PART THREE: supporting documents


In his Narrative of The United States Exploring Expedition, published in 1856, Commander Wilkes gives a detailed account of Lieutenant Johnson's trip. The party consisted of Lieutenant Johnson, Mr. Pickering, Mr. Waldron, Mr Brackenridge, a sergeant of marines, and a servant, left Fort Nisqually on May 19th, (1841). On the following day the guides, Pierre Charles and Peter Bercier, joined them and all set out for the mountains. Crossing the Puyallup and the Stehna, they followed the Indian trail.

On the 26th, they arrived at Little Prairie, where they decided to wait a day so that their horses could have good grass. As they wished to find out if horses could go over the Pass and at the same time carry forward some of the loads to save the horses, Mr. Waldron and Pierre Charles went ahead with the Indians who each carried a load of about fifty pounds.

Lieutenant Johnson remained in camp for the purpose of taking observations, while Dr. Pickering and Mr Brackenridge accompanied the party as far as the snow line. They camped on a prairie about two and a half acres in extent.

Toward the close of the next day, messengers coming from Mr. Waldron who had reached the summit and was proceeding down the east side to camp at the snow-line reported snow ten feet deep and seemed doubtful about the possibility of getting the horses over. But Lieutenant Johnson was determined to go, and set out.

Late in the morning they met the Indians and Pierre Charles who seemed more hopeful about getting the horses over. In the late afternoon they reached a good camping place. On the 29th they departed early in the morning while the snow was firm. As the horses did not sink deeply in the snow, the party was able to make a quick ascent.

They passed over a series of low elevations until they arrived at the summit from which position Mount Rainier was visible. The altitude, according to Lieutenant Johnson's barometer was 5,092 feet.

While ascending the western slope, it was noted that the pines were very scrubby, in sharp contrast to those on the summit, which towered to a height of eighty feet, with branches all at the top. At the summit was a plain about a mile long and half a mile wide. 

The distance to the top was about five miles. With few exceptions the horses reached the east side of the mountains, but like the Indians they were in an exhausted conditions. The Indians were paid off and the two that were returning to Nisqually were given botanical specimens to take to the Fort. The party which had gone ahead on foot, consisted of Mr. Waldron, Pierre Charles, and several Indians, camped overnight at the snow-line.

The summit was found to be an open space about twenty acres in extent, surrounded by a heavy forest of spruce. The party was inconvenienced by breaking through the snow, but at no time did it become dangerous. About eight miles of snow were passed over, and in the middle of the afternoon they reached the Spipen or Naches River where they camped.

Lieutenant Johnson's party proceeded on to Yakima, Fort Okanogan, Grand Coulee and Spokane House, exploring and collecting specimens and information before returning to Fort Nisqually, the headquarters.

Elva Cooper Magnusson, "Naches Pass," Washington Historical Quarterly XXV (july, 1934) p. 173-175.


A party of men were here today on their way to cut a road across the mountain to Walla Walla, the expenses incurred in doing so paid by a subscription among the settlers. Mr. Robertson, the deserter from Fort Victoria was among the working party.

Few details of the first meeting called for the purpose of constructing an immigrant road across the mountains have come to us. The motive, however, is clear, namely to divert prospective settlers directly from the Oregon Trail to the Sound Country to the disadvantage of Portland and the Willamette. The route selected was the Naches Pass. The first attempt came to naught.

The Nisqually Journal, August 6, 1850. Victor J. Farrar, "The Nisqually Journal" Washington Historical Quarterly XI(October, 1920), p. 29.


Nearly twelve hundred dollars was collected from the settlers on Puget Sound to support the construction of a road across the Cascade Mountains as a direct route from the Oregon Trail. The names of many prominent early settlers appear with the largest contribution coming from the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, the subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company which claimed to own nearly 160,000 acres of farm and grazing land principally in Pierce, Thurston and Cowlitz counties.

The Steilacoom and Olympia merchants are perhaps equally represented with the largest donors being the Kendall Company of Olympia and Lafayette Balch and Thomas M. Chambers of Steilacoom. It is of interest to note that Lieutenant William A. Slaughter, who was assigned to Fort Steilacoom near the town of Steilacoom, was a contributor and that James M. Bachelder who was the post suttler also made a contribution. Leschi, sub chief of the Nisqually Indians, as he was to be appointed by Governor Isaac I. Stevens the next year, was anxious to support the project and is credited with providing horses for the road builders. His brother, Quiemuth, was to serve as a guide to the crew.


