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Cushing Eells Collection, 1821-1979

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Eells, Cushing, 1810-1893
Title
Cushing Eells Collection
Dates
1821-1979 (inclusive)
1838-1894 (bulk)
Quantity
5.5 linear feet, (13 document boxes and 2 portraits)
Collection Number
HTM_WCMss33
Summary
This collection contains materials of and about Cushing Eells. Eells was a missionary and founded a seminary dedicated to Marcus Whitman, which became Whitman College. The collection contains original correspondence, the diary and the sermons of Cushing Eells, as well as current materials about his life, mission, and some materials created by his family
Repository
Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Penrose Library, Room 130
345 Boyer Avenue
Walla Walla, WA
99362
Telephone: 509-527-5922
Fax: 509-526-4785
archives@whitman.edu
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for preparing this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Funding for encoding the finding aid was awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Cushing Eells was born at Blandford, Massachusetts, on February 16, 1810. He was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Warner) Eells. Cushing Eells graduated from Williams College in 1834. He later entered East Windsor Theological Institute in Connecticut and graduated in 1837. Rev. Cushing Eells was licensed to preach December 14, 1836, and was ordained a year late as a Congregational Missionary to the Zulus in Africa, but the planned voyage there was affected by a war between the Zulu tribes, so the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions instead sent him to the Oregon Territory.

Eells married Myra Fairbanks (daughter of Deacon Joshua and Mrs. Sally H. Fairbanks) on March 5, 1838, in Massachusetts. The Eells headed west the very next day to be missionaries to the Indians of old Oregon. Accompanying them were Elkanah and Mary (Richardson) Walker, William H. and Mary A. (Dix) Gray, and Rev. Asa B. and Sarah Gilbert (White) Smith. Two years prior, Marcus and Narcissa (Prentiss) Whitman and Henry and Eliza (Hart) Spalding, along with several others, had made the same journey. The Eells, Walkers, and Smiths arrived at the Cayuse winter lodge site of Waiilatpu along the Walla Walla River, which became the Whitman Mission, on August 29, 1838. Soon after, each family established their own mission, with Cushing and Myra Eells settling among the Spokane Indians at Tshimakain with the Walkers. A fire destroyed this first mission at Tshimakain, yet the Eells stayed in the area.

The deaths of the Whitmans and others at Waiilaptu in 1847 and the ensuing Northwest Indian Wars signified the end of the missionary efforts of the ABCFM by 1850. The Eells and Walkers were moved from Tshimakain under military escort to Oregon, and the Eells settled in Forest Grove for the next 14 years. In that time Cushing Eells taught at various schools in the Tualatin Plains, including the Oregon Institute, now Willamette University. He also instituted the Tualatin Academy, now Pacific University, in 1849. In 1859, the “upper country” that had been closed during the Indian Wars was re-opened, and Cushing soon headed to the Walla Walla Valley.

There Eells decided to build a school in memory of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. The first classes were held in December 1859, at Waiilatpu. The actual seminary was constructed later in the nearby town of Walla Walla. During the summer of 1866, the first building of the Whitman Seminary was erected on a site purchased by Dr. Dorsey Syng Baker. The seminary opened the same year on September 14. For the first two years, Eells was the principal, though Rev. P.B. Chamberlain was first intended for the position. Eells simultaneously served as superintendent of schools for Walla Walla County. For several years, he traveled the Washington Territory, founding Congregational churches and schools and raising money for the seminary. The Washington Territorial Legislature, which had granted a charter to Whitman Seminary on December 20, 1859, issued a new charter on November 28, 1883, and changed it to Whitman College. Until an endowment allowed the college to be financially secure and survive, Eells made efforts to keep it alive, giving it 10,000 dollars during his life. He also willed a great portion of his property to Whitman College. Despite the financial and enrollment problems in the beginning, Eells’ Whitman memorial – a small, provincial seminary – transformed itself over the years into a reputable secular college.

