Fort Vancouver
Historic Structures Report
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Volume II


History and location

From the standpoint of its history and function, the structure that by 1845 was generally known as the "Owyhee Church," or the "Owhyhee Church," was one of the most interesting buildings at Fort Vancouver. It was also among those that have left almost no evidence concerning their physical appearance.

As delineated on the Vavasour ground plan of 1845, the Owyhee Church was situated in the northeastern quadrant of the fort enclosure as it existed at that time. According to the scale on that map, the building lay approximately eighteen feet south of the north stockade wall and about fifty feet west of the Big House kitchen. It was only some twenty-five feet southwest of the gate in the north palisade, and it lay directly behind (to the north of) the Priests' House (see Plates VI, VII, VIII, vol. I).

Archeological excavations in 1948, 1950, and 1952 were only partially successful in finding the footings of this building. But according to Archeologist Louis R. Caywood's estimated location of the north wall of this structure, the Owyhee Church was actually somewhat less than fifteen feet inside the outer stockade line. [1] The location of the Owyhee Church is now designated as Building No. 15 on the site plan of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Because this structure was in the eastern half of the fort, which was not enclosed until about 1836, it almost certainly was not con structed before that date. But it is known to have been standing by July 25, 1841, when Lieutenant Emmons showed it on his map identified as the "Chaplains' Kitchen & used as a school room" (Plate III, vol. I). It seems safe to assume that the building had been erected by 1839, however, because during that year the American traveler Thomas Jefferson Farnham noted that a building near the rear gate was occupied as a schoolhouse; it could scarcely have been any other than that later known as the Owyhee Church. [2]

The 1846-47 inventory of Company property at Fort Vancouver listed this structure as "1 Dwelling house, 50 x 25 feet, Schoolhouse." It was the only building within the stockade having these dimensions. [3] This old Owyhee Church can be clearly identified on the carefully drawn survey of the Fort Vancouver Military Reservation made under the direction of Colonel B. L. E. Bonneville in 1854 (Plate XIX, vol. I), and it is visible on the sketch made by an unknown artist probably during that same year (Plate XX, vol. I). What apparently was the same building seems to be shown on the unsigned "Topographical Sketch of Fort Vancouver and Environs, 1855," which is reproduced as Plate XXIII in volume I of this study.

After 1855, however, the former Owyhee Church can no longer be found on the available maps of the fort. The 1859 survey of the military reservation drawn under the direction of Captain George Thom, for instance, seems to have been made with much care; it shows only open space where the schoolhouse once stood (Plate XXIV, vol. I). The appraisal of Company property made by a board of army officers on June 15, 1860, makes no mention of this building (Plate XXX, vol. I). It can be assumed, therefore, that Dugald Mactavish, who had served the Company for many years at Fort Vancouver as a clerk and commissioned officer, was correct when he testified in 1866 that the dwelling house measuring fifty by twenty-five feet, which could only have been the former Owyhee Church, was pulled down before 1858. [4]

The Fort Vancouver school. As has been seen, the first known uses for the building later known as the Owyhee Church were as a kitchen for the chaplains' residence (Priests' House) and as a school room. But there had been a school at Fort Vancouver long before the Owyhee Church structure was erected.

This institution originated in November 1832, when Chief Factor McLoughlin agreed to let John Ball, an American who had arrived with the first Wyeth expedition, teach his son and the other boys about the fort to read. Although Ball remained at the depot only until early March of the next year, the experiment had been so promising that McLoughlin continued the school under a succession of teachers.

