Friday, April 13, 2007

The Whitman Mission

Cranes nesting near the Whitman Mission in Walla Walla, Washington.

Home, sweet home! My back is happy to be in my own bed again. Those hotel beds, I swear, were made of concrete. Not comfy at all. The first night out, Darling thought I should be sleeping with her. Apparently, she didn't think the beds were that comfortable, either, as she ended up sleeping on top of me half the night. Playing pillow wasn't what I'd signed up for.

On our trip home, we stopped in Walla Walla where we visited the Whitman Mission. Such a tragic tale! The Whitman's honeymoon was spent travelling to the west. Narcissa was the first white woman to cross the country; becoming pregnant on the way and giving birth to the first white child in the Oregon Territory.

That child was Alice Clarissa, who wandered away from the dinner table down to the river one afternoon. There'd been several guests, and when the Whitman's realized she wasn't there, they frantically went in search of her, only to find two cups floating in the river where she'd gone for water. A Cayuse Indian found her down river and brought the body back to the Whitmans. The Cayuse had been quite enamored with the little girl, as she was born larger than their children and had blond curls. It was the only natural child that Narcissa and Marcus ever had, although they did adopt the Sager children later on.

The Missionary Board wanted to close the missions in the Oregon Territory, but Marcus made a formal protest and was able to keep them open. The Whitmans realized that the Cayuse were not willing to learn the gospel, but they also knew that the flood of emigrants would change the way of life they were leading. Marcus taught them how to plant and irrigate, and how to operate a grist mill so they could grind flour.

The new settlers brought disease. The Cayuse hold the medicine man responsible if he cannot cure them. They saw that Marcus was able to help the whites, but not their own people. They felt he was purposely trying to kill them, not realizing it was a natural immunity that the settlers had. Eventually, they killed the Whitmans and eleven other settlers.

On the day of the massacre, Narcissa pulled her dying husband into the mission, where she was shot. They drug her body outside and shot her eleven more times.

Layout of the mission, marking where both Whitman's died.

The Great Grave, where Narcissa and Marcus, plus eleven others, are buried.

This is a graveyard that was used by the settlers near the mission. Only two headstones remain; it is unknown how many bodies are buried here.

Sisters buried on the mission site in the settlers graveyard.

Whitman Memorial sits up above the Walla Walla Valley.

When the Cayuse burnt the mission to the ground, they left one structure. It was the grist mill. None of the structures are left today, but the foundations have been clearly marked. If you're ever near the Walla Walla, Washington area, I highly recommend visiting the memorial.


Dixie said...

Wow, what a story. I love that kind of stuff.

Beautiful photos!

Vicki said...

Terrific telling of a sad story. History needs not to be forgotten.

Lady Of Chaos said...

What a story. I love history, I think that there are many many stories like this that very never documented and that's a sad thing to have happen.

I hear you have other pics as well. I can't wait to see them. I see a road trip in my future...

Sarah said...

Sounds like a very interesting trip!

Kahshe Cottager said...

Beautiful pictures and such a moving reminder of days past.

I am glad you enjoyed your trip however, I do think CB could have brought the roan home instead of the souvenir from the roadside!

Yellow Mama said...

Tragic tale.

RoseMary said...

I have read about the Whitman Mission before but didn't realize there was a memorial there. Such a sad tale as were many back in the 'good old days'.
It's always good to be back home and in your own bed, no matter how much you enjoyed being away.

CountryGoalie said...

This is a bit off-topic to the blog post, but I figured it was better to comment here than on an older, relevant post, where you might not be as apt to see it.

Anyway, I stumbled across your blog from HT, where you mentioned going to the Burns corral, and I've dug back a couple of pages into your archives. I noticed that you referenced one of your ewes as an Icelandic. Is all of your flock Icelandic?

I'm just curious, as Icelandic sheep are the critters I am most interested in adding to our little homestead after I get back from college. (Well, I'd like to start sooner, but the parentals aren't so keen on the idea of animals that require milking in my absence. Not that I blame them.)

So, if you do have Icelandics.. and you wouldn't mind sharing some first-person testimonial about their traits (both good and bad, of course) with me, I'd love to talk to you about them.

Whichever is most convenient for you when you have a spare moment (I know those can be few and far-between), you can catch me at HT (CountryGoalie is my username there as well), on my blog, or email me at TheSaltyScot (at) aol (dot) com.

Thanks muchly!

Beach Girl said...

I knew that story but have never seen pictures. Yours are beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing that history with us.