Until his last days, Eells continued to do missionary work and was actively involved with Whitman College. He died in Tacoma, February 16, 1893, at age 83, after having served 55 of his years as a missionary.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The most extensive part of the Cushing Eells Collection contains a series of correspondence Eells kept with his family, especially his two sons Edwin and Myron, throughout the journeys he made to organize various churches and schools. There are also many letters addressed to A.J. Anderson, the first president of the Whitman College. Eells also wrote to some of his friends and collaborators, such as S. B. Treat, Henry H. Spalding, and George H. Atkinson.

There also is a complete series of his diary together with a transcript of it. Other important series are his original lectures, family and personal papers, among which are financial reports and accounts, his diplomas, certificates, and wills as well as clippings and familial accounts about his life. The mission series includes passports (mostly copies) for crossing Indian country, and the few photographs show his family as well as more recent photographs from memorial sites in his honor. Miscellaneous items include newspaper clippings, fragments of letters and notes, legal documents and some published materials.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. Copyright not transferred to Whitman College.

Preferred Citation

Cushing Eells Collection, Whitman College and Northwest Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series 1:  Correspondence, 1847-1895Return to Top

2.6 linear feet, (7 boxes)

This series contains Cushing Eells’ letters to his family, primarily to sons Myron and Edwin; letters to some of his close friends, including A.J. Anderson and Henry H. Spalding; and career-related correspondence. There are original letters, copies of letters that he saved, as well as fragments of letters. As possible, the letters have the sending location and are chronologically arranged. Researchers interested in an item-level inventory of the correspondence may contact the repository.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box
1
Correspondence
1848-1874
2
Correspondence
1874-1882
3
Correspondence
1882-1884
4
Correspondence
1884-1886
5
Correspondence
1886-1890
6
Correspondence
1865; 1890-1893; undated
Box/Folder
7/3
Waiilatpu, Henry H. Spalding
1862
7/6
Correspondence with the American Home Missionary Society
1859-1862
7/13
A.H.M. Society Letters
1862
7/15
Letter, with list of names, from Thos. K. [Fessenden]
undated
7/16
Selections from letter from Cushing Eells, arranged by his oldest granddaughter Ida M. Eells
1876-1892
7/22
Letters by Cushing Eells
1887-1892
7/30
Correspondence/Letter Book
1875-1892
Box
8
Selections from letters
1876-1892
Box/Folder
10/1
Stylograph – Letter Book
1881-1893
10/9
Estate of Cushing Eells - Correspondence
1884-1898
13/4
First Congregational Church of Cheney – note regarding Rev. F. V. Floyt
undated
13/5
Note on first Congregational Church of Cheney
undated
13/6
Note on first Congregational Church of Medical Lake
undated
13/17
Note to Rev. Griffin – editor of the Oregon American
undated
13/23
Tshimakain, near Fort Colville – Rev. David Greene (on the massacre)
1842, 1847
13/25
Salem, Willamette River – Rev. David Greene
1848
13/27
Tualatin, OR – S.B. Treat
1859
13/31
Walla Walla – Myron Eells
1869
13/32
Myron Eells
1871
13/39
Medical Lake – Stanley Hallett
1886
13/40
Medical Lake – first Congregational Church of Medical Lake – Stanley Hallett
1886
13/41
Medical Lake – Myron Eells (incomplete)
1887
13/52
Letters (Russell, Henry B. and Stephen B.L. Penrose) regarding Blandford
1935-1936
13/55
Letters unsorted
1880-1885
13/61
Seventh Annual Meeting of Whitman College, Ellensburg – concerns memorial funds for Myra and Cushing Eells
1895, 1920

Series 2:  Diary, 1859-1893Return to Top

0.8 linear feet, (2 boxes)

This series contains the original and transcribed copies of Cushing Eells’ diary.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box
8
Transcript (typescript) of diaries
1859-1893
9
Original diary pages
1859-1893

Series 3:  Sermons, speeches, and writings, 1854-1894,   (bulk 1854-1888) Return to Top

0.8 linear feet, (2 boxes)

Most of this series contains the chronologically arranged and delivered sermons of Cushing Eells. There are also Sunday school lessons and various theological writings.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box
11
Sermons
1854-1888
12
Sunday school lessons
1856, 1887
Box/Folder
7/1
Fourth of July address, Colville, WA
1876
7/24
Father Eells, Apostle to Washington – 2 copies of booklet (1810 - 1893)
undated
Box
12
Miscellaneous theological writings
1880-1891
12
Thoughts of Heaven, a gift from Myron Eells
circa 1894

Series 4:  Family and personal documents, writings, and clippings, 1836-1991,   (bulk 1883-1894) Return to Top

1.2 linear feet, (approximately 3 boxes)

This series contains legal documents, accounts, and estate-related documents of Cushing Eells, his reminiscences and family accounts about him, his last will and testament, and clippings about his life and accomplishments.

