History of Oregon (Bancroft)/Volume 1/Chapter 5

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CHAPTER V.

COMING OF THE PRESBYTERIANS

1834–1836.

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions—Parker and Whitman Sent to Choose Mission Sites—Whitman Returns East for Teachers—Parker's Adventures—His Favorable Opinion of the Indians—Their Desire for Teachers and Religious Observances—Parker Selects a Site at Waiilatpu—Religious Services Established at Fort Vancouver—Parker Returns Home—Whitman and Spalding and their Wives—Their Overland Journey—Whitman's Wagon Route—Stuart and Pilcher—The Welcome at Fort Vancouver—Return of Gray for More Teachers—Later Missionaries, Walker, Eels, and Smith.

IT is not to be supposed that of all the Protestant denominations the Methodists alone responded to the demand of the Flatheads for teachers. The farewell meeting of the church in Forsyth street, which blessed the departure of Jason and Daniel Lee for the almost unknown wilds of Oregon, was attended by pastors of other religious creeds, notably the Presbyterians, whose sympathy led them to take part in the addresses on this occasion.[1] But the Presbyterian church, more careful and conservative, did not plunge into an unknown country and work as did their Methodist brethren. In a history of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, published in 1840, appears a mention that the Dutch Reformed church of Ithaca, New York, resolved to sustain a mission to the Indians west of the Rocky Mountains, under the direction of the board. Rev. Samuel Parker, Rev. John Dunbar, and Samuel Allis were accordingly appointed to explore the country for a mission site. They left Ithaca in May 1834, arriving at St Louis too late to join the annual caravan of the American Fur Company, as they had intended. Parker returned home, while Dunbar and Allis remained in the region of the Missouri, and in the autumn joined a band of the Grande Pawnees and Pawnee Loups, travelled with them, and endeavored to teach them sacred things. In the following spring Parker repeated his effort, and this time with success.

The Rev. Samuel Parker of Ithaca was a minister no longer young, of good education and manners, rather precise in address, but of intelligence, close observation, and sincere devotion, shown at the call of duty in leaving the comforts of home and polite usage which his nicety of taste and habits made more than usually dear. He seems to have impressed people generally as a specimen of the studious, sedentary preacher, whose solemnity of deportment was by no means as acceptable as the overflowing spirits of the circuit-riders with whom they were more familiar, and which to common minds obscured his real courage and singleness of heart. On the 14th of March, 1835, Parker left his pleasant home for Oregon. His route was from Ithaca to Buffalo, Pittsburg, Wheeling, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St Louis, staying with pious families when convenient, distributing tracts, and holding religious services in the ladies' cabin of the steamers, to the dissatisfaction of irreligious passengers. He reached St Louis by the 4th of April, where he found awaiting him Marcus Whitman, M. D., whom the board had appointed his associate.

Dr Whitman was altogether a different person, younger, being then thirty-two years of age, outspoken, with easy manners and a bonhomie which recommended him to western men; yet prompt, energetic, determined, and helpful as he was brave; not careful of appearances, quick to take upon himself the work for which others were too weak, scorning that refinement which unfitted him for any necessary task and ready to endure the severest privations. His appearance was an index to the vigor of his character, a spare, sinewy frame, strong features, deep blue eyes, and hair already iron-gray, a man made for responsibility, for overcoming obstacles and equally by his great energy and kindness fitted to be the leader of a new mission. He was from Rushville New York, and had reached St Louis by way of central Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, several days in advance of Parker.

As it was not possible to travel through the Indian country, even with a guide, except in parties of considerable size, the two missionaries must seek an escort. Fontenelle, a trader of the American Fur Company, was preparing to set out for the Rocky Mountains with sixty men and a caravan of pack-animals and wagons loaded with Indian goods. He courteously offered his protection, and they at once took steamer for Liberty, Missouri, the frontier town from which the caravan was to start. Here as they were delayed three weeks until the preparations for the long march was completed, Parker occupied himself in visiting a small Mormon settlement near by, and riding to Cantonment Leavenworth, "twenty miles out of the United States," where he preached three times on Sunday to the garrison.

On the 15th of May the caravan left Liberty tor Council Bluffs, Parker making note that this was his last day's lodging with a civilized family for a long time to come, but declaring shortly afterward that he preferred sleeping out of doors to lodging in untidy houses—an opinion most well-bred persons will share with him. His fastidiousness in this and other matters, however, was the jest of his less refined travelling companions. It was not until the 22nd of June that the final start was made from the trading post of Bellevue, on the west side of the Missouri, a few miles below the present city of Omaha, the delay giving Parker an opportunity of visiting Allis and Dunbar, the missionaries to the Pawnees,[2] and of studying the tribes in the vicinity, in whom he took much interest. While at Bellevue the cholera broke out among the men, three of whom died almost immediately. Doctor Whitman, with characteristic kindness, devoted himself to the care of the sufferers, and the disease was arrested by removing the sick from the riverside to the higher prairie, after which no new cases appeared. Besides winning the gratitude of the men whose lives he had saved, and of Fontenelle, whose company was kept from breaking up, the doctor's reputation was established among the Rocky Mountain hunters and trappers, to whom the fame of his skill and goodness was spread by the newcomers at the summer rendezvous.

The journey was marked only by the usual incidents of travel across the plains: the early morning start; the long march before breakfast, which with supper constituted the only meals; the frequent thunder-storms, in which everybody became drenched and chilled; crossing rivers in a wagon-bed for a boat, made water-tight by a covering of undressed skins;[3] the occasional visits of Indians, with now and then a buffalo chase or a rare accident. The Black Hills were reached by the 26th of July, and Fontenelle remained at Fort Laramie, a post of the American Fur Company, while Fitzpatrick, another partner, took charge of the caravan to the rendezvous.

On approaching Laramie, an exhibition of mountain manners rather tried the nerve of Parker, who, leaving the road with a single attendant to examine a singular elevation called Chimney Rock, about three miles from the caravan, was alarmed by a company of mounted men, seemingly natives, riding full tilt in his direction. Fontenelle, at the hurried flight of Parker, hastened to his relief with a squad of armed men; but when the wild cavalcade came near enough for recognition, they proved to be a party of trappers, dressed in Indian finery, coming out to welcome the St Louis partner with the year's supplies. Then all was merriment, questionings, and mutual rejoicings.

On the 1st of August, the wagons being left at Fort Laramie, which Parker called the Fort of the Black Hills, and the goods all packed upon mules, the caravan resumed its journey to the rendezvous on Green River, where it arrived on the 12th, and where Parker remained until the 21st, waiting for an escort to pursue his explorations westward. While at the rendezvous Dr Whitman gave surgical and medical aid to a number of persons, among other operations extracting an iron arrow three inches long from the back of Captain Bridger, who afterward built Fort Bridger on the Black branch of Green River, and an arrow from the shoulder of a hunter who had carried it in his flesh for more than two years. The exhibition of his skill excited the wonder of the Flatheads and Nez Percés there present, and roused their desires to have teachers come among them who could do so much to relieve suffering.[4]

The evident anxiety of the natives to secure the benefits of the white man's superior knowledge, through the instrumentality of "a man near to God," as they called Parker, led to a consultation between the missionaries upon the propriety of bringing out teachers without delay. With his usual impetuosity, Whitman proposed to return with the caravan to St Louis, obtain assistants, and join the same escort to the mountains the next spring. To this Parker readily consented, having confidence that God would go with and protect him as surely without as in the company of his associate.[5] The Flatheads and Nez Percés offered to escort him to the Columbia River.

