Living History of early teacher, trader on tap


WALLA WALLA — Fort Walla Walla Museum’s Living History Company will present Walla Walla’s first public schoolteacher, Sarah G. Miner, on Saturday and William McBean, Hudson’s Bay Company trader, and Catherine Saager, Whitman Massacre survivor, on Sunday.

Both performances are at 2 p.m. in the pioneer village at the Museum, 755 Myra Road.

Sarah Miner, played by Barbara Daniel, opened a private school in a store building on Main Street in the winter of 1861-62.

She was then given a teaching certificate and on June 16, 1862, began the first public school classes in Walla Walla. She was described as “a lovely, cultured woman, who had the finest house plants in town.”

William McBean, portrayed by Richard Monacelli, was a fur trader and manager of the only business in the area in the late 1840s, the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Walla Walla.

The first Fort Walla Walla was built at the mouth of the Walla Walla River and was one of the earliest Northwest outposts for trading furs and other items with the local Native American population.

The fort was built in 1818 and later burned down. The second fort built on the same site had also burned down by the time William McBean came on the scene as manager of the third Fort Walla Walla.

McBean, of British and Indian parentage, was born in Canada about 1807 and came to the Walla Walla region in 1846.

He was the chief factor in charge of Fort Walla Walla at the mouth of the Walla Walla River at the time of the Whitman Massacre in 1847.

He left Fort Walla Walla in 1855, and later returned to the valley with his Indian wife and children.

He continued to live in Walla Walla and was active in assisting various Catholic institutions until his death in 1872.

McBean will present details on the times, people and cultures of the time.

He will share many examples of fur trade items, including pelts, bead work, axes, bowls, pottery, clothing and smoking pipes.

Catherine Sager was one of the children taken in by the Whitmans after her parents perished along the Oregon Trail.

During the Whitman Massacre, Catherine was taken captive, but was eventually released thanks to the intervention of Father J.B.A. Brouillet, priest at St. Anne Mission near Pendleton.

She is portrayed by area student Stella Gryler.

Performances begin at 2 p.m. in the pioneer settlement at the Museum.

Visitors are encouraged to question the Living History re-enactors about their lives and times.

The Museum is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is free to Fort Walla Walla Museum members, eligible service personnel and their families through the Blue Star Museums program, Tamástslikt Cultural Institute’s Inwai Circle cardholders, enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and all children under 6; children 6-12 are $3; seniors 62 and up and students are $6; and adults are $7.

For more information, call 509-525-7703 or email


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