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´╗┐Title: A Survivor's Recollections of the Whitman Massacre
Author: Sager, Matilda
Language: English
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      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      A list of corrections made can be found at the end of the book.



Matilda J. Sager Delaney

Sponsored by Esther Reed Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution
Spokane, Washington

Copyright 1920

The following modest recital of a life which has covered much of the
most interesting period of pioneering in this part of the country is of
the greatest interest and value to all who know and love the Northwest.
Few lives have been so full of such varied experiences and the clear
and poignant recital of the massacre at Waillatpu is of the greatest
historical importance. It is so vividly told that it should carry its
own convincing truth down the years, as the basis of all writing in
connection with the labors of that splendid type of missionaries, Dr.
and Mrs. Whitman.

      (Mrs. M. A. Phelps)
      Ex-State Regent, Daughters
      of the American Revolution.

      (Mrs. Geo. H. Goble)
      State Regent.

      (Mrs. L. F. Williams)
      Regent Esther Reed Chapter.

[Illustration: Matilda J. Sager Delaney]


The thought of fostering care seems to have remained with this
"survivor" since her days with the Whitmans.

Forgiving innocent ones for the atrocious acts of their kindred upon
her own brothers, Mrs. Delaney became a benefactor of the Indians.
Before the apportionment of their lands the Coeur d'Alene squaws and
children suffered great hardships. To them the Farmington hotel kitchen
was a haven of warmth and plenty. They started home cheered and fed
with bundles of food to tie on their ponies. The Delaney living room is
the only place I have seen Indian women and girls light hearted and
chatty. They loved to linger to sing for their hostess. Mrs. Delaney's
hospitality extended to clergymen of all creeds. Her's has been a life
of hard but generous service. "Not to be ministered unto but to
minister" seems to have been the life motto of this woman reared in the

In 1881 General and Mrs. T. R. Tannatt came to the Northwest when the
latter began a search for historical data; she sought pioneers and
recorded their statements for comparison, in an effort to obtain truth.
Opportunity gave her acquaintance with Mr. Gray, author of History of
Oregon, Rev. Cushing Eels, the Spalding family, several survivors of
the Whitman massacre, and pioneer army and railway officers from whom
she gleaned information which later assisted her in writing the
booklet, "Indian Battles of the Inland Empire in 1858," published by
the D. A. R.

In 1887 she stopped at the Farmington hotel owned by Mrs. Delaney, and
continued an acquaintance with her until 1920. She said Mrs. Delaney's
account of the massacre never varied, and in discussion of points of
difference with other survivors Mrs. Delaney's clear description and
logical reasoning invariably convinced the others that she must be
correct, while her clear remembrance of subsequent events, known to
them both for more than three decades, strengthened Mrs. Tannatt's
belief in the accuracy of her earlier impressions.

Mrs. Tannatt often urged this witness of the heartrending tragedy to
publish her recollections, and had the pleasure of reading the
manuscript for this narrative which she said contained the most
comprehensive and truthful description of the Whitman massacre she had
seen. She consented to write the Foreword, but before doing so was
summoned by her Heavenly Father.


[Illustration: The house on the left was called the Mansion House,
where emigrants wintered.

The house in the center, the Blacksmith Shop. The house in the distance
was the mill. The house to the right was the Whitman's home.]

      of the

In the spring of 1844 we started to make the journey across the plains
with ox teams. I was born in 1839, October 16th, near St. Joseph, Mo.,
which was a very small town on the extreme frontier, right on the
Missouri River, with just a few houses. My father's name was Henry
Sager. He moved from Virginia to Ohio, then to Indiana and from there
to Missouri. My mother's name was Naomi Carney-Sager. In the month of
April, 1844, my father got the Oregon fever and we started West for the
Oregon Territory. Our teams were oxen and for the start we went to
Independence, the rendezvous where the companies were made up to come
across the plains. There were six children then--one was born on the
journey, making seven in all.

The men of the company organized in a military manner, having their
captain and other officers, for they were going through the Indian
country and guards had to be put out for the protection of the
travellers and to herd the stock. The immigration of '43 was piloted
through by Dr. Whitman and ours was the second immigration across the
mountains. The road was only a trail and was all Indian territory at
that time, from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. We had to
ferry streams, sometimes with canoes fastened together and the wagons
put on them; and the Indians rowed us across the rivers in some places.
The mountains were steep and sometimes we had to unyoke our cattle and
drive them down, letting the wagons down by ropes. The Captain of our
company was named William Shaw. There were vast herds of buffalo on the
plains and wandering bands of Indians. We had to guard the cattle at
night by taking turns. After we started across the plains we traveled
slowly; and one day in getting out of the wagon my oldest sister caught
her dress and her leg was broken by the wheel running over it. There
was no doctor in our company, but there was a German doctor by the name
of Dagan in the following company and he and my father fixed up the leg
and from that time on the old doctor stayed with us and helped. My
father was taken sick with the mountain fever and he finally died and
was buried on the banks of the Green River in Wyoming. His last request
was that Captain Shaw take charge of us and see us safe through to the
Whitman station. He thought that was as far as we could go that winter.
Twenty-six days later my mother died. She made the same request of
Captain Shaw and called us around her and told my brothers to always
stay with us and keep us together--meaning the girls of the family. Dr.
Dagan came on and helped to care for us with the boys' help. When my
mother died, my injured sister could walk only with the help of a
crutch. Mother was wrapped in a blanket and buried by the side of the
road. So the Captain and his wife looked after us and the other
immigrants showed their concern for the orphans by taking an interest
in us. A kind woman, Mrs. Eads, took the tiny baby and the big-hearted
travelers shared their last piece of bread with us. We finally arrived
at Dr. Whitman's station on the 17th day of October, 1844, seven months
from the Missouri River to the Whitman station. It was a long time!

Mrs. Whitman wanted to keep the girls, but she did not care for the
boys. Dr. Dagan went on the Willamette valley and left us there. Doctor
Whitman finally concluded he would keep the whole seven of us and took
us in charge. We lived there three years. I might say something of the
home incidents. The first thing Mrs. Whitman did was to cut our hair,
wash and scrub us, as we were very much in need of a cleaning up; then
she gave us something to eat and the bread seemed very dark to us--it
was unbolted flour. Mrs. Eads, who had been caring for my baby sister,
five months old, arrived three days later and then Mrs. Whitman took
the motherless little one in charge and she grew to be a fine baby.
Everything was so different from what we had been used to. The Whitmans
were New England people and we were taken into their home and they
began the routine of teaching and disciplining us in the old Puritan
way of raising and training children--very different to the way of the
plains. They hired a teacher and the immigrant families all had the
privilege of sending their children to this school during the winter
months. We had a church and Sunday school every Sabbath and we had our
family worship every morning and evening. We had certain things to do
at a certain hour. We never had anything but corn meal mush and milk
for our suppers and they were very particular in our being very regular
in all our habits of eating and sleeping.

When the spring came all the immigrants left and went on down to the
Willamette valley--the families who had wintered at the Mission leaving
the Sager children behind with the big-hearted Dr. and Mrs. Whitman. We
had our different kinds of work to do. We had to plant all the gardens
and raise vegetables for the immigrants who came in for supplies. We
got up early in the morning and we each had our piece of garden to weed
and tend. We had to wipe the dishes and mop the floors. We had verses
of scripture to learn each morning which we had to repeat at the family
worship. The seven verses would be our Sunday school lesson. We took
turns in giving our passages of Scripture. Everything was done in
routine. Sometimes we had to walk in the afternoon. Mrs. Whitman would
go with us; we would gather specimens and she would teach us botany.
During the summer when the Indians went to the buffalo grounds, we were
alone and we looked forward to the coming of the immigrants as one of
the great events of our life. Sometimes in the summer we went bathing
in the river. We would get the Indian girls to teach us to swim. Once,
Missionary and Mrs. Eels came down from Walker's Prairie, having with
them a girl by the name of Emma Hobson, and the latter went in bathing
with us children; she could not swim and the current swept her down the
river. She caught on an overhanging bush and an Indian took her out of
the river and put a blanket around her. Mrs. Eels gave the alarm. We
always called that "Emma's place." We cut water melons in two and
strung them together and would play for hours with those water melon
boats, having a great deal of enjoyment. Still, discipline was strict
and when we were told to do a thing, no matter what, we went.

Once a month we had a missionary meeting and we would sing missionary
hymns and the Whitmans would read extracts from missionary papers. They
took the Sandwich Island paper, the editor being the Rev. Damon. There
was a man at the Mission by the name of O'Kelley; he was an Irishman,
and he went with the Doctor who had to go out and give the Indians a
lesson in farming. They took all we girls in a wagon and this man
O'Kelley drove. Dr. Whitman showed the Indians how to cultivate their
little patches. There was not very much cultivation about anything,
however. O'Kelley was to cook the dinner. He had a big chunk of beef to
boil and he told us he would give us a big dinner--would give us some
"drap" dumplings; so we became very curious to know what "drap"
dumplings were. No doubt they were "drap" dumplings, because they went
to the bottom of the kettle and staid there until we fished them out.
We put in the day there. Returning, my brother took me on his horse and
some of the others rode in the wagon. We had riding mares and they had
colts. When we came to the Walla Walla River the colts began floating
down stream and we had an awful time, but I hung on. I had on an old
sunbonnet, but I lost it. We finally got safely home.

The summer of '46 the Doctor went down into the Willamette valley and
while he was down there my sister and I drove the cows off in the
morning to pasture and while we were roaming along we looked for
different kinds of herbs that the Indians eat; we got hold of something
and started to eat it. I told sister it was poison, but she said if the
Indians could eat it, it was all right. I ate some of it, became very
ill, but managed to get home, falling just outside the door. They
carried me in and found I had been eating wild parsnip and was very
sick. Life was dispaired of and Mrs. Whitman sent a messenger to the
Willamette valley to bring the Doctor home. He came on horseback as
fast as he could, finding me somewhat better. I was able to go around
the house, feebly. Everyone was eager to see the Doctor, but he hardly
looked to the right or left, coming quickly to me, took me up in his
arms and then went out and gave them all a greeting. He seemed to be so
anxious about me. I always remember that.

Once in a while we would have a picnic. Mrs. Whitman would fix up some
food and we would go picnicking in the woods and do different things to
employ our time. It was a lonesome place away back there, shut in the

In the spring of '46 we hitched up the wagon and thought we would go
with Mrs. Spalding and one of the Walker boys on a trip. We went where
the city of Walla Walla now stands. There were just four lone cabins
there; they had large fireplaces and big stick chimneys. We only took
provisions for the day. We turned the oxen out to graze and when we were
ready to go home they could not be found. My brother went to look for
them, but being unable to find them, we had to stay there all night. We
had a few blankets, for we always took some with us even on a short
trip. When it came time to go to bed we had our prayers. Mrs. Whitman
had taught us to memorize Scripture and the children took turns in
repeating the verses, "Let not your hearts be troubled." We had songs
and prayers and then laid down and went to sleep. The next day we found
a large fish in the creek and we had some of it for dinner. My brother
came and took us home and we called what is now known as Walla Walla,
the "Log City."

Some eight years ago I was in the city of Walla Walla and standing in
the door of a drug store, looked down the main street. As I looked down
the street where the creek makes a turn and where there are many bushes
of alder and willow, I saw what I saw in '46. There were some cabins
down in there and I said to the proprietor, a friend of mine, "It seems
to me it looks familiar."

"Well," he said, "you are right. It is supposed they were put there for
trapping and quarters by the Hudson's Bay men, but it is not certain."

