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Preservation of the Past

For a brief time in 1848, the Oregon Volunteers occupied the mission in their unsuccessful campaign to punish the Cayuse. Building an adobe wall around the mission house, they named it Fort Waters. In 1859 the Reverend Cushing Eells, the former associate of Dr. Whitman, established a claim on the former mission site and lived there until 1872, when his house burned down. His great achievement during these years was the founding of Whitman Seminary (now Whitman College) in the new community of Walla Walla, 6 miles east of the mission site.

For the next few generations the land that Dr. Whitman first tilled continued to be farmed by a number of owners. In 1897, on the 50th anniversary of the massacre, Mr. and Mrs. Marion Willard Swegle donated about 8 acres, including the site of the Great Grave and the Memorial Shaft Hill, to a group of citizens interested in perpetuating that historic spot. As the 100th anniversary of the Whitmans' arrival at Waiilatpu approached, public-spirited citizens initiated efforts to acquire and preserve the land on which the mission itself had been located. In 1936 the Whitman Centennial Co. acquired 37-1/2 additional acres of land, which included the building sites. These two tracts were donated to the Nation, and on January 20, 1940, Whitman National Monument was formally established.

In 1961 an additional 45 acres of land were purchased by the Federal Government, pursuant to an Act of Congress, to permit the proper development of the monument. In 1962 Congress changed the name of this area to Whitman Mission National Historic Site.

great grave
The great grave today.


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Last Modified: Sat, Sep 28 2002 10:00:00 pm PDT

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