Strange Honeymoon

ABOVE: Narcissa Whitman

What would be worse than spending your honeymoon in a tent? How about sharing the tent with other people, including your ex-boyfriend. That's what happened to Oregon-bound pioneer Narcissa Whitman.

Narcissa Whitman and her husband, Marcus, were the first family to travel to Oregon in a covered wagon. Their epic trip was an important event in American history, but the first few months of their marriage were certainly quite strange.

Marcus, a Presbyterian missionary, first met the devout Narcissa in New York in 1835. After knowing each other only a couple of days, they decided to marry. Soon they were headed west--sent by the Presbyterian church to minister to the Native Americans in Oregon Country.

But the Whitmans did not travel alone. They were accompanied by another missionary couple, Henry and Eliza Spalding. Henry had proposed earlier to Narcissa, but she had turned him down flat.

Despite the awkward situation, the four pioneers seemed to get along fairly well, although the Spaldings and Whitmans did split up when they arrived in Oregon Country.

Today, in a remote section of Wyoming, there still stands a stone monument commemorating Narcissa and Eliza as the first white women to travel across the Rockies. The monument doesn't mention whether their husbands got along.