In '46 all this Northwest territory was jointly occupied by English and
Americans and it was not settled. Dr. Whitman and Mr. Spalding with
their wives were the first homeseekers to cross the Rockies and it was
just a string of Hudson's Bay posts all the way. Aside from the four
missionary stations there were no other American settlements, save in
the Willamette valley. Vancouver, Washington, was a Hudson's Bay post

We used to go to the Indian lodges sometimes. Doctor would talk to them
about the Bible and on a few occasions we were invited to a feast where
they ate with big horn spoons. Once a year the Indians went to the
buffalo hunting grounds and came back with jerked or dried meat which
we enjoyed very much. They also gathered huckleberries in the Blue
Mountains and we bought and dried large quantities of berries for our
own use. The Doctor had quite large fields of corn and the crows were
very troublesome; so we children had to go up and down the rows ringing
bells to scare them away. That was one of the things that kept us busy.
He had a large family and the immigrants came there for supplies. He
had to make use of a primitive custom in saving his crops; the grain
was harvested by sickles and tramped out by the horses and winnowed. He
had a mill out of which came the unbolted flour; we never had white
flour. There were some sheep and some beef cattle. Dr. Whitman always
sent the immigrants on to the Willamette valley as fast as he could;
but many were obliged to remain at the Mission on account of their oxen
having given out and he had to feed from fifty to seventy-five persons
during the winter months. One of the jobs that I disliked in the fall
was when he pulled up the white beans and every child was given a tin
cup and told to pick up these beans with their hands. Every bean had to
be saved.

We also had hogs. We raised a few, but never ate the pork, reserving
that for the immigrants. The Doctor furnished them with meat, flour and
vegetables through the winter and what work there was to be done they
helped with, though there was little to be done at that season of the
year; looking after the stock that was turned out and getting up a
little firewood was about all that they could do for the Doctor.

I can never forget the Sunday services and the Sunday school held in
the Whitman home. The first time I ever heard the song "Come Thou Fount
of Every Blessing"; it was sung by an old Baptist believer at the
Whitman house.

In the fall of '45 a family named Johnson came, who had a young
daughter eighteen or nineteen years of age and Mrs. Whitman hired her
to help with the family work; she also studied and the Doctor and his
wife taught her all they could. The Doctor also treated her mother, who
was paralyzed. This woman's husband would carry his wife in his arms
to the evening meetings, place her in a chair and then all would join
in "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." The daughter, Miss Johnson,
instead of going into the valley with her family went to Lapwai and
worked for Mrs. Spalding, and was there at the time of the Massacre.
Mrs. Whitman used to go to Fort Walla Walla to make little visits.
Sometimes she took one child and sometimes another and once she took
me. It was a great treat to be allowed to go so far as Fort Walla
Walla, right on the Columbia River. When the boats came in sight of the
Fort, they were saluted by the firing of a cannon. I was frightened. I
had never before heard a cannon and I held on to Mrs. Whitman. She told
me to have no fear for they were only firing to salute the boats.

Once they sent me to the river for water and I became badly frightened.
I raced to the house and tried to tell how this queer animal acted and
how I felt; they thought it was some wild animal and my brother went
down with his gun, to find it was only a huge toad. Mrs. Whitman taught
us the love of flowers. We each had a flower garden, which we had to
weed and care for. She had my brothers take a tin case and gather
flowers as they would ride over the country and on their return would
press them. She taught us a great deal about things of that kind and
instilled in us a love of the beautiful. That kept our minds busy and
cultivated a feeling of reverence for Nature.

An artist named Kane was sent out by the English government. He took
pictures of the Mission. We children were cleaning up the yard and
varying labor by trying to balance the rake on our fingers. Mrs.
Whitman reproved us, saying she did not want that in the picture. It
was customary to ask individuals what church denomination they belonged
to and one day we discovered a man sitting outside the kitchen door;
sister Elizabeth asked him about his church. He said he was a
Methodist. She came in and told us, "There's a Methodist out there." As
we had never seen a Methodist, we looked at him in wonder; but soon
found he was not different from other men, and making up our minds he
was not dangerous, went and talked with him.

One year Mrs. Whitman took a trip to visit the Eels and Walker Mission,
taking my sister with her that time. She tried to take us on these
little trips to break the monotony and let us see something besides our
home life. We didn't have any shoes in those days--we went barefooted.
In the winter we had moccasins, but they were not much protection.
Shoes were not to be had in that part of the world. Our dresses for
winter were made of what was called "baize-cloth," purchased from the
Hudson's Bay Company. For summer, our dresses were made of a material
much resembling the hickory shirting so much used at that time. We did
not have a very big assortment of clothing; and we wore sunbonnets.
Wash-day was a great day; it meant a very early rising, though the boys
did most of the washing. When it came ironing day, all the youngsters
had to iron. Mrs. Whitman taught us according to our years, to do all
kinds of housework. We used to hire the Indians to dig our potatoes.
They dug them with camas sticks. They were good at stealing the best of
them, and good at stealing other people's water melons.

I can see in memory that there was a great deal of wild rye grass on
the surrounding plains. Waillatpu means "rye grass." Droves of Indian
horses would come through there. The grass was so tall I could just see
their manes and tails. The land is now under cultivation. The wolves
were very plentiful and one winter--'45-6--they became so poor and
starved they would come right up to the door hunting for food. The
Walla Walla River froze over, so that holes had to be cut in the ice
for the sheep to obtain water. Some of the sheep fell in. One day we
came down from the school for our dinner and in the kitchen the Doctor
had five sheep, warming them up. He had rescued them from the water,
but Mrs. Whitman was very indignant that he had turned the kitchen into
a sheep pen.

In November of 1847 many immigrants had gathered at the Mission,
intending to winter there. Measles had broken out among them and many
of the Indians had also become victims of this disease and the Doctor
was very busy attending them all. On the 27th of the month, Mr.
Spalding, who had come to the Whitman mission on business, went with
Dr. Whitman to visit the sick at Umatilla and to remain over night. The
Doctor was very worried because there were so many sick at his Mission,
having ten of his own family down and Mrs. Whitman much alarmed about
the children. Some of them were very low--especially my sister Louise
and Helen Marr Meek. Leaving Mr. Spalding at Umatilla, the Doctor
started for home, meeting Frank Sager on the way, who had been sent by
Mrs. Whitman to ask him to return at once because of the critical
condition of some of the family. After reaching home, he told the boys
to go to bed and he would sit up and look after the sick. So all went
upstairs to bed and to sleep, little dreaming of the march of events
that would blot out splendidly useful lives on the morrow and leave the
girls of the Sager family again without protectors.


The morning of the 29th of November, 1847, was a dark, dreary day. When
I came downstairs I went into the kitchen where Dr. Whitman was sitting
by the cookstove broiling steak for breakfast. I went and put my arms
around his neck and kissed him and said, "Good morning, father," as we
were taught to greet older persons with all politeness; also to say
"Good night" to all as we retired. I continued, "I have had such a bad
dream and I woke frightened."

He said, "What was it?"

"I dreamed that the Indians killed you and a lot of others."

He replied, "That was a bad dream, but I hope it will not occur."

The rest of the family who were able came to the table and we had
breakfast; there was to be an Indian funeral later and the Doctor was
to conduct it; so we separated and went to our various employments.
Many of our family were sick. Those able to attend school were my
brother Frank and myself, the two sons of Mr. Manson, a Hudson's Bay
man, who were boarding with the Whitmans for the winter in order to
attend the Mission school; Eliza Spalding, daughter of the Rev. H. H.
Spalding, having arrived with her father a few days before; David
Malin, a half breed. 'Liza was to remain for the winter. There were
eight members of our family not well enough to attend school that
morning, and most of the children of the immigrant families wintering
there were unable to attend. I can recall only a few of these children
besides those of our own family that were at school that morning, it
being Monday and the first day of the term. School had not been in
session before that, on account of so much sickness.

At nine o'clock we went to the schoolroom. Mr. Sanders was the teacher.
Joe Stansfield went out that morning to drive in a beef animal from the
range to be killed and brother Frank was the one to shoot it down. That
made him late for school and when he came in school had been in session
perhaps half an hour. When the hour for the forenoon recess had come,
the girls had theirs first and we went over to the Doctor's kitchen. My
brother John, who was just recovering from a severe case of measles,
was sitting there with a skein of brown twine around his knees, winding
it into a ball for there were brooms to be made soon. We all got a
drink of water. John asked me to bring him some and after he had
drank, said, "Won't you hold the twine for me?"

I replied, "'Tis only recess, but I will hold it at noon." The bell
called us then, so we returned to the schoolroom and the boys were
given their recess. The beef was being dressed in the meadow grass,
northeast and not far from the school house. Three or four white men
were at work and a lot of Indians were gathered around with their
blankets closely wrapped about them and it is supposed that they had
their guns and tomahawks under them. The boys went to where the beef
was being dressed; in a short time we heard guns and the boys came
running in and said the Indians were killing the men at the beef. Mr.
Sanders opened the door and we looked out. We saw Mr. Rogers run from
the river to the Mission house and Mr. Kimball running with his sleeves
rolled up and his arms all bloody; he ran around the end of the house
to the east door and Mrs. Whitman let him in. Mr. Hoffman was fighting
with an Indian, swinging an ax; he was at the beef. Mr. Sanders ran
down the steps, probably thinking of his family, but was seized by two
Indians; he broke away from them and started for the immigrant house
where his family were. One Indian on horseback and two on foot ran
after him and overtook him just as he reached the fence to cross it;
they killed him and cut his head off and the next day I saw him lying
there with his head severed. Mrs. Whitman stood at a door which had a
sash window, looking at the attack on Mr. Sanders. Mr. Rogers came to
the door and she let him in; his arm was broken at the wrist.

Mary Ann Bridger was the only eye-witness of the attack on Dr. Whitman
and John Sager, which had occurred just before the attack on the men at
the beef. She ran out of the kitchen door and around the house and got
into the room where Mrs. Whitman and the rest of the family were and
cried, "Oh, the Indians are killing father and John!" It seems that
after attending the Indian funeral, the Doctor returned to his home,
where, soon after, some Indians came into the kitchen and as Dr.
Whitman started to go from the living room to the kitchen he said to
his wife, "Lock the door after me," which she did. In the course of
conversation regarding the condition of the sick Indian, one of those
in the kitchen slipped up behind the good man, drew a tomahawk from
under his blanket and sank it into the Doctor's skull. Others attacked
John Sager. Their dastardly deed accomplished, they left the room, not
paying any attention to the fact that the little half-breed girl had
run out; then they joined those around the beef and the general attack
immediately began. The Doctor was not instantly killed. Mrs. Hays, Mrs.
Hall and Mrs. Sanders came running to the Mission house for protection
and Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Hall unbolted the door, went into the
kitchen and brought the wounded man into the living room and laid him
on the floor, putting a pillow under his head. Mrs. Whitman got a towel
and some ashes from the stove and tried to staunch the blood. He
lingered but a short time, for the blow of his treacherous adversary
had been sure and deadly. Mrs. Whitman went to the sash door and looked
out to see what had become of those around the beef. She stood there
watching, when Frank Iskalome, a full blooded Indian, shot her in the
left breast, through the glass. Sister Elizabeth was standing beside
her and heard her exclaim, "I am wounded; hold me tight." The women
took hold of her and placed her in a chair; then she began to pray that
"God would save her children that soon were to be orphaned and that her
dear mother would be given strength to bear the news of her death."

