Michel Laframboise

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Michel Laframboise
BornMay 11, 1793
DiedJanuary 25, 1865(1865-01-25) (aged 71)
Champoeg, Oregon, United States
Occupationfur trapper, farmer
Spouse(s)Émilie Picard

Michel Laframboise (May 11, 1793 – January 25, 1865) was a French Canadian fur trader in the Oregon Country that settled on the French Prairie in the modern U.S. state of Oregon. A native of Quebec, he worked for the Pacific Fur Company, the North West Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company before he later became a farmer and ferry operator. In 1843 he participated in the Champoeg Meetings, which though he voted against the measure to form a provisional government, the measure passed and led to the creation of the Provisional Government of Oregon.

Early life[edit]

Jean Baptiste Eugene Laframboise was born on May 11, 1793, in Varennes, Quebec, Canada along the Saint Lawrence River.[1] His parents were Michel Laframboise and Josephe Monjau, with Jean Baptiste adopting his father’s first name.[1] He was hired by John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company in 1810 and sailed from New York City aboard the Tonquin.[2]

Fur trader[edit]

Laframboise and the rest of the crew and passengers arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1811 where they established Fort Astoria.[1][3] He had been hired as a voyageur,[3] but with the sale of the post to the North West Company (NWC) he became an interpreter for that company in 1813.[2] In 1821, the NWC was merged into the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and he stayed on as an interpreter and as a postmaster in their Columbia District.[2][3]

During his employment with the HBC, Laframboise participated and often lead many expeditions through the southern Oregon Country to Mexican-owned Alta California.[2][3] He served as interpreter for Alexander Roderick McLeod in party that visited the Umpqua River Valley and then California.[2] Lambramboise was on site to aid the establishment of Fort Umpqua along with McLeod. During successive years expeditions he led often went to French Camp near modern Stockton, California.[4]

While working for the HBC out of Fort Vancouver, he received permission to settle some land on the French Prairie in 1831.[2] However, Laframboise stayed with the company and helped restore the health of Hall J. Kelley when he arrived at the fort in 1834 with Ewing Young.[2] Young’s party had been attacked on their way through Southern Oregon in the Rogue River Valley by the Rogue River Indians.[5] These Native Americans were retaliating against whites after an expedition led by Laframboise killed eleven Natives earlier that year.[5] These series of killings lasted for decades and eventually led to the Rogue River Wars in the 1850s.[5] Meanwhile, Laframboise continued to lead expeditions south, occasionally independent of the HBC.[2]

French Prairie[edit]

In 1839, he married Emile Picard,[3] a Native American from the Umpqua region.[2] The couple had several children before and after the marriage, settling on the French Prairie in the Willamette Valley of present-day Oregon around 1841.[2][3] That year he also worked as Charles Wilkes guide in the Oregon Country when Wilkes was leading the United States Exploring Expedition.[2] Laframboise then built a home and barn on 100 acres (0.40 km2) along the Willamette River just north of Champoeg.[3] There he also had a mill and 200 horses.[3]

Laframboise took part in the Champoeg Meetings in 1843 where he voted against forming a settler government.[2] However, the majority of settlers voted in favor and established the Provisional Government of Oregon.[6] By 1852 he had settled a Donation Land Claim north of his original property and was operating a ferry across the Willamette River to Champoeg, connecting to the Champoeg-Salem Road.[3] He had a stroke in the early 1860s and then sold off his assets.[3] Michel Laframboise died on January 25, 1865, at the age of 71.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Mount Shasta Annotated Bibliography: Chapter 8 Early Exploration: American Trade & Migration, 1828-49. Archived 2010-04-17 at the Wayback Machine College of the Siskiyous Library. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1989. p. 139.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chapman, J. S. (1993). French prairie ceramics: the Harriet D. Munnick archaeological collection, circa 1820-1860 : a catalog and Northwest comparative guide. Anthropology northwest, no. 8. Corvallis, Or: Dept. of Anthropology, Oregon State University. p. 11.
  4. ^ Friedman, Ralph (1990). In Search of Western Oregon. Caxton Press. p. 221. ISBN 0-87004-332-3.
  5. ^ a b c Schwartz, E. A. 1997. The Rogue River Indian War and its Aftermath, 1850-1980. Norman, Okla: University of Oklahoma Press. p.21.
  6. ^ Corning, p. 206.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hafen, LeRoy R. 1893. The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West. Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1968. pp. 145–170.

External links[edit]