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Dr. John McLoughlin

This is a plain and simple narrative of the life of Dr. John McLoughlin, and of his noble career in the early history of Oregon. The writing of it is a labor of love on my part, for I am Oregon-born. A number of my near relatives came to Oregon overland in the immigrations of 1843, 1845, and 1846. My father and mother came overland in 1846. The one great theme of the Oregon pioneers was and still is Dr. McLoughlin and his humanity. I came so to know of him that I could almost believe I had known him personally.

He, the father of Oregon, died September third, 1857, yet his memory is as much respected as though his death were of recent occurrence. In Oregon he will never be forgotten. He is known in Oregon by tradition as well as by history. His deeds are a part of the folk-lore of Oregon. His life is an essential part of the early, the heroic days of early Oregon. I know of him from the conversations of pioneers, who loved him, and from the numerous heart-felt expressions at the annual meetings of the Oregon pioneers, beginning with their first meeting. For years I have been collecting and reading books on early Oregon and the Pacific Northwest Coast. I am familiar with many letters and rare documents in the possession of the Oregon Historical Society relating to events in the time of the settlement of Oregon, and containing frequent references to Dr. McLoughlin.

October sixth, 1905, was set apart as McLoughlin Day by the Lewis and Clark Exposition, at Portland, Oregon. I had the honor to be selected to deliver the address on that occasion. In writing that address I was obliged to familiarize myself with exact knowledge of dates and other important circumstances connected with the life and times of Dr. McLoughlin. In writing it, although I endeavored to be concise, the story grew until it went beyond the proper length for an address, and so I condensed it for oral delivery on McLoughlin Day.

Since that time I have largely rewritten it, and, while not changing the style essentially, I have added to it so that it has become a short history. For the benefit of those interested in Dr. John McLoughlin and the history of early Oregon, I have added notes and many documents. The latter show some of the sources from which I have drawn, but only some of them. They are necessary to a thorough understanding, particularly, as to the causes of his tribulations, and of what is due to him as a great humanitarian, and of his great services in the upbuilding of Oregon.

I have been kindly assisted by men and women still living who knew him personally, by those who gladly bear witness to what he was and what he did, and by those who have studied his life and times as a matter of historical interest.

The full history of the life of Dr. John McLoughlin will be written in the future. Such a history will have all the interest of a great romance. It begins in happiness and ends in martyrdom. It is so remarkable that one unacquainted with the facts might doubt if some of these matters I have set forth could be true. Unfortunately they are true.

Frederick V. Holman
Portland, Oregon, January, 1907.

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