The first settler on the Columbia County end of the island was Joseph Cunningham. He was a lumberman from the East. He and his family were in the wagon train led by Stephen Meek on the route now called “The Terrible Trail.” Leonard Harris and Charles Reed were with him. This group started their journey in Missouri.
The next group to settle on that end of the island were the John Bonser family and their relatives, the Halsteads, Pattersons, Lancaters, Shoemakers, and the Fergusons. The Shoemakers and Fergusons eventually settled in Lane County, Oregon.
The Halsteads, Pattersons and Lancasters ended up in Clark County, Washington where they were among the “movers and the shakers” in the early history of that county. They were major forces in the sternwheeler and steamboat activities in early Oregon and Washington. Captain Uriah Bonser Scott, John Bonser’s nephew, came later and built some of the fastest sternwheelers on the Columbia and Willamette. There were many other members of the Burt, Scott and Bonser clans who left their mark on the river industry.
Edward Henrici came out in 1851 with his family in the same group as Mr. Meier of Meier & Frank. They started for Oregon from Missouri. The Henricis were important names in the early history of the river industry.
The Henry Thomas group was brought over the trail by Hilton Bonser, nephew of John Bonser. He had gone back to Ohio looking for brides. All his old flames were taken so he headed back to Oregon with his brother Clinton. They met up with the Henry Thomas family and joined them. In this group were the Knox, Copeland, Ham and Armstrong families.
The Thomas family was another influential force in the river trade. Captain Isaac Thomas was a prominent captain and leader of the early steamboat organizations on the Lewis River. His cousin, George Ham, built and ran Sternwheelers. James Copeland, his brother in law, built sternwheelers and was active in the steamboat organizations along with Captain Isaac Thomas.