Black History Month: George Washington Bush

Today I want to talk about Oregon pioneer George Washington Bush. Having lived in the Oregon Territory in 1820s as a trapper and employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Bush co-led a 32 person party across the Oregon trail with Michael Simmons.

In what would be a life-long legacy of compassion, Bush financially supported members of the party who could not afford to make the journey on their own.

However, in the 4 months it took him to travel the trail, Oregon passed the first series of black exclusion laws. The party chose to settle in an area north of the Columbia River that was regulated by the Hudson’s Bay Company where they could all settle together.

He staked out a 640 acre claim with Simmons and opened the nations first gristmill and sawmill. He grew fruits and vegetables which he would later share with his neighbors to protect them from famine.

As the Oregon Territory took new shape, and the exclusion laws advanced, Bush almost lost his property, but a special act of congress was passed to allow his family to keep their land in the Oregon territory.

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