Pre 1900

Native Americans have called the Pacific Northwest home for thousands of years. The Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest area are called the “Coast Salish” people. They made the Salish Sea and surrounding basin their home. The Duwamish are the Coast Salish Native American tribe that have lived in the Seattle area since time immemorial. Known as “The People of the Inside,” the Duwamish lived along the Black, Cedar, and Duwamish Rivers & Elliott Bay.

Despite signing the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855, the Duwamish were not granted a reservation. Some left and joined the Muckleshoot, Suquamish, and other reservations. Some stayed near their ancestral homelands. 

Henry Tobin moved west from Maine in 1853 soon after he married his wife Diana. He made a donation land claim on the Black River for 320 acres. When Diana arrived in 1855 with their baby Charles, she found Henry seriously ill. He died the next year. After Henry’s death, Diana moved with baby Charles to Seattle where she met and married Erasmus Smithers. Smithers owned the land claim just to the south of Diana. After moving from Seattle to the Black River, they worked on clearing the land. 

By 1860 they had built a thriving dairy farm on the land. Smithers did not need all his land to support the farm. Smithers platted the town of Renton on the eastern portion of his land and began selling lots in 1875. Smithers named the town after Captain William Renton, an early investor in the coal mines.The town finally incorporated in 1901.

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