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The Historical Society of Prattsburgh

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman

1808 – 1847

Narcissa Prentiss House

The Narcissa Prentiss House

Narcissa Prentiss was born in Prattsburgh on March 14, 1808.  Her father, Stephen Prentiss, came to Prattsburgh in 1805.  Although the house he built for his family is quite small, Stephen and his wife Clarissa raised 9 children there.  Narcissa attended Franklin Academy and became a schoolteacher – teaching in Prattsburgh and Bath, and she was active in church affairs and dreamed of becoming a missionary.  She married Dr. Marcus Whitman in 1836 and together they journeyed 3,000 miles through country largely unknown to white men, ending their journey in the Oregon country claimed jointly by the United States and Great Britain.  She was one of the first 2 white women to cross the Rockies.  The Whitmans established a mission among the Cayuse Indians.  With Marcus as doctor and Narcissa as school teacher, they tended the physical and spiritual needs of Indians and weary travelers.  On November 29, 1847, the Indians massacred everyone at the mission.

Thanks to the Whitman Mission National Historic Site in Walla Walla, Washington and the Narcissa Prentiss House here, the Whitmans’ legacy is alive.

Narcissa was a well-known woman in the 19th century.  In 1998, she was recognized by the New York Governor’s Commission honoring the achievements of women and she has been included in numerous publications including “Her Story” A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America.”

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman

In 1979, the Narcissa Prentiss House was incorporated as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization.  A visit will acquaint you with one of America’s most fascinating – and tragic – couples.  In addition to being Narcissa’s birthplace, the house contains artifacts, quilts, antique clothing, and a room dedicated to the Pratt family, founders of Prattsburgh.

The house is open from 1-4 pm on weekends in July and August and by appointment.  Groups and individuals interested in setting up a tour or a tea at the home should contact Charlene Wilson at (607) 522-3542 or Lynn Dinehart at (607) 522-4737.  Tours and teas are free.  Donations toward the preservation of the home are appreciated.

One Comment

  1. Interesting.

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