According to the new plan of operations, Parker on the 21st joined the company of Captain Bridger, consisting of about sixty men who were going eight days' journey upon the same route as the savages, to Pierre Hole, an extensive mountain valley on the head waters of the Snake River. Here the company of Bridger took a course toward the Blackfoot country, the main body of natives and their guest travelling north-west in the direction of Salmon River. Becoming better acquainted as they proceeded, Parker taught them the commandments, which he found they readily understood and obeyed; and further than this, they gave up their polygamous practices, and went back to their first wives, whom they had put away.

In all respects Parker found himself treated with the utmost kindness and consideration by his escort, and so far was he from fear, that he rejected an invitation by letter from Wyeth's agent at Fort Hall, Mr Baker, to pass the winter with him, preferring to proceed to Fort Vancouver at once. No better opportunity could offer of studying the character and customs of the people he desired to christianize than he at present enjoyed; though somewhat misleading, the savages were in their best mood, and displayed their best behavior. But the hardships of the journey, with the sudden changes of temperature in the mountains, cost Parker an illness, the serious consequences of which he averted by free use of the lancet and medicines. One cannot but feel an interest in the elderly clergyman, accustomed to the order and comfort of his family, in a land of plenty and peace, now left alone with a few wandering bands of Indians, starving one day and feasting the next, watchful for an encounter with the dreaded Blackfoot hunters on their common buffalo-grounds, and startled frequently by false alarms.

On the 18th, anxious to reach some post of the Hudson's Bay Company, Parker took ten Nez Percés and went forward, making twice the distance in a day that could be made with the main body, and pushing on over the rough and precipitous Salmon River and Kooskooskie ranges, reached the Nez Percé country on the 28th, his health rapidly improving as he emerged from the "wild, cold mountains," as he pathetically styled them. The Nez Percés received their friends and their reverend guest with the usual noisy demonstrations, firing salutes, and feasting them with dried salmon. On the following day the journey was continued to the confluence of the Kooskooskie with Lewis River, whence, after crossing the former river, the little party hastened, by a well-worn trail, to Fort Walla Walla.


On reaching this post, the 6th of October, Parker was kindly received by Pambrun, the agent in charge, who set before him roasted duck, bread, butter, milk, and sugar, spread upon a table, with a chair to sit upon, unwonted luxuries which excited the warmest thanks. Here Parker rested for two days only, but long enough to note the difference between the conduct of the servants of the British fur company and the boisterous and reckless behavior of the American hunters and trappers in the mountains. Instead of boasting of the number of Indians they had killed, as the latter often did in his presence, he found the British company commendably kind in their treatment of the Indians, whose friendship they strove to gain, and whom they sometimes even instructed in religion and morality.[6]

On the 8th, three muscular Walla Wallas, with a canoe furnished with provisions by Pambrun, took the hopeful traveller in charge for a voyage to Fort Vancouver. The first day's experience of the Columbia rapids so alarmed him that he begged the natives to put him ashore, but he yielded to their assurance that there was no danger. He visited the Cayuse tribe on the south side of the river, and some savages, whom he called Nez Percés, on the north bank. The Cayuses were curious to know what had brought a white man who was not a trader amongst them; and being told that he had come to instruct them how to worship God, they gave him a salute, as the Nez Percés had done, every man, woman, and child shaking hands with him, and expressing their satisfaction. Not being able to converse freely, and having no interpreter, he promised to meet them in the spring at Walla Walla, and bade them farewell.

Arriving at the Dalles on the 12th, the Walla Wallas were dismissed. Here he met Captain Wyeth, on his way to Fort Hall, who furnished him a short vocabulary of Chinook words for the necessary business of a traveller among the natives below the Dalles. After this he engaged a canoe and crew of Wascos, and again set out with a few strange savages. Being near the middle of October, the season of storms was at hand, as he was informed by the strong south wind which obliged him to encamp. On the second and third days from the Dalles it rained, and the portage at the cascades compelled a toilsome walk of several miles.

About noon of the 16th, he was surprised by seeing on the north bank of the river two white men and a yoke of oxen drawing logs for sawing, and soon after a large mill, around which were piles of lumber and a group of cottages. Cheered with the sight, he landed, and was offered a breakfast of pease and fish by the Orkney laborers. Reëmbarking, he landed at Fort Vancouver at two o'clock in the afternoon, and was welcomed by McLoughlin, who invited him to take up his residence in the fort as long as suited his convenience, an invitation most gratefully accepted; "and never," says the explorer, weary with more than six months travel "did I feel more joyful to set my feet on shore."

After a single night's rest, the May Dacre being about to sail for the Sandwich Islands, Parker determined to avail himself of the opportunity of visiting the mouth of the river and the sea-coast before winter set in. Going down the river, he had frequent opportunities of studying the character of the natives who inhabited the shores, as they often came on board to trade,[7] and he soon discovered the difference between those and the mountain tribes, the latter loading the stranger with favors, while the others never ceased begging for them. Nevertheless he summed up his observations of natives by declaring that in his opinion the character of unabused and uncontaminated Indians would not suffer by comparison with any other nation that can be named; the only material difference between man and man being that produced by the knowledge and practice of the Christian religion.[8]

Returning in an express canoe from the mouth of the Columbia, where several days had been spent examining the coast, Mr Parker went into winter quarters at Fort Vancouver October 30th, having half of a new house assigned him, well furnished, with all the attendance he could wish, with books and horses at command, "and in addition to all these and still more valuable, the society of gentlemen, enlightened, polished, and sociable."

Late in November, the weather being pleasant, Parker set out for an exploration of the Willamette Valley, having for a guide Étienne Lucier, and being provided by McLoughlin with provisions and conveniences for the journey. He went to Champoeg by canoe, and thence on horseback to the Methodist Mission, making observations upon the country and its advantages for settlement. At the Mission he was joined by Jason Lee, who accompanied him several miles south, showing him the excellence of the soil, grass, and timber, and the pleasing variety of wood and prairie in that part of the Willamette Valley.

On his return journey to Fort Vancouver he preached at Champoeg, to a congregation of nearly all the inhabitants, and visited Mr Edwards, who was then teaching a school at this place. A call at Fort William, and return to Fort Vancouver on the 2nd of December, finished his explorations west of the Cascade Mountains.


During Parker's stay at Fort Vancouver, he received a visit from the chief of a village at the Cascades, who wished to talk with him about the white man's God. This chief appeared intelligent and serious, putting questions to his teacher which it would have troubled him to answer, had the darkness of the Indian mind, the barrenness of the Indian language, and Parker's ignorance of it been less than they were. He wished Mr Parker to instruct his children, both in material and spiritual matters, and was grieved when it was explained to him that the man had not come as a teacher. "How many sleeps," asked the chief," before teachers can come?" "A great number," was the reply. "Will it be moons?" "Yes, at least two snows." With a sorrowful countenance the chief arose and departed.

About the middle of February some natives from the Dalles visited Fort Vancouver, asking to be present at the usual Sunday services, conducting themselves soberly, and taking part in the exercises. Having prayed with them, Parker tried to convey to these people some idea of the principles of Christianity. When he had concluded, the head chief desired to be heard. He told Parker that he had many times prayed to the great spirit without finding his heart better, but rather worse. He had before listened to the teachings of a white man, who had told him to observe the sabbath by raising a flag which he gave him, on that day, by praying, singing, and dancing around the flag-staff; and that he observed these instructions for a long time without benefit. He wished to know if it was right. On being told that it was all right but the dancing, he promised to give that up, and to teach his people the right way. Parker told this benighted being, who humbly acknowledged his ignorance, that he needed a teacher but did not promise him one, though he felt like weeping over him; nor did he propose to send him one, having learned very early in his experience that an Indian cannot discriminate between a proposal and a promise.[9] A month afterward a party of the same natives visited Fort Vancouver, and related that since they had left off dancing on the sabbath their prayers had been answered; that when they were hungry and prayed for deer their hunting was successful. They again appealed, unsuccessfully, for a teacher.

