The following important events in the history of Washington affected political boundaries, record-keeping, and family movements.
1800's: At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spain, Russia, and England all claimed what is now Washington.
1811: John Jacob Astor (American) established a trading post at 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: Washington Territory was created from the northern part of Oregon Territory.
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.
1881: The Northern Pacific Railway reached Spokane.
1888: The transcontinental railroads reached Washington and brought a great influx of settlers.
1889: 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 Harvey K. Hines, An Illustrated History of the State of Washington: Containing . . . Biographical Mention of . . . its Pioneers and Prominent Citizens . . . (Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Pub. Company, 1893; FHL book 979.7 D3h; film 1000637).
Background information on Washington counties is in Newton Carl Abbott and Fred E. Carver, The Evolution of Washington Counties (N.p.: Yakima Valley Genealogical Society & Klickitat County Historical Society, Washington. 1978; FHL book 979.7 D25a; fiche 6051194). This is listed in the Family History Library Catalog under WASHINGTON - HANDBOOKS, MANUALS, ETC.