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2. Arthur A. Denny, Pioneer Days on Puget Sound
Arthur A. Denny, Pioneer Days on Puget Sound (Seattle: C. B. Bagley, 1888), 16, 27-28, 51-57.
The object of all who came to Oregon in early times was to avail themselves of the privilege of a donation claim, and my opinion to-day is that every man and woman fully earned and merited all they got, but we have a small class of very small people here now who have no good word for the old settler that so bravely met every danger and privation, and by hard toil acquired, and careful economy, saved the means to make them comfortable during the decline of life. These, however are degenerate scrubs, too cowardly to face the same dangers that our pioneer men and women did, and too lazy to perform an honest day’s work if it would procure them a homestead in paradise. They would want the day reduced to eight hours and board thrown in . . . .
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The man who had the best stock of health and the most faith and pluck, was the most wealthy, for we were all capitalists in those days. Each one expected to help himself, and as a rule all went to work with energy to open up the country and make homes for themselves, and at the same time they were ever ready to help each other in case of need or misfortune, and I will presume to say that if the people now possessed more of the spirit that then actuated the “old moss backs,” as some reproachfully style the old settlers, we would hear less about a conflict between labor and capital, which in truth is largely a conflict between labor and laziness. We had no eight hour, nor even ten hour days then, and I never heard of any one striking, not even an Indian,
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except that every man who was worthy of the name (and I am proud to say that there were few exceptions then,) was found striking squarely and determinedly at whatever obstacle stood in the way of his success. How unfortunate that it is not so now, for I confidently assert that for those coming to the Sound now there is a brighter future and a lighter task, if they will but lay hold in the right spirit, than there was for those who came in early times . . . .
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The first religious service in Seattle was by Bishop Demers, a Catholic, in 1852. The next was by Rev. Benjamin F. Close, a Methodist, who came to Olympia in the spring or early summer of 1853, and made several visits to Seattle during the summer and fall, and the same season Rev. J. F. DeVore located at Steilacoom. C. D. Boren donated two lots for a Methodist Episcopal church, and in November, 1853, Rev. D. E. Blaine and wife arrived
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and Mr. Blaine at once engaged in the work of building a church on the lots donated by Boren. This was the first and only church in the place until 1864, when Rev. Daniel Bagley built the Methodist Protestant Church, which he painted brown, and the other being white, they were afterward designated as the “White” Church and “Brown” Church.
Mrs. Blaine taught the first school, Miss Dorcas Phillips the second, and E. A. Clark the third.
These were not free schools, in fine and well-furnished houses, such as the youth of the place is now favored with. We were then glad to get schools at any cost and paid the expense without a murmur; but there is a vast difference now. I am proud of the schools of Seattle to-day, where a high school education is furnished free to every child who chooses to take it, and I regret that it is in many cases so little appreciated by both parents and children it almost justifies the expectation that
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the next step will be to pay the children for going to school, and allow them to strike for higher wages and shorter days, with the privilege of arbitrating the matter in the end.
The first Fourth of July celebration north of the Columbia River, of which I have any knowledge, was held at Olympia July 4th, 1852, on the hill, where the old schoolhouse stood, but it was then new and unfinished. D. R. Bigelow was orator, and B. F. Shaw, marshal, but I do not now remember who read the declaration.
It was quite a respectable celebration, and was attended by most of the population within a day’s travel, and quite a number like myself, from a greater distance. Those times we traveled almost entirely by canoe and never expected to make the trip from Seattle to Olympia in less than two days. In the winter I have frequently been three days, and camped on the beach at night, and on one trip—I well remem-
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ber—in December, 1852, the weather was so stormy I had to camp two nights before reaching Steilacoom.
In after years I have paid as high as ten dollars steamer fare to Olympia, and when it got down to six dollars we thought it very reasonable. It always cost me more than that amount by canoe, when traveling alone with an Indian crew, to say nothing of the comfort and time saved by steamer, and time was quite as much of an object with us capitalists then as now.
We all had to make the time count—no time for standing round and finding fault because someone else had the best show, or strike for higher wages and expect some one to feed us while we were refusing to work, as now seems to be the case. During the first two or three years after the settlement of the Sound fairly commenced, the Indians were generally friendly, but in a few instances they committed murders when they thought it could be concealed. A man with whom I was
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personally acquainted, by the name of Church, came to the Sound in the fall of 1851, and that winter went to Whidby Island, locating on Crescent Harbor, and was killed not long after by the Indians. For this murder one Indian was convicted and executed at Penn’s Cove, and a surveyor by the name of Hunt was murdered on the Swinomish Slough, for which two Indians were convicted and hanged at Whatcom. Another case which I remember was a man by the name of Young, who had hired Indians to take him down on the east side of Whidby Island in February, 1853, and was murdered by the two Indians he had in his employ. The murder was soon discovered and T. S. Russell, deputy sheriff, with a party of four white men and four Indians, went down to Holmes Harbor to arrest the murderers, which they succeeded in doing, but after getting them into their canoe, were fired upon by the Indians on shore. One man, Dr. W. F. Cherry, was mortally wounded
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and died the next day, March 6th, 1853. The whites were all wounded, but none of them seriously, except Cherry. One of the prisoners was killed, the other escaped. One of the Indian crew was mortally wounded, and the other three escaped without injury. The whites claimed that they killed several of the hostile or attacking party.
There was also a white man killed in 1853, and buried on Lake Union, near where the street railroad terminates at present. The Indians reported this murder, and the body was disinterred, but could not be identified. Two Indians were hanged for this murder without legal trial, and previous to this, in July, 1853, an Indian had been hanged for killing his cloochman, the same day he had committed the deed. Three persons—all now dead—were indicted for this offense, one of them was tried and acquitted, and the other two discharged without a trial. I have ever been opposed to mob law. It is a most
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dangerous method of punishing crime and settling grievances amongst civilized men and where savages are concerned it is no better. I have no doubt that two white men, one by the name of Rodgers, the other Phillips, were killed to compensate for the one Indian executed by the mob for killing his squaw, and I think that it is safe to say that it has always been so in dealing with frontier tribes. If they commit crimes against the whites and are dealt with and convicted under due process of law, I am very sure that the effect is much more likely to be salutary, and the penalty imposed accepted as a final settlement by the friends of the offenders.
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