★ Phoenix buttons
The Phoenix buttons were designed for use on Haitian military uniforms during the reign of Henry Christophe in 1811-1820. These buttons bore the image of a Phoenix bird, included regimental numbers, and were, made of good grade brass." By the time the buttons were ordered, made in England, and delivered to Haiti, Christophe was already dead. What happened to these buttons after Christophes death is not known until 1832, when they were purchased by Nathaniel Wyeth. Wyeth bought the buttons to add to his list of items for sale in the Columbia river area, where he hoped his business would successfully compete with the Hudsons Bay Company. It is still not fully documented how and when Phoenix Buttons ended up in California. Several historical and archaeological studies were conducted, which allowed us to draw up a probable chronology of events.
1. Phoenix buttons arriving at the Columbia river. (Финикс Баттонс прибывает на реку Колумбия)
Emory strongs final 1975 paper, "the riddle of the Phoenix button," expanded on his previous work on Phoenix buttons. Strong created the final analytical types of Phoenix buttons still used in research that classifies them into three types and two sizes. When strongs paper was written in 1975, the vast majority of Phoenix buttons were found along the Columbia river.
In the late 1990s, Roderick Sprague mapped a broader distribution of Phoenix buttons, noting two areas of Phoenix button distribution: along the Columbia river and throughout Alta California. Sprague noted that the Columbia River Phoenix buttons appear to stem from Wyeths efforts to compete with a well-established Hudsons Bay Company in this area. Wyeths ship, carrying most of his trade goods, was delayed by accidents in the Pacific” and did not arrive in the Columbia river until the fall of 1834, and it is therefore unlikely that the Phoenix Buttons could have arrived in the area earlier than that date. Wyeth left Columbia at the end of 1836 and at that time sold all of his operations West of the Rockies to the Hudsons Bay Company.
2. Phoenix Buttons in California. (Феникс Баттонс в Калифорнии)
Phoenix buttons have been found during archaeological excavations in California in several locations see the lost Adobe of the Santa Cruz mission for one example. How the Phoenix buttons got to California has not yet been documented. Given that Wyeth sold his stock to the Hudsons Bay Company in 1836, it is likely that the Phoenix buttons were part of the Hudsons Bay Companys trade with California.
One possible trade route was to trade furs with the native inhabitants of California through trapper companies. The Hudsons Bay company had groups of fur trappers in Northern and Central California throughout the 1830s and early 1840s, led for many years by Frenchman Michel Laframoise. Their southernmost camp, known as the French camp, was located near present-day Stockton. However, if the Hudson Bay Company issued these buttons to trappers for exchange with the natives of the Sacramento valley in Northern California, then the buttons must have been found in native habitats in that area. Nothing was found.
A more likely route is that the buttons were part of the Hudson Bay companys shipping trade with the San Francisco / Monterey Bay area, and then to other locations in the Mexican Republic zone. The Hudsons Bay company hired don Diego Forbes as its sales Manager in California from 1834 to 1841. Forbes owned a large ranch, where he engaged in farming and trading. The inventory of the Hudson Bay companys Phoenix buttons was most likely distributed by Forbes magazine.
Sprague maps from the 1990s cataloged where Phoenix buttons were found in California. He noted that the buttons were found on all mission and Pueblo sites, as well as on some ranches. The fact that Phoenix buttons were found on these sites suggests that Phoenix buttons were distributed through the Mexican Republican zone of California through internal trading systems. Phoenix buttons were also found at Fort Ross, Bodega Bay, and at Fort Sutters. These communities actively traded with missions in the Bay area.
Buttons have also been found in the San Joaquin valley in areas inhabited by indigenous people. Some scholars have suggested that Phoenix buttons may have been used to decorate mens clothing” " and were items associated with high-status social manifestations” among indigenous peoples. Many of the inhabitants of these villages were captured by Spanish missionaries. When they managed to escape, these people often returned to their native places, often bringing with them goods from the missions, perhaps even those Phoenix buttons.
3. The probable date of Phoenix Buttons arrival in California was 1837. (Вероятной датой прибытия Феникса Баттона в Калифорнию был 1837 год)
By studying the Hudsons Bay company freighters arriving and departing from the San Francisco Bay area after 1836, when Wyeth sold his stock to the Hudsons Bay Company, three possible dates of arrival of the Phoenix Buttons can be distinguished: January 1837, on the brig Lama, October 1837, on the schooner Cadborough, and August 1838, again on the schooner Cadborough. Given the time of bureaucratic inventory procedures by the Hudsons Bay Company, the most likely of these arrivals is the 1837 voyage of the schooner Cadborough, which left the Columbia river in September 1837 and arrived first in San Francisco and then in Monterey in October 1837.if Forbes was a commercial agent of the Hudsons Bay company,and assuming that trade went through his Rancho de Santa Clara, the earliest date for the arrival of buttons at various missionaries in the San Francisco Bay area would have been the winter of 1837-8 years. The probability of this date is confirmed by the discovery of a Phoenix button in a Petaluma Adobe in a buried trench for what appears to be a” hasty disposal of possibly contaminated items" infected with smallpox during the Miramonte epidemic of 1837-1839. It is likely that the buttons did not arrive in the Bay area of California until 1837 and no later than 1839.
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