The schooner was designed by former Hudson’s Bay Company carpenter Felix Hathaway, with the assistance of fur trapper, and former sailor, Joseph Gale. Their plan, which they executed perfectly, was to build the ship, sail it to California, trade her for cattle, and then drive the cattle overland back to Oregon.
Construction began in the fall of 1840 on the east side of Swan Island, which at the time was forested and relatively wild. After her May 19, 1841 launch the 53 foot 8 inch long schooner moved out to Oregon City for finishing touches, including sails and ropes.
In California, then part of Mexico, General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo bought the Star of Oregon for 350 head of cattle and renamed her the Jóven Fanita, after his daughter.