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George Washington Bush was born in Pennsylvania in 1778 and was a veteran of the War of 1812 fighting in the battle of New Orleans. In 1830, he moved to Missouri where he met and married Isabella, a young German American. One of the first African Americans to head out West, Bush purchased six wagons for the journey, four of which were for white families including his friend Michael Simmons and together they set out.

George hoped to put the racism of Missouri behind him but by the time they reached the Oregon Country four months later, the Oregon government had passed laws preventing Black Americans from owning land. As a result, they moved northward into what today is the state of Washington. There, all 30 settlers in their party had to share a single cabin during the first winter. In 1846, two years after setting out from Missouri, they finally set about clearing their own land and building their own cabins. The winter of 1852 was a particularly hard one, and grain supplies had run low. Bush had enjoyed a fine harvest that year. His neighbors had not. He had plenty of grain in storage which, instead of selling, he gave to his neighbors to live on and have enough for seeding their fields in the spring.

These pioneers are credited as having been in large part responsible for bringing the land of the state of Washington into the United States because they’re established presence attracted other settlers and strengthened the American claim to the area.

Being a pioneer was fraught with difficulty. First and foremost were the Indians, many of whom would attack the pioneers and try to steal everything they had, even people. Then there were the blizzards. The snow would make it very hard for the wagons to travel which would just sink in the snow. It was even harder to walk in the snow. In addition, the pioneers were in danger of freezing to death and the wagons didn't offer much shelter against the snow and wind. If that wasn’t enough, there were prairie fires, started either from lightning strikes or from unattended campfires or from careless workers that burned the grass after clearing the land to plant crops. If the wind was very strong and in the wrong direction it could start the pioneers' homes on fire, threatening their lives. Finally were the heavy rains which made the rivers overflow. It flooded the land and made it hard to travel in the mud. Winds from a storm could blow over a wagon. Contrary to that, the hot, dry weather caused the wagon wheels to crack in two or even shrink. Iron rims would loosen and fall off, making repairs difficult at best.

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