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Among the Pimas; online

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fearful were the ridges and the ravines of the
path to them, and so wild the country where
they roamed, that he pushed on to the tribes
living near the coast.



WOMAN'S HEROISM.

It was with great joy the Nez-Perces wel-
comed Whitman the next year. Having
explored the situation, and taking with him
two boys which the Indians had placed in
his hands, as hostages, in some sort, for his
return, he went back for his intended wife and
to secure others for the work. But who
would go ? Men could be found, but where
was the woman willing to brave the vague
horrors of that howling wilderness ? His
betrothed consented. But an associate and
he, a married man, must be obtained. More
than a score of most devoted ones were
applied to in vain. Friends said it is madness
to make the attempt. P'or that country and
the way between, in the popular impression?
was a dark unknown, tuU of terrors.



tHE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. I23

A year was spent in the search for associ-
ates, and then light came from an unexpected
quarter. In the early spring or 1836, a sleigh,
extemporized from a wagon, was craunching
through the deep snows of Western New
York. In it were Rev. Mr. Spaulding and his
wife. They were on their way, under com-
mission of the x\merican board, to the Osage
Indians. Mrs. Spaulding had started from
a bed of lingering illness and was then able
to walk less than a quarter of a mile. Dr.
Whitman, having heard of the rare courage
of this woman, by permission of the board
started in pursuit.

"We want you for Oregon," was the hail
with which he overtook them.

" How long will the journey take ? "

" The summers of two years."

" What convoy will we have ? "

" The American Fur Company, to the
Divide."

" What shall we have to live on ? "

"Buffalo meat, till we can raise our own
grain."

" How shall we journey ? "

" On horse-back."

" How cross the rivers ? "

" Swim them."



1^4 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION.

After this brief dialogue, and we give it
precisely in the missionary's own words, Mr.
Spaulding turned to his wife and said, '' My
dear, my mind is made up. It is not your
duty to go ; but we will leave it to you after
we have prayed."

By this time they had reached a wayside
inn, in the town of Howard, N, Y. Taking
a private room, they each prayed in turn and
then Mrs. Spaulding was left to herself. In
about ten minutes she appeared with a beam-
ing face, and said, " I have made up my mind
to go."

" But your health, my dear ! "

'' / like the command just as it stands, ' Go
ye into all the world,' and no exception for poor
healthy

" But the perils in your weak condition —
you don't begin to think how great they are."

" The dangers of the way and the weakness
of my body are His ; duty is mine."

''But the Indians will take you prisoner.
They are. frantic for such captives. You will
never see your friends again." And the
strong man broke down, giving vent to the
anguish of his soul in a flood of tears.

Was it the wife who answered, or was it a
voice from the old time ?



THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. 1 25

"What mean ye to weep and to break
mine heart ? for I am ready, not to be bound
only, but also to die at Jerusalem," or in the
Rocky Mountains, " for the name of the Lord
Jesus."

'' Then," said the veteran, with a charming
simplicity, " I had to come to it, I didn't know
anything."

" Well, you were crazy," we interposed," to
think of such a journey and she so weak."

" We were, but God meant to have us go.
He wanted to have an emigration go across
the mountains, and this was the way He took
to start it."

Mr. and Mrs. Spaulding continued their
journey and Whitman sending forward to his
bride to be ready, went back for his Indian
boys — they were then about sixteen years old
— and pressed on after them. There was a
hasty wedding by the way, and then the
bridal tour began.

But the strife of parting was not yet over.

At Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, all
along the way, hands were stretched out to
hold them back. Catlin at Pittsburgh, assured
them they could not take women through.
The hostile Indians that hover about the



126 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION,

convoy, would fight against any odds to cap-
ture them. One woman had tried it, but the
company was massacred, and she was dragged
away and never heard of again. Mrs. Spauld-
ing was especially beset with these tales of
horror. "But," said the husband with an
honest pride, " it did not move her a hair."

A SUNDAY ON SHORE.



The party took boats at Pittsburgh. Satur-
day night found them between Cairo and St.
Louis. Mrs. Spaulding, who seems to have
had a good share, both of the courage and the
conscience of the company, insisted that they
should be put on shore to spend Sunday.
The captain and the passengers laughed at
her scruples. "But," she said, " out on the
plains we shall be at the mercy of the Fur
Company, and viust go on. Here we can
stop."

" But no boat will ever call at such an out-
of-the-way place as this, to take you off."

" We'll take the chances of that. Put us
on shore. The New England home mission-
ary marked that day in white, which brought
such a rare accession to his little meeting in
the school house. He said it was like an



THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. 1 27

angel's visit. Early Monday morning, a
great puffing was heard below, and a grand
steamer, better than the one they had left,
rounded to, at their signal, and took them
on board. Fifty miles above they overtook
the other boat, hopelessly stranded on a sand
bar.

