Waiilatpu April 8th 1845
Rev David Greene
Sect A B C F M.
Mission House Boston
My Dear Sir
I have received no letters from you since I wrote last fall. I write this to send by way of Montreal. I will speak of the particulars of our mission affairs first before any remarks.
The Immigration were late before all came along. After supplying all that came with provision and urging all to go on that could, twelve familes wintered with us - besides a family of seven orphans whose father + mother both died on the way. These last we took into our own family + have them yet and shall be likely to keep them. The two oldest are boys the eldest fourteen - The others are girls - the youngest was only five months old when she arrived and much emaciated - and sick - but with all the others is now healthy and strong.
I paid on our bill in cash - and Doctor White's orders £ 50 - 4 - 4, and to Mr Littlejohn $128.36 in cash - besides $507.07 in notes yet due on the people who went to the Willamette. I am endeavouring to make these notes answer to pay as fast as I can - I took some ten or twelve oxen also by way of exchange. And partly in order to give employment to those who wintered with us, but more from the necessity of having boards and timber for the use of the Station and supply the Indians - last but not least to prepare fencing for ourselves + the Indians, I have been building a Saw mill - which is now in a state of forwardness + which I hope to start soon after planting is over - I have mostly paid for the work as I went along in provisions.
The mill is about twenty miles off in the Blue mountains where we have an abundance of timber - and a fine seat with a good road to reach it We had most of the irons on hand. The flour mill has no house over it and all my roofs are to be repaired besides the various other demands for lumber. I am satisfied it is best to build the Saw mill for it would cost as much to get what lumber we want for the Station only, and in this way the mill will be ready for future use - for our selves the Indians and perhaps a Settlement. I do not think it will detract from my ability to meet my expenses as most of whom I employed would owe me and not be able to pay - and in as much as it will soon save other expences.
Some of the Indians are hiring land broken for them by those who are here still - which is done at the rate of from three to five acres for an inferior horse. Ploughs are in great demand - I have sold even my last cast plough from the States - as they are the ones prefered by the Indians. Will you please send the castings without wood - for twenty five ploughs of a small and middle size pattern - and the same number next year or if more convenient fifty at once as I have no doubt all will be taken in one year. A horse is given for a plough and the horses are sold for from ten to fifteen dollars to meet expences. Extra points are desired and bolts if required
I am now drawing on Mr Spalding. I had to do the same last year. We have not entered into regular accounts with each other - but shall do so if thought best. It is impossible for us to refuse those who are hungry even although they cannot pay us and in some cases can not even secure payment. Situated as we are - necessity compells us to becom supplyers to Immigrants and we may as well make the best of it we can - I mean to get means of payment for my expences - but I do not want to make gain. As I now have three boys who are able to take care of herds and another who even now can help, I am trying to see what I can make out of the cattle + sheep of our old stock disposing of the males + keeping the increase females. The cattle I buy in payment for provision - I sell again mostly to Indians - but in a way to meet expences. So you see I use all my available means to meet current expenditures
Last year a small party of Waiilatpu Walla Walla Indian and one Spokan went to California to explore the way and prepare to get cattle by bringing a few - By some imprudence of theirs and probably intemperance and haste of Capt Suture and some Americans who live on his possessions - Elijah Heading a fine young man son of the Walla Walla Chief was killed being shot down while in the fort without arms - and with but four companions - Elijah was educated by the Methodist mission - and was hopefully pious well behaved towards whites - This occasioned the hasty return of the party leaving the Cattle they had bought + bringing the horses and mules about which the dispute arose that caused the death of the young man. Upon their return we had a great deal of excitement and rumors but they have shown much forbearance to other whites and are likely to continue at peace with them. It is now a trying era in their history for their intercourse with Americans is increasing and with it their temtation and avarice.