Container(s) Description Dates
mapcase
MC1.2, 6
Reverend Diploma
1834
Box/Folder
7/2
Eells Estate documents
1895
7/4
"Memoirs of Mrs. Painter"
undated
7/7
Clippings about Cushing Eells, his mission, and relation to Whitman College
1934-1980
7/8
Walla Walla Union clipping concerning Whitman and Injury of Cushing Eells
1991
7/10
Notices of Cushing Eells’ death and eulogies
1893
7/19
Recollections of Cushing Eells (manuscript, Tacoma)
1891
7/20
La Blau, story of Cushing Eells’ horse, told by Ida Eells
1950
7/23
Father Arrived to Live with Us, an account of the four and a half years that Cushing Eells lived in the home of his son, Edwin, as remembered by his granddaughter Ida M. Eells (Original manuscript and transcript)
undated
7/24
Reminiscences by Cushing Eells
undated
7/26
Information and speeches about Cushing Eells
undated
10/2
Reminiscences, typed copy by Clifford Drury
undated
10/4
Cushing Eells Reminiscences
undated
10/7
Last Will and Testament
1883
10/8
Last Will and Testament
1884
10/10
Estate of Cushing Eells – Legal Documents
1884-1898
10/11
Estate of Cushing Eells – Financial Statements
1884-1898
10/12
Estate of Cushing Eells – library lists and miscellaneous
1883-1892
Box
12
Books of accounts of Cushing Eells
1874-1893
Box/Folder
13/10
Certificate of completion of courses at the Theological Institute of Connecticut
1837
13/11
Certificate of his membership in the Church of Christ in the Theological Institute of Connecticut
1837
13/12
Appointment to South Eastern African Missionary Field, by the A.B.C.F.M.
1837
13/13
C. Eells’ honorary membership to the A.B.C.F.M.
1837
13/14
A letter and certificate from the American Education Society, releasing him from his pecuniary obligations to the society
1838
13/15
Certificate – commission granted by A.B.C.F.M.
1838
13/16
Instruction of the prudential committee of the A.B.C.F.M. to Eells, Walker, Smith, and Gray
1838
13/18
License for gospel ministry by North Association of Hartford County
1836
13/26
Certificate of Membership of Northwest Association of Congregational Ministers
1848
13/49
“Rev. Cushing Eells: A Tale of his humble Heroic Life” – Garden City Gazette, Walla Walla
1894
13/56
Recollections about Blandford
undated

Series 5:  Mission, 1838-1974,   (bulk 1838-1885) Return to Top

0.4 linear feet, (1 box)

This series contains documents and clippings related to Cushing Eells' missionary work.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
7/5
Receipt from A.B.C.F.M. for $100, Cushing Eells’ payment for Waiilatpu Mission land
1862
7/11
Clippings about Indian tribe
1883
7/14
Passport to cross Indian Country, as issued by the War Department
1838
7/17
Statements of Rev. Cushing Eells relative to the object of Whitman’s journey of 1842-1843 (manuscript)
undated
7/18
“To Whom it may concern the subjoined statement is respectfully submitted.” A history of Cushing Eells’ missionary work with the proposition to the people of Colville to contribute $1,000 for the construction of a church
1885
7/29
Pacific Northwest Quarterly – The Spokane Indian Mission at Tshimakain 1838 - 1848
1979
10/3
“Early History”
undated
10/5
“Memorial to Dr. Whitman”
undated
10/6
Copy – Permission to travel across Indian Country
1838
13/20
Passport to cross Indian Country, as issued by the War Department
1838
13/21
Commission and Passport
1838
13/24
Notes on the massacre and related events
undated
13/50
Program of commemorative exercises at Tshimakain
1908
13/51
Program of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the first Christian mission in the Spokane Country - Tshimakain
1913

