Peter Judson files Donation Land Claim to 321 acres in Tacoma in the fall of 1853.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 11/29/2002
  • Essay 5016

In the fall of 1853, Peter Judson files a Donation Land Claim to 321 acres on Commencement Bay, just north of the settlement around a sawmill built the year before by Nicholas Delin (1817-1882). Judson will abandon the claim in 1855 when Native Americans attack settlers in the region.

Judson and his wife Anna and their sons Steven and Paul, and Judson's orphaned niece Gertrude Meller were members of a wagon train from the Midwest led by James Longmire. The 171-member party crossed the Cascades by way of Naches Pass in 1853. Judson bought a cabin from millhand Jacob Burnhardt for $30. Under the Donation Land Law, Judson along with his wife was entitled to 320 acres of land. He staked his claim along Commencement Bay between what would become 7th and 20th streets in Tacoma.

The following year, the Judson family brought in a harvest of oats and wheat. They also cut logs for Delin's mill. Judson abandoned the claim during the Indian War of 1855-56 and did not return.


Murray Morgan and Rosa Morgan, South on the Sound: An Illustrated History of Tacoma and Pierce County (Woodland Hills, CA: Windsor Publications, 1984), 34-36; Murray Morgan, Puget's Sound: A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), 81-82; Harry Martin and Caroline Kellogg, Tacoma: A Pictorial History, (Norfolk: Donning Company Publishers, 1981), 11.

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