Lesson 5: A Missionary's Bride

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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. Native American
  2. Exchange
  3. Rendezvous
  4. Appreciate
  5. Blackfoot
  6. Exhausting
  7. Appalachian
  8. Mountain
  9. Century
  10. Wedding

Writing Prompts

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

1. You’re on your way to a rendezvous in Green River when you hear some members of the caravan conspiring against you. Suddenly everybody goes sick and it’s up to you to help them! Will you help them even though they wanted to hurt you?

2. The story of a famous mountain man has been passed down through the ages for years. But one day you stumble upon his ancient journal telling the real story of his heroic deeds and how it changed the world!

3. The son of the Native American chief has just announced he is going to leave the tribe. He says that he will go on a journey with a strange man to represent the tribe in another land. And you, are his best friend.

4. After hiking for several hours, you and your friends are convinced you’re lost. You use a signal flare, and finally find a search party – or so they seem. As you make introductions, you realize they are not from the same century, and they look just as lost as you do!

5. You are taking a simple ride into the country near Angelica, New York. Your car suddenly hits a bumps and stops running right in front of an old church. You hear singing and decide to check it out – only to find you’ve traveled back in time to 1836 on the day of Narcissa Whitman’s wedding!

A Missionary's Bride

Narcissa Prentiss

After years of living with her family and serving as a simple school teacher, Narcissa finally finds the answer to her childhood prayers! She meets Marcus Whitman, a young doctor with big dreams and a big heart. They begin exchanging letters, he gets invited over to a dinner, and finally Narcissa is proposed too. The young blonde lady agrees to marry the future missionary, and wait for his safe return home 11 months later!

In the brisk February of 1835, Narcissa was engaged to Dr. Marcus Whitman. They both believed in the same dreams and saw their union to be both divine and ideal. Their adventure together as husband and wife would soon begin, but not just yet. Marcus had already committed himself to an almost year-long trip with Samuel Parker. Soon after the marriage proposal, Marcus was whisked away on a trip towards a place called Green River where a rendezvous was being held.

A rendezvous was similiar to a family get-together, only this was for the many different Fur Company’s trappers and hunters. Native Americans also came to trade their furs in exchange for goods and supplies. During a rendezvous, mountain men would enjoy the fun activities that they normally didn’t do. James Beckwourth, stated, “Mirth, songs, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent.”


Flathead Native Americans

The two missionaries joined a caravan that was headed towards the state of Wyoming. Neither of them were appreciated for both strongly believed in temperance and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Temperance was merely restraining oneself from drinking alcoholic beverages. This restraining act was greatly frowned upon by many lonely trappers and hunters, so much that a few conspired to kill the two missionaries! However, as fate would have it, Cholera struck the caravan leaving it up to Dr. Whitman to cure them. He was successful in treating the travelers, who became grateful and treated them more fairly.

When Samuel Parker and Marcus Whitman arrived at the rendezvous, Marcus met Jim Bridger, a famous mountain man who had gotten an 3-inch Blackfoot arrow stuck in his back. Marcus operated on Jim and removed the arrow. The news of an experienced doctor spread quickly throughout the rendezvous camp. Another hunter stepped up to be operated on, ending with his own arrow removed from his shoulder. More and more patients lined up to be nursed to health by Doctor Whitman. Their stay at the rendezvous lasted nearly nine exhausting days, but this led to establishment of his profession and the providing of encouragement he needed.


While he was in the wild country of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, Marcus scouted for the best possible site for his mission. It was here he met some Flathead Native Americans who were seeking God. This inspired Marcus and filled him with hope that other tribes would too be interested in the Good News of the Gospel. During this time, he also became convinced that women could survive the trip across the Appalachian mountains. He informed the ABCFM of his beliefs and soon after was assigned to a mission in the Oregon country.



