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Cushing Eells Matters
Cushing Eells, the pioneer preacher of the Northwest, was born almost directly opposite of his great achievements in Blandford, Massachusetts, outside of Springfield, Massachusetts on February 16, 1810. It was only serendipity, though the good minister would say the hand of God, that led him Westward, as his original intent was south east, and South Africa.
Dr. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman
The Whitmans were early missionaries, who went over the Rockies with fellow Congregationalist to provide and schooling to the Native Americans. Marcus Whitman and his fellows helped the Indians also in building houses, tilling their fields, and irrigating their crops. They also taught them how to erect mills for grinding corn and wheat, while the wives established mission schools. This uprooted the natives nomadic lifestyle and made it settled and agricultural, so while they were more prosperous and better fed, it caused a natural antipathy to those who wanted to continue the traditional lifestyle. Prior to the Whitman arrival, the Cayuse depended solely on salmon caught from the Columbia River along with trout and eels.
But things turned south as Roman Catholic priests came into the area, and the natives preferred the rituals of the Roman Catholic church over the plainness of Congregationalism. After much consideration, the Whitmans planned to move south out of harm’s way, but then in 1847 a measles epidemic spread through the area.
Caught in the middle, Dr. Whitman and the other settlers stayed to help those who caught the disease. But for some unknown reason, a greater number of Native American children died from the measles than adults, and the natives accused Whitman and other missionaries of using magic to kill them off to make room for the settlers.
In retaliation, on November 29, 1847, Cayuse warriors killed Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and 12 other settlers. This event, known as the Whitman Massacre, sparked the Cayuse War, which was fought until 1850.
Whitman Massacre Aftermath
The deaths of the Whitmans and others at Waiilatpu signified the end of the missionary efforts and the US Army moved the Eells and others from Tshimakain to Oregon., There Reverend Eells taught at various schools in the Tualatin Plains, including the Oregon Institute, now Willamette University. Tualatin Academy, now Pacific University, was another achievement of his.. When in 1859, the “upper country” was re-opened, Reverend Ells and his family returned to the Walla Walla Valley.
There Eells built a seminary in memory of Marcus, and Narcissa Whitman called Whitman College. On December 1859 the first classes were held at Waiilatpu, now Walla Walla. Dr. Dorsey Syng Baker, a physician like Marcus Whitman, but also a successful businessman, gave the money for the building, For the first two years, Eells was the principal of Whitman while serving simultaneously as superintendent of schools for Walla Walla County. He traveled throughout the Washington Territory, founding Congregational churches and schools throughout, and continued to raise money for the seminary. Whitman College charter
On December 20, 1859, the Washington legislature issued a new charter for the seminary, while changing its name Whitman College. Despite many hardships, Reverend made efforts to keep Whitman alive, giving 10,000 dollars during his life and in last will and testament willed much of his property to the College too. thus insuring its success. Whitman College survives today. It is now a secular college acknowledged on their founders page.Continue reading “Cushing Eells, Preacher Pioneer”