WA Secretary of State Blogs

Governor Richard D. Gholson

Monday, May 10th, 2010 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | No Comments »

Richard D. Gholson was Washington’s 3rd Territorial Governor serving from July 1859  to sometime in 1861, though he reportedly returned to his home state of Kentucky on a six month leave of absence in May 1860, never to return to Washington.

Though he was only in Washington for 11 months, two important events did occur – the “Pig War” of 1859 on San Juan Island and the capture of the schooners Ellen Maria and Blue Wing by northern Indians.

Not much is know about this short-term Governor but the Washington State Library has several items in their Digital Collection that give some insight to his time in office.

Edmond S. Meany’s Governors of Washington, Territorial and State  has a brief biographical article about Governor Gholson. Also in the collection are various correspondence from or to Gholson in Message of the President …in reference to the island of San Juan … and Washington State Library’s collection of Richard D. Gholson’s correspondence.

If you would like to know more about the “Pig War”, see Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting a report relative to the occupation of the Island of San Juan  in our Classics in Washington History .

There is a little bit of information about the capture of the Ellen Maria and Blue Wing and its aftermath in Lewis and Dryden’s marine history of the Pacific Northwest on page 90 (image 113)  and in The Puget Sound Herald, Steilacoom, W.T., March 18, 1859 (page 2, column 2 – Missing) , July 27, 1860 (page 2, column 5 – The Fate of Mr. Schroter)Aug. 3, 1860 (page 2, column 4 – The Blue Wing and Ellen Maria).

Digital Updates – Volume 5, #1 – March 2010

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

Historical Newspapers in Washington

The Washington State Library has added an early Snohomish newspaper to its online offerings.  The Northern Star, from 1876-1879, is the library’s latest addition to the Historical Newspapers Online Project.

Classics in Washington History

Under Exploration and Early Travel, Military History, and Natural History

Report on the construction of a military road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton by John Mullan

This volume contains Captain John Mullan’s report on his survey and construction of the military road from Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia River to Fort Benton on the Missouri. The narrative consists of Mullan’s report as well as letters and reports from his subordinates. It also includes plates of early missions and camps, detailed maps of the routes, and extensive charts of meteorological and astronomical observations.

Under Pioneer Life and Wagon Trains and the Oregon Trail

Reminiscences of an old-timer

George Hunter came west at the age of sixteen, and narrates a life full of adventure and hardship.  He experiences life in the mining camps of northern California and British Columbia, fights in several Indian wars, hunts grizzlies, harvests oysters, and engages in politics; all the while encountering a vast array of western characters.

Under Territorial and State Government

Laws of Washington, 1889-90

Contains the laws and resolutions of the years 1889-90.

Under Exploration and Early Travel

The North West Company  by Gordon Charles Davidson

A history of the North West Company, its role in the fur trade and its relations with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Under County and Regional History and Pioneer Life

Church and community survey of Pend Oreille County, Washington

This brief pamphlet reports the results of a community and church survey of Pend Oreille County undertaken by the Interchurch World Movement.

Glimpses of pioneer life. A series of biographies, experiences and events intimately concerned with the settlement of Okanogan County, Washington.

In the early 1920’s, the local newspaper wrote and compiled stories of early pioneers in Okanogan County.

Digital Updates

Friday, November 20th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News | No Comments »

Volume 4, #2 November 2009 for Digital Updates

Historical Newspapers in Washington – 1 new title.

The years 1861-1864 have been added to the Puget Sound Herald in Historical Newspapers in Washington online project, which now covers six years of Steilacoom pioneer news, from 1858 to 1864.

Classics in Washington History

We have added a new category – 20th Century Events – to our Classics in Washington History.  This category currently contains the Works Progress Administration Papers and, new to the collection, papers by the War Relocation Authority on the Japanese Internment :

The Community Analysis Report concerns how authorities should “deal” with the Japanese and Japanese American people they have incarcerated through an understanding of their customs and cultural background. Causes of social unrest, segregation, education, Buddhism and labor relations are topics covered within these papers.