Winter over, on the 14th of April Parker bade farewell to the inmates of Fort Vancouver with a lively sense of the obligations under which they had placed him. They had even declined to accept any return for Indian goods, or interpreter's services furnished him on his several excisions, where according to custom payment was made to his native crew in shirts and blankets. His design was to go back to the Nez Percés, to whom he felt bound by their services of the previous year, and by his promises made to them at that time. To the Cayuses, also, he had given his word to return and meet them in the spring at Fort Walla Walla. Further, his intention was to explore the country as far as possible in the region of the Upper Columbia with reference to mission stations, and then to return to Green River to meet Whitman and his associates.

Embarking in a canoe belonging to a chief from the Dalles, he set out with a chance company of Indians, half-breeds, and white men, on the second day out meeting with Captain Wyeth returning from his fort on Snake River, with whom he exchanged a few words as their canoes passed. At the Dalles horses were hired from the natives to take him above the narrows, where was a bateau which conveyed him to Walla Walla, where he arrived on the 26th, finding a number of Nez Percés and Cayuses awaiting him. He remained two weeks instructing them, being treated with such kindness as to inspire a hope that their disposition to learn was more than the mere love of novelty. The only opposition to his teachings was made by a Cayuse chief, who would not accept the doctrine of monogamous marriage with the readiness of the Nez Percés, declaring he would not part with any of his wives, but as he was old and had always lived in sin, it was too late for him to change his practices, and he preferred to go to the place of burning.

On the 9th of May Parker set out on his return to the rendezvous at Green River, in company with several Nez Percés, spending a night at an encampment of this tribe, and witnessing the burial of a child,[10] at the head of whose grave the Indians prepared to place a cross, when he interrupted them, and broke the symbol in pieces, telling them that they should place a stone instead, to which they readily consented.[11] Parker excuses himself for this by saying that the Indians were more likely to make the cross a stepping-stone to idolatry than to understand its spiritual significance; not appearing to perceive that he was dealing with savages who were already imbued with the principles of the Roman Catholic religion.[12]

After travelling several days to the Kooskooskie River, Parker, dreading the terrible Salmon River Mountains, where he narrowly escaped death the year before tried to persuade the Nez Percés to take the Grande Ronde and Snake River route usually travelled by the Hudson's Bay Company's parties. As the Indians however, preferred the Salmon River route, which avoided the hostile Blackfoot warriors, he changed his design, and after sending letters by the Indians to Dr Whitman to be forwarded to the United States, he turned back to the Columbia River, determined to take the sea route home.

No longer lacking for time, he decided to make further explorations for mission stations, and noted with favor the upper part of the Walla Walla Valley as a site for an establishment, the only objection to it, in his mind, being that it was not central for the Nez Percés, Cayuses, and Walla Wallas, to whom he had promised a mission. "How easily," he says, "might the plough go through these valleys, and what rich and abundant harvests might be gathered by the hand of industry. But even now the spontaneous growth of these vast plains, including millions of acres, yields in such profusion, that not the fiftieth part becomes the food of organic life."[13]

A mission located in this valley he believed would draw to itself a settlement of the Indians, who would cultivate the soil, while at the same time they were taught sacred things. Accordingly, he selected for a mission station a spot on the north bank of the Walla Walla River, near the mouth of a small stream now known as Mill Creek, where there was a small valley covered luxuriantly with rye grass, from which the Indians called it Waiilatpa, or Waiilatpu.[14] It was not the most cheerful of sites for a homestead, being surrounded almost entirely by high rolling hills covered with coarse bunch-grass; but it furnished water and wood, and presented a certain picturesqueness which its very isolation enhanced. It was but twenty-two miles from Fort Walla Walla, which was by no means an unimportant recommendation to a solitary white family.[15]

At the time Parker made his selection of Waiilatpu he was alone, except so far as he was surrounded by Indians, who overtook him and his Nez Percé guide, and continued with him out of curiosity or interest. To these he undoubtedly communicated his intention of founding a mission at this spot, and probably obtained their sanction, as they were eager to have a mission established among them. There is nothing, however, in his account of his journey, which indicates that he offered the Cayuses, whose country it was, anything in payment for the land, or that the subject was discussed. On the contrary, having no interpreter with him, he mentions a difficulty in communicating with the Indians; and there is no evidence that at this time the Cayuses set any value on land required for an individual farm. It seems to have been taken for granted that there was to be a mission for the benefit of the Indians, and not of the missionaries.[16]

Returning to Walla Walla, Parker made arrangements for a tour up the north branch of the Columbia to Fort Colville, the most northern post of the Hudson's Bay Company on that river, in the course of which he expected to meet other tribes than those he had seen, and to gain much interesting information.

Parker's Travels.png

Parker's Travels.

In this design he was encouraged by Pambrun, who procured for him Indian guides, and chose two French voyageurs to be his assistants, one of whom spoke the English language, though imperfectly. In order to see more of the country and the natives, it was decided to travel with horses, rather than by boat in going up the river, and to pass by way of the Spokane country, leading the great bend of the Columbia a long distance to the left.

The 23d of May being fixed upon for beginning his journey, the first day's travel brought him opposite the mouth of the Pavilion or Palouse River, up which lay his course to the head of the Spokane River. At this first encampment he made the acquaintance of the Palouses, an inferior branch of the Nez Percé nation, whom he paid for assisting him to cross to the north side of Snake River. Passing over hills and valleys destitute of trees, and meeting with several villages of Nez Perces and Spokanes, he encamped the close of the second day at one of the latter, his guides explaining to them the object of his visit to their country, at which they expressed their satisfaction.

On the third day the guides missed the trail, and the traveller was nearly lost on the trackless prairie;, but they fortunately fell in with a party of Spokanes, one of whom consented to show them the way to the Spokane River, leading the party to within sight of a lake, and telling them that on the east side of it was the main trail leading to their destination.

What struck Parker with astonishment was the conduct of his new guide in refusing to go with him to the river, though he offered a large reward for the service. "I have shown the way; you cannot miss it; why should I allow you to pay me for unnecessary labor?" inquired this punctilious savage; nor could he be persuaded from his determination. This conscientiousness, as it appeared to him, and which would have been extraordinary in a man of civilized habits, so moved the missionary that he not only paid him well on the spot, but afterward sent him a present of powder and ball.

Crossing the Spokane River on the 27th, his ferryman guided him to the principal village, where there was a small field of flourishing potatoes, pease, beans, and other vegetables, the first instance of native agriculture Parker had seen west of the Rocky Mountains, although the Hudson's Bay Company would at any time have encouraged the Indians in planting in the neighborhood of their forts had they cared to cultivate the soil. The Indians about Puget Sound, more than any others, seem to have taken to the cultivation of the potato for food,

Encamping for the night, sixty miles from Colville, he found many Spokanes and Nez Percés gathered, who had heard from others that a teacher of religion was passing through the country, and they were anxious to see and listen to so great a personage. They brought with them, with wise forethought, an interpreter of their own, a young Spokane who had attended school at the Red River settlement, and who understood English fairly. There was present also a Nez Percé chief who knew the Spokane tongue. For their edification religious services were held in the evening, and as the interpreter rendered the sermon into Spokane, the Nez Percé translated it into his language, which was done without disturbance, and was entirely the idea of the Indians themselves. So wonderfully interesting did the preacher find these people, that he regarded it as a special providence that he had suffered several detentions which prevented his passing them; and as he rode next day through a very fertile but narrow valley extending north and south for fifty miles, he settled in his mind that here too should be a mission from which the tribes of the Spokanes, Cœurs d'Alêne, Pends d'Oreille, and Shuyelpi, or Kettle Falls, could all be reached.

