WORD FROM WHITMAN'S NEPHEW
An Aged Invalid Tells of His Acquantance
With the Missionary
The following is the address delivered by Marcus Whitman Barnett at the exercises at the opera house, Monday evening:
From my grandfather who now lies stricken and unable to attend, I submit greetings and this message from his pen.
"I have watched with a gladdened heart the efforts made in the past few years, to perpetuate the name and memory of Dr. Marcus Whitman, and the ever increasing interest in his work and achievements has been a source of the greatest pleasure to me in my declining years.
"Although it is a gratification to know that a marble shaft is to mark that sacred and long neglected spot, yet the remembrance and knowledge of the inner nature (?) of my lamented uncle, tells me that his greatest ride would lie in the grander and more noble monument, 'Whitman college,' which in itself is a reflection of Dr. Whitman's life work.
"In conclusion I wish to express my regrets that I cannot be with you on this memorable occasion, but God has so willed. My heart and thanks go out to you, one and all, who have assisted in bringing about the consummation of this magnificent tribute to his memory."
We have all read and heard of that peerless undertaking, that midwinter ride through trackless plains and tangled forests, through swelling torrents and ice bound streams. That matchless ride, that has woven a halo of romance about the memory of the brave rider, that will brighten with the lapse of years, and render the name of Marcus Whitman immortal.
There is nothing I could add to what has already been said concerning the life of Dr. Marcus Whitman. But the picture of one from whose bedside I have just come, stands forth so vividly that I feel that I might say something of him that might be of interest to this assemblage. I refer to P.B. Whitman, the nephew and adopted son of Dr. Marcus, the oldest living representative of the family.
As he pressed my hand in farewell, I understood by the longing in those tear-dimmed eyes, all the unspoken sentiment, the crowding memories of fifty years.
In my last conversation with my grandfather, the floodgates of his memory seemed to open, and like the shifting scenes of a kaleidoscope his narrative passed from one even to another.
He spoke of how, in boyhood days he had sported with sled and two wheeled cart from the very eminence on which the monument now stands. He passed lightly over each little incident of a life made happy by an aunt's tender ministry and an uncle's loving care, down to the dark day, that deep tragedy that left him, at the early age of seventeen, alone in a land of strangers, friendless, unprotected and desolate.
The first intimation that he had of the massacre was conveyed to him by the Dalles' Indians, he being in charge of the "Mission claim" located upon the site where the city of the Dalles now stands. The day following the sad intelligence of the massacre, five blood-thirsty warriors rode to the house which sheltered the entire settlement, including three women, one child, two other men and himself.
The Indians were afraid to make an immediate attack, not knowing how many were within.
While arranging a defense, Miss Warren, a brave girl of eighteen said, 'Perrin, what can I do?' Handing her an ax he replied, "The first redskin that shows his head, hew him down." She turned a face pale with heroic determination and boldly exclaimed, "I'll do it."
The Indians made repeated demands for young Whitman to come out and talk with them. He finally yielded to their demands and stepped boldly out and openly accused them of his uncle's murder. They denied all knowledge of the affair, and with a wild war whoop rode swiftly away.
At night fall the littleparty, under cover of darkness, started for Oregon City. Immediately upon his arrival he joined the first company organized to supress the demons and avenge his kinsman's death. He was, however, deterred from active service, being detailed as a pilot to convey supplies to the men in the field. He did not arrive in the Walla Walla valley until April.
He was speaking quietly of being one of the sixty three who had remained to defend the fort, when his voice took on a ring of excitement, and with deepest emotion he said, "While encamped there, I was walking one sultry July evening, my thoughts busy with the past, its ruined hopes and cherished aspirations, and its lost joys, when suddenly looking down I beheld at my feet a skull. Words could never describe the wave of horror that swept over me when I identified it by the filling in a tooth and two gashes, as that of my uncle.
"Tenderly and with deepest grief, as the sun was dying in the west, O bore it back and placed it in the grave from which it had been exhumed."
Being entirely overcome by the recital of this shocking circumstance, we led him to speak of brighter things.
Here my grandmother in her cheerful way, brought me a lock of hair - the hair of Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, wife of Dr. Marcus, with the request that I present it to you, President Penrose, together with her best wishes for Whitman college.