Peter Delore

Peter Delore

Shaver, F. A., Arthur P. Rose, R. F. Steele, and A. E. Adams, compilers. "An Illustrated History of Central Oregon." ("Embracing Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler, Crook, Lake, & Klamath Counties") Spokane, WA: Western Historical Publishing Co., 1905. p. 776.


was born on January 1, 1821, where LaGrande, Oregon, now stands. He now lives sixteen miles north from Suplee and follows farming. He is a venerable man who has had some of the most thrilling experiences possible on the frontier and is well known not only in Crook county but in various other parts of the northwest. He is highly esteemed both for his personal worth and as a pioneer and it is a pleasure on our part to be enabled to give somewhat in detail an account of his life. His father, Joseph Delore, was born in Montreal, Canada, and when yet a young man entered the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company as a hunter and a trapper. He came right on to the west and there were no white people anywhere in this country except the very few connected with this company. His business being hunting and trapping he was forced to adopt the customs and habits of the Indians and lived as they lived. During the time he was trapping he married a Spokane maiden; the daughter of a noted chief in that tribe, and she accompanied him on all his journeys and was a faithful helpmeet to him during his life. Finally during the early forties, he, with several other French people, settled on the prairie in the Willamette valley, now known as French prairie, and they did the first farming in Oregon. Mr. Delore secured an old plowshare and supplied the other parts of wood and with that instrument did the first plowing in the state of Oregon. This was on French prairie in the Willamette valley. He wed there at the old place in the valley when he was ninety-seven years of age. Much of the time in his early connections with the Hudson's Bay Company, Mr. Delore lived on meat entirely, with what berries the family could gather. Occasionally they would get a little flour, two or three times a year and after that they were allowed the generous stipend of one sack of flour in a year. The marriage ceremony of Mr. Delore and the Indian maiden named was cerebrated according to the custom of her tribe but upon the arrival of Catholic priests in the Willamette valley; they performed the ceremony according to the church. Her name was Lizzett, which was given by the French people, the Indian name not being remembered. Our subject was born on the trail while they were on a trapping expedition and spent his entire early life on these trips. He early learned the art of hunting and trapping but had no schooling as there were no schools in the country. Later he learned from instructions privately but never had the advantage of school training now supplied to the youth. On many, many occasions, they were attacked by hostile Indians and were forced to fight vigorously for their existence. About the hardest battle that Mr. Delore remembers participating in those days, occurred on the head waters of the Missouri. In his father's company were about forty Frenchmen besides their wives and children, and twelve lodges of friendly Flathead Indians. The American Fur Trading Company, through jealousy of the Hudson's Bay people, inveigled the Blackfeet Indians to attack the employes of the latter company. The battle commenced at daybreak and our subject's father with his compatriots and all they could muster, fought vigorously against the overpowering numbers of the enemy. During the battle, the elder Delore was shot through the breast, the bullet coming out through his shoulder blades. He was assisted back to his lodge, where Peter, then a young lad, was awaiting him. Immediately upon coming to the lodge the elder Delore instructed his son to bring a sharp knife so that in case the Blackfeet gained the day, he would be prepared for them. While he was thus obeying his father's instructions, the bullets began to pass through the lodge and young Peter was instructed by his father to lie down flat on the ground and place a camp kettle over his head. Thus they remained until the battle was over, the French people gaining the day and slaughtering the Blackfeet greatly. Among the killed was the Blackfeet chief. The Hudson's Bay people lost four of their number and two of the friendly Flathead Indians. Our subject continued with his father, spending the entire time in hunting and trapping. As his mother spoke the Spokane language, he became very familiar with it and from his father learned the French thoroughly. Also he learned to speak the language of every, Indian tribe in the northwest so that he could easily converse with them. Not until the white people began to come in from the east, did young Delore learn the English. Finally his father decided to abandon this roving and dangerous life and settled on the prairie now known as French Prairie, as stated previously.

Our subject well remembers the first Catholic priests to come in. They needed some assistance to erect their church and he was detailed by his father to haul the logs. After completing the job the priests paid him in gold coin. He supposed they were buttons and wrapped them up in his handkerchief and brought them home. His father asked him if he had finished the job and was paid. He replied that he had completed the job and the priests gave him some buttons. His father at once asked for the buttons and upon examining them remarked very emphatically, to his son, always bring such buttons home to me. As his father and mother were forced to do, so our subject lived upon meat and berries, occasionally upon Christmas and New Year, getting a taste of flour. Yet they were seldom sick, being vigorous and hearty. For years they had no salt-and Peter well remembers when he first saw his Lather put salt on his meat. He supposed it was good to eat and put a handful in his mouth but found he had no taste for such food. He remembers the first peas that he saw and thought they were beads and was afraid to eat them. For dishes they would hollow out the quaking asp chip. For spoons, they used pieces of buffalo horn. After our subject grew to manhood, he took a donation claim in the Willamette valley near his father but it was contested on the ground that he had Indian blood in him and it was taken away from him. Not being discouraged however, he went to oak grove and settled on and improved another piece of land. He was the first person to settle on and improve land at Oak Grove. In the early eighties, he came east of the mountains and settled in the eastern part of what is now Crook county. He gave his attention to stock raising and farming and now owns two fine farms. He was engaged in all the early Indian wars and was especially active with General Crook against the Paiutes, being a scout for that personage. Mr. Delore has passed a long and eventful career and from the wildness of the uninhabited country he has seen the change to the prosperous and thrifty condition at the present time. He has done well his part in bringing it all about and has also won the esteem and confidence of all who know him.

Submitted to the Oregon Bios. Project in February 2009 by Diana Smith. Submitter has no additional information about the person(s) or family mentioned above.