History and Background of Pioneer Bush Family
The Olympia News
September 6, 1945
Now that we are celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the
settlement of Tumwater, the people of the State of Washington should know the
real history and background of George Bush and his wife, Isabelle James Bush,
who were members of the Simmons party.
Their story is a matter of Congressional and historical record as
well as from the Bush Family Bible. All of which is in the possession of
descendents of George and Isabelle Bush.
The father of George Bush, Matthew Bush, was born in India and was
brought to America as a young man before the Revolution by a British shipping
merchant by the name of Stevenson. Mrs.
Stevenson had an Irish maid who married Matthew Bush. George Bush, an only child, was born near Philadelphia in
1779. Matthew Bush sailed many years on
the merchant ships. He and his wife
cared for the Stevensons in their declining years, as they had no family of
their own, and at their death, they left a vast fortune to Matthew Bush.
Bush was raised a Quaker and educated in Philadelphia. In spite of his
religious belief he was a veteran of the war of 1812 and is credited with being
the soldier who persuaded General Jackson to use bales of cotton as barricades
in the battle of New Orleans and thus bring about the defeat of the British. He was also a veteran of the Black Hawk
Indian war, at which time he was wounded.
1820, with some companions, he made a trip to the Pacific Coast, traveling from
Mexico to the Columbia river, trapping and hunting for a fur company of St.
July 4, 1831, he married Isabelle James, the daughter of a Baptist
preacher. She was born in Tennessee in
1801. Five sons were born to the union
of mail and telegrams in Illinois and say [Bush] was at Naveau [Nauvoo], Illinois,
the night of the departure of Joseph Smith. In later years he gave Brigham
Young $5,000 to help build the Mormon Tabernacle. [This matter of his
relationship with Mormons was later proven incorrect.]
When Colonel M.T.
Simmons was organizing the party to make the trip northwest, George Bush became
interested at once, disposed of his property and helped finance the
expedition. The story of his building a
double floor in his covered wagon in which to carry his money has been told and
retold as one time when the party was crossing the plains and were running out
of supplies he purchased enough flour at $60 a barrel and sugar at $1 a pound
to last the entire party until they reached Oregon City.
party arrived at Puget Sound in October 1845, and George Bush and his wife,
with their five small sons, William Owens Bush being the eldest, settled on the
prairie, which bears his name. Lewis N.
the youngest son, was born December 25, 1845.
Bush died April 5, 1863, and Isabelle James Bush died September 12, 1866.
generosity was a by-word. Old timers
said that the way was never too long nor the night too stormy to go to the
assistance of some neighbor or newcomer in distress.
Shotwell Bush, the son of William Owens Bush, still lives and makes his home on
the old Bush homestead. He is the last
living male descendant of the Simmons party living on the original homestead.