Whitman Massacre - The Aftermath

Compiled by Stephenie Flora
copyright © 2004

For hours Catherine Sager sat on the edge of the bed upstairs staring into the dark.  After Mother Whitman and Rodgers had left there had been more yelling and shots fired.  So far no one had come for them.  Kimball had fallen asleep as had the others in the room.  Finally, sometime after midnight she also fell into an exhausted sleep.  She awoke to the sounds of Louise and Helen Mar Meek crying for water.  It was not long before Matilda and Elizabeth were also thirsty.  There was no water in the room that was drinkable.  The pitcher of water that Mother Whitman had brought up was now full of blood.  Finally Kimball decided to attempt to find some.  He took one of the buckets, dressed as much as he could to resemble an Indian and slipped into the night fog in the hopes of getting to the stream unseen.  He was gone for a long time and then Catherine heard a shot and knew that he would not be returning.  In the light of the new day Catherine was allowed to go for water and the Cayuse supplied them with some food.  

Peter Hall, the carpenter, reached Ft. Walla Walla early in the morning.  McBean, was hesitant to take him in.  With only a few men at the fort for defense, he did not want to appear to be siding with the Americans against the Cayuse.  He provided Hall with supplies, clothing and arms.  Hall was going to row across the river and attempt an escape.  He was never seen again.  Some believed he drowned as he attempted to row across the Columbia river.  Others believe he was ambushed by one of the Cayuse who had followed him.

The Osborns had come out of hiding during the night and moved through the brush towards the fort.  After several miles, Mrs. Osborn collapsed and and could not go on.  She was left hidden with two of the children while her husband carried nine-year-old John on his back during his twenty mile walk to the fort.  Upon arrival at the fort he was met with the same resistence for asylum that Hall had met.  In the end, McBean supplied him with an Indian guide to help him find the rest of his family.  Without the help of this guide Osborn may have never found his family.  He had lost his bearings and it was only through the persistence of the guide that they were able to locate them.  McBean had suggested that they seek refuge elsewhere but in the end the Osborns returned to the fort.  While there, a recent arrival, artist J.M. Stanley, interviewed the Osborns and sketched a basis for a painting he would call "Massacre of Dr. Whitman's family at the Waiilatpu Mission in Oregon".

As the new day dawned, Joe Stanfield began a common grave on the slope near the mission yard.  At the sawmill in the Blue Mountains, James Young had loaded his wagon with lumber the day of the massacre and was now making preparations to deliver it.  Early in the morning he made his start.  Two miles from the mission a Cayuse hidden in the bracken aimed his rifle at the twenty-four year old son of Elam Young and fired.  Young was dead before he hit the ground.  Hearing of the death, Joe Stanfield saddled his horse, grabbed a shovel and went to where the man lay.  He buried him where he had fallen.

Also on the road was the Rev. J.B.A. Brouillet who had stopped at the Cayuse village to baptize sick children and was now on his way to Waiilatpu.  Entering the mission yard he encountered a sight that made him pause in shock: "...bodies lying here and there, covered with blood and bearing the marks of the most atrocious cruelty--some pierced with balls, others more or less gashed by the hatchet...Three others had their skulls crushed so that their brains were oozing out."  

Joe Stanfield was kneeling by one of the bodies, near him a wooden bucket filled with steaming water foaming with soap.  As well as he could, the hired man was preparing the dead for the shrouds being sewn by the women of the mission.  As Brouillet went into the mansion house to try to comfort the survivors, Stanfield finished enclosing the bodies in shrouds and with the help of the priest began the process of lifting the dead one by one into the mission cart so that he could transport them to the common grave where they were laid to rest.  As Father Brouillet began the services his voice could scarcely be heard over the grief of the women and children there to mourn their loss.

After the massacre, Edward, the eldest son of Tilaukait assumed extraordinary powers.  He promised Father Brouillet that the captives would be safe and well-treated.  He seemed sincere but Brouillet's experience did not include relations with any tribes quite like the Cayuse.  He would later confess that he was fearful throughout his time at Waiilatpu.  He was aware that McBean had sent an order by messenger that the killing must stop.  He passed this information onto the survivors along with Edward's promise that they would be safe.  Then, aware that Rev. Spalding would be enroute to the mission, he set out on the trail to Umatilla to warn him of the danger.  A short way from the mission he looked back and was startled to see Edward Tilaukait riding alongside his interpreter.

Spalding was not far down the trail when Brouillet sighted him in the distance.  As Spalding rode up he nodded at Edward Tilaukait and shook Brouillet's hand. "Have you been to the doctor's?", he asked.  Brouillet was hesitant, but answered that he had.  Abruptly the priest turned his horse, joining his interpeter and Edward a few paces back along the trail.  The puzzled Spalding watched the brief consultation.  Suddenly Edward Tilaukait wheeled his horse and sped away.  Returning to Spalding, the priest said, "Now we can talk".  Quickly Brouillet gave Spalding the story of the massacre adding: "If you go on to the mission I greatly fear they will kill you."

As the reality dawned upon Rev. Spalding he wasted precious time asking questions.  Father Brouillet gave Spalding the few provisions he had left and urged him to flee.  The interpreter thought The Dalles would be the safest place to go but at some point Spalding made the decision to go toward Lapwai and Eliza.  He had begun his flight none too soon.  In less than half an hour three Cayuse warriors were on his trail.  Edward Tilaukait was back at his father's lodge in temporary disgrace for not killing Spalding on sight.  To redeem himself Edward was given the task of taking the news of the fall of Waiilatpu to Camaspelo on the Umatilla.

On the following Saturday, at Lapwai, Eliza Spalding sat in the kitchen talking with her brother, Mary Johnson and Jackson, the hired hand who had returned from Waiilatpu with the pack train.  There was a sound at the outside door which opened to reveal a gaunt and ragged stranger who half fell into the room.  It was the blacksmith Canfield.  Incredibly he had reached Lapwai, although he had never been there before.  He told them of the fall of Waiilatpu and said that he feared that Spalding was dead also.

With her usual calm, Eliza said that the Nez Perce must be told.  The men were horrified at the suggestion.  They knew the Nez Perce also had a hostile faction and feared it would put them in additional danger.  William Craig lived only eight miles away and had a Nez Perce wife.  They felt they might be safer there.  Eliza was adament about telling Chief Timothy.  He was in another room of the house.  She gave him the news.

It was too late to leave that day and the next day was the Sabbath and Eliza refused to leave.  The men in the house were exasperated and desperate to move to safety.  The next day Craig and a band of Indians arrived, and none too soon.  A renegade Nez Perce who had been involved in the massacre at Waiilatpu had returned to Lapwai.  By the time he rounded up other malcontents and descended on the mission he found Eliza and her household under the protection of Craig.  He had to content himself with the looting and destruction of the empty house.

About this time, a Nez Perce woman, riding near Lapwai surprised an apparation around a bend in the trail.  The man moved painfully with the aid of two staffs cut from a tree.  His torn clothing seemed frozen to his body.  His bare feet were wrapped in leggings and those were bloody.  Suddenly realizing that it was Rev. Spalding, she quickly turned her horse toward the village with to announce her discovery.

Spalding had traveled mostly at night and when ninety miles from Lapwai had fallen asleep without hobbling his horse.  When he awoke the horse was gone and he was left to cover the remaining niney miles on foot, over frozen ground with few provisions.  When at last he reached the Nez Perce village he gropped in the dark for Timothy's lodge.  Not finding him he turned toward the river where he was found by two friendly Nez Perce who had been alerted by the woman riding into camp.  They led him to Craig's house where he found Eliza.  Her brother, Horace, the hired man, Jackson and Canfield had left to hide in the Rockies where they felt they would be safer.  The Nez Perce were not happy at their escape.  They had wanted to keep the whole group together as hostages of peace.  

