Part 11

During January–February 1862, Walla Walla experienced a severe and lengthy cold spell when the temperature was as low as 29 degrees below zero. One of the consequences was that travel was not possible into or out of Walla Walla, so news of any sort was cut off.

From the Washington Statesman, 8 Feb. 1862, Walla Walla, Washington Territory:

“Our Difficulties — Not our national difficulties, dear reader, caused by the demon secession rearing his defiant head against the ‘powers that be’ — the constitution and the laws; for as assured, hemmed in as we have been by snow and cold, and ice and storm, for the past seven weeks, and thereby shut out from all the world and ‘the rest of mankind,’ battles innumerable may have been fought and won, and nations born, and still others gone to decay, and we have been none the wiser for it.

“Indeed we had almost persuaded ourselves that even Gabriel’s trump (trumpet) might have sounded to the rest of the world, and we all unconscious of it, still plodding along in ‘the even tenor of our way.’

“If the ancient Israelites thought it a hardship ‘too grievous to be borne’ to be compelled to ‘make brick without straw,’ what shall we say in excuse for the dryness, the dullness and the tameness of a newspaper published in Walla Walla, amid this wintry isolation?

“Our difficulties consist then in this — that we are so shut out from the world that we do not know what the world is doing, and per consequence, reader, we cannot tell it (to) you. We could indeed tell you more about the weather — that fruitful theme for everybody’s tongue — but about that you know as well as we.”

Susan Pickett was professor of music at Whitman College from 1981–2018. She is the author of “Marion and Emilie Frances Bauer: from the Wild West to American Musical Modernism” — a biography about two women born in Walla Walla whose careers in the New York City music scene spanned 1896–1955.