First Settlements of Washington State

Doctor John McLoughlin, autocrat of Fort Vancouver, at the instigation of the London managers of the Hudson’s Bay Company, but contrary to his own judgment, exercised his influence to induce the incoming citizens of the United States not to locate themselves north of the Columbia River, as in the partition presently to be made all that region would probably be British territory. To the average American emigrant of that day the simple fact that a Britisher should wish him not to settle in any certain part of the undivided territory was of itself sufficient incentive for him to select that spot, provided it was not much worse than any other. There must be some special attraction in the direction of Puget Sound, else the fur company would not so strongly advise people not to go there.

So thought Michael T. Simmons, a stanch. Kentuckian, whom the reader has met before, history of Oregon, he being of the immigration 1844, and spending the ensuing winter with family at Fort Vancouver, where he made shingles to pay expenses, his wife meanwhile improving the time by giving birth to a son, named Christopher, the American born in western Washington.

Simmons was a fine specimen of a man, and representative of the class that went into Washington about this time, determined to remain there, particularly if England’s majesty ordered them out. Just past thirty, having been born at Sheppar the 5th of August, 1814, possessing the grand physique of the early men of Kentucky, unlettered though not unenlightened, he possessed the qualities which in feudal times made men chiefs and founders of families. His courage was equaled only by his independence; he could not comprehend the idea of a superior, having come from a land wherein all kings though they ruled only a pigsty or a potato patch.

He had intended to settle in the valley of Rogue River before so much had been said against his going north, but this determined him. During the winter of 1844-5, with five companions,[1] he proceeded northward, but only reached the fork of the Cowlitz whence he returned to Fort Vancouver. Again he set out the following July with eight others[2] and guided beyond Cowlitz prairie by Peter Borcier, who had performed the same service for Wilkes in 1841, he not only reached the Sound, but made a voyage as far as Whidbey Island, satisfying himself of the commercial advantages of this region. Then he made his selection at the head of Budd inlet where Des Chutes River drops by successive falls a distance of eighty feet, constituting a fine mill-power. The place had the further advantage of being at no great distance from Fort Nisqually, the only supply post in this part of the territory, with the French settlements to the south of it on the Cowlitz prairie constituting a link with the Columbia River and Willamette settlements. The selection for the purposes of a new community in a new country was a good one, and was prompted by a desire somewhat similar to that of the Methodist missionaries to get possession of Oregon City, on account of the waterpower.

Having chosen his site, he returned to the Columbia to remove his family, which he did in October, accompanied by James McAllister, David Kindred, Gabriel Jones, George W. Bush, and their wives and children, five families in all, and two single men, Jesse Ferguson and Samuel B. Crockett, these seven men being the first Americans[3] to settle in the region of Puget Sound,[4] although John R. Jackson, of the same immigration, had been a little beforehand with them in point of time, and selected a claim five miles north of the French settlements, and ten miles beyond the Cowlitz landing, on a small tributary of that river, near the trail to the Chehalis,[5] which site he called Highlands, and where he had already erected a house.[6]

It required fifteen days to open a road for the passage of the ox-teams from Cowlitz landing to Inlet, a distance of less than sixty miles. Simmons named his place New Market, but subsequent settlers called it by the Indian, and more appropriate, name Tumwater,[7] which it keeps, and which to avoid confusion I shall hereafter use.

The seven Puget Sound settlers took their claims within a radius of six miles, Kindred two miles south of Tumwater, McAllister about six miles northeast and the others intermediate, on a sandy plain mow known as Bush prairie, from George W. Bush.[8] the same summer or autumn George Waunch located himself on the Skookum Chuck, making the ninth man not in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s service settled north of the Cowlitz farm in 1845.

The first house was built on Kindred’s claim, a west edge of Bush prairie,[9] Simmons building at Tumwater the following summer. These men had enough to do to discharge their debts to the Hudson’s Bay Company. McLoughlin and Douglas, who, notwithstanding their efforts to turn the American settlers south of the Columbia, seeing they would go north, gave the officers of the company on Cowlitz prairie and at Fort Nisqually orders to furnish Simmons’ company with 200 bushels of wheat at eighty cents a bushel, 100 bushels of pease at one dollar, 300 bushels of potatoes at fifty cents, and a dozen head of cattle at twelve dollars each.[10] During the winter they were visited by a party of four men, who proceeded as far as Nisqually, but did not remain in this region.[11] In March Mrs McAllister[12] gave birth to a son, who was named James Benton, the first American born on Puget Sound.

In the following year as many American men settled north of the Cowlitz and about the head of the Sound as in 1845, but not as many families. At the confluence of the Skookum Chuck and the Chehalis, halfway from the Cowlitz landing to Tumwater, two claims were made by Sidney S. Ford[13] and Joseph Barst. Those who went to the Sound were Charles H. Eaton,[14] and his brother Nathan, who located himself on the east side of Budd Inlet, on what is now called Chambers prairie, being the first to take claim north of Tumwater; Edmund Sylvester,[15] Oregon City, who, in partnership with Levi L. Smith, took two half-sections of land, one directly on Budd Inlet, two miles below Tumwater, and the other on the edge of Chambers prairie; Alonzo Marion Poe, Daniel D. Kinsey, and Antonio B. Rabbeson.[16] Several other persons arrived at the Sound during the autumn, but did not remain at that time.[17]