Spalding sent off several letters to McBean and the priests urging them to work against soldiers coming to the area.  McBean, in the meantime, had already sent a message to Ft. Vancouver advising them of the uprising and the hostage taking.  Within the day Peter Skene Ogden was heading upriver with sixteen armed men.  His ransom currency consisted of blankets, cotton shirts, a dozen guns, six hundred pounds of ammunition and nearly forty pounds of tobacco.  The most troublesome question in his mind was whether he would get there before the Cayuse set torches to Waiilatpu or expand their evil to Fort Walla Walla.  In Ogden's mind the killing of Whitman was to be expected, but the mass murders of the Americans, and the death of Mrs. Whitman was ominous.  

At Waiilatpu the events continued to unfold.  Mrs. Saunders, alone went to the lodge of Nicholas Finley to plead for her own and the lives of the other women and children.  She was surrounded by fierce men, who were talking and brandishing their weapons.  An Indian woman made signs to her that they wanted to cut off her head.  She saw an Indian on a horse at Dr. Whitman's house, talking and gesticulating for some time.  He rode toward her, and she saw that he was weeping.  She made motions for him to come to her.  He went to the lodge with her.  Whether it was her intercession or the speech of the chief that turned the tide in our favor, I know not; but the chief that was heading the murder said, "It is enough, No more blood must be shed.  The Doctor is dead and the men are dead.  These women and children have not hurt us.  They must not be hurt.  The night had come on and the Indians had left.  All was quiet.  The children were taken to the other house by the friendly Indian.

Catherine and Matilda Sager, with little to do, wandered over to the mission house one day.  It was stripped of almost everything, and what had not been stolen had been destroyed.  Cats wandered back and forth through the open doors.  Returning across the yard to the mansion house, Catherine saw an Indian ride by with a world map for a saddle blanket.  She remembered the map hanging on the wall, and Mother Whitman pointing out where the foreign missions were.  At the mansion house the women were sewing furiously on shirts for the demanding Cayuse.

That night, as Catherine sat alone she was confronted by two of the young Cayuse night guards.  They took up chairs facing Catherine and laughing started talking to her in their own language.  She did not understand what they were saying at first but it soon became clear to her that they were telling her that they were going to rape her.  She ran screaming from the room and hid.  She was safe for that night.  To protect themselves to some degree they decided to persuade old Chief Beardy to stay at the mansion house nights.  The nearly senile chief had no influence with the likes of Tilaukait or Tomahas, but he could still cow the young night guards.

She was not the only one receiving unwanted attentions.  Soon after she was to observe a Cayuse far more persistent than the young night guards.  Tamsucky came to the mansion house and cornered Lorinda Bewley.  He told her he wanted her for a wife.  The frightened young woman reminded him that he had a wife.  Her refusal had no effect.  Tamsucky pursued Lorinda behind the stove.  She defended herself with spirit, while the astonished Catherine looked on.  Somehow Miss Bewley slipped by him and ran into the mission yard screaming for the help of Chief Tilaukait.  The angry Tamsucky caught her and tried to put her on his horse.  She succeeded in staying off the horse but he only enraged him further.  He threw her to the ground and raped her in from of the onlookers.  When he finally let her go, Lorinda returned to the house weeping as Tamsucky fled.  While the brute was maltreating his sister, Bewley tried to go to her aid but being still weak, was unable to help her. 

 Crockett Bewley and Amos Sales, who had been very sick at the time of the original massacre, were finally recovered enough to be able to sit up part of the time.  The Indians told them they must take Indian wives and live among the Indians.  Bewley made no reply to these things; but Sales, who hated them bitterly, would swear at them and say he would do no such thing; that he was going below to the valley when he got well.

On the 13th of December the Indians came in large numbers accompanied by numerous young Indian women.  The women would go into the room where the young men lay and look at them and talk among themselves.  Bewley slept soundly all morning and his sister went at various times to see him, but always found him asleep.  Sales remarked to her at one time he could not see how Crockett could sleep so; for his part he thought the Indians intended to do some mischief.

A little after noon the Indians, led by Edward Tilaukait, gathered around the bed.  It is said they were there to taunt them.  If the two of them had remained silent they might have lived. However, it is reported that upon hearing of the treatment of his sister, Lorinda, Crockett Bewley confronted the captors and he and Sales taunted the Cayuse with dire prohecies of what would happen to them when their deeds were found out by the Americans.  Edward suddenly struck them across the face with his riding quirt.  Then he stepped aside while other Cayuse hauled them from their sick beds.  The Indians tore away bed supports for weapons and used them and hatchets to beat them to death.  They were dragged outdoors and their beds ransacked for their clothes, which the murderers appropriated for themselves.

Lorinda Bewley crept into a small bedroom, and concealing herself under the bed, gave vent to her grief.  The Indians were very anxious to know where she was and if she cared if she cared for her brother's death.  We all stated that we did not know where she was, or whether she cared or not.  Next morning early, before any of the Indians came, she  requested that Catherine Sager go with her to take a last look at her brother.  Going outside, they raised the cover from his face.  Later Catherine remarked, "But Oh!  what a sight for a loving sister's eyes!"

Little Louise Sager had died two days before Helen Mar Meek finally succumbed to her illness. Helen was buried by Stanfield in the mission cemetery the same evening as Bewley and Sales were murdered.  Soon after, Mrs. Hays' baby was carried to the grave.  It had also died with the measles.  

A few days after her encounter with Tamsucky, a little before night, an Indian rode up leading a spare horse.  He came in and said he was a servant of the chief, Five Crows; that his master had sent him to get Miss Bewley.   Earlier in the year, while trading with the latest wagon train to the valley, Chief Five Crows had seen Lorinda among the emigrants. He was attracted to her fragile loveliness and determined that she should become his wife. To Five Crows there was no inconsistency in his desire for a white wife. All his life he had seen the young Indian women taken as wives by the trappers and even by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company. He sought the family of Lorinda at once, offering many head of horses if they would look with favor upon his suit. His pride was doubtlessly stung by their curt response that white men did not sell their women.

The servant wanted to start back that evening; so, as there was no escape, the poor girl had to go. Lorinda pleaded with Tillaukait to allow her to stay with the other women but he would not listen. "You will be safer at the camp of the chief", he assured her. "All the Indians will be glad to protect the squaw of Five Crows but here you will become the common property of all and I cannot help you. You will do well to marry with the great chief who wants a yellow haired wife."  

They left Waiilatpu in the early afternoon with a cold wind blowing across the hills laden with snow . The older women packed a small satchel with necessary articles and tried to offer their sympathy. She was to be taken to the Catholic Mission at Walla Walla where she would be claimed by Five Crows.   Upon her arrival, Five Crows stood at her horses' head while the youngest priest helped her to dismount. She walked up the path of light from the open doorway where the other priest stood. Right Rev. Magloire Blanchet, the bishop of Walla Walla, held out his hands to her and led her to the open fire. Father Rousseau hurried with the simple meal of bread and cold meat, adding a pot of precious tea. The girl recognized Father Brouillet as the priest who had helped with the burial of the dead at Waiilatpu two days before.

Lorinda pleaded with the priests to allow her to stay with them. She offered to do any work asked of her in exchange for asylum. The Bishop replied, "We are but a handful of white men among a nation of savages on the warpath. Five Crows is a much finer character than most. I will do what I can to reason with him and delay as long as possible. We are all caught in this trap and are helpless. But do not weep daughter. This great trouble is not your fault."