A cause of much anxiety to me has arisen in connexion with these things and the death of a young man by apoplexy. It is the custom of the Canadians - who are as superstitious as the Indians themselves - to awe them through their superstition of sorcery - by telling them that such and such white men are more largely endowed with supernatural power - than even there own Tewats (Sorcerers). I have been one who even before I came among them from the time Mr Parker was here - who have been held forth to them as a sorcerer of great power. Much of this was well enough intended on account of my medical profession but ill timed. I imagine partly to test the question - and partly from superstition they have been saying - I caused the death of the young man who died of apoplexy - and such like things. An impression of this kind among them if strengthed by such circumstances - and by the countenance of such men as the Canadians - and perhaps by Priests - would make my stay among them useless + dangerous - and might induce me to leave at once - Some very trying remarks have been made also on the occasion of the death of the Chief Waptashtakmahlin. His son came to me as he was dying - and in a passion told me "I had killed his Father - and that it would not be a difficult matter for me to be killed -" You are aware already of their habit to kill their own Medicine men as they are commonly called when an excuse offers by the death of some of their friends. Two of the Gentlemen of the Hon Hudson B. Company have fallen in this way since we have been in this country -
We look for a Jesuit Station some where in this vicinity as Mr DeSmit has appointed to meet the Indians at Walla Walla some time in this month to arrange for this I do not think they have gained any favours for some time past - but still no doubt they will get enough to encourage a station among them as they think it will create competition in such supplies as the mission is wont to furnish them - I do not think I could be induced to come to such a people were it to be done again - with the present experiance - it is quite different when the question is of continuance or abandonment - I look upon our situation here as having done enough for the cause of Christianity + Civilization to more than compensate for all the labour + expence involved even aside from the Indians - A vast change has already been wrought among them There are but few who have not cattle - a number have sheep + nearly all have plantations, more or less - These things will be likely to deter them from acts of violence to the whites lest they become the greatest sufferers in case of war. They are putting forth vigorous efforts at the call of Doct White to restore any horses or cattle which have been left by the Immigrants in passing such as were stolen lost or gave out by the way. This is done in order to prevent a contemplated attacked of the Willamette settlement upon them for the animals lost as above described. Doct White has invited the chiefs to visit him on the Willamette in order to concert for a good understanding in such matters and also in regard to the death of Elijah Heading.
This has been one of the mildest winters we have ever seen in this country - I think very many would leave Vermont and all the Eastern States and middle as well as the Western in order to come to the country if the facts were known. I killed a Bullock - for example the tenth day of March which was but two years old this spring and which had never been fed any thing either to fatten or raise him - besides he was only a common example of bullocks of that age in the country - which weighed six hundred pounds and gave sixty five pounds of tallow with the tallow of only one hind quarter.
The fact that the best grass known abounds native and remains good at all times untill fresh grass grows - which will be at any season as soon as rains fall - is more to recommend this country than any with which I am acquainted - to which add a most mild equable climate + many of the best advantages for manufactories and commerce and what can limit its propects? I wish very much you would aid me in inducing Rev David Malin or some one in his place to adopt the interests of this country + to lay the foundation for our religious + Literary institutions - I hope it will not be left for this the only spot on the western coast of America where Protestantism can soon gain a footing to be added to the Jesuit dominions of this coast It only needs the line to be settled and then no doubt arrangements will be made at once to settle this upper county - It is here we hope to see a balance of eastern men - + no where on the Globe can a place be found where they can take the lead in settling a section so well - and where all the advantages of Climate Health Agriculture Pasturage Manufactories and Commerce can so confidently be expected -
We expect an Annual meeting of the mission on the eight of May at this place - I have no doubt it will be one of interest and harmony as I trust a spirit of kindness prevails throughout the Mission -
The translation of the Gospel of Mathew by Mr Spalding has been accomplished in a most satisfactory manner and altogether in so brief and explicit a form as fully to remove any imputation of Mr Smiths that the Nes Perces language was not adequate for that purpose - English words rather than Greek or Hebrew have been used where foreign words were needed - as the expectation is to assimulate to that language.
We hired a Printer the past winter to print the translation of Mathew and also a small book in native + English in order to try the effect of teaching English.
Mrs Spalding was blessed with the addition of a daughter born on the 20th of March. Her health as also that of Mrs Whitmans is better than it was feared they would be a year ago
We have had an excellent school for our family and those who wintered here - Mr Spalding [also?] sent his eldest daughter. The teacher Mr Alonson Hinman is a young man from the state of New York. He has become hopefully pious since his residence with us. We hope to keep him for next winter as he wishes to spend his time in reading + study - He now teaches a part of the day for his board to which I intend to add some
It will be a great blessing if a minister is found to come for this station.
We have had no native school - nor is it likely we can have before next winter.
Ellis the Nes Perces Chief who was educated at the Red River by Mr Cockran says he wants the Nes Perces to have only protestant teachers and they would be most thankful for a man to take Mr Smiths place at Kamiah -
I hope Mr McKinlay's books have been sent as he paid $100, on our bill last year.
With much esteem
I am your Obedient Servant