THE MARCUS WALKER FAMILY
Next to settle on Axford Prairie was the Walker family which arrived only a few months after the Sudderths.
Marcus Walker's father Elkanah was a divinity student in Maine, and belonged to the seventh generation of Walkers in America. They were blacksmiths by trade. The latter three generations had been possessed of the migrating instinct.
Mary Richardson Walker, on her mother's side, was of the seventh generation of Thompsons in this country, David Thompsoon, her grand-father, being a Minute Man who fell in the first volley at Concord in 1775.
Both Elkanah Walker and Mary Richardson had offered themselves to the Congregational Board as missionaries. In 1836, this board had sent out Dr. Marcus Whitman, a physician, and wife, Dr. Henry Spalding and wife; and William Henry Gray. They had established the Waiilatpu Mission to the Cayuse Indians near Walla Walla.
The following year Mr. Gray returned East begging for more mission workers. It was then that Elkanah Walker and Mary Richardson married, and on March 8th, 1838, in company with Rev. Cushing Eels and wife, and two other young couples, started for the Oregon country. The trip from Bangor, Maine to the Waiilatpu Mission near Walla Walla took four and a half months.
Since there were no roads, the four couples came by horseback and afoot for four thousand miles, sleeping on the ground without shelter. Mary Richardson Walker was the third woman ever to cross the Rockies, Mrs. Whitman, and Mrs. Spalding having preceded her.
Once on the trail Mary cried. When asked why, she said she was thinking how comfortable the hogs were back on her father's farm.
It was August 28th when they reached the Whitman Mission. After a short rest they proceeded to their own mission field among the Spokane Indians.
Not only was the trip an ordeal, but life in the Tshimakain Mission , which they established, on what is now Walkers Prairie, was also rugged.