Let’s remember the very first Christmas in Seattle, on this day in 1851 (December 25)

Photo from YouTube/Google Images.

It’s a Christmas miracle!

From Dorothea Nordstrand and HistoryLink, this story is remarkable:

Christmas of 1851 found a great change at New York Alki, the place of the very beginning of our city of Seattle. Only six short weeks had passed since the Arthur Denny party had made their historic landing from the small schooner, Exact, in a drenching, pouring-down rain. Dorothea Nordstrand (1916–2011) contributed this story of Seattle’s first Christmas. The story is based on her wide reading in Seattle’s early history.

Nineteen-year-old David Denny, Arthur’s young brother, and John Low had walked from the Willamette Valley in Oregon to select a place for settlement on Puget Sound, finally deciding on the point of land known to the local Indians as “Smaquamox” for their venture. John Low took the long trail back to Oregon to bring the pioneer families, taking with him a note to their leader, Arthur Denny, from David, saying they had found “the place” and to come. The landing of the Denny party, on November 13, 1851, was in answer to that note.

David, an accomplished woodsman, had expected to build log cabins to house them when they arrived, but had only erected the four walls of the first one, when his axe slipped and he cut a deep gash in his foot. When the party arrived on the beach, they were dismayed to find David terribly ill and shaking with fever and not even one completed dwelling to move into. There were 24 people to shelter in one small, unroofed building. That was in the middle of November.

On Christmas Day, along with that structure, now snugly roofed, there was another, larger log house, and two homes built of split-cedar boards, patterned after the dwellings of the local Indians. Arthur and Mary Anne Denny and their three children, Arthur’s brother David, and Mary Anne’s sister Louisa Boren, lived in the larger log house. The smaller log structure housed Carson and Mary Boren and their baby daughter. John and Lydia Low, with their four children, and William and Sarah Anne Bell, with their four, occupied the two split-cedar dwellings. Charles and Lee Terry were sort of revolving guests, first living in one home and then in another. These 24 hardy souls were the entire population of the little village on that first Christmas.

Well then. Merriest Christmas.




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Chris Burlingame

Chris Burlingame

Seattleite, (mostly) retired arts/culture blogger. Come for the Seinfeld references, stay for the Producers references.