Job Carr arrives at future site of Tacoma on Commencement Bay on December 25, 1864.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 11/29/2002
  • Essay 5018
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On December 25, 1864, Job Carr arrives at the future site of Tacoma on Commencement Bay. He will file a 168-acre claim to land at a site the Nisqually and Puyallup Peoples call Shubahlup or sheltered place. The confluence of two creeks produced a small lagoon protected by a sand bar where the natives beach canoes. Carr is the first permanent Euro-American settler in Tacoma, after the abandonment of earlier claims in 1855.

Carr was an invalided veteran of the Union Army from Indiana who came west to seek opportunities. He was riding with several other men in a canoe on a fishing expedition from Steilacoom when he saw the mouths of the creeks and the lagoon, and shouted, "Eureka! Eureka!"

Carr soon moved onto the claim with a yellow cat named Tom and built a cabin. Other settlers had claimed land nearby, but left the area after the Indian War of 1855-1856. Carr's two sons Howard and Anthony joined him in 1866. Anthony had been a topographical photographer for the Union Army, and took many photographs of early Tacoma.

Eventually the Job Carr claim became Tacoma's Old Town.


Murray Morgan, Puget's Sound: A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), 139-144.

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