The chief came for her; she refused to go with him and he resorted to force.  She held to a table till her hands were skinned but his strength won out.  She was taken to his lodge.  In the morning he sent her back to the priest's house.  The same scenes were transacted every third night.  She continued to press the priests for help but it was in vain; they either would not or could not help her.

The night after she left, Tamsucky, accompanied by Joe Lewis, brought a wagon and team.  They had also brought ropes with the apparent intention of taking Miss Bewley away by force.  They ransacked the house well, not believing that she was gone.

With Lorinda taken, the alarm among the women was all the greater because Five Crows had been a "Whitman Mission" Indian.  They now  knew that none of them were safe.    The tension grew when Tilaukat ordered them all to council.  He came to the point quickly.  With Miss Bewley now under the protection of Five Crows the younger women should all give thought to becoming the wives of chiefs.  The chief then called on the young men who wanted white wives to come forward.  Two did so; one named Clark, and the other Frank.  Both were influential and rich, and both were able to speak some English.  The girls were ordered to choose between the young men.  Mary Smith took Clark and Susan Kimball chose Frank.  The chief then made a speech to the girls, telling them they must teach the men to read, and telling the men to be kind to their wives and provide well for them.  Miss Kimball wept all during the speech, while Miss Smith showed her emotions only by flashing eyes and heightened color.  The Indians were highly pleased with her conduct and gave her many compliments for her bravery.

Catherine Sager was visited by Edward Tilaukait who asked her to teach him English.  He had a large bible that had been Dr. Whitman's.  In this he commenced to lear to read.  Catherine would say the words and he would repeat them after her.  One day as they sat reading he gave her a cotton handkerchief and told her to wear it all the time on her head or around her neck and the other Indians would leave her alone.  They would know she was his girl.  It did provide her the protection he promised.

According to Catherine Sager, "Clark paid no attention to Mary.  He finally gave her up entirely.  He said his father said it was no good to take a white wife.  His father, old Telaukait, was head chief and it was he who had led the massacre, but afterwards was seized with remorse for killing his best friend, as he called Dr. Whitman.  He did not approve of the Indians taking the girls for wives but Edward had usurped his authority and the old man was chief in name only.  His sons, Edward and Clark were fine looking Indians, Edward especially.  His color was quite light and he had a proud and noble bearing.  He was always gentlemanly in his treatment of us; still he was an Indian.  He had taken an active part in the massacre and wore the clothes that belonged to my brother John."

Edward had been greatly attracted by the charms of Miss Smith.  She was small and neat, her eyes flashing and black, and her hair was jetty and curly.  After his brother, Clark, left her he called a meeting of his people and declared his intention of taking Mary Smith for his wife.  Mary was a brave girl and showed no emotion in his presence but in private she wept in despair.  She took advantage of Edward's interest in her by pointing out to him that her father was an Englishman, not an American.  She hoped it would provide him some protection in case of another attack.

Joe Stanfield took the opportunity to propose one more time to Mrs. Hays.  When she refused once more he reminded her of her vulnerability and suggested to her that for her own protection they should pretend to be husband and wife.  The only way to convince the Indians would be to sleep in the same bed but he would allow her to put young Henry Clay between them.  With few options left to her, Rebecca Hays agreed.

Each evening after the Indians left, a band of vagabonds led by Istulest would come to harrass the young women.  As protection they talked old Chief Beardy into staying with them.  Mrs. Saunders had baked some pies from dried peaches that she had salvaged.  To show their appreciation to Chief Beardy they allowed to eat all the pie he wanted.  He ate so much that after he got back to his lodge he vomited up peaches and thought it to be blood.  He instantly believed he had been poisoned.  He resolved to kill them all the next day.  About noon and Indian woman named Catherine arrived.  She was the wife of a Frenchman and had been at Fort Hall when she heard of the massacre.  She immediately started for the mission to see if she could render assistance to the captives.  When she heard of old Beardy's plans she talked to him and convinced him that he had only overeaten.  Tamsucky still wanted to kill us but Jimmie, a Nez Perce, pleaded for the lives of the captives and it was agreed they would send them all to the valley in the spring.

One evening as Catherine Sager was sitting by the fire in Mrs. Hall's room, Istulest came in and dragged her out screaming.  Nicholas Finley, hearing the ruckus came in and told Istulest to leave her alone.  In order to keep her safe from further advances they made a plan to hide her behind a bed that Mr. Young was laying on.  When Istulest returned he looked all over for her but she was not discovered in her hiding place.

When James Young did not return to the sawmill, his brother, Daniel, rode down to Waiilatpu to find the reason.  Unlike his brother, he was allowed to complete his journey.  It was horror that he discovered the previous events that had taken place.  Before he had recovered from his shock he was ordered by Tilaukait to return to the sawmill and bring back the two families.  If they attempted to escape, they would be overtaken and killed.  With the killing of Marsh the men would be put to work running the gristmill.  Almost immediately, on the arrival of the Smith family, Edward, the son of Tialukait, showed an interest in fifteen-year-old Mary Smith.  Edward was a rather elegant young Cayuse.  He braided his hair and wore cloth trousers and a black Sunday coat cast off by a missionary or Hudson's Bay man.  There was a kind of courtship before the actual "marriage".  Mary would sit with Edward reading the Bible to him.  The son of the fierce chief sat entranced, his dark eyes wide beneath the round-crowned hat that had belonged to Doctor Whitman.  Whatever concern Joseph Smith had over the relationship he kept to himself.

At Fort Vancouver the following entries were made in the journal of Thomas Lowe:
Dec. 6, 1847 "Monday.  Fine day.  In the afternoon Mr. David McLoughlin returned from the "Janet", and the boat which took Mr. Work to the Cowelitz likewise returned.  In the evening Beauchemin arrived from Walla Walla with the startling intelligence that Dr. Whitman and his lady, beside 9 other Americans have been massacred by the Cayuse Indians at Waulitpu.  Most of the women and children have been spared.  Mr. Hinman from the Dalles came with Beauchemin. 

"7th, Tuesday. Rainy weather.  In consequence of the massacre at Waulitpu Mr. Ogden started for Walla Walla late this afternoon with a boat and 16 men, taking Mr. Charles along with him.  Mr. McBean writes that the Fort is threatened by the Indians, but this is not supposed to be the case, and the principal object of Mr. Ogden's trip is to rescue the surviving women and children and to prevent further outrage.  Mr. Hinman returned to the Dalles."


"8th. Wednesday.  Raining most of the day.  Almost all our working hands are laid up with the measles, and it is only the white who are able to work." .” [Private Journal kept at Fort Vancouver Columbia River by Thomas Lowe Hudson Bay Coy., pages 61., entries contributed by Chalk Courchane]

Meanwhilte, throughout the events at the mission, the rumors in the valley were rampant. The Oregon Spectator, the territorial newspaper which was published at Oregon City, provided a glimpse of the events as they unfolded.

"Fort Nez Perces, 30th Nov 1847
Gentlemen, It is my painful task to make you acquainted with a horrid massacre which took place yesterday at Waiilatpu, about which I was first apprised early this morning by an American who had escaped, of the name of Hall, and who reached this half naked and covered with blood. As he started at the onset, the information I obtained was not satisfactory. He, however, assured me that the Doctor and another man were killed, but could not tell me the persons who did it, and how it originated.

