Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Waiilatpu Massacre, November 29, 1847

I am a little late with this part of the story; it was a detailed piece to write, and exhausting!
But I hope I am not making you wait too long for this bloody story; I am using the word bloody in its real meaning, not as a swear word..
If you have a delicate stomach, you might not want to read this.

For the second part of the Waiilatpu Massacre story, I must introduce two more men of mixed blood or French-Canadian ancestry, who played important roles in the story.
It is difficult to explain their actions during the massacre, but they had good reason for staying out of the fight.
They saved their own lives by doing so.
But it might have been more complicated than that...


The first of these two men was Nicolas Finlay, a mixed blood man more Indian than white, and the youngest son of David Thompson's Jacques Raphael Finlay -- best known as Jaco Finlay.
Nicolas, born in 1816, was now a little over thirty years of age and married to a Cayuse woman named Suzette. He had spent years working for the HBC in the Snake River district and at Fort Vancouver, but in 1846 had quit the company and settled near Waiilatpu, where he worked for the Whitmans.
His lodge was only a hundred feet from the Waiilatpu Mission.
Nicolas had only recently fallen ill from the same strain of measles that was now flooding the area, and in the temporary absence of her husband, Narcissa had given him medicine which had cured him and, perhaps, saved his life.


In spite of that, most records say that the Cayuse plot against the Whitmans was formed in his residence.
Other missionaries in the area connected Nicolas Finlay closely to Tom Hill, and Joe Lewis. 
It is certain that Nicolas Finlay had no fondness for the Whitmans and was sympathic to the Cayuse.
There is, however, no strong evidence that he took part in the events that followed -- certainly he took no leadership position though he was a witness to much of the massacre. 
He was the first man to bring the news of the massacre to Fort Nez Perces.
He was present when Andrew Rogers told the Cayuse he had overheard Whitman and another missionary, Spaulding, discussing the poisoning of the Indians.
He saw Narcissa die.
However, he also collected the two Manson boys who were with Narcissa until shortly before her death.
Though some stories say the two boys escaped to Finlay's lodge when the massacre broke out, the stronger story says the boys' names were called out and they were taken from Narcissa's hands.
And Alexander Caulfield Anderson wrote of this part of the story:
"A curious exemplification of the respect in which the people of the Hudson's Bay Company were held by the natives, was afforded on this sad occasion. Two boys, sons of one of the Officers... were called forth by name as the massacre began, and from the very presence of the poor lady who a moment after fell a victim."
But Anderson wasn't present, and his statement, though strong, was secondary.

The other man was a French Canadian named Joe or Joseph Stanfield who worked at the Waiilatpu Mission and, apparently, lived in Nicolas Finlay's lodge.
I know nothing about him, except that he does not appear to have been an HBC man.

So, to continue the story from where I left off in my last posting -- by the end of November 1847, the mixed breed nuisance, Joe Lewis, had moved out of the mission house and was in residence at Nicolas Finlay's lodge.
It was probably he who invited the Cayuse to the fatal meeting that took place there, when Lewis told the chiefs the stories of how the white missionaries were releasing poisons from bottles to kill them.
Lewis said that he and others had overheard Whitman talking of killing the Indians, so he could take their lands.

I ended the last posting with the story that, to the Cayuse, it appeared that Dr. Whitman was spreading death amongst them.
On Saturday, November 27, some Cayuse called Dr. Whitman to the Hezekiah village, up the Umatilla River, to treat members of their tribe that were sick.
I will admit to a little confusion here -- the reports all say that Dr. Whitman visited Hezekiah on Saturday November 17, and that the massacre itself took place on the day that followed his return to Waiilatpu -- or Sunday.
Yet, in all these accounts, the massacre happened on Monday.
Here's how the story goes: Whitman visited his patients at Hezekiah village on Saturday, November 27, and was accompanied there by his fellow missionary, Spaulding, who ran the mission at Lapwai.
Spaulding remained behind at Stickas' lodge in Hezekiah, and did not return with Whitman to Waiilatpu, as planned.
As Whitman rode away from Hezekiah, the trusted Stickus warned him that his life was in danger; an elderly Cayuse woman grabbed the reins of Whitman's horse and gave him the same warning.
Whitman listened to these warnings, and rode to the newly established Catholic Mission Ste. Anne, which had been opened only that day.
He discussed with the Catholic fathers their taking over of the Waiilatpu Mission when the majority of the Cayuse indicated they no longer wanted Whitman in their neighbourhood.
He then returned to Waiilatpu, reaching it at about midnight, and found his wife, Narcissa, sitting up with two children who were seriously ill.
Whitman sent her to bed and stayed up till dawn of Sunday, November 28 -- if the first date is correct.

