Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

A Church Service for the Mountain Men:

The following story takes place following the breakup of the 1835 Green River Rendezvous.  Marcus Whitman had returned back east to obtain additional resources for the mission work amongst the Indians, and Samuel Parker was intending to travel on to the Oregon Country.  For part of this journey Parker traveled with a mixed group of Mountain Men and Indians. 

"On the following day religious services were held in the Rocky Mountain Camp. A scene more unusual could hardly have transpired than that of a company of trappers listening to the preaching of the Word of God.  Very little pious reverence marked the countenances of that wild and motley congregation. Curiosity, incredulity, sarcasm, or a mocking levity, were more plainly perceptible in the expression of the men's faces, than either devotion or the longing expectancy of men habitually deprived of what they once highly valued. The Indians alone showed by their eager listening that they desired to become acquainted with the mystery of the " Unknown God." 

The Rev. Samuel Parker preached, and the men were as politely attentive as it was in their reckless natures to be, until, in the midst of the discourse, a band of buffalo appeared in the valley, when the congregation incontinently broke up, without staying for a benediction, and every man made haste after his horse, gun, and rope, leaving Mr. Parker to discourse to vacant ground. 

The run was both exciting and successful.  About twenty fine buffaloes were killed, and the choice pieces brought to camp, cooked and eaten, amidst the merriment, mixed with something coarser, of the hunters.  On this noisy rejoicing Mr. Parker looked with a sober aspect: and following the dictates of his religious feeling, he rebuked the sabbath-breakers quite severely. Better for his influence among the men, if he had not done so, or had not eaten so heartily of the tender-loin afterwards, a circumstance which his irreverent critics did not fail to remark, to his prejudice; and upon the principle that the 'Partaker is as bad as the thief,' they set down his lecture on sabbath-breaking as nothing better than pious humbug."   

This story was told to Francis Fuller Victor by Joe Meek and published in River of the West: The Adventures of Joe Meek

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