Reaching Fort Colville after a hard ride, on the evening of the 28th, in an almost starving condition having exhausted his supplies, he found himself just too late to see McDonald, the gentleman in charge who had a few days before gone with the annual brigade to Fort Vancouver. Every attention was paid toward making him comfortable by the people at the fort, but his visit extended only over the sabbath, which he spent as usual in preaching, and teaching the Indians. On the 30th he journeyed to the Grande Coulée, in whose deep chasm a night was passed. He was again lost for a few hours on the great plain of the Columbia; but more by his own judgment than the knowledge of the Indian guides he made his way safely to Fort Okanagan.

At this place he made no stay, but obtaining a bateau and two natives to assist the voyageurs, set out on his return by river, sending his guides with the horses to Walla Walla, where he arrived the 3d of June, having been eleven days, Sundays excepted, in the saddle or bateau. After a rest of two days he left for Fort Vancouver, where he arrived in safety on the evening of the 9th, and took passage in one of the fur company's vessels to the Sandwich Islands.

It is worthy of note, in connection with Parker's residence of several months at Fort Vancouver, that thence originated the practice of assembling the Canadians twice every Sunday, and reading to them in French a portion of the scriptures and a sermon; which practice was kept up until the arrival of Mr Beaver.

Before leaving Oregon Parker witnessed the introduction of a steam-vessel into the coasting service of the company. This was the Beaver, which arrived in the Columbia Biver in the spring of 1836, and on which Parker with a party of gentlemen from the fort took an excursion on the 14th of June around Wapato Island, indulging during their enjoyment in "a train of prospective reflections upon the probable changes which would take place in these remote regions in a very few years," and in the dream "a new empire be added to the kingdoms of the earth."[17]

On the 18th of June Parker took final leave of Fort Vancouver, and sailed for Honolulu, where he was compelled to wait until the middle of December for a vessel to the United States, reaching his home in Ithaca the 23d of May, 1837,[18] having travelled 28,000 miles.


We have now to deal with the results of the exploration ordered by the American Board. When Mr Parker decided to proceed alone, Dr Whitman turned back with the caravan to St Louis for the next year's supplies, reaching the Missouri frontier late in the autumn of 1835. The business in hand was something requiring all his superabundant energy, for before spring he must bring into the service of the Presbyterian missions in Oregon persons enough to set up at least two stations, one among the Flatheads and one among the Nez Percés.

To enlist the sympathy of Christians, he took with him two Indian lads, as did Columbus, Pizarro, and Wyeth, and as do others, down to the Indian agents and military men of the present day, when wishing to interest the public in alien and savage races. With these he went directly to the missionary board, and reported the field of mission work west of the Rocky Mountains as ripe and waiting for the harvesters. Yet he seemed unable to awaken sufficient enthusiasm in individual members of the church to draw them from their comfortable firesides into the storms of March, which they must face to join a caravan for the summer journey over a homeless wilderness. For it was families, not single men, whom Whitman wished to establish as missionaries among the Indians. In his difficulty, and fully determined to return himself as a missionary, he appealed successfully to Miss Narcissa Prentiss, daughter of Judge Prentiss of Prattsburg, New York, and in February 1836 they were married. Mrs Whitman was a bright, fresh-looking woman, with blue eyes and fair hair, good figure and pleasant voice, more than commonly attractive in person and manner, besides being well educated, and something of a contrast to her husband in her careful habits and regard for small refinements. But one man and woman could not go alone into this new world, as did the primal pair, and Whitman sought some other husband and wife to accompany them. He had, however, started on his westward journey in March, before he found at Pittsburg, on his route, the Rev. H. H. Spalding and wife, newly married, graduated only a short time before from Lane Theological Seminary and the female college near it in the suburbs of Cincinnati, and who were already on their way to the Osages as missionaries.

Mr Spalding was considered a man of plain, practical talents, more esteemed for his sincerity and faithfulness than for his gifts, yet honored as a zealous and comparatively successful missionary. Mrs Eliza Spalding, daughter of a farmer named Hart, of Oneida County, New York, had been taught to spin, weave, and make clothing, as well as to cook. These were excellent attainments for a new country; added to which she was an apt linguist, and something of an artist in water-colors, both of which acquirements proved of use in the missionary work, the first in catching the native tongues, the second in teaching by rude but vigorous pictures what could not be conveyed with force in language. The tall, slender, plain, dark woman, with few charms of voice or feature, sagacious, decided, sympathizing, and faithful, won the confidence of all about her. What she lacked in personal charms she made up in the excellences of her character, taking for her own standard that of the highest in pious life. She was fitted by nature for the work of a missionary, and found the reward of self-sacrifice in elevation of spirit.[19]

Nothing could have been more opportune for Whitman's purpose than meeting these people to whom he immediately proposed to change their destination, and join him in his mission beyond the Rocky Mountains. Spalding hesitated on account of his wife's delicate health, and as too hazardous an adventure for women, but Mrs Spalding asked twenty-four hours for prayerful consideration, which ended in their undertaking the mission. Immediate preparations were made for the more extended journey, and Mrs Spalding, without returning to the home of her parents, set her face toward the far-off Oregon.

The company of four, with a reënforcement for the Pawnee mission of Dunbar and Allis, now proceeded to Liberty, Missouri, where they were joined by the fifth Oregon missionary, William H. Gray of Utica New York, who had been engaged as a mechanic and secular aid to the mission. [20] He was a good-looking young fellow, tall of stature, with fine black eyes, without special education, but having pronounced natural abilities, of quick feelings, and a good hater where his jealousy was aroused.

The Indian boys, John and Richard, were of the party, and before leaving the frontier, a boy of sixteen years, named Miles Goodyear, from Iowa, asked the privilege of joining the company as servant and herder. He performed his duties satisfactorily until he arrived at Wyeth's Fort, on Snake River, where he left them to follow a fur-hunting expedition.


Enough has already been said of the mode of travel with the fur company's caravans, but since this was the first attempt of white women to cross the great plains, put down on the maps of that day as a desert country, let me recapitulate so far as to show the outfit of these two women, celebrated by Presbyterian writers as the real pioneers of civilization in the Oregon Territory.

Dr Whitman was furnished by the American Board with the necessary material and implements for beginning a settlement, blacksmith's tools, a plough, grain, and seeds to commence farming, and clothing for two years, with many other articles thought indispensable to moderate comfort. At Liberty he bought wagons, with teams, also some pack-animals, riding-horses, and sixteen cows. Additional teams were hired, making quite a train, which was placed in charge of Spalding and Gray, assisted by the Indian boys and Miles Goodyear. At Council Bluffs the additional teamsters were dismissed, and after crossing the Missouri the mission goods were readjusted, and as much as possible reduced in bulk. The journey from Liberty to this point was full of accidents and delays of the march, occurring often through the inexperience of the men in charge; there were broken axles, and general repairing to be done, and the caravan began to move before the missionary train was ready. By great exertion, however, Whitman was able to overtake Fitzpatrick's company at the Pawnee village on the Loup branch of the Platte River, a few days' travel west of the Missouri. The train now consisted of nineteen carts drawn by two mules tandem; a light wagon, and two wagons and teams belonging to the same Captain Stuart who had travelled in company with the Lees to the Rocky Mountains in 1834.[21]

Stuart had for a companion a young English gentleman and a few servants. Another, not belonging to either the fur company or missionary party, was a gentleman called Major Pilcher, of St Louis, Indian agent to the Yankton Sioux, whom Parker having met him the year before, calls intelligent and candid, and well disposed toward mission enterprises, but who by his foppish dress excited the remarks of at least one of the mission party, who perhaps fancied that he occupied too much of the attention of the two ladies, whom he was good-naturedly desirous of amusing. According to Gray, he wore a suit of fine buckskin trimmed with red cloth and porcupine quills, fine scarlet shirt, and elaborately ornamented moccasons; and he must have made a conspicuous figure in any company. Major Pilcher was one day showing the ladies some singular salt clay-pits, when going too near the edge it gave way, immersing his fine white mule, himself, and his elegant Indian costume in a bath of sticky liquid clay. It was with difficulty he was extricated, when he joined heartily in the merriment his predicament occasioned.