In January 1847 three brothers from Marion County named Davis, one with a family, arrived at Tumwater, besides Samuel Cool, A. J. Moore, Benjamin Gordon, Leander C. Wallace, Thomas W. Glasgow, and Samuel Hancock.[18] In March there arrived Elisha and William Packwood, with their families. The first settled on land later owned by David J. Chambers. Packwood abandoned it in August to return to the Willamette. William Packwood took a claim on the south bank of the Nisqually, and there remined.[19] During the summer John Kindred, J. B. Logan, B. F. Shaw, Robert Logan, and A. D. Carnefix joined the settlement at the head of the Sound, and on the 10th of June the Skookum Chuck settlement was re-enforced by the birth of Angeline Ford,P[20] the first American girl born north of the Columbia. Late in the autumn there arrived at the Sound Thorn Chambers, with his sons, David, Andrew, Thomas J. and McLean, two of whom had families,[21] and George Brail and George Shazar.

From Nisqually the settlers obtained pork, wheat, pease, potatoes, and such other needful articles as the company’s stores furnished. In 1846 Simmons put up a small flouring mill at Des Chutes falls, in a log house, with a set of stones hewn out of some granite blocks found on the beach, which was ready to grind the first crop of wheat, if not to bolt it; but unbolted flour was a luxury after boiled wheat.

Late the following year a sawmill was completed at Tumwater, built by M. T. Simmons, B. F. Shaw, E. Sylvester, Jesse Ferguson, A. B. Rabbeson, Gabriel Jones, A. D. Carnefix, and John R. Kindred, who formed the Puget Sound Milling Company, October 25, 1847, Simmons holding the principal number of shares, and being elected superintendent. The mill irons, which had been in use at Fort Vancouver, were obtained from the Hudson’s Bay Company. The lumber found a market among the settlers, but chiefly at Nisqually, where it was sent in rafts, and also a little later was in requisition to erect barracks and officers’ quarters at Steilacoom.[22] Shingle-making was also an important industry, shingles passing current at Fort Nisqually in exchange for clothing or other articles. Room for idlers there was none, and this was fortunate, since indolence in contact with savagery soon breeds vice, aggravated by enforced solitude.

Daniel D. Kinsey was the first lucky bachelor to secure a mate in these wilds, by marrying, on the 6th of July, 1847, Ruth Brock, M. T. Simmons, one of the judges of Vancouver County, officiating. Samuel Hancock and A. B. Rabbeson were the first to vary shingle-making with brick-making, these two taking a contract to burn a kiln of brick in July 1847, on the farm of Simon Plomondon at the Cowlitz. And thus they not only held their own in the new country, but increased in property and power,

As early as the summer of this second year they had begun to recognize the necessity of communication between points, and in August blazed out a trail from Tumwater to the claim of Sylvester and Smith, two miles below on the Sound, which now began to be called Smithfield, because Levi L. Smith resided there, and because it came to be the head of navigation by the law of the tides.

In the autumn of 1847, rendered memorable by the massacre at Waiilatpu, which alarmed these feeble settlements, and by the prevalence of measles among the Indians, for which the white people knew themselves held responsible by the miserable victims and their friends, there were few additions to the population. Jonathan Burbee, an immigrant of that year took to himself some land on the little Kalama River; Peter W. Crawford, E. West, and James O. Raynor located claims on the Cowlitz near its mouth, being the first settlers in this vicinity,[23] and Andrew J. Simmons took a claim on Cowlitz prairie, where he died February 1872.[24]

Nor were there many accessions to the population of the Sound in 1848. Rev. Pascal Ricard, oblate father, established a mission three miles below Tumwater, June 14th, on the eastern shore of the inlet, and thereby secured half a section of land to the church. Thomas W. Glasgow made a tour of exploration down the Sound, and took a claim on Whidbey Island, the first settlement attempted there, and situated northeast from the Port Townsend of Vancouver, directly facing the strait of Fuca. Here he erected a cabin and planted potatoes and wheat, loneliness seems to have been alleviated during his brief residence, a half-caste daughter testifying to the favor with which he was regarded by some native brunette;[25] yet he returned to Tumwater to secure other companions, and persuaded Rabbeson and Carnefix to accompany him back to his island home.

On the voyage, performed in a canoe, they proceeded to the head of Case Inlet, and carrying their canoe across the portage to the head of Hood canal, explored that remarkable passage. Carnefix turned back from the mouth of the Skokomish River,[26] Glasgow and Rabbeson continuing on to Whidbey Island, which they reached in July. But they were not permitted to remain. Soon after their arrival a general council of the tribes of the Sound was held on the island, at the instigation of Patkanim, chief of the Snoqualimichs, to confer upon the policy of permitting American settlements in their country. It was decided that Glasgow must quit the island, which he was at length forced to do,[27] escaping by the aid of an Indian from the vicinity of Tumwater.

Glasgow seems to have taken a claim subsequently in Pierce County, and to have finally left territory.[28]

During this summer Hancock took a claim on the west side of Budd Inlet, and built a wharf and warehouse; but having subsequently engaged in several commercial ventures involving loss, he settled in 1852 on Whidbey Island, Patkanim having in the mean time failed in his design of exterminating the American settlers. Rabbeson, glad to be well away from the neighborhood of the Snoqualimich chief, went with Ferguson to work in the wheat fields of the Cowlitz farm, now in charge of George B. Roberts, where they taught the Frenchmen to save grain by cradling, after which the new method was high in favor and the cradling party in demand.

