Monday, April 27, 2009

A survivor's story...

The Whitman Massacre

Wikipedia describes the Whitman Massacre as follows:
The Whitman massacre (also known as the Walla Walla massacre and the Whitman Incident) was the murder in the Oregon Country on November 29, 1847 of U.S. missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa Whitman, along with thirteen others. They were killed by Cayuse and Umatilla Indians. The incident began the Cayuse War. It took place in present-day southeastern Washington, near the town of Walla Walla, and was one of the most notorious episodes in the U.S. settlement of the Pacific Northwest. The event was the climax of several years of complex interaction between the Whitmans, who had led the first wagon train along the Oregon Trail, and the local Native Americans.
You can read the rest of the excerpt here.
Newspapers across the country carried the events (the image below is from the Weekly Wisconsin newspaper, 31 May 1848 issue, pg. 4)

Josiah Osborn and (some) of his family were survivors of the Whitman Massacre. My next several blog posts will be a transcript of a letter written by Josiah on April 7, 1848, to his brother and sister in Illinois. It was printed in the Oquawka Illinois Spectator newspaper on August 23, 1848 and picked up by several papers across the country. The image below is from the Sandusky Clarion newspaper, Oct 16 1848 issue.

Dear Brother and Sister:
After a long silence, I take pen in hand to write you a few lines, to inform you that some of us still remain on this side of the grave, and give you some information of the country, and our troubles since we left the states. I have waited a long time, until I could have something worth writing about.
When we parted with you, we took our journey for Oregon, and had a very pleasant trip, but traveled very slowly. When we reached the Umatilla river we turned and went to Dr. Whitman's, where we spent the winter. We had a very pleasant winter. On the first of March, 1846, we started for the Willamette Valley, and in thirteen days we arrived at the Falls, where had to stop and construct a boat. In about two weeks we had completed our boat, and then started down the Columbia, and arrived at Oregon city on the 24th of April. Here we spent the summer, and in the fall moved up the Wallamette to the Methodist Institute, and spent the fall and winter. In the spring of 1847 we went to our claim on the Califosea, and thought we were done moving.
Dr. Whitman came down and wanted me to undertake to build two mills for the Mission; and, not being satisfied with doing well, I consented to go and spend two years in working for the Mission. On the last of September we started for Oregon City. About the first of October we took water at the city, with six Wallawalla Indians, for the Falls, which we reached on the 5th. Next day we saw the dust rise from a caravan coming from the states. I started to meet them, and the first persons I met were John and Nancy Findley, driving the loose cattle. After passing a few words with them I went on and met the wagons. The first was driven by Wm. McCaw. In this wagon I found one whom I had never expected to see again in this world. Here was aunt Jane Findley, sitting in the wagon, almost worn out with traveling. She was surrounded with a host of children - three of Levi Russell's, four of Dunlap's and one of McCaw's - all dependent upon their grandmother to be taken care of - a burden for the stoutest person. Then rode up James L. Findley and his wife, in good health; then came Alexander Findley, John Dunlap and Milton - Dunlap had been sick for several days. This was a very solemn meeting of friends. After bracing myself up as well as I could, I led this little caravan on to my family. The caravan soon passed on to camp, but John and Nancy Findley remained and took tea with us, and in the evening we went with them to the be contined

No comments: