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Treasures of the Archives: George Washington Bush, Washington Pioneer

Lewis County census record of Bush and family in 1850, Census Records, 1850 Lewis County Census, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives.

Lewis County census record of Bush and family in 1850, Census Records, 1850 Lewis County Census, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.

George Washington Bush left a lasting legacy in Washington. Born in Philadelphia in 1779 to an African American father and Irish mother, Bush was raised a Quaker. He fought in the Battle of New Orleans during the war of 1812, and eventually made his way out west, marrying the daughter of a Missouri minister in 1831. When his friend Michael Simmons and four other families decided to make the journey west in 1844, Bush and his family decided to join them in the journey.

Having spent several years as a fur trapper for the Hudson’s Bay Company in his earlier years, Bush’s knowledge and skills were essential to the success of the party. The party decided to settle in Washington Territory at the southern tip of the Puget Sound, near present day Tumwater. The Bush-Simmons expedition and their settlement drew many more settlers into the area, known as Bush Prairie. Soon after, the city of New Market was established, and later renamed Tumwater.

George Washington Bush and his wife, Isabella, were committed to the community around them. As a mixed-race family, they were known for their generosity and kindness. Their eldest son, William Owen Bush served twice in the State Legislature, and is responsible for the bill establishing Washington State University.

You can find records of George Washington Bush and his family in the Lewis County 1850 and 1851 census records, as well as a cemetery record of him from Bush Prairie Cemetery. Having died in 1863, Bush is the only known War of 1812 veteran buried in Thurston County. You can also find his son William Bush in the 1889 group photograph of the Washington State House of Representatives, as a Representative of Thurston County.