Fort Walla Walla Museum offers Living History


Fort Walla Walla Musuem

755 Myra Road, Walla Walla

Fort Walla Walla Musuem

— Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road, will host Living History performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Pioneer Village. In case of inclement weather, performances will move to the grand hall in the entrance building.

On Saturday, Hudson's Bay Company farmer Sam Black will be portrayed by Tom Williams.

Sam Black, a tall, powerful man, was the master of Fort Walla Walla at the mouth of the Walla Walla River from 1825 to 1830. He was 46 when he assumed charge of the Walla Walla post. Gov. George Simpson wrote of him in his Character Book, "The strangest man I ever met."

Black came to North America from Scotland about 1810 and eventually went to work for the North West Company as "muscle." From 1812 to about 1820, Black and Peter Skene Ogden specialized in intimidating their Hudson's Bay Company competitors at Lake Athabasca and Lake Ile-a-La Crosses, in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

When the Hudson's Bay and North West Companies merged in 1821, neither Ogden nor Black was rehired. They both made a trip to London to meet the committee operating Hudson's Bay Company. They convinced the committee to rehire them, but found themselves reduced in rank to clerks, though still considered officers in Company structure.

Black was transferred from Fort Walla Walla in 1830 to Fort Kamloops, located at modern-day Kamloops, B.C. He remained there until his death in 1841.

On Sunday, there will be a Frenchtown reunion. In the role of Walla Walla's first mayor, E.B. Whitman, Dan Clark will moderate the characters' conversations about their experiences at Frenchtown.

The Frenchtown Reunion program will feature Jeannot Poirot as French-Canadian Catholic priest J.B.A. Brouillet; Judith Fortney portraying her great-great-grandmother, settler Suzanne Cayouse Dauphin; Rich Monacelli as William McBean, trader and chief factor in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company at the time of the Whitman Massacre; Sam Pambrun as his great-grandfather Andrew Pambrun, a second generation son of early 1800's area pioneers; and Jean-Paul Grimaud portraying Louis Tellier, whose family was among the earliest settlers of the Walla Walla Valley, arriving from Canada via Montana with the Hudson's Bay Fur Company.

In December 1855, following the Walla Walla Treaty Council in June, the Battle of Frenchtown, also known as the Battle of Walla Walla, continued for four days, between tribal warriors and Frenchtown residents and reinforcements. The fighting resulted in the killing of Walla Walla Chief Peopeomoxmox while a hostage of the Oregon Mounted Volunteers, and an end to Indian control of the Walla Walla Valley.

In 1876, St. Rose of Lima Mission church and cemetery were established on a portion of the battlefield. Though the mission was later abandoned, of the approximately 60 recorded burials at the site, there is no evidence that more than one or two have been removed. The church was actively used until about 1900, and was removed from the site in 1911.

The Frenchtown Historic Site came into existence in 2010 was established by the Frenchtown Historical Foundation. The interpretive park, including trails and parking areas, encompasses the cemetery, a portion of the grounds of the Catholic mission, and approximately 27 acres of land where the fighting took place in 1855. To get there traveling from Walla Walla on Old Highway 12, continue west past the Whitman Mission site one mile to the historical markers at Frenchtown Road. Continue another mile west on Old Highway 12 to the Frenchtown entrance. From new Highway 12, turn south on Frenchtown Road at the sign for the site, then turn right on Old Highway 12 and go one mile to the entrance drive on the right.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free to members and children under 6, $3 for children ages 6-12, $6 for seniors (62+) and students, and $7 general admission. Call 509-525-7703 or email for more information.


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