John M. Swan, $10.00
P. S. Agricultural Co., $100.00
Joseph Cushman, $5.00
Henry Murray, $25.00
C. Easton, $5.00
Charles Wren, $25.00
William Berry, $5.00
H. C. Mosely, $5.00
T. F. McElroy, $5.00
Lemuel Bills, $25.00
George Gallagher, $5.00
W. M. Sherwood, $5.00
Weed & Hurb, $100.00
S. W. Woodruff, $5.00
G. A.Barnes, $50.00
R. S. More, $5.00
Brand & Bettman, $25.00
Samuel McCaw, $5.00
Waterman & Goldman, $25.00
Abner Martin, $20.00
A. J. Moses, $10.00
T. W. Glasgow, $10.00
Wells, McAllister & Co. , $30.00
Thomas Tallentire, $10.00
Isaac Wood & Son, $15.00
John McLeod, $25.00
John Chambers, $5.00
Thomas Chambers, $50.00
J. H. Conner, $5.00
W. Gregg, $5.00
Thomas M. Chambers, $20.00
W. Hardin, $15.00
L. A. Smith, $25.00
W. W. Miller, $10.00
James E. Williamson, $10.00
James W. Goodell, $10.00
W. Boatman, $15.00
A. Benton Moses, $5.00
J. M. Bachelder, $5.00
H. Hill, $5.00
James Barron, $5.00
Woods (received for horses), $35.00
S. W. Percival, $5.00
John D. Press, $5.00
Milas Galliher, $5.00
Philip Keach, $10.00
Chips Ethridge, $5.00
George Brail, $10.00
J.C. Patton, $5.00
McGomery, $10.00
James Taylor, $5.00
Garwin Hamilton, $5.00
Blanchard, $5.00
Richard Philander, $5.00
Kendall Company, $50.00
David Patee, $20.00
Parker, Colter & Co., $30.00
William A. Slaughter, $10.00
J.& C.E. Williams, $25.00
Lafayette Balch, $50.00
Lightner, Rosenthal & Co., $l0.00
James B. Webber, $25.00
Wm. W. Plumb, $10.00
Kline, $10.00
McLain Chambers, $10.00
Parsons, $5.00
D. J. Chambers, $20.00
Received for horses., $35.00
H. G. Parsons, $5.00
Nelson Barnes, $30.00

Pioneer and Democrat September 30, 1854.


We left Steilacoom on June 10, 1853. The first night we camped at Henry Murrays. The second night we camped at the Puyallup River above the present donation land claim of Daniel Lane. We crossed the river and went down stream to where the river forks and the county bridge spans the river. From thence we went to where the military road crosses the river at Van Ogles.

We then went by the present road to the Kelly place and on to South Prairie. From there we went to where the present County bridge is across the White River, then on to Boise Creek where we commenced cutting the road from Boise Creek on the 15th of June, 1853.

We were three and one-half months opening the road to the summit of the Naches Pass. Three and one half months of as hard work as one could wish for.

When we reached Latate Mountain, we ran short of provisions. Andrew J. Burge, our packer, having left half of his pack a short distance east of Boise Creek in a large hollow log, started after the provisions. Two of his mules were lame and unable to carry their loads when he reached camp. He returned with sound ones for the provisions that were left behind.

When he reached the cache he found that the bears had found the provisions, hauling out sacks of beans and rice, tearing open the sacks and scattering the beans right and left with their paws. The sugar they consumed.

Burge then turned the mules out on the White River prairie and returned to camp for those he left. When he got back to where he had left the mules, he was two days in finding them, so that by the time he got back to Steilacoom and back to the mountains the laborers had reached the point of starvation. In fact all who carried revolvers had taken up their belt three or four holes. It was on this trip that Burge reported the following story:

He had hunted all day for his mules but could not find them. He returned to the starting point worn out and hungry. He threw himself down on his blankets and fell asleep dreaming of his mules. He was roused out of his sleep by the howling of wolves. Listening intently he could actually hear the wolves breathing.

Finally one of them sprang upon him with his forefeet. Burge thought his time had come for he could feel the hot breath on his face. Burge, by a superhuman effort, tore himself free, at the same time letting out an unearthly yell and springing to his feet. He was astounded by the sonorous braying of his lead mule, who had found him in his blankets and in smelling him had knocked a pack saddle with crop trees across his breast, which he had mistaken for a wolf.

Then he recovered his recreant mules, and started for Steilacoom in haste for provisions. In fact, we had done our last day's work on berries alone. The farther east we cut, of course, the longer it took Burge to make the trip to Steilacoom. When we reached a point about half way between Greenwater and the divide, we again ran short of provisions and were three days without anything but berries.

On the third day Mr. Moore took his rifle, struck out on a hunt and killed three squirrels. With the scrapings off our sacks and one pint of the endings of bacon, we made our last meal, intending that should Burge fail to reach us by the next day noon, we would start back in a very demoralized condition, the last spark of hope having left us.

Returning would be as bad as remaining, with nothing to live on. When the hour arrived, we concluded to wait two hours more. Just as the last minute was up our ears were gladdened with the sound of the braying of Burge's lead mule, who had scented our camp. In a few minutes the pack train came in sight, which to us, was a most glorious sight.

A few more elbows in flour and all hands were tasting the good qualities of ham and bacon, and by sundown we were as happy a set of gentlemen as could be found.

From LeDote Mountain to the summit nothing of note happened except J. E. Williams and O'Connell left us going to the Yakima Valley to get horses to plow land they had taken on what is now Connell's prairie.

About this time or shortly after the party of men who were cutting the road on the east side, from the Summit east, under the supervision of A. W. Moore of Olympia passed us on return, having finished their part of the road. We have no recollection of the names of this party having seen them only when they passed us on their return home.

