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Donald MacKenzie
An introduction to Donald MacKenzie


 To   Donald MacKenzie   hereby appointed
a Member of Council and Chief Factor

By virtue of the Charter to us given by King Charles the Second by His Letters Patent under the Great Seal of England bearing date the Second day of May of the 22nd Year of his Reign. We do hereby appoint you  Donald MacKenzie  a Member of Council in our Territory of Ruperts Land, and likewise a Chief Factor, as well in our said Territory as in all other places where Trade is authorized to be carried on by the said Charter. You are therefore in virtue of this CommisSion to exercise all the Powers to perform and all the Duties which now or hereafter may be by Law exercised and performed by Councellors and Chief Factors. And We do hereby order all our Clerks and Servants strictly to obey such orders as you may think proper to give them And you are to observe and follow such orders from time to time as you shall receive from us the Governor, Deputy Governor and Committee of the Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudsons Bay, or our SuccesSors for the time being, and all orders issued by the Governor or his Council for the time being of the District or Department in which you may act.

Given under our common Seal at our House

In London this  twenty eighth  day of  March

One Thousand Eight Hundred &  twenty one

By Order of the Governor,
Deputy Governor and Committee

(Signature not legible, but appears to be W Smith)

The above was transcribed on February 21, 2005 from the original appointment document by Sprague Benjamin Mackenzie, great great grandson of Donald Mackenzie.  Good lighting and a magnifying glass were used to read the document.  The original is printed on a thin animal skin.  The document measures 12” left to right, and 10” top to bottom.  There is evidence of prior hand stitching on the upper left edge 2/3rd of its length and the lower left 2/3rd of its length, with pin holes spaced approximately 1/8th inch.  This document was folded into vertical thirds with the right side folded inwards and then the left side.  It was then folded into section, likely for Donald to carry in a wallet as evidence of his authority.  I’ve used the font “English 111 Vivace E” to present the text as close as possible to the original writing.  If your computer is not able to display it, you will need to acquire this font.  I’ve also placed the same text in Arial font below.
 

To   Donald MacKenzie   hereby appointed

a Member of Council and Chief Factor

By virtue of the Charter to us given by King Charles the

Second by His Letters Patent under the Great Seal of England bearing

date the Second day of May of the 22nd Year of his Reign. We do hereby

appoint you  Donald MacKenzie  a Member of Council in our

Territory of Ruperts Land, and likewise a Chief Factor, as well in our said

Territory as in all other places where Trade is authorized to be carried on by

the said Charter. You are therefore in virtue of this CommisSion to exercise

all the Powers to perform and all the Duties which now or hereafter may be

by Law exercised and performed by Councellors and Chief Factors. And

We do hereby order all our Clerks and Servants strictly to obey

such orders as you may think proper to give them And you are to observe and

follow such orders from time to time as you shall receive from us the Governor,

Deputy Governor and Committee of the Company of Adventurers of England

trading into Hudsons Bay, or our SuccesSors for the time being, and all orders

issued by the Governor or his Council for the time being of the District or

Department in which you may act.

Given under our common Seal at our House

In London this  twenty eighth  day of  March

One Thousand Eight Hundred &  twenty one

By Order of the Governor,

Deputy Governor and Committee

Note from an internet search, the following information was found at:

http://www.canadiana.org/hbc/images/intro_e.html

  1. Prince Rupert was the first Governor of Hudson’s Bay Company


Prince Rupert
First Governor of Hudson’s Bay Company
From the HBC Corporate Collection
 

2.       


Signing of the Charter by Charles II
On May 2nd, 1670

HBC’s 1915 calendar illustration
Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
Provincial Archives of Manitoba

To determine the definition of Chief Factor, the following was found at:

http://collections.ic.gc.ca/tod/adventure/f_nation/furtrade.htm

Chief Factor:

  • The senior officer at a fur-trading post, responsible for the daily management of the fort.

