Elkanah and Mary Walker papers, 1828-1885  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Walker, Elkanah, 1805-1877Walker, Mary Richardson, 1811-1897
Elkanah and Mary Walker papers
1828-1885 (inclusive)
.45 cubic feet (1 document case)
Collection Number
Mss 1204
Diaries and other papers of Elkanah Walker and his wife Mary, pioneer missionaries in Oregon and Washington State in the early to mid 19th century. Includes typescript copies of diaries describing the overland journey and efforts to establish a mission among the Spokane Indians; and copies of correspondence with other pioneers, including Henry Spalding and Narcissa and Marcus Whitman. Most of the materials are typescript or photostatic copies except the Elkanah Walker diary of 1842 and a small number of letters.
Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Reverend Elkanah Walker (1805-1877) was a pioneer Congregational missionary in Oregon and Washington. He was born in North Yarmouth, Maine and graduated form Bangor Theological Seminary in 1837. Following his ordination in 1838, he came overland to the Oregon Country to serve the Spokane Indians, bringing along his bride Mary Richardson Walker (1811-1897), with whom he would have seven children. The Walkers established their mission at Tshimakain (the place of the springs), where they studied the native language and prepared a primer which was published by the Mission Press at Lapwai. After the Whitman massacre, the Walkers moved to Oregon City where they assisted in the organization of the Congregational Association. In 1848 they helped establish the Tualatin Academy at Forest Grove, and they moved to the area in 1850 to begin farming. They lived there the rest of their lives, taking an active role in religious and educational matters. Elkanah Walker died on November 21, 1877, and his wife Mary lived until 1896.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists largely of typescript and photostatic copies of the Walkers' diaries and papers, although the original of Elkanah Walker's 1842 is included, along with a few original letters.

Included are diaries kept by Elkanah Walker (1838, 1841-1842) describing his overland journey and missionary activities; and correspondence of Elkanah Walker (1837-1868) and Mary Richardson Walker (1828-1885) concerning religious and personal matters, mission operations, the Whitman Massacre, Catholic missionaries, and the establishment of a school in Salem. Correspondents include Henry Harmon Spalding, Marcus Whitman, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, William Henry Gray, David Greene, Joseph Richardson, Cushing Eells, Peter Skene Ogden, and John Lee Lewes.

Also included is a typescript copy of an overland diary kept by Mary Richardson Walker from the Platte River (June 10, 1838) to the Waiilatpu Indian mission (August 29, 1838). In the diary she describes travels with fellow missionaries William Gray and Cushing and Myra Eells, hardships along the trail, child bearing and nursing, and arguments among the missionaries. There are also some entries kept while the Walkers were living at the Waiilatpu mission. Typescripts of additional Mary Walker diaries of 1847 and 1852 can also be found in the collection.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Elkanah Walker diary of 1842, also available on microfilm, Mss 1204 Microfilm, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any publication use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Elkanah and Mary Walker papers, Mss 1204, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series A:  Elkanah Walker papers, 1837-1868Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Elkanah Walker diary
typescript copy
Elkanah Walker diary
typescript copy
Elkanah Walker diary
original and typescript copy
  • From Archibald Mckinlay

    Making trip to Walla Walla with Anderson and Mckinlay Walker's general meeting called for July 1. Colville. 1 page, typescript

    Date only listed as "March 31."

  • To Walker from H. H. Spalding1839 January 8

    Meeting at Waillatpu. Religious and personal matters. Clearwater. Copy (1 page)

  • To Walker from Archibald McKinlay1843 January 23

    Visit to Spalding. Progress of school Mentions Dr. White. Walla Walla. Copy (1 page)

  • To Walker and C. Eells from John Mix Stanley1847 December 31

    Whitman Massacre. Accusation against Mr. Rogers. Debt owed Walker and Eells, Ft. Walla Walla. 3 pages, copy

  • To Walker from John Lee Lewes (6)1848 January-March

    Sickness among Indians. Whitman Massacre, American retaliation. Anxious for safety of Walker and family. Fort threatened by Indian attack. Arrival of Demont, elder Finley, and Domingue the Spaniard. Casualties from fight with Cayuse. Nez Perce remaining loyal. Surrender of Mexico City. Fort Colville. Originals (2 typescripts) 31 pages

  • To E. Walker from W. Gray (2)1837-1838

    Essentials for journey to West: expenses, route, etc. Photostat copies.