I immediately determined on sending my interpreter and one man to Dr. Whitman's to find out the truth, and if possible to rescue Mr. Manson's two sons, and any of the survivors. It so happened that before the interpreter had proceeded half way, the two boys were met on their way hither escorted by Nicholas Finlay, it having been previously settled among the Indians that these boys should not be killed as also the American women and children. Peloquoit is the Chief who recommended this measure. I presume you are well acquainted that fever and dysentery has been raging here, and in this vicinity, in consequence of which a great number of Indians have been swept away, but more especially at the Doctor's place where he attended upon the indians. About 30 souls, of the Cayuse tribe died, one after another, who eventually believed the Doctor poisoned them, and in which opinion they were unfortunately confirmed by one of the Doctor's party. As far as I have been able to learn, this has been the sole cause of the dreadful butchery.

In order to satisfy any doubt on that point, it is reported that they requested the Doctor to administer medicine to three of their friends, two of whom were really sick, but the third only feigning illness, and that the three were corpses next morning. After they were buried, and while the Doctor's men were employed slaughtering an ox, the Indians came one by one to his house, with their arms concealed under their blankets and being all assembled, commenced firing on those slaughtering the animal, and in a moment the Doctor's house was surrounded. The Doctor and a young lad brought up by himself, were shot in the house. His lady, Mr. Rogers and the children had taken refuge in the garret, but were dragged down and dispatched (excepting the children) outside, where their bodies were left exposed. It is reported that it was not their intention to kill Mr. Rogers, in consequence of an avowal to the following effect, which he is said to have made, and which nothing but a desire to save his life could have prompted him to do so. He said, `I was one evening lying down and I overheard the Doctor telling Rev. Mr. Spaulding that it was best you should be all poisoned at once, but that the latter told him it was best to continue slowly and cautiously, and between this and spring not a soul would remain, when they would take possession of your lands, cattle and horses.'

These are only Indian reports, and no person can believe the Doctor capable of such an action, without being as ignorant and brutal as the Indians themselves. One of the murderers not having been made acquainted with the above understanding, shot Mr. Rogers.

It is well understood that eleven lives were lost and three wounded. It is also rumored they are to make an attack upon the Fort; let them come! If they will not listen to reason; thought I have only five men at the establishment I am prepared to give them a warm reception; the gates are closed day and night, and bastions in readiness. In company with Mr. Manson's two sons was sent a young half breed Lad, brought up by Doctor Whitman--they are all here and have got over their fright. The ring-leaders in this horrible butchery, are Telequoit, his son, Big Belly, Tamsuchy, Esticus, Toumoulish, etc. I understand from the interpreter that they were making one common grave for the deceased.

The houses were stripped of everything in the shape of property, but when they came to divide the spoil, they fell out among themselves, and all agreed to put back the property. I am happy to state the Walla Wallas had no hand in the whole business--they were all the Doctor's own people, (the Cayuses.) One American shot another and took the Indian's part, to save his own life.

Allow me to draw a veil over this dreadful affair which is too painful to dwell upon, and which I have explained comfortably to information received, and with sympathizing feelings.
I remain, with much respect, Gentlemen,
Your most obe't hum. serv't
N.B. I have just learnt that the Cayuses are to be here to-morrow to kill Serpent Jaune the Walla Walla chief. W.McB.

1. Doctor Whitman
2. Mrs. Whitman
3. Mr. Rogers
4. Mr. Hofman
5. Mr. Sanders (Schoolmaster)
6. Mr. Osborne (Carpenter)
7. Mr. Marsh
8. Jno. Sager
9. Frs. Sager
10. Mr. Canfield (Blacksmith)
11. Mr. _________ (a Sailor)
Besides three that were wounded, more or less, Messrs. Hall, Kemble and another whose name I cannot learn. W. McB."
[Oregon Spectator Dec. 10, 1847]

 Ogden realized the value of speed in his delicate enterprise.  However, against that he had to weigh the danger of alarm if he showed undue haste in making his way upriver.  Arriving at The Dalles, he and his men appeared to be on ordinary business of the Company.  But Ogden advised the Hinmans and Perrin Whitman to depart casually for the lower country.  Ogden then continued on his way to Fort Walla Walla.  The shrewd trader invited the Bishop of Walla Walla to the council at the Fort.  The Bishop had already sent a plea to Gov. Abernathy on behalf of the Cayuse.  It was signed by Tilaukait, Camaspelo, Tauitowie and Achekaia.  It begged the Governor to forget the killings at Waiilatpu, wereupon they would put away from their minds the murder of Elijah Hedding.  And it asked that the Americans send some of their chiefs for a talk.

"Fort Vancouver, Dec. 4, 1847, Mr. George Abernethy,
Dear Sir--A Frenchman from Walla Walla arrived at my place on last Saturday and informed me that he was on his way to Vancouver and wished me to assist in procuring him a canoe immediately. I was very inquisitive to know if there was any difficulty above. He said four Frenchmen had died recently and he wished to get others to occupy their places. I immediately got him a canoe and concluded to go down in company with him in order to get some medicine for the Indians as they were dying off with the measles and other diseases very fast. I was charged with indifference. They said we were killing in not giving them medicine, and I found if we were not exposing our lives we were our peace and consequently I set out for this place. This side of the Cascades I was made acquainted with the horrid massacre that took place at Waiilatpu last Monday. Horrid to relate! The Doctor and Mrs. Whitman, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Osborn, Mr. Saunders (a school teacher), the two orphan boys, viz. John and Francis together with all of the men at that place, numbering eleven in all. Some are living at the saw-mill which is situated about 20 miles from the Doctor's. A party set out for that place to despatch them; also a party for Mr. Spaulding's to despatch them, and they are not satisfied yet, but a party is said to have started for my place and doubtless has, if true, reached there before this time. Oh, had I known it when I was at home. I can neither sleep nor take any rest on the account of my family and those with them, viz. my wife and child, the Doctor's nephew, Doct. Saffarans, Mr. McKinney and wife. If I had ten men I could defend myself with perfect case by occupying the meeting house which is very roomy and close. You see my situation, as well as Mr. Spaulding's. I have perfect confidence in your doing all you can to get a party to come up and spend the winter here; likewise to go to the rescue of the women and children, and Mr. Spaulding is alive which I think is very doubtful.

Delay not a moment in sending a few men for my protection. A few moments may save our lives. I expect to leave to-morrow for home, and perhaps the first salutation will be a ball. My family is there and I must return if it costs my life. We are all in the hands of the merciful God. Why should we be alarmed? I will close by saying again send a small force immediately without the delay of one day. Farewell,

Yours truly,
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1847 ]


"Fort Vancouver, 7th Dec. 1847
Geo. Abernethy, Esq.
Sir, having received intelligence last night, by special express, from Walla Walla of the destruction of the Missionary settlement at Waiilatpu, by the Cayuse Indians of that place; we hasten to communicate the particulars of that dreadful event, one of the most attrocious which darkens the annals of Indian crime.

Our lamented friend Dr. Whitman, his amiable and accomplished lady, with nine other persons have fallen victims to the fury of these remorseless savages, who appear to have been instigated to this appaling crime by a horrible suspicion which had taken possession of their superstitious minds, in consequence of the number of deaths from dysentery and measles, that Dr. Whitman was silently working the destruction of their tribe by administering poisonous drugs under the semblance of salutary medicines.

With a goodness of heart and benevolence truly his own, Dr. Whitman had been laboring incessantly since the appearance of the measles and dysentery amoung his Indian converts, to relieve their sufferings, and such has been the reward of his generous labors.

A copy of Mr. McBean's letter herewith, will give you all the particulars, known to us, of this indiscribably painful event.