The difficulties encountered in attempting to educate the children of the establishment, most of whom spoke only the languages of their Indian mothers or, probably, French, were graphically explained by Solomon H. Smith, another member of the Wyeth party who immediately followed Ball as the fort pedagogue. Many years later he told the historian Elwood Evans that,

When I engaged in the school I supposed we had a school, but upon entering it I was sadly disappointed, it was more like a bedlam the scholars came in talking in their respective languages Cree, Nes perces, Chinook, &c &c I could not understand them, and when I called them to order they could not understand me save one, having come from a land of discipline, I could not persuade myself that I could accomplish much without order therefore issued my orders when to my surprise the one who did understand me joined issue with me in my government in the school, and while trying to press this fact upon him and through him to his associates Dr. McLaughlin Chf Factor came in, to whom I explained our difficulty, he upon investigation found my statements correct, when he made such an example of the boy, that I never afterward had any trouble in my governing. [5]

Another impediment was the scarcity of textbooks. Smith found that there was only one printed copy of the arithmetic text, so he had it copied by hand for use in the future. English was taught through the use of "Murrays grammar." Some of his approximately twenty-five pupils learned to repeat it verbatim.

McLoughlin was so pleased with the results, meager though they must have been, that at least by the fall of 1834 he began to urge officers and clerks throughout the Columbia District to send their children and the orphaned offspring of deceased employees to the depot for instruction. [6] Thus the school at Fort Vancouver, if it had not already been a boarding school, soon became one for a substantial proportion of the pupils. Indian children, particularly the orphans of natives who had served the Company, were also admitted. [7]

Perhaps these changes had not been instituted by December 1834, because Cyrus Shepard, the teacher at that time, told a friend that he was then employed "with about thirty half-breed youth, instructing them in the sciences and giving them . . . religious instruction." Besides the "day school," he added, "I have two young men and eight boys in the evening." Shepard's daily routine, he recorded in his journal, was to "go into school at six o'clock when the children assemble for prayers and remain till the bell rings for breakfast, and thus continue through the day, having only an hour for breakfast and another for dinner--Feel somewhat depressed in mind." [8]

By the fall of 1835, however, apparently when future clerk George B. Roberts was teacher, there definitely were Indians in the Fort Vancouver school. [9] The missionary scout Samuel Parker recorded that the pupils were not only the children of the traders and common laborers but also Indian children who were "provided for by the generosity of the resident gentlemen." The curriculum consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, religion, and morality. The daily exercises were closed by the singing of a hymn, after which the scholars were taken by their master out to a "garden assigned to them," where they labored for the remainder of the day. The children formed the choir for the Sunday religious services, of which they attended three. [10]

The existence of the boarding feature seems to be first recorded definitely during the fall of 1836, when the Reverend Herbert Beaver, the newly appointed Church of England chaplain for the Columbia District, informed McLoughlin that it was not "proper or agreeable, that a place of tuition should be used as a sleeping room for numerous individuals." [11] Although it is not entirely clear that the "individuals" sleeping in the schoolroom were pupils, such was probably the case, because undoubtedly children had been boarded at the depot for a considerable period prior to Beaver's s arrival. [12] In any case the situation in this regard is perfectly evident by October 1837. The Reverend Mr. Beaver at that time complained to the London directors that the master and ten boys occupied "in far too close contact" a room of 20 by 9-1/2 feet ad joining the schoolroom. [13]

The number of students apparently reached its peak at about that same time. In 1836 Narcissa Whitman reported that there were about fifty scholars enrolled in the school. [14] The Reverend Mr. Beaver, only two months later, stated that there were "about sixty scholars, one third being Girls, of various ages, from five to fourteen years." Beaver found that the "first and second classes, amounting to fourteen," read well, wrote tolerably, and had begun to cypher, but had received little religious education, "the singing of hymns, as I understand, forming nearly the whole." The other classes were reported to be "sin different stages of progress." [15]

Despite this flourishing appearance, signs of disintegration began to become visible during this same period, and conditions worsened as time passed. In the first place, the Company was not enthusiastic about the project as it was being conducted. Although in 1835 the Governor and Committee had been willing to have the British wife of the depot farmer superintend "an infant school," they evidently had changed their minds two years later. In response to McLoughlin's report of difficulties with the Reverend Mr. Beaver over the control of the institution, the directors wrote to James Douglas on November 15, 1837, that regarding the Fort Vancouver school, "sour intention is that the number of scholars shall not exceed 20 boys in all, at present, to be admitted between ages of 8 and 12, that no other branches of education shall be taught them than reading writing & arithmetic and that it shall become a nursery for our Country Naval Service, by which means we shall in due time be less dependent on the Services of British seamen who are trouble some and expensive." [16] There is no evidence that this directive was carried out, at least in its entirety, and the Company became more sympathetic to the idea of a general school at a later time, but nevertheless the immediate effect must have been chilling.