Finally Mr. Rogers suggested that they all go up stairs for safety. The
only weapon of defense they had was an old, broken gun; but when the
Indians would start to come up, as they did after a time, some one of
them would point it over the stairs, and the Indians were afraid to
face it. Miss Bewley and her brother had staid behind their family, to
winter at the Mission. She was sick and the Doctor thought he could
treat and help her; she would not consent to remain unless her brother
staid also; he was lying in bed in a little room off the kitchen, very
sick with measles, during the attack upon the Doctor and John, but the
Indians paid no attention to him at that time. Miss Bewley was supposed
to assist with the housework and to teach the girls some fancy
work--knitting, tatting, etc.--the few kinds of such work as was done
in that day. The Doctor had been asked to go up to see her that
morning, as she was reported to be in a very excited state. He found
her weeping bitterly, but she would give him no reason as to why she
cried so hard. He came down and asked Mrs. Whitman to go up and see if
she could not comfort her. This was early Monday morning. Another
incident that fixes the day and time as the Monday forenoon recess is
this. One of the fixed rules of the Doctor's was the hour of the day we
took our baths, both summer and winter--eleven o'clock in the morning;
and as we did not get our usual baths on the Saturday previous on
account of the sickness of so many of the children, Mrs. Whitman was
bathing a part of them this Monday morning. Some were out of the tub
and dressed; one was in the tub and some were dressing. Elizabeth said
that mother came and told them, in a calm tone of voice, to dress
quickly and then she helped the one who was in the tub to get out and
assisted her to dress. This is the hour that is fixed in my mind beyond
a doubt, as the hour of the massacre, regardless of the statement of
others that it was two or three o'clock in the afternoon.

Now to return to the schoolroom. My brother Frank came in with the
other boys and shut the door, saying, "We must hide." So we climbed to
a loft that was above a part of the schoolroom and was sometimes used
as the teacher's bedroom. It did not extend to the ceiling, but was so
arranged that it left a hall on the south side of the building where
there were two windows giving light to the main room. There was a
fireplace in the schoolroom. In order to get up to the loft, we had to
set a table under the opening and pile books on it; one of the boys got
up first and then we girls stepped on the books and the boy above
managed to pull us up, until finally all were up and hidden among the
rubbish that had accumulated there. Frank told us all to ask God to
save us and I can see him now, after all the years that have passed, as
he kneeled and prayed for God to spare us. It seemed as though we had
been there a long time, when the door was opened and Joe Lewis and
several Indians came into the schoolroom and called "Frank." As they
got no answer, he called the Manson boys and they answered. Lewis then
said for all to come down and the two Mansons, about 16 and 17 years of
age, and David Malin, 6 or 7 years, went among the first; then the
girls. I was afraid to try to jump to the floor, but Lewis said, "Put
your feet over the edge and let go and I will catch you." He failed to
do this and I struck the floor hard, hurting my head. When he helped me
up I was dazed and when he asked me "Where is Frank?" I replied, "I
don't know." Frank remained quiet and it evidently did not occur to any
one to search for him in the loft.

They sent the Hudson Bay boys and the half-breed Indian boy in charge
of an Indian to Finlay's lodge and from there they were sent the next
day to Fort Walla Walla and were safe there. Later, after the rescue of
the survivors, the two Manson boys went down the river from the fort
with us; but they would not let the boy David go, claiming him as a
Canadian. His father was a Spaniard and his mother a squaw. The last
look I had of him was when we rowed away from Fort Walla Walla, leaving
him standing on the bank of the river crying as though his heart were

Lewis said to me, "Where do you want to go?"

I said, "I want to go to the kitchen where John is."

He replied, "John is dead and the rest of them."

I said, "I don't believe it, for he was there when I went down at

But he took my hand and the rest of the children followed, with the
Indians bringing up the rear. When we went into the kitchen, the dead
body of John laid on the floor and his blood had run and made a stream
of dark, congealed crimson. He laid on his back with one arm thrown up
and back and the other outstretched and the twine still around his
knees. It appeared as if he had been hit and just slipped out of the
chair he was sitting on. We children all sat down on the settle that
was near the stove. A stove was a luxury in those days; there was one
in the living room and in the kitchen, where the children sat in
terror, was a Hudson's Bay cook stove of a very small and primitive
make; the oven was directly over the firebox and two kettles which were
of an oblong shape sat in on the side, something like the drum on the
sides of a stove. The kettle of meat had been put on to cook for dinner
and was still on the stove. Joe Lewis took a piece out and cut it up,
put it on the lid of the kettle and said, "You children haven't had any
dinner," and passed it to us, but none of us could eat.

The room was full of Indians and they would point their guns at us,
saying "Shall we shoot?" and then flourish their tomahawks at our
defenseless heads. One of them had on John's straw hat that he had
braided from straw cut from wild grass one summer when he was working
for the Rev. Spalding. Mrs. Spalding had sewed it for him. The Indian's
name was Klokamus. Later, he was one of five hanged at Oregon City in
the summer of 1850. The pantry was being plundered by the squaws. In
memory, I can hear the rattle of the dried berries on the floor as they
emptied the receptacles of them, in order to get the pans and cans to
carry away. Joe Lewis went into the living room and must have gone into
the parlor where mother had a large wooden chest in which she kept her
choice clothing and keepsakes; he came out with five nice, fancy gauze
kerchiefs of different colors, made to wear with a medium low-necked
dress. He gave them to the Chief and the headmen that were in the room.

In a short time my brother Frank came into the room. He sat down beside
me, saying "I came to find you. John is dead and we don't know what has
become of the rest of the family; the Indians are going to kill me and
what will become of you, my poor, little sister?" Word was finally
passed out not to kill any of the children and we were ordered out of
the house, so we went and stood in a corner where the "Indian room"
made an ell with the main part of the house; the Indians were very
numerous, some of them on horses and most of them armed and painted and
they seemed to be waiting for something. Soon out came the immigrant
women that had all fled to the Mission house for safety upon the
outbreak of the massacre; as they passed us their children went with
their mothers, leaving Frank, Eliza Spalding and myself standing
there. They were followed by Mr. Rogers and Joe Lewis bearing a settee
with the wounded Mrs. Whitman on it, covered up with blankets and
Elizabeth close beside it, her arms laden with clothing. When they had
gotten out of and a short distance from the house in an open space, Joe
Lewis dropped his end of the settee. Mr. Rogers looked up quickly and
must have realized what it meant; but he was shot instantly and fell
and an Indian tried to ride his horse over him. Elizabeth turned about
and ran back into the house. Then an Indian came to Mrs. Whitman and
took his whip and beat her over the face and head and then turned the
settee over in the mud. She was very weak from loss of blood; my sister
Catherine told me and I am convinced that she did not last long after
being beaten and thrown face down in the mud, with the blankets and
settee on top of her.

An Indian came and stood by Frank and another one took up his stand
close by and they talked together earnestly; the first one was a
friendly one and he seemed to be pleading with the other to spare
Frank's life, but finally the ugly one took hold of my brother and
said, "You are a bad boy." Then he shoved him a short distance from my
side and an Indian shot him in the breast; he fell and did not struggle
and I think he died instantly as he made no movement. The Indians all
went away then and the women and children that belonged in the
immigrant house were gone and Eliza and I were alone. We seemed to be
paralyzed and the horrors we had passed through so numbed our thoughts
that we did not seem to think that we could go to the other house, as
we had been taught not to go where we had not had permission. It was
getting quite dark by this time, in the short November day, and we
stood close together, when a friendly Indian came; he was the one that
had pleaded for Frank's life and he took us by the hands and led us
over to Mrs. Sander's door. She took us in and gave us some supper and
one of the other families took Eliza in to give her a place to sleep.

When I had eaten my supper, Miss Bewley asked me if I would go over to
the Whitman house to take food to her brother who was lying terribly
ill in the little room just off the kitchen. He had seen and heard some
of the awful things that had taken place during the day, but had not
been molested, probably because the Indians thought him dying anyway. I
told her I was afraid to go, as I would have to step over the dead
bodies. Mrs. Sanders took me into a bedroom and spread a quilt on the
floor and I laid down, but not to sleep until far into the night. Mr.
Gillam, the tailor, had been wounded while sitting on his table sewing
and had run into this room; he was suffering terribly and begging to
be put out of his misery; along towards morning he was given his
release from suffering.

We got up very early and ate a scant breakfast, as we knew not what
daylight would bring. The Indians would surely ask to be fed as they
were then sitting in the early glimmerings of light on Monument hill,
chanting the Death song. The wind had blown and whistled so mournfully
in the night that it had added to my fear and I never hear the sound of
the wind blowing in the winter, but my mind goes back to that terrible
night; and it has been 72 years since I heard it wail its requium
around desolated Waiilatpu.

My four sisters and the two half-breed girls, with the wounded Mr.
Kimball, were alone in the chamber of the Mission house all night, for
they had made no attempt to leave when the others had gone in the
afternoon. The children were all ill with measles and two were very
ill--sister Louise and Helen Meek. They begged constantly for water,
but there was none upstairs; the pitchers of water that were there on
Monday morning had had cloths dipped in them to put on Mrs. Whitman's
wounds. Mr. Kimball's broken arm pained him excessively and he sat on
the floor with his head against a bed until toward morning, when he
told Catherine to tear up a sheet and bandage his arm and he would go
to the river for water.

Catherine said, "Mother wouldn't want the sheets torn up." "Child, your
mother will never need sheets. She is dead," was his answer. He went
out in the dim morning light and succeeded in reaching the river,
wrapped in the blanket Catherine had put around him, Indian fashion.
Meanwhile the Indians had come to the immigrant house and had told us
to prepare their breakfast. While they were waiting for their meal, an
outcry was made that drew us all to the north door in the Hall's room.
I stepped out on the lower step and an Indian with a gun in his hand
was on the upper step; we saw the figure of a man with a white blanket
around him, walking near the Doctor's house; he was near the corn-crib
about half way to the house, when the Indian on the step above me shot,
and the man fell. It was Mr. Kimball returning with water for the
fevered children. I realize that my statement is different from all the
others of the survivors in regard to the killing of Mr. Kimball, but I
have a clear remembrance of this tragedy, which time has not dimmed or
effaced from my mind. According to some, he hid in the brush till the
next day and in working his way to his family was killed as he was
crossing the fence by the house. I remember the same day, about noon or
later, Joe Stanfield came in and said that a "Boston man" was hiding in
the brush. Some of the women wanted to investigate, but Joe said "No,
don't." We thought it might be Mr. Hall, as he had gone, as I
remember, early in the morning of the massacre to see if he could shoot
some ducks on the river. He was never heard from or his body found, so
no one knows his fate.

The Osborn family hid under the floor in the Indian room and remained
hidden until in the darkness of the night they came out, put a little
food together, wrapped a coverlid about Mrs. Osborn and went out into
the cold. There were Mr. Osborn and three children in the party. Mrs.
Osborn had been confined to the bed and this was the first time she had
been out of doors in some days, though that day she had been able to go
into Mrs. Whitman's part of the house. They climbed the fence and took
the irrigation ditch, as it offered more protection for them, being
quite deep with the wild rye grass and buck brush growing thick and
tall on the banks; then they got into the main road and went on for
some distance, finally hiding for the day; besides Mrs. Osborn was
unable to travel further. Their sufferings were terrible, all being
thinly clad. At last Mr. Osborn concluded to take the oldest boy and go
to the Fort, if possible, leaving his wife and the other children
hidden in the bushes. He made his way to Fort Walla Walla, carrying his
boy on his back; the boy had nothing with which to cover his head. When
Mr. Osborn arrived at the Fort he asked Commander McBaine to take him
in and to furnish him horses and food to use in the rescue of his wife
and the other children. McBaine refused, saying he "Could not do it."

