the Columbia cañon.

In the early days of Oregon, Jesse Applegate took an active part in the foundation of the Provisional government and the direction of public affairs. His house was resorted to by leading men and chiefs of tribes for council. He entertained, during the summer of 1845, the Envoy of the British Minister and his suit, when out to this country upon a trip of exploration and observation. In pursuance of his report, the claims of the British government were so modified that they were adopted by Polk's administration; and in a convention of the two powers held on the 15th of June, 1846, those long-pending and dangerous questions pertaining to Oregon were definitely settled by treaty.

The summer of 1846 was spent in the explorations for the southern route to Oregon. At that time the country from Pilot Rock eastward to the sink of the Humboldt was noted on the standard map of the United States as an unexplored region. Upon the desert the company came near perishing for want of water; and the captain of the expedition received such injuries from thirst and the heat of the sun that periodically it effected his mind ever after. The route was found and the way opened through the Siskiyou Mountains, the Grave creek hills, the Umpqua canon, and the Calopooia Mountains, altogether about eighty miles of forests being cut through. It cost very largely the responsible parties in the great undertaking; but for it all, including the escort sent out in 1847 to meet, pilot and defend the immigrants, including also beef cattle and other supplies sent to the immigrants, no Applegate ever received a quarter of a dollar by way of pay or assistance for all that effort and expense.

In the winter of 1847, when the Whitman massacre occurred, Jesse Applegate was one of the foremost men in establishing a territorial credit by the formation of personal bonds by which supplies could be procured for the Oregon army, that the country might be defended from an uprising of the savages, the prisoners rescued from among the Indians, and the Cayuses chastised for their blood-thirsty outrage. During the same winter he made an attempt, at the head of a small company of bravemen, to beat through the snow-drifts of the Siskiyou to California, to call upon the United States officers there, for help for Oregon in her emergency.

The early summer of 1849 was spent in explorations and road-building, with the Klamath commonwealth. This was a company organized among the leading spirits of the Yamhill country, mainly to locate somewhere in Southern Oregon or Northern California, where gold-mining, agriculture and manufacturing could all be carried on as a mutual operation, - in a word, to plant all the elements of civilization in the wilderness, and at the same time be strong enough to defend it against the hordes of savages then inhabiting that country. Upon the plain near where Jacksonville now stands, the company, consisting of about one hundred and twenty men, with fifty wagons, formed their corral and proceeded to vote upon the question of location. One side maintained that within the circle of a few miles were to be found all the elements of success, - gold, soil and water-power. the other side admitted the elements, but urged that the climate would not do. A showing of snow had appeared on the 20th of May on the tops of the surrounding hills. It indicated too cold weather for the growth of domestic plants, - a country only fit for the abode of the wild man. In vain did the affirmative point to the splendid oak timber, the natural plum orchards and vineyards, and urge that wherever such growth is found domestic plants must succeed, and civilization always find a safe and successful home. Nevertheless the negative prevailed with a decisive majority; and the great enterprise was abandoned.

In the fall of 1849, uncle Jesse, as he was, by this time, universally called, gathered up his herds, and with his large family of boys and girls moved off from the Willamette valley, crossed the Calopooia Mountains, and settled down as a pioneer of Yoncalla valley, in the Umpqua country. Here he obtained his section of land, the reward of the Oregon pioneer promised to them by Benton and Linn before he left Missouri. Here he built up a fine home, embracing the comforts and elegancies of an advanced civilization. His house was open and resorted to y distinguished personages all up and down the coast, and, in fact, from one side of the continent to the other.

He was a member of the constitutional convention. He was opposed to the extension of slavery. He was in favor of internal improvements and the protection of American industry by the general government; and upon the outbreak of the rebellion he was loyal to the very core. But in the zenith of his influence and success in life, he trusts the unworthy, he is betrayed by the designing and treacherous and struck deep with the poisoned fang of ingratitude, - his property swept from him, his affairs and himself a ruin. Thus the mighty hath fallen! As the tall Pillar, or the grand Colussus, under the awful pressure of the hand of time, must crumble and fall, - must finally mingle its particles with the common kindred dust of the plain, - so we give him up, as we must all give up each other, to a fate that cannot be stayed, to a destiny which we cannot know. Then, farewell, Uncle Jess! Thou grand man, with thy great heart, with they bright and wonderful intellect and universal knowledge, thou prince of lofty conversationalists, far thee well!