Secondly, the school became a pawn in the religious controversy between Catholics and Protestants that disturbed the Fort Vancouver community during the late 1830s and continued through much of the 1840s. For several years prior to the arrival of the Reverend Herbert Beaver, Chief Factor McLoughlin had been inclining more and more toward Roman Catholicism, though he was not yet an openly avowed professor of that faith. Thus in the "promotion of moral and religious knowledge" among the pupils in the school he had, as he told the Governor and Committee, avoided "reference to sectarian tenets," even though the teachers were Protestants. [17]

The Reverend Mr. Beaver considered conducting the local school to be among his duties as chaplain, and soon after his arrival in September 1836, Chief Factor McLoughlin was glad enough to place him in charge, but with a "strict injunction . . . not to interfere with the religious instruction of the Roman Catholic children." Beaver was a man of unbending principles, and he believed that the Governor and Committee had sent him to the Columbia to form a "Church of England Congregation" and that the school was a means toward that end. He therefore quickly convinced himself that few of the pupils were actually Catholics and began to pattern his religious teaching according to the tenets of his own church.

When Dr. McLoughlin learned what was going on, he ordered the children who had any blood relationship to the French-speaking populace--and perhaps some who did not--to report to his quarters each evening for instruction in the Catholic faith. Beaver objected, claiming to have exclusive charge of the school and what was taught to the pupils. The issue of who was in control having thus been raised, McLoughlin summarily relieved the chaplain of all responsibility for the school. [18]

Beaver next pressed for a school of his own, but as may be imagined, he never received it during the two years of his stay on the Columbia. The clash over religious teaching in the classroom appears to have made Dr. McLoughlin more determined than ever to see that the French Canadians were not wooed away from their ancestral church, and an atmosphere of religious tension seems for some years to have surrounded the education of the youth of the district, a situation that disturbed some of the predominantly Protestant officers and clerks.

John Work, who two years earlier had been an enthusiastic supporter of the school, wrote in 1838: "There are ample means of getting my girls educated pretty well here were it not for the damned bickering, and what makes the matter worse it is taking a religious turn, mixed with no small portion of bigotry, which one would have scarcely expected to find in such a quarter." [19] By mid-1840 Work and his friend Donald Manson had taken their children out of the Fort Vancouver school and placed them under the tutelage of the Methodist missionaries in the Willamette Valley. [20]

The third condition tending toward the disruption of the school was the difficulty experienced in finding and keeping suitable teachers. At the time of Beaver's arrival the instructor was John Fisher Robinson, formerly a seaman in the Company's service. The chaplain initially was much taken with this man and recommended him to the Governor and Committee as being, as far as he had been able to learn, a person of "irreproachable" character. [21]

As time went by, however, Beaver became somewhat disenchanted with Robinson. The teacher was detected in "repeated acts of drunkenness," which some of the scholars witnessed. But as late as March 1838 the chaplain still believed him to be a useful man in the school and hoped he could be appointed second officer on one of the Company's vessels. [22] In October of that year Robinson was still in charge of the school, and Beaver believed that, while "not exactly such as could be wished," he had "done great things for the children" and, should he carry out his intention of leaving, would be impossible to replace "out of the number of persons at present to be obtained here." [23]

Beaver departed for England about a month later, and the record becomes a bit obscure as to the subsequent fate of the schoolmaster. Evidently James Douglas, then in charge of Fort Vancouver during Dr. McLoughlin's absence on furlough, began to look into rumors and accusations of misconduct on Robinson's part, and by January or early February 1839 had uncovered a most unpleasant situation. [24] It appears that the teacher was molesting some of the young girls entrusted to his care.

