To Rev. Greene: May 10, 1839

Wieletpoo Walla Walla River Oregon Territory

May 10th 1839

Rev David Greene
Sec of the A.B.C.F.M.

Dear Sir

Accompanying this is my report of expences for the past year. It some what exceeds my limitation, but I suppose the Committee will be willing to allow for the extra expense of keeping the reinforcement, which will probably bring my report within the limits of the Board.

As there has been many incorrect representations concerning the facilities for obtaining supplies +c in this country I hope you will pardon me while I represent in some measure our situation + the policy by which we have been governed. And in the first place, as you introduce Rev Samuel Parker as authority for supposing we might have saved expence I will venture to make a few statements respecting his policy in this Country + in his general tour of exploring. When he joined me at St Louis I thought he must know all that was required for our journey as he had been out before + made inquiry so that I committed all arrangements to him. He said that our personal baggage must not exceed fifty pounds + in this he wished to include every thing necessary to be carried, viz clothing, stationary, books, Medicines, Instruments, Ammunition, goods for trading supplies, +c, +c + we made our arrangements accordingly, as near as possible. In the purchase of animals he limited us to one apiece, for riding, + one for packing which we bought. Mr P took one to ride to Fort Leavenworth about thirty miles, + injured his back so that he was unfit for the journey. He then sold him + bought another. Fearing the consequence of such an accident when we might be remote from the means of other supplies, I tried to persuade him to purchase another animal, but to no effect, + so we started with but three to cross the Rocky Mountains. One mule was to pack all the provisions necessary to take us that long route, including the above items of clothing +c, besides, cooking furniture, beding, tent, axe, +c. Mr P obtained leave to put a small supply of provisions into Mr Fontanelle's waggon. And now for the task of packing; a thing I had never seen done, + had no example before me, as the company was to go up to Bellevue before arranging their packs, transporting all their goods in a boat. This task I performed alone in the streets of Liberty, + after putting all but our provisions on to the poor old mule I started alone, but did not go far before all was in disorder + needed a repacking, a scene often occurring + for which I was as often blamed by Mr P for my unskilled management. Besides Mr. Fontenelle's party, the Rev. Moses Merrill Baptist Missionary to the Otoes was in company with a loaded waggon for the supply of his own family. He had been absent from them three months waiting this opportunity, + after having purchased and prepared all things for the journey, he was obliged to leave a part, for he found himself to heavily loaded. It was not long before we found Mr F did not wish to take the trouble of our provisions, + we were forced to put them into Mr Merril's waggon, although he was obbliged with a loaded ox team, to keep up with Mr F with - mules + empty waggons. In order to do this I assisted him in taking out his boxes at every bad place, + carrying them on our backs or else lifting at the wheels in the mud +c.

Very evident tokens gave us to understand that our company was not agreeable, such as the throwing of rotten eggs at me. In order to remedy this, I used to labour with extreme exertion with Mr F's men, in crossing rivers + making rafts + bridges. +c. In this way we reached Bellevue. I found I was very much exhausted in health, having been an invalid for some years previous.

At this place the Lord had a great change in store for us, for the Cholera appearing in camp my aid was greatly sought. Mr F himself being one of the subjects of the desease, and recovering (as also most of his men.) he showed his gratitude as well as all other persons concerned in the company, by bestowing upon us every favour in their power.

At this place I urged Mr P to purchase another horse to pack our provisions as we should be from three to four weeks before we could reach Buffalo, but to no effect. After much entreaty I received for a reply, "You may purchase one if you will take the responsibility." I replyed No Mr P, not under such circumstances. In such a situation I cannot go on any farther. After this he reluctantly consented to buy one, but would not hire a man to assist in packing although we were repeatedly urged to do it by good judges, who were well acquanted with the toils + hardships of the route. After having lived three weeks upon Mr Merril in addition to Messrs Dunbar + Allis, we were obliged to draw upon his small stock of bacon which he had just brought up from Missouri at so much labour + expense, + upon Mr F for flour + corn meal, not withstanding he was actually limited for the supply of his own expedition, his men being in great want before they reached Buffalo.

