Gustavus Sohon was born in Tilsit, Germany on December 10, 1825. After emigrating to America, he enlisted as a private in the United States Army at the age of 26. He was ordered West for service on the Pacific Coast. A gifted linguist (he spoke English, French, and German), Sohon quickly learned the Salishan languages of the Flathead and Pend d’Oreille Indians. He also made drawings of the country and important landmarks while working on expeditions. At the request of Washington Governor Stevens, Sohon was transferred to his command. Stevens had been very impressed with Sohon’s work. On later expeditions Sohon worked as map maker and barometrical observer as well as sketcher and interpreter.