John Low and Lee Terry select claims at Alki Point on September 28, 1851.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 10/15/1999
  • Essay 1752
See Additional Media

On September 28, 1851, John Low (1820-1888) and Leander (Lee) Terry (1818-1862) select Donation Land claims on Alki Point not far from the future site of Seattle. David Denny (1832-1903) and Lee Terry begin to build a cabin on the site while John Low returns to the Portland, Oregon, area to collect the balance of a party of pioneers led by David's older brother Arthur Denny (1822-1899).

The three scouts for the Denny Party had arrived on September 25, 1851, and had camped on Duwamish Head at an Indian village. There, according to David Denny, they had met Chief Seattle (d. 1866). On September 27 they had greeted the Collins Party passing by on a scow with their possessions. The Collins Party was heading toward their Duwamish River claims.

The Denny Party arrived On November 13, 1851, aboard the schooner Exact to find the Low cabin still unfinished. David Denny was ill. Lee Terry had left to find a tool, and had not returned.

The following spring most of the group, with the exception of Lee Terry, John Low, and Lee's brother Charles Terry (1828-1867) -- who dubbed their community "New York" -- relocated to the present-day area of downtown Seattle.


Clarence Bagley, History of Seattle (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916) and History of King County, Washington (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929); and Murray Morgan, Skid Road, An Informal Portrait of Seattle (New York: Viking Press, 1951).
Note: This file was corrected on October 27, 2004. Lee Terry's and Charles Terry's birth and death dates were corrected based on the Terry family genealogical Website, "TERRYs of Oneida and Madison Counties New York," compiled by Debbie Jeffers, accessed on October 27, 2004 ( This corrects Lee Terry's 1889 death date as reported in Arthur Denny, Pioneer Days on Puget Sound, 1908 Edition. Lee Terry was a married farmer from Madison, New York with two sons (a daughter was born in 1854).

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