The Community Analysis Notes “reveal the life experience and viewpoints” of the incarcerated Nisei. Why did many young men say “no” to two questions on the Army registration form? How did the Japanese deal with engagement and marriage in the camps? How did it differ from pre-internment days? How did they adjust to life in the camps?

The Project Analysis Series analyzes various events that occurred during the relocation project. What happened at Tule Lake in November 1943? Why did it happen? What was the reaction to opening Selective Service to Nisei? What are the motives behind Nisei requesting repatriation?

Read the rest of this entry »

New Material for Whitman County Heritage

Monday, August 31st, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, Grants and Funding | No Comments »

The Washington Rural Heritage initiative is pleased to announce several new digital collections–the result of a year’s worth of hard work on the part of four public libraries receiving 2008/2009 LSTA grant funding from WSL. We’ll be featuring material from our new collections all this week.

lightning Horses struck by lightning near St. John, Washington, 1940.
Click image for full record.

Our first new addition came from Whitman County Library, which continued to add to Whitman County Heritage for its 2008 grant project. The Library’s primary focus was on the community of St. John, Washington–its early citizens, schools, and surrounding family farms. Harvest scenes figure predominantly in the new collection, and do a good job of documenting the evolution of wheat farming techniques in Eastern Washington. A few of our favorite images include:

darwinsmith Harvest operation of Darwin Smith, 1933.
Click image for full record.

Following upon two successful years of digitization work, this grant project involved Whitman County Library’s first foray into “community digitization”–reaching out to library patrons for historic material held in their own private collections. Whitman County Library was recently awarded another digitization grant for 2009-2010, and will be expanding upon that model, uncovering hidden treasures throughout Whitman County.

Take a look at the entire Whitman County Heritage collection here. Or view all of Whitman County Library’s 2008 grant material here.

The Whitman Tragedy – Part 3

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

Eliza Spalding Warren

Eliza Spalding Warren

Perhaps the most poignant accounts of both life and death on those remote mission stations come from the women who were most intimately involved. In Memoirs of the West: the Spaldings,  Eliza Spalding, the daughter of Rev. Spalding, looks back at an idyllic childhood at Lapwai, the Spaldings mission. She helps her mother, travels with her father, and grows up among the Nez Perce Indians. She often stays at the Whitman mission for months at a time in order to attend school with other mission and immigrant children, and is there on Nov. 29, 1847. Her account is harrowing, as the 10-year-old child witnesses death and terror, and then serves as interpreter between the Indians and their captives. The book also includes excerpts from her mother’s diary and some of her father’s letters that speak of the unrelenting labor that he and his wife undertake.

Finally, three fascinating collections of letters by Narcissa Prentiss Whitman were gathered and published in the late nineteenth century by the Oregon Pioneer Association. The first covers their journey across the country to the Oregon Territory in 1836. The others include Narcissa’s letters to her family back east and correspondence with other missionaries in the West. They can be found in Classics in Washington History as Journey across the plains in 1836.

Sketch of Narcissa Whitman

Sketch of Narcissa Whitman

The letters reveal a woman who is determined to live up to her religious ideals. She accepts the loss of home and her extended family. She accepts her husband’s frequent absences and the physical hardships of frontier living. Yet, she continually begs her family to write more often, and is without any letters from home for two years due to long distances. She is never quite at home with the Indians and has difficulty learning the language. There are hints in her narratives about the tensions among the missionaries and the discouragement when few others arrive to join the mission effort.

Narcissa bears a child at Waiilatpu, Alice Clarissa, that is the light of her life until she drowns at the age of “two years, three months, and nine days.” At the same time she takes on the care of children in need, having as many as eleven children in her home at once and writes, “I am sometimes about ready to sink under the weight of responsibility resting on me…” The letters, though relentlessly optimistic, create a portrait of an intensely social and conventional woman laboring in isolation and surrounded by a culture that remains foreign to her.

See also: The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1 | Part 2

The Whitman Tragedy – Part 2

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

Rev. H. H. Spalding

Rev. H. H. Spalding

For decades after the tragedy at the Whitman Mission, writers, preachers and others sought to place blame for the event itself and for the underlying causes. Resentments against the Hudson’s Bay Company and religious prejudices often colored narratives, and led to charges of cowardice or malice.

