Part XVIII: The Continuation Of The Whitman Mission Route Lost Diary Entries

The continuation of August 29, 1836

We had no sooner gained the foot of this mountain than another more steep and dreadful was before us. After dinner and rest we descended it. Mount Pleasant, in Prattsburg, would not compare with these Mount Terribles.

Our ride this afternoon exceeded anything we have had yet, and what rendered it the more aggravating was the fact that the path all the way was very stony, resembling a newly macadamized road. (Note: What Narcissa Whitman is referring to is Scot John McAdam, who in the 18th Century composed a compacted sub-grade of crushed granite that was covered with a smaller grade of crushed rock which would make the road easier to travel over, thus the name McAdamized. It seems that Mrs. Whitman still found the road impassable. This same method for creating roadbeds is still widely used to day, except the third layer is asphalt.)

Our horses’ feet were very tender, all unshod, so that we could not make the progress we wished. The mountain in many places was covered with this black broken basalt. We were very late in making camp to-night. After ascending the mountain we kept upon the main divide until sunset, looking in vain for water and a camping place.

While upon this elevation we had a view of the Valley of the Columbia River. It was beautiful. Just as we gained the highest elevation and began to descend the sun was dipping his disk behind the western horizon. Beyond the valley we could see two distinct mountains…Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. These lofty peaks were of a conical form, separated from each other by a considerable distance. Behind the former the sun was hiding part of his rays, which gave us a more distinct view of this gigantic cone.

The beauty of this extensive valley contrasted well with the rolling mountains behind us, and this hour of twilight was enchanting and quite diverted my mind from the fatigue under which I was laboring. We had yet to descend a hill as long, but not as steep or as stony as the other. By this time our horses were in haste to be in camp, as well as ourselves, and mine made such lengthy strides in descending that it shook my sides surprisingly. It was dark when we got into camp, but the tent was ready for me, and tea also, for Mr. McLeod invited us to sup with him.

Dearest Mother, let me tell you how I am sustained of the Lord in all this journey. For two or three days past I have felt weak, restless and scarcely able to sit on my horse yesterday in particular. But see how I have been diverted by the scenery, and carried out of myself in conversation about home and friends. Mother will recollect what my feelings were and had been for a year previous to our leaving home.

The last revival enjoyed, my visit to Onondaga and the scenes there… these I call my last impressions of home, and they are of such a character that when we converse about home these same feelings are revived and I forget that I am weary and want rest.

This morning my feelings were a little peculiar; felt remarkably strong and well…. so much so as to mention it… but could not see any reason why I should feel any more rested than on the morning previous. Then I began to see what a day’s ride was before me, and I understood it. If I had had no better health to-day than yesterday I should have fainted under it. Then the promise appeared in full view: “As thy day, so shall thy strength be,” and my soul rejoiced in God, and testifies to the truth of another evidently manifest, “Lo, I am with you always.”

Tuesday, August 30, 1836

In consequence of the lengthy camp yesterday, and failure of animals, two of the company’s men left their animals behind, with packs also. This occasioned some anxiety, lest the wolves should destroy their beaver. Today they send back for them, and we make but a short move to find more grass. On following the course of the stream on which we encamped last night we found cherries in abundance, and had time to stop and gather as many as we wished. They are very fine… equal to any we find in the States.

When we arrived Mr. Gray had the dinner waiting for us. This afternoon the men rested and made preparations to enter Walla Walla. The men who went for the animals returned late. We all regretted this hindrance, for Mr. McLeod intended to see Walla Walla to-day and return again with a muskmelon for Mrs. Whitman (so he said). He will go in tomorrow. It is the custom of the country to send heralds ahead to announce the arrival of a party and prepare for their reception.

Wednesday, August 31, 1836

Came to the Walla Walla river, within eight miles of the Fort (Wallula). Husband and I were very much exhausted with this day’s lengthy ride. Most of the way was sandy with no water for many miles. When we left Mr. Spalding, husband rode an Indian horse when he had never mounted before and found him a hard rider in every gait except a gallop, and slow in his movements, nor could he pace as mine did, so for the past six days we have galloped most of the way where the ground would admit it.

This brings to an end Part XVIII with the continuation of the Whitman Mission diaries Part XIX in April 2018.

Follow the Ancestor Trail next month with Part XII of the Genealogy 101 Series.

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