The Hudson's Bay Company prospered in the fur trade, primarily with the help of the First Nation's people. Year after year, the men of the company shipped the furs to England to make a profit. The company men were of two ranks: the officers and the servants. Officers were paid on a salary, and expected to make a career with the Hudson's Bay Company. Servants were generally paid by contract. The contract lasted for a period of five years. John Tod was an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company who did make a career out of working for the company, and was a salaried employee.

The most senior officer at a post was called the Chief Factor. The factor ran the fort on a daily basis based on orders from the Hudson's Bay Company. The factor was responsible for his post, and he alone was responsible for trading with the Indians, though the actual bartering for pelts was done by the Chief Trader, a position John Tod was commissioned for in 1834. The yearly trading event was a practised ritual. It began when the Indians came downstream with convoys of pelt-laden canoes at the end of the winter hunting season. These convoys arrived at a point above the trading post in June or July. Then, once collected, a mass of canoes made a grand entrance.

 Sweeping around the last bend in the river, the canoes were paddled up the river to the fort, their crews chanting, shouting and firing their muskets into the air to mark the celebration of the event. The waiting Hudson's Bay men raised their flag and fired off a round or two from their cannon to mark the end of another long, lonely winter, and to salute the Indians.

Having landed, the Indian captains responsible for trading made their way to the chief factor for a ceremony of greeting based on traditional ritual of the tribal council. The pipe ceremony began with the burning of sage or sweet grass to symbolize purification and cleansing. The ceremony itself was the passing of the peace pipe; smoking it symbolized divine friendship and trust among the First Nations.

 The chief factor would point the pipe in the four directions (North, West, South, and East), smoke the pipe, and then pass it to the chief Indian trading captain. The chief trading captain repeated the actions of the factor, then passed the pipe around the whole party, clockwise (the direction of the sun), with each man smoking in turn. During this time, no talking was initiated. Once the pipe was completely smoked, it was returned to the chief factor who then twirled the pipe four times above his head before placing it on the table. The Indians concluded the ceremony with a resounding Ho, meaning it is so. Then talking and trading could begin.

As a chief trader, John Tod would have dealt with the First Nations people on a one-to-one basis. Because of this method, trading took several days. A Hudson's Bay Company trader might have spent twenty years as a clerk at a post before making this position. It took John Tod twenty-three years of service with the company before he acquired this position. Each of the First Nations would present to John Tod their pelts to be checked for quality. Then he would wait until the Indian peered into the store and chose his barter goods, each item worth a set value in furs. For example, a musket required a dozen "made" beaver. Other items they would trade for included knives, hatchets, flints, files, kettles, cloth, beads and tobacco.

Annually, this is how the Hudson's Bay Company traded with the First Nations people.

From the following resource:

http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/arch/Prehist/Pre_Summ/SE_Snake/Historic.htm

Donald Mackenzie was assigned to head the newly created North West Company's interior department of the Columbia in June, 1816. An unusual leader, full of energy, and knowledgable of Indian societies, Mackenzie was to dominate the trade in the Snake River country in ensuing years. It was his expressed goal to expand North West Company fur trading operations up the Snake River drainage into what is now Idaho. Staging operations out of Fort George (Astoria), Mackenzie led fur brigades up the Snake River in 1816-1817 and up the lower Snake in 1817-1818. Fort Nez Perce, established in July, 1818, became the staging point for Mackenzies' Snake brigades. The expedition of 1818-1819 brought Mackenzie and a large brigade across the Blue Mountains, down the Snake River on to the Bear River, and to the headwaters of the Snake. On his return, he came back to the Boise, and described how rich the region was in furs. He was prompted to establish a navigable route up the Snake RIver from Fort Nez Perce to the Boise area in 1819. Mackenzie did succeed in ascending in a boat from the Columbia through the Grand Canyon of the Snake past Hells Canyon, though he concluded that land transport was probably safest.

Mackenzie held the first rendezvous in the region on the Boise River in 1819. William Kittson was dispatched up the Columbia with a large party and supplies to outfit the Snake country fur brigades. Kittson then hauled the Snake brigades furs back to Fort Nez Perce, and reported success of the expeditions at Fort George. Shoshone hostility, however, ruled out construction of the fur trading post Mackenzie envisioned on the Boise. Mackenzie spent the winter of 1819-1820 on the Little Lost River.