All at once this wholesome plodding was interrupted by the news of the gold discovery in California, and every man who could do so set off at once for the gold-fields. They made flat-boats and floated their loaded wagons down the Cowlitz River to where the old Hudson’s Bay Company’s trail left it, drove their ox-teams to the Columbia River opposite St. Helen, and again taking the trail from the old McKay farm, which the Lees had travelled in 1834, emerged on the Tualatin plains, keeping on the west side of the Willamette to the head of the valley. They here came into the southern immigrant road which they followed to its junction with the Lassen trail to the Sacramento Valley, where they arrived late in the autumn, having performed this remarkable journey without accident.[29]

The rush to the mines had the same temporary effect upon the improvement of the country north of the Columbia that I have noticed in my account of the gold excitement in the Willamette Valley. Farming, building, and all other industries were suspended, while for about two years the working population of the country were absent in search of gold. This interruption to the steady and healthy growth which had begun has been much lamented by some writers,[30] with what justice I am unable to perceive; because although the country stood still in respect to agriculture and the ordinary pursuits of a new and small population, this loss was more than made up by the commercial prosperity which the rapid settlement of the Pacific coast bestowed upon the whole of the Oregon territory, and especially upon Puget Sound, which without the excitement of the gold discovery must have been twenty years in gaining the milling and other improvements it now gained in three.

In the mean time, and before these results became apparent, the settlements on the Sound were threatened with a more serious check by the Snoqualimichs, who about the first of May attacked Fort Nisqually with the intention of taking it, and if they had succeeded in this, Patkanim’s plans for the extermination of the white people would have been carried out. In this affair Leander C. Wallace was killed, and two other Americans, Walker and Lewis, wounded, the latter surviving but a short time. For this crime Quallawort, a brother of Patkanim, and Kassass, another Snoqualimich chief, suffered death by hanging, as related in a previous volume.[31] This was a somewhat different termination from that anticipated. Patkanim, even after the Snoqualimichs were repulsed, sent word to the American settlers that they would be permitted to quit the country by leaving their property. To this they answered that they had come to stay, and immediately erected block houses at Tumwater and Skookum Chuck. This decided movement, with the friendship of the Indians on the upper part of the Sound, and the prompt measures of Governor Lane, who arrived March 2d at Oregon City, followed by the establishment of Fort Steilacoom about the middle of July, crushed an incipient Indian war.[32]

The outbreak did not seriously interrupt the dawning fortunes of the settlers, who were scrupulously careful to prevent any difficulties with the natives by a custom of uniform prices for labor and goods, and go perfect equity in dealing with them.[33]

Owing to the California exodus, the year 1849 was remarkable only for its dearth of immigration. But by the end of the year most of the gold hunters were back on their claims, somewhat richer than before in the product of the mines. Early in January 1850 there arrived the first American merchant vessel to visit the Sound since its settlement. This was the brig Orbit, William H. Dunham master, from Calais, Maine. She had brought a company of adventurers to California, who having no further use for her, sold her for a few thousand dollars to four men, who thought this a good investment, and a means of getting to Puget Sound. Their names were I. N. Ebey, B. F. Shaw, Edmund Sylvester, and one Jackson. There came as passenger also Charles Hart Smith, a young man from Maine and a friend of Captain Dunham. M. T. Simmons, who had not gone to the mines, had sold, in the autumn of 1849, his land claim at Tumwater, with the mills, to Crosby[34] and Gray, formerly of Portland, for thirty-five thousand dollars. With a portion of this money he purchased a controlling interest in the Orbit, and taking C. H. Smith as partner, sent the brig back to San Francisco with a cargo of piles, with Smith as supercargo, to dispose of them and purchase a stock of general merchandise. The vessel returned in July, and the goods were opened at Smithfield, which by the death of Smith[35] had come to be the sole property of Sylvester, and was now called Olympia, at the suggestion of I. N. Ebey.[36] Sylvester’s claim on the prairie was abandoned when he took possession of the claim on the Sound,[37] and was taken by Captain Dunham of the Orbit, who was killed by being thrown from his horse[38] July 4, 1851, the government reserving the land for his heirs, who long after took possession.

In order to give his town a start, Sylvester offered to give Simmons two lots for business purposes, which were accepted; and a house of rough boards, two stories high-its ground dimensions twenty feet front by forty in depth-was erected at the corner of First and Main streets, and the cargo of the Orbit displayed for sale,[39] Smith acting as clerk. The firm had a profitable trade, as we may well believe when cooking-stoves without furniture sold for eighty dollars[40] American commerce was thus begun with a population of not more than one hundred citizens of the United States in the region immediately about Puget Sound.[41] Three of the crew of the British ship Albion settled in the region of Steilacoom; namely, William Bolton, Frederick Rabjohn, and William Elders. If it is true, as I have shown in a previous volume,[42] that the Americans, as soon as they were armed with the power by congress, exhibited a most unfriendly exclusiveness toward the British company which had fostered them in its way, it is easy to perceive that they were actuated partly by a feeling of revenge, and a desire for retaliation for having been compelled to show the rents in their breeches as a reason for requiring a new pair,[43] and to account for the rents besides, to prove that the Indian trade had not been interfered with. Now these irrepressible Americans were bringing their own goods by the shipload, and peddling them about the Sound in canoes under the noses of the company. It was certainly an unequal contest when legal impediment was removed.