Mr. Ogden with a strong party will leave this place as soon as possible for Walla Walla, to endeavor to prevent further evil; and we beg to suggest to you the propriety of taking instant measures for the protection of the Rev. Mr. Spaulding; who for the sake of his family, ought to abandon the Clear Water Mission, without delay, and retire to a place of safety, as he cannot remain at that isolated station without imminent risk, in the present excited, and irritatable state of the Indian population.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servent,
[Oregon Spectator Dec 10, 1847]

"Oregon City, Dec. 8, 1847
Gentlemen-- It is my painful duty to lay the inclosed communication before your Honorable Body. They will give you the particulars of the horrible massacre committed by the Cayuse Indians on the residents of Waiilatpu. This is one of the most distressing circumstances that has occurred in our Territory, and one that calls for immediate and prompt action. I am aware to meet this case, funds will be required, and suggest the propriety of applying to the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company and the Merchants of this place for a loan to carry out whatever plan you may fix upon. I have no doubt but the expenses attending this affair will be promptly met by the United States Government.

The wives and children of the murdered persons, Rev. Mr. Spaulding and family and all others who may be in the upper country, should at once be proffered assistance, and an escort to convey them to a place of safety.

I have the honor to remain, Gentlemen,
Your ob't servant,
[Oregon Spectator Dec 10, 1847]


"Clear Water, Dec. 10, 1847,
To the Bishop of Walla Walla, or either of the Catholic Priests,

Reverend and Dear Friend, this hasty note may inform you that I am yet alive, through the astonishing mercy of God, the hand of our merciful God brought me to my family, after 6 days and nights from the time my dear friend furnished me with provisions and I escaped from the Indians. My daughter is yet a captive I fear, but in the hands of our kind heavenly father--two Indians have gone for her.

My object in writing principally is to give information through you to the Cayuse, that it is our wish to have peace, that we do not wish Americans to come from below to avenge the wrong; we hope the Cayuse and Americans will be on friendly terms, that Americans will no more come into their country, unless they wish it. As soon as these men return, I hope if alive to send them to the Governor, to prevent Americans coming up to molest the Cayuse for what is done.

I know that you will do all in your power for the relief of the captive women and children at Waiilatpu, that you will spare no pains to appease and quiet the Indians.--There are 5 Americans here, my wife and three children, one young woman and two Frenchmen. We cannot leave the country without help. Our hope, under God, is in your hands and the hands of the H.H.B. Co. Can help come from that source? Please let this be known to the H.H.B. Co. Ask their advice and let me know. I am certain that should Americans attempt to come, it would be likely to prove the ruin of us all in this upper country, and would involve the country. God grant that they will not attempt--At this moment I have obtained permission of the Indians to write more, but have but a moment. Please send this or copy to Governor Abernethy. The Nez Perces held a meeting yesterday; they pledged to protect us from the Cayuse if we would prevent the Americans from coming up to avenge the murders. This we have pledged to do, and for this we beg for the sake of our lives at this place and at Mr. Walkers. By all means keep quiet; send no war report, send nothing but proposals of peace. They say they have buried the death of the Walla Walla Chief's son killed in California? They wish us to bury this offence. I hope to write soon direct to Gov. Abernethy, but as yet the Indians are not willing, but are willing that I should send these hints through you. I hope you will send by all means and with all speed, to keep quiet in Willamette. Could Mr. Grant come this way, it would be a great favour to us and do good to the Indians--I just learn that these Indians wish us to remain in the country as hostages of peace--They wish the communication for Americans to be kept open. We are willing to remain so if peace can be secured. It does not seem safe for us to attempt to leave the country in any way at present. May the God of heaven protect us and finally bring peace. These two men go to make peace, and when they return if successful with the Cayuse they will to to Willamette.

We have learned that one man escaped to Walla Walla, was crossed over the river and went below, he would naturally suppose that all were killed; besides myself, another white man escaped wounded, and reached my house 3 days before I did. Late Indian report says that no women except Mrs. Whitman or children killed, but all are in captivity. This people, if the Cayuse will consent, will bring them all to this place--I travelled only nights and hid myself days, most of the way on foot as my horse escaped from me--suffered some from cold, hunger and sore feet, had no shoes as I threw my boots away not being able to wear them, also left blanket, God in mercy brought me here. From the white men who escaped and from Indians we learn that an Indian from the States who was in the employ of Dr. Whitman, was at the head of the bloody affair, helped demolish the windows and take the property. We think the Cayuse have been urged on to do the dreadful deed. God in mercy forgive them for they know not what they do.

Perhaps these men can bring horses and things. Please give all the particulars you have been able to learn and what news have gone below. How do the women and children fare? How extensive is the war? In giving this information and by sending this letter below to Governor Abernethy you will oblige your afflicted friend.

I would write directly to the Governor, but the Indians wish me to rest till they return.

Yours in affliction and with best wishes,
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1848]


To His Excellency, George Abernethy, Governor of Oregon Territory.

Please to your Excellency,--The Cayuses, in a moment of despair, have committed acts of atrocity, which without doubt, you must have learned already, and which I am certain must have grieved you as much as it has afflicted me.

They have massacred Dr. Whitman, his wife and the Americans who lived with him.

Mr. Brouillet, vicar general of this Mission, who went to Waiilatpu, arrived there on Tuesday evening, and therefore the first time heard the painful intelligence. On Wednesday he had the dead bodies clothed and buried, and before starting demanded of the Indians not to harm the women and children, whose fate had not been decided. But he could obtain no assurance that this demand would be complied with, as the chiefs were not present. After his arrival here, and, as soon as I had been informed of what had happened, I instantly sent for the two chiefs, whose lodges are near my house.

After having made known to them, without delay, how much I was grieved in consequence of the commission of such an atrocious act, I told them that I hoped the women and children would be spared until they could be sent to the Willamette.

They answered,--We pity them, they shall not be harmed,--they shall be taken care of as before.--

I have since had the consolation to learn that they have been true to their word and that they have taken care of these poor people.

A few days afterwards, I do not know under what pretext, two other Americans who were sick, were also massacred.

On the arrival of the Chiefs Sahaptin, Trumilpilp and Sepianahtkeit (Nez Perces), I was enabled to make new efforts to save not only the women and children, but also the Rev. Mr. Spalding, his family and the Americans at his station. After an interview with the chiefs separately, I succeeded in gathering them in council, which was held yesterday, and lasted four hours and a half, which accompanies the present will show you the result. It is sufficient to state that all these speeches went to show that since they had been instructed by the whites they abhorred war, and that the tragedy of the 29th had occurred from an anxious desire for self preservation--and, it was the reports made against the Doctor and others which led them to commit this act. They desire to have the past forgotten, and to live in peace, as before.

Your excellency has to judge of the value of the document which I have been requested to forward to you nevertheless, without having the least intention to influence one way or the other. I feel myself obliged to tell you that by going to war with the Cayuses, you will undoubtedly have all the Indians of this country against you. Would it be the interest of a young colony to expose herself? But that you will have to decide with your council.

Mr. Spalding's letter, which I have the honor to forward to you, merits consideration.

