Surviving The Oregon Trail

History - Geography - Survival - Homesteading

Narcissa September 1842

by Crystal Calhoun

Sept. 29th, 1842
My Dear Jane and Edward:
I sit down to write you, but in great haste. My beloved husband has about concluded to start next Monday to go to the United States, the dear land of our birth; but I remain behind. I could not undertake the journey, if it was considered best for me to accompany him, that is to travel as he expects to. He hopes to reach the borders in less than three months, if the Lord prospers his way. It is a dreadful journey, especially at this season of the year; and as much as I want to see you all, I cannot think of ever crossing the mountains again-my present health will not admit of it. I would go by water, if a way was ever open; but I have no reason to think I ever shall.

If you are still in Quincy you may not see him until his return, as his business requires great haste. He wishes to reach Boston as early as possible so as to make arrangements to return next summer, if prospered. The interests of the missionary cause in this country calls him home.

Now, dear Jane, are you going to come and join me in my labours? Is dear Edward so far advanced as not to need your aid any more? Do you think you would be contented to come and spend the remainder of your life on mission ground? If so, make your mind known to husband and he will make arrangements for you at Boston to come. Count the cost well before you undertake it. It is a dreadful journey to cross the mountains, and becoming more and more dangerous every year; but if any mission families come, you will find no difficulty in placing yourself under their protection. Bring nothing with you but what you need for the way, and a Sunday suit, a Bible and some devotional book for your food by the way. Send the remainder by ship. When E. has well finished his education, I hope he will come, also, for there will be work enough here to do by that time. At any rate, if you do not come, spend, if you please, all the time you can in writing me until he comes back, for he wishes to return next summer. Now do not disappoint me, for I have not heard a word from either of you since March, 1840. I have written you much since that time, but it may not have reached you.

I shall be left alone at this station for a season, until Mr. Gray can send some one up from below to take the charge; and he has left the mission and goes to engage in a public school. I hope to have Mr. Rogers or Mr. Littlejohn to winter here-the latter wishes to return to the States in the spring.

Now, dear J. and E., adieu. I hope you will see husband long enough to have a good visit with him. I hope he will call as he goes along. If he has time, he will, but his business requires haste, if he returns next spring.

Please give much love to Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley; tell her I shall never cease to remember and love her, and ardently hope they will both write me. I should like to hear of the different members of her family with whom I used to be acquainted.

Gladly would I write more if I could, but must write a line to other friends. Pray for me and mine while we are separated from each other.

Much love from myself to you both.

Affectionately your sister,


P.S.-I have forgotten to speak of husband's company in travel. He is Mr. A.L. Lovejoy, a lawyer who came up from the States this summer, and now is willing and anxious to return for the good he may do in returning. He will probably come back again. He is not a Christian, but appears to be an intelligent, interesting man.


Narcissa September 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