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.

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 1 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, 5 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. 6 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. 1

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. 1 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, 7 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, 1 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, 1 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, 1 Robert C. Hill, Charles H. Miller, Nelson Miller, Captain Thomas Coupe, who founded Coupeville, John Kenneth, Isaac Powers, Captain William Robertson, 1 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 8 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, 1 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, 1 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. 9 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 1 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. 10

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 11 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. 12

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, 13 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. 14

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, 15 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. 16 Whitcom was the second, 1 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. 17 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 18 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, 1 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. 19

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. 1Citations:

  1. Washington Pioneers 1844-1852[][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
  2. Mercer, in Wash. Ter. Sketches, MS., 1-3.[]
  3. At this time the lakes in the vicinity of Seattle were not named. In 1854 the settlers held an informal meeting and decided to call the larger one Washington and the smaller Union, because it united at times the former with the bay. Mercer, in Wash. Ter. Sketches, MS., 6. It is not improbable, says Murphy, in Appleton’s Journal, 11, 1877, that the government will open a canal between lake Washington and the Sound, which could be done for $1,000,000, in order to make the lake a naval station. It is 25 miles long, 3 to 5 miles wide, an altitude above sea-level of 18 feet, sufficient depth to float the heaviest ships, and is surrounded by timber, iron, and coal, which natural advantages it is believed will sooner or later make it of importance to the United States. Puget Sound Dispatch, July 8, 1876; Victor’s Or. and Wash., 246.[]
  4. The first vessel loaded at the head of Elliott Bay was the Leonesa, which took a cargo in the winter of 1851-2. I have among my historical correspondence a letter written by Eli B. Maple concerning the first settlement of King County, who says that his brother Samuel helped to load this vessel in Gig Harbor, which he thinks was the first one loaded on the Sound, in which he is mistaken, as I have shown. This member of the Maple family did not arrive until the autumn of 1852, when ho joined his father and brother in the Dwamish Valley.[]
  5. Tucker was murdered in 1863. It will appear in the course of this history that murders were very frequent. Many of them were committed by the Indians from the northern coast, who came up the strait in their canoes, and cruising about, either attacked isolated settlements at night, or seized and killed white men travelling about the Sound in canoes. The first vessel that came into the harbor of New Dungeness for a cargo was the John Adams, in the spring of 1833. Jewell, her master, started with his steward to go to Port Townsend in a small boat, and never was seen again. The Indians admitted that two of their people had murdered the two men, but as it could not be shown that they were dead, the accused were never tried. McAlmond, ho was a competent ship-coaster, sailed the vessel to S. F. An eccentric man, who obtained the soubriquet of Arkansaw Traveler by his peregrinations in the region of Dungeness in 1854, was shot and killed by Indians while alone in his canoe. The crime came to light, and the criminals were tried and sentenced; but one of them died of disease, and the other escaped by an error in the entry of judgment. Bradshaw, in Wash. Sketches, MS., 65-6.[]
  6. Protection Island was so named by Vancouver because it lay in front of and protected Port Discovery from the northwest winds. The first actual or permanent settlers on this island were Winfield Ebey, brother of I. N. Ebey, and George Ebey, his cousin, who took claims there in 1854. Ebey’s Journal, MS. Whitcom was a native of Ottawa, Canada, who came to Puget Sound in 1852, and first located himself on the Port Gamble side of Foul- weather Bluff-also named by Vancouver-in the service of the milling company at that place, putting the first fire under the boilers of Port Gamble mill. He left the Sound in 1854, but returned in 1872.[]
