Pillet or Payette?

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From "200 Years in the Making"
Highlighting Malheur, Payette, Washington, Owyhee and Baker County History in Idaho
Malheur Publishing Co. (Publishers of the Daily Argus Observer)
Bicentennial Edition, 1976, Page 1796

What's in a Name?

On September 6, 1810, John Jacob Astor's ship, The Tonquin set sail from New York for the mouth of the Columbia River. The purpose of her voyage was to establish a trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The passenger list, besides the four owners, including the port clerks, the trappers, voyageurs and the members of the crew.

One of the clerks listed was J. B. Pillet, a French Canadian by birth. (Adventures at Astoria by Gabriel Franchere, chapter 1, page 11). The author Franchere was also one of the port clerks listed. It is believed that he erred in his 1870 edition of this account. Pillet's name was Francois Benjamin Pillet, Mr. B. C. Payette of Montreal, editor of several documents and author of "The Northwest" is a great grandson of F. B. Pillet. It was Pillet's name, pronounced "Pi-YET" which mutated to the proper name Payette.

Francois Payette became very active in promoting the interests of Astor. Later Astor sold out or was forced out of business by the activities of the British in the war of 1812.

In 1826 Payette was with Peter Skeen Ogden on his expedition to the Snake River. Also in 1828 he was with this trader and explorer in his expedition to the Central Oregon area. This expedition traveled as far as Salt Lake in Utah and trapped along the Humboldt River in Nevada.

In 1838 we find Francois Payette as factor of the Hudson's Bay post of old Fort Boise at the mouth of the Boise River.

He retired from this post in 1844.

His grave is supposed to be on the bench above Washoe near Payette, Idaho.

(Researched and written by Horace Arment)

Editor's Note:

Later Arment discovered information in which B. C. Payette of Montreal, Canada states Franchere visited the elder Francois Payette at his home near Montreal where he lived until he passed away.

It is likely that the grave near Washoe is that of Louis Payette, Francois' son who continued to live in this valley after his famous father moved away.

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