Douglas's reaction was swift and violent. Robinson was tied to one of the guns in front of the Big House and twice flogged "in the most public manner." There were some among the district's officers and clerks who believed the "villain" should have been shot. [25] Needless to say, Douglas was soon casting about for a new schoolmaster. [26]

A fourth problem besetting the school was the moral atmosphere in which the pupils almost necessarily found themselves. The Indian children and many of the half-breed offspring taken in by Dr. McLoughlin in the name of charity had been exposed to a way of native life that scarcely reflected in any manner the precepts of Victorian morality. When these children of nature were mixed with the more strictly raised pupils from the families of the officers and clerks, the results were sometimes shocking, at least from the standpoint of the parents. The wide range in the ages of the pupils, brought in close contact in the crowded schoolroom and sleeping quarters, was a related problem. As the Reverend Mr. Beaver pointed out, there was always the fear that the older boys, particularly, would "corrupt the little ones and the Girls." [27]

Even though conditions may not have been as bad as described by the disgruntled chaplain, they were sufficiently suspect to cause grave misgivings on the part of parents throughout the district. As early as 1837 Clerk Francis Ermatinger expressed his belief that his young son had "remained too long" at Fort Vancouver, where the morals of the children were "not too good nor their habits of cleanliness charming." [28] A few years later Dr. William Fraser Tolmie declared that even though Governor George Simpson's two young sons had been "bred in the vitiated moral atmosphere of Vancouver's" he hoped that the "seeds of good" still predominated in one of them. [29]

As a result of these troubles, and perhaps others not considered here, the Fort Vancouver school began to falter. By October 1838 the Reverend Mr. Beaver reported, "All the older Boys have left the School. Some have departed from the country. Others are put to various employments in it, and one is apprenticed [to the depot cooper]." [30] As has been observed, several children were withdrawn and sent to the Protestant mission in the Willamette Valley.

To make matters worse, the school may have lost the enthusiastic support of its founder and principal patron, Chief Factor McLoughlin. After his return from Europe in the fall of 1839, the Doctor, while not abandoning the school, seems to have turned his chief interest toward the Willamette Valley and the establishment of Catholic educational institutions there. [31] Henceforth James Douglas appears to have assumed the role of champion of schools at Fort Vancouver.

Despite all the difficulties, the institution continued to survive. A new schoolmaster was found for Outfit 1839 in the person of George Holland, a "middleman" or ordinary voyageur in the Company's service. Nothing is known of his qualifications for teaching, but he must have been satisfactory because he continued in charge of the school until about the middle of 1843, when he was promoted to the position of postmaster at Fort Langley. [32]

A visitor of 1839 reported hearing the voices of the children coming from the schoolhouse near the rear gate. [33] The recitations must have become more varied after the spring of 1840 when it appears that a large shipment of schoolbooks, alphabet sets, and spelling cards arrived from England. [34] The accession was most welcome, because in 1838 it had been stated that there were scarcely any textbooks available at the depot. [35]

When Lieutenant Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition visited Fort Vancouver in 1841, he found a "small manual labor school" in existence. It consisted of twenty-three boys under the supervision of a teacher and of fifteen girls who were taught by "a female, with whom they live and work." He reported that the kitchens and apartments in which the pupils lived were "extensive." Despite the "particular attention's" of Dr. McLoughlin and James Douglas Wilkes found the students not very expert at reading and writing. He felt that this lack of proficiency was due partly to the fact that the boys had been for some weeks constantly employed in field and garden under their master. Chief Factor McLoughlin seemed rather proud to state that by such labor the children fully maintained themselves. [36]

In October 1837 the Reverend Mr. Beaver described the schoolroom as being 20 feet square with an adjoining chamber measuring 20 by 9-1/2 feet used as a bedroom by the master and ten boys. [37] These cramped quarters could scarcely have been the "extensive" kitchens and apartments mentioned by Wilkes. Nor could they have been in the later Owyhee Church building, which was fifty by twenty-five feet in size and thus almost certainly would not have contained rooms of the dimensions given by Beaver. It seems obvious, therefore, that sometime between October 1837 and the fall of 1839 when the genial Farnham heard children's voices coming from a building near the rear gate, the school was moved from its earlier small rooms, the exact location of which is not known, into the future Owyhee Church.