Probably sometime on Sunday morning, Whitman sent for Nicolas Finlay, requesting he come to the mission house.
When Finlay arrived, Whitman asked if he could confirm the rumours about the pending attack on his life.
Finlay must have known what was in the works, but he claimed ignorance of a plot against Whitman's life, and told the missionary he was safe.
(Someone will let me know whether or not Whitman arrived home on Saturday night, or Sunday, I hope.)

The day that followed the Sunday that no one seems to think existed (and perhaps it did not) was a bleak and cold Monday -- November 29th, 1847.
A heavy fog hung over the area..
The first visitor to Waiilatpu was a Cayuse man who told Whitman of a child's death overnight, and arranged its burial.
The Native returned home, and Whitman went outside to arrange for the killing of a beef, as always happened on Mondays.
Joe Stanfield drove the animal in, and young Francis Sager shot it.

At about noon, Nathan Kimball and Jacob Hoffman began butchering the beef, and three Cayuse men, wrapped in their blankets, sat on a pile of fence rails watching.
The children were in school; Mr. Sales who lived with the Canfield family in the blackshop shop, lay sick in bed.
Mr. Bewley was also sick in bed, east of the kitchen in the mission house.
The carpenter, Peter Hall, was laying flooring in the back of the mission house; and some men ground wheat at the mill.
After the Indian child's burial, a Cayuse man in a green cap entered the house of the wife of the schoolmaster, apparently uninvited -- as was their habit.
Whitman was visiting Mrs. Saunders (the schoolmaster's wife) at that time, and the lady offered the Cayuse man a chair.
He sat for a few moments, and then departed to the next room -- in a moment or so he returned.
Whitman left Mrs. Saunder's room, and the Native left soon after.
No one seemed to think this was unusual, so perhaps it was not.

Whitman returned to the kitchen of the Mission house, where seventeen year old John Sager, who was recovering from an illness of some sort, and young Mary Ann Bridger (child of famous mountain man Jim Bridger) were working.
Exhausted, he napped in a chair for a few hours.
In the afternoon, Narcissa bathed the youngest children in the living room next door, as she always did.
John Sager was still winding twine for the brooms, and Mary Ann Bridger worked at the kitchen table.
The scene is set.....

These are the Cayuse Natives who were known or believed to have been involved in the massacre -- Tilaukait and his two sons, Edward Tilaukait, and Clark Tilaukait;
Tamsuky, a second chief or family head, who also appears under the names Taumaulish and Tamahas (I will use the name Tamsuky in this story);
Frank Escaloom (a mission name);
Ishalhal or Siahsalucuc;
Kiamasumpkin;
Klokamas, who was later executed though his part in the massacre is unknown;
Estools;
Showshow;
Pahosh;
Cupup-cupop;
Stickas is sometimes said to have been present, though he lived in Hesekiah and was the man who warned Dr. Whitman a day or two earlier...
And, of course, Joe Lewis.

The ring-leaders, Tilaukait and Tamsuky, made their way to the mission house from the village, and knocked on the kitchen door on the north side of the building.
Narcissa Whitman had just returned from the kitchen with a glass of milk for the child when the men knocked, but Marcus Whitman answered the knock.
He stepped into the kitchen from the living room and closed the door behind him.
Then he opened the outside door and found the Tilaukait and Tamsuky standing there.
Apparently they tried to enter, and Whitman prevented them from doing so.
They asked for medicine, and Whitman closed the door, leaving the two Cayuse men on his doorstep, while he went for medicine which was stored in a cupboard under the stairs.
When he returned to the kitchen, he found the two Cayuse men standing in the kitchen.
Whitman seated himself on a settee between the cook stove and a table near the wall, while Tilaukait diverted his attention by talking about the deaths that had occurred that day in the village.
Tamsuky stepped behind the unsuspecting missionary and buried his pipe tomahawk in Dr. Whitman's skull.
He followed it with a second, deep, blow.
Whitman spun around and sank to the floor.
John Sager jumped for a pistol on the wall, but Tamsuky shot him dead.
Sager's body fell directly in front of the sitting room door.
Mary Ann Bridger ran out the kitchen door.
Tamsuky dragged Whitman's body out the kitchen door and dropped him on his own doorsill.

