Marcus and Narcissa Whitman

The Oregon Territory was a very large area of land. Native Americans had lived there for a long time. In the 1800s, white settlers began to move there. Some of the first settlers in the West were Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.

Both Whitmans were from New York. Narcissa was born into a very religious family. When she was sixteen, she decided she would be a missionary. She volunteered to be a missionary out West. She was not allowed to go at first because she was a single woman.

Marcus studied to be a doctor. He practiced medicine in Canada. In 1835, he went to Oregon to look for a good place to build a mission.

In 1836, Marcus and Narcissa were married. It does not seem that they knew each other very well when they were married. But they both wanted to be missionaries.

The next day they left their homes and their families to travel West. This would be the last time that Narcissa would ever see her family. She would write many letters over the next years but would never speak to them again.

They went with another missionary couple, Henry and Elizabeth Spalding. Oregon was their goal. The group traveled with fur traders. Narcissa and Elizabeth became the first white women to cross the Rocky Mountains.

The Whitmans decided to start a mission near the Cayuse Indian Tribe. Their goal was to help members of the tribe become Christians. The Whitmans worked hard to make their goal come true. They preached to the Native Americans. They also held church services and built many buildings.

At first the Cayuse were interested in what the missionaries were doing. It didn't last long. The Native Americans saw them as a threat. They had practiced their religion for hundreds of years. They weren't interested in becoming Christians.

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