John L. Perdens and A. W. Moore were the only men I knew at that time or ever afterwards met. About the first of September on the Summit there was the most magnificent snow storm that I had ever seen. The flakes were large and light and although in the middle of the day, a man could not be seen thirty feet away. The snow fell about one foot but all disappeared the next day.

About this time we returned to Boise Creek, and commenced cutting the road in the direction of John Montgomery's home in this county. The road with but few exceptions, is the road at present used. About the fourth or fifth of October, while we were camped at the Puyallup River, opposite the present Van Ogle place, at midnight there came across the river a loud "Hello."

We were somewhat startled for we did not know of any whites being in our rear. When we answered we were told there were seventy wagons with emigrants behind and many were short of provisions.

Having known the pangs of hunger ourselves, we told the man to come across to camp. He was Mr. Akins. He said he was one of James Byle's company. All hands turned out and shook hands with the first emigrant who had crossed on the Naches Pass wagon road.

As soon as it was light enough, we packed up all our provisions and sent Andrew J. Burge forward with all dispatch. We confiscated an Indian Potato patch and with dog salmon we finished the road. It was hard fare, but we had succeeded in getting an emigrant train through the mountains and now after the lapse of thirty-four years from the arrival of the first train, I doubt if you could find in all that have come through, the same number of men with nerve or courage enough to start and cut a road through the mountains.

We knew nothing of the country through which we were to go nor did we care. We thought we could and we did. Our reward and pay for this is all our recollections.

Robert S. Moore. "Cutting the Naches Pass." The Pioneer History of Enumclaw. Enumclaw, The Womens Progressive Club, 1984 and reprinted in the Washington State Genealogical and Historical Review I(Winter, 1982-83), @?-32.


A score of men were grouped about the fire. Several had sprung up alert at the crashing of our approach. Others reposed untroubled. Others tended viands odoriferous and fizzing. Others stirred the flame. Around, the forest rose, black as Erebus, and the men moved in the glare against the gloom like pitmen in the blackest of coal-mines ...

I became at once the center of a red-flannel shirted circle. The recumbents stood on end. The cooks let their frying pans bubble over while, in response to looks of expectation. I hung out my handbill, and told the society my brief and simple tale. I was not running away from any fact in my history. A harmless person, asking no favors, with plenty of pork and spongy biscuit in his bags, only going home across the continent, if may be, and glad, gentlemen pioneers of this unexpected pleasure.

My quality thus announced, the boss of the road-makers without any dissenting voice, offered me the freedom of their fireside. He called for fatted pork, that I might be entertained right republicanly. Every cook proclaimed supper ready.

Each man's target flapjack served him for platter and edible-table. Coffee, also, for beverage, the fraternal cooks set before us in infrangible tin pots, coffee ripened in its red husk by Brazilian suns thousands of leagues away, that we, in cool Northern forests might feel the restorative power of its concentrated sunshine, feeding vitality with fresh fuel...

But for my graminivorous steeds, gallopers all day long in rough, unflinching steeple chase, what had nature done here in the way of provender? Alas! little or naught. This camp of plenty for me was a starvation camp for them... Only a modicum of my soaked and fungous hard-tack could be spared to each. They turned upon me melancholy, reproachful looks, they suffered and I could only suffer sympathetically. Poor preparation for the toil ahead. But fat prairies also are ahead; have patience, empty mustangs. My hosts were a stalwart gang...

When they laughed, as only men fresh and hearty and in the open air can laugh, the world became mainly grotesque; it seemed at once a comic thing to live... a thing to roar at, that we had all met there from the wide world, to hob-nob by a frolicsome fire with tin pots of coffee, and partake of crisped bacon and toasted doughboys in ridiculous abundance.

Easy laughter infected the atmosphere. Echoes ceased to be pensive, and became jocose. A rattling humor pervaded the forest and Green River rippled with noise of fantastic jollity....

Men who slash with axes in Oregon woods need not be chary of fuel. They fling together boles and branches enough to keep any man's domestic Lares warm for a winter. And over this vast pyre flame takes its splendid pleasure with corybantic dances and roaring paeans of victory. Fire, encouraged to do its work fully, leaves no unsightly grim corpses on the field. The glow of embers wastes into the pallor of thin ashes; and winds may clear the spot, drifting away and sprinkling upon brother trees faint, filmy relics of their departed brethren...

While fantastic flashes were still leaping up and illumining the black circuit of forest, every man made his bed, laid down his blankets in starry bivouac, and slept like a mummy. The camp became vocal with snores; nasal with snores of various calibre with the forest... They died away into the music of my dreams, a few moments seemed to pass, and it was day.

The road-builders had insisted that I should be their guest (for breakfast), partaking not only of the fire, air and water of their bivouac, but of an honorable share at their feast. Hardly had the snoring of the snorers ceased when the frying of the fryers began...In the pearly gray mists of dawn, purple shirts were seen busy about the kindling pile; in the golden haze of sunrise, cooks brandishing pans over fierce coals raking from the red hot jaws of flame that champed their breakfast of fir logs.