Mrs. Osbourne was just entering the sitting room next door, where Narcissa was bathing children, when she heard the shot that killed John Sager.
Immediately, Mary Ann Bridger ran in the door behind her and recounted the scene she had just witnessed.
The children who Narcissa was bathing ran naked into the yard, and Narcissa calmly put down the child she held and called them back into the house.
She told them to put their clothes on, and then told Mrs. Osbourne to return to her room in the Indian room to the north, and lock the door.
Narcissa entered the kitchen, going to her husband's side and asking if she could do anything for him. He said no.

As soon as they heard the gunshot that killed John Sager, the Cayuse who watched the butchering dropped their robes and attacked the butchers with guns and tomahawks.
They wounded Nathan Kimball in the arm; Kimball ran to the mission house sitting room and called out to Mrs. Whitman "The Indians are killing us all!" In shock he sank to the floor and asked Narcissa for water; she brought him a jug of water from the kitchen, and calmly locked the door to the outside.
She returned to help her husband, but Mrs. Hall, wife of the carpenter, rushed into the room. With Mrs. Hall's help, Narcissa moved her husband's body into the sitting room and placed it on the floor at the foot of the bed.
A second butcher, William Canfield, received a minor wound in the attack and escaped the the blacksmith shop, where he gathered up his children and secreted himself until nightfall. He made his complete escape after dark and was the first to carry the news to Lapwai and Mrs. Spaulding.
Jacob Hoffman was the only man to raise a hand in defense of all the women and children, though miller Walter Marsh might have tried to help him; his body was found nearby.
Hoffman grabbed the axe that had been used in the butchering of the beef and fought back, dodging repeated Indian thrusts in a retreat to the corner of the mission house, where horsemen with lances finally cut him down.
In his final blow, he wounded Tamsuky in the foot.
More Cayuse pursued schoolteacher Andrew Rodgers, striking him on the head and shooting him in the arm.
Rodgers escaped to the mission house.
Carpenter Peter Hall heard Mary Ann Bridger's announcement of Whitman's death; he slid down the side of the house and ran into the willows, escaping the Cayuse who chased him.
One Cayuse entered the room where immigrant Isaac Gilliland was sitting at a table, sewing, and shot him. Twelve hours later, Gilliland died of his wound.

A second schoolteacher, named Saunders, was teaching school in the room just east of the kitchen where John Sager was killed. He heard the first shot, and packed the children into a little gallery over the bedroom that were attached to the schoolroom. Foolishly, he did not remain with them, but made his way to the mission house where he tried the sashdoor of the living room that Narcissa had locked.
Narcissa refused him entry and told him to go back to his schoolchildren. As he descended the steps he ran into a Cayuse and fought with him. Tilaukait joined the fray and Saunders broke away to run across the open space toward the mansion. As he scaled the fence, Tamsuky delivered the fatal blow -- and it is at this time that Tamsuky was painfully injured by the last blow of Hoffman's axe.

Andrew Rogers had been working in the garden plot between the mission house and the creek south of the buildings.
He heard the first shot and made his way to the mission house where he threw himself against the door of the living room with such violence that he broke two panes of glass.
Mrs. Whitman let him in, and closed and locked the door again.

The Osbourne family took up a board in the floor of the Indian room and concealed themselves.
Peter Hall, the carpenter, escaped the mission massacre entirely and was probably the "demented man" who attacked an innocent Cayuse by the riverside, robbing him of his gun before running off like a madman!

Those locked inside the mission house saw Joe Lewis outside roaming freely among the Cayuse men and sometimes peering into the living room windows.
Nicolas Finlay and Joe Stanfield kept clear of the buildings during the first attack, and spent their time milking the cows.
But Narcissa died, Finlay was there.
But that is not yet.

At the noise of the attack outside, Narcissa ran to the window.
She called to Joe Lewis who stood outside the door, and asked if he had instigated the trouble.
A young Native who carried the mission house name of Frank Escaloom shot Narcissa in the arm or shoulder.
Though some accounts say she fell screaming to the floor, the more accurate indicates she sank to the floor saying, "Lord, save these little ones."
Perhaps, for the first time, she realized that she might die here.

