Settlers in King County, Washington from Oregon

In the spring of 1853 there arrived from the Willamette, where they had wintered, David Phillips 1 and F. Matthias from Pennsylvania, Dexter Horton and Hannah E., his wife, and Thomas Mercer, from Princetown, Illinois, 2 S. W. Russell, T. S. Russell, Hillery Butler, E. M. Smithers, John Thomas, and H. A. Smith. They came by the way of the Cowlitz and Olympia, whence they were carried down the Sound on board the schooner Sarah Stone, which landed at Alki, where the six last mentioned remained for the summer, removing to Seattle in the autumn. J. R. Williamson, George Buckley, Charles Kennedy, and G. N. McConaha and family, also arrived about this period, and settled at Seattle. A daughter born to Mrs McConaha in September was the first white native of King County.

There settled in the Dwamish or White River Valley, not far from the spring of 1853, William Ballston, D. A. Neely, J. Buckley, A. Hogine, J. Harvey, William Brown, a Mr. Nelson, and on Lake Washington 3 E. A. Clark.

The pursuits of the first settlers of Seattle and the adjacent country were in no wise different from those of Olympia, Steilacoom, and Port Townsend. Timber was the most available product of this region, and to getting out a cargo the settlers on the Dwamish River first applied themselves. Oxen being scarce in the new settlements previous to the opening of a road from Walla Walla over the Cascade Mountains, there was much difficulty in loading vessels, the crew using a block and tackle to draw the timber to the landing. 4

They cultivated enough land to insure a plentiful food supply, and looked elsewhere for their profits, a policy which the inhabitants of the Puget Sound region continued to pursue for a longer period than wisdom would seem to dictate. Many were engaged in a petty trade, which they preferred to agriculture, and especially the eastern-born men, who were nearly all traders. To this preference, more than to any other cause, should be attributed the insignificant improvements in the country for several years.

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About the time that Seattle was founded, B. I. Madison settled at New Dungeness, near the mouth of the Dungeness River. He was a trader in Indian goods and contraband whiskey, and I fear had many imitators. His trade did not prevent him from taking a land-claim. Soon afterward came D. F. Brownfield, who located next to Madison. During the summer, John Thornton, Joseph Leary, George B. Moore, John Donnell, J. C. Brown, and E. H. McAlmond settled in the immediate vicinity of New Dungeness, and engaged in cutting timber to load vessels. They had four yokes of oxen, and were therefore equipped for the business. That season, also, George H. Gerrish located himself near this point, and kept a trading post for the sale of Indian goods.

In the following spring came the first family, Thomas Abernethey and wife, C. M. Bradshaw 5 and several other single men followed, namely, S. S. Irvine, Joseph Leighton, Eliot Cline, John Bell, and E. Price. Irvine and Leighton settled east of New Dungeness on Squim Bay. The second family in the vicinity was that of J. J. Barrow, who first settled on Port Discovery Bay in 1852, but removed after a year or two to Dungeness. Port Discovery had other settlers in 1852-3, namely, James Kaymer, John E. Burns, John F. Tukey, Benjamin Gibbs, Richard Gibbs, James Tucker, 6 Mr Boswell, and Mr Gallagher.

There was also one settler on Protection Island in 1853, James Whitcom, who, however, abandoned his claim after a few months of lonely occupation. 7 Chimacum Valley had also one settler, R. S. Robinson, in 1853.

There was no part of the country on the Sound that settled up so rapidly during the period of which I am speaking as Whidbey Island. This preference was owing to the fact that the island contained about six thousand acres of excellent prairie land, and that the western men, who located on farms, were accustomed to an open country. No matter how rich the river- bottoms or poor the plains, they chose the plains rather than clear the river-bottoms of the tangled jungles which oppressed them. Whidbey Island possessed, besides its open lands, many- charms of scenery and excellences of climate, together with favorable, position; and hither came so many of the first agriculturalists that it was the custom to speak of the island as the garden of Puget Sound. Its first permanent settlers were, as I have mentioned, Isaac N. Ebey and R. H. Lansdale. 8

Lansdale first fixed his choice upon Oak Harbor, but removed to Penn Cove in the spring of 1852. The legislature of 1852-3 organized Island County, and fixed the county seat at Coveland, on Lansdale’s claim. He continued to reside there, practicing medicine, until he was made Indian agent, in December 1854, when his duties took him east of the Cascade Mountains, where he remained for some years. 9 The other settlers of 1851 were Uric Friend, Martin Taftson, William Wallace and family, James Mounts, Milton Mounts, Robert S. Bailey, Patrick Doyle, and G. W. Sumner. In 1852 came Walter Crockett, 10 with his son John and family, and five other children, Samuel, Hugh, Charles, Susan, and Walter, Jr, Judah Church, John Chondra, Benjamin Welcher, Lewis Welcher, Joseph S. Smith and family, S. D. Howe, G. W. L. Allen, Richard B. Holbrook, born and bred near Plymouth Rock, George Bell, Thomas S. Davis, John Davis, John Alexander and family, Mr Bonswell and family, N. D. Hill, 11 Humphrey Hill, W. B. Engle, Samuel Maylor, Thomas Maylor, Samuel Libbey, Captain Eli Hathaway, and Mr Baltic.

