Edward Chambreau (1821-1902), adventurer and gambler, was born in France, migrated to Canada with his family in 1825, and in 1846 enlisted with the U.S. Army at St. Louis. From 1853 through 1875 Chambreau moved between Portland, Tygh Valley and Vancouver, running saloons, gambling parlors, general stores and a restaurant.
In 1875 Chambreau converted to Christianity, sold his saloon and gave up gambling. He became a scout for the U.S. government and traveled between Oregon, Washington and Idaho in 1877. In 1880 he surveyed the conditions of nine Northwest Indian nations. The Edward Chambreau Collection contains letters, manuscripts of his autobiography, diaries, articles written by him and General O.O. Howard, and his military reports. These materials are not originals, but are rather photocopies and typescripts. Chambreau’s autobiography is unique in that it has not been sanitized or edited; it paints a vivid, lurid and fascinating picture of frontier life.
The collection is a valuable source for details on the activities of the Hudson Bay Company, early American/Indian relationships in Oregon and the strategies and techniques of bushwhacking, bar-fighting and card cheating.
Call number: Coll 056
Guide to the Edward Chambreau Collection