There are a few facts available that appear to justify an attempt to date this move within even narrower limits. The Emmons ground plan of 1841 identifies the building later known as the Priests' House as the "Chaplains' or Governors temporary residence," while the later Owyhee Church directly behind it is called the "Chaplains's Kitchen & used as a school room" (Plate III, vol. I). Now perhaps the only time the "Governor" (as the district superintendent was often called) may have occupied the Priests' House was during the winter of 1837-38, when the Big House was being reconstructed on its new site. This latter structure was in use by March 19, presumably leaving the temporary residence and its kitchen free for other uses. [38] Although only a guess, it seems reasonable to assume that the school was moved into what might be termed the "governor's temporary kitchen" shortly after McLoughlin moved out. [39]

After the departure of schoolmaster George Holland about the middle of 1843, the status of the Fort Vancouver school becomes uncertain for several years. No employee described as a teacher was listed on the Columbia District employee rolls for Outfits 1843 and 1844. On October 8, 1844, John Work, isolated far up the Northwest Coast at Fort Simpson, wrote to Governor George Simpson: "I hear nothing about the school at Vancouver Now, What can be the cause of it being given up. I am sure numbers [?] of the Gentlemen as well as myself would have most cheerfully defrayed all the Expenses." [40]

Such clues would appear to indicate that the school had been discontinued. This impression is perhaps reinforced by evidence that efforts were being made to organize a different type of educational institution for the depot. Seemingly in late 1843 or early 1844 James Douglas sounded out Governor Simpson to see if he would be willing to find a clergyman and his wife to conduct a "respectable English school at this place, for the education of children of officers in the Company's service." Simpson replied, evidently during the summer of 1844, that he would be reluctant to take any action because no sub- scriptions had actually been received. "But," he added, "if sufficient children can be collected to make up a respectable salary for a Teacher and a Governess I will move." In response to this offer, Douglas solicited the "gentlemen's' of the entire district during November 1844 for written pledges of support for the school at the rate of £10 for each child to be enrolled. [41]

Evidently anticipating that this institution would come into being, Douglas started the construction of two large new schoolhouses on the sloping ground north of the fort. These buildings were far enough along by September 1844 to be shown on the "Line of Fire" map of that date (Plate V, vol. I), but they stood unfinished for years and were finally rented to the United States Army to be used as barracks and storehouses. [42]

While Chief Factor Douglas was making these somewhat grandiose plans, there remained children at Fort Vancouver who needed education. On September 10, 1844, Thomas Lowe noted in his journal that Mrs. Roberts, the British wife of Clerk George B. Roberts, had "consented" to open a school for the children of the post. She was to receive "about £5" per year for each pupil. Only ten scholars were enrolled at that time, and until more could be mustered the school was to be kept in Mrs. Roberts's "own house." [43]

In view of all this evidence to the contrary, it is difficult to make a case for the possibility that the general school for the mixed bloods and Indians continued to operate in the former "Chaplains' kitchen." Yet such, on a very reduced scale, may have been the case. The fact that a separate school for the offspring of the Company's "gentlemen" was established does not necessarily mean that all education ceased for the orphans, Indians, and the children of ordinary servants who could not have afforded £5 per pupil. As has been seen, the desire of the officers was to remove their own children from the school, not necessarily to end training for others.

