Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Why I am Not a Fur Trader

I, Antoine Laclede, would have followed in the footsteps of my father, becoming myself a free trader after the treacherous Blackfeet Indians killed him, had it not been that my mother, with her arms around my neck, pleaded that I remain at home with her. Therefore, instead of carrying on my father's business as a lad of fifteen should have done, I strove to content myself at St. Louis, to the pleasure of my dear mother.

However much affection there might be between us, it remained that we must be supplied with food, and that my mother should have the things necessary for her comfort.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

But if I did not take up my father's business after he had lost, with his life, the store of furs which he had been eight months in gathering, as well as what remained of the goods he had carried into the wilderness for trading, then how could I rightly fill the position as head of the family, when all I had in this world were my two hands and the desire to make my mother happy?

We lived on a street near the old cathedral, and it may be that our small home was not the most pleasing to look upon of all the houses in St. Louis; but in it I was born. My father had built it, paying for every timber with furs he had gathered at risk of his life, and I would not have yielded it in exchange for the finest house in the land.

The evil days fell upon us, meaning my mother and me, very shortly after the news of my father's murder was brought to St. Louis, for we soon came to know that we had neither goods nor furs enough to keep us one full year.