East Coast capitalists invest in Seattle and King County for the first time in July 1871.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 7/29/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1593
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For 11 days beginning on July 21, 1871, Philo Remington (1816-1889) and associate Philo Osgood purchase from 14 different owners more than $50,000 in Seattle and King County real estate. Remington, from Illion, New York, heads E. Remington & Sons, a firm that manufactures guns and pistols. Remington also manufactures agricultural implements and sewing machines. Remington and Osgood are the first capitalists from the East to invest heavily in Seattle and its environs.

On July 11, 1871, Remington and Osgood arrived in Seattle and toured the region including Lake Union, Lake Washington, and the Seattle Coal Mines (later called Newcastle). This was their first visit to the Pacific Coast and they were so impressed that they decided to invest.

On July 21, 1871, they paid Dr. Joseph Williamson $30,000 for 18 city lots in and near the Seattle business district and for 826 acres in various parcels located in King County near Salmon Bay, on the White and Black rivers, and along the west side (Seattle side) of Lake Washington. This was just the beginning of their buying spree. During the next 10 days Remington and Osgood purchased more than $20,000 in real estate from at least 13 other residents. They purchased many lots in prime downtown Seattle locations. By July 31, 1871, they had acquired deeds to about 200 city lots and to more than 1,080 acres of King County land.

Rumors and False Hopes

The Remington and Osgood real estate purchases started the rumor mills grinding. At the time, the Northern Pacific railroad was considering where to put their terminus on Puget Sound. Some residents speculated that the Northern Pacific railroad had decided to locate the railroad terminus at Seattle. Even the Weekly Intelligencer stated: "That the [railroad] company will avail themselves of this locality [for the terminus] seems almost a forgone conclusion."

Rumors circulated that either Remington and Osgood were advance agents for the railroad or that they were buying real estate after receiving a tip that the Northern Pacific had decided to locate the terminus in Seattle. Many holders of King County real estate did not sell to Remington and Osgood because they dreamed of even greater riches once the Northern Pacific's anticipated terminus announcement was made public.

In 1873, the Northern Pacific announced the decision to build the railroad terminus in Tacoma. The rumors proved false, and hopes were dashed.

A list of the Remington and Osgood King County real estate purchases follows. The list includes purchase date, name and occupation of seller (almost all lived in King County), purchase price, legal description, and the 1999 location of property.

On July 21, 1871

  • Joseph Williamson (merchant):
    $30,000, 18 city lots in and near the Seattle business district; 826 acres in various parcels located in King County near Salmon Bay, on the White and Black rivers, and along the west side of Lake Washington.

On July 22, 1871

  • Amos Hearst [Amos Hurst] (coal dealer):
    $700; Block 10 Eastern Addition (10th to 11th avenues and Alder to Terrace Streets); Block 17 Eastern Addition (11th to 12th avenues and E. Jefferson to E. James streets);

  • James McNaught (attorney):
    $360, NW quarter of SE quarter of Section 26 Township 24 N Range 3 E and Lot 2 in Sec. 12 T 23 R 3 totaling 90 acres (California Avenue SW to 39th Avenue SW and SW Myrtle to SW Webster streets).

On July 25, 1871

  • Christian Scheurman [Christian Scheuermann],(occupation unknown):
    $750, Lots 5 & 8 Block 25 A. A. Denny's 3rd Addition (1414-1422 1st Ave); Lot 2 Block 19 A. A. Denny's 3rd Addition (1531-1533 5th Ave);

  • Samuel and Jessie Kenny (tailor):
    $7,200, portion of Boren's Donation Land Claim totaling 90 acres (Central Area);

  • Samuel and Sarah Snider (or Snyder) (farmer):
    $1,600, SW quarter of NW quarter and Lots 5, 6, 7, 14, and 15 in Sec. 10 T 23 R 4 (Duwamish River west to 32nd Avenue S and S 115th to S 128th streets, all in Tukwila).
On July 26, 1871
  • A. A. Denny [Arthur A. Denny] and wife (merchant and capitalist):
    $100, Lot 5 Block 51 Terry's Addition (1108 6th Avenue);

  • A. S. Pinkham [Albert S. Pinkham] (variety store merchant):
    $200, Lot 6 Block 37 Maynard's Addition (713-715 6th Avenue S near the original shoreline);

  • A. B. Young [Andrew B. Young] (druggist):
    $1,500, Lots 5 & 8 Block 2 Boren's Addition (500-510 2nd Avenue, in 1999 Smith Tower);

  • Charles W. Moore (saloon keeper and city councilman):
    $1,200, Lots 1 to 6 Block 39 Maynard's Addition (600-622 6th Avenue S).
On July 28, 1871
  • D. T. Wheeler [Duncan T. Wheeler] and wife (merchant):
    $900, Blocks 11, 15, 16, 17, 24, 26, 27, Lots 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 in Block 14, Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16 in Block 41 Pike's Addition of Union City (Montlake neighborhood).

On July 29, 1871

  • S. L. Maxwell (Weekly Intelligencer publisher):
    $400, Lot 5 Block 37 Boren's Addition (406-410 4th Avenue);

  • Arthur A. Denny and wife (merchant and capitalist):
    $4,050, Lots 7, 8 in Block 4 Bell and Denny's Addition (1215-1223 4th Ave); Lots 1 & 2 in Block 10 Bell and Denny's Addition (918-922 2nd Avenue); Blocks 11, 13, and 14 Bell and Denny's Addition (three square city blocks on the north and south of Spring Street between 1st and 3rd avenues); Block 24 Bell and Denny's (2nd to 3rd avenues and Union to Pike streets). 36 lots total;

  • David Higgins (lawyer):
    $50, Lot 5 Block 14 Eastern (221-223 12th Avenue).
On July 31, 1871
  • John T. Jordan (mason and plasterer and second mayor of Seattle):
    $3,500, Lots 5 and 8 Block 7 Boren's Addition (800-810 2nd Avenue).


Sources: The Weekly Intelligencer, July 17, 1871, p. 3; July 24, 1871, p. 3; July 31, 1871, p 3; August 7, 1871, p 2; King County Recorder, King County Administration Building, Deeds, Vol. 5, pp 20, 49-78.

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