Watch Logo   Portrayals . . .

People make history.  Some are well-known, even famous.  But my primary focus is to bring history to life through those who, although significant and well-known in their day, have essentially been forgotten today.  Their stories provide a special opportunity to present the past and interpret history from a different and usually a very unique perspective.

McLeod - HBC Chief Trader
The Rich and complex story of the Pacific Northwest is often poorly told; oversimplified and found lacking in telling the whole story it also continues the myth-making of history.  We all know the usual story -- Robert Gray entered the Columbia by ship, Lewis & Clark reached the Pacific by land, Astoria was founded and the Oregon Trail pioneers came west and settled the region.  The rest is history, so to speak, what else is there to know?  But, what about the men who sailed the Pacific coast before Robert Gray?  And, what happened after Astoria was abandoned by the Americans and before the American pioneers arrived?   This period from the 1810's to the 1840's are what could be called "Oregon's Lost Years!"  The years when the Hudson's Bay Company was king!  And . . . did anything happen that was important after the pioneers first arrived in the 1840's?  What about steamboats, stagecoaches, and railroads and the men that made them happen?  Therefore, I've chosen to portray those who lived during what could be called the "Century of Transition" in Pacific Northwest history.  Stretching from the 1790's to the 1890's it's the story of the people and events that transformed the region from a wilderness inhabitated by Indians to a landscape used and settled by Euro-Americans.  There are many historic "holes" to be filled in order to tell the whole story, and myth-busting is one of the outcomes.

Portraying characters is one of the most powerful ways to "interpret" history.  When people can connect in a personal way with the past it can become more meaningful, emotional and memorable.

HOW?  My preferred approach is not only personal, but also highly interactive with the visitor, audience members, and students. 

WHAT? There are three primary ways my characters are portrayed.

jerry and alWHERE? There are a variety of venues for my portrayals, and are customized to the unique location where they are done.  The meeting rooms of historic socieities, museums, librarys and other public and private buildings, banquet and conference halls and other inside locations; outside locations such as historic sites and parks and even unusual places such as on hiking trails and at a county fair!  Provided the venue offers the opportunity to present history and portray a character with integrity and give the public a quality experience, other venues can be explored as well.  And, portrayals done in geographic locations where the character had a real historic connection makes them even more special for those in attendance. 

newellwatchWHEN? Portrayals may happen at any time of the year, but doing them in conjunction with significantly historic dates for the person portrayed and anniversary of an event they were part of, make them even more special for those in attendance.

WHO? There is a wealth of characters to choose from with important connections to Pacific Northwest history ranging all the way up from the local and regional levels to the national and international as well.  Although  new characters are constantly being developed to meet the needs both of those I serve in a quality way -- it takes time to do the research, acquire the proper clothing and objects, and develop the story necessary to make them happen -- there are characters ready to go.  Let me introduce them to you . . .

Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Vancouver

McLeod - HBC Chief TraderMcLeod served under Dr. John McLoughlin, chief factor of the company's "Columbia Department" stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and from Spanish California to Russian Alaska.  He served as one of two chief traders at the time, the other being Peter Skene Ogden, and was involved in leading the first fur brigades to ever explore the central and southern Oregon coasts and down through the Siskiyou Mountains into California.  He also led a punitive expedition to the Clallum Indians all the way up into Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan De Fuca, and a recovery expedition with American mountain man Jedediah Smith.  In addition, he joined the men sent to originally build Fort Langley and also sailed up the coast of Vancouver Island to instruct the ship's captain in how to trade with the Indians.
Themes include Exploration and the early Fur Trade as told from the perspective of a British Chief Trader.

Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, Oregon City Trade Shop

ermatingerErmatinger not only served under, but also became a relative by marriage to, Dr. John McLoughlin, chief factor of the company's "Columbia Department" stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and from Spanish California to Russian Alaska.  He served as a clerk during the 1820's and was eventually promoted to chief trader status in the 1840's.  He had a long and varied career with "the honourable company" and his assignments led him on fur brigades, various outposts in the Pacific Northwest with various Indian wifes, and other adventures as far south as Monterey, California!  By 1845 he was living in a fine house in Oregon City in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company store there with his very young bride and his first white child, and had been elected treasurer of Oregon's provisional government!  He held his assignment in Oregon City since he got along so well with the Americans, especially at a time when President James Polk was threatening war with his "Fifty-four Forty or Fight" campaign slogan about The Oregon Question . . . Should the Oregon Country become British or American?  He was indeed, well-connected and knowledgeable about the many going-ons, both British and American while he served the fort in the 1840's.
Themes include the The Oregon Question and the later Fur Trade era as told from the perspective of a British Chief Trader.

Trapper, Farmer and Citizen of the Oregon Country, Willamette Valley

lucierLucier was a French Canadian voyaguer, trapper and trader who cames west as a member of Wilson-Price-Hunt expedition by land in 1811 to establish John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company outpost at the mouth of the Columbia River.  He was sent out from Fort Astoria to hunt for food in the Willamette Valley, and eventually decided to leave the employ of the company and become a "free trapper."  He returned to the Willamette Valley and trapped and traded with the Indians, obtained an Indian wife and soon started a family.  He often trapped with his good friend, Joseph Gervais, who had joined him on the original expedition west.  Lucier approached Dr. John McLoughlin in the 1820's about settling as a farmer in the Willamette Valley and was eventually given permission to do so, thereby becoming the first farmer in the most northern part of the Willamette Valley.  As time went on he and other French Canadians petitioned the Catholic Church to send them a priest and so helped to establish the church and Catholic mission at St. Paul.  He also became actively involved in the development of the Oregon Provisional Government, and according to one account, cast the crucial vote the day the vote was taken to establish the provisional government at Champoeg in 1843.
Themes include Exploration, French-Indian Relations and Culture, Settlement, and Provisional Government as told from the perspective of a French Canadian farmer.       

Promoter, Businessman and Public Servant of the Oregon Territory, Willamette Valley

newellwatchNewell was an American who started life in Ohio and became a mountain man.  Skilled at working with the Indians he rose from trapper to trader and leading small parties of men.  Since he also effectively attended to the medical needs of his colleagues, he recieved a nickname that stayed with him for life, "Doc" Newell. He had married a Nez Perce Indian women and soon started a family and continued in the fur trade until 1840 when he announced to some of his men, including Joe Meek, that the fur trade was dead and it was time to head west to settle in the Oregon Country, one of three men that led the first wagon train to Oregon.  Farming was not to his liking and eventually he became interested in establishing and promoting the townsite of Champoeg.  He served as one of the Indian agents, after the death of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and others, who were sent to discourage Indians in the east not to join forces with the Cayuse Indians.  He went south during the early days of the California Gold Rush and returned with enough capital to build a fine home and start a merchantile business.  He was involved in many projects during his time -- on the board of Oregon's first newspaper, shipping wheat and passengers on the upper Willamette River, and establishing a grist mill, among other endeavors.   A lot of his time and energy went into founding and serving in the Oregon Provisional Government.   His first wife died and he married again, with many more children to follow with "Rebecca Newell" (above).  A great flood which swept over the banks of the Willamette River in 1861 essentially wiped out the town and it never recovered.  Newell headed to Idaho in the 1860's and eventually served the Nez Perce Indians, traveling to "Washington City" to interpret for them to the administration of President Abraham Lincoln.  He lived out his days on a piece of land the Nez Perce had given him in present-day Idaho.
Themes inlcude the American Fur Trade, Settlement, Oregon Provisional Goverment, Indian Relations from the perspective of an American sympathetic to Indians.