Aside from the occasional storms to which the travellers were exposed, and the meat diet to which in a short time all were restricted, a summer's journey under the protection of so varied a company was most interesting to the two untravelled women from central New York. Fifty years at Pittsburg, or at the Osage Mission, would not have afforded the opportunities for expansion of thought, or the accumulation of experiences, which so long a stretch of travel through novel and wonderful scenes, in the society of men of cultivation and wide observation, offered to these missionary ladies. This episode in their lives may be regarded as not only a kindly, but as a most useful introduction to the duties before them.

Mrs Whitman's lively temperment and perfect health enabled her to enjoy and benefit by these experiences; but Mrs Spalding's strength seemed inadequate to the strain. Her health so rapidly declined that fears were felt that she would not be able to finish the journey.

According to custom, the fur company left their carts at Laramie and packed their goods on mules to the rendezvous. But on Mrs Spalding's account Whitman decided to keep the lighter of his two wagons, and the fur company also decided to take one of theirs to Green River. Loaded wagons had as early as 1829 been driven to Wind River,[22] and at different times to various mountain posts, but there was no beaten track as from Fort Laramie eastward. The doctor, who drove his wagon, had, however, little trouble in following the natural highway which leads through the mountains by the Sweetwater or South Pass, and Mrs Spalding was thus carried safely and comfortably to the great camp of the fur company.

Two days before reaching the rendezvous, great consternation was created for a moment by the appearance of a party of ten Nez Percés and Flatheads, who with a few American trappers constituted a self-delegated committee of welcome. Their approach was like the rush of a tornado down a mountain side, the cracking of their rifles and their terrifying yells like the snapping off of the branches of trees before the wind, and the fierce howlings of a tempest. As soon as the white flag carried by the advancing cavalcade was discerned, all fears of the Blackfoot gave way, and as the wild hunters swooped down the line a salute was returned as hearty as their own.

The appearance of the natives she had come to teach interested Mrs Spalding more than the antics of the mountain men, who were eager to get a glimpse of white women, many of them having been years in the wilderness without seeing one. To Mrs Whitman the novelty and excitement of the meeting were exhilarating; and when a mountain man with an attempt at deferential courtesy made a military salute and addressed some words to her of respectful compliment, she answered him with gracious and cordial bearing. While Mrs Whitman was receiving this attention from gentlemen and trappers, the natives gathered about Mrs Spalding, who, anxious to acquire the Nez Percé language, tried hard to converse with them.

Arriving at the rendezvous, a second grand display was planned and executed by the Flatheads and Nez Percés in honor of the missionary party. The general camp on Green River was in several divisions: the camp of the fur company, surrounding a rude hut which answered for a trading-house; and near by, those of the hunters and trappers, between one hundred and two hundred in number; the missionary encampment; the camp of the English travellers; and those of the several tribes of Indians who travelled with the American Fur Company—Bannacks, Snakes, Flatheads, and Nez Percés, forming altogether no inconsiderable village, with a vigilant police.

A grand reception was planned in honor of the missionaries, and on the day selected a procession of all the Indians in gala dress was formed at one end of the plain, each tribe having a company of warriors in fighting costume, which was a breech-clout and plenty of paint and feathers. All were mounted, and the fighting men carried their weapons, drums, rattles and other noisy instruments. When everything was in readiness a terrifying yell burst forth, and to a barbarous chorus the cavalcade charged through the valley at frantic speed, and returning in the same manner, performed their skilful evolutions in front of the missionary tent, the whole being conducted in the order of a preconcerted military movement, the force of several hundred warriors obeying the signal of its leaders as an orchestra obeys the conductor's baton. But although perfect order was maintained, such was the impetuosity of the savages, who gave themselves up to the excitement of this mimic charge, that the women's nerves were sorely tried. When all was over, having done so much to entertain their white friends, the red men began to crowd about the missionaries to satisfy their curiosity.

While the company remained at Green River, Captain Wyeth arrived from Fort Vancouver, having sold his forts and goods to the British company, to the great dissatisfaction of the American traders and trappers, who had not, however, offered less opposition to him than had the Hudson's Bay traders. He was accompanied by Thomas McKay and John McLeod, a chief trader of the British company, who, after receiving Fort Hall from Wyeth, intended to return to Fort Vancouver, and kindly offered his escort to the missionary party. McLeod told Whitman that he thought, instead of encouraging the American mountain men to follow him and settle in Oregon, it would be more profitable to send a missionary to travel with the camps of the hunters.

Gray, who probably knew of the prejudice created by the publications of Kelley, was prepared to see in this advice opposition to American settlement in the country, and to resent it with his natural warmth; although he had ample opportunities of learning that the character of many of these countrymen of his made them a dangerous element among the Indians, as Parker could have informed him.[23] McLeod went so far, we are told, as to say that if the missionaries needed assistance in erecting buildings, or making other improvements, the company he served would prefer furnishing it to having these reckless men introduced into the Oregon settlements, all of which advice Captain Wyeth indorsed, though Gray believed it was because he felt the uselessness of opposing the autocrat of Fort Vancouver, whose fixed policy toward unprincipled men, whether American or French, was to keep them as much as possible at a distance.

There is no evidence that Dr Whitman shared the feelings of his subordinate; his letters to the American Board refer in polite terms to the assistance rendered him by the British fur company, and not to any opposition to his plans. Arrangements were immediately made to proceed to Fort Vancouver, where the missionaries were assured they could replace the farming and blacksmithing tools and other articles which they were advised to leave at Green River as too heavy to be transported on their flagging horses over the difficult route to the Columbia River.


Two or three weeks of rest, with a change of diet, and the favorable effect of the climate on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, made a decided improvement in the health of Mrs Spalding. But Whitman still hesitated to give up his wagon, which if possible he wished to take to the Columbia River; and lightened of all unnecessary things, he conveyed it with little difficulty as far as Fort Hall, receiving some assistance from the Indians.[24]

At Fort Hall one pair of wheels was taken off and the wagon reduced to a cart.[25] Not wishing to be detained by the possible accidents and hindrances of road-making, McLeod advised Whitman to abandon his idea of getting the cart through to the Columbia, time and provisions being of the greatest value from this point westward. But the doctor insisted on driving his carriage to Fort Boisé, keeping up with the pack-train all the way, the worst obstacles to be overcome being sand and sage-brush. At the crossing of Snake River he was in danger of losing his life, the current being too strong for the horses; but by the coolness and dexterity of Thomas McKay, the threatened disaster was averted. Mrs Whitman and Mrs Spalding were ferried over on bulrush rafts, the goods being carried on the backs of the largest horses.

At Fort Boisé, the horses were so worn out that he was forced to relinquish his idea, and the cart was left at this post, where three years later another American traveller found it, and was told that a route had recently been discovered by which wagons could easily pass to the Columbia.

Some of the cattle were also left at Fort Boise, being too weak to travel farther; and Whitman received from the agent in charge an order on Fort Walla Walla for others to supply their places. The women were here presented with "eight quarts of dried corn," all there was at the post, and a precious gift in that country.


On the 1st of September the missionary party arrived at Fort Walla Walla, McLeod having preceded them by a few hours to prepare a suitable reception, which, says Gray, must have been witnessed to be fully realized, every demonstration of joy and respect being manifested. The best apartments were placed at the service of the women, and the men were relieved of all care of their horses and cattle; the table was furnished with luxuries in the way of potatoes, green corn, and melons, and it was like a homecoming to all. Yet in the midst of this enjoyment Gray was warned by Townsend against interfering with the trade of the British company, [26] as if the missionaries were indeed a company of traders.

