• 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 The following is from an unpublished manuscript titled "The Fearful Scourge of 1832."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.”

 


Sources

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

Did You Know?

painting of mission with wagon in front

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.