Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother's grave--and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter's captivity. When Eliza is finally given her mother's diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage? Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart. Readers will find themselves swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.
At A Glance - Eliza Spalding Warren
• First white child born west of the Mississippi in 1837.
• Grew up in what is now Lapwai, ID (Nez Perce for “the place of the butterflies.”)
• The Nez Perce people were Eliza’s playmates and her parents’ friends.
• At age 10, experienced firsthand the “Whitman tragedy.”
• Wrote Memoirs of the West which retells the Whitman tragedy.
• Journeyed alone with 2 small children via ox cart to Touchet, Washinton Territory, where her husband had relocated and also the site of the Whitman massacre.
• Later the family returned to Brownsville where Eliza’s siblings and father lived.
• Died 1919, buried next her husband Andrew in Brownsville.
The Whitman Incident
The Whitman incident in the oral tradition of the tribes is one of self-defense. Presbyterian missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa and eleven others were killed by a small band of local natives at their mission November 29, 1847. In 1847, over 4000 overlanders had travelled to the Oregon County and along with their wagons and livestock, brought measles. Over half of the Waiilaptu (Cayuses) tribe died as a result. Sick emigrants had detoured to Dr. Whitman’s mission and there infected many local tribe members.
At ten, Eliza was a captive of Cayuse Indians held with several others for 47 days in the winter of 1847. Their captivity followed the deaths of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, acts Eliza witnessed along with the deaths of eleven others on a cold November day. Eliza understood the Cayuse language she'd been taught by her parents, early missionaries to the Nez Perce, a neighboring tribe.
Asked to translate between the captors and their victims, she carried with her misunderstandings of what went on and blamed herself for events she couldn't control. Only years later, reading her mother's diaries, did she come to understand that one must face traumatic memories rather than run from them...face them filtered through love.