On the 3d the missionary party continued on their way, as it was most important that they should present at once their letters from the secretary of war, and should consult with McLoughlin on matters connected with the establishing of the missions, the procuring of mechanics, and the prospect for obtaining supplies. They were accompanied to Fort Vancouver by Pambrun, who was in charge of the furs brought by McLeod. Townsend and McLeod preceded them one days journey.

Portages were made at all the principal rapids, where the savages were astonished at seeing the white women treated with so much respect; they did not even carry the goods around the falls, as their own women were compelled to do. In the heart of the mountains a storm of wind detained them in camp three days; after which all went well, the company reaching the saw-milll on the 11th, where the last encampment was made to give opportunity for those changes in dress which even the French voyageurs never neglected on approaching Fort Vancouver. On the forenoon of the 12th, as to the music of the French boat-songs the bateau rounded the point where stood the fort, the passengers saw two ships lying there gayly decked in flags, while the company's colors waved from the fort. At the landing waited two magnificent-looking men, John McLoughlin and James Douglas, who greeted the missionaries, and escorted the ladies with stately courtesy within the walls of the fort. There they were again made welcome, and assigned to convenient quarters according to rank. Here they met Jason Lee, and Herbert Beaver and his wife,[27] as we have seen before.

A few days of delightful repose were enjoyed. In matters of business the missionaries found McLoughlin willing to render them such assistance as the ample means of the company allowed, upon condition that men should not be employed at wages higher than the company's regular rates, or any other rules of the company's trade infringed upon.[28]

Having left at various points along the overland route nearly everything they had started with except their clothing, they were obliged to purchase with their winter's supply of provisions goods enough to load two bateaux, with which, at the end of the week, Whitman, Spalding, and Gray returned to Fort Walla Walla, leaving the women at Fort Vancouver until such time as a dwelling should be prepared for them.

The first stake was set at Waiilatpu, at the place first chosen by Parker among the Cayuses. With the assistance of the Indians and a man or two from the fort at Walla Walla, the first house was rapidly built out of such materials as were at hand. Another was hastily put up in the small valley of Lapwai, about a dozen miles above the mouth of the Kooskooskie, and before Christmas Dr and Mrs Whitman were settled at the first station, and Mr Spalding and his wife at the other.

It was now apparent that if Parker's engagements with the Flatheads or plans about the Spokanes were to be carried out, more missionaries must be brought into the field; and that no time might be lost, Gray was directed to return to the east the following spring to procure reënforcements.[29] This he did, travelling with Ermatinger, a trader of the British fur company, to the Flathead nation, whence he accompanied the Indians to the summer rendezvous of the Hudson's Bay traders on the Jefferson branch of the Missouri. At the rendezvous, several of the Flatheads offered or were induced to escort him; and he was joined by two young American adventurers who were to go with him to the Missouri River. At Ash Hollow, since famous in the history of Indian wars, his Flathead escort was attacked by a band of Sioux, and every one murdered, including a young chief called 'The Hat,' who had been partially educated at Red River. Gray with his companions was saved by the intervention of a French trader, and succeeded, by travelling at night, in reaching the friendly tribes to the east, and finally in arriving at his destination.[30]

Gray was successful in enlisting for the mission three clergymen with their newly married wives, a young unmarried man, and a young woman who became his own wife. In a private letter written after her death in 1881, he says that it was an instance of love at first sight, which continued as long as her life. He met Miss Mary Augusta Dix, a handsome, stately brunette, on the evening of the 19th of February, 1838, and became engaged to her the same evening. Six days after, they were married, and on the morning of the 26th started westward to join the caravan of the American Fur Company.

On account of the feeling among the Flatheads over the loss of five of their people and the young chief, in Gray's company, his destination as missionary to them was changed, and he remained alternately at Lapwai and Waiilatpu, visiting several tribes both in eastern and western Oregon, and going back to secular pursuits after three or four years. A mission was begun at Kamiah, sixty miles up the Clearwater, above Lapwai, by Rev. Asa B. Smith, in May 1839, and abandoned in 1841 on account of the hostility of the upper Nez Percés, who were in sympathy with the Flatheads. Thus, after all the expressed desire of this tribe for teachers, no Protestant missionary was allowed to establish himself among them.

Elkinah Walker and Cushing C. Eells, with their wives, established a permanent mission on the Chemakane[31] branch of the Spokane River, within easy distance of Fort Colville. Cornelius Powers became a teacher, first at Lapwai, and then at Waiilatpu.[32]

    in rows, through the length of the building, upon their knees, with a narrow space in the middle, lengthwise, resembling an aisle. The whole area within was carpeted with their dressed skins, and they were all attired in their best. The chiefs were arranged in a semicircle at the end which I was to occupy. I could not have believed they had the means, or could have known how to have constructed so convenient and so decent a place for worship, and especially as it was the first time they had had public worship. The whole sight taken together sensibly affected me, and filled me with astonishment; and I felt as though it was the house of God and the gate of heaven. They all continued in their kneeling position during singing and prayer, and when I closed prayer with amen, they all said what was equivalent in their language to amen. And when I commenced the sermon, they sunk back upon their heels.' Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour, 97–8. Nothing could be more evident than that at some time some influential and competent teacher had laid the foundations of religion and morality with conscientious care. Who he was, whence he came, or whither he went, is almost purely conjectural. The explanation given by Shea is repeated in Strickland's Missions, 120.

