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[William Hibbard]


Fort Steilacoom, Puget Sound

Washington Territory

Oct 16th 1856

Dear Brother,

Your very welcome letter of Aug 18th reached me yesterday, and my heart was once more gladdened by knowing that at that date you were all well at home. I am, thank God, in good health and my prospects, in a worldly point of view are very fair. I have pretty severe work, as I am travelling the most of the time, and the facilities are small. My business is buying oil and cranberries, and, selling goods on [commission], for three houses in San Francisco.

I am obliged to travell [travel] by water the most of the time, for which purposes I have a large canoe, and, a crew of four Indians we get along pretty well, but sometimes have a rough time of it, as the Sound is a large body of water extending over Two Hundred miles into the interior of the Territory. Last week I started to go about 80 miles in my canoe, a storm, and, blow came on, and, we had pretty sharp work to make the land, and in about an hour after we had done so, a perfect gale came on which lasted three days, during which time we remained on the beach, the Indians, made a hut

of bark which in some measure protected us from the storm, and we lived upon fresh salmon of which there is an abundance here of the finest quality, and, upon oysters, and, clams. The feed I could not complain of, but the sleeping arrangements were decidedly uncomfortable, not withstanding my experience in that line in California, and right glad was I, when we were able to launch our canoe again.

I do not like this country as well as I do California, although it has a splendid climate, and, possesses many very great adventures. The Fisheries on the Sound are destined to be at no distant day, of great importance, for there are, besides the Salman, Codfish, Hallibut, Mackerel and Herring in abundance, also the Dogfish from the liver of which, the Indians get a very fine oil. The lumber business is already important and flourishing, there are fourteen saw mills on the Sound, at which there are from 15 to 20 vessels loading, continually.

There is also a steadily increasing trade in Spars of which there are no finer ones in the world than those to be got here. I saw some on a ship that was loading for Liverpool the other day, which were magnificent, there was one which was 120 feet in length, 42 inches in diameter 8 feet from the Butt, and but one knot in whole stick. The gentlemen who are engaged in that trade were formerly in the employ of Gilmour & Co. of Quebec, and, Nova Scotia, they told me that there was no doubt, but that the facilities were for a lumber trade were unsurpassed by any other place in the world.

The land here is excelent [excellent], producing heavy crops of all kinds. I went a short time since to the town of Victoria on Vancouver Island. It being Brittish [British] territory, it seemed something like going home. There are many French Canadians there in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company and I soon made myself known as a Canadian and right hearty, was the welcome I received vous etes de Montreal, “said they” venez chez nous vous fixer pendent que vous etes ici, said one, biens diner chez moi said another, and I found myself besieged on all sides, by kind offers from those warm hearted sons of Canada. I had a letter introduction to the Governor of H.B. Co. a Mr. Douglass, who treated me with much politeness. There were two English line of battle ships there, the Monarch, and, Trincomalee. I got acquainted with many of the Officers, visited their vessels, and drank a bumper of wine, with them, to the citizens of Canada, for the gallant manner in which they received the soldiers that returned from the Crimean. This being the first time I had set foot on Brittish [British] soil since February 1849.

I felt disposed to take a holiday, and I assure you that I enjoyed my visit very much indeed. I shall visit Victoria often as I am getting considerable trade there.

You say that you shall soon begin to despair of seeing me again unless I fix some definite period for my return home. God knows how much, I wish that I could, do so, but at present it is imposible [impossible] for me to do so. I do not know how long I shall remain up here but there is a prospect of my establishing a permanent business here, and if the parties by whom I am employed give me a sufficient interest, I shall remain here sometime, perhaps, years. If I had a capital of three thousand dollars, I could do a fine business here. I could double it in a short time. At present I am making about $100.00 a month clear. You may rest assured my dear brother that I was very strongly tempted to accept your kind, and, brotherly offer, and return to Canada. It cost me a bitter struggle to refuse there were so many reasons to induce me to accept it, but when I thought of my old debts there and, what I endured shortly before leaving, my Pride would not allow me to do so. Give my kindest love to all. I shall write again soon. Write as soon as you get this direct as before.

Your Affectionate brother



Fort Steilacoom, Puget Sound, Washington Territory

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Letter from Augustin Hibbard to [William Hibbard] 1856 Oct. 16

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