  • To E. Walker. Eells, and Smith from Marcus Whitman (1)1838 August 28

    Journey of Walker, Eells, Smith. Whitman's desire for their early arrival. Photostat copy

  • To Mary Walker1839 February 14

    Trip to Clearwater. Photostat.

  • To Walker from Rev. H. Spalding (2)1840 October 26 1841 September 11

    Mr. Gilbert to Clearwater. Mexican War. Speech against Catholics. Photostats

  • To David Greene from E. Walker (5)1842-1855
  • To David Greene (4)1842-1845

    Use of printing press. Dismissal of Gray. Defense of Spalding. Concern over Greene's treatment of Walker. Efforts against Catholicism.

  • To E. Walker from Marcus Whitman1846 February 9

    Meeting of the Oregon Mission at Tshimaikan. Photostat

  • To Walker from John McPherson1846 February 17

    Description of farm. Scappoose. Copy

  • To Editor of Christian Mirror1846 February 20

    Christian revival and importance of mission work

  • To E. Walker from H. H. Spalding (1)1847 March 3

    Emigrant suffering via Applegate route. Birth of Daughter; photostats and typescripts, Boundary photostat copy

  • To Mary Walker1847 June 21

    Trip with Dr. Whitman. Photostat

  • H. H. Spalding to Walker and Eells1848 January 1

    Arrival at Fort Walla Walla. Protection of Hudson's Bay Company. Typescript.

  • To Rev. David Greene from E. Walker (4)1847-1848

    Events after Whitman Massacre. Blame Catholics. Transfer of Dalles Mission. HBC involvement in obtaining survivors of Massacre. Photostats

  • To Mr. Hall.1848 April 20

    The impossibility of converting Indians. Whitman Massacre.

  • To Rev. W. Armstrong from E. Walker (1)1848 April 20

    Letter of introduction for Peter Ogden, HBC Factor. Photostat

  • To Rev. E. Walker from Cushing Eells (1)1848 May 19

    Army crossing Snake River. Everyone to go to Colville. Typescript.

  • To E. Walker from Peter Ogden (2)1848 July 15 1848 November 6

    Payment of amounts against Mission branch. Receipt of mission property. Original

  • To "Wife and Family" from E. Walker (1)1851 June 15

    Catholic priest turning Indians against Americans. Not favorable toward returning to Indian Mission. Photostat and typescript, 14 pp.

  • To Rev. Walker from Mr. Tuttle (1)1853 January 12

    Provisional legislature action. Restoration of property to Dr. McLoughlin. Handwritten copy

  • To Walker from L. J. Turner1864 October 20

    Establishment of school at Salem.

  • To Walker from Elwood Evans1867 July 16

    Discussion on Evans' work on a history of the Oregon Provincial Government. Original, 1 page.

  • To F. Walker from J. Q. A. Bonelby (1)1868 November 8

    Education problems. Grant election in Oregon. Original, 4 pages

  • To Walker from M. Crawford1868 November 8

    Request for reimbursement of $105. 1 page, original.

    Date only given as "June 27."

Documents and general materials
Includes 4 original items.