Receive the assurance of the high consideration with which I am
You Excellancy's
Very humble and most ob't serv't
Bishop of Walla Walla
Youmatilla, 21st. Dec. 1847
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1848]


"Clear Water, Dec. 10th, 1847, Mr. McBean:
My Dear Sir--Will you have the kindness to lend me four blankets? Give two of them to these men, one to each. The five you had the kindness to let me have, were among the goods plundered at Waiilatpu. Please to send also 10 shirts, 10 lb. tobacco, 12 scalpers and 20 awls. I am in great need of these things to pay for moving my property and family up the Valley, some 10 miles where the Nez Perces are camped. I reached home on foot, travelling six nights, suffering from hunger, cold and sore feet. Mr. Canfield escaped wounded and reached this place three days before me. There are here 5 Americans, 2 Frenchmen and my family, except my daughter, who is yet at Waiilatpu. Please let me know about the women and children and give other information. These people have pledged to protect me if we will do all we can to make peace, to prevent the Americans from coming up to avenge the late deaths. We have agreed to do so, and hope you will have the goodness to send to Governor Abernethy and request for sake of our lives, that they will keep quiet. Should the Americans come up I think would prove our ruin and involve the country in war. We beg you to keep quiet. The Nez Perces wish to have peace continued. Could Mr. Grant come to see us it would be a great relief.

May the God of peace protect us and stay the work of blood.
Yours in love,
H.H. Spalding"
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1847]

Peter Skene Ogden arrived at Fort Walla Walla with two batteaus loaded with trading goods. Runners were sent in all directions to the chief men of the tribes to be with him at the fort.   There were only two men in all Oregon who would dare to take so small a force far into the heart of the enemy country for such a parley. But Dr. McLoughlin, the great white headed eagle, was not in charge at Fort Vancouver in 1847. Peter Skene Ogden stood next in the minds of the Indians. He was known and trusted the length of the land as the representative of the great Hudson's Bay company that had brought them wealth and security for so long. With the care of long practice he stood before them in all the splendor and gold braid he could assemble. He spoke with sharp authority and the leaders sitting in a half circle before him felt the justice of his rebukes. He stated his desires simply. He wanted the survivors and was prepared to pay a suitable ransom. Each of the chieftains talked, and Ogden watched the sullen face of Five Crows closely.

At last the meeting was dismissed and the Indians rode homeward in dejected silence. Their wrath had been allowed to flare in one act of vicious hatred but they knew well it was futile to attempt to stem the tide. The captives knew not what to believe when the mounted Cayuse circled the mission buildings in paint and regalia earlier in the day.   They must have thought the spilling of fresh blood was imminent.  They did not know that it was a show of bravado on their way to a council with Ogden.  Probably the Cayuses' first inkling of the situation they were in was when Joe Lewis faded away from Cayuse land, and by now they must have also realized they had no allies among the Nez Perce, the Spokane and the Yakima.


To the most influential chief's in behalf of the American families, kept as hostages and prisoners by them. I regret to observe that all the chiefs I asked for are not present, two being absent. I expect the words I am about addressing you will be repeated to them, and your young men on your return to your camp.

It is now thirty years we have been among you; during this long period we have never had an instance of blood being spilt until the inhuman massacre which has so recently taken place. We are traders and a different nation to the Americans; but recollect we supply you with ammunition not to kill the Americans. They are of the same colour as ourselves, speak the same language,children of the same God--and humanity makes our hearts bleed, when we behold you using them so cruelly! Besides this revolting butchery, have not the Indians pillaged, ill-treated the Americans and insulted their women when peaceably making their way to the Willamette? As chiefs, ought you to have connived at such conduct on the part of your young men? Was it not rather your duty to use your influence to prevent it? You tell me the young men committed these deeds without your knowledge. Why do we call you Chiefs? If you have no control over your young men, if you allow them to govern you; you are a set of Hermaphrodites, and unworthy of the appellation of men of Chiefs. You young hot-headed men, I know that you pride yourselves upon your bravery and think no one can match you. Do not deceive yourselves. If you get the Americans to commence once, you will repent it, and war will not end until every man of you is cut off from the face of the earth.

I am aware that a good many of your friends and relations have died through sickness--the Indians of other places have shared the same fate. It is not Doctor Whitman that has poisoned them; but God has commanded they should die. We are weak mortals and must submit, and trust you will avail yourselves of the opportunity and in so doing it may prove advantageous to you but at the same time remember you alone will be responsible for the consequences. It is merely advice I give you. I hold forth no promise should war be declared against you. We have nothing to do with it. I have not come here to make you promises or hold out your quarrels. We remain neutral. On my return if you wish it I shall do all I can for you, but I do not promise you, to prevent war. If you deliver me up all the prisoners I shall pay you for them on their being delivered; but let it not be said among you afterwards that I deceived you. I and Mr. Douglas represent the Company, but I tell you once more we promise you nothing.--We sympathize with these poor people and wish to return them to their friends and relations by paying you for them. My requests in behalf of the families concerns you, so decide for the best."

I rise to thank you for your good words. You white Chiefs command obedience with those that have to do with you. It is not so with us. Our young men are strong headed and foolish. Formerly we had experience, good chiefs, these are laid in the dust.--The descendants of my Father, are the only good Chiefs. Though we made war with other Tribes yet we always looked and ever will look upon the whites as our brothers.--Our blood is mixed with yours. My heart bleeds for the deaths of so many good Chiefs I have known. For the demand made by you the old Chief Teloquoit is here, speak to him; as regards myself I am willing to give the families up."

I have listened to your words. Young men do not forget them. As for war, we have seen little of it, but our fathers know something of it. We know the whites to be our best friends who have all along prevented us killing one another, that is the reason why we avoid getting into a war with them, and why we do not wish to be separated from them. Besides the tie of blood, the whites have shown us a convincing proof of their attachment to us by burying their dead along side of ours. Chief! your words are weighty--Your hairs are grey! We have known you a long time. You have had an unpleasant trip to this place. I cannot therefore keep these families back, I make them over to you, which I would not do to another younger than yourself."

I have nothing to say: I know the Americans to be changeable, still I am of the same opinion as the young chief; the whites are our friends and we follow your advice; I consent to your taking the families.

Mr. Ogden here addressed two Nez Perce Chiefs in behalf of Rev. Mr. Spalding and party; that they should be delivered to him on being paid, and spoke to them at length; the result was that both Chiefs (James andHiminilpile) promised to bring them provided they were willing to come and immediately started to effect the same having a letter from Mr. Ogden to Rev. Mr. Spalding."



The principal Chiefs of the Cayuses in Council assembled, decided:--

That a young Indian who understands English and slept in Dr. Whitman's room heard the Doctor, his wife and Mr. Spalding express their desire of possessing the Indians lands and their animals.

He also states that Mr. Spalding had said to the Doctor: "Hurry give medicines to the Indians, that they may soon die."

That the same Indian told the Cayuses, if you do not kill the Doctor soon you will all be dead before spring.

That they buried six Cayuses on the following Sunday the 28th of November, and three the next day.

That the Schoolmaster, Mr. Rodgers, stated to them before he died that the Doctor, his wife and Mr. Spalding poisoned the Indians.

That for several years past they had to deplore the death of their children and that they according to these reports, were led to believe, that the whites had undertaken to kill them all.

That these are the motives, which made them to kill the Americans.

The same Chiefs ask at present:
1st. That the Americans may not to war with the Cayuses.
2d. That they may forget the lately committed murders, as the Cayuses will forget the murder of the Son of the great Chief of Wallawalla, committed in California.
3d. That two or three great men may come up to conclude peace.
4th. That as soon as these great men have arrived and concluded peace, they may take with them all the women and children.
5th. They give assurance that they will not harm the Americans before the arrival of these three great men.
6th. They ask, that the Americans may not travel any more through their country as their young men might do them harm.

Place of Tawatoe, Youmatilla
20th Dec. 1847


Signed, L.P. Rosseau, D and G. Leclaire, S.D., witnesses

True copy, L.P.G. Rosseau, Missionary.