Rashers, doughboys, not without molasses, and coffee, a bill of fare identical with last night's were our morning meal, but there was absolute change of circumstance to prevent monotony.

We had daylight instead of firelight, freshness instead of fatigue, and every man flaunted a motto of "Up and doing!" ...instead of trailing a drooping flag, inscribed with "Done in."

As I started the woodsmen gave me a salute. Down, to echo my shout of farewell, went a fir of fifty years standing. It cracked sharp, like the report of a howitzer and crashed downward, filling the woods with shattered branches. Under cover of this first shot, I dashed at the woods. I could ride more boldly forward into savageness, knowing that the front ranks of my nation were following close behind.

Theodore Winthrop, The Canoe and The Saddle. Portland, Binfords and Mort, 1955, ppgs. 74-76.


...Through the opening I discerned advancing
Toward me-a solitary horseman-
All dreary was his semblance,
And little was his pride;
His one foot in his stirrup hung,
The other waved beside;
His hat was hanging o'er his eye,
Simple was his array;
A sorrier, sadder man than he
Rode never a rainy day.

The most forlorn individual I had ever seen. He was a haggard, despairing, wistful, forlorn-looking unfortunate. I do not think seriously he had strength enough left to kick a gooseberry a yard before him. His story was soon told. He was one of the advance emigration, who had ridden on to solicit provisions for his starving comrades behind.

We were not very flush with provisions ourselves, but half an hour later, one of our party was dispatched with three hundred pounds of flour to meet them, with orders to give to all freely, and then, giving our pioneer a dinner, all our party gathering around to witness her performance, and a fresh horse, I rode with him, riding hard all day and reaching Nisqually after midnight.

Blanche Billings Mahlberg,"Edward J. Allen, Pioneer and Roadbuilder," Pacific Northwest Quarterly XLIV (October, 1953), ppgs. 157-160.


I had heard indefinitely that a party of Boston men, for so all Americans are called in the Chinook jargon, were out from the settlements of Puget Sound, viewing, or possibly opening a way across the Cascades, that emigrants of this summer might find their way into Washington Territory direct, leaving the great overland caravan route near the junction of the two forks of the Columbia. Such an enterprise was an epoch in progress.

It was the first effort of an infant community to assert its individuality and emancipate itself from the tutelage of Oregon. Very soon the Boston road became apparent. An Indians trail came into competition with a civilized man's rude beginnings of a road. Wood-choppers had passed through the forest, like a tornado, making a broad belt of confusion. Trim Boston neighborhoods would have scoffed at this rough and tumble cleft of the wild wood, and declined being responsible for its title. And yet two centuries before this tramp of mine, my progenitors were cutting just such paths near Boston.

I was compelled to violate the law of my nature, to identify myself with conservatism, and take the ancient Indian trail instead of the modern highway. Stiff as the obstacles in the trail might be, the obstacles of the road were still stiffer; stumps were in it, fresh cut and upstanding with sharp or splintered edges; felled trunks were in it, with wedge-shaped huts and untrimmed branches, forming impregnable abatis.

One might enter those green bowers as a lobster enters the pot; extrication was another and a tougher task. Every inch of the surface was planted with laming caltrops and the saplings and briers that once grew there elastic were now thrown together, a bristling hedge. A belt of forest had been unmade and nothing made.

Patriotic sympathy did indeed influence me to stumble a little way along this shaggy waster. I launched my train into this complexity, floundered awhile in one of its unbridged bogs and wrestled in its thorny labyrinths, until so much of my patience as was not bemired was flagellated to death by scorpion scourges of briers. I trod these mazes until even my guide show signs of disgust and my horse, an ungainly plodder, could only be propelled by steady discipline of thwacks.

I gave up my attempt to be a consistent radical. I shook off the shavings and splinters of a pioneer chaos, and fell back into primeval ways.

Though I had abandoned their undone road I was cheered to have met fresh traces of my countrymen. Their tree surgery was skillful. No clumsy, tremulous hand had done butchery here with haggling axe. The chopping was the handiwork of artists, men worthy to be regicide headsmen of forest monarchs. By their cleavage light first shone into this gloaming; the selfish grandeurs of this incognito earth were open to day.

Theodore Winthrop, The Canoe and The Saddle, Portland: Binfords and Mort, 1955 pp. 63-66.


On the Lower River we traveled to Portland in company with quite a number of emigrants destined to Puget Sound, and they all regretted that they could not have gone from Walla Walla to the Sound by land. This is a matter in which every citizen of Washington Territory is more or less interested.

The road opened in 1853, by the Natchess Pass, has fallen into such a state, that, unless repaired and kept so, it will be useless for all practical purposes of emigrants for the Sound from the States. I understand that the Packwood trail is deemed by many preferable to the Natchess route; but whether we shall have a route via the Natchess, Snoqualmie, Packwood, or any other pass, it is a matter about which those truly interested in seeing the Sound section brought directly in communication with the interior will not fall out.

The citizens of the Sound need a good road across the Cascades, direct from Wallula.