At St. Louis, the missionaries found the
American Fur Company fitting out their an-
nual expedition for the mountains, but as the
two wives were of the party, they could not
have secured a place in the caravan, had not
Whitman been in special favor by his services
rendered the year before, when he rendered
invaluable aid on the breaking out of the
cholera in the camp and through his skill and
tact restored order and stayed the pestilence.
Having secured the company's pledge, they
pressed on by boat to Liberty Landing. Here
Spaulding purchased mules — wild, he found
them — fifteen or twenty horses, as many cows
and two wagons, not forgetting a quart of seed
wheat. With this retinue, he started for Coun-
cil Bluffs, while Whitman waited with the
women and the goods for the company's boat.
After some days that boat passed, purposely
leaving them behind. Through this bad



/'



128 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION.

faith, he was obliged to send forward to Spauld-
ing for horses,and to overtake him, as he could,
by land. This part of the trip was peculiarly
trying. Spaulding especially, who for his
wife's sake, was not yet altogether happy in
going, seemed to be the sport of a very ill
fortune. A tornado scattered his cattle, swept
away his tent, tore his blankets from him while
suffering from ague, and left him to be
drenched by the rain.

It did not help the case any to learn, when
they were within twenty-five miles of Council
Bluffs, that the Fur Company's convoy had
started, and were already five and a half days
out on the plains.

" 'Twas a poor chance," said the narrator,
" for us greenhorns. They were old trappers
with fresh horses, while our teams were already
jaded." And I said^for I was terribly sick —
'^ we can't overtake them, we shall have to go
back." But my wife constantly affirmed, " I
have started for the Rocky Mountains and I
expect to go there !"

And now commenced a series of marked in-
terpositions. It was pure faith and not sight
at all to push on after that cavalcade. The
trappers evidently designed to keep ahead, and



THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. 1 29

induce the missionaries to turn back. Bui to
secure the protection of the convoy was
indispensable.

" It was a desperate race," said the mis-
sionary, kindling at the remembrance, " but
we won it. They had to halt and fill up
ravines and make roads. This detained them
four days. After various detentions, at Soup
Fork, still four other days were lost in find-
ing the ford, and drying their goods, wet in
crossing. Meanwhile, we were pressing on
behind and the Lord helped us. The day
before we reached Soup Fork, we rode from
daylight till two o'clock at night. One horse
broke down and was turned loose, and my
wife fainted by the way. A signal gun at
the ford brought answer from the other side
and we camped. The convoy started early
in the morning, but left a man to show us
across, and late that night, we missionaries
filed into their camp and took the place
reserved for us, two messes west of the
captain's tent, and so we won the race by
two lengths ! " Once among them, nothing
could exceed the kindness of the men. The
choicest buffalo morsels were always kept for
our ladies, but now, sick or well, we had to



130 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION.

go on. We were two hundred souls and six
hundred animals. Every thing was in the
strictest military order, for hostile Indians
continually hovered on our flanks. At night,
we camped with the animals solid in the
center. The tents and wagons were disposed
around them, and outside of all, sentinels
marched their steady round. Each day, two
hunters and two packers went out for Buffalo.
Each night, save when we had lost the way,
they overtook us at the appointed camp with
four mule loads of meat. This was our only
subsistence."

" Did they never fail to find game ?"

" Yes, once or twice, and then we had to go
hungry."

On the 6th of June, we were at Fort Laramie.
Wife was growing weaker and weaker.

" You must stay here," said the captain ;
" Mrs. Spaulding will die for want of bread."

" No," said she, " I started to go over the
mountains in the name of my Saviour, and I
must go on."



July fourth, they entered the South Pass.
Mrs. Spaulding fainted that morning and she



THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. 13I

herself thought she was about to die. As they
laid her upon the ground she said : " Don't
put me on that horse again. Leave me and
save yourselves. Tell mother I am glad I
came."



But the caravan stopped on the "divide" and
sent back for her and she was borne on. She
soon revived and three hours afterward they
saw the waters trickling toward the Pacific.
And there — it was Independence Day — they,
alighting from their horses and kneeling on
the western slope of the continent, with the
Bible in one hand and our national flag in the
other, took possession of it as the home of
American mothers and of the church of
Christ.

Just beyond, was the great mountain ren-
dezvous, the end of the convoy's route, a kind
of neutral ground where multitudes of Indians
were gathered for trade. There were rough
mountaineers there, who had not seen a white
woman since they had left the homes of their
childhood. Some of them came to meet the
missionaries and wept as they took their wives
by the hand. " From that day," said one of



132 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION.

them, " I was a better man." But best of all,
here met them a greeting party of the Nez-
Perces. " They were the happiest men you
ever saw." Their women took possession of
Mrs. Spauldingand the gladness they showed,
not less than the biscuit-root and the trout
with which they fed her, revived her spirit.
From that hour she began to mend ; and
from that hour, her future and theirs were
one. Ten days of rest here, and the journey
was resumed. The remainder of the way, if
shorter, was no less perilous and they had
asked in dismay, " What shall we do for a
convoy ? " But God took care of them. He
sent an English trading company to the ren-
dezvous that year — an unusual thing — and
with them, they completed their journey. It
was the twenty-ninth of November when they
reached the Columbia river. They had left
civilization the 21st of May, a long journey,
but not the trip of two summers to which they
had made up their minds.