"I will start with my family to the Oregon Territory this spring. Lindsay and perhaps Charles go with me. This resolution has been conceived and matured in a very short time, but it is probably destiny to which account I place it, having neither time nor good reasons to offer in defense of so wild an undertaking. We are well, and I only snatch this opportunity to write to you for this purpose of ascertaining if the same species of madness exists on your side of the Missouri."

Letter from Jesse Applegate to his brother Lisbon in April 1843.

Published in the Oregon Journal, October 12, 1933.

The Great Emigration of 1843 by the Applegates:

One of the leaders of the Great Emigration of 1843 Jesse Applegate wrote down his memoirs, A Day with the Cow Column in 1843.

Jesse Applegate's 7-year-old nephew and namesake Jess, when he was in his 70s, wrote Recollections of My Boyhood, in which the same journey is seen through the eyes of an old man remembering when he was a young boy.

The Applegate wagon train began to assemble in late April, and departed on May 13, 1843. Over 900 emigrants bound for Oregon elected Peter Burnett as captain. The “cow column” for the livestock and slower wagons was led by Jesse Applegate. Former trapper John Gant would guide them as far as Fort Hall. He would follow the trail used by mountain men Meek and Newell in 1840. The group possessed over 200 wagons, 700 oxen and about 800 cattle.

In 1843 the Appelgate’s crossing of the Blue Mountains was hard going as they needed to enlarge the trail cut through the forest and experienced adverse weather conditions. A snowstorm made them cold and wet, at first drifting made progress difficult and when it melted the wagons became bogged down in the mud.

At Soda Springs they met the group led by explorer John Charles Fremont. Jess recorded: "There was a soda spring or pool between the camps, and Fremont's men were having a high time drinking soda water. They were so noisy that I suspected they had liquor mixed with the water."

In October they finally reached Fort Walla Walla where they stayed for a fortnight to build timber skiffs on which to ride the Columbia River down to Fort Vancouver and the Willamette Valley, which was reckoned to be more viable than traversing the steep sided gorges through which the river surged. Animals and Wagons had to be left behind.

In November this last hazardous stage of the journey was begun. After the dreary plodding pace of the wagons riding the turbulent waters must have been an exhilarating experience. After a few days they heard the deafening roar of gushing waters ahead. The current carried them out of control, they could only try to avoid the large boulders which jumped out at them midstream. One of the craft, capsized and was sucked down into the raging waters by and eddying whirlpool. Three of the six occupants survived but shooting rapids. Young Jess Applegate's brother Warren and his cousin Edward drowned, the latter despite the best efforts of 70-year-old Alexander McClellan. McClennan could have saved himself but refused to do so and also perished in trying to save the youngster.

In the Willamette Valley they built log cabins and spent their first winter at what they called “The Mission” which is where the modern town of Gervais, Oregon lies.

1996 marks the 150th anniversary of the Applegate Trail, the southern route of the Oregon Trail. It was blazed in 1846 as an alternate, and hopefully safer route to Oregon. Three brothers, Lindsay, Jesse, and Charles Applegate and their extended families came to Oregon on the original Oregon Trail during the first major migration in 1843. As the party was rafting through the rapids on the Columbia River just outside The Dalles one of their rafts capsized in the current and Lindsay's son Warren, age 9, Jesse's son Edward, also age 9, along with Alexander Mac (Uncle Mac, age 70) drowned. This tragedy made the brothers determined to save others similar grief and find a safer route to the Oregon Territory.

By the Spring of 1846, the brothers had settled in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, planted crops and built cabins, but they were determined to find a safer, more secure route for emigration. Charles stayed home to care for the family and land. Lindsay and Jesse, along with Levi Scott and ten others formed a scouting party to be known as the the South Road Expedition. On June 20, 1846, they left La Creole Creek (now Rickreall) near Dallas, Oregon on their journey south. They traveled down the Willamette Valley through what is now Corvallis and Eugene. They continued on to just south of Ashland, then turned east, reaching Greensprings Mountain about where Highway 66 crosses today. On they traveled across Oregon and Nevada until they reached the Humboldt River, then they turned north along the river for 200 miles.

Being short on supplies, Jesse Applegate was chosen to lead the party continuing onto Fort Hall, Idaho to get supplies and inform emigrants about the new trail. The others proceeded up the Humboldt to where Winnemucca is now and set up a rendezvous and rested the stock. (The Applegate Trail runs from Humboldt, Nevada to Dallas, Oregon. Near Humboldt it joins the California Trail, running from near Fort Hall, Idaho to the gold country of California.

