Pacific County History

County History at a Glance

1778  Capt. James Cook sighted land off the Oregon Coast.
1788  Capt. Robert Gray, commanding the Lady Washington, and John Kendrick, commanding the Columbia, arrive in Northwest waters.

Capt. John Meares, an English trader, explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca and named Cape Disappointment, having missed the entrance to the Columbia River.

Capt. John Meares sighted Willapa Harbor and gave it the name of Shoalwater Bay.   He also named Cape Shoalwater, stating that it might be at the entrance to the mighty river.

1792 Capt. Robert Gray, the first to carry the American flag around the globe while buying furs for China, returned to the Pacific Northwest for the second time.  He sailed into the mighty river of the west, naming it after his ship, Columbia.  He also discovered Gray's Harbor.
1805 The expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark successfully crossed the Rocky Mountains, guided by Sacajawea, and reached the mouth of the Columbia River in November.
1825 Fort Vancouver was established on the north bank of the Columbia River by Dr. John McLoughlin, factor for the Hudson's Bay Company.  David Douglas, famous Scots botanist, arrives with Dr. McLoughlin, giving his name to Washington's most famous forest product, the giant Douglas fir.
1839 Only 151 Americans in Oregon country according to Jason Lee.
1841 The Peacock, USN Brig under Wilkes, wrecked on what is now called Peacock Spit.  James D. Saules, a Negro, native of Peru but English speaking and who had been the cook on the Peacock, took up squatter's rights to a promontory near Fort Canby known as Saules Point by the early settlers.
1843 Oregon Provisional government was formed at Champoeg.  This was the first government established west of the Rocky Mountains by United States citizens.
1845 Provisional government creates Lewis County from Clark County, which in 1844 had included the entire area of Washington State as it is now.
1846 The boundary dispute between England and the United States is settled and Hudson's Bay headquarters moved to Victoria, BC.
1848 Oregon Territory created including what is now all of Washington State.
1849 Job Lamley was shipwrecked and managed to come ashore at Bakers Bay.  Here he found Elijah White and Washington Hall surveying the land which was destined to become Pacific County.  This city later became Fort Canby.
1850 Congress passed the Donation Land Claim law.  A man and wife were allowed 640 acres if they complied with certain rules.  Some 61 claims were taken up in Pacific County.
1851 The Oregon Territory created Pacific County.  The boundary was only 25 miles north from Cape Disappointment, so did not include Willapa Bay, but extended east beyond the present line.   County seat was at Pacific City.

A group of settlers met on Cowlitz Prairie to ask Congress to create a separate territory north of the Columbia River.

On Shoalwater Bay Capt. Russell shipped the first oysters to San Francisco.

The Robert Bruce is burned causing the first settlement on the bay to be established.  It was known as Bruce Boys' Camp, then Bruceville, and finally Bruceport.

1852 Thurston County, Oregon Territory, was created.  Our upper bay, including what is now South Bend, Raymond and Willapa Valley, was thus in Thurston County for a time.

Capt. David K. Weldon on the Brig Oriental took up a claim on the point of land now known as Hawks Point.  He built his home at the mouth of North River.  His wife came up from San Francisco and was the first white woman to make her home on the bay.

1853 Washington becomes a territory with Isaac I. Stevens as the first governor.

James G. Swan recorded his claim at the mouth of Bone River.  He later wrote a fine historical book called "Three Years on Shoalwater Bay."

1854 First meeting of the Washington Territorial Legislature called.  Pacific District included Pacific County and also Cathlamet.  County seat was at Chinookville.

Joel Brown, who lived in what is now Bay Center, was elected to attend the Washington Territorial Legislature but died of pneumonia.  Then Jehu Schudder was elected but died on the way to Olympia.  Henry Fiester was the third person chosen and served only one day and died.  Finally James Strong, a resident of Cathlamet, served the term.

The Washington County of Chehalis (now Grays Harbor) was created and included the northern part of present Pacific County.  First commissioners met at Capt. Weldon's home at Hawks Point.  Later meetings were held at Bruceport.

1855 Blockhouses were erected and occupied at Bruceport and at Giesy's although no Indian trouble developed.

The Keil Colony arrived and buried Willie Keil at Giesy's Crossing farm.

County seat changed to Oysterville by vote of the people.

1860 Several boundary changes had been effected, and the area of Pacific County became approximately what it is today, and now included the Willapa Valley.
1890 The town of South Bend incorporated.

The town of Ilwaco incorporated.

1893 The Northern Pacific Railroad reached South Bend.

After a dispute over an election to change the County seat, two South Bend steamers came to Oysterville and took the county records to South Bend.

1904 Plat of Raymond filed on October 4, 1904.
1907 Raymond incorporated on August 5, 1907.
1922 The town of Long Beach incorporated.




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This page last updated on July 15, 2010