On April 6, 1821, the North West Company joined with the Hudson's Bay Company. Donald Mackenzie was appointed chief factor and left the Snake River country for the Red River in Canada. The furs of the Snake River country were never taken in quantity again, and it seems that the Hudson's Bay Company viewed the Columbia River and Snake RIver drainages of the Pacific Northwest largely as a buffer against Russian and American expansion. They intended to hold on to the Oregon country as long as possible and ensure continued control of the profitable New Caledonia or British Columbia trading area.

From the following resource.  An excerpt on Donald Mackenzie is below:

http://www.idahohistory.net/Reference Series/0444.doc

IDAHO STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

REFERENCE SERIES

IDAHO FUR TRADE

Donald Mackenzie--who started with the North West Company, then came to Idaho as a partner in John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, and finally returned to the North West Company to organize the Snake country fur trade--did more than anyone else to explore Idaho and to turn fur hunting into a successful venture.  Mackenzie came overland with Wilson Price Hunt=s expedition of Astorian trappers in 1811.  After failure of a disastrous attempt to bring canoes down Snake River from Fort Henry, he led the advance party of Astorians on a long hike to their operating base on the Pacific coast.  On the way he explored the Boise region and the rough country above Snake River canyon between Weiser and Lewiston.  Returning to the Clearwater, he built a winter camp among the Nez Perce near Lewiston in 1812.  After failure of the Pacific Fur Company and sale of Astoria to the North West Company in 1813, Mackenzie went east, where he finally began to promote the Snake country as a trapping region.  Particularly after John Reid=s short-lived post on Snake River near later Fort Boise was wiped out by Bannock Indians at the beginning of 1814, the Snake country had a bad reputation.  But in 1816, Mackenzie came back to expand North West Company operations into the Snake country, and by 1818 he had his Snake brigade operating from Boise to Bear Lake and the upper Snake in the Yellowstone Park region.  In the summer of 1819 he held a regular trappers= rendezvous (a supply system later used regularly by William H. Ashley and his successors in the Saint Louis based Rocky Mountain fur trade) in Boise Valley, and the next winter he based his brigade of fur hunters on Little Lost River.  There he managed to work out a peace agreement among the Northern Shoshoni, Bannock, and Nez Perce, in the interest of expanding the Snake country fur trade.  With consolidation of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, Mackenzie went on to other assignments of major importance in Canada.  But in 1822, Michel Bourdon led his Snake brigade to new country on the Salmon, and Finnan MacDonald took the trappers out in 1823.  After some unfortunate clashes with the Blackfeet, particularly in the Lemhi, MacDonald refused to hunt furs any longer in the Snake country.  But Alexander Ross led the Snake county trappers into more new country (exploring Upper Wood River, Stanley Basin, and the Upper Weiser) in 1824, and Mackenzie=s system continued until 1832, when the country was largely trapped out and fixed posts (Fort Hall and Fort Boise) soon supplanted the annual Snake expedition which had been out hunting beaver for fourteen seasons.

From the following web site:  http://mckenzie.orenews.com/history/dmckenzie.html

Donald McKenzie

From the History of Chautauqua County 1875

DONALD McKENZIE was among the most prominent citizens of Chautauqua County, New York. He became a citizen, not by the "accident of birth," but of his own choice, renouncing all other allegiance, he made this, Our Country, his; and on its altars swore fidelity to its constitution and laws, and ever kept that oath inviolate.

He was born in Scotland, June 16, 1783, and his ancestry was among the noblest in the kingdom. We have before us his lineage traced back through lairds, sirs, baronets, and earls, for many generations. The tombstone of a remote ancestor is yet standing, bearing an inscription in Gaelic or Irish characters, which, translated into English, is " Here lies Murdock McKenzie, son of the Baron of Kentail, who died on the twelfth of January, MCCCLXXXI, (1381.)

