Too Many People Under One Roof
By Renee Rusler, Park Ranger
The Whitmans and Spaldings were about to receive the extra help they had been longing for. The missionary board had sent new recruits. Dr. Whitman wrote about their feelings: “We felt like Paul when he met the brethren from Rome, ‘We thanked God and took courage.’” The new missionaries were also excited. Mr. Gray had returned to the States to get married. He brought with him his new bride, three more newlywed couples and a single gentleman. The group had been traveling together for four long, nerve-racking months. The newlyweds had shared two small tents, hence some of the friction. Here are some of their comments about arriving at the Whitmans’ mission:
Three couples - the Walkers, Eells, and Smiths - ended up spending the winter with the Whitmans. Asa Smith described the situation:
Having “such a house full” was bound to cause some problems. Entries from Mary Walker’s diary hint at the trials of those months.
Probably the saddest entry:
The winters here can be very cold. How would you feel about going camping in January? With so much dissension in the house, it is no wonder that Narcissa jumped at any chance to escape, regardless of the weather.
This is part 18 of "A Missionary Saga." More from Season 2
Next: Their Only Vacation
Drury, Clifford M. Chapter 13 (pdf 1.5 mb) of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the Opening of Old Oregon. 1994. Northwest Interpretive Association: Seattle, Washington.
Drury, Clifford M. On to Oregon: The Diaries of Mary Walker & Myra Eells. 1998. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln and London.
Thompson, Erwin N. A Feasibility Study on Historical Reconstruction, Whitman Mission National Historic Site, Washington. 1973. Denver Service Center, National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
Did You Know?
The tule lodge offers a comfortable place for the people inside. The structure is held up by wooden poles and covered with mats made of tule. Tules are a type of sedge; they grow in marshy areas; and are also called "bullrushes." Tules are stronger than they look. A tule lodge can withstand rain and wind.