Biography of Col. Walter Crockett, Sr.
COL. WALTER CROCKETT, SR. – The lineal representatives of many of the distinguished families of the Atlantic states have become the builders of our own communities. Such was Colonel Crockett, who was in the line of the old Virginia family that went out West to settle in the early days of Braddock’s war. The father, Colonel Hugh, was of Norman-Irish descent, and earned his rank in the Revolutionary war. His mother, Rebecca Larton, was a Knickerbocker, born at Jersey City, New Jersey. It was near Shawsville on the upper Roanoke, whither the Colonel had gone to settle, that his son, Walter was born, January 29, 1786.
The boy spent his early years in school and on his father’s plantation, and came to manhood in ample time to participate in the war of 1812. He served under Captain, afterwards Governor Floyd of Virginia. He served with distinction, and thus led the way to political preferment. He was a member of the Virginia legislature three terms, and was an elector in the electoral college which elevated Jackson to the presidential chair. He was also for several years colonel of the Montgomery militia. He as generally influential in public affairs. It was in Virginia that he was joined in marriage to Mrs. Mary Black Ross, daughter of John Black, a man of distinction in the Old Dominion, and the founder of Blacksburg.
In 1838, however, Colonel Crockett determined to begin entirely new far in the West, and removed to Boone county, Missouri, and in 1840 to Putnam county. This location did not wholly satisfy him; and in 1851 he took the final step to reach the Pacific coast. With a few of the families from the neighborhood, embracing Robert Cochran of Eugene, Oregon, and the family of the late Colonel Ebey of Whidby Island, he repaired to the rendezvous, and in a considerable company performed the dangerous journey. The Indians were troublesome; and the travelers were little beyond Omaha before they had their cattle stamped, some of which were killed by the savages. There were subsequently many similar annoyances; and in a brush with the Bannacks, near the present site of Pocatello, the Colonel’s second son John, a veteran of the Mexican war, and an old Indian fighter, escaped death only by the rifle ball striking and glancing from his powder horn. After reaching Oregon Colonel Crockett directed his course to Olympia, whence, in December of 1851, he removed to Whidby Island, locating upon the place still owned by Walter Crockett, Jr., and upon which was built in 1857 the stockade, a view of which will be found in this work.
Here the Colonel employed himself with his family in farming; and they all became prosperous. After a residence of eighteen years, during which his influence was brought to bear and was widely extended throughout the territory, he passed to the other shore.
The members of his family are well known on the Sound. John Crockett, of whom mention has already been made, is no longer living. Samuel B. Crockett, the eldest, is a pioneer of a very early time, having reached Oregon in 1844, and in 1845 was at Olympia with Michael T. Simmons, being first to build the flouring mill at Tumwater. Susan H. is now living at Seattle, and is the widow of Samuel Hancock, the well-known pioneer. Hugh is at Puyallup; and Charles and Walter, Jr., are living prosperously at Whidby Island.