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Chelan County GenWeb
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Chelan County

Chelan County Info



Originally the portion of land south of the Wenatchee River, which is now Chelan County, was part of Ferguson County. The portion of land north of the Wenatchee River, which is now Chelan County, was part of Okanogan County. The land area where Okanogan County now sits became part of the Oregon Territory in 1848 and then part of the Washington Territory in 1853. In 1854, the area became part of Walla Walla County, one of the original counties of the Washington Territory. Stevens County was formed out of Walla Walla County in 1863. Okanogan County was formed out of a portion of Stevens County in 1888.

In 1863 the territorial legislature formed Ferguson County but the county did not organize. On January 21, 1865 the legislature changed the name to Yakima after the Yakima Indian tribe. Still unwilling to organize, in 1867 Governor Moore insisted they organize. The county seat was then located at Thorp's schoolhouse in Moxee. The county seat later moved to the city of Yakima.

On November 24, 1883, Kittitas County was formed out of a portion of Yakima County. The word Kittitas comes from an Indian word meaning “Grey Gravel Bank”. The county seat for Kittitas was located in Ellensburgh, now spelled Ellensburg.

Frank Reeves came to Wenatchee in 1891 and founded the Wenatchee Advance newspaper in 1893 and later the Times newspaper in Leavenworth. Authur Gunn, who came to Wenatchee in 1896, organized the Wenatchee Power Company and was president of the Electric Light Company of Wenatchee. In 1899, these two men traveled to Olympia in hopes of securing the segregation of what was to become Chelan County. A measure that had started in 1892 but failed do to a lack of local backing. On March 13, 1899, Chelan County was formed thanks to the efforts of Authur Gunn and Frank Reeves.

The County is named after Lake Chelan. Chelan, originally spelled “Tsillan”, means deep water and was named by Alexander Ross.

Chelan County today sits between the Columbia River (Chelan County) and the Cascade Mountain Range and is bordered by Skagit, Okanogan, Douglas, Kittitas, King, and Snohomish Counties.