Biographical Note

Scope and Content

General Notes

Terms of Access

Terms of Use

Acquisition Info

Inventory   [ + ]

Subject Terms


Guide to the John Work Papers



Manuscript Collection No.: 4981
Accession No.: 4981-001
Creator: Work, John, 1792-1861, creator
Title: John Work papers
Date Span: 1823-1862
Quantity: .43 cu. ft. (1 box)
Languages: Collection materials are in English.




Biographical Note

John Work was born c. 1792 in Ireland to parents Henry and Letitia Wark. His last name, Wark, was later anglicized to Work when he began his career with Hudson’s Bay Company. He had five siblings, including Senator David Work and Joseph Wark.

Work appears not to have had an adequate early education; however, he nevertheless was hired as a writer for the Hudson’s Bay Company on June 15, 1814, at Stromness in the Orkney Islands. After serving in five different positions along Hudson Bay, in July 1823 he was assigned to the Columbia District. It was on this trip from York Factory to the Columbia District that Work kept the first in a series of journals that documented all of his expeditions from July 1823 to October 1835. During his first trade season in the Columbia District, Work and Finan McDonald extended trade into the Flathead country in Montana before traveling to the district’s headquarters at Fort George (Astoria, Oregon). Throughout his career with Hudson’s Bay Company, Work continued to travel on a number of trading expeditions, including ones to eastern Idaho, northwestern Utah, Nevada, Mexican California, northern Vancouver Island, and along the Columbia River. He also supervised the construction of many trading posts, including Fort Colville and Fort Simpson. Fort Simpson served as his permanent residence from 1836 until 1846, during which time he worked as the field manager of the fort. In 1849, Work settled his family at Fort Victoria.

Although Work had been urged to marry the daughter of a chief of the Cayuse Indians in order to secure the company’s protection along the Columbia River, Work instead married a mixed-blood Spokane woman named Josette Legacé. She often accompanied Work on his travels. The couple had eleven children: Jane, Sarah, Letitia, Margaret, Mary, John, Catherine, Josette, Henry, David, and Cecilia. Several of his daughters eventually married men who featured prominently in the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In August 1852, Work purchased farmland along the northern boundary of Fort Victoria, where he built a mansion he named Hillside. Work died at Hillside on December 22, 1861.

Scope and Content

Typescript copies of journals and outgoing correspondence relative to Work's career as an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company at various company settlements including Fort Vancouver, Fort Colville, Spokane House, Fort Nisqually, and Fort Victoria.

General Notes

The journals and correspondence in this collection are typescript copies of original documents at the Provincial Archives in Victoria, B.C. All journals have edit marks by T. C. Elliott and were published in Washington Historical Quarterly.

Terms of Access

Open to all users.

Terms of Use

Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info

Purchased from C. B. B. in 1919. One of the journals was a gift of E. S. Meany, Jr., August 1937.


Inventory

  
Box/FolderDate
Journals
1/1Journal of John WorkJuly 1823-November 1824
Scope and Content: From York Factory to Spokane House, 1823. Between Spokane House and Ft. George, 1824. Athabaska Pass. Spokane House, Fort Flathead. Fort Nez Perce, Fort George. Columbia River. Personnel: Peter Skene Ogden, John Work, Alex Ross, William Kittson, Finan MacDonald, Jas. Birnie, J. McMillan, John McLoughlin, George Simpson, and others.
1/1Journal of an Expedition of the Hudson's Bay Company northward from Fort George (Astoria) on the Columbia River to the Fraser RiverNovember and December 1824
Scope and Content: Localities: Astoria; Columbia River; Bakers Bay; Shoalwater or Willapa Harbor; Grays Harbor; Chehalis River; Black River & Lake; Budd Inlet or Eld Inlet; Puget Sound the channels, bays, islands, rivers of Eastern shore; Puget Sound Indian tribes; Boundary Bay; Nikomeckl River; Point Roberts; Fraser River. Personnel: Jas. McMillan; Thomas McKay; T. N. Annamour; John Work; Michael Laframbois; 35 servants composed of French Canadians, Iroquois Indians, Sandwich Islanders, 1 Englishman, 1 American; and 1 Iroquois free-hunter and his slave.
½Copy of Journal of John Work21 June 1825-12 June 1826
Scope and Content: Work was sent from Fort Vancouver in charge of the Spokane outfit--the entire brigade being in charge of McLeod. The journal covers affairs both among the Spokanes and the Flathead trading posts, and return to Vancouver.
½Copy of Journal of John Work5 July 1826-15 September 1826
Scope and Content: Fur trading expedition from Fort Vancouver, up the Walla Walla River, across country via Spokane House to Fort Colville, and from there into the Flathead and Pend d'Oreill country, and back to Fort Colville. Includes the early days at new Fort Colville.
1/3Copy of Journal of John Work20 May 1828-15 August 1828
Scope and Content: Journey from Fort Colville to Fort Okanogan.
1/3Copy of Journal of John Work17 August 1832-2 April 1833
Scope and Content: Fur trading expedition from Fort Vancouver to and through the Snake River country, over the mountains into California, to the vicinity of the Spanish missions.
1/4Copy of Journal of John Work3 April 1833-31 October 1833
Scope and Content: Continuation of record of the expedition from the vicinity of the Spanish missions north to Fort Vancouver via the Willamette Valley.
1/4Copy of Journal of John Work22 May 1834-10 July 1834
Scope and Content: Expedition down the Willamette Valley to the Umpqua River and return.
1/5Copy of Journal of John Work11 December 1834-30 June 1835
Scope and Content: Fur trading expedition from Fort Vancouver to the Northwest Coast, on the Llama
1/5Copy of Journal of John Work, in charge at Fort Simpson during its constructionJuly-October 1835
Scope and Content: Gives account of the coasting fur trade at Fort Simpson, and the voyage to Vancouver, with stops on the way down at intermediate forts.

  
Box/FolderDate
Outgoing Correspondence
1/6Tolmie, William F.30 March 1848
1/6Barclay, Archibald20 February 1850
1/6Tolmie, William F.24 December 1851
1/6Tolmie, William F.29 March 1852
1/6Tolmie, William F.28 August 1854
1/6Huggins15 November 1855
1/6Sinclair2 November 1857
1/6Huggins17 July 18[??]
1/7Copies of letters of John Work to Edward Ermatinger2 January 1828-8 August 1856
Scope and Content: Letters are marked from Fort Colville, Fort Flathead, Fort Vancouver, the Columbia River, Fort Simpson, the Northwest Coast, the Steamer Beaver, Fort Nisqually, and Fort Victoria.

Subject Terms

Personal Names:
Work, John, 1792-1861--Archives.
Organizations:
Hudson's Bay Company, creator.
Geographic Names:
Fort Colvile (Wash. : Trading post)
Fort Nisqually (DuPont, Wash.)
Fort Nisqually (Tacoma, Wash.)
Fort Spokane (Spokane County, Wash.)
Fort Vancouver (Wash.)
Fort Victoria (B.C.)
Subjects:
Trading posts--Washington (State)
Personal Papers/Corporate Records
Pioneers
Washington (State)
Last modified: March 1, 2016
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