At some point during the massacre, old Tenino chief Beardy, who must have been visiting the Waillatpu village, arrived on the scene and tried to stop the Cayuse from slaughtering any more people.
The Tenino people lived just east of the Cascades, west of the Cayuse neighbours the Umatillo.
Beardy knew that this massacre would cause trouble for all the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains.

There was a pause in the attack, and Narcissa, leader in spite of her wounds, made plans for the night that was coming.
The people clustered in the living room of the mission house made their way to a second story bedroom, with the older women carrying the sick and Andrew Rogers supporting Narcissa.
There they waited, in the gathering dark, for what was to come -- and it did come.
The Cayuse attacked the door and knocked it down, and filled the sitting room.
They gave vent to their excitement with hideous yells of defiance; they attacked the near-dead body of Marcus Whitman and slashed his face and mutilated the body of young John Sager.
Then they paused; all was quiet for a while.
One report says that Rogers held a gun barrel detached from its works and it slowed them down.
Finally a Cayuse approached the door at the bottom of the stairs, and asked Mr. Rogers to come down.
Rogers did; he talked to Joe Lewis and Tamsuky for a few minutes.
It is at this time he is supposed to have confirmed that he knew of Whitman's plans to spread poison amongst the Cayuse people.
Likely, he only tried to save his own life by confirming Joe Lewis' story...
But the arrangement was made between the Cayuse chief and Rogers, that Rogers would not die in this attack.

Tamsuky mounted the stairs -- gingerly, according to some accounts -- and shook hands with everyone hiding in the little nook.
He told everyone they must leave -- that the Cayuse people were going to burn the mission house down.
He convinced Narcissa that she would be safe, and that she should go to Nicolas Finlay's lodge.
Was this when the names of the two Manson boys were called out, and they were removed from Narcissa's hands, along with a third boy only seven years old?
It is known that scrappy seventeen year old John Manson stood up to the Cayuse chief and fiercely warned him that, if anything happened to him or his brother, it would bring the full force of the Hudson's Bay Company down on their heads.
They were, after all, HBC kids and always under the protection of the Company.

As you can see from the reports below, the Manson boys were at Nicolas Finlay's house well before Narcissa's death.
I presume that time stretched out and that hours passed between the two attacks; and that Narcissa and the children spent more than a few hours in hiding.
The two Manson boys were already at Nicolas Finlay's house when brave Mrs. Saunders -- not knowing that her husband was already dead -- went to Finlay's house to make a desperate appeal for mercy to Chief Tilaukait, through Finlay.
Young John Manson told the story of Mrs. Saunders' approach of Mrs. Finlay and the other Cayuse women, who appeared friendly to her.
But on a hilltop about three hundred feet away, three Cayuse men looked over the plains; one rode down to kill Mrs. Saunders.
Mrs. Finlay told him to go away; and when Edward Tilaukait threatened Mrs. Saunders a moment later the Cayuse women also shamed him into leaving her alone.
The badly frightened but courageous Mrs. Saunders approached John Manson to have him translate for her as she asked for mercy from Tilaukait -- who was also present -- and he did.
The Cayuse chiefs discussed her offer and agreed that none of the women and children should be killed.
Tilaukait then instructed Joe Stanfield to take Mrs. Saunders back to the mission house, and Stanfield did so.
Sometime afterward the Cayuse left Finlay's house and returned to the mission house, and a few minutes later more shots were fired!
Finlay, who must have gone to the mission house with the chiefs, returned to say that three more were dead -- Narcissa, Andrew Rogers, and Francis Sager.

So, we must return to the mission house living room, where Narcissa and those who were trapped upstairs were preparing to leave the house before it was to be burned down by the Cayuse.
The adults came downstairs first, and Narcissa collapsed onto a wooden settee, close to fainting from her wounds.
Miss Bewley found a blanket to cover Narcissa, and the women searched for clothing for the children and heaped all they found on top of the wooden settee and Narcissa.
As you can guess, all this takes time, so there was plenty of time for Mrs. Saunders' to make her way to Nicolas Finlay's house and have the conversation with John Manson.