In March, 1801, before he had attained his majority, Donald McKenzie left his Scottish home and went to Canada, where he had relatives living, and was there engaged for eight years in the fur trade with the North-west Fur Company. In 1809, he became one of John Jacob Astor's partners in the fur trade he was then establishing at the mouth of the Columbia river, on the Pacific.

Mr. McKenzie, Wilson P. Hunt and party took the overland route from St. Louis to that point, where Mr. McKenzie remained until after the war with England in 1812, and the treacherous surrender of the post by McDougall. By his influence everything possible was saved to the Company and converted into money. Having obtained, through his Canadian relatives, a pass through the then hostile territory of Canada, he conveyed his treasures safely through the long and savage wilderness, and by way of Canada to New York, and delivered them in person to Mr. Astor. After this he exerted himself to secure for the United States the exclusive trade of Oregon and the territories bordering on the Pacific; but after a long negotiation, through Mr. Astor, with Madison, Gallatin, etc., it was abandoned.

In March, 1821, he joined the Hudson's Bay Company, and was appointed one of the council and chief factor, and had his headquarters at Fort Garry, in the Red river settlement Here, on the 18th of August, 1825, he married Adelgonda Humbert Droz, whose father, Alphonso Humbert Droz, had lately arrived in the settlement with his family, from the canton Berne in Switzerland, specially commended to the friendly offices of Count Selkirk, the principal personage of the settlement. Soon after his marriage, Mr. McKenzie was appointed governor of the Hudson's Bay Company by the British crown, and retained that position until he left Fort Garry in 1832. In 1833, he came to Mayville, New York, where he lived until his death, on the 20th of January, 1851. His widow and a large family of children survive him.

Though revered and honored by all whose esteem was desirable, yet envy, like death, "loves a shining mark;" and out of the transactions at the mouth of the Columbia, he was assailed by a few who charged him with infidelity to Mr. Astor's interest. But Mr. Astor's letters to him show that he retained Mr. Astor's undiminished confidence. Sir Alexander Ross, in his published works, and also in his private letters to the widow of Mr. McKenzie, nobly and effectually vindicates his good name, fidelity, and honor. Mr. McKenzie's intellect was of a high order, his perception clear, his conclusions just; and he was seldom mistaken in his judgment of men or things. His life was a continued romance, full of startling adventures, bold deeds, deadly perils, and narrow escapes, the narration of which would fill volumes, and greatly exceed our allotted sphere.

Mr. McKenzie had 6 sons and 7 daughters, all living, except a daughter, who died in childhood.

S. Ben Mackenzie’s comments:

I've transcribed the Donald Mackenzie appointment document into this Microsoft Word document, along with some items I found on the internet pertinent to things mentioned in that document .... and includes a photo which I took of the document.

This document had been missing for the last 40+ years.  It had been allegedly stolen from my great uncle's home following the death of him and his wife.  My uncle John Mackenzie (of Mayville, NY) had told me (around 1975) that my great uncle (Donald Mackenzie, grandson of Donald and younger brother to my grandfather) had a several letters and documents, which had disappeared from Donald's home following the death of Donald (1956) and his wife Laura Wise (1959).  Uncle John indicated to me he suspected that Laura's brother had stolen the documents form the home following his sister's death, but he had no way to prove it.

Shortly after my Uncle John told me about the above, I was at the museum at Westfield, NY (7 miles from Mayville).  There are paintings of Donald and his wife Adelgonde, and an un-named daughter in the museum.  During the visit, there was a woman employee of the museum who we talked with.  She mentioned the name of the fellow who had the letters, and it was the same name as my uncle told me, and that he had been doing some carpentry or handyman work there at the museum (same occupation as previously described by my Uncle John), and had told this woman that he had Donald Mackenzie's documents, and had sold them to an antique dealer in Westfield, only a few streets from the museum.  She then expressed concern for what she shared with me, and to not say anything about her telling me for fear of retribution by that person who had sold the documents to the antique dealer.