"I will die at the Fort gates, but I must have help," was Osborn's

In the happy days before these tragic happenings, an artist by the name
of Stanley came to the Mission. He had been sent out by the Government
for the Smithsonian Institute to take pictures. At the time of the
Massacre he was again on his way to visit the Mission. He and his
Indian guide intended to go down into the Willamette valley, near
Oregon City, to winter. Meeting an Indian woman, she told him everyone
was killed at the Mission; he was asked if he was a "Boston man" or a
Frenchman and replying that he was a Frenchman, was allowed to proceed
unmolested. He reached the Fort in safety and when McBaine refused to
let Mr. Osborn have horses, said to the latter, "You can have my horse
and what provisions I have," and he also gave him a silk handkerchief
to tie on the child's head. Stitkus, an Indian, took his own French
chapeau and put it on Mr. Osborn's head. McBaine at last gave an Indian
a blanket if he would go with Mr. Osborn and rescue the family; but he
instructed him not to bring them to the Fort, but to take them to an
Indian village. The mother and children were found with some
difficulty, and as they came to the fork in the road on the return, one
leading to the Umatilla Indian village where their lives would not have
been safe, and the other to the Fort and security, the Indian,
disregarding McBaine's explicit directions, refused to take the one to
the village and insisted that they proceed to the Fort. The little
party did so, and were finally admitted. Their hardships were many,
even there; but they remained until such time as we were all ransomed.
This is as I remember hearing from sister Catherine as she, later,
lived close to the Osborn family in the Willamette valley and she and
Mrs. Osborn were together frequently; also from the account sworn to by
Mr. Osborn in Gray's History.

Tuesday morning, Miss Bewley made some gruel, hoping to be able to send
it over to her sick brother. Chief Tilokaikt came in and she told him
of her brother and he was very sympathetic and took a number of us in
charge to go over to the Mission house. Some of the party went inside
of the fence on the north side, while some took the south side which
was the public road. When we were a few yards from the house, we saw
Mr. Sander's body lying there; then we heard a cry and saw Catherine
and Elizabeth coming, each carrying a sick child in their arms. The
women hastened to meet them and helped them to the house, which had
sheltered us through the night. Poor Mary Ann Bridger was tottering
along by herself. They had to leave Helen Meek alone and we could hear
her screaming and begging to be taken also, disregarding Catherine's
assurance that she would soon return for her. At last all the sick ones
were transferred to the immigrant house, save Mr. Bewley; and Mr.
Sales, who was also very ill in the blacksmith shop. Sister Louise died
five days after this and Helen Meek a few days after her.

This same morning (Tuesday) we were given muslin to make sheets to wrap
the dead in and Wednesday morning Joe Stansfield and the women helped
to cover and sew them in these sheets. He had dug a long trench about
three feet deep and six feet long; then all the bodies were put in a
wagon and hurried to the grave. They were all piled up like dead
animals in the wagon bed. A runaway occurred and scattered some of the
bodies along the road and they had to be picked up. There was a
Catholic father who was visiting the Indians and he went up to the hole
where they were burying them and helped. He would take hold of one end
of a body and Joe Stansfield hold of the other and they would lay them
in this shallow place until all the victims were ranged side by
side--Mr. and Mrs. Whitman, then the two Sager boys and Mr. Rogers, and
so on, then covered with the earth.

There were two families living about twenty miles away at a sawmill
which belonged to Dr. Whitman. Mr. Young had three grown boys and Mr.
Smith also had a family, one of whom, Mary Smith, was attending the
Mission school. The morning after the massacre the oldest son of the
Young family, in entire ignorance of what had occurred, started for the
Mission with a load of lumber and to get provisions for the return
trip. The Indians killed him two miles from the Mission. His family
could not understand why he did not return and became alarmed. They
finally sent another son by another road and he arrived without being
attacked, but was informed by Joe Stansfield that his brother had been
killed by Indians and had been buried where he fell. This young fellow,
finding that we were getting out of flour, remained at Waiilatpu as
there was no man to run the grist mill. Mr. Bewley and Mr. Sales became
better and were able to sit up and get about a bit. One day Mr. Sales
was sitting by the stove and an Indian began talking to him, telling
him he was getting stronger and would soon be able to work for the
Indians; that they were soon to put out all the women and children and
they would all have to work all the time. Mr. Sales replied that he was
a good worker and would labor constantly for them if they would only
spare his life. It was only a day or two after this that the two men
were attacked while on their bed, beaten with clubs and whips and
finally killed and their bodies thrown out of doors. Most of the women
and children started to run out of doors, but an Indian caught and held
me until they had finished the terrible deed.

Miss Bewley was sent for by the chief of the Umatillas and in spite of
heartrending protests was obliged to accompany the messenger sent for

One morning Joe Stansfield saw wolves at the grave and went up there to
find that they were digging into it. He heaped more earth over it, but
later, after we had left the place and had been redeemed, soldiers
going there found that the wolves had succeeded in desecrating the last
resting place of our loved ones. Bones were scattered about and on some
of the bare bushes were strands of Mrs. Whitman's beautiful, long,
golden hair. They collected the bones and again buried them, heaping
the earth high and turning a wagon-box over the grave. For fifty years
nothing more was done to it.

Mr. Spalding came within two miles of the Mission on Wednesday morning,
when he met a Catholic father, his Indian interpreter and another
Indian. Sending the two Indians ahead, the priest told Mr. Spalding of
the massacre, assuring him that all the women, save Mrs. Whitman, and
all the children had been spared; that his daughter was alive and that
now was his time to escape, as the Indian who had joined him and his
interpreter intended to kill him. The father gave him what food he had
and Mr. Spalding turned his horse's head towards the Walla Walla river.
He followed down the bank of the Walla Walla, traveling by night and
hiding by day. For a time he kept his horse, but Indians passed near
his hiding place and he had to rub his mount's nose to keep his from
neighing and thus betraying him. The horse got away from him finally
and he had to travel afoot in the storm. All the subsistence he had was
wild rose-hips. After a week's travel he reached the Clearwater, close
to where his family was, though he did not know this fact, believing
that they also might have been killed. He proceeded very carefully,
thinking the Indians hostile, but knowing that if he could make in
safety the lodge of an Indian by the name of Luke, he would be safe. He
was tired and worn out with travel. At last he was close enough to the
lodge to listen to family worship and assured by the knowledge that
they still acknowledged the white man's God, knew it would be safe for
him to enter; but so exhausted was he that he fell when just inside the
door of the tepee and his cap fell off. At first the Indians thought he
was a ghost, but when they saw his bald head, they realized he was
still in the flesh and then proceeded to feed and care for him. They
told him that his family was at Craig's mountain and later they took
him back up there. Mrs. Spalding, when she heard of the massacre,
called the head men of the tribe and put herself on their mercy and
under their protection. They said they would protect her and suggested
that they start at once for Craig's home. She said that this was the
Sabbath and they must not travel on that day. The Presbyterian Indians
never travel on the Sabbath and the brave little woman, reminding them
of their religion, knowing at the same time that it might lessen her
chances of escape, induced them to postpone starting until the
following day, when they took her to Craig's, where she remained until
rescued from the Indians. She sent two Indians, Timothy and Grey Eagle,
down to the Mission to ask if her captors would not release Eliza
Spalding and let them take her to her mother; but they would not listen
and refused to give her up. These two Indians came when Helen Meek was
dying from the measles. Timothy went in to see her and fell on his
knees by the side of her bed, praying in his own language; when he
arose, he pointed upward, indicating that the spirit had flown.

When the news of the massacre was taken to Fort Vancouver, Peter Skeen
Ogden, the chief factor, declared he must take goods and go to the
rescue of the women and children before the volunteers could go up
there; he believed that if the Indians thought the volunteers were to
attempt a rescue, that they would kill all their prisoners, for they
well knew that they deserved punishment for their dastardly deeds. With
no prisoners to hamper them, they could perhaps elude any pursuing
band of volunteers. Douglass objected, reminding his superior that he
would be obliged to use in barter goods belonging to another government
than the United States, without knowing if the latter government would
reimburse him for them or not. "If the United States will not pay for
them, then I will pay for them out of my own pocket, but those
unfortunate captives must be rescued at once," said this great-hearted
man. He proceeded to Fort Walla Walla and called a council of chiefs
and other Indians and finally after some days of discussion, made this
treaty with them. They were to deliver the prisoners to him, for which
they would receive goods valued at five hundred dollars from the Hudson
Bay people; it was stipulated that Mr. Spalding's family and Miss
Bewley should all be brought in. During the time of the parley small
bands of Indians were constantly passing the Mission, going to and from
the place of treaty-making. One party in passing thought to play a joke
on those who were guarding us and shot off their guns, making quite a
commotion and causing our captors to think that the "Boston men" were
at hand. They began to grab up some of the children to kill them; one
caught me up and started to thrust a tomahawk into my brains. Just then
the Indians outside began laughing and the brutes, on murder bent,
concluded the noise was all a joke and did not hurt any of us.

We were directed to cook a supply of food as provision for the trip.
Fifty Nez Perce warriors escorted the Spalding family through the
hostile country and an Indian brought Miss Bewley to the immigrant
house where the rest of us were. They took us down to Fort Walla Walla
in ox wagons. Among other things which I remember we left behind was a
pair of pigeons the Canfield family had brought with them from Iowa.
The cage was set in the window on leaving, the door knocked off, and
the pigeons were still sitting in their cage--the last glimpse we had
of them. After we had been some time on our way, an Indian woman came
out of her lodge and motioned for us to go fast--and we did! It seemed
that some of the Indians regretted their bargain and wanted to take us
all prisoners again. This woman knew they might soon attempt to do so.
I was in the last wagon to arrive. We could see the wagons ahead of us
going into the Fort gates when they were opened and it seemed as if
ours would never get there; but when the last one came up "pel mel" and
we were safe inside, the Indians concluded it was too late to make an
attack and capture us again. The day they were to receive the goods
promised for our release, we were put into rooms out of sight of the
Indians and told to remain there. Of course the Indians were inside the
fort grounds that day, and McBaine was afraid they might repent the
agreement to give us up and try to take us captive again. Mr. Ogden
made the speech and delivered the goods and as soon as possible they
were gotten away from the Fort. But they would not let the Indian boy
go. The Hudson's Bay men claimed him as belonging rightfully to them.
"He didn't belong to the Doctor," they said, "but had Indian blood in
him." The last I ever saw of him he was standing on the bank of the
river crying as though his heart were breaking as his friends floated
away from him. He was about six years old. There were three boats that
started down the river the day we left the Fort, eight oarsmen to a
boat, and we pulled out into the stream pretty fast once we started.
Indians were along the bank riding and talking, and it was necessary to
travel fast. At night we landed and camped. It was cold, windy and
sandy. Our belongings were left for the settlers to bring down in the
spring, though, of course, we children had little to concern ourselves
about. Before we left the Mission Mrs. Sanders had told one of the
chiefs that the Doctor's children had no clothes--that everything was
gone. "No clothes, no blankets, no nothing," so he went over to the
other house and brought a comfort and gave that to my oldest sister and
gave me a thin quilt and my other sister a blanket or quilt. It was the
custom in those days to quilt so fine; I mean, with the stitching very
close and usually the quilts were made of two pieces of cloth and a
thin layer of cotton batting between. My quilt got afire on our trip
down the river and most of it was burned. The chief also got us a few
undergarments of Mrs. Whitman's.