When everything was finally ready in the sitting room, Joe Lewis and Andrew Rogers picked up the ends of the settee and carried Narcissa through the kitchen and out the north door.
The Cayuse had crowded around this door, and the settee was not carried for more than ten feet when Joe Lewis dropped his end and jumped back.
The Cayuse fired a volley of gunshots.
Fifteen year old Francis Sager took a shot in the heart and dropped like a stone.
A Cayuse who did not know of the agreement made previously, shot Roger, who fell at the foot of the settee near the kitchen door. He died hours later. 
Narcissa was shot at least twice by frenzied Cayuse -- one ball entered her cheek and another her body.
They tipped the settee and dumped her into the mud.
Ishalhal grabbed Narcissa by her golden hair and whipped her across the face with his leather quirt.
Nicolas Finlay witnessed this final attack, and took the story back to his lodge with him.

At the end of the day, two dozen women and children were crowded into the mansion house, prisoners.
One man was dying alone; another was wounded and in hiding.
A family of five were hidden under the floor of the Indian room of the mission house, and one wounded man and seven orphans hidden in the chamber above.
One man was madly fleeing for his life.
Cayuse women plundered the pantry, and Klokamas took John Sager's straw hat.
Joe Lewis looked for clothing.
The Cayuse returned to their village and danced all night.

At dawn the next morning, a cluster of Cayuse women on the hill east of the mission chanted a death song -- the same song that Stickas' two wives had sung the night before the massacre.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Waiilatpu Mission, Summer to Fall 1847

In my book, The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West, I wrote a little of the measles epidemic at Fort Alexandria, and then said:
"Anderson believed those reports [of deaths at Fort Colvile and Kamloops] were exaggerated. They were not. The measles epidemic had begun months earlier in the Columbia district, and the results had severe implications for all the posts west of the mountains.

"A few Natives who visited the Waiilatpu Mission, near Fort Nez Perce, died of a particularly malignant mix of measles and dysentery. Although the missionary treated the sick with whatever medicines he had available, the patients continued to die. A Cayuse chief set a test for the missionary, demanding he treat a boy who lay sick. The boy died, and the Cayuse attacked the mission house with guns and axes, murdering 14 residents and taking many hostages....."

Here I will write the story behind the story, or at least the first part of the story.
Just so you know it cannot be the full story -- it is simply toooooo large.
So, here goes:


In summer 1847, a skiff of dread settled over the territory the Americans called Oregon Territory, although no one but the fur traders at Fort Vancouver could have foreseen the disaster that would erupt in the dry, dusty desert that surrounded old Fort Nez Perces.
Many fur traders who travelled the Columbia River to and from Fort Vancouver warned the Presbyterian missionary, Dr. Marcus Whitman, that his life was in danger, but he refused to listen to them and took no precautions for his own safety.
Because of his stubborn refusal to listen to the many warnings and abandon his long-failed mission, Dr. Whitman put himself and many others in danger.
The Cayuse warriors he had ignored and infuriated swarmed into his mission house and slaughtered him and his wife, and a dozen other innocent people.
The bloody massacre shocked the population of the Oregon district and spurred hundreds of American settlers into a blood-thirsty war of revenge; it closed the Columbia River to safe travel and forced the fur traders west of the Rocky Mountains to abandon their old route down the river to their headquarters at Fort Vancouver.
Their furs must come to the coast, however; they were forced to carry them out over freshly explored but unproven trails via Fort Langley, to Fort Victoria.
The massacre and resulting wars forced change on everyone who lived and worked west of the Rocky Mountains -- missionaries, American settlers, and fur traders alike.

This is a big story, and I cannot tell you the whole story.
It is not only the Presbyterian missionaries' story I will tell here, nor the fur traders'.
It is also the story of the Cayuse people who lived near the Waiilatpu Mission; it is the story of the Catholics' infiltration of Oregon Territory; it is the story of disease and death and poisonous rumours spread to frightened and superstitious Natives whose traditions demanded revenge.
It is the story of inevitable disaster.

The missionaries' story will be the first part; the second part belongs to the Natives that the missionaries settled amongst, and who they tried, unsuccessfully, to change.
The third part belongs to two mixed breed men, both strangers in the territory, but men who carried tremendous influence among the Cayuse Indians who lived around Waiilatpu.
The first man was Tom Hill, a Delaware half-blood who came from the eastern United States to settle among the Cayuse tribes that lived, still free, on their lands. 
The second, Joe Lewis, was a Creole/French Canadian mixed-breed from Maine who whispered poisonous rumours to the Cayuse and set them on the course that killed the missionaries and destroyed the tribe.