Square in the middle of these disputes was Rev. H. H. Spalding, a colleague of the Whitmans. While there was often tension between the two families, the Whitmans and Spaldings were also colleagues and a support system in a stressful situation. Years after the event Spalding demonstrates a very personal and theological agenda in his series of lectures which were printed in the Walla Walla newspaper in 1866. Links to all the lectures can be found on the Moments in History page of the digital newspaper collection.
Fr. Brouillet

Fr. Brouillet

In response, Hudson’s Bay employee, William McBean, takes great exception to the accuracy of Spalding’s characterization of events in letters to the newspaper’s editor. See Moments in History.

Another, more studied, viewpoint comes from Fr. Brouillet, the Catholic priest who first discovered the massacre and helped to bury the dead. His brief book, published in 1869, also attempts to refute Spalding’s accusations against the Catholics by gathering statements and letters from people present in the territory at the time and involved in the events, and  by trying to analyze the underlying causes. See an Authentic account of the murder of Dr. Whitman and other missionaries in Classics in Washington History.

See also: The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1 | Part 3

The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

Sketch of the mission

Sketch of the mission

The Whitman Massacre of November 29, 1847 provides a painful window into a time of conflicting cultures, priorities and prejudices. Piecing together what happened from contemporary accounts can be both frustrating and fascinating. Were the Cayuse Indians misguided, evil, deceived, or somewhere in between all of those? Were the missionaries heroic martyrs or discouraged idealists? Did sectarian prejudice between Catholic and Protestant exacerbate a volatile situation?

You can explore a variety of theories, personalities and testimony surrounding this horrific event in the Library’s Digital Collections. There will be three posts on this subject to cover the variety of resources available on this event.

For an overview of the mission and its history, try Miles Cannon’s  Waiilatpu, its rise and fall, 1836-1847 . Cannon interviews many of the survivors and puts together a narrative of the whole of the Whitmans’ time in Oregon. The book is online in the Classics in Washington History under the heading of “Pioneer Life,” and is an excellent introduction to the principal individuals, organizations and series of events.

See also: The Whitman Tragedy – Part 2 | Part 3

A Frontier Army Wife

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | No Comments »

In 1871 Frances Marie Antoinette Mack married Fayette Washington Roe.  Both had been raised in upstate New York, though Faye (as he was known) was born in Virginia.  The wedding occurred immediately after his graduation from West Point, and they quickly left to travel to his first army assignment in Fort Lyon, Colorado far from their quiet upstate homes.  sl_roearmyletters_004small

Kit Carson, Colorado Territory, October, 1871.

Tis late, so this can be only a note to tell you that we arrived here safely, and will take the stage for Fort Lyon to-morrow morning at six o’clock.  I am thankful enough that our stay is short at this terrible place, where one feels there is danger of being murdered any minute. Not one woman have I seen here, but there are men – any number of dreadful-looking men – each one armed with big pistols, and leather belts full of cartridges.

Here she begins a series of letters that will later be collected and published as Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife, 1871-1888. Frances followed her husband to posts throughout the West from busy, established garrisons to small redoubts with dirt floors, and provides a detailed description of life in the frontier army from a woman’s point of view.

She describes their first home at Ft. Lyon, her lessons in riding and shooting, and her confusion with military protocol and customs.  She enjoys the outdoor activities and the social life at the fort and throws herself into creating her first home.  It is a rude shock when her husband’s company is transferred for the first time and she learns that their destination is Camp Supply in what is now northern Oklahoma – more isolated, more primitive, and surrounded by hostile tribes.  As the wife of a junior officer she must leave behind many of her household goods, her furniture, her horse, and her new greyhound puppy.  She reacts as many very young wives might have, but soon finds her feet.  fwroe-01small

I have cried and cried over all these things until I am simply hideous, but I have to go just the same, and I have made up my mind never again to make myself so wholly disagreeable about a move, no matter where we may have to go. I happened to recall yesterday what grandmother said to me when saying good-by: “It is a dreadful thing not to become a woman when one ceases to be a girl!” I am no longer a girl, I suppose, so I must try to be a woman, as there seems to be nothing in between.

