• bible sitting next to a teapot

    Whitman Mission

    National Historic Site Washington

"The Fearful Scourge of 1832"

Rev. Wakeman was a contemporary of the Whitmans. His personal reminiscences of Marcus and Narcissa appeared in a Prattsburgh newspaper in 1893 and 1898. The following is from an unpublished manuscript titled "The Fearful Scourge of 1832." It was probably written sometime after 1890.

“No summer in the history of the American people has ever equaled 1832 for excitement and general prostration of all enterprise. Every newspaper was freighted with the number of the dead and dying in the city—every breeze that swept by our doors, brought rumors (and often greatly exaggerated rumors) of the rapid increase of the scourge in the villages and inland towns . . . The plague was bad; so exceedingly bad that the present generation can form no adequate conception of its fearful ravages. Merchants were afraid to travel to the cities to buy goods. Because of the lack of knowledge about disease germs, all kinds of foolish superstitions swept the country. Some thought that food was responsible for the disease and for a time melons, cucumbers, green corn, and other vegetables were rejected, and even in some place their sale was forbidden by law.”



Drury, Clifford M. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the Opening of Old Oregon. 1994. Northwest Interpretive Association: Seattle, Washington.

Did You Know?

Oregon Trail Wagon

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.