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History of Washington The Rise and Progress of an American State

By Clinton Snowden

Volume 3

1909

Page 37


Their first concern [after arriving in in Oregon territory] was to secure food and shelter.  Their supplies were, in most cases exhausted.  Their household effects, or most of them, had been abandoned from necessity on the trail.  They must begin life anew and almost with their naked hands alone.  The settlers who had preceded them received them usually with generous hospitality, but it was not to be imposed upon.  It was too evident, in most cases, that those who offered so freely had little enough for themselves.  But some of those who had come earliest were well supplied, and provided generously for all who came after.  Among these was George Bush, the mulatto who had done so much for the Simmons party.  Many of the earlier pioneers bear willing testimony to his generosity.  Year by year, as he enlarged the area of his cultivated lands, he produced a larger and larger supply of grain, all of which he kept for new arrivals.  He would sell nothing to the merchants or to speculators at any price.  The settlers he provided with food for their first winter, and with seed for their first sowing.  If they had no money he still supplied them with what they needed, asking only that each should pay him when he could, and taking no security.  Many of those who came earliest got their food for the first winter, and the small amount of seed needed for the following spring, from this man and in this way.  And yet, under the law as it as that time, he could not secure title to his own claim, nor would his oath be received in any court, because of his color.