The Missionary Board wanted to close the missions in the Oregon Territory, but Marcus made a formal protest and was able to keep them open. The Whitmans realized that the Cayuse were not willing to learn the gospel, but they also knew that the flood of emigrants would change the way of life they were leading. Marcus taught them how to plant and irrigate, and how to operate a grist mill so they could grind flour.
The new settlers brought disease. The Cayuse hold the medicine man responsible if he cannot cure them. They saw that Marcus was able to help the whites, but not their own people. They felt he was purposely trying to kill them, not realizing it was a natural immunity that the settlers had. Eventually, they killed the Whitmans and eleven other settlers.
On the day of the massacre, Narcissa pulled her dying husband into the mission, where she was shot. They drug her body outside and shot her eleven more times.
Layout of the mission, marking where both Whitman’s died.
The Great Grave, where Narcissa and Marcus, plus eleven others, are buried.
This is a graveyard that was used by the settlers near the mission. Only two headstones remain; it is unknown how many bodies are buried here.
Sisters buried on the mission site in the settlers graveyard.
Whitman Memorial sits up above the Walla Walla Valley.
When the Cayuse burnt the mission to the ground, they left one structure. It was the grist mill. None of the structures are left today, but the foundations have been clearly marked. If you’re ever near the Walla Walla, Washington area, I highly recommend visiting the memorial.