Mr. Spalding looked after us on the trip and Mr. Stanley, who went
along also, took especial pains to care for us. He would do all he
could to make the hardships a little easier to bear, taking pains to
wrap us up when in the boat and to see that we got to camp and back to
the boat securely. When we got to Vancouver, Mr. Stanley bought some
calico to make each of us a dress. I think my portion was five yards
and they made me a dress and bonnet out of it after I went to Mrs.
Geiger's. I do not know what we would have done without Mr. Stanley. He
was so good and kind to us and Mr. Ogden was very kind, too.

We had to make two portages. Once the men had to take the boats
entirely out of the water and carry them around on their shoulders and
let them down the steep banks with ropes, while we carried the
provisions and such small belongings as we were allowed to take with
us. We finally came to Memmaloo's island, which Mr. Stanley told us was
the Indian burying ground. It took us about eight days to go down the
Columbia river. As we traveled, we came to a place they called St.
Helens, then to another called Linn City and on to Fort Vancouver. We
staid over Sunday there and the Spalding family was entertained at the
Post by Mr. Ogden and James Douglas and finally we were taken to
Portland. Some of the volunteers were on the bank of the Willamette
river and the Governor was also standing there as we rowed up. Mr.
Ogden went to the Governor, shook hands and said to him, "Here are the
prisoners and now I will turn them over to you. I have done all I
could." He also asked that we be taken to Oregon City, which was agreed
upon and later, done. Some of the volunteers were camped across the
river and when they saluted the boats we children thought we were going
to be shot. Captain Gilliam, a brother-in-law of the Captain Shaw who
was our protector on the plains after our own father and mother had
died, rowed across the river and asked which were the Sager children
and on our being pointed out to him, shook hands with us. Some of our
forlorn party had friends to meet them and Governor Abernathy kept the
others until places were found for them.

I remember going to Dr. McLaughlin's house in Oregon City. Mr. Stanley
had a room there and was painting portraits and he came to take us down
to see his pictures. He wanted to paint my picture, but I was entirely
too timid and would not let him. We enjoyed the pictures, however. When
we came down stairs Dr. McLaughlin and his son-in-law, Mr. Ray, were in
the lower room. As we came down stairs the Doctor, thinking to play a
little practical joke, locked the door on us and told us we were
prisoners again and, of course, we were frightened almost to death.
When he found that he had frightened us, he assured us he was just
fooling and let us go. We took everything in earnest and were afraid of
white people as well as the Indians. One can hardly realize at this
day, in what a tortured state our nerves were.


My father was born in Virginia, had lived in Ohio, then in Indiana.
Both father and mother dying on the way to Oregon and the two oldest
members of the family then remaining, having been cruelly torn from us
by the massacre, we girls had little knowledge of any relatives in the
East, save that they lived somewhere in Ohio. Time rolled on. My oldest
sister made her home with the Rev. William and Mrs. Roberts until she
married. Mr. Roberts was a Methodist minister. His sons, in writing a
letter to their grandparents in New Jersey, told of their father and
mother taking an orphan girl by the name of Catherine Sager to live
with them. An extract of this letter was published in the Advocate and
was read by an uncle of mine, who, seeing the name of Catherine Sager
and knowing that his brother Henry had a daughter by that name, wrote a
letter and addressed it to "Miss Catherine Sager, Somewhere in Oregon."
He gave it to a man who was crossing the plains; he carried it some
months and finally put it in a postoffice near Salem, Oregon, and the
postmaster gave it to my sister. In that way we found our relatives.

I was with the Spaldings for, I think, four months, and I attended Mrs.
Thornton's private school in the Methodist church. Then Mr. Spalding
decided to go and live in Forest Grove and the Rev. Mr. Griffin and Mr.
Alvin T. Smith came with their ox teams and moved us out.

Miss Mary Johnson came to the Whitmans in '45, wintered there and went
to the Spalding's mission in '46 and was there at the time of the
massacre and came down the river with us. She came with the Spalding
family to Forest Grove when we moved. We were taken to the Smith home
until the Spalding family could get a house and settle down.

It was decided, however, that I should go and live with Mr. and Mrs.
Geiger, living on a farm adjoining the Smith's. The Geigers were a
young married couple without children. Mr. Geiger came on horseback
after me the day after we reached the Smiths, but I cried so hard at
the prospect of leaving Mary Johnson that he went away without me. A
day or so later he came back again and still I would not go, but clung
to Mary. It seemed to me she was my only friend. The third time he
came, I had to go and all my belongings were tied up in a little
bundle. A large bandana handkerchief would have held them all. I rode
behind him. His home was a one-room log house with a fireplace to cook
by. I took up my life there, lonely and isolated. The nearest neighbor
was a mile away. Life was primitive. If the fire was not carefully
covered to keep the coals alive, we would have to go to a neighbor's to
borrow fire. There were no matches in the country and sometimes I would
be sent a mile across the prairie to bring fire on a shovel from the
neighbor's. If there were no coals, the flint and steel had to be used
and if that was not successful we would have to do without. It was not
always possible to obtain dry sticks in order to make the flint and
steel serve their purpose. Supplies were to be had only from the Hudson
Bay Posts, for people had had to leave most of their things behind in
crossing the plains. That summer a baby came to the home of the
Geiger's and I had to take care of it and a good deal of the time be
nurse and help with the housework. I had been taught to sew and iron
and repair my own clothes and must have been a really helpful young
person. In the fall of '48 discovery of gold in California made a great
change. All were eager to go to the gold mines. Mr. Geiger got the gold
fever and moved us away up to his father-in-law's, the Rev. J.
Cornwall. This family had moved onto the place in the spring and had
just a log cabin to house a large family. They did not raise much of a
crop the first year and Mr. Cornwall traveled around and preached over
the valley most of the time. That fall he took a band of sheep in the
valley and the winter being very hard, a good many of them died and his
wife had to card and spin wool, knit socks and sell them to the miners
at a dollar a pair in order to help make the living. She knit all the
time and a part of my work was to help pull the wool off the dead sheep
and wash it and get it ready for her to use. We had to carry water
quite a distance from the river, as it seemed that many of the early
settlers of Oregon had a great habit of building as far from the river
as possible, so we children would have more to do to pack the water and
stamp the clothes with our feet. We wintered there and in the spring
Mrs. Gieger, baby and I went to their farm thirty-five miles down into
the valley to look after some of their belongings, as the Rev.
Spalding, who had wintered there, had gone to a house of his own. Mr.
Geiger returned unexpectedly from California, went up to get their
things left on the Yamhill, and we settled down on the farm and life
went on. I didn't attend school that year, for there was no school. The
Reverend Eels came down in the spring of 50 to teach private school. I
went three months, walking three and a half miles each way. Mr. Geiger
paid five dollars for three months' schooling.

There were large herds of Mexican cattle owned in the valley and they
would chase everything except someone on horseback. Everyone owned a
few of the domestic cattle with them and they proved very useful, as
the tame cattle stood guard until the others were chased away. I was in
continual fear of being chased by them. They would lie down to watch
you all day and I would skirt along in the bushes, working my way along
tremblingly to get out and away to school without their seeing me. If
these long-horned Spanish cattle chased a person up a tree they would
lie under the tree all day on guard. Wolves chased the cattle, trying
to get the little calves. Pigs would have to be bedded right up against
the house on account of the coyotes and wolves.

While I was at the Cornwalls in '49, we lived right where the Indians
passed by on the trail coming down the valley. The Indians were not on
reserves then. When the men folks were gone the women were very afraid
of the Indians. They were women of the South, reared with a certain
fear of the negroes, and this fear extended to the Indians. When the
Indians were in the vicinity they would have me cover up the fire and
if any of the babies needed any attention, I was the one who would have
to give it and rake out the coals and make a fire for the baby. We had
chickens and had a stick chimney; and in a corner of the chimney was a
chicken-roost. One night old Mrs. Cornwall spied what she thought was
an Indian looking through the chinking of the log house. I said, "Oh, I
think not, I don't hear anything." But they hurried me up to
investigate and it was soon found to be the light shining on the old
rooster's eyes.

The summer of '50 I attended school, as I have before said, going also
the next year for three months to the same place, to the Reverend Eels.
Then I did not go any more until the summer I was thirteen. Mr. Eells
moved over near Hillsboro, where the Reverend Griffin had built a
school building on his place and had hired Mr. Eells to come over and
teach and he lived in a part of Mr. Griffin's house. He called it "Mr.
Griffin's select school." I was permitted to go there and work for my
board, but did not have to work very hard. Mr. Griffin had lots of
cattle and Mr. Eells had one cow; when he was at home he milked it and
when he was not the youngsters had to milk. Mrs. Griffin and her
children had all their cows to milk. They did not wean the calves, but
would turn them all in together and the big calves would have a fine
time getting all the milk. One day I was milking the cow and I set the
milk pail down in the corner and the old cow got at it and drank all
the milk.

I had read of town pumps, but had never seen one until I went there and
I did not like the taste of the water in this, but Mr. Griffin said it
was sulphur water. Finally it got so strong of sulphur he concluded he
had better have the well cleaned out; so someone came to clean it out
and they found a side of bacon, a skunk, some squirrels and mice. After
it was cleaned out, we had no more sulphur water, but I have never
enjoyed the taste of sulphur water since.

We had a garden. I was very fond of cucumbers and my favorite pastime
in summer after supper was to gather cucumbers, get a handful of salt
and walk up the lane. When anyone asked about Matilda, someone would
reply, "The last I saw of her she was walking up the lane with salt and
cucumbers for company."

Some of our pastimes, evenings, were to sit together by the fireplace
in Mr. Griffin's home with him as the leader in the story-telling. We
would recount incidents in our lives and then make up stories and tell
them; roast potatoes in the fire, rake them out with a stick when about
half done and each would have a part of the refreshments of half
roasted potatoes and salt. Mr. Griffin sent and got what he called a
seraphine--a small cabinet organ; it opened up like a piano and was a
wonder around there. At about eleven o'clock, when we were all in bed,
he would go in where it was kept, open up the organ and give us some
music. His favorite hymn was set to the tune of "Balerma," and the
words were, "Oh, for a closer walk with God," and he would sing such
songs until after midnight. In the morning he never did any work on the
place. He had a saddle horse and he rode around. Mrs. Griffin and the
children had to do everything. He didn't even plant the potatoes. All
the new potatoes we had grew among the old potatoes that were dug and
stored for the winter and I used to help Mrs. Griffin get the new
potatoes out from among the old ones. I helped her to churn and in many
other ways. She thought I was a pretty good girl. Mr. Griffin was very
fond of entertaining their company with music. There was a man named
Laughlin who once came to spend the night when it was raining. We were
sitting by the fireplace. The fire did not burn very well and Mrs.
Griffin came in with a little hand bellows and blew up the fire. The
old man saw her coming and fancied it must be a dangerous instrument of
some kind. It frightened him and he got up and made for the door. He
finally saw what it was and came back and sat down. Then Mr. Griffin
sat down by his organ and began playing it. That frightened the old
gentleman again and in his fright he overturned his chair and got out
of the door. He could not understand what was happening. So we had our
fun with the organ, Mr. Laughlin and the little bellows.

Mr. Griffin liked to give advice to the young. My chum, Maria Tanner,
and I were frequently given the benefit of his wisdom, but
child-fashion, did not care to be "preached at." We would see him
coming and would start to evade him. Sometimes we would dodge around
the house, but finally he got on to our trick and would meet us and
corner us and give us whole lot of advice. He thought it dreadful for
young girls to be as frivolous as we were; for he called it frivolous
because we went down to the woods and sang songs and laughed. That was
one of my sins--to laugh. We would often lie in bed singing and
laughing and Mr. Eells would call up for us to be quiet. We would be
still until we thought the old man had settled down and then we would
start in again. Children were not supposed to be in evidence at all in
those days, and I sometimes got double doses of advice and correction.
But my school days ended--when I was thirteen.

