Matilda Sager Delaney, born in 1839, was a survivor of the Whitman Massacre at Waiilatpu Mission, located seven miles west of present day Walla Walla. She and her six siblings were taken in by Marcus and Narcissa Whitman in the autumn of 1844, as both Sager parents had died on the Oregon Trail that summer. On November 29, 1847, her life with the Whitmans came to an end. Matilda witnessed the massacre first-hand, including the murder of her brother, Frank, before her very eyes. She was one of nearly 50 taken captive by the Cayuse and ransomed by the Hudson’s Bay Company in January 1848. Though transported to safety in the Willamette Valley, her twice-orphaned life became one of hardship. Matilda was separated from her three surviving sisters and placed in the home of a brutal disciplinarian at age eight. She married at age 15 and moved to northern California to ranch with her first husband, Lewis M. Hazlitt. Hazlitt died in 1863, leaving Matilda with five young children. She married Hazlitt’s business partner, Matthew Fultz, in 1866, and had three more children. Matthew and Matilda moved to Farmington, Washington, in 1882, and established several businesses there, but Matthew died the following year. In 1890, Matilda was married for the final time to David Delaney of Farmington. She and a handful of other survivors were present at the semi-centennial observance of the Whitman Massacre, conducted in Walla Walla and at the Waiilatpu Mission site, in November 1897.
Matilda Sager Delaney is portrayed by Living History newcomer Susan Matley.
A Living History performance at Fort Walla Walla Museum brings history to life with reenactors portraying real people from the area's past. 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.