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The Sager Orphans

Along the Oregon Trail

May 10, 2008 (Saturday)

picture of Charles

Yesterday’s blog alluded to the pioneer days of our country, when people moved steadily westward under extremely difficult conditions. My daughter, Dianna, replied in an email about that, calling my attention to the Sager orphans. She gave me a reference on the internet that summarizes the experiences of the Sager family.*

As I read about the family of nine people and the ordeal they went through as they tried to reach a land of opportunity in the great northwestern part of what is now our nation, I was deeply touched. They started from St. Joseph, Missouri, in April, 1844, and traveled with 300 people in 72 covered wagons. The group traveled “the Oregon Trail.”

There were six children in the family and one more was born en route. By the time the seven Sager children reached the Whitman mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington, both their parents had died. The Whitmans, medical missionaries, got legal custody of the children. In the unrest of those days, they were later attacked by Cayuse Indians, and the Whitmans were both killed, along with the two oldest Sager children. All the Sager girls were captured and the six-year old died in captivity. They were later freed, and were taken in by four families. The daughter born on the Oregon trail had no children and died in 1870. The other three found homes in California, Oregon and Washington. The oldest daughter wrote of their saga, but was unable to publish it during her lifetime. Her work is considered today to be the most accurate account of the experiences of the Sager family.

This is only one of many stories of the pioneers. We should always think of them when we fly, take the train or bus, or drive to see the sights in this great country. We benefit from their sacrifices.
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* The Sager Orphans, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sager_orphans


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