First the Good News
By Renee Rusler, Park Ranger
On April 8th, 1845, Dr. Whitman sat down to write. He had much to report to the board that supported his mission in the Oregon Country, where he and his wife worked with the Cayuse Indians. Let's start with the good news.
The Whitmans now had a sawmill. It was located about 20 miles east of the mission up in the Blue Mountains. Dr. Whitman saw many uses for the boards that would be produced. The sawmill was made possible through the hard work of many individuals. Several emigrant families had spent that winter with the Whitmans before continuing on to the Willamette Valley. Many repaid the Whitmans with either livestock or by doing chores. Dr. Whitman reported:
The Whitmans had expanded their family by taking in seven children who had lost their parents while coming west:
Dr. Whitman wrote that he was pleased with the progress in agriculture that the Cayuse were making:
In fact, the Cayuse needed more plows:
Some of the Emigrants even worked for the Cayuse:
Progress was also being made on the religious front. The missionaries had translated the Gospel of Matthew into Nez Perce, a language spoken by the Cayuse:
But not all was going well. In that very same letter, Dr. Whitman mentioned several issues of concern that would eventually contribute to the tragic end of the mission.
This is part 34 of "A Missionary Saga." More from Season 3
Next: Now the Bad News
Whitman, Dr. Marcus. April 8, 1845. Letter to Rev. David Greene, Corresponding Secretary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Whitman Mission Collection.
Did You Know?
Wagons used on the Oregon Trail had to carry nearly 2000 pounds of supplies. They traveled 2000 miles or more to the Oregon Country. Most wagons were pulled by oxen as they could eat the prairie grass and survive without lots of food for lengthy periods.