Oregon Trail Leader, Businessman and Indian Agent of the Washington Territory, Puget Sound

simmonsSimmons came across the plains and mountians over the Oregon Trail with his family and neighbors, and serving as one of its leaders for a time recieved the title of "Colonel," which stayed with him when he eventually became one of the very first American settlers allowed to live north of the Columbia River.  Although he had wanted to settle in the Willamette Valley, he learned of "lash laws" that had recently been created by the Oregon Provisional Government to keep the heated, divisive and violent issue of slavery out of the Oregon Country.  Since one of his good friends, George Bush, a blackman, had traveled with Simmons and others to escape slavery-related problems in the mid-west, the decision was made to settle north of the Columbia.  However, as of 1845 the Oregon Question had not yet been decided and Doctor John McLoughlin was still "king" of the Oregon Country.  At first reluctant to let him and those with him travel north to settle on Puget Sound, McLoughlin soon found Simmons a very hard-working man and wrote him a letter of introduction to Dr. Tolmie, in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company's associated Fort Nisqually on Puget Sound to assist Simmons and his party in settling there.  Simmons proceeded not only developed the first flour and sawmill in the Puget Sound area, but also opened the first store at a place he called "New Market" (Tumwater, WA today) to create the first competition with the company's own store at Fort Nisqaully itself!  He later went on to open a store in the fledgling town of Olympia and also served the area for a time as its postmaster.  Seeking greater fortunes from the timber being shipped out of the sound, he relocated his family along Hammersley Inlet, building a house and a lumber mill there.  When Issac Stevens was appointed Governor of the newly created Washington Territory in 1853, Simmons was appointed as one of the primary Indian agents to work with Stevens and others in gaining the cooperation of the native tribes to sign Indian treaties and keeping the peace between the newly arrived white settlers and the Indians.
Themes include the development of the Washington Territory, American Settlement, Indian Relations, and the Slavery Issue from the perspective of an American sympathetic to the situation of his black friend.

Retired Clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company and Itinerant Artist
Spanish California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho Territories, and British Columbia

coin"Hutchinson" is an incredibly rich character to portray!  He's been around since the building of Fort Vancouver in 1825 -- when the Indians were still in control of the region -- to the establishment of its vast American states and territories and British Columbia.  He's served as a clerk at the Hudson's Bay Company store in Yerba Buena (San Francisco) and HBC Forts Umpqua, Vancouver, Nisqually and Langley!  He's met the likes of John McLoughlin, Peter Skene Ogden, and James Douglas; Issac Stevens,  Phil Sheridan, Ulysses Grant, David Douglas, Jedediah Smith, John Freemont -- the list goes on and on!  He 'd been swept up in various gold rushes in the region -- California in '49, Fraser River in '58 and Idaho City in '62!  He's been a participant in, and witnessed other great events, in the history of region as well!  The coming of the steamboats and stagecoaches, even the driving of the golden spike for the transcontinental railroad!  Upon his retirement from the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1850's he decided to follow the passion of his youth more seriously -- that of being an artist.  So he continued his travels to draw and sketch the grand landscapes, the portraits of the vanishing Indians, the newcomers -- miners, settlers and others, and their way of life in scenes and still lifes of their objects.  What an incredible life he had, what stories he can tell!  Born in Framlingham, England around the turn of the nineteenth century, his father was a fairly well-to-do merchant, and as a young child took a keen interest in drawing, at which he was quite skilled.  His father, realizing his son's passion sent him to art school in London at age 14 and after two years he went to Paris, France to further advance his training under the tutelage of a fine French painter.  After further training in Italy and Holland, he returned to London upon the death of his father.  He found it difficult to make a decent living as an artist, and with his small inheritance, decided to set out across the Atlantic to New York and travel north to work as a clerk for the Hudson's Bay Company.  Coming across Canada by the express route of voyaguers to Fort Vancouver he began his work at Fort Vancouver in 1825.  The rest, of course, is "his story," and he should rightly tell it himself. 

What a truly incredible life, what a perfect person to tell the story of the Pacific Northwest!  Did he keep a journal?  What a great primary source of historical documentation it would be!  And, his drawings, do they still exist? 
So, why hasn't anyone heard of this guy?  Well, you just did, and his life is constantly evolving.  You see, he's my first "composite character" -- a character created from the bits and pieces of history -- sort of like a fine "Frankenstein"-- a monster of history that can tell so many stories that he should be able to live forever as a great interpretive character!  Oh, and he plays the harmonica as well.
Themes?  You name it, he can pretty much do it!