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The Klickitat County Agriculturist, Goldendale, WA., October 20, 1906, page 3




John J. Golden, the first settler in Klickitat county, and founder of the city of Goldendale, and where he has resided for many years, died on the night of Oct. 15, 1906. Mr. Golden was a native of the Keystone state, having been born in Westmoreland county, March 18, 1826. He comes of pioneer American stock. The Goldens came to this country from England at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and at once attained to a position of influence in the settlement. William Golden, the father of John, was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, March 15, 1797, the son of a veteran of the Revolutionary war, who served under General Washington. William Golden moved to Pennsylvania at the time when that region was still a wilderness, and became one of its earliest pioneers. Subsequently he removed to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his death occurred. He was of English and German descent. Julia A. (Williamson) Golden, his wife, of Scotch extraction, was a native of New Jersey, born in 1804. She came to Pennsylvania when a child and at the age of twenty-three was united in marriage to Mr. Golden. Mrs. Golden died in Indiana in her seventy-fourth year.       

One of a family of twelve children and reared upon the western frontier, the son John early became inured to the hardships and dangers of the border, but it was but natural that he should inherit the spirit which leads men to explore and conquer the wilds. Until he was twenty-three he remained at home on the farm, attending the schools of his native state, but a few years later, when he was living in the Indiana, the opportunity to penetrate through to the Pacific was offered him. Harlow Coleman, who had just returned with glowing stories of California, organized a party of young man to cross the Plains to the gold fields, charging each member of the company $200 for services as guide. Mr. Golden and sixteen others started on the long, dangerous journey, in 1852, riding saddle horses and carrying supplies by ox team. After being out only two days, the company's horses were stolen, but, having resolved never to turn back, the two thousand mile trip was continued on foot, six months being required to reach the Pacific.       

That was a year cholera raged and it has been estimated that at least 10,000 people were stricken while on their way across the plains. Finally, however, the party arrived in California, Sept. 1852, and young Golden commenced mining on American river. During the following winter he was taken down with fever and nearly lost his life. The next year he went to Shasta City, where he lived three years, engaged in mining and conducting a general supply store, which he opened there in 1854. Unfortunately in 1855 fire completely destroyed his business, valued at $32,000, and he was left with only a little ready money and a pack-train of thirty-two mules. With his partner, J.A. Johnson, he bought a $4,000 stock of goods, opened another store and within a short time was again in a prosperous condition. In the spring of 1858, the partners got the Frazer river gold fever and at once started for the new El Dorado. At a point near where the city of Wenatchee stands they were attacked by Indians, but succeeded in making their escape without injury. The same fall Mr. Golden returned to the Willamette valley, via Seattle, and in Polk county was married May 17, 1859.       

Three days after the wedding he started for Walla Walla in search of a suitable place to rear his home, but at The Dalles he heard of the fertile region across the Columbia, in Washington. So on July 9th he crossed the river, entered the Klickitat valley, found an unsurpassed stock range, well watered and timbered and decided to remain. With him he had a fine heard of Durham cattle, which he turned loose as soon as he was able to bring them across the Columbia. In August Mr. Golden brought his wife, his wife's family, and the Tarter family into the Klickitat Valley and the first permanent settlement in this region was established. These families all brought cattle with them. The first two winters were mild and the stock throve, but the third winter there were three feet of snow, and not having any shelters erected, Mr. Golden lost his entire band, with the exception of one yoke of oxen, suffering a loss of fully $20,000.       

Times became so hard that, with the exception of three families and Mr. Golden's, all the settler's of the valley left in 1862. Mr. Golden succeeded in securing a contract to deliver 1000 cords of wood at Columbus for the use of the O.R.&N. S.S. Company's steamers, and during the 1862 fulfilled the contract, receiving $10 a cord. The next year he took a freighting outfit to the Bannock mines in the Idaho, a journey of 450 miles. He was four months on the road and did not return until late in the winter of 1863-4.       