 When the Indians returned to the mission, the captives learned that they were to be released.  They spent the night in preparation to depart in haste.  That same night Miss Bewley was returned from the Umatilla.  During her ride she had fallen from her horse, spraining her wrist very badly.  Tamsucky, seeing her return, tried once again to talk her into being his wife.  He was turned away.  Edward was also trying hard to get Mary to stay with him.  There were later rumors about how Mary was in love with him and much as he was in love with her.  All of those stories were false.  When she was not in the presence of Indians she wept bitterly over her disgrace.


"Fort Nez Perces, Dec 23, 1847
Rev. Mr. Spalding,

Dear Sir--I have assembled all the chiefs and addressed them in regard to the helpless situation of yourself and the rest at Waiilatpu, and I have got them to consent to deliver them all to me: Yourself and those with you, save the two Canadians who are safe enough among the Indians. And have now to advice you to lose no time in joining me, at the same time bear in mind sir, you have no promise to make them or payments to make; once more use all the diligence possible to overtake us.

Yours truly,
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1848]



"Clear Water, Dec. 25, 1847
To Peter Ogden, Esq.

My Dear Sir, your kind favour of 26 inst. came to hand this evening, it gives us great joy to learn that you are about to rescue the captives at Waiilatpu, may the Lord enable you to land them safe at Vancouver. This people are unwilling that I should leave their country and I have promised to return and live with them provided the melancholy affair at Waiilatpu can be settled and the Nez Perces continue friendly to the whites and keep their hands clean from blood and plunder.

I shall make all expedition to collect my horses, pack up and be off, God willing I hope to be at Walla Walla next Saturday, Mr. Craig and two Frenchmen stop in the country, our company therefore will consist of Mrs. Spalding and myself and three children, Miss Johnson, Messrs. Hart, Jackson and Canfield.

I hope our little daughter has recovered her health and that through the interposing mercy of God we shall yet meet in the land of the living. Should you find it to be your duty to leave before we can come I desire that she may remain at the fort.

Your obedient servant,

P.S. I have just learned from the two who returned that the Cayuse have resolved should they learn that the Americans purpose to come up to arrange the death of those who have been massacred, that they will immediately fall upon myself and family and the other Americans in the country and kill all. If it is possible for you to delay till we arrive, it may be the means of saving our lives. Should you leave before, they may feel no restraint. Moreover if a few of your men come and meet us we should deem it a great favour and it would be great protection. We throw ourselves upon your good judgement.

May the God of peace protect and deliver us all in safety at your fort.

Your very truly,
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1848]

 The captives left early in the morning for the fort.  Before they had proceeded but a short distance an Indian woman came out of a nearby lodge and warned them to hasten, that there was talk of killing them.  The survivors of Waiilatpu reached Fort Walla Walla on Dec. 30th.  Their possessions were their lives and the clothes on their backs.  Ogden waited for the arrivals from Lapwai which included Jackson, Canfield and Horace Hart who had retreated back to Craig's house.  It was feared that they might be attacked but they arrived as planned, escorted by forty Nez Perce.  Mrs. Spalding found her daughter much changed from the healthy girls that had been left a month before.  She was wasted to a skeleton

As soon as daylight arrived, the survivors were loaded into boats.  Also accompanying the group was Bishop Blanchet, three priests and the Manson boys.  As the boats swept into midstream one of the Sager girls saw little David Malin, the eight-year-old Spanish-Cree weeping on the shore.  None of the adults in the boats wanted him, as had Narcissa in his early childhood.  He was left in the care of the remaining priests.

It was necessary to make two portages, one at the Deschutes and one at the Cascades.  Mr. Ogden, fearful of an attack from the Indians, kept a sharp lookout and used the utmost precautions.  It was while making one of these portages that the news was brought to Miss Bewley of the death of her father.

Upon arrival at the Dalles, they found an encampment of volunteers.  When the boats put ashore an office came and named those that had friends there waiting for them.  Miss Johnson and Miss Marsh both met a brother.  The remainder of the party camped a few miles below.  Saturday, about noon the survivors arrived at Ft. Vancouver.  As they neared the place the Canadian boatmen broke into song with a zest that showed their joy at safely reaching home.


"Fort Vancouver, Sat. 12h 40m. P.M.
Geo. Abernethy, Esq. Governor,
Sir--Mr. Ogden has this moment arrived with three boats from Walla Walla and I [? faded] to say that he has brought down all the women and children from Waiilatpu. Mr. and Mrs. Spaulding, and Mr. Stanley, the artist. Messrs. Walker and Eels were safe and well--they were not considered to be in danger. The reports of the later murders committed at Waiilatpu, are all absolutely without foundation--not a life having been lost there since the day of Dr. Whitman's death.

Mr. Ogden will visit the Falls on Monday and give you every information in his power respecting the Indians of the Interior. The Cayuse, Walla Walla, Nez Perces, and Yakanias are said to have entered into an alliance for mutual defence.

In haste,
Yours respectfully,
[Oregon Spectator Jan 20, 1847]

 The families were given houses near the river.  Mr. Spalding's family, including Dr. Whitman's children and Miss Bewley were kindly entertained by Mr. Douglas.  The group left the fort on Monday afternoon and arrived at Portland the next day.  About fifty volunteers were encamped there.  They formed a line along the shore and fired a salute, then gave three cheers, which were heartily responded to from the boats.  Some of them crossed over to the Portland side, where another salute was fired.  General Gilliam, who had crossed the plains with the Sager family, came forward and spoke kindly to them.  All during the escape, the Sager children were taken under the wing of Mr. Stanley, the artist who had taken refuge at the fort.  Many years later they remembered his various acts of kindness.  Miss Bewley left the group at Portland with her mother, in company with a gentleman with whom she was acquainted.  

On arrival at Oregon city, Mr. Ogden bade the group adieu.  His memory was cherished by those who owed their life to him.  Joe Stanfield was arrested on suspicion of having taken part in the massacre and he was brought to trial.  On being taken into custody by the sheriff, he attempted to conceal a watch belonging to Mrs. Kimball and a considerable sum of money belonging to Mr. Hoffman.  It was testified by the two widows that Joe had told them that he knew of the massacre prior to its occurence.  He was convicted and sentenced to be sent to General Gilliam to be punished as thought proper.  With the General's death prior to his arrival, Joe Stanfield went at large.  It was later reported that he died in the California gold mines in 1849 or 1850.

"Fort Nez Perces, Dec. 31, 1847
Rev. E. Walker,
My dear sir,
Mr. Stanley has promised to give you a recital of the melancholy massacre of the worthy Doctor and his wife and nearly all the inmates of the mission.

On receiving this account at Vancouver, and that many unfortunate individuals were still remaining--the following day I started with 16 men and reached this place on the 12th. inst. and since that period have been employed in rescuing the captives and have succeeded in securing all that were taken prisoners, and shall now take my departure tomorrow for Vancouver in effecting this humane object, I have endured many an anxious hour and for the last two nights have not closed my eyes, but thanks to the Almighty I have succeeded. During the captivity of the prisoners they have suffered every indignity, but fortunately were well provided with food. I have been enabled to effect my object without compromising myself or others, and it now remains with the American Government to take what measures they deem most beneficial to restore tranquility to this part of the country,and this I apprehend cannot be finally effected without blood being made to flow freely.--So as not to compromise either party, I have made a heavy sacrifice of goods; but these indeed are of trifling value compared to the unfortunate beings I have rescued from the hands of these murderous wretches and I feel truly happy, let this suffice for the present.

