Isaiah and Lorinda Scammon settle on a Donation Land Claim at the future South Montesano on January 15, 1853.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 5/27/2006
  • Essay 7773
On January 15, 1853, Maine natives Isaiah L. and Lorinda (Hopkins) Scammon settle on a 619-acre Donation Land Claim on the south bank of the Chehalis River opposite the mouth of the Wynoochee. Lorinda names the claim Mount Zion. The northern portion of this claim will become Montesano, seat of Grays Harbor County.

Farmer Isaiah Scammon left Hancock County, Maine, for the California Gold Rush in 1849, but fortune eluded him. He heard of free land in the Oregon Territory made available by the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. In 1852, he traveled to the lands north of the Columbia River in Oregon Territory. Canoeing down the Chehalis River he found an attractive location for a farm at the mouth Wynoochee River. This was also at the head of tidewater where ships from Grays Harbor and the Pacific Ocean could sail without assistance. Under the Act, married couples could claim up to 640 acres of public land and gain title by residing there five years and improving the property.

Scammon moved Lorinda (also spelled Lorendah) and their three daughters onto the claim, which turned out to be a natural stopping place for those traveling between Chehalis Point on Grays Harbor and Grand Mound. Lorinda started operating a public house providing food and lodging, informally called Scammon�s Hotel and Scammon�s Landing. Isaiah worked as a blacksmith, planted fruit trees, and operated a ferry.

Five-foot-tall Lorinda was deeply religious and she named the claim first Mount Zion, then Montesano. Isaiah platted a town of that name. In 1860, the Scammon home became the seat of Chehalis (later Grays Harbor) County. In 1886, voters moved the county seat from the Scammon home to Montesano north of the river. The Scammon claim became South Montesano.

Sources: Edwin VanSyckle, The River Pioneers: Early Days on Grays Harbor (Seattle: Pacific Search Press, 1982), 83-85; Washington Territorial Land Claims (Seattle: Seattle Genealogical Society, 1980), 62.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You