And now they were at home, amid a nation
that had no homes ; they had found a resting-
place among restless wanderers. But faith
had become sisfht — the first battle had been
fought and won. White women had come



THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. 133

safely over the mountains ; cattle and horses
had been kept secure from Indian raiders ; a
ivacron had been brought through, '■'■ the first
7vhee.l that had ever pressed the sage."'

Whitman had demonstrated to himself that
an emigration could cross from Missouri to
Oregon ; and when, six years afterward, he
led a company of a thousand along the same
track, he demonstrated it to the world, and
saved Oregon, and with it California, to the
United States.

The old missionary's story is not half told,
but we must cut it short. Whitman took the
Cayuses at Waiilatpu, near Walla Walla ;
Spaulding camped 120 miles farther up the
Snake river, among the Nez-Perces. He
found a people without a hoe or plow, or hoof
of cattle ; savages, who feasted when the hunt
was good, but starved through the long winters.
Eleven years afterward they were settled in
homes ; their crops of grain had reached from
20,000 to 30,000 bushels a year. The cows
which the missionaries brought,had multiplied
for the Indians into numerous herds ; gardens
and orchards were planted ; the sheep, which
the Sandwich Islanders gave them, had grown
to flocks. In the school which Mrs. Spauld-
ing taught were five hundred pupils ; a church



134 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION.

of a hundred members had been gathered.
The language of the people had been reduced
to writing. A patriarchal government with a
code of laws had been established ; the Sab-
bath was observed. Upon the first printing
press west of the mountains, and that pre-
sented to the mission by the native church at
Honolulu, (the type-setting, press-work and
binding done by the missionary's own hand)
were printed a few school books, the native
code of laws, a small collection of hymns, and
the gospel of Matthew.

And then came the terrible martyrdom of
Dr. Whitman. Spaulding, visiting him at
the time, fled for his life to his faithful Nez-
Perces. Six days he was without food, feel-
ing his way, sore-footed, by night, and hiding
when the dawn appeared.

There was a hasty gathering of the house-
hold, a journey of two hundred miles to the
settlements in mid-winter, and the mission
came to an end. Almost blind himself, and
broken in constitution, he watched for many
months by the bed-side of his wife, dying from
that exposure — watched till she passed
through the river to the Celestial Mountains
and the Land beyond.

" The dead are there where rolls the Oregfon."



THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION. 135

But again the " blood of the martyrs "
proved " the seed of the church." Eventually,
Mr. Spaulding returned to his loved field of
labor among the faithful Nez-Perces and from
a young missionary, consecrated to that work
two years after the interview which we have
described, we received a most interesting let-
ter, in which is the following, under date Nez-
Perces, Indian Reserve, Aug. 6, 1872 :

" I can only write now of the topic which I
think will most interest you : The election of
this people to the brotherhood in the kingdom
of God's dear son. Of our revered Brother
Spaulding's early labors and sacrifices among
them, and the martrydom of his angel wife ^

you have undoubtedly heard. But though the V

exile of Brother Spaulding from his beloved
people continued through a period of twenty-
four years, the light did not all go out.
Through the long twenty-four years, the voice
of prayer did not cease, nor were the hymns
and the translated passages of Scripture laid
aside, but were sacredly kept and used."

The noble policy of President Grant
restored to them again, their beloved pastor,
and the seed which he had sown in tears, so
many years before, now seemed to need but



1^6 THE PIMA INDIAN MISSION.



J



his presence (as the warmth of the sun) to
cause it to spring up and "bring forth fruit
abundantly."

On his return to his field of labor at Lap-
wai, a new generation met him (only eighteen
of his former church being left); but the
fathers had taught the children to watch and
pray for the return of their old pastor, and
they received him and the word of life which
he spoke, with an eager welcome. Within one
week, over eighty were added to the church,
and the great work went on.

There are already two old men and seven
young men, who preach acceptably in the
native language. We aim at the conversion
of the whole tribe, which numbers nearly three
thousand."



In taking leave of our readers, if any
apology should seem necessary for bringing to
them our personal reminiscences, we can only
say that the story of the two missions which
we have related, it is hoped may be blessed
of God to the "sending forth laborers into
his harvest."



'APR 7 1903





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Online LibraryAlbany Ladies' union mission school associationAmong the Pimas; → online text (page 7 of 7)