On August 9, 1846 a group of as many as 100 wagons set out from Fort Hall to cross the new Applegate Trail. In September, the first of the wagons left the Humboldt River and headed across the Black Rock Desert, a treacherous section of the trail filled with Indian attacks, overpowering heat, and very little forage for the animals. Next the wagons rolled into Surprise Valley, then onto Goose Lake and Tule Lake. The party crossed the Lost River on a natural stone bridge, the bridge and a marker to record the expedition are near Merrill, Oregon. The wagons then swung southwest around lower Klamath Lake and on towards Greensprings (in the southeast corner of what is now Jackson County).

Levi Scott led the wagon train on from present day Ashland towards the Willamette Valley. The rains had started by the time the wagons reached the Rogue Valley and from here on it would be either rain or snow for weather conditions. Brush and trees made the the trail hard to clear, but the men who joined the Applegate Train had to guarantee to do the road building and clearing needed to be done before more travelers could use the trail. The train lost Meadow's Vanderpool's flock of sheep at Rock Point to the Indians, and Martha Leland Crowley, a young girl, died October 18, 1846, while the train was moving across present day Sunny Valley, Oregon. The creek where Martha Crowley died was aptly named Grave Creek. A covered bridge (built in 1920) still spans the creek. The wagon train continued through the southwestern valleys of Oregon until they reached their final destination in the Willamette Valley. The group had survived much hardship and trouble, but they created a new passage to the Oregon Territory that would be used for many years.

In 1853 alone over 3500 men, women, and children took this route. Today, Interstate 5 and Highway 66 travel the same route. The Applegate was designated a National Historic Trail by the US Congress on August 3, 1992. Known as the southern route of the Oregon Trail, the Applegate Trail provided an alternative for settlers who wanted to avoid the perils of the Columbia River. Not all settlers appreciated the trail some even felt the Applegates had hindered rather than helped them on their way. Time proved the real test, however. After nearly 150 years the Applegate Trail endures as the basis for the state's major transportation routes, allowing today's traveler the opportunity to retrace the steps of Oregon's early trailblazers.

_____________

Applegate established a primitive raft service in 1843-44 when he occupied the former Methodist Mission at Mission Bottom. Daniel Matheny later started the Wheatland Ferry in the 1850s around the same location. How long it remained in operation, and when Matheny succeeded him, are lost to history.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_ferries_in_Oregon#Early_ferries http://discoveryamhillvalley.com/article?articleTitle=over-the-river--1284407222--119--visiting -------------------- Founded Applegate Trail with Lindsay

died June 1, 1881 ?

In 1843, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate, members of the first wave of Oregon Trail emigrants, watched helplessly as their ten-year-old sons drowned in the Columbia River when a boat overturned in rapids near The Dalles. The Applegates, like so many overland emigrants who lost loved one on the Trail, continued sadly toward the Willamette Valley.

The Applegate brothers vowed to find a better route into the Willamette Valley -- one that bypassed the Columbia River altogether. The Provisional Government of Oregon also hoped an alternate route would be opened because the Hudson's Bay Company essentially controlled the Columbia River corridor, and so controlled a significant segment of the only overland route connecting the American settlements with the United States. By 1846, after settling on Salt Creek (near present-day Dallas), the Applegate brothers felt the time was right to follow through on their commitment to search for a new route.

In mid-June, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate met with other trailblazers at La Creole Creek (today called Rickreall Creek) to prepare for the trip. Eleven of the party had scouted the route earlier in the year as far south as Calapooya Creek in the Umpqua River valley. Jesse Applegate was elected leader of the group which included Lindsay Applegate, Henry Boygus, Benjamin Burch, David Goff, Samuel Goodhue, Moses "Black" Harris, John Jones, Bennett Osborn, John Owens, William Parker, John Scott, Levi Scott, Robert Smith, and William Sportsman.

The fifteen men, each with their own saddle horse, packhorse and supplies, followed Hudson's Bay Company trappers' routes, working their way south from the central Willamette Valley to the Bear Creek Valley in southern Oregon. From there, the group knew they would be blazing an entirely new trail. Turning east, their plan was to intersect the Oregon Trail near Soda Springs (in present day Idaho). Instead they intersected the California Trail on the Humboldt River and continued eastward to meet emigrant parties and guide them onto the new route.

