(Revised February 2007)
Alice Clarissa Whitman
The Whitmans' own daughter who was born on March 14, 1837 (Narcissa's twenty-ninth birthday). She was the first white girl born to American parents west of the Rockies. Tragically, Alice Clarissa drowned in the Walla Walla River on June 23, 1839, at the age of two years and three months. more . . .
Helen Mar Meek
Helen’s mother was Meek’s first wife, a Nez Perce woman. Helen was named after Lady Helen Mar, the heroine in The Scottish Chiefs. Helen was around 9 years old when she died of the measles in December, 1847 while being held captive.
Mary Ann Bridger
In a letter to her sister Jane, Narcissa wrote: “Mary Ann is of a mild disposition and easily governed and makes but little trouble.” She was the second child accepted by the Whitmans. Narcissa also told Jane, “The Lord has taken our own dear child away, so that we may care for the poor outcasts of the country and suffering children.”
Mary Ann lived with the Whitmans until the attack of 1847. She was taken to the Willamette Valley with the rest of the ransomed hostages, but she died a few months later, possibly as the result of exposure from the trip down the river or from poor medical care during the month of captivity. Mary Ann Bridger was eleven years old when she died.
Marcus’ 13 year old nephew, Perrin Whitman begged to return to Waiilatpu with his uncle in 1843. Perrin’s father “reluctantly consented after three days’ pleading.” In later years Perrin recalled adoption papers being drawn up, but New York State did not have any adoption laws until 1873. Possibly what Perrin remembered seeing was an apprenticeship contract.
The Sager Children
John------------- 13 (killed during the attack on the mission in 1847)
Henry and Naomi both died during the trip west. The seven orphaned children, one a five month old baby, arrived at the Whitmans' mission at the end of October 1844.
Drury, Clifford M. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the Opening of Old Oregon. 1994. Northwest Interpretive Association: Seattle, Washington.
Pringle, Catherine Sager. Across the Plains in 1844. 1989. Ye Galleon Press: Fairfield, Washington.
Did You Know?
The Whitmans’ mission was important to early Oregon Trail travelers. Those who were sick, tired, or hungry or who needed a wagon fixed would make the side trip to the mission. Some would spend the winter with the Whitmans before continuing on to the Willamette Valley.