That next summer he and his brother, Thomas, erected a sawmill on the Klickitat, five miles east of Goldendale. This was the second mill built in the county. Golden Bros. operated mills eight years, marketing most of their lumber at Umatilla, Oregon, where opened a lumber yard in 1865 and conducted it three years, trading lumber for cattle, horses, grain, or any salable commodity. In 1867 the first mill was sold and the brothers built another one, a mile and a half from the Goldendale site; subsequently this mill was removed to Kittitas county.       

Mr. Golden's connection with Goldendale dates from the year 1871, when he purchased 200 acres of land from L.J. Timberland, who had filed a soldier's claim to most of the tract; later Mr. Golden filed a homestead claim to an adjoining quarter section. In the fall of 1871 a largely attended camp-meeting was held on this ground, and it was so successful that it was decided to build a church nearby. Mr. Golden donated twelve lots to the church and four to the minister, having laid out a town about that time. Upon the completion of the church buildings, the settlers held a meeting and named the place Goldendale, in honor of its founder and owner. The townsite was surveyed in the spring of 1872 by a surveyor Mr. Golden brought from The Dalles. Thomas Johnson accepted a bonus of eight lots for the establishment of a store, I.I. Landcaster accepted another generous bonuses for the erection of a blacksmith shop, a post office was then added, followed by a quick succession of hotels, churches, and various other constituents of a town, to all of which Mr. Golden made generous property donations. In 1885 he gave two lots and a cash bonus of $200 for the first jail, and for school-house purposes he gave another tract, also furnishing the necessary lumber and helping to build it. To the second school, built a short time later, he gave 16 lots valued at $100 each, and $200 in money.       

When the railroad entered the city in 1903, he presented the company with fifty-two lots for depot and yard purposes. In fact, the city of Goldendale has been exceedingly fortunate in possessing a liberal, far-sighted founder, for not a little of the city's hardy growth and present prosperity is due to the wise, generous policy pursued by him. The thrifty, substantial city of Goldendale will ever be a monument, more imposing than marble and more enduring than granite, commemorating the achievements of Klickitat's first pioneer.      

Mr. Golden was married in Polk county, Ore., May 17, 1859, to Miss Jane Parrott, a daughter of Louis S. and Amy Parrott, who came with the Golden's to Klickitat in 1859. To this union eleven children have been born, all of whom except three are still living. Mrs. Sarah E. Barnett, the eldest child, was born in Klickitat county, December 8, 1860, and lives at Wasco, Oregon, her husband being a banker and a merchant there. She was the first white child born in Klickitat county. Mrs. Mary Barnes, the next oldest, was born Sept. 24, 1862, and is living near Goldendale; Mrs. Florence L. Barnes, born Aug. 19, 1864, died in 1883, leaving three children; Clara J. and Annie L. Golden were born Oct. 11, 1866 and Aug. 10, 1868 respectively, and died at the ages of 13 and 30 respectively; Mrs. Flora D. Shelton, the next oldest, born July 19, 1870, is the wife of a Goldendale druggist; Dora Dale Golden, now Mrs. I.C. Richards, was born Oct. 11, 1872, and bears the distinction of being the first white child born in Goldendale; Mrs. Almeda Baker, born March 3, 1874, Mrs. Luella Love, born Aug. 4, 1876, John W., born July 8, 1882, and Paul C., born Jan. 13, 1884, are all living in this city, the latter two being still at home. Mrs. Golden has one brother, William S. Parrott, a Portland artist; a sister, Sarah, died in Missouri at the age of 18 months. Mr. Golden has two brothers, Elgin, living in Whatcom, and John, a Portland business man, besides three sisters: Mrs. Mary B. Snipes of Seattle, wife of Ben E. Snipes, once Washington's cattle king; Mrs. Elizabeth Pond, the wife of a Seattle mining man, and Eligia D., who resides in Portland.