By the time he got back to St. Mary’s in the summer it was evident to him that a lot more backing was needed. Funds would certainly help, but so would faith. And a faith not just from Catholics, but from all who wanted to see America succeed in the West.
A Thaw Sets In
Without them the small settlement would never have been built, and it’s a testament to their skill, faith, and dedication that things got done so quickly.
De Smet again set out for the Hudson’s Bay Company territory to the west, and left St. Mary’s by barge, reaching Fort Colville once again. There he had to wait for the river to thaw before continuing further, which he was finally able to do on May 30th.
Dr. John McLoughlin was waiting for him at Fort Vancouver, and the two reached a deal on supplying St. Mary’s. De Smet also met with two priests from the French-Canadian mission of St. Paul’s, Fathers Francis Norbert Blanchet and Modeste Demers, and discussed his vision for creating mission all across the northwest.
His business complete, De Smet left Fort Vancouver on June 30th by boat and proceeded to head to Fort Walla Walla which his group reached by mid-July. From there he sought a more direct overland route to St. Mary’s and headed from the Snake River across the desert near modern-day Spokane to Lake Coeur d’Alene. From there it was a direct path across the mountains back to the mission, which they reached on July 27th.
Concerning the Blackfeet
De Smet instructed Point to create a mission for the Coeur d’Alene Indians, something he had promised them, even though Point wanted to take the more risky route of converting the Blackfeet.
The two departed and De Smet continued on, meeting a large group of about 3,000 Crow Indians who were eager to hear his tales of God and the white man.
Eastward and Across the Sea
They reached the city on October 31st, 1842, and from there he began writing his letters to inform and inspire, sending them out to a major Philadelphia publisher who bundled them all into a large volume.
The letters caused quite a stir, and De Smet embarked on a whirlwind tour of all the major cities of the eastern United States, raising $5,000 in the process, all of which would be used for much-needed supplies for St. Mary’s. From there he headed back to Europe to gain more support for his dreams of creating Jesuit missions all across the Pacific Northwest.
De Smet’s main impetus for going to Europe was to meet with the pope. It was no surprise to anyone that the Protestants were beginning to make headway into the Oregon country. With the proper backing De Smet knew he could make his dreams of missions across the northwest come true. He received the support of the pope and of kings and returned to America more determined than ever to see his goals fulfilled.
Baumler, Ellen. Montana Moments: History on the Go. Montana Historical Society Press: Helena, 2010. p 125.
Carriker, Robert C. Father Peter John De Smet: Jesuit in the West. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1995. p 31-64.
“History of St. Mary’s.” Historic St. Mary’s Mission & Museum. Web. Retrieved 7 June 2013 from Stmarysmission.org: http://www.saintmarysmission.org/history.html
Malone, Michael Peter; Roeder, Richard B.; Lang, William L. Montana: A History of Two Centuries. The University of Washington Press, 1976. p 62-3.
McLynne, Frank. Wagons West: The Epic Story of America’s Overland Trails. Random House: London, 2002. p 58-78.
"Pierre Jean De Smet." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved June 07, 2013 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404701747.html
Toole, K. Ross. Montana: An Uncommon Land. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1959. p 57-61.