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Washington Historic Figures

George Washington
Black founder of Centralia. George Washington was the son of a slave and a woman of English decent. Soon after his birth, his father was sold to a new owner and his mother too him to the home of the Cochranes, a white couple who later adopted George. Anti-black laws, restrictions, and prejudice followed George and the Cochranes through six moves and six different states from Virginia to Washington. Prior to 1857, a law barring blacks from land ownership prevented George from owning the property he found in Washington. The Cochranes filed for the land chosen by George in order to protect it for him. In 1857 the law was repealed and the Cochranes deeded back to George, the 640 acres he had lived on and developed for the past five years. At last, receiving that title symbolized the attainment of basic rights and in 1875 George filed his intention of laying out a new town, originally named Centerville. In 1889 the town had a population of 1,000 and George had sold his 2,000th lot. In the Panic of 1893, Centralia was hard hit, and George saved the town by purchasing properties gone to the auction block and making wagon trips alone to Portland, Oregon for supplies, and by lending considerable sums of money with no interest or terms for repayment.
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Dr. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman
1802-47: The Whitmans were early Protestant missionaries to the Cayuse Indians near what is now Walla Walla. Narcissa was one of the first two women to cross the continent over land. Their mission became an important stop for emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail in the early 1840s. On November 29, 1847 a small group of the Cayuse Indians, angry, possibly, as a result of cultural differences and a smallpox outbreak, murdered Dr. Whitman, Narcissa and 12 other at the mission.
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Chief Seattle
1786-1866: Among the Pacific Northwest Indians, Chief Seattle is one of the most known. Called Sealth by his native Suquamish tribe, his frame rests largely upon his leadership and a speech he gave in 1854 when Governor Stevens visited Seattle for meetings with Native Puget Sound Tribes, he spoke about life and the environment. This particular speech was well known during the 1970's environmental movement.
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Captain George Vancouver
1757-98: In 1792, Captain George Vancouver, of the British Navy, sailed his ships into Puget Sound and named many of the mountains, bays and islands. His goal was to explore the inland waters and make one last attempt at finding the Northwest Passage.
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Captain Robert Gray
1755-1806: Captain Robert Gray sailed out of Boston to explore and trade along the Northwest Coast in the late 1700s. Gray discovered Grays Harbor, then continuing south, he finally discovered the mouth of the Columbia River.
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