The valley of the Yakima will doubtless give us a good line, and then across to the Wenatchee via Packwood's Pass, either into Olympia or Steilacoom. The long interval which has elapsed since the Natchess Pass was traveled has naturally caused the line to fall out of repair. The emigrants who desire to locate on the Sound need a line by which they can carry their wagons, and over which drive their stock, and not be driven to take the steamers down to Monticello, thus increasing costs so heavy that it seems impracticable.

This is a matter of great importance, not only for emigrants, but in order to bring the citizens of the Sound, by the most direct trade and associations, with those resident on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, and is one of such importance that it is to be hoped that the attention of Congress will be duly called to it. Military necessity calls for such a line, and a military road should be so located and constructed.

John Mullan, "From Walla Walla to San Francisco," Oregon Historical Quarterly IV(September, 1903), p. 208-09.


Plans were laid to open a wagon road over the Cascade Mountains from the vicinity of Nisqually to the head of the Yakima River and then down that stream to old Fort Walla Walla, and thence to an intersection with the Oregon Trail at the western foot of the Blue Mountains.

As early as 1850 some measures were taken, and some work done towards this end, but it was not until the spring of 1853 that measures sufficiently effective were taken to secure the desired result. During the Summer of that year the way was opened so as to permit the passage of wagons and over it thirty-five wagons reached the shores of Puget Sound in the autumn of that year.

The completion of this enterprise, even so far as to permit the passage of wagons at all, was a great point gained in the morale of the settlements and henceforward the people on the Sound had a less oppressive sense of isolation than before.

The immigration that reached the Territory in this way, though not numbering more than two hundred persons, was of very sterling stuff and contributed very greatly to the prosperity of the country.

They marked the line of future travel, and were but a prophecy of the day, not so very far distant, when the iron track should follow the trail of the ox hoof, and the place coaches of the Northern Pacific should whirl in a few hours over the very path they were weeks in traversing.

This immigration settled the valley of the White River and that of the Puyallup and scattered southward to Olympia over the Grand Mound prairies, but there settlements were so sparse that on the occurrence of Indian hostilities a year or two later, they were compelled to abandon their claims for some years.

Hines, H. K. An Illustrated History of the State of Washington. Chicago, Lewis Publishing Company, 1893. p. 150.


Three lists of the members of the Naches Pass Trail Immigrant Train of 1853 exist. One was prepared by George H. Himes and a second using the Himes list was prepared by David Longmire.

William P. Bonney prepared a third list for his History of Pierce County.

The three lists are in general agreement with Bonney adding the names of several single men such as Henry Ray, Samuel Ray, John Ragan (this must be John Regan who accompanied Erastus Light), Henry Ragan. Bonney also added Christopher and Ruth Kinkaid, Mary Francis Gordon and Mrs. Gordon and the John Steward family which consisted of Mr. Steward, Mrs. Steward and their children, Thomas J., Samuel, Calvin, Celia, Louise and Deborah.

In addition Erastus Light mentions that he had with him Charles H. Hadley, a single man who lived with the Light family after they arrived in Steilacoom.

