Lesson 4: Meeting Marcus Whitman

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Each day have someone quiz you on the following spelling words. If you misspell any word then write them down 10 times each. Then quiz yourself on the definitions of each word. If you don’t know the definition, look it up and write it down.

  1. experience
  2. medical
  3. descendant
  4. transportation
  5. congregation
  6. Massachusetts
  7. ancestor
  8. revival
  9. physician
  10. surgeon

Writing Prompts

Choose one of the following writing prompts and write a one-page story.

1. You are going to be interviewed for a new job opening for the dream-job you’ve always wanted. When you step into the room to be questioned, you are amazed to see the interviewer looks exactly like you!

2. After becoming extremely successful, you decide to return home to the town you grew up in. When you arrive, you see posters everywhere of someone who disappeared ten years ago. When you look closer, it’s you.

3. The date is 1820. Your big brother is studying to be a doctor, but you know he wants to be a missionary. Unfortunately your family is against this decision, while you get caught in the middle.

4. On the way home from a group activity, you stumble into the person of your dreams! Write about how it went and what happens after.

5. Being the sibling of Narcissa Prentiss is not easy. She’s got good looks, a great voice, and the kinds of smarts that grabs attention; but she loves you and the family and is the best sister anybody could ask for. Describe the feeling you have when Narcissa and her friend Marcus announce they plan to be married and become missionaries and maybe never return!

Meeting Marcus Whitman

Marcus Whitman

The “Second Great Awakening” greatly affected most of New York. It’s people now trembled with faith renewed, one of whom we learned was Narcissa Prentiss. However, this revival affected many other places besides the county of Prattsburg. In this lesson we will learn about another person affected by the “burned over district” and how he met Narcissa Prentiss.

About 30 minutes away from Prattsburg, there was a small community called Federal Hollow (renamed Rushville) where a certain young boy named Marcus Whitman grew up. He was born on September 4, 1802 to Beza and Alice Whitman. Beza was the descendant of John Whiteman who came to the Massachusetts’s Bay Colony during the Great Migration in the late 1630’s, around the same time Narcissa’s ancestors came to America!

Marcus grew up in a rather poor environment, and learned the basic skills needed on his family’s farm. But unfortunately, at the age of seven Marcus became fatherless. He was then sent to live with his Uncle who lived hours away in Plainfield County, Massachusetts. During this time, Marcus’s mother Alice remarried. He remained in Plainfield for the next 10 years, and received a good education. At the age of 17, Marcus experienced the effects of the “Second Great Awakening”. He then decided to become a minister, but upon returning home his family did not approve of his career choice. This was due to the fact that it took years of study and hard work to become a legal minister.

So, instead Marcus worked for his step-father’s tannery and shoe business for the following three years. He did not settle for this simple career and felt a calling in medical practices. He apprenticed himself to the local doctor and for the next couple years he studied the medical field. In 1825 Marcus enrolled in the College of Physicians and Surgeons and earned his license for practicing medicine. He left for Canada for about 2 1/2 years but returned to Rushville, New York. He remembered his dreams as a youth on ministry work, and began studying to become a minister. Unfortunately his study didn’t go for long, as he became ill. Instead he turned back to his old college

By Beyond My Ken at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Columbia_University_College_of_Physicians_and_Surgeons_entrance.jpg

in 1831 and enrolled once again. There he earned his Medical Doctor degree.

Marcus finally decided to settle in the small town of Wheeler, New York. He lived less then 20 minutes away from Narcissa’s home. He remained in Wheeler until 1835. Some time after he moved there, news of Rev. Samuel Parker searching for missionaries reaches Marcus’s ears. This was his chance! He and Rev. Strong of Rushville continued to press the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to allow him to join Rev. Parker. The ABCFM finally came together and appointed Marcus Whitman as a missionary doctor.

Narcissa Prentiss

There was only one problem standing in Marcus’ way to becoming a full-time missionary; he needed a wife! The ABCFM wanted men to marry before they went out, in order that they wouldn’t marry any of the Native American women out west and lose sight of God.

Around this time, Narcissa and Marcus met. It is unknown how they first met each other, but eventually Marcus was invited to a family dinner. He had learned from the ABCFM that Narcissa had offered herself to serve in missionary work, and saw an opportunity.  When he saw she wanted to be a missionary, they began writing and corresponding through letters. Marcus proposed to her, offering Narcissa a dream come true.

In the world of today, marriage proposals are much more complicated then they were 2 hundred years ago. During the 1800’s, many marriages were planned because of convenience, and not love. If two people had the same dreams and hopes, they would come together and learn to get along as husband and wife. So with that in mind, Narcissa figured she could learn to love Marcus and quickly agreed to marry him!

In our next lesson, we’ll learn how Narcissa planned their somber wedding, and the amazing trip Marcus embarked upon before they were married.


Write your answers on a piece of paper. When you’ve completed the quiz check the answers at the bottom of the page under the Answers tab.

1. Marcus was born during which month in what year?

(a) October, 1806
(b) September, 1802
(c) November, 1804

2. Marcus lived with his uncle in what Massachusetts’s county?

(a) Ononduga
(b) Rushville
(c) Plainfield

3. Which college did Marcus enroll in and what degree did he earn?


4. Marcus moved to which little town 20 minutes away from Narcissa’s home?

(a) Federal Hollow
(b) Plainfield
(c) Wheeler
(d) Prattsburg

5. True or False:

ABCFM stands for American Board of Commissioners for Fined Missions

6. Which Rev. helped Marcus become an official missionary?

(a) Rev. Strong
(b) Rev. Beech
(c) Rev. Parker

7. What do you think about marriage practices today, and how different are they from traditions 2 hundred years ago? Write about the positive and negative points in both centuries.



Lesson Activities

Have fun and strengthen your vocabulary and spelling skills by playing our challenging online word games! Enjoy our relaxing puzzles or challenge yourself to put the pieces together in record time!

Lesson Challenge

When you grow up!

Select five different people you want to be when you grow up. Such as; Fire-fighter, farmer, vet, soldier, or a movie director.

Write each one of these jobs on a separate card or piece of paper. Write below what it means to have that job, and how long it takes to learn the profession.

Quiz Answers

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  1. b

  2. c

  3. answers may vary –College of Physicians and Surgeons

  4. c

  5. False

  6. a

  7. answers may vary – depends on child’s personal views

  8. answers may vary – February 18, 1836. Angelica, New York. She wore a black dress and sang a hymn with her family and friends.