In a proof copy of Mr P journal which Mr Gray brought us Mr Parker does not speak of Mr Merrill as being in company with us from Liberty, nor with reference to the time we spent at his house. For the correctness of these statements, + much more that might be said. I would refer you to the Rev Moses Merrill Missionary to the Otoes, + Rev Mr Dunbar + Mr Allis Missionaries to the Pawnees. I might mention others but these will suffice.

After leaving Bellevue I had two animals to pack, this being the task of each of Mr. F's men, but which must be done at much more labour, for instead of regular Bails of Merchandise, ours consisted of cooking materials, provisions, tent, beding +c which were all to be unbailed + bailed at every encampment, together with almost the entire labour of cooking getting wood for fire, + other servile work of an encampment. In three or four days after starting from Bellevue the Mules back became sore. It is in vain for me to try to describe my feelings in view of such an animal, expecting every day he would be unfit for labour, without the possibility of an exchange as we had but one horse for each of us to ride + the other two were heavily packed, not excepting the time after we reach Buffalo.

Soon after passing the Pawnees I was taken sick with a painful bowel complaint. Being often obliged to stop, I fell in the rear of camp, + was unable to overtake them again, untill they had long been encamped for I was to weak to ride faster than a walk. I must have failed by the way had it not been for one of the Companies Clerks who kindly kept me company + assisted me in mounting + dismounting my horse.

Before I was able to stand I was obliged to do our cooking or else do without eating, for I do not recollect that Mr P ever got a meal during my sickness either for himself or me, but went to eat with Mr F. + it was only by the favour of his cook that I obtained a little food occasionally. During this time Mr P was obliged to pack the animals, which task he found himself very unskilful + poorly able to perform I write this to show how unfit it was for us to be without an experienced servant.

Notwithstanding all these perplexities + trials + much more - a kind Providence brought us to Rendesvous. - And now for my return. Mr. P left me with only my riding horse + this was to carry my bed, clothing, Provisions + myself, The price of an ordinary horse was one hundred dollars, + as I did not wish to make any more expense than I could help, bought a horse for five dollars, which was a disgrace to any man to pack on account of his extreme sore back.

So you see me on my way home - On parting with me, Mr P engaged a man by the name of Compo to act as a servant + interpreter besides an Indian to take care of his horses + do his packing. I learn by a letter of Mr Parker to Doct McLaughlin, that on his reaching Walla Walla he obtained goods of Mr Pambrun to pay Compo + the Indian, for which Mr P told him he would be charged eighteen dollars.

No price was agreed upon with Compo but Mr P was to give him what was right.

Now could so small a compensation be right? He left his trapping to accompany Mr P + had to await his return in the spring, living upon what Mr P gave him. After wintering with the Indians + suffering much, he came back to W. W. to meet Mr P, as he had appointed in the fall previous, but he was not there. + being in a starving condition he was obliged to engage to the Hon H B Co. for two years. All this transpired much to the dissatisfaction of Compo, who is a faithful man + has since become a member of our church. We cannot say how much good Mr P's tour will do others, it has done us none. for instead of meeting us at Rendezvous as he agreed he neglected even to write a single letter containing any information concerning the country Company Indians prospects, or advice of any kind whatever. It is true the Indians did not like to take Mr P through the heart of the snake country to gratify him + expose themselves, but would have taken him their usual route to Rendezvous. + besides he had two other opportunities of going the very route he wished, The first with Capt Wyeth of Boston who left Walla Walla soon after Mr P gave up going with the Indians, with a safe party + whom we met at Rendesvous. + second by Mr McLeod who started still later + also met us there + with whom we accompanied on his returned Since he choose not to avail himself of these very favorable opportunities to meet us as agreed upon we cannot avoid the conclusion that he prefered to go home by way of England in the Companys ship as he said he had the offer of a free passage. This was our impression by a note received from him at R. We mentioned this to Doct McLoughlin on our arrival at Vancouver + he seemed very much surprized + said he did not know how Mr P could think he had offered it for it was not in his power to do so, if he would

If Mr Parker was to contract to take a party across the Mountains + sustain them in this field, I think no one would be found satisfied with the arrangements he would make. In conclusion let me say it is much less than we could have expected, that we should have been allowed to start at all, + more still, to have traveled with the company, under such circumstances, for any one can see, it must be at the risk of their having the trouble to carry not only our provisions, but in the event of a single accident of carrying us also.