In the Orbit came John M. Swan,[44] who in 1850 settled on a claim immediately east of Olympia, which became Swantown. Another passenger was Henry Murray, who took a claim east of Steilacoom. In July Lafayette Balch, owner of the brig George Emory, arrived at Olympia with a cargo of goods, which he unloaded at that place; but finding he could not get such terms as he desired from the owner of the town lots, he put his vessel about and went down the Sound, establishing the town of Port Steilacoom, putting up a large business house, the frame of which he brought from San Francisco, and to which he removed the goods left at Olympia to be sold by Henry C. Wilson,[45] who appears to have arrived with Balch, and who settled on the west shore of Port Townsend on the 15th of August. On the 15th of October I. N. Ebey took up the claim from which Glasgow had been ejected by the Indians on the west side of Whidbey Island, about a mile south of Penn Cove. R. H. Lansdale about the same time took a claim at the head of Penn Cove, where the town of Coveland was ultimately laid out. In November the George Emory, which had made a voyage to San Francisco, brought up as passengers half a dozen men who intended getting out a cargo of piles for that market, and who landed five miles north of Steilacoom. One of their number, William B. Wilton, selecting a claim, built a cabin, and the adventurers went to work with a will to make their fortunes. Their only neighbor was William Bolton, who could not have been very well supplied with the requirements for a life in the woods, as they were unable to obtain oxen to drag the fallen timber to the water’s edge, and in April 1851 abandoned their enterprise, after disposing of as much of the timber they had felled as could be loaded on a vessel without the aid of oxen. Two of their number, Charles C. Bachelder and A. A. Plummer,[46] then went to Port Townsend, and took claims on Point Hudson, about a mile northwest of Wilson, where they were joined in November by L. B. Hastings and F. W. Pettygrove, formerly of Oregon City and Portland, who had ruined himself by speculating in property at Benicia, California. In February, J. G. Clinger[47] and Pettygrove and Hastings took claims adjoining those of Bachelder and Plummer on the north and west, and soon these four agreed to lay out a town, and to devote a third of each of their claims to town-site purposes-a fair division, considering the relative size and location of the Bachelder and Plummer, being unmarried, could take no more than a quarter-section under the Oregon land law, which granted but 160 acres as a donation when such claim was taken after the 1st of December 1850, or by a person who was not a resident of Oregon previous to that time. Pettygrove and Hastings,[48] having both emigrated to the territory previous to 1850, and being married, were entitled to take a whole section, but their land, being less favorably situated for a town site, was worth less to the company; hence the terms of the agreement.

The new town was named after the bay upon which it was situated, Port Townsend, and the owners constituted a firm for the prosecution of trade.[49]

As timber was the chief marketable product of the country, and as Hastings and Pettygrove were owners of three yokes of oxen, the company at once set to work cutting piles and squaring timbers; at which labor they continued for about two years, loading several vessels,[50] and carrying on a general merchandise business besides.[51]

In May 1852 Albert Briggs settled a mile and a half south from Port Townsend,[52] and in September came Thomas M. Hammond, who took a narrow strip of land west of the claims of Hastings and Wilson, and which, coming down to the bay, adjoined Briggs on the north.[53] The names of all the donation land claimants about Port Townsend are here mentioned in my account of its settlements.

In the latter part of August 1851, in the van of the immigration, arrived at Portland John N. Low and C. C. Terry. In September they took their cattle and whatever live-stock they possessed down the Columbia, and by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trail to the valley of the Chehalis, where they were left, while Low[54] and Terry proceeded to the Sound to explore for a town site, fixing at last upon Alki Point, on the west side of Elliott Bay, where a claim was taken about the 25th, and a house partially constructed of logs. They found that others were preparing to settle in the vicinity, and were encouraged. John C. Holgate, a young man and an immigrant of 1847, who had served in the Cayuse war, had visited the east side of Elliott Bay in 1850, selecting a claim for himself.[55]

Previous to the arrival of Low and Terry at Alki Point, Luther M. Collins took a claim in the valley of the Dwamish or White River,[56] and before they returned to Portland, Collins, Henry Van Assalt, and Jacob and Samuel Maple arrived and settled upon the Dwamish, where they had previously taken clairns.[57]

Leaving their house half built, the settlers at Alki Point returned to Portland, where Low had left his wife and four children. Here they found Arthur A. Denny, also from Illinois, although born in Indiana, with a wife and two children; William N. Bell, a native of Illinois, with a wife and two children; and C. D. Boreal, with a wife and child; besides David T. Denny, unmarried-who were willing to accept their statement that they had discovered the choicest spot for a great city to be found in the northwest.