The trailblazers crossed the Cascade Mountains approximately where Oregon State Route 66 crosses today and then headed south around lower Klamath Lake. Local Indians led them to a natural crossing of Lost River where the water flowed over a shelf of solid rock, making a substantial natural underwater bridge that wagons could traverse safely. This bridge was the critical key to establishing a wagon road through the Lakes Country. After crossing Lost River, the party rounded the north end of Tule Lake and headed east again, eventually crossing the Black Rock Desert to reach the Humboldt River.

There, the trailblazers decided some of the party should stay behind to rest their stock while others continued on to Fort Hall to replenish supplies and tell Oregon-bound travelers of the new route. Jesse Applegate led the advance group to Fort Hall and persuaded more than 200 men, women, and children -- some historians report nearly 100 wagons -- to travel over the southern road.

The trailblazers who stayed behind could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the number of people, wagons, and cattle coming down the trail to meet them. There had been no attempt while the supply party was at Fort Hall to clear a road for wagons. The emigrants of the new wagon train would have to do that themselves.

Levi Scott and David Goff agreed to stay behind to guide the wagon train. Meanwhile, equipped with pack horses and a few tools, the trailblazers had about sixty days before winter storms set in to open more than 500 miles of road and to blaze the trail for the wagons. To make matters worse, the winter of 1846-47 was a year of record snowfall, with heavy storms starting early. (These storms were the same ones that trapped the Donner Party heading over the Sierras not far south of where Scott was crossing the mountains with his wagon train.)

The wagon train did not move as fast as Scott would have liked. By the time the wagons reached the Rogue Valley, the winter rains had set in and from then on it rained or snowed most of the way. Supplies were running out and game was scarce. The trail had become harder to clear with brush and trees everywhere. The weather was cold and everything was slippery and muddy. Trying to start a fire to get warm was almost impossible. The emigrants were strung out for miles and Scott tried to persuade those who were stopped to keep moving because things could get worse. When word reached the Willamette settlements, relief parties headed down the trail to rescue those in need.

Although the trailblazers always referred to this route as the "Southern Road," critics such as J. Quinn Thornton chose to belittle the Applegates' name by referring to it as the "Applegate Trail." Thornton blamed Jesse Applegate for hardships members of the first wagon train endured and felt that Applegate should suffer for what the emigrants endured. Thornton began a war of words through the newspaper that nearly led to a duel between him and an Applegate supporter, James Nesmith. Although people such as Levi Scott and David Goff supported the Applegates, remnants of those hard feelings survive to the present day among some of the descendants of survivors of the '46 wagon train.

Despite its detractors, the Applegates' alternate route through Oregon contributed substantially to the development of the Northwest. At the urging of the provisional government, Levi Scott agreed to return over the Southern Road to Fort Hall in 1847 to lead additional emigrants back over the new route. In doing this, Scott made noticeable improvements to the route. In 1848 with the discovery of gold in California, Peter Hardeman Burnett led 150 pioneers with fifty heavily laden wagons from Oregon City over the Applegate Trail going south to the gold fields. They were followed a few days later by a smaller group of men and wagons from north of the Columbia River. Intersecting Peter Lassen's wagon tracks south of Tule Lake, Burnett's cavalcade helped Lassen blaze a new trail to his rancho in the Sacramento Valley, establishing the first route for wheeled vehicles between the valleys of California and Oregon. This remained a major wagon route for more than a decade. In 1852, a group blazed a trail off the Applegate route south of lower Klamath Lake to the Yreka area; this trail was used for many years to help populate that part of northern California. -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Applegate -------------------- Founded Applegate Trail with Lindsay

died June 1, 1881 ?

In 1843, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate, members of the first wave of Oregon Trail emigrants, watched helplessly as their ten-year-old sons drowned in the Columbia River when a boat overturned in rapids near The Dalles. The Applegates, like so many overland emigrants who lost loved one on the Trail, continued sadly toward the Willamette Valley.

The Applegate brothers vowed to find a better route into the Willamette Valley -- one that bypassed the Columbia River altogether. The Provisional Government of Oregon also hoped an alternate route would be opened because the Hudson's Bay Company essentially controlled the Columbia River corridor, and so controlled a significant segment of the only overland route connecting the American settlements with the United States. By 1846, after settling on Salt Creek (near present-day Dallas), the Applegate brothers felt the time was right to follow through on their commitment to search for a new route.

In mid-June, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate met with other trailblazers at La Creole Creek (today called Rickreall Creek) to prepare for the trip. Eleven of the party had scouted the route earlier in the year as far south as Calapooya Creek in the Umpqua River valley. Jesse Applegate was elected leader of the group which included Lindsay Applegate, Henry Boygus, Benjamin Burch, David Goff, Samuel Goodhue, Moses "Black" Harris, John Jones, Bennett Osborn, John Owens, William Parker, John Scott, Levi Scott, Robert Smith, and William Sportsman.