Series 6:  Images, 1909-1914Return to Top

1.5 linear feet, (3 folders and 2 portraits)

This series contains photographs and portraits of Cushing Eells, his family, and of places commemorating him.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
7/21
Photographs of Cushing Eells and brothers and children
undated
7/28
Tshimakain Commemorating Stone Photographs
undated
13/52
Photographs of Tshimakain Commemorating Stone – Cushing Eells and Elkanah Walker 1838 - 1908
undated
13/52
Photographs of Blandford Congregational Church
undated
vertical-oversize
U6.1
Portrait of Cushing Eells, by W.H. Gilstrap, framed, 12 inches by 14.5 inches, copy.
circa 1909
U6.1
“The Spirit of the Fathers” by W.H. Gilstrap and (first name unknown) Marks, framed, 21 inches by 27 inches, copy.
circa 1909-1914

Series 7:  Miscellaneous, 1821-1973,   (bulk 1838-1894) Return to Top

0.4 linear feet, (approximately 1 document box)

This series contains fragments of miscellaneous correspondence, quit claim deeds, and clippings.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
7/9
“The Founder of Whitman College” poem by L.L. West
1894
7/12
Invitation to wedding of Edith Clara Cowley to Dr. Lorenzo Nelson Grosvenor
1892
7/25
Miscellaneous clippings, Cushing Eells – faculty file
1888-1953; undated
13/1
Church bell memorial (Information and Correspondence regarding)
1973
13/2
Eells Academy: first annual Commencement Program, Colville, WA
1900
13/3
Eells Academy: Reunion of Eells Academy classmates, Colville (Clipping and letter)
1973
13/7
Blandford: Early history of the town and church (birthplace of Cushing Eells) – Reverend John Keep
1821
13/8
Sermon case used by Cushing Eells
undated
13/9
Ida Eells’ account of Cushing’s horse, La Blau
1950
13/19
Stage ticket (Philadelphia to Pittsburg) and steamer ticket (S.B. Norfolk – Pittsburg to St. Louis)
1838
13/22
Accounts of expenditures of trip with Rev. David Greene on Wind River, Rocky Mountains
1838
13/28
Receipt for “Mother’s Magazine”
1858
13/29
Quit Claim Deed to Waiilatpu, drawn up by A.B.C.F.M., yielding it to Cushing Eells (draft unsigned)
1876
13/30
School report by Mrs. N. A. Semons of school in District No. 3
1867
13/33
Indenture of Joseph D. Bates, A.J. Anderson, George H. Collier – Cushing and Myra Eells
1873
13/34
Handwritten note on a Bagster Bible
1875
13/35
Quit Claim Deed to Calvin Adams for land in Washington County, Oregon
1876
13/36
“Paper Read at the Association and Published in their Minutes”
1885
13/37
Quit Claim Deed to Joseph Bates, A.J. Anderson, George H. Collier – land in Forest Grove
1873
13/38
Chattel Mortgage from Joseph and Sarah Jane Hall
1886
13/42
Ministerial Alliance of Tacoma – Birthday Greeting, 81st birthday
1891
13/43
“Occidental Congregationalist” – tribute to Cushing Eells
1893
13/44
2 copies of pamphlets published by American Home Missionary Society – Multiplication of Churches on home Missionary ground. Too Many Home Missionary Churches: Whose Fault?
circa 1893
13/45
Tacoma - historical manuscript
1891
13/46
Condolences, obituaries
1893
13/47
Clippings
1894-1938; undated
13/48
Tacoma, WA – Flyer from friends of Cushing Eells who had decided to publish an autobiography of him, asking those interested to sign and return.
1894
13/53
Clippings – “Founder of Whitman College Came to Old Oregon in 1883”
1953
13/54
Presentation to American Mail Line Limited of picture of Cushing Eells (address made by James Alger Fee)
1943
13/57
Clippings about Cushing Eells
undated
13/58
Letter
undated
13/59
A strange snare, manuscript by Cushing Eells
undated
13/60
"Cheney Has Historic House,” a typescript of article, unidentified source
circa 1921
13/62
Miscellaneous letter fragments
undated