To begin with the missionaries: the first entered the Columbia district as early as 1831 and established their missions west of the Cascade Mountains, for the most part close to fur trade forts where they were protected by the HBC fur traders.
Later arrivals came in 1836 to establish missions east of the mountains.
The missionaries who established the Waiilatpu Mission, some twenty five miles east of the HBC's Fort Nez Perces, were Dr. Marcus Whitman and his golden-haired wife, Narcissa.
They lived among the proud and independent Cayuse Indians -- a small tribe of hunters and traders who lived on the Walla Walla River and who controlled their territory with a strong hand and fierce resolution.
The Cayuse were warriors and traders rather than harvesters or fishermen, and they decorated their hair, clothing, and horses with feathers, porcupine quills, and paint.
They ranged far and wide in their hunts and trading expeditions, travelling as far as buffalo country on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, or west to Fort Nisqually on Puget Sound.
On occasion they rode south to California Territory to trade for the cattle they desired, and the horses they always needed more of.

These men were horsemen, and though they were not numerous, each of the four hundred or so men of their tribe, who lived in three separate settlements, owned thousands of horses that grazed on the grasslands surrounding their villages.
All the land along the Walla Walla River belonged to the Cayuse people, and they exacted tribute from every man, whether Native or white, that travelled over their land or down their river.
They especially owned the river, and if travelers failed to pause at the ford to pay their tribute, the Cayuse men waded into the stream and hauled boats and passengers ashore where they were stalled until tribute was collected.

Though the Cayuse were not numerous, they were proud and fearless warriors and hunters who counted their wealth in the thousands of horses each of them owned, the buffalo robes and salmon they traded, the richness of the land they occupied and fiercely protected.
They may have tried to control the missionaries, too, but found them too stubborn to understand or listen to their demands and to even consider giving in to Cayuse traditions.

By the summer of 1847 these missionaries had been in the territory for a full eleven years.
At Waiilatpu, Whitman's T-shaped mission house now contained a hospital and an Indian school, a church and a shared mission house that was residence for missionaries, staff, and guests.
There were also a number of other houses around the mission house -- a carpenters' shop, for example, a sewing room and a mill.  
Kind-hearted Narcissa Whitman took in abandoned children from the emigrants' wagon trains and raised them, becoming their second mother, while the Doctor fenced and ploughed Cayuse land and planted fields of grains and potatoes.

In more ways than one, the Cayuse found these missionaries different from the fur traders and mountain men they had dealt with over the years.
The HBC men at Fort Nez Perces, twenty five miles to the west, always offered to pay for what they received from the Cayuse.
The first missionary in the territory had talked to Cayuse warriors and promised rent for the lands they used, but the Whitman's were either ignorant of the agreement, or refused to honor it.
The missionaries offered no rent for the lands they built on, nor did they ask for permission to occupy more Cayuse acreage when they expanded their operations.
Dr. Whitman fenced Cayuse-owned land and planted corn crops, expecting Cayuse warriors to work the crops without offering to reward them for their labour.
He built up flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and horses on land that the Cayuse claimed as theirs, and on which the missionaries did not offer to pay rent.
Finally, the missionaries sold their crops grown on Cayuse lands to the thousands of incoming settlers who travelled the Oregon Trail past the mission, without sharing any of the profits with the Cayuse peoples whose rich earth had grown the crops.
The offended Cayuse considered the Whitmans stingy occupiers of Cayuse land who took what they desired without offering payment.

By the summer of 1847, the Whitmans' Waiilatpu Mission was a green oasis in the middle of a dry, brown country.
The prosperous looking white-washed mission house stood near the banks of the Walla Walla River about three miles from the Cayuse settlement that stood near the ford.
The Cayuse could not understand the Whitmans' cheapness, but the Whitmans also failed to understand the Cayuse and made no effort to learn their language or to understand their traditions and culture.
The Whitmans wanted to turn arrogant and proud Cayuse warriors and horsemen into farmers who worked the mission lands for no benefit other than the pleasure of adopting the missionaries' inflexible and vengeful religion.
They could not understand why the Cayuse would not agree to their loss of freedom and status.
They blamed the Cayuse for their own inability to change them, and called them heathens and beggars.
On occasion the missionaries even whipped their more devout (and tolerant) Cayuse.
But more than that, the missionaries were absolutely unable to understand that the Cayuse warriors witnessed the constant round of squabbling and discourtesies that existed between the different missionaries in the area.
They both understood the missionaries could not get along, and disrespected the missionaries for their never-ending quarrels.