In the spring of 1853 the brig J. C. Cabot, Dryden master, brought to the island from Portland John Kellogg, James Busby, Thomas Hastie, Henry Ivens, John Dickenson, all of whom had families, Mrs Rebecca Maddox and five children, 12 Mrs Grove Terry and daughter Chloe, R. L. Doyle, who married Miss Terry, Nelson Basil, and A. Woodard, who subsequently went to Olympia. Others who settled on Whidbey Island in 1853 were Edward Barrington, 13 Robert C. Hill, Charles H. Miller, Nelson Miller, Captain Thomas Coupe, who founded Coupeville, John Kenneth, Isaac Powers, Captain William Robertson, 14 Charles Seybert, Thomas Lyle, all of whom had families, Henry McClurg, Captain B. P. Barstow, Edward Grut, Lawrence Grenman, Marshall Campbell, Jacob S. Hindbaugh, George W. Ebey, and Charles Thompson.

When I have added the names of Samuel Hancock, John Y. Sewell, Thomas Cramey, John M. Izeth, Dana H. Porter 15 Winfield S. Ebey, and George W. Beam, who settled the following year, I have enumerated most of the men who at any time have long resided upon Whidbey Island, so quickly were its lands taken up, and so constant have been its first settlers.

Settlement was extended in 1852 to Bellingham Bay. William Pattie, while looking for spar timber among the islands of the Fuca Sea, landed in this bay, and while encamped upon the beach observed fragments of coal, which led to the discovery of a deposit. Pattle posted the usual notice of a claim, and went away to make arrangements for opening his coalmine. During his absence Henry Roder, 16 who was looking for a place to establish a sawmill, arrived from San Francisco on the schooner William Allen, with R. V. Peabody, Edward Eldridge, 17 H. C. Page, and William Utter, Henry Hewitt and William Brown. Roder, Peabody, and a millwright named Brown, whom they found at Olympia, formed the Whatcom Milling Company, taking the Indian name of the place where their mill was situated as a designation. Hewitt and William Brown, who were engaged in getting out logs for the mill, in the summer of 1853, discovered coal on the land adjoining Pattle’s claim, and sold their discovery for $18,000, Roder and Peabody having just abandoned this claim for one more heavily timbered. 18 About the same time came L. N. Collins, Alexander McLean, Mr Roberts, and Mr Lyle, with their families, which completes the catalogue of American settlers in this region in 1853.

In the autumn of 1852, on account of devastating fires in California, and the great immigration of that year to Oregon, a milling fever possessed men of a speculative turn, and led to the erection of several sawmills besides those at Seattle and Bellingham Bay. In March 1853 the Port Ludlow mill was erected by W. T. Sayward 19 on a claim taken up by J. K. Thorndike the previous year. It was followed the same season by the Port Gamble mill at the entrance to Hood Canal, erected by the Puget Mill Company, the site being selected by A. J. Talbot. Almost simultaneously Port Madison and Port Blakely were taken up for mill sites, and somewhat earlier C. C. Terry and William H. Renton erected a mill at Alki, which was removed two or three years later to Port Orchard. 20

From 1847 to 1853 there had been a steady if slow march of improvement in that portion of the territory adjacent to the Columbia and Cowlitz rivers and the Pacific Ocean. A few families had settled on Lewis River, among whom was Columbia Lancaster, whom Governor Abernethy had appointed supreme judge of Oregon in 1847, vice Thornton, resigned, but who removed from Oregon City to the north side of the Columbia in 1849. In the extreme southwest corner of what is now Pacific county were settled in 1848 John Edmunds, an American, James Scarborough, an Englishman, John E. Pinknell, and a Captain Johnson; nor does it appear that there were any other residents before the returning gold-miners being detained now and then at Baker Bay, or coming by mistake into Shoalwater Bay discovered the advantages which these places offered for business. William McCarty had a fishery and a good zinc house at Chinook in 1852; and Washington Hall was postmaster at that place in the same year, and it is probable they settled there somewhat earlier. In 1850, the fame of these places having begun to spread, Elijah White, who had returned to the Pacific coast, essayed to build upon Baker Bay a town which he named Pacific City, but which enjoyed an existence 21 of only a year or two.

