Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot

MARCUS WHITMAN

PATHFINDER and PATRIOT


STATUE OF MARCUS WHITMAN Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/9

Marcus Whitman
PATHFINDER and PATRIOT




BY

REV. MYRON EELLS, D. D.

Author of "Indian Missions," "Ten Years at Skokomish," "Father Eells," Etc.



SEATTLE
THE ALICE HARRIMAN COMPANY
MCMIX

COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY
THE ALICE HARRIMAN COMPANY
All Rights Reserved

PRESS OF LOWMAN & HANFORD CO.
PLATES BY MARING & BLAKE
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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CHAPTER II.

ACROSS THE CONTINENT.


Early in March Dr. and Mrs. Whitman left home on their bridal tour of a few thousand miles. Through snow and mud, by sleigh and stage, they went to Pittsburg. From there they traveled by steamer to St. Louis, being joined by Rev. H. H. Spalding and wife at Cincinnati. It was their first intention to go far up the Missouri River by boat, as Lewis and Clark had done, but they failed in securing passage in a boat of the American Fur Company, and, therefore, had to make their journey entirely by land. While at St. Louis, they secured the pledge of protection for their journey from the American Fur Company, who were then fitting out their annual expedition for the mountains. They went by boat to Liberty Landing, where Mr. Gray joined them. From this point Mr. Spalding started by land with the horses, cattle and two wagons for Council Bluffs, while Dr. Whitman waited with the women and goods for the Company's boat. After some days the boat passed, purposely leaving them behind. Because of this bad faith he was obliged to send forward to Mr. Spalding for horses, and then the very serious question arose whether they could overtake the Company, which by that time had four or five days the start of them. It was a desperate race, but they won it. Dr. Whitman had the four-horse farm wagon; Mr. Spalding the light two-horse wagon, and Mr. Gray, with the help of the two Indian boys, took charge of the horses, mules and cows.

Late in May they overtook the Company on the Loup Fork, which was about as far as it was safe for the missionary band to travel without protection. From this place they moved on well until they reached Fort Laramie. Here the Fur Company Lad been accustomed to leave their carts, but Dr. Whitman was determined on account of the ladies to take one of the wagons farther. The Company decided to try the experiment with him, as it would be for their interest in the future to take carts farther, and they took one of their carts along, putting Dr. Whitman in charge of both.

The first day they had some difficulty because of fallen timber in the river bottom, but at night the Doctor came into camp puffing and blowing, in good spirits » right side up, having upset the wagon only once, and the cart but twice. The next day the Company gave him two additional men to assist in exploring and locating the road and getting over the difficult places.

The day they reached Independence Bock there was a thrilling episode. The caravan came near being run over by a heavy herd of buffalo, which were hidden by the hills until the travelers were close upon them, and suddenly stampeded. The caravan, which was about two miles long, closed up as fast as possible, and the guard and every man that could be spared dashed out upon the head of the column of buffalo pouring down from the hills ad if there were no end to it. On they came, in spite of many rifles pouring powder and balls into them trying to turn them off. The head of the column seemed about to strike the caravan amidships, and the men, still striving to turn aside the buffalo, were actually mingling with the travelers. The horses and mules were snorting and bounding to break their lines and be off, and it seemed as if nothing could save the party from being trampled to death or stripped of their animals. But at last kind Providence interposed, the leaders yielded to the shower of balls, turned to the right, and the living torrent of "God's cattle upon a thousand hills" swept alongside the caravan with eyes gleaming fire, uttering a terrible, unearthly groan, and causing the earth to tremble by the tramp of their countless thousands, leaving a dozen or so lying dead on the ground. "The scene," says Mr. Spalding, "was fearful, thrilling and grand beyond the power of language."

Mrs. Spalding's health was very poor much of the way, especially after reaching the buffalo country, for after that there was no bread, no food but buffalo meat, and it did not agree with her. Sometimes she seemed to eat nothing, but to subsist on the odor of camphor and spirits of turpentine and of the sage brush filling the air. Once she fainted. Then she was taken from her horse, laid down, fanned until she revived, and then was placed on her horse again, weeping and saying, "Oh, that I had one crust of bread from my mother's swill pail." Again she begged to be left to the Indians. "I cannot sit upon that horse in this burning sun any longer. Oh, this sickness, this terrible pain." She said to her husband, "I cannot live much longer. Go on and save yourself, and carry the Book of God to those Indians. I shall never see them; my work is done, but bless God, he has brought me thus far. Tell my mother I am not sorry that I came."

