Washington History

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The following important events in the history of Washington affected political boundaries, record-keeping, and family movements.

1800s: At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spain, Russia, and England all claimed what is now Washington.

1811: John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company established a trading post at Fort George (Astoria). This was the first settlement in this area.

1819: Spain withdrew her claims.

1825: Russia withdrew her claims.

1836: Marcus Whitman established the second white settlement near present-day Walla Walla. Early settlement centered in the Willamette valley.

1846: The present boundary between the United States and Canada was established.

1848: The Oregon Territory was created. It included what is now Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming.

1849: Settlers went farther north into the Puget Sound area to obtain food and lumber that was needed in the California gold fields.

1850: The Oregon Donation Act was passed. This guaranteed land to those who settled and cultivated land in the territory before 1855. This attracted an estimated 30,000 new settlers.

1853: Treaty at Lapwai asked Nez Perce to adjust the border of their reservation.

1853: (March 2,)Washington Territory was created from the northern part of Oregon Territory.

1858: The Coeur d"Alene, Spokane tribes united with the Palouse and Yakima tribes to fight U.S. forces near Rosalia, Washington. 1859 the tribes were forced to surrnder.

1859: Oregon became a state. Washington Territory was enlarged to include the remaining Oregon territory not included in the new state.

1860: The discovery of gold near Walla Walla attracted many prospectors.

1863: The Idaho Territory was created from lands in eastern Washington Territory.

1873: U.S. President Grant executive order gave back northenr 1/2 of land to Chief Joseph. 1875 Executive order rescinded.

1877: Chief Joseph given 30 days to move his tribe.

1878: Bannock War fight for their fields of Camas

1881: The Northern Pacific Railway reached Spokane.

1888: The transcontinental railroads reached Washington and brought a great influx of settlers.

1889: (November 11,) Washington became a state. Seattle was the largest city and the chief supply point for the gold rush to the Yukon territory in Alaska.

A helpful source for studying the history of Washington is:

Hines, Harvey K. An Illustrated History of the State of Washington: Containing . . . Biographical Mention of . . . its Pioneers and Prominent Citizens . . . Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Pub. Company, 1893. (Family History Library book 979.7 D3h; film 1000637.)

Background information on Washington counties is in:

Abbott, Newton Carl and Fred E. Carver. The Evolution of Washington Counties. N.p.: Yakima Valley Genealogical Society & Klickitat County Historical Society, Washington,1978. (Family History Library book 979.7 D25a; fiche 6051194.) This is listed in the Family History Library Catalog under WASHINGTON - HANDBOOKS, MANUALS, ETC.