Long before the summer of 1847, the 45-year old missionary, Dr. Whitman, had recognized that few Cayuse would accept his teachings for long; most were already abandoning his church and pulling their children out of his school.
He changed the focus of his mission, and instead of attempting to change the Indians' beliefs, he began to encourage and support the emigrants who now made their way west along the Oregon Trail from eastern United States.
He hoped that some would settle near his mission house, but even here he was disappointed.
Without exception, all emigrants continued their journey west.

In part, Dr. Whitman's character was the reason he did not abandon his mission when he recognized he was unsuccessful in changing the Indians' culture -- his original reason for establishing the mission.
The man was amiable and generous to a fault, and incapable of harbouring a grudge though entirely willing to argue his point with all his neighbouring missionaries.
But he was so stubborn he refused to understand that his teachings and actions offended the Cayuse.
He refused to give up his work at the mission; almost every fur trader and traveller that passed the mission told him of his danger, but he refused to listen to their warnings, and to understand his offences.
Yet, it appears, he understood that the Indians might kill him; in spite of that awareness, he took no precautions.

Narcissa, his wife, was even more oblivious to her danger than her husband was.
She had come from a wealthy, cultured New York family and by the summer of 1847 was almost forty years old.
She was still beautiful, with a ring of golden-red hair she proudly wrapped around her head like a halo.
She had a commanding presence, a beautiful singing voice, and an inflexible determination of right and wrong with no tolerance for differences of opinion.
She considered the Cayuse savages and called them mortal beggars.
The Cayuse were the people she had come west determined to change; but they refused to change for her.

From early days, the Whitmans had problems with the Cayuse peoples, and for good reason.
In part it was a clash of cultures.
The Cayuse lived in large houses shared among many families, and they were used to entering any house in their village without announcing themselves or asking permission.
The mission houses stood on Cayuse-owned lands, but when the Cayuse walked into the houses without knocking, they offended and frightened the missionaries, who offending them by scolding them.
The Cayuse men allowed their horses to range freely over the lands they owned, including the corn fields and gardens the missionaries thought they owned and on which they paid no rent.
Over time, the Cayuse dislike of the missionaries grew into disrespect and eventually, hatred.
On one notable occasion the headman, Tilokait, showed his loathing of the missionary by striking him.
In a later argument Tilokait pulled Dr. Whitman's ears and threw his hat into the water -- an incident which caused Archibald McKinlay, then in charge at Fort Nez Perces, to tell the Cayuse men they had acted like dogs.
As a direct result of this insult some Cayuse men broke into Whitman mission house and threatened the missionary himself; Whitman stood up to them and they backed off, but this incident alone should have frightened the missionary very badly.
It did not.
He refused to give up his mission, and he remained at Waiilatpu.

The situation as it now stood at the Whitman mission was probably not enough to cause the bloody massacre of November 1847, but over the last number of years several new ingredients had been added to the worrying mix of cultures, beliefs, and stubbornness.
The most recent ingredient -- and the one that most worried the Presbyterians -- was the presence of Catholics in the area close to Fort Nez Perces.
These Catholics taught a simplified religion that did not try to change the Native characters, and so they took many of the more religious away from Dr. Whitman's mission.
What made Whitman's presence in the neighbourhood even more precarious, however, was a Cayuse chief's promise that Whitman would not long be in the area.
He even offered the Catholic fathers Whitman's mission house as their new home, but the Catholics refused it.
I wonder if they considered the possibility that Whitman might be murdered? It appears they did not.

But long before the Catholics' entry into the area around Fort Nez Perces, another man's arguments changed Cayuse attitudes towards the missionaries at Waiilatpu.
Tom Hill, a tall and handsome half-blood Delaware Indian, whose long black hair fell down his back to his knees, had come west as early as 1844 to live with his Cayuse wife in the village at the ford.
Hill had seen what had happened to his own people in the east when they were pushed off their lands by American settlers; he warned the Cayuse that the white men were coming west to take over their lands, too.
He told the Cayuse they had given up their buffalo hunts in exchange for growing potatoes; that in worrying over their newly discovered Presbyterian souls they feared the missionaries' fiery Hell.
He told them that white man's religion was nonsense, and the Cayuse listened.
He said the missionaries cheated them by not paying rent on the lands they used, and the Cayuse agreed.
He warned them that the missionaries were bringing more white men west to settle their lands, and that Indians would soon die of white man's diseases.
The Cayuse had watched Dr. Whitman encourage to Oregon Trail emigrants to settle near the mission and they understood.
To the Cayuse men, Tom Hill was the voice of freedom, and the Cayuse listened.
But Tom Hill preached resistance; he did not advise them to go to war.

