Robert Newell

March 1807 - November 1869

Newell, Robert, mountain man, pioneer (Mar. 1807-Nov. 1869). Born in Butler County, Ohio, he went to St. Louis and in 1829 joined a Rocky Mountain trapping party. Somewhat educated and an intelligent man, Newell kept a kind of diary from 1836 until 1840; it has been twice published, describing in detail his part in the trapping and trading operations in the mountains from 1829 until he moved to Oregon. He was very active in the northern Rockies, trapped the Three Forks area, took part in the 1832 battle of Pierre's Hole, and associated with all of the great or notable figures in the mountains during his time there, including Bonneville, briefly. Newell returned to his Ohio home in the winter of 1835-1836, then served with Bent and St. Vrain, resumed Rocky Mountain trapping, and traded with the Crows for the American Fur Company for a year. He continued to trap and roam through the Blackfoot country, along the Snake River and the Columbia watershed through 1840. Late that year Newell guided an emigrant-missionary party to Walla Walla and Fort Vancouver, bringing the first wagons through and reaching the Willamette December 15. He settled in with his Nez Perce wife and five sons, first at the later Hillsboro, then near Champoeg, becoming a noted pioneer and holding public office; he was speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives for two sessions. He visited California in 1849-1850, then returned to Oregon. He went to Idaho during an 1862 mining rush, becoming Indian Agent at Lapwai. His first wife died and he had 11 children by his second wife, a white woman. After her death in 1867, he married a third time. Newell died at Lewiston, Idaho.


Bancroft, Washington, Idaho & Montana; Frances Fuller Victor, The River of the West. Hartford Conn., 1870.