Aiken, A. Glenn
Aiken, James
Aiken, John
Baker, Bartholomew C.
Baker, Mrs. Fanny
Baker, James E.
Baker, John Wesley
Baker, Joseph N.
Baker, Leander H.
Burnett, Frederick
Baker, Elijah
Baker, Mrs. Olive
Baker, William LeRoy
Barr, James
Bell, Mrs. (Elizabeth Wright)
Bell, James
Biles, Clark
Biles, Euphemia (Knapp)
Biles, George W.
Biles, James
Biles, James B.
Biles, Kate (Sargent)
Biles, Margaret.
Biles, Mrs. Nancy M.
Biles, Susan Belle (Drew)
Bowers, John.
Brooks, Martha (Young)
Byles, Rev. Charles
Byles, Charles N.
Byles, David F.
Byles, Luther
Byles, Rebecca E. (Goodell)
Byles, Sarah I. (Ward)
Byles, Mrs. Sarah W.
Clafin, William
Clinton, Wesley
Davis, Varine
Day, Joseph
Downey, William R.
Downey, Mrs. William R.
Downey, Chrostopher
Downey, George W.
Downey, James H.
Downey, William A.
Downey, R.M.
Downey, John M.
Downey, Louise D. (Guess)
Downey, Jane (Clark)
Downey, Susan (Latham)
Downey, Laura Belle (Bartlett)
Finch, Henry C.
Fitch, Charles Reuben
Frazier, Mr.
Frazier, Elizabeth
Guess, Mason F.
Guess, Wilson
Gant, James
Gant, Mrs. James
Gant, Harris
Gant, Mrs. Harris
Greenman, Clark N.
Gordon, Mary Frances
Gordon, Mrs.
Hadley, Charles H.
Hampton, J. Wilson.
Himes, Tyrus
Himes, Mrs. Tyrus (Emiline).
Himes, George H.
Himes, Helen L. (Ruddell)
Himes, Judson W.
Himes, Lestina Z. (Eaton)
Hill, Mary Jane (Byles)
Horn, Thomas
Horn, Mrs. Thomas (Lena)
Judson, Peter
Judson, Mrs. Peter
Judson, Stephen
Judson, John Paul
Kincaid, William M.
Kincaid, Mrs. William M.
Kincaid, Susannah (Thompson)
Kincaid, Joseph C.
Kincaid, Laura (Meade)
Kincaid, James
Kincaid, John
Kincaid, Christopher
Kincaid, Ruth (McCarty)
Lane, Daniel E.
Lane, Mrs. Daniel E.
Lane, Edward
Lane, William
Lane, Timothy
Lane, Albert
Lane, John
Lane, Mrs. John
Lane, Mrs. Elizabeth Whitesel
Light, Erastus A.
Light, Mrs. Erastus A.
Light, Henry
Longmire, James
Longmire, Mrs. James
Longmire, Elcaine
Longmire, David
Longmire, Tillathi (Kandle)
Longmire, John A.
McCullough, James
McCullough, Mrs. James
McCullough, Mary Frances
McCullough, Flora
Mueller, Gertrude S. (Delin)
Moyer, John B.
Melville, George
Melville, Mrs. George
Melville, Kate M. (Thompson)
Melville, Robert
Mitchell, William H.
Neisan, John
Ogle, Van
Regan, John
Ragan, Henry
Ray, Henry
Ray, Samuel
Risdon, Joel
Sargent, Asher
Sargent, Mrs. Asher
Sargent, E. Nelson
Sargent, Francis Marion
Sargent, Wilson
Sargent, Matilda (Saylor)
Sargent, Rebecca (Kellett)
Steward, John
Steward, Mrs. John
Steward, Thomas J.
Steward, Samuel
Steward, Calvin
Steward, Celia
Steward, Louise
Steward, Deborah
Watt, Evan
West, Newton
Woodward, John W.
Woolery, Isaac
Woolery, Mrs. Isaac ("Aunt Peg") 
Woolery, Robert Lemuel
Woolery, James Henderson
Woolery, Mrs. Sarah Jane Ward
Woolery, Abraham
Woolery, Mrs. Abraham ("Aunt Pop")
Woolery, Jacob Francis
Woolery, Daniel Henry
Woolery, Agnes W. (Lamon)
Whitesel, Margaret
Whitesel, Alexander
Whitesel, Cal
Whitesel, William
Whitesel, Mrs. William
Whitesel, Mrs. Nancy Leach
Wright, Isaac H.
Wright, Mrs. Isaac H.
Wright, Benjamin F.
Wright, Mrs. Benjamin
Wright, James
Wright, Elizabeth (Bell)
Wright, Rebecca (Moore)
Wright, William
Wright, Byrd
Wright, Thomas
Wright, Anne
Wright, Annis (Downey)
Young, Austin E.

It should be noted that the Reverend Charles Byles and Mr. James Biles were brothers but spelled their names as they were written. The Robert Longmire and George Himes lists have the Sargent family written as "Sarjent." Erastus Light wrote James Longmire's name as Longmier.


The members of the Wright family who eventually settled in the Spanaway area were part of the first immigrant train to use the Naches Pass route, coming directly across the Cascade Mountains into Puget Sound. The wagon train arrived at the Mahon claim near Clover Creek in October, 1853. This was to be their last camp together, since they were eager to select land and establish claims under the Donation Land Act of 1850.

Thomas Jefferson Wright and Anna Light Wright from Paris, Possey County, Indiana had six children, four boys; Israel, Byrd, William and Benjamin Franklin and two girls; Nancy and Elizabeth. B. Franklin when eighteen years of age, went to Licken, Dent County Missouri to sell a load of mules. He met Miss Frances Jane Blankenship, a daughter of a Pennsylvania Dutch tobacco planter and Frances Rayden Blankenship, a school teacher and descendant of the early French settlers in Louisiana. Two years later they were married and with B. Franklin's parents, brothers, sisters, their families and their own baby daughter, Nancy, joined the immigrant train headed for Fort Steilacoom, Puget Sound, Washington Territory in May, 1853.

The trip was long, hard and hazardous. When they reached the Columbia River, they were much discouraged but Nelson Sargent, fearing they might have trouble crossing the Cascades and might turn back because of a road that had never been traveled before, went to meet them.

He gave glowing accounts of the country and talked eloquently of the soil and climate so that they surged on with renewed vigor. They camped at the Yakima River and a band of Indians came who insisted on buying baby Nancy for a Chieftain's wife. The Indians offered blankets, skins, and finally a pony. Then they tried to steal her, so it was necessary to travel day and night to prevent them from doing so.

In anticipation of the arrival of this immigrant train of seventy wagons, a trail was cut to the summit of the Naches Pass, on the west side to connect with another road being made by a party on the east side of the Cascade range. Through some mistake, the men clearing the road had been told no travelers would be coming through so they quit working for the winter season.

The unfinished condition of the road caused much hardship, long hours and heavy labor. It was October, 1853, the Wright family were ill and weak from the lack of proper food. For ten days there had been nothing but meat from one of their cows and no salt. Then at the Pass they were fed and cared for and in a couple of days were on their way.

