The following important events in the history of Washington affected political boundaries, record-keeping, and family movements.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spain, Russia, and England all claimed what is now Washington.
John Jacob Astor (American) established a trading post at Astoria. This was the first settlement in this area.
Spain withdrew her claims.
Russia withdrew her claims.
Marcus Whitman established the second white settlement near present-day Walla Walla. Early settlement centered in the Willamette
The present boundary between the United States and Canada was established.
The Oregon Territory was created. It included what is now Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
Settlers went farther north into the Puget Sound area to obtain food and lumber that was needed in the California gold fields.
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.
Washington Territory was created from the northern part of Oregon Territory.
Oregon became a state. Washington Territory was enlarged to include the remaining Oregon territory not included in the new state.
The discovery of gold near Walla Walla attracted many prospectors.
The Idaho Territory was created from lands in eastern Washington Territory.
The Northern Pacific Railway reached Spokane.
The transcontinental railroads reached Washington and brought a great influx of settlers.
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: Lewis Pub. Co., 1893; FHL book 979.7 D3h; film
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, 1978; FHL book 979.7 D25a; fiche 6051194). This is listed in the FHLC under WASHINGTON - HANDBOOKS, MANUALS, ETC.