August 22, 1841

Sunday, 22nd. This morning a man (Mr. Brolaski) returned from the Fort, and said the reason why he came alone was the other men had left him, because he was unable to keep up with them; he having a pack horse laden with provision. He had seen the paper at the intersection of the trails, and was guided by it to the camp; the other were undoubtedly going the rounds of the triangle. Sure enough, they came up in the afternoon, having gone to the river and back; no pilot could be got at the Fort. The families that went into Oregon had disposed of their oxen at the fort and were going to descend the Columbia river with pack horses — they in exchange receive one horse for every ox. Their waggons they could not sell. They procured flour at 50 cents per pint, sugar same price, and other things in proportion. Near where we were camped here were a few hackberry trees.

Henry Brolaski was one of four men who had gone to Fort Hall seeking provisions and a guide. Fort Hall was located near Pocatello, Idaho, about fifty miles northwest of where the two groups parted ways. Built in 1834, Fort Hall served as a trading post on the Snake River for fur tappers, Native Americans, and travelers on the Oregon Trail. The fort was demolished in 1863, but the current replica stands as a memorial to Fort Hall’s heritage. The photos below are from my visit there in 2014.

Upon reaching California, Henry Brolaski spent a few years in Monterey. Before the Gold Rush he went to Peru, where he had a brother. By 1848 he was back in Missouri and planning to go to California, but whether he made or not is unknown. He is considered the first Polish-American to reach California.

Replica of Fort Hall

Hackberry trees bear small, sweet, edible fruit resembling cherries. Any fruit was welcome.

The lack of a pilot was not welcome news. The company badly needed a guide across the Great Basin, but there was none to be had. They were on their own. Cue the ominous music.

Interior of Fort Hall

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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