But Tom Hill's presence in the area frightened and angered the missionaries.
To their relief, however, Tom Hill left the area with Walla Walla chief Peu-peu-mox-mox and his men, on a cattle trading expedition to California in January 1846.
When the Natives returned home a year or more later, Tom Hill did not return with them (I will tell his story later).
But Peu-peu-mox-mox and his men returned with something else far more dangerous to the missionaries at Waiilatpu.
A rampant measles infection had sickened many who lived in or around Sutter's Fort (Sacramento) where Peu-peu-mox-mox's horse and cattle traders had spent their spring.
As the Walla Walla Natives began their ride home, the deadly epidemic spread through their camp and sickened the entire party.
Peu-peu-mox-mox's son returned home ahead of the trading party to tell of the Natives' sufferings, and as he named the victims one by one, the women began to tear their hair and wail.
His statement occupied a full three hours and by the end of it he told of thirty deaths.
Shocked Native messengers mounted horses and rode in every direction, and some carried the virus with them.
Soon the disease was everywhere, and by early September large numbers of Indians were dying of measles and dysentery.
The measles hit the Cayuse at Waiilatpu particularly hard, and half the male population died over the next few months.

For the missionaries at Waiilatpu it was a perfect storm, and one they never saw coming.
First: their treatment of the Cayuse people had encouraged their contempt, and later their hatred.
Secondly: the half breed Delaware Indian Tom Hill had encouraged Cayuse warriors to take back their freedom and culture, and to ignore the missionaries.
Thirdly: the gentle Catholics inadvertently put the Whitman's mission in danger when they moved into Presbyterian territory.
Fourth: Measles spread through the territory and the Cayuse died in large numbers.
These four merging storms might have been enough to cause the massacre of November 1847.
But one more man ensured it would occur.

A second man had assumed Tom Hill's place as advisor to the Cayuse, and like Hill he preached resistance.
His name was Joe Lewis, and he was a mixed-breed French-Canadian/Creole from eastern United States.
He had come west in the wagon trains of 1847 and remained at Waiilatpu, but Dr. Whitman did not trust him and called him a troublemaker.
There was no doubt of that --  he was a troublemaker.
Unlike Tom Hill, Lewis appeared to have an unreasonable and undying hatred of white people.
He made the mission house his home but whispered in Cayuse ears that Whitman plotted to take their lands by killing off the tribe.
 He told them that Whitman spread poison through the air and the Cayuse believed him; they already knew that Americans on the east side of the Rocky Mountains had intentionally introduced smallpox into the Indian tribes who lived there.
Unfortunately, Dr. Whitman gave Lewis ammunition for his whisperings; he was known to be careless with his poisons.
He poisoned meat to kill wild animals that preyed on his flocks and in doing so, poisoned Cayuse dogs.
He poisoned melons to make the Natives that stole them sick.

Joe Lewis lacked the integrity and strength of character that the Delaware, Tom Hill had displayed.
When the measles made its appearance in the neighbourhood, Lewis told the Cayuse men that he overheard Dr. Whitman telling another missionary he was plotting to poison the Indians so he could take their lands more quickly.
Finally, Lewis asked the chiefs: did not most of the Cayuse men Dr. Whitman treated die?
In fact, it appears to be the truth: it is possible that Dr. Whitman might have, unintentionally, spread the virus among the Natives he treated.
It might have appeared that way to the fur traders, too -- one fur trader reported that though "the worthy doctor had been most constant in his attendance on the sufferers... his efforts for their relief were vain; the mortality increased, rather than diminished."

Certainly, to the Cayuse warriors it appeared that Dr. Whitman was spreading death amongst them.
Some set a test for the doctor, to determine the truth.
They called Whitman to their village to treat three of their members, and Fort Nez Perces' William McBean reported of the three patients that "two ... were really sick, but the third only feigning illness, and that the three were corpses the next morning."
Joe Lewis' claims appeared to be confirmed.

It was November 27, 1847.
In less than two days, Marcus Whitman and his beautiful wife, Narcissa, would be dead.