Surviving The Oregon Trail

History - Geography - Survival - Homesteading

Narcissa May 1842

by Crystal Calhoun


May 17th.

The time has at length arrived for sending off our letters, and it is the last moment. I have not written to any of our beloved friends in Angelica, you must send these letters when you have an opportunity.

Our general meeting is now convened. All the families of the mission are here except Mr. Spaulding's who refused to attend. We are in deep waters, but we hope this meeting will decide our case as a mission in some way that will be a relief to our anxious minds. I cannot say much now, but the time will come when I hope to be able to speak freely.

Dear husband has not written a single letter to send home, nor can he, his mind is filled with so much labor, care and responsibility. He often speaks of you, but cannot write.

Mr. Munger, the man I wrote about in my letters of last spring as being deranged, has at last killed himself. H-after driving two nails in his left hand-drew out a bed of hot coals and laid himself down upon it, thrusting his hand into the hottest part of the fire and burnt it to a crisp, and died four days after. After they returned they went on to the Willamette, because we did not think it safe for him to remain here. This took place the last of December. I cannot enter into particulars as I would be glad to. My time, strength and thought are all occupied with the care of company, my children and the events of the meeting.

We have, I mean Mr. Spaulding and us, just received a box of clothing from Prattsburgh.

I have seen only one letter and that is a joint letter to both families from O. L. Porter. By some hints in that and from other sources we learn that there is a party expected from that place to come out to our help, and perhaps to come next year. If it is so, it is through Mr. S.'s influence, unbeknown to the mission. If they come out unconnected with the American Board, it will be very trying to both us and them. Those who have already come can but just live, and I believe are obliged to abandon their object, because in this country it is as much as we can do to take care of ourselves if we have no help about.

I received a letter from H.P. and Livonia Prentiss, and right glad was I for it. It is the first we have received from them since we have been here. The box was directed to Mr. S. and consequently was not opened until it went to his place, and he delayed sending the things and letters so long and gave me no information of it until the time had arrived to send our letters off, consequently I have written only one letter to P. where I should have been glad to have written several.

What I have written in the first part of this sheet about our Brother Rogers, keep to yourselves. He is here now and we would be glad to have him join us again if the circumstances of the mission were a little different.

I send this letter by Edward Rogers, a young man who came out last fall and spent the winter with us. He had partly promised to call on you; I hope he will.

I sent Edward Mr. Smith's address on "The Mission Character." I hope he will read it very attentively and often; it is all true, and what he will have to meet if he becomes a missionary.

Please give my love to Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley. It would cheer me much if they would write us.

Mr. Clarke and all his party are in the lower country.

Mr. Littlejohn has given up going home-he has not the means. We want him to come back and help us and have given him the invitation.

Love from us both to Jane and Edward.

Your sister, as ever,


Love to dear father and mother, and all the dear ones we love.

Farewell, N.W.

Narcissa May 1842 – Surviving the Oregon Trail
Welcome to our Whitman library. These letters and diary entries are available in the public domain.  Please note we have made light changes to the text (spelling errors) and have occasionally added some pictures to illustrate what they may have seen during that time, according to their letters or diary entries for reader enjoyment.In addition, we are in the process of creating lessons featuring the Whitmans, their travel on the Oregon Trail and their short stay in Walla Walla, Washington.  In the end we hope to provide you not a tragic tale of misfortune and misunderstandings but rather their story, full of inspiration, self-sacrifice, hope and a legacy of the lives they saved no matter the race or social standing.

The original letters are held by Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wa.Full text of "Mrs. Whitman's letters 1843-1847" are in the public domain
MRS. WHITMAN'S LETTERS[An additional number of the letters written by Mrs. Narcissa Whitman to her relatives in New York, have recently been secured, together with some very important ones from Dr. Whitman himself, incidentally alluding to matters which of late years have been the subject of much controversy. The originals of the letters in this pamphlet, as well as those in the Transactions of this Association for 1891, are in my possession as a permanent contribution to the archives of our Association. At my earnest solicitation they were donated to us by Mrs. Harriet P. Jackson, a sister of Mrs. Whitman, who lived at Oberlin, Ohio, in 1893, to whom we owe a vote of thanks. The letter of Rev. H. H» Spalding to Mrs. Whitman's father, giving probably the first account of the massacre, also appears in this pamphlet. — Geo. H. HlMES, Secretary.]More Free Resources from the Public Domain:Marcus Whitman, pathfinder and patriot Transactions of the Oregon Pioneer, Volumes 15-21