On the 5th of November this company took passage on the schooner Exact, Captain Folger, which had been chartered to carry a party of gold-hunters to Queen Charlotte Island, and Low’s party with a few others to Puget Sound. The Alki Point settlers arrived at their destination on the 13th, and were disembarked at low tide, spending the dull November afternoon in carrying their goods by hand out of the reach of high water, assisted by the women and children. “And then,” says Bell, artlessly, in an autograph letter, “the women sat down and cried.”[58] Poor women! Is it any wonder? Think of it: the long journey overland, the wearisome detention in Portland, the sea-voyage in the little schooner, and all to be set down on the beach of this lonely inland sea, at the beginning of a long winter, without a shelter from the never-ceasing rains for themselves or their babes. It did not make it any easier that nobody was to blame, and that in this way only could their husbands take their choice of the government’s bounty to them. It was hard, but it is good to know that they survived it, and that a house was erected during the winter that was in a measure comfortable.[59]

Low and Terry laid out a town at Alki Point, calling it New York, and offering lots to those members of the company who would remain and build upon them. But the Indians in the vicinity had given information during the winter concerning a pass in the Cascade Range which induced the majority to remove in the spring of 1852 to the east side of the bay, where they founded a town of their own, which they called Seattle, after a chief of the Dwamish tribe residing in the vicinity, who stood high in the estimation of the American settlers.[60]

D. T. Denny, W. N. Bell, A. A. Denny, and C. D. Boren took claims in the order mentioned on the east shore, D. T. Denny’s being farthest north, and Boren’s adjoining on the south a claim made at the same time by D. S. Maynard from Olympia, who in turn adjoined Holgate, and who kept the first trading- house in the town. Seattle was laid off upon the water front from about the middle of Maynard’s claim, a larger one than either of the others,[61] and on which the first house was built, to the north line of Bell’s claim. Then in the autumn came Henry L. Yesler, who was looking for a mill site, and who was admitted to the water front by a re-arrangement of the contiguous boundaries of Boren and Maynard.[62]

Before proceeding to these decisive measures, the town-site company made a careful hydrographic survey of the bay, Bell and Boren paddling the canoe while Denny took the soundings. On the 23d of May, 1853, the town plat was filed for record,[63] Bell keeping, his claim separate, from which it was long called Belltown. Being really well situated, and midway between Port Townsend and Olympia, it rewarded its founders by a steady growth and by becoming the county seat of King County. Its population in 1855 was about three hundred.

The embryo city of New York never advanced beyond a chrysalid condition; but after having achieved a steam sawmill, a public house, and two or three stores, and after having changed its name to Alki, an Indian word signifying in the future, or by and by, which was both name and motto, it gave way to its more fortunate rival. It had a better landing than Seattle at that time, but a harbor that was exposed to the winds, where vessels were sometimes blown ashore, and was otherwise inferior in position.[64] Terry, at the end of two years, removed to Seattle, where he died in 1867.[65] Low went to California and the east, but finally returned to Puget Sound and settled in Seattle.

Footnotes

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  1. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  2. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  3. I purposely leave out Richmond, who was not a ‘settler,’ and who abandoned the mission. Ferguson married Margaret Rutledge May 29, 1853. Olympia Columbian. June 4, 1853.
  4. Every part of the great Washington Inlet was now coming to be called Puget Sound. It so appears in the writings of almost all authors, besides being always referred to in conversation by that name. Admiralty Inlet was found too long a name, and the first settlements of both English and Americans were upon that portion called after Puget, which tended to establish its use, for in passing up and down these waters it was not easy to discern where one division ended and another began. Says Eugene Ellicot, of the U. S. coast survey, who has been in that service since 1864: ‘Vancouver named the head of the sound above Dana’s passage Puget Sound. Twenty years ago the designation had extended itself in popular use as far as Point Defiance (at the foot of The Narrows). Now it is applied to the whole sound as far as Bellingham Bay. Instead of Admiralty Inlet, the U. S. chart now calls it Puget Sound. Ellicot’s Puget Sound, MS., i. Indeed, however it happened, it is not correct to call these waters, in some places well nigh fathomless, by the name of sound, which implies shallowness, but there is no withstanding custom and convenience.
  5. Sometimes called Chickeeles. See Native, Races, i. 303.
  6. Jackson, I am told, intended going to the Sound, and as early as March set out with the design of taking up the waterpower at the falls of Des Chutes, which he had heard of; but owing to the difficulty of travel at this she proceeded no farther than Simon Plomondon’s place on the Newaukum confluent of the Chehalis. But about the second week in July he again set forth for Puget Sound, accompanied by W. P. Dougherty, H. A. G. Lee, Joseph Watt, Jacob Haldry, and Stewart. The Oregonians turned back from the Chehalis, and Jackson, after exploring the country in that vicinity, returned to the Cowlitz and took a claim as above stated. While returning for his family he met Simmons’ party. John R. Jackson was a native of Durham, parish of Steindrop, England, born Jan. 13, 1800. He landed at New York Sept. 27, 1833, and went directly to Illinois, where he settled Nov. 5th, leaving his first American home for Oregon in 1844. He was a butcher, kept a public house at Highlands, and dispensed good-cheer with good-humored hospitality during the early days of Washington. His house was a rendezvous for the transaction of public business, the first courts in Lewis county being held there and there was discussed the propriety of a separate territorial organization. He died May 5, 1873. Olympia Transcript, May 31, 1873.
  7. Signifying strong water, referring to the falls. This word displaced both the Des Chutes or Falls River of the French, and the New Market Simmons. It is now common usage to say Tumwater Falls as well as Tumwater town. Skookum Chuck, the Chinook jargon for rapids, is better vernacular for strong water, and is the name of a branch of the Chehalis.
  8. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  9. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  10. Evans’ Historical Memoranda, consisting of a compilation of newspaper articles, chiefly written by himself, prepared as the foundation to future historical writing, and which he has generously placed in my hands, has furnished me with this item.
  11. They were Wainbow, Wall, Smith, and Pickett.
  12. Mrs McAllister died in 1874. Steilacoom Express, Sept. 10, 1874.
  13. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  14. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  15. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  16. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  17. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  18. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  19. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  20. Miss Ford married John Shelton.
  21. This family was of Scottish origin, but had been for half a century in the U. S., residing in Indiana and Kentucky. They emigrated to Oregon in 1845. Their goods being detained at The Dalles, in Feb. 1840, the sons constructed a flat-boat, 12 by 20 feet, with a whip-saw and hammer, using oak pins for nails, and loading it with 13 wagons and the goods of seven families, descended the Columbia. Thomas M. Chambers settled on the prairie southeast of Olympia which bears his name, and where Eaton had settled before him. Here he lived, and at an advanced age died. David J. located on a smaller plain 3½miles east of Olympia, and made a fortune in stock raising; Andrew settled between the Nisqually plains and Yelm prairie. The first mill in Pierce County, was erected by Thomas M., on Chambers Creek near Steilacoom. He was born in Kentucky in 1791, and died at Steilacoom Dec. 1876. Rebecca, wife of Andrew J. Chambers, died June 29, 1853. On the 18th of January 1854, he married Margaret White.
  22. The date of the lease from Simmons, proprietor of the claim, is August 20, 1847, to continue for 5 years with the privilege of ten. The site described was the northwest part of the lower fall. Evan’s Hist. Mem., ii.; Hist. Or., ii. 70, this series.
  23. In 1847, when Crawford, whose biography is given in my Hist. Or., i. 647, was looking for a place to settle, the only white persons living on the Cowlitz were Antoine Gobain, a Canadian, who had charge of the H. B. Bp.’s warehouse on the west bank of the river about two miles from the Columbia, and Thibault, another Canadian, who lived opposite on the east bank. From there to the Cowlitz farms all was an unbroken wilderness. Crawford and West took their claims adjoining each other on the east bank, where Crawford permanently had his home, and Raynor on the west bank, where he designed laying out a town. Crawford’s Nar., MS., 98. Owen W. Bozarth, who was of the immigration of 1845, settled, as I suppose, about this time on Cathlapootle or Lewis River, so called from the land claim of A. Lee Lewis about 7 miles above the mouth.
  24. Olympia Wash. Standard, March 2, 1872. I find mention of Alexander Barron, who died in Feb. 1878; William Rutledge, who died June 1872; Henry Beehman, who died April 1879; Felix Dodd, who died the same month and year; J. H. Smith, who died May 1879; and John E. Picknell-all settled north of the Columbia this year.
  25. Glasgow’s daughter married William Hastie. Morse’s Wash. Ter., MS., j. 113.
  26. It was the turn of Carnefix to cook and attend to camp work. A chief seeing this thought him to be a slave, and offered to purchase him. The jests of his companions so annoyed Carnefix that he abandoned their company. Erans’ Hint. Mem. ii.
