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Reminisces of William O. Thompson - Settler at Black Lake

Page 224 of

Early History of Thurston County Washington Together With Biographies and Reminiscences of Those Identified with Pioneer Days
by Georgiana Blankenship - 1914

"Reaching Cowlitz Landing, we abandoned our boat and tramped the remaining fifty miles to the Sound. The trail passed near where Chehalis now stands. We were entertained by George Bush, who had squatted on a claim seven miles from Olympia in 1845. He had an abundance of farm produce and was exceedingly generous to all emigrants. We then walked to Tumwater, where an Indian agreed to paddle us to Olympia, where we arrived the winter of 1852.

"I had then completed a journey over the Oregon trail, which was about 2,000 miles, beginning at Gardiner. Kansas, and ending at Olympia, Washington. I had passed through the country now called Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho. Oregon and Washington, and when I reached the shores of Puget Sound, I felt this country to be the El Dorado of my dreams and I have been contented to live here ever since.

"I do not remember that there was a white woman in Olympia when I first arrived, but there were two living in Newmarket—Tumwater—Mrs. Crosby and Mrs. Simmons. It seemed a forlorn place and I never was so homesick in my life. I went back to Mr. Bush, but he laughed at me and set me to work making some sash and door frames for a new house he was about to build. I stayed with Mr. Bush two or three months. We sometimes rode over to Black Lake to go in swimming. Mr. Bush made me presents of several articles which could not be bought at that time—a whip saw, etc.

"I wanted to get a claim on Bush Prairie, but the good land was all taken. There was plenty of land to be had for the taking around Olympia, but the timber was so thick that I was afraid of it. It did not seem as if a man would live long enough to ever see a garden grow, so I heard of some good prairie land out at Black Lake. I had been much pleased with that lake, it was so picturesque and looked, to me, like the shape of a violin nestled down in the green; the slender place in the middle, about sixty rods wide, seemed as beautiful to me as a lady's picture.

''I found a prairie one-half mile long and eighty to 100 rods wide, bordered with oak trees and a little fringe of fir around the lake. A beautiful little trout stream ran across one end of the prairie and into the lake. There were smelt in ihe creek at the last of the rainy season. Salmon would come up the creek to spawn and often, when I would go down to get a bucket of water, I would knock a salmon on the head with my ax, for my dinner. There were also mountain trout in the stream and the lake was full of white suckers. The Indians would come with a sieve and take a wagon-load of suckers away at a time.

"I selected a site for my cabin and went to Dr. Tolmie's to get my hoe, blankets and frying pan....

William O.Thompson of Black Lake