Biography of Walter J. Reed

WALTER J. REED. – A view of this gentleman’s residence in North Yakima, Washington, his hotel (the Reed House in Cle-Elum), together with portraits of himself and his estimable wife, is placed among the illustrations of this work. Although not a pioneer of Washington Territory, he has been a great factor in the development of Yakima and Kittitass counties. He built the first two-story business house in North Yakima, and is the founder of the town of Cle-Elum, in Kittitas county. He has also advanced a great many matters of substantial interest in both counties, and is one of the best-known citizens of Kittitas and Yakima counties.

He is a native of “Scotland’s fair land,” was born near Edinburgh, April 3, 1842, and is the eldest son of John and Isabella (Craig) Reed. When our subject was six years of age, his parents emigrated to American, first locating near Logan, Hocking County, Ohio. Four years later they moved to Cumberland, Alleghany County, Maryland, where his father, being a thorough miner, found employment as superintendent of mines; and Walter attended school. In 1856 they again returned to Ohio, this time locating in Cambridge, and in 1859 took up their residence in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, his father in all the different places being superintendent of mines.

August 1, 1861, our subject, then being but nineteen years of age, enlisted in Company K, Sixty-third Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, his regiment being among the first three-year men to enlist in the main cause, and was immediately assigned to the Army of the Potomac, with whom they remained and took a prominent part in all the bloody engagements in which that grand army participated. At the famous battle of Gettysburg, Mr. Reed received a Minié ball in the left leg, a memento of which he carries to-day in the shape of a small hole through that limb.

The patriotism of the Reed family for their adopted country is best shown by the sacrifices they have sustained. His father, himself and younger brother, James, all enlisted in different Pennsylvania regiments, went forth to fight for the preservation of the Union. His father and brother were taken prisoners; and the former, after nine months in the awful Andersonville prison, succumbed to the fate that befell thousands in that pen. His brother, only nineteen years of age, died in the prison at Saulsbury, North Carolina. Mr. Reed, at the expiration of his term of service, although his inclination was to remain in the army, but being prompted by the filial duty he owed to his mother and younger members of the family who had been bereft of their natural protector, returned to his home in Pennsylvania to care for his widowed mother.

On his return from the war, he embarked in different enterprises until the spring of 1878, when, on account of Mrs. Reed’s health, he concluded to seek a milder climate. He in that year came to California. After a short sojourn in that place, he came to California. After a short sojourn in that place, he came to The Dalles, Oregon, and from that point started to seek a location in Eastern Oregon; but, after many narrow escapes from the red men of the forest, who were on the warpath in that part of the county in 1878, he concluded to seek a home where peace reigned. Having heard of the possibilities of the great Yakima country, he in the fall of 1879 came to the present site of North Yakima, and there located his “soldier’s” claim, part of which is now in the incorporated limits of North Yakima, where he resided until 1886; when, before the completion of the North Pacific Railroad, he took up the present site of Cle-Elum as a pre-emption claim. Through the natural generosity of Mr. Reed, his town has had a steady and prosperous growth; and in 1887 he built his present commodious hotel, the “Reed House,” which he now ably conducts.

To Mr. Reed more than to any other man is due the credit of the development of the great coal fields that surround Cle-Elum and Roslyn, as he was the actual discoverer of these valuable mines.

Mr. Reed, although having been but twelve years in the territory, has made money rapidly, and is to-day in very good circumstances. In all his movements and business transactions our subject has been ably assisted by his beloved wife, a lady of refinement and more than ordinary intelligence, as is indicated by the excellent portrait that appears in this work.

Mr. Reed was united in marriage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 1, 1864, to Miss Barbara A. Steiner, a native of Mercer county, Pennsylvania. Her father, Joseph Steiner, was the first white child born in what is now Mercer county, Pennsylvania, it being at that time, 1812, a portion of Erie county, Pennsylvania. He died at Mr. Reed’s home in Cle-Elum in October, 1888.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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