(Also, when the company stops the first night and several soldiers are sent back for forgotten supplies, she manages to convince one of them to bring her puppy as well.  “Hal” grows and spends the rest of his adventurous life with Frances.)

Frances is a woman of her time, full of both courage and prejudice, who undertakes a strenuous and demanding life for the sake of her husband.  She endures sandstorms, Indian attacks, floods, killing cold and countless moves.  She also bakes fruitcakes, hunts buffalo and organizes cotillions.  It turns out that army life suits her very well.

Read her account online in the Classics in Washington History under “Women’s Stories.”

What’s New in Digital Collections: a list of the latest newspapers, books, maps

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News | No Comments »

newspapers_introHistorical Newspapers in Washington

Classics in Washington History

County and Regional History

  • Fort Colvile, 1826-1871 by U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service. Contents: This pamphlet summarizes the history of Fort Colvile, founded by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1825.

Military History

  • 600 days’ service by Harold H. Burton. Contents: A history of the 361st Infantry Regiment of the 91st Division of the United States Army.
  • Camp Lewis. Contents: An early historical record of the Ninety-First Division at Camp Lewis.
  • Official history of the Thirteenth Division. Contents: The history of the 13th Division, organized at Camp Lewis, American Lake, Washington on July 16, 1918. The book contains photographs of troops and descriptions of their duties.

Native Americans

Natural History

  • Natural history of Washington territory and Oregon by George Suckley. Contents: Preface, including a brief narrative of the explorations from 1853 to 1857.–Errata, with additions and corrections up to 1860.-[pt. 1. Meteorology – not included (see Notes).–pt. 2. Botanical report.–pt. 3. Zoological report
  • Climate of the state of Washington by W.N. Allen. Contents: “A careful and elaborate treatise on the climactic conditions, with reference to temperature, winds, rainfall and snowfall.”



Ranald MacDonald

Friday, February 13th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | 4 Comments »

ranald1The son of a Hudson’s Bay factor and Raven, the daughter of Chief Comcomly of the Chinooks, Ranald MacDonald grew up on trading posts in the Northwest.  Fascinated by the idea of visiting Japan since his youth, he conceived the plan of shipping out on a whaling vessel and marooning himself on the Japanese shore.  Despite the fact that the government of Japan threatened death or imprisonment to foreigners trying to enter the kingdom, he did just that in 1848. 

Ranald was taken captive and moved from one jurisdiction to another, but was well treated.  He was friendly and intensely curious about everything he saw and everyone he met.  The Japanese responded to his courtesy, and Ranald soon was teaching English to a significant group of Japanese officials.  His adventure ended when an American vessel, the Preble, arrived to retrieve a group of sailors that had been genuinely shipwrecked, and his captors allowed Ranald to accompany them back to America. 

He continued his life as a sailor for some time, traveling widely.  When gold was discovered in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, he worked there for several years.  He died in North Central Washington in 1894. 

When Japan finally opened to the West, Ranald’s student, Einosuke Moriyama, served as one of the chief interpreters between Commodore Perry and the Tokogawa Shogunate.

 The State Library has two items in its online collection that tell Ranald’s story:

1.  Ranald’s deposition given to Captain Glynn of the Preble on the voyage back to America in 1849.

Deposition of Ranald McDonald regarding his imprisonment in Japan, made to Captain James Glynn, USS Preble] [Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 1850]From: Senate Executive Document (United State. Congress. Senate); 31st Congress, 1st Session, vol. 10, no. 84, p. 24-28.

2.  Ranald’s own account written years after the fact and edited for the Eastern Washington Historical Society. 

Ranald MacDonald : the narrative of his early life on the Columbia under the Hudson’s Bay Company’s regime, of his experiences in the Pacific whale fishery and of his great adventure to Japan : with a sketch of his later life on the western frontier, 1824-1894 by Ranald MacDonald.  Spokane, Wash. : Published for the Eastern Washington State Historical Society of the Inland-American Printing Co., 1923