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The Forgetting of John Montgomery
by Steve Anderson

Excerpt: On June 14, 1931, a festive crowd gathered on the original land claim of John Montgomery, the first white settler in what is now Spanaway, Washington. Curiously, the celebrants paid little attention to Montgomery's story - they had assembled to commemorate the 1853 opening of the Naches Pass branch of the Oregon Trail "by early settlers in [the] district." Many had learned of the event through a newspaper article published just two days earlier. That piece trumpeted the site's "historic interest" and the fact that such observances had been held "year after year by descendants of pioneer families who first dared [that pass's] perils."

But John Montgomery too had traversed that treacherous pass; he had also effortlessly crossed ethnic, cultural, and international boundaries, dug California gold, built a log house, and plowed the land nearly a decade before 1853. Yet, for those assembled in 1931, his story simply did not matter.


Read the early history of Puget Sound and John Montgomery's role in Spanaway History in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly Magazine.
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