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Early Settlers 1860


1845 – The first settler on the Northern end of the island was Joseph Cunningham and his family.

He was a lumberman from the East.  They came West in the wagon train led by Stephen Meek now called “The Terrible Trail.”

1847 – The next group was the Bonser family and their relatives, Halsteads, Pattersons, Lancasters, Shoemakers, Fergusons and others.  Many of these people were the “Movers and Shakers” of the early history of Vancouver, Washington. 


They were major forces in the Steamboat and Sternwheeler activities in early Oregon and Washington. Later the famous river captain, Uriah Bonser Scott, came and built some of the fastest sternwheelers on the Columbia and the Willamette. There were other members of the Scott and Burt clan who left their mark on the river industry. We will tell about them later.

1851 – The next group to come to the northern end of the island were the Henrici families.  They came across with Mr. Meiers of “Meier and Frank” fame. The Henricis were also leading forces in the riverboat industry.


1852 – The next group was brought over the trail by Hilton Bonser. He had gone back to Ohio looking for brides. All his old flames were married so he headed back to Oregon with his brother Clinton. They met up with the Thomas family and joined their group.  In this group were the Knox, Copeland, Ham and Armstrong families.


The Thomas family was another influential force in the riverboat industry. Captain Isaac Thomas was a prominent Captain and leader of some of the early steamboat organizations.


His cousin, George Ham, built and ran several sternwheelers. James Copeland, son in law of Henry Thomas , built sternwheelers and was active in the steamboat organizations.

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