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  • Early History of Columbia County


    Thanks to Mrs. Vernon Smith of Dayton Wa. who complied a history of Dayton and Columbia County and it was printed in the Dayton Chronicle in installments begining July 1, 1965. What is written here is "Public Domain" and is at the present being retold in a local newsletter that is passed around the City of Dayton, I found this one at city hall while I was paying my water bill.



    Brief History of Columbia County


    In the Year Of 1805:

    The first white men to see the Touchet River were Lewis & Clark and their band of followers. The men were following the Indian trails that led along the Touchet River, East from Waitsburg, crossing the river where Dayton now is. They went up the Pattit toward the Alpowa. The Indian Trails were easy to follow as were as "old as the hills." The Touchet River was named "White Stallion" by Clark because the Indians around Walla Walla had given him a white stallion.

    In The Year Of 1834:

    Capt. Bonneville and three companions came through this way on their way to Nez Perce country. Capt Bonneville was very impressed with this country and thought he would return some day.

    In The Year Of 1848:

    March 13, 1848, the Oregon Volunteers and the hostile Cayuse Indians of this valley(400 indians altogether) and surrounding country, met in a thrilling , whopping, hollering 30 hour battle. The last stand was made at the site of where Dayton is now located. The Oregon Volunteers finally won this treacherous indian encounter.

    In The Year Of 1855:

    H. M. Chase settled on what is now Mustard property, but he was soon forced to abandon his house because of the hostile indians. No other man came to this area to live because of the hostile indians until 1859.

    In The Year Of 1859

    S. L. Gilbreath and Mrs Gilbreath (she was 16 years and the sirst white woman to settle here) located at Longs Station and in 1860 the first white child born in Columbia County was born to them. Death occured when the little girl was two years old.

    In The Year Of 1860:

    Quite a number of settlers came to Dayton. During the succeding four or five years, all the low ground along the streams was settled. Little value was attached to the upper bench land except for grazing purposes.

    In The Year Of 1861

    For forty days the mercury was 28 degrees below zero, it snowed every day for thirty days. The snow was 32 inches deep on the level even though they did have a slight chinook. Here is a interview with George W. Miller telling of his farming operations.
    "During the season of 1861, we (We being ,Miller and his father-in-law, Elisha Ping) plowed up that portion of Dayton from the Chase Cabin west to Patit Creek and from that creek west to the foothills where Brooklyn now stands being something over 50 acres and farmed it two years. When harvest came the grain was cut with a turkey-wing cradle and bound and shocked. Then it was hauled from the fields and the grain tramped out by yoke of oxen which were used on the farm. Then a scoop shovel was used to throw the grain up in the air that the wind might blow the chaff out. The first crop was sold to George Ives to feed his pack train of mules during the winter of 1861-1862 for which not a cent of payment was ever made. When Ives was hung in Montana we felt avenged. My father-in-law, Elisha Ping and I both built cabins on the Patit in 1861. In the fall of 1862, I built a barn of lumber, being the first lumber structure erected in the county. The lumber was whip-sawed on the Eckler Mountain at the big spring near the Fewster Place."
    At this time wheat was $2.00 per bushel and oats were worth 7 cents a pound.
    Again and again the terrible winter of 1861-1862..... Framers burned their fence rails for firewood, rails (regular price $3-$4 per hundred) sold readily for $30 a hundred, flour was worth $24 a hundred pounds. Hardships and intense suffering were the lot of Eastern Washington settlers. Improper shipment was escaped by very few. At Walla Walla, bacon sold for50 cents a pound, butter $1.00 a pound sugar 50 cents, beans 30 cents and tobacco $1.50. All other necessaries of life were in proportion. Everything was at least 100% higher.

    In The Year Of 1861

    Thomas W. Whetstone (Arlie Fullerton's grandfather) accompanied by his family, came from Oregon in the autumn of 1861. He located in the "Hollow" which still bears his name. In the course of the early settlement of the country, Mr Whetstone was compelled to undergo many hardships and suffered many privations. Mr Whetstone established a trading post and stage stop at his ranch. He kept records in a cash book from 1869 to 1878....however, for the sake of keeping our continuity by years, we will take a look at that cash book later.

    In The Year Of 1863

    In Oct 21, 1863, the "Chronicle" paper stated "Its safe to estimate thatfully two-thrids of this county is under mortgage." (wheat is 32 cents a bushel)

    In The Year Of 1864

    A Post office called "Touchet" was established in Dayton. It was also discovered hill soil was equally fertile and valuable for grain raising as that along the streams.

    On To Years 1866-1878

    Source:"Dayton's Main Street and more Newsletter" Nadine Dieringer Publisher who received permission to print it as compiled by Mrs. Charlotte Smith and printed by the Dayton Chronicle in 1965, all material is Public Domain.
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    Page Created on 4\7\98