To Rev. Greene: May 5, 1837

Wiiletpoo

May 5th 1837

Rev David Green
Secretary A. B. C. F. M.

Dear Sir

By the fostering care of a kind providence I am permitted to address you from my location after having passed a comfortable winter as to food raiment + House; in health to a great degree. We all arrived at Walla Walla 9 miles below the junction of Lewis + Clarks Rivers early in September as I wrote you from thence by the Hudson Bay Co's express + also by Ship from Vancouver. At Vancouver we were received in the kindest maner by Doct McLoughlin Chief Factor +c + by all the other gentlemen of the Company. After obtaning such supplies as we needed for building + exploring and making arrangement for future supplis we returned to explore + build leaving our wives at Vancouver. After exploring we determined to make two locations one on the Walla Walla River about 25 miles from the Fort in the Cayuse so called by Traders or (as they call themselves) Wiiletpoo Country; the other in the Nez perces Country about 100 miles from the former. It was determined I should remain with Cayuses + Brother Spalding with Nez perces Brother Spalding proceeded to Vancouver [Blurred spot] further supplies + to return with our wives Brother Gray + myself commenced to built at Wiiletpoo 14th Oct The frame to my house is 30 by 36 built in a substantial maner with good chambers The leantoo only is finished making two bed rooms kitchen + pantry. We commenced house keping the 10th Dec The remainder of my hous I intend to finish in the fall. The 22 Nov Brother Spalding left Walla Walla for the Nez perces country to make his location accompanyed by Mrs Spalding + Brother Gray. The Cayuse originally spoke a distinct language from the Nez perces but have so long intermarried that Nez perces is spoken by all + the younger ones do not understand Cayuse at all. The Walla Wallas also are to a great extent able to speak Nez perces Several have been with us during the winter + spring + many expres a wish to come next year + cultivate land. We shall not have access to as many Indians at first as Brother Spalding but in the end I think as many will be benefited by this station as that. We have far more good land for cultivation here than there probably more than at any other place on the uper Columbia Our Horses + cows wintered as well as those that are fed + stabled in N York notwithstanding their long journey + as the Traders + Indians say unusually severe winter. We had fall of Snow which commenced 16th Dec + fell about 18 inches in depth which remained on the ground for six weeks. All the other snow storms were trifling not amounting to more than an inch in depth From the first of Feb the ground has been bare + early in March grass began to spring so that cattle + horses began to thrive. I began to plow the first week in March but was unable to do much on account of Mrs Whitmans health My team consists of one yoke oxen belonging to one of the Cayuse Chiefs + a yoke of bulls one belonging to the Co + one to the mission both of which I have broken two horses + four mules; With this team I am able to break the ground very well I have two acres of peas sowed 9 acres of corn planted + intend to plant 3 more + have planted + intend to plant 2 acres of potatoes, in all 16 acres If associates come I think they will have little to fear for want of provision. I hope to obtain wheat for fall sowing

We feel we have passed a comfortable winter indeed; but still at my place we have eaten nine wild horses bought of the Indians at a cost of about $6. dollars each in goods We have had a tolerable supply of flour corn butter + a little porke + venison + a few potatoes We are now getting fish in small quantity but soon expect to get plenty of Salmon of which I hope to salt a good supply. A few Indians only wintered with us + did not afford us a very favorable oportunity for acquiring the language Early in March most of them returned + for a time labored very hard to prepare ground to plant. All of both [Hole in paper] working faithfully But owing to severe inflamation of the lungs among them they Suspended their labor. I had no means of assisting them but by loaning hoes of which I had but fifteen but still they have succeded in Making a good beginning + having finished planting the sickness having abated have removed to dig camas a native root of which they make extensive use. They will return to hoe their corn in about four weeks Their sickness gave me much trouble from their love of their native juglers for they are nothing less giving no medicine + relying solely upon incantions The Cayuses show a strong desire to be taught + the only thing which has given me trouble among them is their wish for me to become an oposition Trader among them. They have seen a little of oposition in trade which has caused them to think more of large prices for their beaver + horses than any thing else. I trust they have now given up the idea of trade on our part. We have made but little attempt to teach them except to sing with which they are much pleased + adopt in their worship which they have at the Chif's lodge night + morning + sabbath forenoon. In the afternoon of Sabbath I assemble them for worship + instruction My house was so small it could not admit many to our family worship all would have been glad to attend. The presant worship of the Indians was established by the Traders of the Hudson Bay Co. + consists of singing a form of prayer taght them after which the Chief gives them a talk. It has had a favorable influence upon them in rendering them more civil + little addicted to steal. Some of the leading truths of Revelation have been taught them. A system of punishment for crime established also by the traders has done much good. I think there can be no doubt of their rediness to adopt cultivation + when they have plenty of food they will be little disposed to wander. So far the Hudson Bay Company have furnished what we desired but much better farming utentials could be Sent from the U States If a direct conveyance canot be had to the Columbia let things be sent to Mr Bingham Sandwich Islands + from thence the H. B. Co will bring them once or twice a year Plows + hoes are the main farming utentialls we need. The number of hoes ought to be very great + of a strong make. We shall be in great want of books for teaching the English language We think it all important to acquire the native language + reduce it to writing + teach it but probably it will never be desirable to print it but only teach it to instruct + interest the parents. Books with plates + cuts + cards + prints are all important You are much better [informd?] as to what we want in this particulars than we are + I trust will send us book + apparatus accordingly

Thus far the Lord has signally Blest us + prospered all our journeyings + temporal provisions Brother Gray left us in March with the intention spending a year with The Flatheads in order to obtain their language + a knowledge of their Country; but on meetting Brother Spalding at [spog?] they resolved he should return home this season instead of next. The Nez perces are to accompany him with horses to exchange for cattle. For want of sufficient notice + on account of some [horses] given to an American Trader by the Cayuse for which they received no return as promised + also on account of some horses given the Rev Messrs Lee finding a disaffection I do not like to take the responsibility of sending their animals + therefore no Cayuses will accompany him. The boys I took home one remained with Brother Spalding + the other with me The one with me I have lately expeled from my house for bad conduct They were very usefull to us in driving our cattle. We are in good health at presant + in this respect have been highly favored We have a daughter born the fourtenth March whome we call Alice Clarissa I trust we shall have associate sent us + my opinion is they had better come by land + let all baggage be sent by water If Mr David Wild of Cohocton Steuben Co N York comes he is a [Blurred spot] Irons + all necessary provision for a grist mill should be sent with the exception of stones which can be made here better if tools are sent for the purpose. Irons also for a Saw Mill would be usefull I do not know what oportunity you will have to send but if my Friends do not send me Medical + religious books I wish the Board to Send what they see fit as I have but few indeed Mr Gray I believe is to return his object in going home I suppose is to mak arrangement for that purpose + to remain permanently in the Mission One of the Cayuse Chiefs has 3 or four cows + heifers + also a Walla Walla Chief a few. The Hudson Bay Co. have about 1,200 head of cattle at their different posts but none are sold We feel ourselves quite alone but still if we had associates we could not be protected but by the power of God only We feel ourselves greatly unfit for the work but still such as we are we will try to do what we can the Lord strengthening us

I am Dear Sir
Yours in Gospel
Labor + Love
Marcus Whitman

Last updated: March 1, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

328 Whitman Mission Road
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Phone:

(509) 522-6360

Contact Us