Biography of W. B. D. Newman

W.B.D. NEWMAN. – This well-known pioneer and veteran of the Indian wars comes of primitive stock of old Virginia, where the English family settled on the south bank of the Potomac, and where the father of our subject was born in 1793, and grew up to be a stout defender of the young American republic in the war of 1812. The mother, Matilda Downing, was also of Virginia, having come from that state to Kentucky. William was born in 1827 in the latter state, and two years later accompanied his parents to Ohio. Meeting with the loss of his mother at an early age, he was brought up under the care of his mother’s sister, and received his education at Ripley, Ohio.

At the age of fifteen he began work on his own responsibility on the banks of the Ohio River, and upon neighboring farms. His way led down the Ohio and the Mississippi, even to New Orleans, but not liking the South, he bent his steps towards the West. In 1848 he was in Illinois. Making also a trip to Indiana, he found there a party preparing to cross the continent to Puget Sound, and joined the company. A requirement of the organization made it necessary that for every four men there should be provided two yoke of oxen, or two span of horses, and the party set out in the spring for St. Joseph. Starting from that point in good style, they made the journey amid the usual difficulties, hardships and pleasures of the way, arriving at Olympia November 15th. A well-remembered circumstance of that event was their waiting by the shore of the Sound for the tide to fall so far as to allow them to get a breakfast of clams, which they took straight.

In 1854, having in the meantime made some inspection of the region, Mr. De Newman was engaged with Governor Stevens in taking the census of the Indians, and in the summer of 1855 was operating with Surveyor Byles in preparing the county for settlement. In the fall of that year he joined a company of volunteers to quell the Indians, who were on the war path and committing great depredations. he acted first as wagon-master, and after the building of the blockhouse on White river was sergeant at that post. He also participated in the sharp fight on May 8,1856, in which the savages were beaten back and forced to cross the Cascade Mountains. he accompanied his company in June across the mountains to Walla Walla, and passed over the Blue Mountains into the Grande Ronde, taking a part there in the horseback fight or running battle, in which the hostiles were thoroughly subdued and compelled to sue for peace.

In 1857 Mr. De Newman settled upon the Lower Chehalis, a region with which he was fully satisfied, and has lived upon his farm for nineteen years. During ten of these years he has operated a sawmill.

His farm is now reached by a railroad line, to which he has a way station of his own. There he lives to see the great progress of modern days, a happy, genial, prosperous man. He was married in 1868 to Mrs. Mary A. Reed, and has a family of three children, Sarah Belle, Emma Laura and William Clarence. There is also one child deceased.


Union County OR,

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

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