On my arrival at the Dalles, Mr. Hindman's mission, the previous day, had been plundered of four horses in open day and in the presence of all the inmates of the mission, and on consulting me on the property, I advised him to move, leaving a trusty Indian on whom he could rely, and who speaks the English language, to remain in charge of the establishment, and he would have started the same day I left it. I trust this arrangement will meet your approbation, under existing circumstances could not conscientiously give any other.

Yours truly,
[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1848]


"Oregon City, Oregon Thursday, Jan. 20, 1848
After the extreme solicitude that has filled the public minds since intelligence of the horrible butchery at Waiilatpu for the survivors of the melancholy affair--those helpless women and children--it is with feelings of pain and pleasure that we announce their deliverance from captivity and safe arrival in our midst. The pleasure incident to their rescue from danger and captivity is [word faded] however, the painful intelligence that a portion of them have been subjected to further outrage and insult-- the basest--the deepest that can possibly be conceived, and from which our mind recoils with horror. In our career as a public journalist, for the last five years, we have never shrunk from our duty, in recording events howsoever painful and abhorrent to our feelings, but in this case our pen refuses--we dare not chronicle the terrible story of their wrongs.

Pity for the poor sufferers--for the grieviously injured; let there be, for them at least, an oblivion of the past; let human kindness assiduously strive to assuage the bitterness of the pang and again replune the spirit that has been crushed in the violation of its honor.

But for the barbarian murderers and violaters; let them be pursued with unrelenting hatred and hostility, until their life blood has atoned for their infamous deeds; let them be hunted as beasts of prey; let their name and race be blotted from the face of the earth, and `the places that once knew them, know them no more forever'. Oh, how terrible should be the retribution. There are no mitigating circumstances. They knew the enormity of their conduct. Their unpardonable insult was achieved with the coolest determination and the most unmistakable intention. They let the knife be bared and in throwing away the scabbard, let the cry be `[3 faded words] and the knife up to the hilt'.

Peter Skene Ogden, Esq. Chief Factor of the H.B.C., reached this place on Wednesday evening, accompanied by the survivors of the Massacre, whom his courageous energy and indefatigable efforts had delivered from fearful servitude. Thanks would seem but a trifling recompense for such distinguished service. To him we are indebted for our principle information and the various documents subjoined.

Mr. Ogden arrived at Walla Walla on the 19th of December last, having accomplished the journey from Fort Vancouver in ten days. Immediately upon his arrival at Fort Nez Perces, in the evening, and during the second day, he despatched couriers to call a meeting of the Cayuse Chiefs; on the third day in the evening Two Chiefs arrived accompanied by about thirty men--Cayuses. The council assembled on the 23d ult., in which the several speeches were made, the substance of which will be found appended. The council continued until late at night and was concluded upon the savages agreeing to deliver up the captives within six days, on the promise of a ransom being paid for them. In the intermediate time speeches were made to the Nez Perces in regard to the surrender of Mr. Spaulding. During this space of time Mr. Ogden suffered considerable anxiety of mind, fearing from the various reports in circulation and constantly reaching the Fort, that the attempt had been fruitless and that the prisoners would not be restored.

On the evening of the 29th ult. a few of the principal men of the Cayuses arrived at the Fort, bringing with them the captives, who with some of their property, were conveyed in five wagons. Every preparation had been made to receive them so far as the limited means of the post would allow, and sure we are that the hospitalities extended on the occasion were the source of as much pleasure to the gentlemen of the Hudson's Bay Company as to the numerous recipients thereof. The day after the restoration, the promised ransom was paid and many speeches followed. A day or two thereafter brought Indian reports of the arrival of our troops at the Dalles, and the excitements consequent thereupon, among the Indians, was so great that Mr. Ogden assures us, that it was his firm conviction that had not the women and children been given up, they undoubtedly would all have been murdered. At the same time Mr. Ogden could make no downward movement in consequence of having pledged himself to await the arrival of Mr. Spalding and family who happily made their appearance on the ensuing Saturday evening, escorted by a formidable body of Nez Perces. The greater part of that night was passed in council with these Indians, and on the following morning the line of departure was taken up for Fort Vancouver, the safety of the party, and their arrival at which place, was first communicated by the subjoined letter from James Douglas, Esq. which was received on Sunday week and its gratifying contents imparted to the congregation of the Methodist church.

We have received considerable other information relative to this melancholy affair but so desultory in character that we hardly think it worth while at present to give it publication. One of the most horrible circumstances of the tragic event is, that of the two men who were prostrated by sickness at the time of the massacre, and nine days afterward dragged from their beds, killed and mangled in the most shocking manner. This shows plainly that there had been no reaction of feeling after the first massacre--nothing like regret for what had been done. There will be many painfully interesting incidents, doubtless, hereafter to be told of this terrible tragedy--of intense suffering and hair breadth escapes--but the force of circumstances will prevent us from telling them; may they find a more efficient chronicler. We cannot close however, without alluding to the surprising escape of our friend Mr. Stanley, the Artist, who was returning from the mission of Walker and Eels, and on the day of the massacre encamped on Snake River. Two days after the sad event he reached, within less than two miles of Waiilatpu, before he was apprised of it, when he took the trail to the Fort, where he arrived in safety-- having encountered in his unarmed condition, but one of the murderous villians, who, by ready stratagem he succeeded in getting rid of. Messrs. Walker and Eels, whose Mission is situated in the `Spokan' country, it is thought are not in danger in the event of it however, they will, of course, fall back, up on Fort Colville, the nearest place of safety. It is intended we understand, to discontinue the Catholic mission among the Cayuses, for the present." [Oregon Spectator Jan 20, 1848]


Llist of Men, Women and Children From Dr. Whitman's Mission and a List of property used in the exchange.

Expended out of Nez Perces Outfit to Recover the American Families, &c.: 62 blankets, 3 pts.--63 Com. Cot. Shirts.--12 Com Guns.--600 loads Amunition, 37 lbs. Tobacco.--12 Flints.--

Received from Teloquoit--appertaining to the Mission, for the use of the captives: 7 oxen, small and large, 16 Bags Coarse Flour.
E.E. W. McBean

[Oregon Spectator January 20, 1848]


The journal of Thomas Lowe confirmed some of the above information with the following entries: 

January 8, 1848 “Saturday.  Fine weather.  This morning the Rev. Messrs. Roberts and Robb returned to Oregon City.  In the forenoon Mr. Ogden arrived from Walla Walla with 3 Boats, bringing all the women and children who survived the massacre at Waulitpu, as also the whole of those at Mr. Spalding’s station, amounting in all to 61 souls.  There were also the following passengers, Mr. Charles who went up with Mr. Ogden, Mr. Stanley an American artist, Bishop Blanchette and two other Priests.  Mr. Ogden had to purchase the women and children from the Indians giving them 62 blankets, 62 shirts, 12 guns and some ammunition for them, telling them at the same time that the H.B. Co. were not to interfere in the quarrel, that it must be settled between the Americans and themselves.  Had to find quarters for all these people until Monday, when Mr. Ogden intends taking them all up to Oregon City.”


“10th. Monday.  Raining a little during the day.  In the afternoon Mr. Ogden started for Oregon City with all the passengers he brought down from Walla Walla, in two bateaux.  He is to transfer them to the Governor, and leave him to dispose of them.”


“17th. Monday. Splendid day, warm and clear.  Mr. Ogden returned in the afternoon from the Wallamette.  On his way up he was saluted both at Portland and Oregon City.” [Private Journal kept at Fort Vancouver Columbia River by Thomas Lowe Hudson Bay Coy., pages 63-64., entries contributed by Chalk Courchane]

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