  27. Patkanim exhibited the tact in this instance which marked him as a savage of uncommon intelligence. Parade has a great effect upon the human mind, whether savage or civilized. Patkanim gave a great hunt to the assembled chiefs. A corral was constructed, with wings extending across the island from Penn Cove to Glasgow’s claim, and a drive made with dogs, by which more than 60 deer were secured for a grand banquet at the inauguration of the council. Patkanim then opened the conference by a speech, in which he urged that if the Americans were allowed to settle among them they would soon become numerous, and would carry off their people in large tire-ships to a distant country on which the sun never shone, where they would be left to perish. He argued that the few now present could easily be exterminated, which would discourage others from coming, and appealed to the cupidity of his race by representing that the death of the Americans in the country would put the Indians in possession of a large amount of property. But the Indians from the upper part of the Sound, who were better acquainted with the white people, did not agree with Patkanim. The chief of the bands about Tumwater, Snohodumtah, called by the Americans Grayhead, resisted the arguments of the Snoqualimich chief. Ho reminded the council that previous to the advent of the Americans the tribes from the lower sound often made war upon the weaker tribes of his section of the country, carrying them off for slaves, but that he had found the presence of the Boston men a protection, as they discouraged wars. Patkanim, lingered at this opposition, created a great excitement, which seemed to threaten a battle between the tribes, and Rabbeson becoming alarmed fled back to the settlements. Two days later Glasgow followed, being assisted to escape by a friendly Indian, but leaving behind him all his property. Id., 11-12.
  28. In July 1858 he married Ellen Horan. Olympia Pioneer Dem., July 30, 1858.
  29. See Hist. Or., ii. 45, this series. Also Rabbeson’s Growth of Towns 11-12; Hancock’s Thirteen Years, MS., 105-17. Sylvester, who with Rabbeson, Ferguson, and Borst went to California in the spring of 1849, the route as I have given it. His company had one wagon and 4 yokes of oxen; and there were three other wagons in the train. They started in April and reached Sacramento in July. Olympia, MS., 13-15.
  30. Evans says, in his Hist. Mem. 16, that ‘the exodus in search of gold was a grievous check, and that years of sober advancement and industry were required to recuperate from its consequences.’ I have mentioned in my history of Oregon that other writers take the same view.
  31. Hist. Or., ii. 67-8, 80.
  32. Writers on this attack on Nisqually have laid too little stress on Patkanim’s designs. Taken in connection with the proceedings of the previous summer at Whidbey Island, the intention seems clear; the quarrel with the Nisquallies was but a pretence to account for the appearance at the fort of the Snoqualimichs in their war-paint. The killing of the Americans was but an incident, as they could not have known that they should meet a party of the settlers there. The plan was to capture the fort and the supply of ammunition, after which it would have been quite easy to make an end of the settlements, already deprived by the exodus to California of a large share of their fighting material. The H. B. Co., confident of their influence with the Indians, either did not suspect or did not like to admit that the Snoqualimichs intended mischief to them, though Tolmie confesses that when he went outside the fort to bring in Wallace’s body he was aimed at; but the person was prevented firing by a Sinahomish Indian present, who reproved him, saying, ‘Harm enough done for one day.’ Tolmie’s Puget Sound, MS. 35. All accounts agree that Patkanim was inside the fort when the firing by the Snoqualimichs was commenced, and that it began when a gun was discharged inside the fort to clean it. May not this have been preconcerted signal? But the closing of the gates with the chief inside, and the firing from the bastion, disconcerted the conspirators, who retreated to cover
  33. Evans mentions in his Hist. Mem., 16, that Patterson, an immigrant of 1847, who afterward left the country, became indebted to an Indian for bringing his family up the Cowlitz River, but could not pay him, and gave his note for 12 months. At the end of the year the Indian came to claim his pay, but still the man had not the money, on learning which the Indian offered to take a heifer, which offer was declined. The Indian then went to the white settlement at Tumwater and entered his complaint, when a meeting was called and a committee appointed to return with him to the house of the debtor, who was compelled to deliver up the heifer. This satisfied the creditor and kept the peace.
  34. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  35. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  36. Evans’ Historical Notes, a collection of authorities on the early settlements, with remarks by Evans, gives Ebey as the author. Sylvester says, speaking of Ebey, ‘We got the name from the Olympic range;’ from which I have no doubt Evans is correct. The town was surveyed by William L. Frazer in 1S50; and afterward by H. A. Goldsborough, who, it will be remembered, remained in the territory when the U. S. steamer Massachusetts sailed away in the spring of 1850. Hist. Or., ii., chap. ix., this series.
  37. Sylvester, in his Olympia, MS., does not mention L. L. Smith, but speaks only of himself, and gives the impression that he alone settled at Olympia in 1S40. This evasion of a fact puzzled me until I came upon the explanation in Evans’ Hist. Notes, 2, where he mentions Sylvester’s reticence in the matter of Smith, and tells us that it arose from an apprehension that Smith’s heirs might some time lay claim to the town site and disturb the title. This fear Evans declares to be groundless, and that Sylvester ‘lawfully survived to the sole ownership of Smith’s claim,’ by the partnership clause of the Oregon land law.
  38. Swan, in Olympia Club, MS., 6.
  39. The Orbit, being of little or no use to her owners, Simmons having sold his mills, was taken to the Columbia by Captain Butler for her owners in the summer of 1851. She got into the breakers on the bar and was abandoned. The tide returning floated her into Baker Bay in safety. Some persons who beheld her drifting took her to Astoria and claimed salvage; but Simmons brought her back to the Sound, where she was finally sold at marshal’s sale, and purchased by a company consisting of John M. Swan, II. A. Goldsborongh, and others, who loaded her with piles and undertook to navigate her to the S. I. They met with a gale in Fuca Straits and had their rigging blown to pieces, but managed to get into Esquimault harbor, where they sold the vessel to the H. B. Co. for $1,000. The company refitted her, changed her name to the Discovery, and used her on the northern coast until 1858, when she was employed as a police vessel on Fraser River in collecting licenses. Afterward she was resold to Leonard, of the firm of Leonard &- Green of Portland, and her name of Orbit restored; she was taken to China and again sold, where she disappears from history. She is remembered as the first American vessel that ever penetrated to the head of Puget Sound, or engaged in a commerce with Americans on its waters. Olympia Club, MS., 2-S.
  40. Rabbeson, in Olympia Club, MS., 3.
  41. Rabbeson says that in the winter of 1849 or spring of 1850, at the time the British ship Albion was lying at Dungeness cutting spars, ho went down to that port with Eaton and others, and in returning lie fell in with an American vessel coining up for piles, which he piloted to the upper sound, securing the contract for furnishing the cargo. He thinks her name was The Plebide.4, and the next vessel in the sound the Robert Bowen. Growth of Towns, MS., 14.
  42. Inst. Or., ii., 104-6, this series.
  43. Sylvester’s Olympia, MS., 12.