Andrew Burge led the way and blazed the trail. When it was too steep for the oxen, the wagons were let down by ropes, while the cattle and the women went around by trail.

When they reached the Puyallup River they camped at the Van Ogle Farm. The salmon were running and it was a great joy to catch and cook fish and eat to their hearts content. It was such sport, that some stayed up all night catching fish and had a big feed for breakfast.

When they reached Clover Creek, an Indian woman, Mrs. Meyers, asked Frances Wright if she were hungry; on being told that she was, the Indian woman drew a round loaf of bread from her bosom. She broke it and gave half of it to Frances and divided the other half between herself and Baby Nancy. Tears came into Frances' eyes and she said, "It was the best bread I had ever eaten before and the best bread I have eaten since."

The covered wagons reached Fort Steilacoom, November 2, 1853. In January 1854, B. Franklin took up a Donation Claim in the Puyallup Valley. Two years later he was driven off by Indians and compelled to flee by night. Frances carried three year old Nancy and three weeks old Mary all the way to Steilacoom for protection. B. Franklin joined the American volunteers of the Indian War of 1855-56.

Winston, Dorothy E. Thompson. "Early Spanaway," Tacoma: Graphic Press, 1976 ppgs. 11-12.


Wenass, December 8, 1904.
Friend Meeker,

Sir: Your letter dated November 26, 1904, at hand. Sir, I am quite sick. I will try to sit up long enough to scratch an answer to your questions. Kirtley's men fell out among themselves. I well remember Jack Perkins had a black eye. Kirtley, as I understood, was to go to Wenass Creek, thence cut a wagon road from Wenass to the Natchess River, thence up the Natchess River until they met Allen's party.

It is my opinion they did commence at Wenass. There were three notches cut in many of the large trees. I can find some of these trees yet where these notches show. Allen did not know Kirtley and his party had abandoned the enterprise until the former told him. He expressed much surprise and regret. I packed the provisions for Allen's party.

The last tip I made I found Allen and his party six or eight miles down the Natchess River. I was sent back to the summit of the mountain to search for a pack mule and a pack horse. These two animals were used by the working party to move their camp outfit, and their provisions.

When they returned they told me that they cut the road down to where Kirtley's party left off. Of my own knowledge I can safely say Allen's party cut the road from John Montgomery's to some six or maybe eight miles down the Natchess River and it was four days after that before they came to the summit on their return. It is possible Kirtley's party slighted their work to the extent that made it necessary for immigrants to take their axes in hand. I consider Kirtley a dead failure at anything. Kirtley's party came home more than a month before we came in. If Van Ogle is not insane he ought to remember.

Allen's party cut the road out from six to eight miles down the Natchess River to John Montgomery's. The valley on the Natchess River is too narrow for any mistake to occur.

The first men that came through came with James and his brother, Charles Biles, Sargent, Downey, James Longmire, Van Ogle, two Atkins, Lane, a brother-in-law of Sargent, Kincaid, two Woolery's, Lane of Puyallup, E. A. Light, John Eagan(Reagan), Charley Fitch. Meeker, I am quite sick; when I get well I will write more detailed account; it is as much as I can do to sit up.

Yours, in haste, as ever.
Andrew J. Burge.

Meeker, Ezra. Pioneer Reminiscences of Puget Sound. Seattle, Lowman and Handford, 1905. pp. 151-52.


It was on the third day of September, 1854, that I left home. I had been planting turnips for two days, and made a memorandum of the date, and by that fix the date of my departure. Of that turnip crop I shall have more to say later, as it had a cheering effect upon the incoming immigrants.

With a fifty pound flour sack filled with hard bread, or navy biscuit, a small piece of dried venison, a couple of pounds of cheese, a tin cup, and half of a three point blanket, all made into a pack of less than forty pounds, I climbed the hill at Steilacoom, and took the road leading to Puyallup and spent the night with Jonathan McCarty, near where the town of Sumner now is. McCarty said, "you can't get across the streams on foot, I will let you have a pony. He is small, but surefooted, and hardy, and will in any event carry you across the rivers."

The next day found me on the road with my blanket under the saddle, my sack of hard bread strapped on behind the saddle, and myself mounted to ride on level stretches of the road, or across streams, of which, I had fully forty crossings to make, but had only one ahead of me the first day. That one, though, was a nasty one, across the White River at Porter's place.

The White River on the upper reaches is a roaring torrent only at all fordable in low water and in but few places. The rush of waters can be heard for a mile or more from the high bluff overlooking the narrow valley, or rather canyon and presented a formidable barrier for a lone traveler. The river bed is full of boulders worn rounded and smooth and slippery, from the size of a man's head to very much larger, thus making footing for animals uncertain.

After my first crossing I dreaded those to come, which I knew were ahead of me, more than all else of the trip, for a misstep of the pony meant fatal results in all probability. The little fellow, though seemed to be equal to the occasion. If the footing became too uncertain, he would stop stock still, and pound the water with one foot and finally reach out carefully until he could find secure footing, and then move up a step or two. The water of the river is so charged with the sediment from the glaciers above, that the bottom could not be seen, only felt, hence the absolute necessity of feeling one's way.

