Sturdy Pioneer of Thurston County PASSES TO FINAL REST Sketch of His Experience in Early Days
James Longmire, one of the oldest pioneers of the state and the proprietor of the Longmire springs, died at 4:15 Wednesday afternoon at the residence of his daughter in law, Mrs. Jackson Longmire, in Tacoma. He had been very sick for ten days past and hut little hopes were entertained of his recovery form the first. His wife and all of his children except Robert Longmire, who is in Alaska, were at his bedside.
The funeral takes place at the family burying grounds at Yelm this afternoon. Mr. Longmire died from a combination of heart troubles and grip. James Longmire was one of nature’s noblemen, a typical pioneer and if his biography were fully written a great many of the historical events connected with the territorial days of Washington would be woven into the record of his life.
He descended form the hardy race of people who settled Virginia and Carolinas and later poured across the Allegheny mountains and found homes in Kentucky and Tennessee. He inherited the sterling qualities of these people, and true to their love of liberty he sought the freedom of a pioneer life.
He was born in 1818 near Bono, Washington County, Indiana.
His grandfather was a German from the valley of the Rhine, who settled in North Carolina, and later removed to Tennessee. The family removed from that state to Indiana. It was a prolific race and James Longmire was one of thirteen children.
He was married when quite young to Susan Isley, who bore him two children, Elcaine and David. His first wife died in 1847, and he later was married to Miss Virinda Taylor, who survives him. By this union he has nine children, all of whom are alive.
In 1858 he disposed of his possessions at Newton, Indiana and started across the plains on what proved to be a long and perilous journey to the Puget sound country, which was about as well known then as “Darkest Africa” is today.
This trip was full of exciting incidents. At Rawhide creek he and Ivan Watt, one of his party, while hunting buffaloes, were driven away from a large buffalo. Which they had killed by a pack of thirty wolves. Their horses were stampeded and lost, and they were nearly famished before they found their way to camp. At Bear River mountains their cattle drank from a poison stream and many of them died, in crossing Snake river, Mr. Longmire was only saved from drowning by the coolness and bravery of Ivan Watt.
After meeting with many vicissitudes and giving several adventures with Indians, they arrived at the Columbia river, their party being the first party of immigrants to cross that stream north of The Dalles.
News of their coming had been received and an attempt was made by the people of Steilacoom and Olympia to cut a road through the Natchez pass for their use. It was only partly successful, and Mr. Longmire and his friends had an unusually arduous trip across the Cascades and down their western slopes to the beautiful shores of the sound which was reached late in the fall.
Mr. Longmire settled at Yelm prairie, where he improved an excellent farm, upon which he lived to the time of his death.
He was a factor in the Indian wars of 1855-56. His family was driven into a block house and later to Olympia for safety and he enlisted with the Puget Sound Regulars; which did good service in hunting down fugitive Indians. His house and premises were pillaged by the Indians at the beginning of the war, and he narrowly escaped being massacred by them. When the famous chief Quiemuth grew tired of fighting and desired to surrender, fearing murder he sent word to Mr. Longmire that he would like to give himself into his hands to be taken before Governor Stevens. He went to Mr. Longmire’s house and they two and several others came by night to Olympia. They met the governor, had a conversation and Mr. Longmire and Quiemuth lay down in a vacant room to sleep.
Mr. Longmire was aroused by hearing pistol shots and scuffling in the room. He saw by the dim firelight a man fall and rushing to him found it was Quiemuth, speechless and dying. He had been stabbed and shot by assassins.
Mr. Longmire never forgot the deed and to the day of his death was unable to speak of it without anger. The war ended soon afterwards.
Mr. Longmire was an intimate friend of Governor Stevens and in territorial days represented this district in the legislature.
August 13, 1883, while on a trip to Mount Rainier, he discovered the famous springs, which bear his name. Sine that time he has spent his winters at Yelm and his summers at that resort in the mountains. Mr. Longmire was known all over western Washington and the greater portion of eastern Washington in which section he has spent considerable time.
He was a Mason and a belonged to the Christian church.
He was well liked by all who knew him, and the Indians were especially friendly to him.
Mr. Longmire had a striking personality and when once seen his imposing presence was rarely forgotten. He was genial and cordial in address, and bad a princely courtesy, which did not forsake him, even in the darkest hour of his illness.