Posted by: wadahp | January 25, 2010


On November 20, 2009, the board of directors of the Frenchtown Historical Foundation and the board of trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation concluded an historic agreement to transfer the lower portion of the Frenchtown Historic Site lying along the Walla Walla River to tribal ownership.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Frenchtown foundation will continue to develop interpretive facilities on the upper portion of the site surrounding the Frenchtown cemetery, which it will retain. In addition, the CTUIR and the Frenchtown foundation will coordinate the administration of both the upper and lower portions of the site for the benefit of the public, utilizing the current Frenchtown Master Plan as a development and management guide. The agreed transfer provides that the land’s use be “forever devoted to protecting and enhancing the historical nature of the property.”
Both portions of the Frenchtown Historic Site have been planted to native grasses through the cooperative efforts of the two parties to the agreement.
The Frenchtown foundation is planning to establish trails, a parking area, and interpretive signage on the upper portion of the site, while the lower portion will continue as a natural area at present.Frenchtown neighbor Terry Bergevin has recently been elected to the board of directors of the Frenchtown foundation, which is in the process of seeking sufficient funding to be able to open the upper site to the public before the end of 2010. 

The Frenchtown Historical Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, to which contributions are tax-deductible. In addition to its capital campaign to fund interpretive facilities at Frenchtown, the foundation offers general memberships to fund management of the site.     

The present Frenchtown cemetery was established on what is now the Frenchtown Historic Site in 1876, along with the St. Rose of Lima Mission Church. The cemetery had previously been located along the Walla Walla River, but had to be moved that year due to flooding. The first European settlement at Frenchtown was in 1823-1824, when French Canadian employees of the Hudson Bay Company’s trading post at Wallula built cabins in the area with their Indian wives and Metis children a decade before the arrival of American missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. In 1855, the Frenchtown site was a central point in the Battle of Walla Walla between area tribes and Oregon volunteers, in which Chief Peopeomoxmox of the Walla Wallas was killed after being taken hostage under a flag of truce.    

The Frenchtown Historical Foundation has a website where more details on the history and preservation efforts at the Frenchtown site can be found. For more information, email, or call 509-522-0399 or 541-566-0360.         


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