Series B:  Mary Richardson Walker papers, 1838-1852Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
  • To Mrs. Charlotte Richardson, mother1835 October 29

    Location of mission among Flatheads. Attempt to learn language. Photostat copy

  • To Mr. Joseph Richardson from Mary Walker (4)1828-1838

    Indians eager to learn. Trip aboard W. M. Glasgow, then across prairie. Photostat copies

  • To Mrs. Walker from. Narcissa Whitman (18)1838-1848

    Refers to Griffins, Grays, Eells, Mr. Rogers. Dr. Whitman's trip East. Problems of mission and Indians. Photostats

  • To Her husband, E. Walker from Mary Walker (1)1838 October 8

    Trying to learn Nez Perce. Trouble with Dr. Gray. Photostat copy

  • To M. Walker from Pierre C Pambrun1838 October 14

    Sending watch to England for repair. Walla Walla. 1 page, copy

  • To Joseph Richardson, parents (1)1839 March 25

    Description of mission. Birth of son. Arrival of Catholic priests. Photostat

  • To Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Eells from Mrs. Asa B. Smith (1)1839 December 18

    Illness of Mrs. Smith. Problem of providing for Mrs. Griffin. Photostat

  • To E. Walker from his wife Mary Walker (1)1841 June 9

    Missionary disagreements. Photostat copy

  • To M. Walker from Mrs. E. Perkins1841 September

    Letter by Horatio Hale. Loss of the Peacock. Time of discouragement among the missionaries. Mrs. Perkins builds school house, and teaching. Copy, typescript. (2 pages)

  • To Walker from Mary A. Gray1841 October 18

    Mentions Mr. Overton. Mr. Gray and Dr. Whitman attacked by Indians. Waillatpu. Copy. (1 page), typescript.

  • To Mrs. Mary R. Walker from Mrs. Spalding (1)1849 July 4

    Mr. Spalding running school. Misses mission. Galapooyah [sic]. 4 pages, original

  • To Mrs. Walker from M. F. Eells (1)1862 November 27

    Return to old mission. Photostat

  • To Mrs. Walker from Cushing Eells (1)1885 January 29

    Concerning meeting at Waillatpu in 1842 Whitmans mission to the East. Photostat

Letters from Narcissa Whitman (photostatic copies)
Mary Walker diary
typescript copy
Mary Walker diary
typescript copy
Mary Walker diary
typescript copy

Series C:  Other papers, 1868, 1896Return to Top

Container(s): Folder 15

  • Letter from Cyrus and Maria Walker to Samuel L. Walker 1865 February 2

    Letter describing conditions at Fort Hoskins, where Cyrus Walker was serving with 1st Oregon Infantry.

    Relation of Cyrus, Samuel and Maria Walker to Elkanah Walker unclear.

  • Letter from J. E. Walker to George Himes1896 January 21

    Letter accompanying donation of small portion of Elkanah Walker's 1838 diary. Possibly sent with pages 33-35 of diary transcript.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Indians of North America--Missions--Northwest, Pacific.
  • Missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Correspondence.
  • Missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Diaries.
  • Overland journeys to the Pacific.
  • Spokane Indians--Missions.
  • Whitman Massacre, 1847.
  • Women missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Correspondence.
  • Women missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Diaries.
  • Personal Names :
  • Eels, Cushing, 1810-1893--Correspondence.
  • Gray, William Henry, 1810-1889--Correspondence.
  • Greene, David, fl. 1838-1847--Correspondence.
  • Lewes, John Lee--Correspondence.
  • Ogden, Peter Skene, 1790-1854--Correspondence.
  • Richardson, Joseph--Correspondence.
  • Spalding, Henry Harmon, 1803-1874--Correspondence.
  • Walker, Elkanah, 1805-1877--Correspondence. (creator)
  • Walker, Elkanah, 1805-1877--Diaries. (creator)
  • Walker, Mary Richardson, 1811-1897--Correspondence.
  • Walker, Mary Richardson, 1811-1897--Diaries. (creator)
  • Whitman, Marcus, 1802-1847--Correspondence.
  • Whitman, Narcissa Prentiss, 1808-1847--Correspondence.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Northwest, Pacific--Description and travel.
  • Oregon National Historic Trail.
  • West (U.S.)--Description and travel.
  • West (U.S.)--History--To 1848.
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries.
  • Letters.