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As It Was: Jedediah Smith Defies Mexican Governor, Reaches Oregon

Many places in Northern California and Southern Oregon honor the name of early explorer Jedediah Smith, including two rivers and the popular Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  But to the Mexican governor of Alta California, Smith was an outlaw.

Gov. Jose Maria Echeandia had Jedediah Smith arrested twice when Smith and his traveling partners tried to make their way north through California, which belonged to Mexico at the time.

He was first arrested in 1826, accused of spying, and held with his companions for two weeks.  After turning over maps and journals, they were released and ordered to leave California by the same route they had entered.  The following year, Smith again tried to make the journey through Northern California. The Mexicans caught him in Monterey, ordering him never to return to the province.

Jedediah and his men headed inland, but turned north through the Sacramento Valley to the Pitt River in Shasta County before turning west toward the Pacific Coast, becoming the first documented group of Euro-Americans to travel by land from Northern California to Oregon.

Sources: Barbour, Barton H. Jedediah Smith: No Ordinary Mountain Man. Norman, OK, University of Oklahoma Press, 2011, https://books.google.com/books?id=O89PceOzUAoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 18 July 2017; Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 22 June 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedediah_Smith. Accessed 19 July 2017.

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.