July 4th they entered the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, the dividing line between the Atlantic and Pacific Slopes. There, on Independence Day, they alighted from their horses, and, kneeling down, with the Bible and the American flag in their hands, they took possession of the Pacific Coast as the home of American mothers and for the Church of Christ. They thanked God for His sustaining, protecting care over them, for the buffalo food sent to them daily, and humbly commended themselves, especially Mrs. Spalding, in her sinking, feeble state, to His protecting care for the rest of the journey. "And standing as we did," says Mr. Spalding, "upon the summit of those sky-built mountains, with the bright forms of Brainerd, of Butler, of Elliott, and Worcester, early missionaries to the Indians on the Atlantic shores, almost in sight, bending over the pearly gates of Heaven to bid us God speed, we especially commended and consecrated our mission, to be commenced somewhere in the yet far-off West, to Him who had sent four Indians from beyond the mountains to the rising sun, with the Macedonian cry for the Book of God and missionaries to teach it. The moral and physical scene was grand and thrilling. Hope and joy beamed on the face of my dear wife, though pains racked her frame. She seemed to receive new strength. 'Is it a reality or a dream,' she exclaimed, 'that after four months of hard and painful journeyings I am alive, and actually standing on the summit of the Rocky Mountains, where yet the foot of white woman has never trod?' There were no martial hosts, no fife and drum, no booming cannon, no orator of the day, nor reading of the Declaration of Independence, but

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FOURTH OF JULY, 1836

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THE PRINTING PRESS

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COLUMBIA RIVER AND THE DALLES

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"We left Waiilatpu October 3, 1842, traveled rapidly, reached Fort Hall in eleven days, remained two days to recruit and make a few purchases. The Doctor engaged a guide, and we left for Fort Winte. We changed from a direct route to one more southern, through the Spanish country, via Salt Lake, Taos and Santa Fe. On our way from Fort Hall to Fort Winte we had terribly severe weather. The snows retarded our progress and blinded the trail, so we lost much time. After arriving at Fort Winte, and making some purchases for our trip, we took a new guide and started for Fort Uncumpagra, situated on the waters of Grand River, in the Spanish country. Here our stay was very short We took a new guide and started for Taos. After being out some four or five days we encountered a terrific snow storm, which forced us to seek shelter in a deep ravine, where we remained snowed in for four days, at which time the storm had somewhat abated, and we attempted to make our way out upon the highlands, but the snow was so deep and the winds so piercing and cold, we were compelled to return to camp and wait a few days for a change of weather. Our next effort to reach the highlands was more successful; but, after spending several days wandering around in the snow, without making much headway, our guide told us that the deep snow had so changed the face of the country that he was completely lost and could take us no further. This was a terrible blow to the Doctor, but he was determined not to give it up without another effort.

We at once agreed that the Doctor should take the guide and return to Fort Uncumpagra and get a new guide, and I remain in camp with the animals until he could return, which he did in seven days with our new guide, and we were now on our route again. Nothing of much import occurred but

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LOST IN THE SNOW

hard and slow traveling through deep snow until we reached Grand River, which was frozen on either side about one-third across. Although so intensely cold, the current was so very rapid that about one-third of the river in the center was not frozen. Our guide thought it would be dangerous to attempt to cross the river in its present condition, but the Doctor, nothing daunted, was the first to take the water. He mounted his horse; the guide and myself shoved the Doctor and his horse ofif the ice into the foaming stream. Away he went, completely under water, horse and all, but directly came up, and after buffeting the rapid foaming current, he reached the ice on the opposite shore a long way down the stream. He leaped from his horse upon the ice and soon had his noble animal by his side. The guide and myself forced in the pack animals, and followed the Doctor's example, and were soon on the opposite shore, drying our frozen clothes by a comfortable fire. We reached Taos in about thirty days, having suffered greatly from cold and scarcity of provisions. We were compelled to use mule meat, dogs and such other animals as came in our reach. We remained at Taos a few days only, and started for Bent's and Savery's Fort, on the head waters of the Arkansas River. When we had been out some fifteen or twenty days we met George Bent, a brother of Governor Bent, on his way to Taos. He told us that a party of mountain men would leave Bent's Fort in a few days for St. Louis, but said we would not reach the fort with our pack animals in time to join the party. The Doctor, being very anxious to join the party so he could push on as rapidly as possible to Washington, concluded to leave myself and guide with the animals, and he himself, taking the best animal, with some bedding and a small allowance of provision, started alone, hoping by rapid travel to reach the fort in time to join the St. Louis party, but to do so he would have to travel on the Sabbath, something we had not done before. Myself and guide traveled on slowly and reached the fort in four days, but imagine our astonishment when on making inquiry about the Doctor we were told that he had not arrived nor had he been heard of. I learned that the party for St. Louis was camped at the Big Cottonwood, forty miles from the fort, and at my request Mr. Savery sent an express, Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/194 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/195 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/196 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/197 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/198 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/199 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/200 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/201 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/202 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/203 Page:Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot.djvu/204

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  1. This letter was written to Rev. G. H. Atkinson, D.D., and was first published in an address of his delivered before "The Pioneer and Historical Society of Oregon," Feb. 22, 1876. It appears in the "Biography of Dr. Atkinson," p. 272. A very similar one to W. H. Gray is found in, Gray's "History of Oregon," p. 324, dated November 6, 1869.