I went back to the Gieger farm where I washed, did housework, sewed and
cared for the children. Sometimes if there had been a good deal of
trouble in the church, the man I lived with (Mr. Gieger) would not
allow me to go to the Grove to church. But we had a meeting at Mr.
Walker's home and Mr. Walker preached. Sometimes in the winter it was
so lonely and cold that it would be three or four months until we could
go out to church. We looked forward to the campmeetings in June. We had
an old mud oven outside to bake in. The people got together and
furnished provisions; some would bring meat, some potatoes and some
materials for bread. I went with Mrs. Gieger's folks. One old lady said
she went to campmeetings because she got to see all the old neighbors;
and I think they were pretty nearly our only salvation from entire
stagnation. Sometimes we would go fifty miles to a camp. One of the
tricks of the boys was to shave the tails of the horses; another was to
throw tom cats with their tails tied together in the crowd at the
mourner's bench. This would stop the praying for awhile.

We always picked berries in the spring and summer. There was not much
tame fruit--a few seedling apples. The only way we travelled was on
horseback. The first printing press that was brought to Oregon was
stored in Mr. Griffin's house. We used to go to the old press and try
to sort out the type. Mrs. Griffin had a sister, Rachel Smith; the
Griffins arranged a match between her and the Rev. Henry Spalding and
she came out from Boston to marry him. We were invited to the wedding,
which occurred in a schoolhouse used for a church, and the "infare" was
arranged to be held at Mrs. Griffin's the next day. I had never been to
a wedding and I had a great desire to go; so I went to the wedding in
preference to going to the infare, since I had my choice. Mr. Griffin
performed the ceremony. Mr. Spalding preached the sermon and Mr.
Griffin played the organ and sang. The bride was attired in a white
dress and a long, thin scarf with purple stripes in the ends and fringe
and she had on a rough straw bonnet. Mrs. Griffin called it "Rachel's
Dunstable bonnet." When they were ready for the ceremony, Mr. Spalding
stepped forward and Mrs. Griffin placed her sister by his side, putting
Miss Smith's hand in his; they stood there a little while and Mr.
Griffin said the words that made them man and wife. That was my first

My next experience at a wedding was when I was chosen to be the
bridesmaid. I was to wear a thin blue dress and I went to the place
where the wedding was to occur, carrying my dress. Our dressing room
was to stand on the bed with curtains around it. The bride was dressed
first and then I dressed myself. We knew of another bride who was
coming and we waited to get the white ribbon bows for the bride to wear
in her hair and the white ribbons to wear around her wrists. The men
were all standing outside the house, as the table was set for
dinner--the cooking was done at the fireplace--and there was not room
in the small house for them. Finally when the bride was ready the best
man came in. His name was John Kane. I discovered he had about half of
his coat sleeve ripped out, but in spite of torn coat, the ceremony
proceeded and then we sat down and had the wedding dinner. The Rev.
Walker performed the ceremony. Among other goodies which we had on the
table were glasses of syrup. There was something a little bit white in
it and I found that it was pie-dough cut out with a thimble and baked
and dropped in it for an ornament. The next day the bride and groom and
myself were to take a trip. The best man's sweetheart got very jealous
of me because I acted as bridesmaid with her intended husband as best
man. Engaged couples at that time were supposed to look only at each
other. There were two couples besides the bride and groom, who took a
horseback trip to Scroggin's valley; we went about fifteen miles, I
should judge, and ate dinner with a brother of the groom. They had not
been married very long and were starting in housekeeping. We went on to
Mr. Tanner's and spent the night, leaving the bride and groom at his
brother's. Our trip covered about fifty miles.

The next thing that came into my life, of any importance, was meeting
my first husband. In the fall of '52 Mr. Gieger had two brothers come
from Michigan and they spent the winter with him and in the spring went
to the mines in Southern Oregon, then on the northern California, where
they mined a while and then started a store. There were the two Grieger
boys and associated with them were the two Hazlett brothers and Mat
Fultz. Someone was always coming down with pack animals to get
supplies, as they had to be packed out from Portland or Scotsburg. This
summer Everett Gieger came and one of the Hazletts came with him and
spent the summer, returning in the fall with supplies. One morning I
was sweeping the floor and was around with the children. About ten or
eleven o'clock a man came to the door. He had long hair down over his
shoulders; he wanted know if this was where Mr. Gieger lived. I was
barefooted and not in trim to see visitors, but the stranger said
"Everett Gieger would be along the next day; that he had stopped to
visit someone and he had come on ahead." They spent the summer there.
During the summer, they made up a party--Mr. Gieger and his wife, her
sister and myself, and a man by the name of Mr. Blank, made a trip over
to Tillamook Bay. We went up to the head of the Yamhill valley, that is
now the Siletz Reserve. We crossed the mountains on just a thread of a
heavily timbered trail and were the second party of women that had
crossed the mountains. We were two days going over the mountain to come
down into the valley of Tillamook and on down to what is known as
Traskville. A man by the name of Trask lived there and made butter and
took it to Portland to sell.

Mr. Grieger and Mr. Trask were acquainted. We spent a night and a
couple of days there; then went on down and camped on Tillamook Bay and
hired a boat to go down the bay to the mouth of the river and I had my
first glimpse of the Pacific ocean. That was the first time I ever saw
any clams. The gnats were terrible. We spent a few days near the shore
and then came back to Yamhill and Mrs. Gieger's father's home. We staid
there a few days and then returned to our own home. In the meantime Mr.
Everett Gieger had fallen in love with Narcissa Cornwall, Mrs. Gieger's
sister. I was promised to marry Mr. Hazlett. The two men went away in
October, back to the mines. In February they were to return and we were
to be married and go back to Illinois to live. But meantime they
changed their minds and concluded they would go into the stock business
in the Little Shasta valley. They took up a farm there and didn't come
down until May. They bought a lot of stock to drive down, two yokes of
oxen and a wagon; the oxen had worked or been driven across the plains.

Even in these early times, the subject of clothes claimed some
attention of the feminine mind. When I was about thirteen years old I
was very anxious to have a white dress. I had never had one. Mrs. Smith
had kept Joe Gale's four children during the winter, while the parents
went to California to the mines. He had sent up some white goods,
scarfs, shawls and so on, but I wanted a white dress. Mrs. Smith told
me if I would come down and do four washings she would let me have
everything to make me a dress, so I went to the river to wash and I got
the goods for my dress and when I went to board with Mrs. Eells, she
made the dress with flowing sleeves and three tucks in the skirt. She
made undersleeves, too. The first pair of gloves I ever had I bought
from a peddler, paying twenty-five cents for them. I earned most of the
money that bought my wedding outfit. The wedding dress was a white one
and I trimmed my own wedding bonnet. Mr. Gieger bought my shoes, which
were poor leather slippers, with no heels, such as the men wore. I was
very much disappointed in my shoes, for they were just like old bedroom
slippers. I had my hair braided and wore a big horse-shoe comb. I had
white ribbon around my wrists like a cuff. Abigail Walker, my girl
chum, came over and helped me dress. The wedding day was the fifth of
June and the Rev. Walker performed the ceremony. His family, Mrs. Eells
and family and other friends were there. Mr. Walker was a very nervous
man and when he preached he would shake like a person with a mild
nervous chill. Mrs. Eells said that she could hardly keep from laughing
during the ceremony, Mr. Walker's clothing shook so. I had the usual
congratulations from the guests and the single men's congratulations
was the privilege of kissing the bride. We had the wedding feast. Mrs.
Walker came over to make the cake. She was the best cake maker in the
neighborhood. She couldn't manage the cake on our stove as well as on
her own, so she carried the batter in a bucket, four miles on
horseback, baked it in her own stove, and brought back a fine wedding
cake with green cedar laid on the plate and the cake set on that. The
trimmings were cedar boughs, wild roses and honeysuckle.

The next day my husband had to go to Portland on business and we went
as far as Hillsboro, where I visited Mrs. Eells until he returned. Then
we began to get ready to go to my future home in Shasta valley,
traveling with the stock and ox team. Part of the time I rode horseback
and part of the time I helped drive the cattle. We went on until we got
into the Umpqua valley and it was very warm and the grasshoppers were
eating up the whole country; they had eaten all the foliage on the
trees. We came to the Cow Creek canyon, but the military road had not
been built and we had to travel the old road in the bed of the creek
for miles. It was very rough and rugged and the hills were steep. We
had traveled one day to put up camp. Next day we started, but in going
up a steep hill one of the oxen stopped and trembled and we thought he
had got poisoned. We cut up some sliced bacon and he didn't object to
eating it and licked his tongue out for more. We gave him some more
bacon and still he wouldn't go. Finally we hired another team which got
us through the canyon, but we concluded it was only a trick of the old
ox, as he had been raised on bacon and that was all he wanted. We came
to the Grave Creek hills which were very steep. We camped just as we
got to the summit of them and after a rest traveled on; in just two
weeks from that time two men were killed in that place by the Indians.
We just missed being killed. We traveled on in the Rogue River valley
which was not very much settled, save in the lower part. It showed
evidence of the conflict between the white men and the Indians by the
lonely graves that were scattered along the roadside. We came onto
Wagner Creek where Mrs. Harris and other settlers were killed by the
Indians in '55. They were harvesting some fine fields of grain as we
came through the valley. The towns were all small--they could hardly be
seen. There was Waitsburg, where Mr. Wait had a flouring mill, and a
large log house; and at the time of the Indian trouble, the people
flocked there for safety. In going through the Rogue River valley the
Indians came to our wagon and were very inquisitive and even got into
the wagon and frightened me; and when the men had to be away I would
become very much frightened. One evening when in camp on the bank of
the Rogue River, we saw across the stream some soldiers who had some
Indians with them. The Indians finally took up their belongings and
started across the mountains. The soldiers crossed the river and the
bugler rode down to our camp and told us it would be better for us to
go up to a nearby farm house; that while he did not apprehend any
trouble, we would be safer there. We went up there and found seven men,
including a fifteen year old boy. They had a log cabin and very kindly
made all the preparation that they could for our safety. The boy was
very anxious to kill an Indian, so he put seven bullets down in his
muzzle-loader gun and said: "One of those bullets would surely hit an

So we traveled on to the head of the valley and across the Siskiyou
Mountains into California and we camped over night on the summit of the
mountains. Three weeks afterward, three teamsters camped there and were
killed by the Indians. We came on down into a rough looking country--a
little mining camp we called Cottonwood, where my husband had been
mining. We staid there a week, then took our way on south to Willow
Creek in Shasta valley, where my husband had a home for us to live in
and where he was to follow the stock business. We were there about two
months and a half, when the Klamath Lake Indians began to make trouble.
We lived close to their trail and we were afraid of being killed and so
we put up our belonging and went back to the little mining camp. I
never saw the home again. We lived in this Cottonwood district near the
Oregon line and raised stock, and my husband put out fruit trees and
started raising a garden. In the year '60 he had to be operated on for
cancer. We had to go across the Trinity and Scott mountains to Red
Bluff, where we took the boat down the Sacramento river. Friends
thought he would not live to make the trip. The doctors said his
disease was incurable and that he would not live more than three years
at best. They operated on him. I had left our ten-months old baby at
home. In the June before we went down to San Francisco, our house and
belongings were destroyed by fire and we went into a bachelor's house
and lived there.