That great expectations did attach to Pacific City was made apparent by a petition signed by A. A. Skinner and 250 others to have it made a port of entry and delivery. 22

About the same time that Pacific City was at its best, Charles J. W. Russell, who was engaged in trade there, settled on Shoalwater Bay, and turned his attention to taking oysters, with which the bay was found to be inhabited. In 1851 Russell introduced Shoalwater Bay oysters into the San Francisco market, carrying them down by the mail steamer. In the autumn Captain Fieldstead took a load of oysters to San Francisco, which arrived in a damaged condition. Anthony Ludlum then fitted out the schooner Sea Serpent for Shoalwater Bay, which succeeded in saving a cargo, and a company was formed to carry on a trade in oysters, composed of Alexander Hanson, George G. Bartlett, Garrett Tyron, Mark Winant, John Morgan, and Frank Garretson, who purchased the schooner Robert Bruce, after which the town of Bruceport was named, 23 and entered into the business of supplying the California market. In the autumn of 1852, besides the above-named persons, there were at Shoalwater Bay Thomas Foster, Richard Hillyer, John W. Champ, Samuel Sweeny, Stephen Marshall, Charles W. Deuter, Richard J. Milward, A. E. St John, Walter Lynde, and James G. Swan. 24

A transient company of five men were at the same time engaged in cutting a cargo of piles for San Francisco, and during the autumn Joel L. Brown, Samuel Woodward, J. Henry Whitcomb, Charles Stuart, Joel and Mark Bullard, and Captain Jackson, of the immigration of that year, settled on the bay. Brown’s party cut a wagon-road across the portage between Baker and Shoalwater bays. Brown intended erecting a trading-house and laying out a town, but died before he had fairly got to work, 25 at his house on the Palux River. Later in the same season Charles Stuart took a claim on the Willopah River; and David K. Weldon and family from San Francisco, Mrs Weldon being the first white woman in this settlement built a residence and trading house at the mouth of the Necomanche or North River, besides which he erected, in company with George Watkins, the first sawmill in this part of the territory in 1852-3. Woodward settled on the Willopah River, ten miles from its mouth, being the first to locate on that stream. 26 Whitcom was the second, 27 followed by William Cushing, Gardiner Crocker, Soule, Christian, and Geisy.

On the Boisfort prairie, previously settled by Pierre Chelle, a Canadian half-breed, C. F. White was the first American settler in 1852. 28 From 1851 to 1853 near Claquato settled H. N. Stearns, H. Buchanan, Albert Purcell, A. F. Tullis, L. A. Davis, Cyrus White, and Simeon Bush.

In the winter of 1850-1 John Butler Chapman, from the south side of the Columbia, made a settlement on Gray Harbor, and laid out the town of Chehalis City. But the undertaking languished, getting no further than the erection of one house, when Chapman, finding himself too remote from affairs in which he was interested, removed to the Sound, and with his son, John M. Chapman, took a claim adjoining Balch at Steilacoom, and competed with him for the distinction of founding a city at this point, his claim finally relapsing to the condition of a farm. In 1852 J. L. Seammon, from Maine by way of California, settled several miles up the Chehalis from Gray Harbor, where Montesano later was placed, with four others who did not remain. In the two succeeding years the lesser Chehalis Valley was settled up rapidly, connecting with the settlements on the upper Chehalis made at an earlier period by H. N. Stearns, H. Buchanan, Albert Purcell, A. F. Tullis, and L. A. Davis; and the Cowlitz Valley, which was also being settled, but more slowly.

Jonathan Burbee, who removed to the mouth of the Cowlitz in 1848, was drowned on the Columbia bar in the winter of 1851-2, when a schooner which he had loaded with potatoes for California 29 was lost; but his family remained. Next after him came, in 1849, H. D. Huntington, Nathaniel Stone, Seth Catlin, David Stone, James Redpath, James Porter, and R. C. Smith, the three first named having large families, now well known in Oregon and Washington. Their claims extended from near the mouth of the Cowlitz on the west side for a distance of two or three miles.

The next settlement was at Cowlitz landing, made by E. D. Warbass, 30 in July 1850, when Warbassport was founded by laying off a town and opening a trading house. About the same tine a settlement was made on the north side of the Columbia at the lower Cascades, by George Drew, who had a town surveyed called Cascade, where a trading house was established by George L. and George W. Johnson, F. A. Chenoweth and T. B. Pierce. Contemporaneously, at the upper cascades, Daniel F. and Putnam Bradford, B. B. Bishop, Lawrence W. Coe, and others had settled, and the Bradfords had also established a place of trade. 31

These were the people, together with some who have yet to be mentioned, and others who may never be mentioned, who had spread themselves over the western portion of Washington previous to its organization as a territory, concerning which I shall speak presently. 32



Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

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