  1. Lee and Frost's Or., 112
  2. In 1856 Mr Allis was still living at his home on the east side of the Missouri, nearly opposite to the old Bellevue trading post.
  3. The green hides are sewed together, and tightly stretched over the boxes, flesh side out, and fastened with strong tacks to the wood, when they are placed in the sun to dry. Repeated stretching and drying prepares the skin to keep out the water. These are called bull-hide boats, being usually made of buffalo-skins. Burnett's Rec. of a Pioneer, MS., 112.
  4. Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour., 77.
  5. That is what Parker himself said. In Gray's Hist. Or., 108, it is stated that Whitman went back because he and his superior could not agree; that Parker could not abide the slovenly habits of the doctor; but that 'their sense of moral obligation was such, that a reason must be given why Dr Whitman returns to the States, and Mr Parker proceeds alone on his perilous journey.' It is most probable that the want of congeniality made it acceptable to both, when their best usefulness to their mission allowed them to separate without any such double dealing as the extract would indicate.
  6. Parker's Jour., 124.
  7. As an example of the traits of the Skilloots, Parker gives this: A chief with a few of his people came on board, being very talkative and sportive. 'He asked that, as they were about to part, Captain Lambert should give him a shirt, which having received, he put it on, saying, "How much better would a new pair of pantaloons look with this shirt." The pants being given him, he said, "A vest would become me, and increase my influence with my people." This gift being added to the others, he then said, "Well, tyee [chief or gentleman], I suppose we shall not see each other again; can you see me depart without a clean blanket?"' Failing to obtain the blanket, he begged some trifling present for his little son, and went away well satisfied. Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour, 144.
  8. Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour, 155.
  9. Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour, 79.
  10. For manners and customs of the Nez Percés, Cayuses, and Walla Wallas, see Native Races, i. 316.
  11. Smet's Letters, 212.
  12. As this mistake of Parker's afterward assumed serious import, some explanation should be made of the religious ideas of the natives selected by him as most hopeful and teachable. It will be remembered that the Dalles people observed Sunday as a holiday, in the manner of the Catholic church. Parker himself explains in a note, p. 254, that the reason assigned to him for dancing being included in their ceremonials was the fear that if it were forbidden they could not be interested in pure worship; obviously this reason was not furnished him by the natives themselves. Again, in relating the circumstance of the burial cross, he remarks that they had probably been told by some Iroquois, a few of whom he had seen west of the Rocky Mountains, to place a cross at the head of a grave, again showing he was not wholly ignorant of Indian theology in this quarter. Shea, in his History of the Catholic Missions, 467, says that some Iroquois formerly of the Coughnawaga Catholic mission, joined the Flatheads previous to 1820, the tribe becoming christianized about that time, through their example; and that their desire for teachers led to the pilgrimage to St Louis before mentioned. They continued in the ceremonials and practices of the church, daily offering up prayers to God, and keeping the sabbath. This agrees with the observations of Bonneville in 1834, who says the Flatheads, Nez Percés, and Cayuses had a strong devotional feeling, but speaks of it as successfully cultivated by some of the Hudson's Bay Company's people. So far as Mr Pambrun of Walla Walla is concerned, this I believe to be the truth, but not of the company's servants generally, as Dunn in his History of the Oregon Territory, 181, informs us, they having occasion to blame themselves for their neglect. So well advanced in the Christian religion were the tribes mentioned, according to Bonneville, that they would not raise their camps on Sunday, nor fish, hunt, or trade on that day except in cases of severe necessity, but passed a portion of the day in religious ceremonies, the chiefs leading the devotions, and afterward giving a sort of sermon upon abstaining from lying, stealing, cheating, and quarrelling, and the duty of being hospitable to strangers. Prayers and exhortations were also made in the morning on week days, often by the chief on horseback, moving slowly about the camp, and giving his instructions in a loud voice, the people listening with attention, and at the end of every sentence responding equivalent to amen. While these ceremonials were going on every employment was suspended. If an Indian was riding by, he dismounted, and attended with reverence until the conclusion. When the chief had finished, he said, 'I have done,' upon which there was an exclamation in unison. 'With these religious services,' says Bonneville, 'probably derived from the white men, the tribes above mentioned mingle some of their old Indian ceremonials; such as dancing to the cadence of a song or ballad, which is generally done in a large lodge provided for the purpose. Besides Sundays, they likewise observe the cardinal holidays of the Roman Catholic church.' Irving's Bonneville's Adventures, 389–90. Says John Wyeth, who also gives these savages a good character: 'I know not what to say of their religion. I saw nothing like images, or any objects of worship whatever, and yet they appeared to keep a sabbath, for there is a day on which they do not hunt nor gamble, but sit moping all day, and look like fools. There certainly appeared among them an honor, or conscience, and sense of justice. They would do what they promised, and return our strayed horses and lost articles.' Oregon, 54. Townsend was equally struck with the religious character of the Nez Percés and Cayuses, and after describing their family worship, concludes by saying: 'I never was more gratified by any exhibition in my life. The humble, subdued, and beseeching looks of the poor untutored beings who were calling upon their heavenly father to forgive their sins, and continue his mercies to them, and the evident and heart-felt sincerity which characterized the whole scene, was truly affecting, and very impressive.' Nar., 107. Elijah White, in a letter to the Oregon Spectator of November 12, 1846, says: 'Indeed, the red men of that region would almost seem to be of a different order from those with whom we have been in more familiar intercourse.' Parker himself often remarked upon the reverence and attention with which the Flatheads and Nez Percés listened to his devotional exercises, in which they joined with an intelligence that surprised him. The effect of the teaching they had some time had was apparent in the exhibition of that hospitality, care for others, and general good conduct to which he often referred. On one of his journeys with these people he says: 'One sabbath day about eight in the morning, some of the chiefs came to me and asked where they should assemble. I asked them if they could not be accommodated in the willows which skirted the stream of water on which we were encamped. They thought not. I then inquired if they could not take the poles of some of their lodges and construct a shade. They thought they could; and without any other directions went and made preparation, and about eleven o'clock came and said they were ready for worship. I found them all assembled, men, women, and children, between four and five hundred, in what I would call a sanctuary of God, constructed with their lodges, nearly one hundred feet long, and about twenty feet wide; and all were arranged
  13. Notwithstanding this early recognition by Parker of the north of the Walla Walla Valley for settlement, it was thirty years before it began to be esteemed for farming purposes; and another decade had passed ere the fact was accepted that this was one of the most productive wheat-fields of the world.
  14. 'Place of Rye Grass.' This word is commonly spelled with a terminal u instead of a, which some say changes its signification, affirming that a is the proper termination for the word with the above meaning.
  15. Undoubtedly, this spot was the choice of Parker, though in Gray's Hist. Or., 165–6, the reader is made to believe that the choice was left to Whitman. Parker says that after encamping for a night on the 'upper part of the Walla Walla River', he rode twenty-two miles and arrived at Walla Walla. Whitman may have selected a spot, not the identical one, in the same vicinity.
  16. In Brouillet's Authentic Account of the Murder of Dr Whitman, 23, is a statement by John Toupin, which must be taken with allowance. Toupin, who was interpreter at Fort Walla Walla from 1824 to 1841, first avers that Mr Parker made the selection of the mission station in 1835, which is not possible, as during this journey he proceeded to Fort Vancouver with the delay of only one day to arrange for his passage down the river. This might have been simply an error in date, did not Toupin go on to say that Mr Parker in company with Mr Pambrun, an American, and himself as interpreter, went first to Waiilatpu, a place belonging to three chiefs of the Cayuses where he met them by appointment to select a site for a mission for Whitman, who, he told them, would come in the 'following spring'—whereas, if the error was in date, it would have been the following autumn that he promised them that they would see Whitman. From the Cayuses, says Toupin, Parker went to the Nez Percés, about one hundred and twenty-five miles distant, on a small creek emptying into the Kooskooskie, or Clearwater, seven or eight miles from the place afterwards chosen for the Nez Percé mission, where he made the same promises. 'Next spring there will come a missionary to establish himself here and take a piece of land; but he will not take it for nothing; you shall be paid every year; this is the American fashion.' The facts as given by Parker show that the only occasions when he could have been at Waiilatpu were those when he was alone with a chance company of Indians, and without an interpreter. So important a circumstance as a formal meeting of himself with the chiefs and interpreter, witnessed by Pambrun, and an American, would not have gone unmentioned, when so slight a fact as a ride with Pambrun to the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers is carefully recorded; therefore it would seem that the story of Toupin was invented to serve a purpose; and that Parker, who was so careful of his word, did not promise the Cayuses payment or annual rent for their land.