Many amusing incidents occurred during the long winter months in the
mining districts of northern California, when the placer miners,
waiting for the water to open up, found time hanging heavy on their
hands. Isolated as we were, we welcomed anything that would break the
monotony of life. One locality in which we lived had always given a
Democratic majority and the Republican brethren of course did not take
kindly to this. One year they determined to beat the Democrats in the
coming election and set about it with considerable vim. As there were
several men in town who did not care particularly which ticket they
voted, they worked on them. I took in the situation and as all my men
folks were Democrats, I decided to have a little fun and help our party
at the same time. I, too, worked on those who could be influenced to
vote either way. One of these persons was named Davey Crockett and he
claimed to be a nephew of the famous Davey Crockett of "Alamo" fame.
This Crockett was known as "Dirty Crockett," because it well described
his personal appearance. He lived in a "tepee" out in the hills and
hunted deer. He always wore a red cap that had the corners tied up to
look like horns. He said he could always get the deer, because they
would stop to look at his cap long enough for him to get a bead on
them. Another of his accomplishments was his ability to catch live
skunks. He offered to rid the neighborhood of them if he were paid
fifty cents for each one he brought in alive. He was given the job and
soon came carrying a live skunk by the tail. He said he caught them by
the tail and held them so tight they could not scent him. He collected
his fifty cents from two or three persons. He repeated this several
times; in fact, so frequent became his appearance with a live skunk
that some of the business men became suspicious and upon investigation
it was found that he had caught just one skunk and whenever he wanted
money he would reappear with the same skunk and collect the bounty. A
Welchman, who was a staunch Republican, offered Crockett a fine rooster
if he would agree to vote that ticket. To this he readily agreed. When
I learned this, I went to him and offered him two dried mink skins that
I had, if he would agree to vote the Democratic ticket. These looked
better than the rooster, so he transferred his allegiance to the
Democratic party. Four or five "floaters" seen with equally good
results kept the balance of power on the Democratic side on election

The Welchman who had labored so hard to make a Republican of Crockett,
gave me a write-up in the paper after election, telling how the
Democrats won the day by the aid of skunk-catchers and wood-choppers,
but little did I care. We won the day by using his tactics and I had
considerable fun with my experience in early day politics.

The winter of '60-61 being very cold, many cattle died and this same
Crockett made considerable money skinning the dead animals and selling
their hides. One cold and stormy evening, quite a distance from his
home, he skinned a large steer that had just died and was still warm.
As he could not reach home that night, he rolled himself up in the warm
hide. During the night it froze so hard that it was with considerable
difficulty that he was able to cut himself out in the morning.

An Irishman named Pat O'Halloran was a prospector and miner, and like
most of the early day miners, was fond of a drink now and then. He
would frequently sit around the saloons watching the card games until a
very late hour, or rather, early morning hour. One dark night he
started for home, loaded a little beyond his capacity. Not being able
to keep the road, he fell into a prospect hole. The hole was about
forty feet deep and Pat went to the bottom. The next morning the
ditch-tender going his rounds, heard someone calling and finally
located old Pat in the bottom of the prospect hole. He went for help.
The men got a windless and bucket and after some effort drew him near
the surface. Now Pat was an uncompromising Democrat, and as he
approached the top he noticed that a preacher, who was the leading
Republican in the neighborhood, was one of his rescuers. He commanded
them to lower him again and "go and get some Democrats to haul me out,"
saying "I don't want that black abolitionist to help me out." So they
had to lower him until they could find Democrats enough to pull him
out. We were eating breakfast when a man came to get my husband to
assist in pulling the Irishman to the surface and he came back laughing
heartily at Pat's political stubbornness. The editor of the Democratic
paper gave him a life subscription to his paper and Pat lived fifteen
years to read it; he then decided he had enjoyed it long enough and

We had many interesting neighbors, men and women of considerable force
of character. In the early days of the gold excitement in southern
Oregon and northern California a man and his wife, by the name of
Redfield, located a homestead on Cow Creek. They built a house and ran
a station where travelers were accommodated with lodging and food.
Attacks by Indians were frequent, but they stayed and fought it out
with them. In one of these attacks, Mrs. Redfield was severely wounded
in the hip, but even this did not dismay them and they staid with
their home and continued to fight it out. During the civil war she was
a Union sympathizer and he was equally strong on the rebel side.
Whenever they would get news of a Union victory, she would give a
banquet and invite all their friends to celebrate; when news of a Rebel
victory came, he, in turn, would give a banquet and call all the
friends together. After the close of the war, he was told that he would
not be allowed to vote and that if he attempted to do so, his vote
would be challenged. He said, "All right"; but on election day he was
at the polls. He had a long muzzle-loading gun and was known to be a
sure shot. He folded his ballot and stuck it in the muzzle of "old
Betsy" and handed it to the clerk, who took it without protest and no
one else challenged his vote.

There was a German citizen named Haserich who was known as "Slam Bang"
among the miners, because of his frequent use of those words in
describing any thing or event. He was the proprietor of a billiard hall
and lodging house. Being Republican committeeman one year, he called
the boys in and told them that a Mr. Van Dueser, who was the Republican
candidate for the Legislature, was coming to make a speech. Knowing
that the boys were always playing pranks, he implored them to be "nice"
and to listen attentively to what he had to say. They promised to
behave, but when the old man escorted the speaker into the hall the
night of the meeting, there were about two hundred men there, each with
his face blackened and wearing a high paper collar. The meeting
proceeded without disturbance, but the speaker was not to get away in
peace. The horse he had hired was one that had been trained to stop in
front of every saloon and sit on his haunches. This he did as usual and
the boys had their fun in assuring the dignified speaker of the evening
that his horse wanted a drink before he would pass the saloon.

In early days, dishes were not very plentiful. Most people had only tin
dishes and these were hard to get. One man, to avoid the risk of loss,
nailed his dishes to the table. When he wanted to wash them he would
turn the table on it's side, take the broom and some hot water and
scrub them well; after rinsing them, he would turn the table back with
the dishes thoroughly cleansed.

The Rev. Childs (the abolitionist preacher) took a claim with two young
men who were both in their teens and full of pranks. The Reverend often
used to tell them of the fine eels he used to have in the East, what
good eating they were and how he longed for one again. The boys
concluded they would treat him to one for his dinner some day. One day
they caught a rattle snake and skinned it. As one of them always
prepared the dinner, the snake was cooked and sizzling hot when time
for dinner arrived. The frying pan was put on the table, containing
what the boys said was a nice fat eel. The minister stuck his fork into
a portion and put it on his plate, saying, "This is the toughest eel I
ever saw." The boys were a little dubious about allowing him to eat it,
for fear it might poison him; so one of them said, "If you had seen the
string of rattles on it, you would have thought it was tough." The
preacher took the frying pan and snake and threw them into the Klamath

Ministers were frequently the victims of the rude wit of the times. One
day one drove into town with a team and buggy, saying he was the
Reverend Bullock and that he had been told there was no church nor
anything of a religious nature in the place; so he had come to try to
convert the people and build up a church. He made an appointment to
come and conduct services in two weeks. He was there, true to his
promise, and most of the people attended the service. When the
collection was taken up, they responded liberally.

In time the people tired of his preaching, so a committee was appointed
to call upon him and tell him that no one cared to listen to him
longer; but he was not to be deterred and when the regular day for
service came, he was on hand again to preach. The boys decided they
would get rid of him for good. A man by the name of George Horner had
collected five hundred pieces of Chinese money. He went to the store
keeper who had the only safe in town and told him that he had five
hundred dollars which he wanted to deposit in his safe. The old man
took it and put it safely away. On the appointed day for church
services, George had this money distributed among the boys and they all
attended church, well prepared for the collection. The church was full
and the minister's face beamed with delight to see so large an
audience. There were a few men in the place who had been church members
in their Eastern homes. Some had been exhorters in these churches and
when the minister was fervently praying, outpourings of the spirit,
"God grant it" and "Amens" came from all parts of the church and one
could well imagine that they were in one of the old time Methodist
revival meetings.

The minister seemed to sense that there was something unusual in the
air and hurriedly brought his discourse to a close; but the boys were
determined that the collection must not be overlooked, so two of them
passed the hat among the congregation and the Chinese money soon filled
the hats. The minister closed without the usual benediction and made
for the door, where the collection was handed to him. When he saw what
it was, he made a hasty retreat to the barn where his team was and
ordered it ready. When he got into the buggy, he found that some one
had not forgotten to put in a few decks of cards and several bottles
of whiskey. He drove away and was not seen again for a number of years.

The town was not to be abandoned by the clergy altogether, however, so
another minister came. It always fell to me to entertain the traveling
ministers and this one was sent to my house. He told me he saw the need
of work in the community and he thought we should have a church. He
asked me what I thought of the outlook. I told him about the other
minister and his collection and he laughed heartily. He preached that
evening and left the next morning. That ended the religious effort in
our town for a long time.

The ministers did not have all the mishaps, however. A man named Thomas
owned the Eagle grist mall in the Rogue River valley, Oregon. In 1856
he surveyed and built the toll road across the Siskiyou mountains. He
also owned and operated a salt works down the Klamath river. On one of
his trips he had in addition to his load of salt a barrel of whisky and
a grindstone. It was late in the evening when he reached the Klamath
ferry and the ferryman told him not to try to cross Cottonwood creek as
it was high and dangerous. The tailings from the placers formed ridges
and holes that were dangerous in high water. He cautioned him to stay
in a house of his close to the crossing until morning, when it would be
safe to cross. He replied, "I will cross so quick that my salt won't
get wet." Fortunately, he had picked up a traveler on the road and was
giving him a lift to his destination. They attempted the crossing of
the creek and when they overturned in mid-creek this man succeeded in
cutting the horses loose and they all managed to swim ashore. Then they
went on to their camp, returning in the morning to see what they had
left. The wagon and the grindstone were there buried in the clay, but
the salt and whisky had vanished.

The winter of '62 was very severe and all the stock in the whole
country perished. Mr. Hazlett owned five hundred head of cattle in the
fall and in the spring had about five left. He had to go back in March
to be operated on again for cancer. He was quite a while in recovering.
I went down in June to see him and he returned with me, but lived only
until the next spring. He left me with five children and I had to build
a house to shelter them. I traded a cow for some lumber and some of my
friends helped me. The house was not finished inside. I used to take in
washing, which was the only thing to be done. Goods were very high
during the Civil war. The orchard had begun to bear and quite a lot of
gooseberries had set on. One year we had three hundred pounds of them.
I managed to care for my children and in '67 I married Mr. Fultz, my
first husband's partner. We lived there twenty-seven years. I had six
daughters. We at last sold out and came up into Washington to live and
settled in the town of Farmington, going into the hotel business. Some
of my girls were grown and lived with me. We bought a livery business,
then Mr. Fultz started a furniture business and finally took on
undertaking. Mr. Fultz lived but a year after coming to Farmington and
I was left with four businesses on my hands. All the responsibility
rested on me. One daughter died. With the help of the girls, the house
was enlarged to three stories. After three years one of the girls
married, a year after another, and then another. I had one daughter in
California; my youngest was with me. Six years after Mr. Fultz died I
married Mr. Delaney. We still had the hotel. Then I became crippled
with rheumatism and was given up to die, but finally recovered, though
told I would never walk again. I laid helpless and drawn up for five
months, with life dispaired of; but my children came to me, one from
California, one from Lewiston, Idaho, a son and daughter living in the
house and another in town. They all did everything possible and cared
for me continually. My doctor was faithful and the neighbors were kind
to come and do everything they could for me. The Chinaman cook brewed
good herbs and steamed my limbs and straightened them out and some of
the Coeur d'Alene squaws said they prayed for me. Another friend
furnished me a lot of Medical Lake salts, which he thought was good for
all ailments. After five months I was carried out in a chair and placed
in the sunshine; then came gradually returning strength and little by
little, with the aid of crutches, I walked and with continual effort
and perseverance I at last recovered the use of my limbs. With my
sister, who came to visit me, I went to visit Perrin Whitman, our old

In the spring of 1843, when Dr. Whitman returned to his Mission, he
brought with him his nephew, Perrin B. Whitman, a motherless boy of
thirteen years. Perrin learned the different Indian languages very
readily and at an early date helped the Rev. H. H. Spalding to
translate the three gospels into the Nez Perce tongue. He also helped
to print them on the first printing press brought to Oregon. In the
month of September, 1847, he was sent by his uncle to The Dalles to
learn the Wascopean Indian language, as Dr. Whitman had bargained for
the Methodist Station at that place and intended to move his family and
belongings there the following spring. The Doctor also hired a man
named Hindman to go there with his family and take charge of the place,
as he had left most of his supplies at that point. Four days after the
massacre, an Indian came to the house and told them that another Indian
had been at their camp and told them that Dr. Whitman's wife and all
the men at the Mission had been killed and the other women and children
taken captive. Mr. Hindman was so alarmed for the safety of his family
that he hired an Indian with his canoe to take him to Fort Vancouver
for help. He had not been gone long when four Cayuse Indians came to
the house and wanted Perrin to let them in. With Perrin was Mrs.
Hindman, her fourteen-months-old baby and a young girl of sixteen years
of age named Mary Warren.