The road, if it could be properly called a road, lay in the narrow valley of the White River, or on the mountains adjacent, in some places as at Mud Mountain, reaching an altitude of more than a thousand feet above the river bed. Some places the forest was so dense that one could scarcely see to read at mid-day, while in other places large burns gave an opening for daylight.

During the forenoon of the first day, while in one of those deepest of deep forests, where, if the sky was clear, and one could catch a spot you could see out overhead, one might see the stars as from a deep well, my pony stopped short, raised his head with his ears pricked up, indicating something unusual was at hand.

Soon there appeared three women and eight children on foot, coming down the road in blissful ignorance of the presence of anyone but themselves in the forest.

I soon learned their teams had become exhausted, and that all the wagons but one had been left, and this one was on the road a few miles behind them; that they were entirely out of provisions and had had nothing to eat for twenty hours except for the natural food they gathered, which was not much.

They eagerly inquired the distance to food, which I thought they might possibly reach that night, but in any event the next morning early. Meanwhile I had opened my sack of hard bread and gave each a cracker, in the eating of which the sound resembled pigs cracking dry hard corn.

Neither of us had time to parley or visit and so the ladies and their children, barefoot and ragged, bareheaded and unkempt, started down the mountain intent on reaching food, while I started up the road wondering whether or not this scene was to be often repeated as I advanced on my journey.

Some new work on the road gave evidence that men had recently been there, but the work was so slight one could easily believe immigrants might have done it as they passed.

What with the sweat incident to the day's travel, the chill air of October in the mountains, with but half of a three-point blanket as covering and the ground for a mattress, small wonder my muscles were a little stiffened when I arose and prepared for the ascent to the summit.

The next camp was in the Natchess Canyon. I had lingered on the summit prairie to give the pony a chance to fill up on the luxuriant but rather washy grass, there found in great abundance. For myself, I had plenty of water, but had been stinted in hard bread, remembering my experience of the day before, with the famished women and children.

A light snow storm came on just before nightfall, which, with high mountains on either side of the river spread approaching darkness rapidly. I was loth to camp; somehow I just wanted to go on, and doubtless would have traveled all night if I could have safely found my way.

The canyon was but a few hundred yards wide, with the tortuous river first striking one bluff and then the other, necessitating numerous crossings; the intervening space being glade land of large pine growth but light undergrowth and few fallen trees. The whole surface was covered with coarse sand, in which rounded boulders were imbedded so thick in places as to cause the trail to be very indistinct, especially in open spots, where the snow had fallen unobstructed.

Finally I saw that I must camp, and after crossing the river, came out in an opening where the bear tracks were so thick that one could really believe that the spot was a veritable play ground for all the animals about.

Early the next morning found my pony and me on the trail, a little chilled with the cold mountain air and very willing to travel. In a hundred yards or so, we came upon a ford of ice cold water to cross, and others following in such quick succession that I realized that we were soon to leave the canyon. I had been told that at the 32nd crossing, I would leave the canyon and ascent a high mountain and then travel through pine glades, and that I must then be careful and not lose the trail.

I had not kept strict account of the crossings like one of the men I had met, who cut a notch in his goad stick at every crossing, but I knew instinctively we were nearly out, and so I halted to eat what I supposed would be my only meal of the day.

From the top of the mountain grade I looked back in wonderment about how the immigrants had taken their wagons down; I found out by experience later. Toward nightfall I heard a welcome sound of the tinkling of a bell and soon saw the smoke of camp fires, and finally the village of tents and grime covered wagons.

It is not easy to describe the cordial greeting accorded me by those tired and almost discouraged immigrants. If we had been near and dear relatives, the rejoicing could not have been mutually greater. They had been toiling for nearly five months on the road across the plains and now there loomed up before them this great mountain range to cross.

Before I knew what was happening I caught the fragrance of boiling coffee and of fresh meat cooking. It seemed the good matrons knew without telling that I was hungry and had set to work to prepare me a meal, a sumptuous meal at that, taking into account the whetted appetite incident to a diet of hard bread straight, and not much of that, for two days.

We met on the hither bank of the Yakima River where the old trail crosses that river near where the flourishing city of North Yakima now is.

Ezra Meeker, Pioneer Reminiscences of Puget Sound. Seattle; Lowman and Hanford, 1905 ppgs. 90-110.(excerpts).


Captain Lafayette Balch, the enterprising proprietor of Steilacoom had contributed one hundred dollars in money towards the Road to Walla Walla. To each and every man who started from that neighborhood to work on the road, Captain Balch gives a lot in the town of Steilacoom. He secured from the United States government a number of mules, pack saddles, and other articles needed by the men. He furnished the outfit for the company who started from that place with Mr. E. J. Allen, at just what the articles cost in San Francisco.

Columbian, July 30, 1853 as quoted by Ezra Meeker, Pioneer Reminiscences of Puget Sound. Seattle Lowman and Hanford, 1905 p. 149.