The Whitman Centennial, Incorporated - Part 4

 

On May 22, 1939, the Whitman Centennial, Inc., finally secured title to the desired property. [68] Richardson explained that several suits of law had been instituted to quiet the title on the land such as the suit brought against the Oregon Pioneer and Historical Society:

Since the originators of this Society had all died, it was necessary to bring in every one of the many descendants . . . as defendants. By securing quit claim deeds and waivers of right to partial ownership, the title was cleared. [69]

On August 8, 1939, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior accepted the entire 45 acres, subject to final payment of taxes, a possessory rights report, and issuance of a title certificate and insurance policy. [70] Finally, on February 10, 1940, West received notice from A. J. Knox, Acting Chief Counsel, National Park Service, that "conditions have now been satisfactorily met and title to the land is now vested in the United States." [71] The Whitman National Monument was officially established with 45.84 acres under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

Both the National Park Service and the Whitman Centennial, Incorporated deserve credit for establishing the Whitman National Monument. Those members particularly committed to this project were Cameron Sherwood, who settled the legal issues, Marvin Richardson, who introduced Park Service personnel to the mission story, and Herbert West, who coordinated the celebration. Without their interest and dedication it is doubtful whether the mission would have received national recognition. In fact, National Park Service Director Newton B. Drury said upon the occasion of the Monument's dedication that "the Whitman Centennial Association deserves full credit for its tireless efforts in the creation of this national monument . . . ." [72] In 1940 the Whitman Centennial, Inc., entrusted their "pet project" to the National Park Service. In return, Park Service representatives Olaf T. Hagen and Russell C. Ewing respected local citizens' ideas and, although they did not promise to implement each suggestion, they regularly informed the public of development plans. By working closely with local experts in this manner, the National Park Service gained valuable information and ensured cooperative and friendly relations with Walla Walla citizens. Established in this climate of goodwill, the Whitman National Monument represented not only five years of Whitman Centennial and National Park Service interest, but nearly a century of community involvement at the Whitman Mission.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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