It may be significant that the inventories of "articles in use" for 1844 and 1845 continued to carry the subheading "School Room" and that in addition to books and other learning aids, items of domestic occupation such as eating utensils were listed. On September 19, 1846, Thomas Lowe noted that Richard Covington, a civil engineer who had come out from England as a passenger on one of the Company's vessels "to see what he can do for himself," was then "engaged in giving lessons to the children of the Fort." [44] And, as has been seen, the Owyhee Church was carried on the inventory of 1846-47 as a "Schoolhouse."

The question of whether the school continued in existence without a break after 1843 might have been settled by James Douglas had he not omitted a crucial word from a letter he wrote from Fort Vancouver during 1849. "Our own school," he observed, "has dragged its slow length along for the last six and is not likely ever to come to any thing." [45] Did he mean to say six months or six years? Unfortunately, the answer may never be known.

In any case, the available evidence shows that while the school may never have completely "sunk into disuse's' after the final departure of Dr. McLoughlin from the fort, as the knowledgeable George Gibbs later stated, it certainly was at a low ebb for a number of years. Gibbs may have been at least partially correct when he said that the gentlemen at the post were chiefly concerned about the schooling of their own children and that McLoughlin "was the only one ever really interested in general education." [46]

Under the circumstances, it seems safe to assume that a certain amount of schooling for the children of the artisans and laborers continued in the Owyhee Church during Outfit 1845, the period of principal interest for this study. At least the old schoolroom seems to have still contained the books, the music board, tables, slate, and other appurtenances of instruction. [47]

Beginning in 1847, the prospects for education at Fort Vancouver appeared to be improving. By June of that year the "Vancouver School" was being conducted by both Mr. and Mrs. Covington, and after the "half yearly" examination held on June 1 it was stated that "rapid progress" had been made not only in scholastic subjects but also in deportment. That year the Company allocated funds to support a school, and plans were made to bring a teaching couple from England. [48] But the history of the school beyond 1846, interesting though it is, falls outside the scope of this report.

Owyhee Church. Natives of the Hawaiian Islands had visited the western coast of North America in the vessels of European and American explorers and fur traders during the late eighteenth century. But not until the arrival of the Astorians in 1811 were Hawaiians brought into the Columbia Basin as employees in the fur trade on a long-term basis. The Sandwich Islanders, generally termed "kanakas" or "Owyhees," quickly proved to be willing and useful workers, and the practice of importing them under contract was continued by the North West Company and, after 1821, by the Hudson's Bay Company. [49]

As Fort Vancouver developed into a major agricultural and manufacturing center, the need for laborers increased faster than could by met by the number of French Canadians transported across the mountains. Thus the number of workers brought in from Hawaii kept growing, and the largest concentration of them was at the Columbia depot. By 1842 Governor George Simpson had come to believe that "of Sandwich Islanders we have already too many in the Service," and he requested that no more be employed for the time being. [50] But McLoughlin, faced by a constant depletion of his labor force through retirements and deaths, did not feel that he could obey. In December 1843 he informed the London directors that he had "ordered" fifty more natives from the Islands. [51] During Outfit 1845 there were approximately 112 Hawaiians on the Fort Vancouver rolls. [52]

A substantial proportion of the Owyhees did not live in the immediate vicinity of the fort. They were scattered about on the several farms and dairies, and there was a respectable force quartered at the mills five or six miles up the river. But perhaps fifty or sixty of them--there seems to be no way to determine the exact number--resided in the village a short distance west and southwest of the stockade.

The life of the Owyhees, as indeed of all the laborers and voyageurs in the Columbia District, was hard. Their wages were low, and much of their income went to acquire clothing needed in a climate much colder than that to which they had been accustomed. Under the circumstances--few of them were able to bring wives with them from the Islands--it is not too surprising that, in the words of the Reverend Herbert Beaver, their "principles" were "quickly undermined by the inroads of surrounding corruption." [53] Nevertheless, the Kanakas were on the whole loyal and efficient employees. Only occasional desertions, a few incidents of stealing, and sporadic excesses, chiefly drinking sprees, revealed the underlying stresses.

