Himes Family – Thurston County, Washington

from Early History of Thurston County, Washington

This reminiscent by Mr. George H. Himes, Secretary of the Oregon Historical Society in 1914.

Tyrus Himes was born at Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, April 14, 1818, and while living in what was then the frontier, and lacking educational advantages, was a man of marked intelligence and ability and was well known among his associates as an exceedingly well posted man regarding current events, particularly respecting all phases of farm life.  He became a warm friend of Owen Bush who told me in later years that whatever he had accomplished in an agricultural line—and he has won several gold medals for his exhibits—he owed in a great measure to father’s advice and instructions.

On May 1, 1843, Mr. Himes was married to Emiline Holcombe. She was also a native of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, born December 28, 1821, her parents removing thither in 1796 from Connecticut. Her earliest ancestors came to Massachusetts from Devonshire, England, in 1630.

In the spring of 1853 Mr. and Mrs. Himes with their family of four children, George H, Helen Z., Judson W. and Lestina Z., and four other persons, Joel Risdon and his son, Henry, a youth of twelve years, Charles R. Fitch and Frederick Burnett, and the additional family of John Dodge, wife and five children, Robert Bruce, Francis Marion, Daniel, Samuel Ives and Desdemona, started across the plains to Oregon. The two families separated at the immigrant camp ground on the Umatilla River, the Dodge family going to Marion County, Willamette Valley, and the Himes family and the four persons mentioned went to Puget Sound, via Natchez Pass, 25 miles north of Mt. Rainier, in company with a number of other families and single men, the total number being 170—the first direct immigration to the Puget Sound basin. Late in 1853 Robert Bruce Dodge left the Willamette Valley and settled on Mima Prairie; his parents and the remainder of the family soon followed him and settled in the same locality.

In October, 1854, Mr. Himes, associated with Joseph Benson Roberts, a well-to-do logger, established the first boot and shoe shop in Olympia—the first in the State of Washington.  During the winter of 1854-55, William Wright, a saddle and harness-maker, established himself in Olympia—the first in that line in Washington. Mr. Himes followed boot and shoe-making until 1866, when he retired to his farm for the remainder of his life, his death occurring on April 22, 1879.  In 1884 the widow sold the farm to the present owner and removed to Elma, Chehalis County, and spent the remainder of her life, her death occurring on October 29, 1898.

George H. Himes was born in Pennsylvania, May 18, 1844. Prior to crossing the plains from Illinois to Puget Sound in 1853, he went to school fifteen months. In Thurston County he went to school three months a year from 1854 to 1859. On June 10, 1861, he began typesetting on the Washington Standard, Olympia, for Mr. John Miller Murphy, and worked in his office most of the time until March 10, 1864, when he went to Portland, the trip at that time requiring three days.  On March 13th, he began setting type on the Oregonian, and remained in that office until June 3, 1865. A few weeks later he began working in a job printing office, and on October 5, 1868, went into business for himself, and carried on the job printing business until January 1, 1899, when he was asked by the Board of Directors of the Oregon Historical Society, organized on December 17, 1898, to become the assistant, or Field Secretary. In June, 1886, Mr. Himes was elected Secretary of the Oregon Pioneer Association, and has held that position without interruption up to the present time. The acquaintance thus gained has given him a great opportunity to gather an unusually large fund of information about the early pioneers of the Pacific Northwest, and this he has sought to improve to the best of his ability. He was married in Salem, Oregon, December 24, 1866, to Miss Anna F. Riggs and eleven children were born to the union—nine daughters and two sons—and five daughters and one son are now living in Portland and vicinity, the others having passed away.

The second, third and fourth children of Mr. and Mrs. Himes, are as follows: Mrs. Helen Z. Ruddell, born in Stark County, Illinois, February 6, 1848, widow of the late William H. Ruddell, a pioneer of Thurston County in 1852, and since 1879 she has lived near Elma, Chehalis County; Judson W. Himes, born in Stark County, Illinois, March 9, 1850, learned the baking business in Olympia, afterwards took a business course in Portland, later on was a cruiser of timber lands for the Northern Pacific Railway for a number of years, making his home in Elma, later on engaged in the real estate and insurance business, has been an Odd Fellow for many years, has served as Town and School Clerk of Elma for several terms and holds that position at the present time; Mrs. Lestina Z. Eaton, born in Lafayette, Stark County, Illinois, November 26, 1852, was married to Nathan Eaton in 1872. He came across the plains in 1843, was a volunteer soldier in the Cayuse Indian war of 1847-48 ; mined gold in 1849 in California, settled in Thurston County, twelve miles southeast of Olympia, built a sawmill there in 1853—the first mill in Western Washington away from the Sound—cleared up a large farm out of a wilderness said to be the best in the county in its day, rendered efficient service to the Territory in the Yakima Indian war of 1855-56, introduced the first mowing machines in the county in 1856, established a photograph gallery at his place in 1862, sold his place to Mr. Collins in 1882 and removed to Elma the same year and died in 1883. He was the father of four children. Mrs. Eaton died at Potlatch at the home of her daughter, Mrs. George Simpson, in December, 1906.

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