On December 9, 1851, all seven adult male settlers at New York (renamed Alki) begin cutting down trees and loading lumber on the ship Leonesa, bound for San Francisco. This represents the future King County's first export and first significant logging. The seven men are Arthur Denny (1822-1899), David Denny (1832-1903), Lee Terry (1818-1862), Carson Boren (1824?-1912), William Bell (1817-1887), John Low (1820-1888), and Charles Terry (1829-1867).
David Denny and Lee Terry had settled at New York (Alki) on September 28, 1851. The rest of the 24-member Denny party arrived by ship on November 13, 1851. By December 8, 1851, they had just completed, or nearly so, log cabins for each family to winter in. On that day, the ship Leonesa, commanded by Captain Daniel S. Howard, anchored off the newly settled community. He was seeking piling for San Francisco docks.
The San Francisco Fire
In late June 1851, San Francisco had a large fire that did much destruction. Rebuilding began immediately, and most trees near the city suitable for lumber had been quickly cut down. Ships traveled along the Pacific Coast seeking new sources of lumber. When these ships reached Puget Sound, they discovered a seemingly inexhaustible supply of trees.
What was scarce was a labor force to cut them down. At the 10-week-old settlement of New York, Captain Howard engaged the entire adult male (non-Indian) population to provide him with 50-foot-long pilings. The ship would carry the pilings to San Francisco and sell them to build docks.
The Work Begins
On December 9, 1851, a single piling was loaded onto the ship. The following day, work began in earnest. Initially William Bell, Charles Terry, John Low, and Carson Boren started cutting down trees near the settlement.
Apparently David Denny, Arthur Denny, and Lee Terry were away when the Leonesa arrived. They did not start working until December 15. On December 12, 1851, Low started using his yoke of oxen to drag logs to the sound. According to Arthur Denny, Lee Terry went down to the Puyallup River to procure another yoke of oxen. Charles Terry, who had set up King County's first store a few weeks before, kept a record of the work in his Memorandum Book.
From the end of fall into the beginning of winter, the seven men cut and hauled to the ship 256 pilings, each about 50 feet long. They spent about 13 full days working from sunrise to sunset, and about six half days. They took off a total of four days, including every Sunday. They worked on Christmas day.
Meanwhile, Back on the Ship
The crew of the Leonesa had an easier workload, if indeed they had a workload. On December 12 they purchased 12 plugs of tobacco from Terry's store. Two days later they acquired a gallon of whiskey. Every few days they would replenish their depleted stock with another gallon. On December 25, unlike the land crew, the ship's crew apparently celebrated Christmas. On that day they purchased two plugs of tobacco and a gallon of whiskey.
But the real celebration occurred after the last piling was loaded on the ship. On January 2, 1852, the Leonesa purchased three gallons of whiskey and nine plugs of tobacco. In all, during the ship's three-and-a-half week stay, the crew went through 23 plugs of tobacco, eight gallons of whiskey, and a bottle of brandy.
The settlers at New York likely placed orders with the Leonesa before she left for San Francisco. The Leonesa returned on February 10, 1852, likely loaded with San Francisco goods.
Charles Terry, in his Memorandum Book, noted on a daily basis the number of pilings, with their lengths, loaded on the Leonesa. He also kept track of the number of full and half days each of the men worked. Following is a daily summary. Lee Terry is not included from December 15 to December 20, most likely because he was away obtaining oxen from the Puyallup River.
Charles Terry's Record of the Work
Dec 9, 1851 - 1 piling
Dec 10 - 8 piling 451 ft. -- 4 men all day
Dec 11 - 4 piling 205 ft. -- 4 men all day
Dec 12 - 5 piling 300 ft. -- 4 men and 1 yoke oxen half day
Dec 13 - 14 piling 736 ft. -- 4 men and 1 yoke oxen all day
Dec 14 - Sabbath took day off
Dec 15 - 16 piling 868 ft. -- 6 men and 1 yoke oxen all day
Dec 16 - 21 piling 1112 ft. -- 6 men and 1 yoke oxen all day
Dec 17 - 25 piling 1230 ft. -- 5 men and 1 yoke oxen all day, 1 man half day
Dec 18 - 22 piling 1212 ft. -- 6 men and 1 yoke oxen all day
Dec 19 - 13 piling 679 ft. -- 6 men and 1 yoke oxen all day
Dec 20 - 14 piling 734 ft. -- 6 men and 1 yoke oxen all day
Dec 21 - Sabbath took day off
Dec 22 - 26 piling 1348 ft. -- 7 men and 2 yokes oxen all day
Dec 23 - took day off
Dec 24 - 10 piling 567 ft. -- 6 men and 2 yokes oxen half day, 1 man full day
Dec 25 - 11 piling 561 ft. -- 7 men and 2 yokes oxen all day
Dec 26 - 11 piling 608 ft. -- 7 men and 2 yokes oxen all day
Dec 27 - 6 piling 340 ft. -- 7 men and 2 yokes oxen half day
Dec 28 - Sabbath took day off
Dec 29 - 24 piling 1198 ft. -- 6 men and 2 yokes oxen full day
Dec 30 - 9 piling 505 ft. -- 6 men and 2 yokes oxen half day, 1 man full day
Dec 31 - 5 piling 264 ft. -- 7 men and 2 yokes oxen half day
Jan 1, 1852 - 12 piling 540 ft. -- 7 men and 2 yokes oxen half day
Total 19 days loading 256 piles.
Following is a summary of the days worked for each of the men and oxen.
Wm. Bell -- 13 full and 6 half days; 16 days total worked.
C. D. Boren -- 13 full and 6 half days; 16 days total worked.
A. Denny -- 10 full and 5 half days; 12 days total worked.
D. Denny -- 11 full and 4 half days; 13 days total worked.
J. N. Low -- 13 full and 6 half days; 16 days total worked.
C. C. Terry -- 13 full and 6 half days; 16 days total worked.
L. Terry -- 9 full and 5 half days; 11 days total worked.
Low Oxen -- 10 full and 6 half days; 13 days total worked.
L. Terry Oxen - 4 full and 5 half days; 6 days total worked.