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Early pioneer Henry de la Bushalier laid claim to 320 acres on the northeast corner of Spanaway Lake, which he called Bushalier Lake. His donation claim's subsequent sale to other owners had such a lasting impact that pioneer descendants remember the Bushaliers as Spanaway's first family. The Northwest Room of the Tacoma Public Library houses the donation claims for the south Puget Sound region. These reveal a different, more interesting story*. Henry's wife and children never lived here.
Henry - originally from California - married his wife Minerva Thomkin in 1852 in the Oregon Territory. It appears that Henry may have been a Hudson Bay employee first assigned to the Company's Astoria location or its Portland outpost, then was transferred here either temporarily or permanently about 1836 to work at a Company outpost near Spanaway Lake. Hudson Bay Company employee John Montgomery arrived in Washingto Territory in 1838 and worked on the HBC's farm at the southeast corner of Spanueh Lake . In March 1853 John retired and filed for a homestead adjacent to Old Military Road a few miles east of the lake. Fifteen months later, June 1854, Henry filed his claim to the acreage northeast of the lake and its island.
Henry was killed on that trip to to the Dalles by an Indian uprising in the Portland area. The affidavit and witness of George Brown and John Montgomery was necessary for Henry's widow to finally lay claim to the land. In 1873 the Land Office for the District of Washington Territory provided: We assign the East half of said claim to the heirs at law of the husband (the La Bushalier children) and the West half to the widow of said husband. Minerva never moved to Spanaway. Instead she immediately sold Henry's claim to a Spanaway land speculator, who had his own donation claim northwest of Spanaway Lake. By 1889, land speculator Stuart Rice owned the La Bushalier claim and through a quitclaim deed turned it over to the Tacoma Light and Water Company for $150.
By the whims of fortune, the land was left intact instead of platted for homes and businesses, and was eventually transferred to Tacoma's Metropolitan Park District, leaving the La Bushalier donation claim a park and a priceless legacy.
Another early pioneer, Mary (Perry) Frost, is quoted in Early Spanaway by Dorothy Thompson Winston: "Mrs. Frost says that her mother, sister, and brother lived in the Bushalier cabin during October 1854. It had neither floor nor window, and only half a roof. During their three weeks there it rained most of the time, but they got along comfortably, doing their cooking in the unroofed part and sleeping and eating under the roof." To help support their family, nine-year-old Mary and her brother herded Hudson Bay Company sheep, as her father, too, had been killed by Indians.*Note: Much of the De La Bushalier information as recalled by Chester P. Creso on page eight of Winston's Early Spanaway is incorrect, including the date of Henry's death and size of his donation claim.
Many people believe that early settler Gustav Bresemann owned the de la Bushalier land claim and donated it to Pierce County. There is no evidence to support that; documents show that Gustav Bresemann leased a small section of the Bushalier land after it was owned by Tacoma Light and Power. Documents show Bresemann sold his lease and the concessions he had for $150,000 to the Metropolitan Park District.
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