As early as 1838 Chaplain Beaver suggested to the London directors that the "good behaviour" of the Sandwich Islanders might be promoted "by the introduction among them, with his wife, of one of their more than ordinarily respectable countrymen, who might act as a kind of overseer over them, and preside over their religious exercises, for which a small building, should be set apart." [54]

Because Beaver and Dr. McLoughlin were bitter enemies, the manager of the Columbia District perhaps would not have adopted this suggestion had he known its origin. [55] Yet in some manner still not entirely clear the idea was transmitted to McLoughlin--or perhaps he thought of it himself. At any rate, on July 1, 1844, he wrote to the Company's agents in Honolulu, requesting them "to search out a trusty educated Hawaiian of good character to read the scriptures and assemble his people for public worship." The man was to be sent to Fort Vancouver to serve as a teacher religious instructor, and interpreter, at a salary of £10 a year.

The person selected to fill this position was William R. Kaulehelehe, well known in Fort Vancouver history as "William's" or "Kanaka William." He was not an ordained minister--no Hawaiians had been ordained by that date though some had already been formally licensed to preach by the Protestant missionaries--but he was a man of good reputation. And, it should be noted, McLoughlin did not get him for £10 per annum--well below the prevailing scale for Hawaiian laborers--but placed him on the rolls as "teacher" at an annual salary of £40, a rate about equalling that for the top European craftsmen on the Columbia. [57]

Evidently William reached the depot before the end of 1844, be cause on January 9, 1845, James Douglas informed the Honolulu agents that the native teacher was satisfied with his situation and, except for his ignorance of English, was well qualified and seemed to exercise a "salutory influence" on the minds of his countrymen. [58] As shown by the name of the building on Vavasour' s map, the schoolhouse had been assigned to William's use by the fall of 1845.

Perhaps the Hawaiian teacher lived in the schoolhouse during the first several years after his arrival. At least such is a conclusion that possibly can be drawn from the words of a visitor of 1848. "The Catholic minister has a part of Mr. Ogden's house," wrote the Reverend George H. Atkinson. "The Kanaka or Hawaiian missionary has one in the rear." [59] If such was the case, however, he must have soon moved from it to a dwelling of his own in the nearby village, because when United States Army officers proposed to clear away company improvements west of the fort early in 1860, Clerk John M. Work protested that such action would force Kanaka William, "one of the Company's oldest and most faithful servants," out of the house he had occupied for more than ten years. [60] In view of the unsatisfactory evidence, it would seem best to leave undecided the question of where William Kaulehelehe lived during Outfit 1845.

If the use of the schoolhouse by the Hawaiians was confined to the holding of religious instruction on Sundays, the general school for the fort's children--if, indeed, it had not been discontinued--could have been conducted in the building during the remaining days of the week. In any case, it would seem that whether the school was discontinued or not, the physical layout and furnishings were not much disturbed by William's activities.

The utilization of the old schoolhouse as a Hawaiian church was relatively brief. Rufus Ingalls, U. S. Army quartermaster who arrived at Fort Vancouver during 1849, recalled that at about that time Kanaka William "preached in his own house, the house assigned to him belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company and about 75 yards east of the quartermaster's office [which was almost exactly 1/4 mile west of the fort]." Joseph Petrain, the depot baker, later testified that William preached inside the fort for two or three years. [62]

About 1851 or 1852 the old Owyhee Church building seems to have been vacated, being so dilapidated as to be considered unsafe. As has been seen, it was finally pulled down between 1855 and 1858.

William R. Kaulehelehe continued to be carried on the Company's rolls as a teacher at Fort Vancouver through Outfit 1859.63 After his home in the village was burned by the military authorities on March 20, 1860, William evidently moved into a house near the new Catholic Church. But no record of his fate after the Company abandoned Fort Vancouver on June 14, 1860, has yet been found. [64]

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Last Updated: 10-Apr-2003