The Denny Party had traveled over the Oregon Trail from Illinois to Portland, but found the Willamette Valley already too crowded for their taste. David Denny (1832-1903) and John Low (1820-1888) were sent to scout Puget Sound, and met Lee Terry (1818-1862) on the way. They arrived at the mouth of the Duwamish River on September 25, 1851, and Low and Terry staked claims along Alki Beach three days later. Low returned to Portland with a note from David Denny urging his older brother Arthur Denny (1822-1899) to "come at once."
Arthur Denny, John Low, eight other adults, and 12 children set sail aboard the schooner Exact and arrived on November 13 (a pylon at Alki Beach in West Seattle marks the event today).
They arrived to find the Low cabin still unfinished. David Denny was ill. Lee Terry had left to find a tool, and had not returned.
The Women Were Not Amused
The women of the party found the situation most discouraging. According to a member of the party, William Bell (1817-1887),
"[O]ur goods and chattles were sent ashore at near low tid on 13 of Nov 1851 near Noon. The Women and children of our party set to work to help get them above high tide then the ladys sat down on the loggs and took A Big Cry" (Bell).
The women were Mary Ann Denny, 28 (wife of Arthur, with three children); Lydia Low, 31 (wife of John, with four children); Mary Boren, 20 (wife of Carson, with one child); Sarah Ann Bell, 32 (wife of William with four children); and Louisa Boren, 24 (she was single and would marry David Denny).
Names and Ages of the Denny Party upon Their Arrival at Alki on November 13, 1851
- Arthur A Denny, 29
- Mary Ann Denny, 28
- Louisa Catherine (Kate) Denny, 7
- Margaret Lenora (Lenora) Denny, 4
- Rolland H. Denny, 6 weeks
- John N. Low, 31
- Lydia Low, 31
- Mary L. Low, 8
- Alonzo Low, 6
- John V. Low, 4
- Minerva Low, 2
- Carson D. Boren, 26
- Mary Boren, 20
- Livonia Gertrude Boren, 11 months
- William N. Bell, 34
- Sarah Ann Bell, 32
- Laura Keziah Bell, 8
- Olive Julia Bell, 5
- Mary Virginia (Virginia) Bell, 4
- Alvina Lavina (Lavina) Bell, 9 months
- Louisa Boren, 24
- David T. Denny, 19
- Charles C. Terry, 23 (see note below)
- Leander (Lee) Terry, 33 (see note below)
Most of the Denny Party relocated to the site of present-day Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle the following spring. Charles Terry (1828-1867) stayed behind and dubbed his claim in today's West Seattle as "New York." It was later dubbed "Alki," or "by and by" in the Chinook jargon.