  17. Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour, 310–11. This pioneer steamboat on the Pacific Ocean was commanded by Captain David Home, her consort being the Nereid, Royal, master. She was a low-pressure, side-wheel steamer, 110 tons register, built at Blackwell, England. Her paddle-wheels were small and well forward. She carried a crew of thirty men, armament 4 six-pounders, with a large supply of small-arms. The decks were protected by boarding-netting, the natives being restricted to the gangways for access. After leaving the Columbia in 1837 she never afterward entered it, but was engaged in coasting the northern seas, collecting furs, and supplying the northern forts. This steamer entered the harbors of Esquimalt and Victoria in 1836. She was in 1881 a tug in the latter harbor. Seattle Intelligencer, Jan. 1, 1881; Finlayson's V. I. and N. W. Coast, MS., 6.
  18. With the departure of Mr Parker from Oregon ends his relation to its history. He published in 1838 at Ithaca, N. Y., a Journal of an Exploring Tour Beyond the Rocky Mountains, the first actual report of the country and the Indain tribes since the expedition of Lewis and Clarke, if we except the partial accounts of Kelley. William Strong of Portland remarks in his Hist. Or., MS., 23, that he was a proof-reader on Parker's book, 'the first book in regard to the country by an American.' Parker's remarks upon the geography, geology, climate, productions, and possibilities of the then unsettled Oregon territory show close observation, and supplementing his own discoveries with information contributed by the gentlemen at Fort Vancouver, formed a faithful and valuable account of the country.
  19. Private Letter of Mr Spalding. Lecture of Mr Spalding, in Albany States Rights Democrat, Jan. 11, 1868.
  20. Gray's Hist, Or., 12; U.S. Ev. H. B. Co. Claims, 159–60.
  21. From the frequent mention made of him by travellers, Stuart seems to have haunted the Rocky Mountains for more than ten years. Gray asserts that he was 'Sir William Drummond, K. B., who had come to the United States to allow his fortune to recuperate during his absence,' and describes him as a tall figure with face worn by dissipation, and says that he spent his winters in New Orleans. In Niles' Register, lxv. 70–1, 214, 1843, there are references to a party from New Orleans under the leadership of this gentleman, one of whom was Mr Field of the N. O. Picayune. Lee calls him Captain Stuart, 'an English half-pay officer, who had then in 1834, been for some time roaming the mountains. Lee and Frost's Or., 122.
  22. Hines' Or. Hist., 408–9.
  23. 'Their demoralizing influence,' says Parker, 'with the Indians has been lamentable, and they have imposed upon them in all the ways that sinful propensities dictate. It is said they have sold them packs of cards at high prices, calling them the bible; and have told them if they should refuse to give white men wives, God would be angry with them, and punish them eternally, etc. Parker's Jour., Ex. Tour, 80–1. Gray himself relates that one whom he met at Green River, and who afterward settled in the Willamette Valley, amused himself teaching his little half-breed son to utter profane sentences. Hist. Or., 125. Says Wyeth: 'The preponderance of bad character is already so great amongst traders and their people, that crime carries with it little or no shame.' 25th Cong., 3d Sess., H. Rept. 101.
  24. Concerning the Flatheads and Nez Percés, and the correspondence of Parker with Whitman, something should be said in this place. According to Gray, Parker found it prudent to send no instructions to Whitman at Green River, but only a short note, all of which Wyeth explained as dictated by caution, knowing the efforts of the Hudson's Bay Company to destroy American influence in the country. As Parker had not then reached his destination, there could not have been much to say. In the following spring, when he turned back from the Nez Percé country, leaving the Indians to proceed without him to the rendezvous, he mentions writing several letters to be forwarded to the United States from Green River, but does not mention writing to Whitman especially. His final directions and advice may have awaited Whitman at Fort Walla Walla, or even at Fort Vancouver, where he undoubtedly expected Whitman to consult with McLoughlin; and from the fact that missions were established at the identical places chosen by him, this theory would seem to be established. Parker calls the principal chief of the Nez Percés Taiquinwatish; Gray calls him Takkensuitas. Parker does not name the second chief of the Nez Percés; Gray calls him Ishholholhoatshoats, or more frequently 'Lawyer,' a sobriquet applied to him by the mountain men on account of his argumentative powers and general shrewdness, by which he obtained great influence both with his people and with white men. He was son of the chief who took charge of the horses of Lewis and Clarke while those explorers visited the lower Columbia, and was about thirty-six years of age. Both Gray and Parker praise the kindness of these chiefs, and Lawyer became a great favorite with the missionaries, with what reason we shall see hereafter.
  25. This cart is historical as the first wheeled vehicle to pass beyond Fort Hall.
  26. Gray's Hist Or., 142. This is Townsend's report of the single interview he had with Whitman's party. 'I have had this evening some interesting conversation with our guests, the missionaries. They appear admirably qualified for the arduous duty to which they have devoted themselves, their minds being fully alive to the mortifications and trials incident to a residence among wild Indians; but they do not shrink from the task, believing it to be their religious duty to engage in this work.' Nar., 249.
  27. Mr and Mrs Beaver remained in the country until the spring of 1838, when they went to England, having done little to advance the cause of religion. The natural antagonism of McLoughlin and Beaver is mentioned in my History of the Northwest Coast. Mr Beaver evidently had some right on his side; but his manners were not suited either to the society at Fort Vancouver or the American settlement.
  28. Deposition of W. H. Gray, in U. S. Ev., H. B. Co. Claims, 160–1.
  29. Annual Report, A. B. C. F. M., 1848, 239; a document of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
  30. Gray'a Hist. Or., 168–74; Newell's Strictures on Gray's Hist. Or., in Portland Democratic Herald, Oct. 1866.
  31. Chemakane, according to Wilkes, means 'the plain of springs,' from the fact that the streams sink in the earth, and passing underground a few miles, burst forth again in springs. Wilkes' Nar., U. S. Explr. Ex., iv. 483.
  32. Rev. Elkinah Walker, thirty years of age, tall, spare, and light complexioned, was from North Yarmouth, Me, and was educated at Kimball Academy, Meriden, N. H., from which he went into the Bangor Theological Seminary, where he studied for three years. He was a diffident and amiable man without strong traits. He intended to go as a missionary to Zululand, South Africa, but being prevented by a fierce tribal war, was ready to respond to the first call elsewhere, which came from Oregon. He was married on the 5th of March, 1838, and next day started for St Louis to join Gray. Ten years afterward he settled on the Tualatin Plains in the Willamette Valley, where he became a leading citizen, and one of the founders of the school which is now the Pacific University. His family consisted of six sons and one daughter. One of his sons went as a missionary to China. The father died Nov. 21, 1877. Trans. Or. Pion. Assoc., 1877, 68–72; Oakland Transcript, Dec. 1, 1877; Seattle Pacific Tribune, Nov. 28, 1877; Ashland, Or., Tidings, Nov. 30, 1877; Salem Willamette Farmer, Nov. 30, 1877. For many years Mrs Walker lived at Forest Grove, near the Pacific University, having devoted her life to the duties of missionary, wife, and mother, and enjoying the reward of a peaceful and prosperous old age. Cushing C. Eells was of Massachusetts birth, and was one of a succession of clergymen. In Cromwell's time one of his ancestors was an officer in the usurper's army. Mrs Myra Eells Fairbanks was descended from a line of Presbyterian deacons. She was born in Holden, Massachusetts, May 26, 1805; and died at Skokomish, Washington Territory, August 9, 1878, her funeral services being celebrated at that place and at Seattle; and there was a memorial pamphlet published, from which the above facts are drawn. Like Mr Walker, Mr Eells settled at Forest Grove in 1848, and helped to build up the Pacific University. He was also mainly instrumental in establishing Whitman Seminary at Walla Walla, at a later date. In 1875 he returned to his first work as a missionary to the Spokanes. His youngest son, Myron Eells, became a missionary to the Skokomish. Seattle Intelligencer, May 29, 1875; Portland Oregonian, June 5, 1875; S. I. Friend, vii. 57. Rev. Asa B. Smith is described as a man of fine literary attainments, who constructed a vocabulary and grammar of the Nez Percé language, assisted by Mr Rogers and the Nez Percé, Lawyer, who knew a little English. Smith's wife was a delicate woman, unfitted for the trials of missionary life; and the chief of the upper Nez Percés proving very overbearing, and as Smith thought, dangerous, he quitted the Kamiah Mission for the Sandwich Islands after three years among the Indians. Cornelius Rogers was a native of Utica, New York; but at the time of his joining Gray's missionary party was living at Cincinnati, Ohio. He remained as teacher at the different missions until 1842, when he went to the Willamette Valley to settle, soon after which he died. Hines' Oregon Hist., 135–6; White's Ten Years in Or., 198–9; Gray's Hist. Or., 270–1.

    Dr Samuel J. Parker, son of Rev. Samuel Parker, in a manuscript called The Northwest and Pacific Coast of the United States, gives a treatise on the early history of the Oregon territory, and defends his father from the slurs contained in Gray's Hist. Or. The manuscript lacks only a personal knowledge of the subject by the author to be valuable. It is written in a fair and manly spirit, though not without some errors.