Marcus Whitman on an adventure

It was finally time for Marcus to go back east and marry the lovely Narcissa Prentiss while his friend Samuel Parker stayed behind to scout out the lands for future missions. Although Marcus felt uneasy abut leaving his friend, Parker insisted on staying behind to gather information for any future missionaries. At first it seemed that Marcus would go back by himself, but then two young Native American boys joined Marcus on his trip towards home. Their names were Richard Sakahtooah, and John Ais. Before they left, Marcus promised to bring back the boys as one of them was the son of a Chief. Marcus was hoping that the two Native American boys would open the eyes of people living out east.

The journey back home was rough, but worth every minute of it. When Marcus and the two boys arrived on November the 4th, nobody was expecting them. He returned to his home on a late Saturday night, and the next morning he attended church. He brought the two boys with him to his Presbyterian community, amazing the locals and those attending service that morning.

The two Native American boys obtained education during the cold winter months, while Marcus began convincing the ABCFM of the possibilities for missions out west. With positive news from Samuel Parker, and the stories of Marcus Whitman, the board finally agreed to assign the Whitmans and another couple, the Spaldings, to a mission in Oregon country. Narcissa’s dreams were finally coming true, and in a few short months after Marcus returned home, their wedding took place!


Weddings during the 18th century were changed dramatically partly due to the fashion designs for Queen Vistoria’s wedding. Before the 1830’s weddings were custom, while the bride simply wore her best dress. After the 1830’s, wedding traditions took a more formal structure. White wedding dresses were finally introduced, and more elaborate ceremonies were being held in the couples honor. Wedding gifts became more intricate, and honeymoons became necessary. However, Narcissa’s wedding was different from those commonly held during the late 1830’s.

Church where Narcissa’s wedding took place

On February 18, 1836, Narcissa Prentiss became Mrs. Whitman. She was 27 years old, and her husband, Marcus Whitman, was 33. The service was held on the town of Angelica, New York, nearly an hour away from her home town Prattsburg county. Both her and her family dressed in black, but no one knows why. She could have been bidding farewell to her life of loneliness, or accepting the possible truth that she might never see her family again. A choir, her family, and even Richard Sakatooah partook in the wedding.

The wedding was solemn, simple, and uneventful. The day was closed as the choir, Narcissa, and her sisters sang Samuel Smith’s “Missionary Farewell” hymn. As the song continued on, one by one, the choir stopped singing. Attendees of her wedding and old friends recalled her voice sweet and musical as she sand the last stanza of the song by herself.


As the day closed with the marriage of Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Prentiss, their adventure as husband and wife began. Their honeymoon would be one of the most amazing stories in American history as it greatly influenced the Great Westward Expansion!


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. In what year did Marcus and Narcissa get engaged?

(a) 1834
(b) 1835
(c) 1836

2. Who accompanied Marcus Whitman on the way to Green River?

(a) Narcissa Prentiss
(b) Henry Spalding
(c) Samuel Parker

3. What happens during a rendezvous?


4. From which famous mountain man did Marcus Whitman remove an arrow?

(a) Jedidiah Smith
(b) Jim Bridger
(c) James Beckwourth
(d) Samuel Parker

5. True or False:

Marcus met some Flathead Native Americans who wanted to learn about God.

6. Which church did Marcus bring the two Native American boys too?

(a) Baptist
(b) Non-denominational
(c) Presbyterian

7. Which Queen helped change fashion designs for weddings?

(a) Queen Elizabeth
(b) Queen Victoria
(c) Queen Mary

8. Where did Narcissa have her wedding? When did she have her wedding? And what happened during the wedding?



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


A family get-together can be compared to a historical rendezvous, as both are fun, filled with games, excitement, and lots of people! What would you do at a family get-together, or what would you want to do if you got to participate a rendezvous re-enactment? Write about it in one or two paragraphs in your notebook.

Quiz Answers

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  1. b

  2. c

  3. answers may vary – trappers, hunters, and Native Americans gather to trade and relax

  4. b

  5. True

  6. a

  7. b

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