The fifteen men, each with their own saddle horse, packhorse and supplies, followed Hudson's Bay Company trappers' routes, working their way south from the central Willamette Valley to the Bear Creek Valley in southern Oregon. From there, the group knew they would be blazing an entirely new trail. Turning east, their plan was to intersect the Oregon Trail near Soda Springs (in present day Idaho). Instead they intersected the California Trail on the Humboldt River and continued eastward to meet emigrant parties and guide them onto the new route.

The trailblazers crossed the Cascade Mountains approximately where Oregon State Route 66 crosses today and then headed south around lower Klamath Lake. Local Indians led them to a natural crossing of Lost River where the water flowed over a shelf of solid rock, making a substantial natural underwater bridge that wagons could traverse safely. This bridge was the critical key to establishing a wagon road through the Lakes Country. After crossing Lost River, the party rounded the north end of Tule Lake and headed east again, eventually crossing the Black Rock Desert to reach the Humboldt River.

There, the trailblazers decided some of the party should stay behind to rest their stock while others continued on to Fort Hall to replenish supplies and tell Oregon-bound travelers of the new route. Jesse Applegate led the advance group to Fort Hall and persuaded more than 200 men, women, and children -- some historians report nearly 100 wagons -- to travel over the southern road.

The trailblazers who stayed behind could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the number of people, wagons, and cattle coming down the trail to meet them. There had been no attempt while the supply party was at Fort Hall to clear a road for wagons. The emigrants of the new wagon train would have to do that themselves.

Levi Scott and David Goff agreed to stay behind to guide the wagon train. Meanwhile, equipped with pack horses and a few tools, the trailblazers had about sixty days before winter storms set in to open more than 500 miles of road and to blaze the trail for the wagons. To make matters worse, the winter of 1846-47 was a year of record snowfall, with heavy storms starting early. (These storms were the same ones that trapped the Donner Party heading over the Sierras not far south of where Scott was crossing the mountains with his wagon train.)

The wagon train did not move as fast as Scott would have liked. By the time the wagons reached the Rogue Valley, the winter rains had set in and from then on it rained or snowed most of the way. Supplies were running out and game was scarce. The trail had become harder to clear with brush and trees everywhere. The weather was cold and everything was slippery and muddy. Trying to start a fire to get warm was almost impossible. The emigrants were strung out for miles and Scott tried to persuade those who were stopped to keep moving because things could get worse. When word reached the Willamette settlements, relief parties headed down the trail to rescue those in need.

Although the trailblazers always referred to this route as the "Southern Road," critics such as J. Quinn Thornton chose to belittle the Applegates' name by referring to it as the "Applegate Trail." Thornton blamed Jesse Applegate for hardships members of the first wagon train endured and felt that Applegate should suffer for what the emigrants endured. Thornton began a war of words through the newspaper that nearly led to a duel between him and an Applegate supporter, James Nesmith. Although people such as Levi Scott and David Goff supported the Applegates, remnants of those hard feelings survive to the present day among some of the descendants of survivors of the '46 wagon train.

Despite its detractors, the Applegates' alternate route through Oregon contributed substantially to the development of the Northwest. At the urging of the provisional government, Levi Scott agreed to return over the Southern Road to Fort Hall in 1847 to lead additional emigrants back over the new route. In doing this, Scott made noticeable improvements to the route. In 1848 with the discovery of gold in California, Peter Hardeman Burnett led 150 pioneers with fifty heavily laden wagons from Oregon City over the Applegate Trail going south to the gold fields. They were followed a few days later by a smaller group of men and wagons from north of the Columbia River. Intersecting Peter Lassen's wagon tracks south of Tule Lake, Burnett's cavalcade helped Lassen blaze a new trail to his rancho in the Sacramento Valley, establishing the first route for wheeled vehicles between the valleys of California and Oregon. This remained a major wagon route for more than a decade. In 1852, a group blazed a trail off the Applegate route south of lower Klamath Lake to the Yreka area; this trail was used for many years to help populate that part of northern California.

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Jesse Applegate's Timeline

1810
July 5, 1810
Lexington, Henry, Kentucky, USA
1831
March 13, 1831
Age 20
1880
April 23, 1880
Age 69
Yoncalla, Douglas, Oregon Territory, USA
????
????
Yoncalla, Douglas, Oregon, USA