I then left the museum and went to the home of that antique dealer.  My wife and two sons waited in the car.  The house was an old 2 story home, with a front porch.  I went on the porch and knocked on the door.  An adult, retarded son of the antique dealer answered the door.  I introduced myself as Ben Mackenzie, and that I had heard that his father had some old Mackenzie documents.  He responded that they were there, and "Would you like to see them?"  I responded with a yes.  While I remained on the porch, he went to the back of the house, out of view from me.  Shortly, his mother came to the door.  She was an older woman, and with a very negative tone of voice stated that they do not have any such documents and knows nothing about them.

I felt at the time that she was lying, and I did not know what to do or respond.  I left, and got back into the car, and we drove on back to Ohio.  Hindsight suggests that I should have gone straight to the police department, but I did not think to do that at the time.

After another approximately 30 years, the above document surfaced in Westfield.  I was contacted via e-mail by Jack Ericson, Curator – Special Collections, Fredonia College – New York:

  Hold your breath.  I have Donald's parchment appointment to the Council of the HBC.  It is 10" X 12", folded up in pocketbook size and well used.  The seal of the HBC is gone from the document.  It is dated March 1821. I just purchased it for $200 from a local antiques shop.  I was amazed it turned up and instantly bought it knowing you might well want it to go along with the pistols.  So if you want it, I only want to be reimbursed the $200 I paid for it.  Otherwise I will keep it here, or eventually donate it to the Chaut. Co. Hist. Soc.

It is a neat document, I think the text printed on the sheepskin, and filled in with his name, date, etc.  But he must have carried it in his wallet because it is folded and chrinkled.  There is no practical way to flatten these documents   Anyway I was thrilled to find it.  Let me know what you think.  Jack

When Jack was a child, he lived across the street from my grandparents, and knew them.  During his career he’s accrued over 900 pages of information on Donald Mackenzie, which he has placed in the Special Collections Library at Fredonia College.  I am so very grateful to him that he’s been on the look out for information on Donald throughout the U.S. and Canada, and acquired copies of data, and stored them in a file at the college.

I phoned Jack and found that he located this document with the daughter of the above mentioned antique dealer, who had died some time ago.  She found this folded up document in a closet, and after discovering the Donald Mackenzie name on it, contacted Jack also of Westfield, who then contacted me.  I asked Jack about the other documents that should have existed together at one time 40 years ago.  Jack stated he felt that those documents are long gone.

My uncle John never described what those documents are.  My speculation is that they may have included correspondence with people like Daniel Webster and William Seward.  Daniel Webster came to Donald’s home in Mayville for a few days to discuss where the border should be placed between the U.S. and Canada, west of the Great Lakes.  I have a pewter water pitcher given to me by my grandmother Mackenzie.  She knew a couple of Donald’s children.  One (Jamima) lived to be 99 years old.  My grandmother indicated that this water pitcher was on the table during the discussions between Donald and Daniel Webster.  In the community of Mayville, it was a legend that Donald had told William Seward about Alaska, and that the U.S. should purchase it, and that ultimately happened.  Seward had lived in Westfield, only a few miles from Donald.  When Alaska became a state in 1953, a photo of Donald’s home was on the front page of the Mayville Sentinel newspaper with the title of the article being “The Birth of Alaska Started Here.”

These missing papers exist somewhere.  I want to mention their existence, and hopefully they may appear someday.  It would be good if they could make there way to be located and stored properly in a museum where they could be seen by others interested in these documents.

Sprague Benjamin Mackenzie
February 22, 2005

The documents and details of Donald Mackenzie (shown above) were sent to Clan MacKenzie by Ben Mackenzie, one of his descendants, and are copied for the benefit of researchers looking into the life of this remarkable man. Donald Mackenzie was sometimes known as “King of the Northwest” and a book entitled Donald MacKenzie “King of the Northwest” was published in 1937 by Donald’s grandson, Cecil W. Mackenzie. This book, long out of print, was reprinted by the Clan MacKenzie Society in Canada and can be purchased by referring to the Catalogue reproduced on the website www.electricscotland.com/mackenzie .


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