September 16th

I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned them before, but some of the Indians the Whitmans met were called Flatheads. At the Cascades, “another important fall in the river where we are obliged to make a portage of a mile”, Narcissa saw an Indian mother with her baby, whose head was in a pressing machine. “This was a pitiful sight. Its mother took great satisfaction in unbinding & showing its naked head to us. ….. I saw a child about a year old whose had had been recently released from its pressure as I supposed from its looks, all the back part of it was of a purple colour, as if it had been sadly bruised. We are told this custom is wearing away very fast, there are only a few tribes, on this river who practice it.”

On September 12th, after 6 days of travel, they ate breakfast five miles from Vancouver and by evening had arrived in “Vancouver, The New York of the Pacific Ocean.” They were met by several gentlemen including Chief Factor Doctor McLaughlin. After meeting the wives, both natives, they were invited to walk in the garden. “And what a delightful place this is; what a contrast to the rough, barren sand plains, through which we had so recently passed. Here we find fruit of every description, apples, peaches, grapes, pears, plums, and fig trees in abundance; also cucumbers, melons, beans, peas, beets, cabbage, tomatoes and every kind of vegetable too numerous to be mentioned. Every part is very neat and tastefully arranged, with fine walks, lined on each side with strawberry vines. At the opposite end of the garden is a good summer house covered with grape vines. Here I must mention the origin of these grapes and apples. A gentleman, twelve years ago while at a party in London, put the seeds of the grapes and apples which he ate into his vest pocket. Soon afterwards he took a voyage to this country and left them here, and now they are greatly multiplied.”

They were sorry to find that Samuel Parker had left a few weeks before they arrived. They had hoped to see him before he returned so that he could let their parents know that he had “seen us alive here, after completing this long, unheard of journey.” They visited a school with about 50 students, went on board a British man-of-war, visited a large farm, and went to the stores – “find here also every article for comfort and durability we need but many articles for convenience & all fancy articles are not here.” They also visited a dairy and a mill and discovered that there was another Company farm at Colvil, “5 days ride above Walla Walla from whence we expect to obtain our supplies of flour, also potatoes and pork. Doct MacLaughlin promises to loan us enough [hogs] to make a beginning, and all the return he asks is that we supply other settlers in the same way. He appears desirous to afford us every facility for living in his power. No person could have received a more hearty welcome, or be treated with greater kindness than we have been since our arrival.”

Narcissa wrote unhappily of a discussion that the ladies spend the winter at Vancouver while their husbands go find locations and build homes. By now, she must have known she was pregnant and did not want to be separated from her husband. Wisely, she concluded “all will be ordered for the best.”…/flatheads.htm

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