  7. Walter Crockett, Sen., died Nov. 25, 1864, aged 83 years. Seattle Intelligencer, Dec. 6, 1869.[]
  8. Porter was inspector of spars at Port Ludlow some years later. He died in March 1880.[]
  9. In a chapter on minerals, I shall give this history more particularly.[]
  10. Yesler’s Wash. Ter., MS., 4-5. Port Orchard was named after an officer of Vancouver’s ship Discovery, May 24, 1792. See also Ellicott’s Puget Sound, MS., 24.[]
  11. Lawson, in his Autobiography, MS., 35, gives some account of this enterprise. He says that White was the originator of it. ‘I do not know,’ he observes, ‘whether he made any money out of the scheme, but he did succeed in making a number of dupes, among whom was James D. Holman.’ Holman had expended $28,000 in erecting and furnishing a hotel. White represented that there might be found at Pacific City a park filled with deer, school-houses, handsome residences, and other attractions. A newspaper was to be started there by a Mr Shephard; a Mr Hopkins was engaged to teach in the imaginary schoolhouse, and others victimized in a similar manner. Holman, who was the most severe sufferer, vacated the hotel and took a claim in the neighborhood, which the government subsequently reserved for military purposes. Twenty-nine years afterward Holman received $25,000 for his claim, and had land enough left to lay out a seaside resort, which he called Ilwaco. Sac. Transcript, June 29, 1S50; Oregon Spectator, Aug. 22, 1850; U. S. Statutes at Large, xx. 604. Holman was born in Ky in 1814, bred in Tennessee, and came to Oregon in 1846. Morse’s Wash. Ter., MS., ii. 88-9.[]
  12. Oregon Statesman, April 4, 1850; S. F. Pacific News, Aug. 1, 1850; S. F. Courier, Sept. 21 and Oct. 2, 1850.[]
  13. I take this account from an article published in the S. F. Bulletin, where it is said the schooner was burned while lying at her landing, and the company forced to go ashore, where they encamped on the south side of North Bay, and from being known as the Bruce company, gave that name to the place as it grew up. Evans’ Hist. Mem., 21; Pee. R. R. Reports, i. 465.[]
  14. Author of The Northwest Coast, or Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory, which, besides being an entertaining narrative, is a valuable authority on Indian customs and ethnology. Swan was born in Medford, Massachusetts, Jan. 11, 1818; a son of Samuel Swan, an East Indian trader, who was lost on Minot’s ledge, Cohasset, Massachusetts, in 1823, while on his homeward voyage from the west African coast with a cargo of palm oil, ivory, and gold-dust, in the brig Hope Still of Boston. His maternal uncle, William Tufts, was supercargo for Theodore Lyman of Boston, in the ship Guatimozin, in 1806, and was wrecked on Seven Mile beach, New Jersey, on his return, Feb. 3, 1810. Stories of the Nootka, Neah Bay, and Chinook chiefs were familiar to him in his childhood, and his interest in the aboriginal inhabitants was greater than that of a casual observer, as his remarks arc more happily descriptive or scientific. He left Boston in the winter of 1849, in the ship Rob Roy, Thomas Holt, arriving in S. F. in the spring of 1850, where he bought an interest in the steamboat Tehama, running to Marysville, acting as purser of the boat. He was concerned in other enterprises with Farwell and Curtis, until becoming acquainted with C. J. W. Russell, who invited him to make a visit to Shoalwater Bay, he determined to remain, and take a claim at the month of the Querquelin Creek, where he resided until 1836, when he went east and published his book, returning in 1839 to Port Townsend. In 1862 he was appointed teacher to the Makah Indians at Neah Bay, and filled that position for four years, when he again went east and published a second book on the Makah Indians, with a treatise on their language, which was issued as authoritative by the Smithsonian Institution in 1869, as was also another paper on the Haidah Indians of Queen Charlotte Island. In 1875 Swan was appointed commissioner to collect articles of Indian manufacture for the national museum, which were exhibited at the great exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia, besides having occupied many public places of more honor than profit. He was later a practicing lawyer of Port Townsend. These facts, with much more for which I have not space, I find in his autograph Sketches of Washington Territory, MS., in my collection.[]
  15. Swan’s N. W. Coast, 64.[]
  16. Morse’s Wash.. Ter., MS., ii. 74; Swan’s N. W. Coast, 65.[]
  17. North Pacific Coast, Jan. 15, 1880.[]
  18. Swan says that Captain Johnson, John Dawson, and another man were drowned together while crossing the Columbia in a boat; that before this, McCarty was drowned while crossing the Wallacut River, returning from a visit to Johnson, and that Scarborough died before Johnson at his home. This was all previous to 1854.[]
  19. Oregon Spectator, Aug. 2S, 1350; Coke’s Ride, 319.[]


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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top