First White Women over the Rockies: Diaries, Letters, and Biographical Sketches of the Six Women of the Oregon Mission Who Made the Overland Journey in 1836 and 1838 - Vol. 1

First White Women over the Rockies: Diaries, Letters, and Biographical Sketches of the Six Women of the Oregon Mission Who Made the Overland Journey in 1836 and 1838 - Vol. 1

First White Women over the Rockies: Diaries, Letters, and Biographical Sketches of the Six Women of the Oregon Mission Who Made the Overland Journey in 1836 and 1838 - Vol. 1

First White Women over the Rockies: Diaries, Letters, and Biographical Sketches of the Six Women of the Oregon Mission Who Made the Overland Journey in 1836 and 1838 - Vol. 1

Excerpt

Writers dealing with the Whitman story have usually thought of Mrs. Whitman's overland diary as being only that section beginning July 18, 1836, when the Whitman-Spalding party left the Rendezvous, and continuing to October 18 when the missionaries reached Fort Vancouver. Actually, however, Narcissa's diary began with her first letter to her family, dated March 15. Before leaving her home, Narcissa's mother suggested that she keep a diary in the form of travel letters. This Narcissa gladly agreed to do for she loved to write. She also wrote several such letters to her husband's relatives. Sometimes Narcissa would copy for her husband's mother the same material sent to her own mother.

At least four of these travel letters written before the missionaries reached the Rendezvous are extant and are here given in full. They bear the dates March 15 and 31, June 3 and 27. All of these, together with that section of the diary dated July 18-October 18, appeared in the 1891 issue of the Transactions of the Oregon Pioneer Association except the letter of June 3. This was printed in the 1893 Transactions . However, these letters were not arranged in sequence to suggest their unity and the letter of June 27 was printed in an abbreviated form. At least two letters that Narcissa wrote as a part of the series are not extant. One was written to her husband's mother from the Otoe Indian Agency, about May 15, and the second was addressed to her parents from the Rendezvous, about July 7.

Myron Eells, a son of the Reverend Cushing Eells who was a member of the mission reinforcement of 1838, published his Marcus Whitman, Pathfinder and Patriot , in 1909. In this volume he gave in proper sequence but in an abbreviated form Narcissa's letters listed above, including the section dated July 18-October 18.

In 1936, at the time of the recognition of the centennial of the arrival of the Whitman-Spalding party in Oregon, the Oregon Historical Quarterly , beginning with the June issue and continuing until June of the following year, gave space in five of its numbers to the reprinting of Narcissa's letters of June 3, June 27 (again in its abbreviated form), and the section of the diary dated July 18-October 18. These appeared with splendid editorial notes by the late T. C. Elliottof Walla Walla . . .

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