Peter Crawford was born in Sprouston near Kelso in 1818
and educated in Kelso before training as a surveyor in
Edinburgh. In 1843 he joined his elder brother, Alexander,
in Indiana. He then accompanied George Cline and family
on a wagon train bound for Oregon, arriving there in 1847.
The Hudson’s Bay Company had responded to a recent
treaty between Britain and the United States by withdrawing
from the farmlands around the Cowlitz River. The Canadians
had hoped to make the Columbia River their boundary and
were suspected of encouraging Indian attacks so as to deter
American settlers on the north bank of the river.
Crawford located a land claim on the northern bank beside the Cowlitz (at that time part of the state of Oregon) and then moved on to make the first survey for the town of Vancouver on the Columbia River. In 1849 Crawford had some success prospecting for gold in California, but returned to Cowlitz where his brother Alexander and a friend Victor Wallace had proved adjacent claims. During the 1850s as well as being the first surveyor of Cowlitz (an area which was becoming thickly populated) he platted the towns of Vancouver, Astoria, Milwaukie, Ranier, St. Helens, Columbia City and Sauvies Island. He was to return to Cowlitz where he built a house.
The State seat of government at Oregon City was a long way from Cowlitz and largely ignored the needs of their northern settlers. They moved that the territory be divided at the Columbia River and in 1853 the territory of Washington, named after George, was formed. Peter married and the family moved to Vancouver to seek medical treatment for their elder daughter whose health was poor. Their farm at Cowlitz was turned into a platted city of 500 lots and named KELSO. In 1887 the Crawford’s former house was converted into a school. The brothers donated lots to encourage businesses to locate to Kelso, as well as for an academy and a Presbyterian Church.
Washington Territory decided to join the Union as a State and Crawford re-surveyed the town of Kelso to enable it to be an incorporated city, dying the following year in 1889. One of the new council’s first acts was to name a street in his honour.
Find out about the contribution people from Kelso have made through the ages. Biographies of characters with Kelso connections who have made their mark throughout the world.View Storyboard: Peter Crawford