Welcome Guest Author Tracie Peterson!

Hello all of you wonderful readers,

This month I’m debuting a new series titled Heart of the Frontier. Book one is titled Treasured Grace and is the story of three sisters in 1847. The focal setting of the story is the Whitman Mission in the area of present day Walla Walla, Washington.Whitman Mission, Walla Walla, Washington

Whitman Mission aerial of grounds layout

This is a model of the mission layout with the main mission house to the right, the blacksmith shop in the center and the Emigrant’s House on the left. The mill pond (upper left) was where they also had a grist mill.

Treasured Grace by Tracie PetersonThis location was the site of the Whitman Mission Massacre that took place November 29, 1847. It was this massacre that truly changed the course of westward expansion and brought on the setting up of military forts along the Oregon Trail.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (she was one of the first two white women who crossed the Rocky Mountains) had tried for over ten years to win the hearts and minds of the Cayuse Indians in their area. However, a measles epidemic struck and killed a great many Cayuse, as well as whites. The Cayuse were convinced that Whitman (who was a doctor as well as a preacher) was trying to kill them and so on November 29th, they attacked and killed the doctor and Narcissa, along with most of the other men who were living at the mission. The remaining fifty-four women and children were taken hostage and held for nearly a month by the Cayuse.

The mission site is part of the National Parks system and open to visitors.

On my many visits there to glean information for my series, I found the park rangers to be some of the best I’ve encountered while doing research.  It was fascinating to learn about the Cayuse people. They were a nomadic people who were known for their horses and horsemanship. They were also considered to have some of the fiercest warriors.

They lived in tulle mat lodges and traveled with the seasons to harvest various roots and vegetation, as well as take advantage of the salmon fishing.

In the 1840’s this area of America was called Oregon Country. It was mostly inhabited by Native Americans and the British. The latter ran a string of Hudson’s Bay Company forts and traded with both the Native Americas and whites who came west. I mention this because another fascinating aspect of this massacre and the aftermath was the part the Hudson’s Bay Company played.

When it was learned that 54 white women and children were being held captive, Peter Skene Ogden (one of the factors at Fort Vancouver – now present day Vancouver, Washington) went to work to secure their release.  He and Chief Factor James Douglas put together a ransom hoping they could convinced the Cayuse to let the women and children go without harm. The ransom included 62 blankets, 63 cotton shirts, 12 Hudson Bay rifles, 600 loads of ammunition, 7 pounds of tobacco and 12 flints.  Eventually the Cayuse did agree to this and the women and children were set free. I thought it quite interesting, if not touching that The Hudson’s Bay Company never billed the American settlers for the ransom. I thought it equally interesting that reimbursement by the American government was never offered.

If you’d like to read a brief summary of the actual attack, this website should help.

I had a lot of fun researching this series and hope you enjoy it.  Book 2 Beloved Hope will come out in June and Book 3 Cherished Mercy is due out in September.Tracie Peterson


Tracie will send one of today’s commenters a lovely gift basket containing Treasured Grace and five more of her latest book, plus some other goodies. Take our word for it: You’ll love the prize!


Find Tracie online at her website, TraciePeterson.com.







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21 thoughts on “Welcome Guest Author Tracie Peterson!”

  1. Wow! To be blamed for trying to help a people, that’s sad. Thank you for this post. I seem to remember something about the massacre or maybe saw it in a movie.

    I would love to be in your drawing.

    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Wow, I’m surprised the Cayuse didn’t kill any of the hostages! Crazy and sad story, yet such a neat ending to know they were saved by the company.

  3. Wow! What an interesting post! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the title of your book and the cover is absolutely beautiful!

  4. This is a fascinating post. I always enjoy learning something new and I am glad to hear there was a good outcome for the women and children who were taken hostage. I look forward to reading your books and learning more.

  5. Welcome back, if only for a visit! I live in Oregon, so am somewaht familiar with the history of the Pacific Northwest. Looking forward to reading your book.

  6. I love the history you bring to life in your books, Tracie! Thank you for sharing this fascinating post. What a terrible and tragic event! I can’t wait to read the Heart of the Frontier series!

  7. I’ve always been fascinated by the American Indian so really enjoyed your post. Even as a young child, I was on their side and thought they were treated horribly. I think as a country we’d be better off now with their values than the Puritans (imo).

  8. I think the ransom provided by the Hudson’s Bay Company was wonderful to read about but entirely understandable since Great Britain and the U.S. were tussling over that territory and it had been Hudson Bay’s efforts to attract settlers west. Washington was a territory but not a state until 1889.

    What strikes me more about the story than ransom/money are two other things. (1) European diseases wiping out native populations. First small pox in the earlier days, and then later measles. Those diseases showed up with Europeans so I could see Indians thinking it purposeful–those that survived that is. (2) The second thing of note to me was that the Cayuse didn’t kill women in children in the way American military did too many times back then, such as the Sand Creek Massacre and the Wounded Knee Massacre, for examples. Or even during the earliest times of Europeans purposely giving blankets from small pox victims to the Indians.

    I’m definitely the odd bird here because I prefer Indian history from their perspective when we can get it. But I’m that way about history in general, like all the misconceptions about the Crusades that are generally told from a European POV.

  9. Interesting piece of history. A visit to Whitman Mission National Historic Site will be added to our list of places to visit on a trip we manage to take out that way, hopefully next year.
    Even though there were deaths in both communities, it is easy to understand why the Cayuse felt the settlers had something to do with the sickness. I am sure they mention something about it at the park, but many tribes took captives to “replace” tribe members who died. It would be understandable after so many tribe members died to think that this was a factor in their keeping them alive and taking them with them. How nice of the Hudson’s Bay Company to arrange the ransom for the women and children. I am sure it wasn’t a totally selfless act. They were likely trading partners and wanted to maintain good relations for the future. I don’t know if they ever expected repayment, but it is unfortunate that they didn’t get at lease a little bit of repayment.

    • I’ll start by saying I know little about the Cayuse, but I wonder if they took the women and children because there were no men left to provide for them after the battle. Just a thought since the members of the tribe that would have been lost would have been men. Maybe not all but many Indian cultures had an ethic of providing for those who could not provide for themselves, like the young, elderly and the sick. Every culture has its merits and discredits, but it seems to be a human tendency to judge by its own culture, not understanding cultures other than theirs. Making any group an “other” allows room for mistaken judgments and actions, I think.

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