potato history

William N. Wise - February 1996
The Library of Congress
Dictionary of Oregon History F874.C6 Corning pp 202-203

Potatoes - The first recorded planting of potatoes in the Oregon Country was made by the crew of the ship 'Ruby' (qv) under Captain Bishop, on an island in the Columbia River, near Cape Disappointment in 1795. At Fort Astoria (qv) twelve shriveled potatoes, all that remained of a supply brought from New York by the Astor ship 'Tonquin' (qv) were planted in May 1811; these produced 190 potatoes the first season and permitted the sending of a few plants to inland traders. In 1812 fifty to sixty hills planted at the fort produced five bushels; in 1813 two bushels planted produced fifty bushels. At Fort Vancouver (qv) 1,300 bushels of potatoes were produced in 1835. From the time farming first began at Fort Astoria until enough wheat was raised to support the inhabitants, potatoes were the main substitute for bread. Indian chieftains, to whom a few of the tubers were given, failed to see any advantage in what they termed "Boston Root" over their own popular Wapato root, and did not go in for potato cultivation except in a desultory way. With pioneer settlement, potatoes became a generally increased crop and a staple of diet. In the Willamette Valley, in the 1880's, their extensive cultivation brought fame to John Dimick as the "potato king" (CGHO, II:680.81.)