At the approach of the Indians Mrs. Hindman sank into a chair with her
babe in her arms. She was speechless and helpless. Perrin stood at the
door and talked from the inside. He afterward said that if he ever
talked Walla Walla, he did that day. Miss Warren stood at the other
door with uplifted ax and vowed she would kill the first Indian who
attempted to enter. They tried in every way to induce Perrin to come
outside, but he refused to go. They finally left and Perrin said that
Miss Warren was the bravest woman he ever knew. She never showed any
sign of fear throughout the trying ordeal. He also said that he was
satisfied that the Indians came with the intention of killing all of
them. In a few days Mr. Hindman returned with help and they moved to
Oregon City.

Perrin clerked in Allen McKinley's store during the winter and in the
spring went as interpreter with a company of Volunteers to seek out and
punish the perpetrators of the massacre. After the Volunteers returned,
he married Priscilla Parker, a daughter of Sam Parker of Salem, Oregon,
and took up a farm near Salem. He and his family lived there until the
United States military authorities went to Fort Lapwai. As they wished
to make a treaty with the Indians, they needed an interpreter. The
Indians refused to talk until they had Whitman to interpret for them.
They were told by the military authorities that they would write for
him, but the Indians said, "No. Send a man for him." One day as he was
ploughing in his fields a man came and gave him a note, ordering him to
come at once to Lapwai to act as interpreter. (He afterwards told me
that "this was the only time he was ever taken on a bench warrant.") He
put his team in the barn and left at once for Lapwai.

He spent many years among the Nez Perce Indians as government
interpreter, teacher and missionary and no one man ever exerted such an
influence for good over them as Perrin Whitman. Their confidence in him
was unbounded and his word always accepted as the gospel truth. They
knew him and loved him and would never sign a treaty or take any
important step without his advice.

After an interval of thirty-eight years, during which time I had not
seen him, I journeyed to Lewiston by stage for the purpose of paying
him and his family a visit. The stage driver was Felix Warren, an old
friend of mine. On our way there, Mr. Warren said, "You must stay with
my wife and me tonight, for I know as soon as Whitman knows you are in
town, we will see no more of you." I said, "Very well." So we went to
his house. We had been there only a short time when a lady came in. As
we were introduced she said, "Why, you are father's old friend." She
went to the door and called her son and told him to run to Grandpa's
and "tell him his friend is here." He came over on a run and when he
looked at me he said, "Matilda, where did you get your hair dyed?" (My
hair had not yet turned grey.)

I replied, "What is the matter with you, that you don't dye yours?" His
hair and whiskers were almost white. We went to his house at once. He
would not even let me eat supper with my friends, the Warrens. We
talked over old times until two o'clock in the morning. Next morning
early we continued our reminiscences. My visit will always be a
pleasant memory.

When the Northern Pacific railroad was building across the Nez Perce
reservation the Indians refused to negotiate until their friend Perrin
Whitman was sent for to explain things to them. Again when the
Commissioners called for Volunteers to go among the different factions
to get their consent to the building of the road, not an Indian offered
his services until the Commissioners said, "Of course, you understand
that Whitman goes along." Then there were plenty of volunteers. They
said of him, "Whitman can ride all day and all night without sleep and
he never talks with a crooked tongue." It was a severely hard trip in
the storm and sleet that comes in the spring in that country; the roads
were rough and the nights cold. Not long after this experience he was
stricken with slow paralysis and was confined to his bed most of the
time for six years before his death. When Perrin Whitman passed on to
his reward, a civilizing influence that helped to make the great
Northwest safe for the white man went out. He was all that an honest
man should be. As I have said before, sister and I went to visit him
after my long and severe illness. A short time after we reached there,
a long distance message told me that the town had burned and I had lost
everything. Since then I have never been able to do anything, but have
been cared for by my children. They have looked after me and I have had
a good home and the comforts of life. Once, only, I went back to visit
the old California home. Found a few there whom I had known and
received a hearty welcome; many had passed over the long trail to the
better land. Once I went to Baltimore, Md., to visit my daughter, and
on that trip I came to realize the changes that my lifetime had
experienced. On the vast plains, where years before my childish eyes
had seen vast herds of buffalo roaming at will and where all was Indian
territory from the Missouri river to the Rocky mountains, where the
immigrant's wagon had toiled slowly and painfully along, with the
menace of privation and death a constant attendant, railroads had
thrust their slender bands of steel; large cities had been built and
prosperous farms dotted the land. Surely a magician must travel with
me, constantly waving a magic wand before my surprised eyes!

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Whitman massacre, through the
courtesy of the O.-W. R. & N. R. R. Co., all the survivors were given
transportation to go to the exercises attendant upon the erection of a
monument to the memory of Dr. Whitman and his fellow martyrs. When the
mound was leveled the workmen, to their surprise, found many bones.
These bones were classified by Dr. Bingham and others. I went to the
home of Dr. Penrose to assist in identifying them. A skeleton of a foot
in a part of a leather boot, we felt sure belonged to Mr. Kimball, as
he was the only man at the Mission who wore such boots.

The skull of a white woman was, of course, that of Mrs. Whitman. It
showed large eye-sockets. Mrs. Whitman had large light blue eyes. Dr.
Whitman had a strong face, his massive chin turning up a little. A
man's skull showed two tomahawk cuts. I asked Dr. Penrose to hold the
skull, which was in two parts, together; and as I went back in memory
and imagined the skull clothed with flesh, I felt it was Dr. Whitman's.
Both his and Mrs. Whitman's had been cut in two parts with a saw--an
old trick of the Indians upon some victims. The teeth in the skull
which I felt was that of Dr. Whitman, were intact and some of the lower
back ones were filled with gold. Perrin Whitman had told me that when
he had gone with the volunteers to the Mission the spring after the
massacre, he had picked up a skull among others which he then claimed
was that of his uncle. He said he recognized it by the gold fillings in
the back teeth, as when coming West in 1843 he went with his uncle to a
dentist in St. Louis, Mo., and that was the first time he ever saw
gold-leaf, which was used in his uncle's teeth. It was the first dental
work he had ever seen done and he was very much interested and it made
a deep impression upon his mind. The skull with the unusually large
nose orifice, we felt sure was that of Mr. Hoffman as he was the only
man in the settlement having a very large nose. A very thick skull, we
felt, resembled Mr. Gillam, the tailor. The skull of an old man, we
decided, was that of the miller, Mr. Marsh. The thigh-bone of a boy
about fifteen years of age, we were sure belonged to my brother, Frank,
as he was the youngest killed. It was considered remarkable that the
bones were so well preserved after the lapse of half a century.

In 1916 I attended the reunion of the Oregon Pioneer Society and that
of the Indian Volunteers at Portland. A gathering of 1600 persons
gathered in the City Auditorium. It was a most interesting meeting to
me and kept my mind constantly occupied with past experiences. Perhaps
the thing that brought by-gone times most vividly to my mind was the
trip for the pioneers up the Columbia Highway in autos furnished by the
city. As I looked out across the broad river from the height of the
_Vista House_, dedicated to the pioneers of Oregon, the beautifully
finished roadway, with its wonderful curves, solid masonry, gentle
grades, faded from before my eyes and again I saw a little party of
forlorn and homeless refugees rowing down that same river in the
old-fashioned, flat-bottomed bateaux, thankful to be alive, but always
hurrying to put more and more miles of water between them and the
tragic place called Waiilatpu. The chill of those misty winter days
again crept to my heart and I clearly recalled the childish awe that
filled my soul as I noticed the girth and height of the forest trees on
either side of the murky, greenish water that swept on past them with a
strong current, leaving sand-bar after sand-bar a gleam of tawny color
against their masses of dark green foliage; and I thought of a moment
when we saw a little cluster of five log houses and knew that we could
see Portland. Then as I looked toward the magnificent city of today,
with its homes, churches, schools, its parks and business places, I
felt that I must be waking from a _Rip Van Winkle_ sleep and the magic
of the moment almost overcame me. This thought I carried away with me.
Surely if the way of the pioneer is hard and beset with dangers, at
least the long years bring at last the realization that life, patiently
and hopefully lived, brings its own sense of having been part and
parcel of the onward move to better things--not for self alone, but for

Transcriber's note:

The following corrections have been made:

Foreword: "Coeurd 'Alene" changed to Coeur d'Alene;

p. 10 "we would go picnicing in" picnicing changed to picnicking;

p. 18 "children haven't had any dinner," 'and" single quotation mark
before and removed;

p. 19 "realized whatt it meant" whatt changed to what;

p. 20 "the woman watned" watned changed to wanted;

p. 25 "repent the argreement" argreement changed to agreement;

p. 26 "we got to Vancauver" Vancauver changed to Vancouver;

p. 30: "it go so strong of sulphur" go changed to got;

p. 33 "rtip to Scroggin's valley" rtip changed to trip; "meeing my first
husband" meeing changed to meeting;

p. 35 "baked it her own stove" changed to baked it in her own stove;
"rought and rugged" rought changed to rough; "Rev. Walker performer the
ceremony" performer changed to performed;

p. 36 "bugler rode down to our" buglar changed to bugler;

p. 38 "wood-choppers,b ut little" moved space before b; "winter of
'61-61" '61-61 changed to '60-61;

p. 39 "stuck in it the muzzle" changed to stuck it in the muzzle;

p. 42 "his Mission, be brought" be changed to he; "family and
belingings" belingings changed to belongings; "steamed by limbs" by
changed to my; "with life dispared of" dispared changed to dispaired;
"and perseverance I at last" perseverence changed to perseverance;

p. 44 "Whitman kiows you" kiows changed to knows; "old Colifornia home"
Colifornia changed to California; "we continued our reminiscences"
reminiscenses changed to reminiscences;

p. 45 "some of the lower black ones" black changed to back;

p. 46 "with past exteriences" exteriences changed to experiences.

Everything else has been retained as printed, i.e. inconsistent spelling
like Geiger/Gieger/Grieger, Waiilatpu/Waillatpu, Eels/Eells.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Survivor's Recollections of the Whitman Massacre" ***

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