Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Oregon missionaries

In 1834, New York Methodist minister, Jason Lee, came to the Oregon Country to attempt to convert American Indians to Christianity. Jason lee was the first of these Oregon missionaries. The party was called the Wyeth-Lee Party as Lee had contracted with Nathaniel Wyeth, who was going on his second trading expedition, to accompany him. This party set out on April 28, 1834 with the fur caravan of Captain William Sublette, which included naturalists J.K. Townsend and Thomas Nuttall. Lee built a mission school for Indians in the Willamette Valley.

In 1836, four Presbyterian ministers missionaries came to the Oregon Country to start another mission. This group was made up of Narcissa Prentiss Whitman and her husband Marcus Whitman, a doctor, who were both from New York. Another couple, Henry Harmon Spalding (who had been jilted by Narcissa) and his wife Eliza were also part of the group. Narcissa and Eliza were the first white women to cross the Rocky mountains.

The Whitmans reached the Walla Walla river on September 1, 1836 and found a mission to the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley. The Spaldings found a mission to the Nez PercÚ Indians at Lapwai in present-day Idaho.

None of the missionaries had very much success in converting the Indians. The Indians were very suspicious of the missionaries, and this suspicion only increased when many of the Indians came down with an illness.


under construction.