The Ulin and Spray Families, Pioneers of Seattle

  • By Carl Wade
  • Posted 10/31/2002
  • Essay 3931
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The Ulin family arrived in Seattle in 1869, and Erick Ulin Sr. worked as a ship carpenter. The Spray family arrived in 1875. Carl Wade, third cousin to the Sprays, contributed this account of these two interconnected families.

The Ulin Family

Erick Ulin was born in New York in 1864 to a Swedish father and German Mother. At the age of 4 the family of five moved to Seattle where Erick, Sr., followed his trade as Ship Carpenter. June 22, 1870, the Census Taker arrived on Front Street to gather data for the 9th U.S. Census. Young Erick was six years old and had been joined by another sister. South of their rented home towards the sawmill were a few children of school age. Other families with school aged children included Frye, Denny, and Hall The children were much more interested in the new school being built than some Census Taker. Who would be going to the first public school that would open on August 15, 1870?

In 1875, a large family by the name of Spray moved to Seattle and lived up the hill on 5th Avenue. George and Eliza Spray lived in Iowa until about 1870. Early in the spring of 1871 the family emigrated to Nebraska, traveling by covered wagon along the route of other emigrants moving westward. They settled in the Platte Valley near Fremont, where they remained four years.

In the fall of 1875, with some neighbors whom they had interested in the Puget Sound country, they moved again. This time they traveled by the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, which had been completed as far as Sacramento, California, and by river steamer from that place to San Francisco. From San Francisco they took passage on an old-fashioned side-wheeler for Seattle. Seattle, at that time, was but a sawmill village for fewer than 2,000 people. Here they established their permanent abode; and here eight of their children grew up with the town. Harriet Spray was 6 years old when the family joined her grandfather Jesse Spray, and aunt Rebecca Goldmyer in King County.

The year 1889 was an eventful year for the two young people that had grown up with the town of Seattle. Erick Ulin was a bookkeeper for the Seattle Lumber and Commercial Company located on the waterfront at the foot of Main Street. Harriet Spray was 19 years old and would beat her older sister Sarah to the altar and married Erick on January 15, 1889. Fewer than six months later on June 6, 1889, Harriet's brother and Sarah's future husband saw service as volunteers of the Seattle Fire Department.

Erick continued to engage in the Lumber business, moving his young family to Victoria, B.C. to manage a large establishment. After his passing in 1916, his name was added to the family memorial at the Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle. It reads "Ulin, a pioneer family of Seattle."



Franklin Marion Bland, The Wade Family; Monongalia County, Virginia, 1927, pp. 133-135. Pope's City Directory of Seattle, 1889; U.S. Census of King County, 1870 and 1880.

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