Traveling Home with the "Great Migration"
By Renee Rusler, Park Ranger
The trip east was a success. The missions would remain open! It was now time for Dr. Whitman to return to his home in the Oregon Country. His plan was to catch a ride with the emigrant wagon trains heading west. He didn't write much about this journey, but others did.
According to emigrant Jesse Applegate:
This was the biggest group going west up to that point. It became known as the "Great Migration of 1843."
The emigrants who were traveling without livestock felt frustrated by the slow pace of the herds. Eventually, the group divided into two "columns:" those with livestock and those without. The two columns would travel at different speeds, but would stay close enough to support each other. Jesse Applegate was chosen to be the captain of the "cow column." He wrote about his experiences in "A Day with the Cow Column." Here is some of what he said:
Dr. Whitman realized that this large wagon train was a sign of things to come and he had some ideas on how to make things better for future travelers.
This is part 31 of "A Missionary Saga." More from Season 3
Applegate, Jesse. A Day with the Cow Column in 1843. Originally published for the Caxton Club in 1934. Reprinted by Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington. 1990.
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.