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Profile of Mac Waller
Beginning of the story
REMINISCENCES OF H.M. WALLER . . . Continued
On they go down the Columbia till they arrive at a place called Ten Mile. Here they meet two messengers from Governor Abernathy, who tell them of some trouble they are having at The Dalles over the misdeeds of some Boston men. In the melee one white man was killed, one wounded, and the rest flee into the mountains pursued by the Indians. Now the Governor is at The Dalles, trying to quiet the red fellows, and wants this train of emigrants to come to his relief.
They bear the wounded man to Oregon City, and the Governor soon sends a band of soldiers to find the men in the mountains. After a long search, they find them, half naked and nearly starved.
Landed at Oregon City, Oregon, on the ninth of September, 1847, with fairly good health. Before he arrived in Willamette Valley he received messages from Brethren James McBride, of Yamhill county, Glen O. Burnett, of Polk county, and (John) Foster, living up in Clackamas, asking him to come to their places and aid them in meetings.
Links to more about James McBride, Glen O. Burnett and John Foster.
Not having any shelter for the winter, he could not accept their courtesy till he had cast about for a home. He left his mother and brother at Oregon City while he and others took a journey up the river as far as Salem and Corvallis. On returning to Oregon City , he preached a few times for the brethren there.
He leaves here with the family and goes into winter quarters in Polk county. Before he started on his prospecting tour, he meets Governor Abernathy, who gives him some instruction in regards to traveling. For a man traveling in Oregon in those days, among the Indians and French, who had their squaw wives, and who could not talk much better English than the Indians, had a hard time to find a "Boston man's" home to lodge at.
A "Boston man" is a white man. I say this for the information of any who may read this beyond the Rockies.
"But I don't want to learn any jargon, Governor."
"Mr. Waller," says the Governor, "you can't travel here without it. There are a few words you must learn. With them you can go anywhere."
Mac set about to learn jargon of the Governor. This is the first letter, Cli-hi-ram-nika; translated it means, "How do you do, sir?" Then while striking his hand on his breast he says, Che-Boston-nika. Which is "I am a Boston man." Then, Co-Boston-house, which means, "I want to find a Boston man's house."
When it came nearly night Mac and his companion tried their jargon on an Indian. He "nix-fer-stayed" and left them. This was repeated till about ten o'clock at night, when they came by chance upon a Frenchman's cabin. Through him he got directions to where a Boston man lived, and a little later he is faring sumptuously on Mr. Derbon's fine bread, milk and butter. Here he learns his jargon a little better and has better success traveling.
The Governor had instructed him all right, but hadn't "got it off" right. Bro. Burnett soon calls in person and after due consultation a meeting was begun in the Rickreall, in an old school-house called the Jefferson Institute. Here he soon organized a Church of Christ, the first organized church west of the Rocky Mountains. This was in the first Lord's day in May, 1848. Here elders and deacons were chosen and scripturally ordained. Here they observed the communion probably the first time in was ever observed apostolically on the Pacific Slope.
Editor's note: While the group at the Jefferson Institute building was indeed an early congregation, the title of the first church west of the Rockies goes to Amity, organized by Amos Harvey in the spring of 1846. That was at least a year and one-half earlier.
At this meeting a question arose as to who should take the lead in the work in the Valley. At last Bro. McBride said: "I now proclaim Bro. H.M. Waller as pope of the Church of Christ on Oregon."
For more about the Jefferson Institute, follow this link.
For a profile of Amos Harvey, click here.
Now as to the character of these two brethren who preceded Mac to this country, and who had done some preaching before this time. Bro. Mac says they both were excellent men, strong in the faith, and unusually lovely in life. They were most efficient in their ministry. They preached and lived as those who had been with Jesus and learned of him.
As I look upon that trio who began the work in Oregon, I can not do less than to thank God that in the very incipiency of this moment three such lovely men gave it form and character, Waller, McBride, Burnett - Oregon thanks God for them.
When the work closed on the Rickreall (Creek), a meeting was begun near the crossing of the Luckimute, near where the city of Parkersville (Parker) now stands. Here Bro. Harrison Linville lived. In Bro. Linville's house he holds the meeting, and there also the congregation was organized.
The third church of Mac's work was organized at Lewisville, in Polk county.
For some time after this he travels in various counties, until at last he begins a meeting at Oak Grove, near Corvallis. Here he meets Bro. Philip Mulkey, who is so utterly disgusted with Oregon and so dreadfully homesick for his old Missouri home that he was determined to sell out and return to the good old home in the East. He was so wrought up over the matter that he would not aid Bro. Waller either to sing or pray or preach.
There is no place near Corvallis that can be identified as Oak Grove. However, there is an Oakville six miles distant in Linn County. It has its own cemetery, showing that a population once centered there. It has a Church Drive. Mac probably remembered incorrectly on this minor point.
For more on the other congregations mentioned, follow this link.
Soon Elder Waller had baptized twenty-three of twenty-four, then Bro. Mulkey became somewhat reconciled and is ready for duty. He began from this time to like Oregon and, at this writing, he is living is his ninety-third year in Eugene, Oregon.
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