I need not make any further comment but proceed to state the policy which has governed us. On our arrival at Vancouver Doct McLoughlin kindly offered to favour us with every possible assistance + provisions for the present, but told us we must try to make ourselves independent of them as soon as possible. Among other reasons said that in case of a change in the person in charge we might not be favoured by them He further urged us to take such things as we wanted at once for he said it might be difficult to send up supplies at another time + that now he would send all we needed.

Instead of getting flour at Walla Walla as stated by Mr P at five dollars a barrel, our first was brought from V at a cost of three pence sterling a pound, in bags of one hundred weight each, the bags amounting to five shillings apiece + the transportation to seven shillings each bag. making the cost of two hundred weight of flour at Walla W just four pounds sterling.

The first year after we arrived the crops failed almost entirely at W. W. I had it in my power to furnish them with about twenty five bushels of corn from my first crop. W. W. labours under very great disadvantage for farming having never yet provided for its own consumption but in part. One hundred bags are brought yearly from Colvile to supply this post + the passing business of the Company.

Mr Spalding + myself were unable to eat potatoes before this last year. His first crop was almost an entire failure + although I had a tolerable crop the demand was so great for seed I could afford but few for eating. At the present time it is quite different. W. W. has doubled its quantity of cultivated lands as well as most of the Company's other posts, + we were favoured with a full supply for ourselves. Last year I cultivated three hundred bushels of corn seventy five of wheat + one thousand bushels of potatoes. besides a large supply of turnips + garden vegitables.

Last fall we put up a Doby house of nineteen by forty feet front + an ell of twenty two by thirty + prepared boards + materials to finish it. It has been occupied by Mr Smith who has now gone to spend the summer with a camp of Indians in order to obtain the language

It was expected that I should have gone to form a new station in a more central situation, but it has been defered for the present.

Mr + Mrs Hall from the Sandwich Island have arived in safety + are now proceeding to Mr S with the press. Mrs H's health is some what improved by the voyage + probably will gain much by a change of climate.

The prospect of good to the Indians are as favourably as ever if we are permited to labour without molestation from the Catholics.

This is sent to Rendezvous hoping a safe conveyance will be found if not it will be returned

With all respect for your instructions + earnest prayer for the success of your Missions

I am Dear Sir
Yours Truly
Marcus Whitman

Supplement May 17th

I have only written of things such as I knew in relation to Mr Parker, + this not as an attack, but as I suppose but as I suppose in the best way to relieve your mind that all future operations could not follow the same policy. In conversation yesterday with Mr Ermatinger, who spent the night with us (in company with two other gentlemen) he said, that upon arriving at Vancouver the winter Mr Parker was there the Gentlemen were admiring his fine gun, + told him Mr P would beg it of him. He told them to avoid the necessity of refusing him he should not see it. + added, It was the expectation. of all the Gentlemen that Mr P would beg every thing that pleased his fancy or suited his convenience. And to conclude I must say Providence has not enabled any of us who have followed Mr Parker to equal his triumph "that he was not brought to the necessity of eating dog or horse flesh." I saw even Mr Hall on his arrival at Walla Walla eating it. + we have killed + eaten twenty three or four horses since we have been here not that we suffered which caused us to eat them, but, if we had not eaten them, we should have suffered. + that too without the means of supply. from any source we know of, for Mr S was told he had got all that could be spared at Colvile the year before last and at that time Walla W. had less grain than I had.

We have just received inteligence that the Company's ship had arrived from England but has brought no letters from the United States. There have been arrivals at the Island's for the year past, at the time of her passing. Our hopes of receiving letters from home from that source are now cut off, for we expect no more arrivals this season.

M. Whitman

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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