Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, part 6


At last it was time for the Whitmans and Spaldings to leave Elizas decaying city of St. Louis. Now it was up the Missouri River somewhat north by west for about 300 miles. Their next major stop would be Liberty, Missouri. Narcissa Whitman Other stops were made before they reached Liberty, however, and at one of them they were joined by another party sent by the American Board to the Indian Frontier. Headed for a stint at the Pawnee Mission was Doctor Benjamin Satterlee and his wife who was considerably ill but continued on under Doctor Whitmans learned advice that she was able to do so. With the pair was Emeline Palmer on her way to marry Samuel Allis, the head of the Pawnee Mission.

On this river journey by steamer Narcissa noted in her journal her appreciation of God and his beautiful creation–the Missouri River at sunset. But, alas, as she and Dr. Whitman viewed this fluid highway westward Henry Spalding called them to come inside and pray. Missouri River In her journal Narcissa wrote, Surly how admirable are thy works, O Lord of Hosts. I could have dwelt upon the scene still longer with pleasure but Brother Spalding called us to prayers, and we left beholding the works of God for his immediate worship. Do we get a wee bit of a hint of Mrs. Whitmans annoyance with dear Henry here?

While the party waited at Liberty for the fur company to arrive, that some of them were to travel with across the plains with, they were surprised by an unexpected arrival. William Gray put in an appearance, announcing that hed been appointed by the American Board to join the Oregon mission as a mechanic.

The party continued to grow. In addition to the others already mentioned, a young man by the name of Dublin was hired to accompany them as far as the Mountain Man Rendezvous. They also secured the services of a third Nez Perce. Though not previously mentioned, two Nez Perce youths had been traveling with them. Whitman had brought them east with him on his last journey west and the two boys were returning home to the Far West.

While they were still in Liberty, Missouri Samuel Allis arrived from Bellevue. With Spalding performing the ceremony, Emeline Palmer became the newly wed Mrs. Samuel Allis. It surely was a merry time until a week later the tubercular Mrs. Satterlee died in spite of Whitmans earlier decree that she could travel.

Not only was the groups journey interrupted by a funeral, the funeral was interrupted when the American Fur Company steamboat, on which some of them were to travel to Bellevue, came puffing up the river. A halt was made in the funeral for Mrs. Satterlee while the steamboat was hailed, but the captain refused to stop.

The funeral was quickly concluded to make travel preparation. A hasty departure overland was in order now for this fine group of devout Protestants who needed to catch up with the westward moving fur trapping party of Tom Fitzpatrick, an upstanding Catholic from Ireland. But still their party was to increase.

One morning, some 40 miles from Fort Leavenworth, a ragged youth of about sixteen years strolled into their camp. He announced he was from Iowa and was on his way to the Rocky Mountains. His name was Miles Goodyear. Miles was just in time to witness the Reverend Spaldings mishaps, though Spalding was the only one to get a kick out of the situation.

On Monday, May 2, the party found it necessary to cross one of the many waterways they would encounter. Fortunately, there was a ferry at their disposal. Unfortunately, an unruly cow managed to fall overboard. Whether Spalding was attempting to prevent the bovine from taking a swim or was merely an innocent bystander is uncertain, but not only did the cow go for a dive but Henry Spalding also had an unscheduled bath. The dunking probably did little to wash away the pain he was already in from a mule that had earlier kicked him in the breast. But Spaldings adventures were not to end there.

That night, as the party camped, a severe rain and windstorm came up. The brisk breeze stripped Spalding of the protection of his tent, taking his blankets with it. Again, for the second time that day, the good reverend was soaked to his holy hide.