The Living History Company at Fort Walla Walla Museum is in its 19th year and is planning another full season for 2017. Organized in 1998 by Walla Walla City Council member Barbara Clark and her husband Dan, the company has grown from about a dozen authentic characters out of 1800s Walla Walla to over fifty. The goal of the company is to bring to life the exhibits at the museum with live presentations every week from April through October, telling visitors dramatic stories about the lives of a variety of Walla Wallans and the issues of their day, and allowing visitors to question the characters about their lives and times.
This year’s schedule continues the company’s tradition of 2 pm presentations every Sunday from April through October, and also on Saturdays from June through August.
Fred Stine invites guests to an open discussion about the provision of the 1863 Nez Perce Treaty. Mr. Stine represents one of Walla Walla's best “rags to riches” stories. He arrived in Walla Walla in 1862 with no more than the clothes on his back and 75 cents in his pocket, but he eventually built the largest brick hotel in the Washington Territory. After Stine’s arrival, he quickly went about earning the trust of local residents who lent him sufficient funds to set up a lucrative blacksmith shop serving the needs of miners making their way to Idaho’s gold fields, pioneers from the Oregon Trail, and the military at Fort Walla Walla. With the fortune he made, Stine not only retired his debts in a few short months but soon amassed enough to construct the Stine House in 1872, the largest brick hotel in the region.
Fred Stine is portrayed by Touchet agribusinessman Charles Saranto.
August 18 is the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote. The road to achieving voting rights was a long and difficult one. Nationally, women began organizing in the mid-1800s into suffrage groups that spoke out publicly, wrote letters and lobbied legislators, and engaged in acts of civil disobedience for many years before results were gained.
A Constitutional amendment was first introduced in 1878. In the meantime, some groups worked for passing suffrage rights in individual states. Washington Territory almost became the first to pass women’s suffrage in 1854, the proposal losing by one vote. To squash the movement, the Territorial Legislature decreed that "no female shall have the right of ballot or vote."
In 1910, the Washington State Constitution was permanently amended to grant women the right to vote. The House of Representatives passed the amendment on May 21, 1919, and the Senate followed two weeks later. The final barricade fell as Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, completing the requirement of three-fourths of the states. The 19th amendment was officially certified on August 26, 1920, forever altering America’s political landscape.
This discussion on the role of women will feature the full company.
Sam Black was the master of Fort Nez Perce at the mouth of the Walla Walla River from 1825 to 1830. He was 46 years old when he assumed charge of the Walla Walla post. He first came to North America from Scotland around 1810 and eventually went to work for the North West Company.
When the Hudson’s Bay and North West Companies merged in 1821, changing the post’s name to Fort Walla Walla, Black was not immediately rehired. He was eventually brought back on as a clerk. Because of him, we have a “vocabulary” of the Cayuse language that was the beginning of all later efforts to revive an extinct language; historians and anthropologists also gleaned other cultural and ethnographic information about regional Indian people from Black’s writings.
Sam Black is portrayed by Tom Williams.
Andrew Pambrun was born at Cumberland House near the mouth of the Sasketchewan River in 1821. He attended school at Fort Vancouver in 1832 and then at Red River School in Manitoba where he stayed and taught for six years. Andrew returned to Oregon in 1850 and later worked for Hudson's Bay Co. at Fort Walla Walla. From 1855 to 1858 he served as an aide to territorial governor Isaac Stevens and was of great service during the negotiation of the Treaties of 1855. Pambrun continued to live in the Walla Walla area until his death.
Andrew is portrayed by his great grandson, Sam Pambrun, local historian, teacher and past president of the Umatilla Historical Society. The Pambrun family has lived in this area continuously since the 1830s.
Members of the Living History company lead a tour from McCool Cemetery to the Poor House Cemetery to Fort Walla Walla Cemetery.
Perspective is a significant reason behind the study of history and the existence of museums. Knowing what the past gave to the present and how people of the past dealt with problems is critical to making informed decisions about the future. Join our full Living History company as they present “A 19th Century Party! Looking Forward from the Past.” This is the last Living History performance of the season.
Are you interested in sponsoring this program? Contact the Museum to find out how!