  44. Do not know Swan’s antecedents, except that he was in the mines in April 1849, and that after working there for three months he became ill, and determined to go north as soon as he could get away, for his health. Finding the Orbit about to sail, he took passage in her. His idea was to go to V. L, but when he arrived at Victoria he found the terms of colonization there repulsive to him, and went on with the vessel to the head of Puget Sound, where he remained. Swan’s Colonization, MS., 2.
  45. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  46. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  47. Pettygrove and Hastings arrived in the schooner Mary Taylor, from Portland. Plummer, in Wash. Sketches, MS., a collection of statements taken down by my shorthand reporter, says that into his cabin, 15 by 30 feet, were crowded for a time the families of Pettygrove, Hastings, and Clinger. Houses were erected as soon as they conveniently could be on the claims taken by these settlers, and could not have been ready much before spring.
  48. Briggs, in his Port Townsend, MS., containing a history of the immigration of 1847, early Oregon matters, and an account of the settlement of port Townsend, says that Hastings was in his company crossing the plains. Briggs settled on the Santiam, where Hastings paid him a visit, persuading him to go to Puget Sound. Hastings and Pettygrove then went over to look for a location, and fixed upon Port Townsend.
  49. In the agreement between the partners, says Briggs, 83,000 was to be put into a joint stock to carry on merchandising and a fishery, neither partner to draw out more than the net income according to their share; but at the end of three years the original stock might be drawn from the concern. A condition was imposed, on account of habits of intemperance on the part of Baehelder and Pettygrove, that if any member of the firm should be declared incompetent by a vote of the others to attend to business on account of drink, he should forfeit his interest and quit the company. Bachelder lost his share by this agreement, receiving a few hundred dollars for his land from Petty- grove. He died at Port Ludlow not long after. Id., 24-5.
  50. The brig Wellingsley several times, brig James Marshall once, ship Minter once, and bark Mary Adams once. Plummer, in Wash. Sketches, Ms. 40.
  51. The first house erected in Port Townsend after Plummer’s was by R. M. Caines, for a hotel on Water Street, later occupied as the Argus newspaper office. Then followed residences by Wilson, J. G. Clinger, who had taken a land claim a mile and a half south of the town, Benjamin Ross, who with his brother R. W. Ross had located land fronting on the Fuca sea at the head of the strait, William Webster, John Price, and E. S. Fowler, who had a stock of merchandise. Plummer, in Wash. Sketches, MS., 40-1. Mrs Clinger was the mother of the first white child born in Port Townsend.
  52. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  53. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  54. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  55. I follow the account of Mrs Abby J. Hanford, who, in a manuscript giving an account of the Settlement of Seattle and the Indian War, makes this positive statement concerning Holgate’s visit. Mrs Hanford was a sister of Holgate, whose family came to Oregon in 1853, and to Wash. in 1854. Mrs Elizabeth Holgate, mother of Mrs Hanford, was born at Middleton, Connecticut, in 1796; was married at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1818, to A. L. Holgate, who died in 1847, and accompanied her children to Oregon. She died in Jan. 1880, at the house of her daughter, whose husband’s land adjoined that of J. C. Holgate. Seattle Intelligencer, Jan. 24, 1880.
  56. The river system of this region is peculiar; for example, White River and Cedar River both rise in the Cascade Mountains and have a northwest course. Cedar flows into Lake Washington, from which by the same mouth but a different channel it runs out again in a southwest course, called Black River, into White River, joining the two by a link little more than two miles long. Below this junction White River is called Dwamish, with no better reason than that the Indians gave that name to a section of the stream where they resided. There is a link by creeks and marshes between White River and the Puyallup, and the whole eastern shore of the Sound is a network of rivers, lakes, creeks, and swales, the soil of the bottomlands being very rich, but overgrown with trees of the water-loving species. Prairie openings occur at intervals, on which the settlements were made.
  57. I am thus particular in the matter of priority, because there is a slight but perceptible jealousy evident in my authorities as to the claim to precedence in settlement. From the weight of testimony, I think it may be fairly said that the Dwamish Valley was settled before Alki Point. Jacob Maple was born on the Monongahela River, Green County, Pennsylvania, 1798. His father removed to Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1800, and died in 1812. The family subsequently lived in southern Iowa, from which they immigrated to Oregon by the way of California, arriving in 1851. Morse’s Wash. Ter., MS., ii. 8. Another settler claiming priority is Martin Tafteson, who took a claim on Oak Harbor in 1851. Morse’s Wash. Ter., MS., xxi. 43-5.
  58. I have a valuable dictation by Mr Bell, entitled the Settlement of Seattle, MS., in which many historical facts are set forth in an interesting manner.
  59. Bell’s house was constructed of cedar planks split out of the tree, the Oregon cedar having a straight grain. These planks were made smoother with carpenter’s tools, and were joined neatly in the flooring. Some window- sash were obtained from Olympia, and the `first house in King county’ (I quote Bell) was after all a decent enough domicile when it was completed.
  60. Seattle is described as a dignified and venerable personage, whose carriage reminded the western men of Senator Benton; but I doubt if the Missouri senator would have recognized himself, except by a very great stretch of imagination, in this naked savage who conversed only in signs and grunts. It is said that Seattle professed to remember Vancouver-another stretch of the imagination. See Olympia Wash. Standard, April 25, 1868; Richardson’s Missis, 416. It is well known that the Indians north of the Columbia change their names when a relative dies, Swan’s N.W. Coast, 189, from a belief that the spirits of the dead will return on hearing these familiar names. Seattle, on hearing that a town was called by his name, and foreseeing that it would be a disturbance to his ghost when ho should pass away, made this a ground for levying a tax on the citizens while living, taking his pay beforehand for tho inconvenience he expected to suffer from the use of his name after death. Yesler’s Wash. Ter., MS., 6; Murphy, in Appleton’s Journal. 11, 1877.
  61. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  62. Washington Pioneers 1844 to 1852
  63. Morse’s Wash. Ter., MS., ii. 6.
  64. Ellicott’s Puget Sound, MS., 19.
  65. Terry had a trading post at Alki, as well as Low and S. M. Holderness. In 1856 he married Mary J. Russell, daughter of S. W. Russell, of the White River settlement. After her husband’s death in 1873, Mrs Terry married W. H. Gilliam, but died in 1875.


MLA Source Citation:

Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/washington/first-settlements-of-washington-state.htm - Last updated on Aug 16th, 2013


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