Re-enactment features pioneer priest


Fort Walla Walla Museum Living History Company performance will celebrate the arrival of a pioneer Catholic priest at at 2 p.m. Saturday and commemorate the 175th anniversary of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman's arrival on Sunday at the museum, 755 Myra Road.

Eugene Casimir Chirouse, Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.), traveled from his native France to Oregon Territory with four Missionary Oblates and after an arduous trip, arrived at Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Walla Walla along the Columbia River only a month before the Whitman Massacre.

Chirouse was ordained along with Charles M. Pandosy at Hudson's Bay Company Fort Walla Walla on Jan. 2, 1848, the first Catholic ordination in what would become the state of Washington.

Walla Walla County was formed April 25, 1854, and Fathers Chirouse and Pandosy ministered to Catholics. In 1853, Chirouse met with Gov. Isaac Stevens as the governor made his way from the east through the Walla Walla Valley to assume his duties in Olympia. Chirouse was also present at the Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855 conducted by Stevens.

At the end of 1856, during the Indian Wars, he was transferred to the Puget Sound area, where he lived and worked for most of the rest of his life, dying in British Columbia in 1892. Chirouse is portrayed by Jean-Paul Grimaud.

The Sunday performance highlights the contributions of early settlers. The Living History Company commemorates their arrival 175 years ago in a Town Meeting ensemble performance discussing the Whitman's contributions to regional heritage. Participating in the event will be Richard Monacelli as Hudson Bay Company factor William McBean, Harriet Hart Beach as missionary daughter Eliza Spalding Warren, Rogers Miles as missionary Rev. Cushing Eells, Jeannot Poirot as missionary Father J.B.A. Brouillet, Sam Pambrun as Hudson Bay Company factor Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun, Kristin Hair as artist Paul Kane, Mike Bates as mountain man Joe Meek, Stella Gryler as Oregon Trail orphan Catherine Sager and Jean-Paul Grimaud as missionary Father Eugene Chirouse, along with other members of the Company. The discussion will be moderated by E.B. Whitman, Walla Walla's first elected mayor, as portrayed by Dan Clark.

Visitors can take part in the general discussion, question the performers about their lives and visit the museum's exhibit commemorating the 1936 Whitman Centennial in the Entry Hall.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays except holidays November through March. Admission is free to members and children under 6, $3 for children ages 6-12, $6 for seniors 62 and older and students, and $7 general admission. For information, call Fort Walla Walla Museum at 509-525-7703, email or visit


Log in to comment