On June 20th, 2009, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of military Fort Colville, which is the reason the town of Colville is here today. Not to confuse this Fort Colville with the Hudson’s Bay Fort Colville which was situated along the river above the Kettle Falls near Marcus and had been established in 1825. The military fort was established on June 20th 1859 by Brevit Major Pinkney Lugenbeel of the 9th Infantry on recommendation from Brigadier General William Harney. It was first called Harney’s Depot and four companies of infantry set about building log barracks on the flat near Mill Creek, about 3 miles from the Colville River. The soldiers had been sent to protect the American Boundary Survey Commission who were establishing the boundary between the U.S. and Canada.
Nine soldiers who served at the Fort stayed in this area, along with one civilian who was very active in affairs of the Fort. The Northeast Washington Genealogical Society has done some research on these soldiers and their families. If you are descended from one of them and are interested in seeing what we found, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John U. Hofstetter came in 1859 with the first troops and was discharged in 1860. He worked teaming for the government for a time after which he started a brewery here and took a homestead where Colville now stands. He is considered to be the “Father of Colville.” He married Jane Ferrell and had 8 children: Emma, John, William Park, George, Lilly (married J. Fred Rice), Charles, Clara Jane (married George Shaver), and Fanny (married Henry Silke).
John Holst served at the fort from 1881-1882 and was discharged at Fort Spokane Dec 1883. He returned to Colville Valley where he took up a homestead a few miles south of Colville near Rocky Lake. John married Mary Jane Martin and had 7 children: John, Henry, Frederic, Marie (married Cleveland Bonner), Christine (married Albert Bean), Rosa Ellen, and William.
Charles Regenery arrived in 1882 with Co B 1st Calvary from Fort Walla Walla and later that same year transferred to Coeur D’Alene. He returned to the Colville area after discharge; and married Sophia King. They settled at Blue Creek until 1898 when they emigrated to British Columbia. He died in Kelowna in 1936. Research indicates he had only one son, Charles, but we have been unable to determine if he left any descendants.
Gotlieb Reimer arrived in the “early years” of the Fort and was discharged here in 1880. Shortly after his discharge he was killed by an Indian. It appears that he never married and left no descendants.
Mike Seyler was stationed at Fort Colville Oct 1878 and discharged May 1881. He opened the first saloon in the new town of Colville. He later settled in the Inchelium-Meteor area. He married Olive Roberts and had at least 13 children: Addie (married Fred Foster), Lillie Mae (married a McDonnell, then a Willis), Harriet (married Wilbert Cowan), William Emery, Charles, Alma (married Vern A. Toulou), Blanche (married Francis Hightower, James Blackshere, then Otto Kramer), Frank, Johannah “Hannah” (married Edward Stensgar), Alfred, David, Roy, and Daniel.
David T. Stuart arrived with Co M 1st Cavalry and was discharged in 1881. He married Angeline Peone and homesteaded at Marcus, later resided Montana, then in Spokane where he died. He had 3 sons: William, Louis Virgil, and Robert Finley.
George Theis arrived in 1881 with the 2nd Infantry, was assigned to Fort Spokane in 1882 and was discharged at Fort Spokane in 1885. He married first Rachel Prouty, then Nellie Thomas, and homesteaded east of Colville, later moving to Gig Harbor. He had 14 children: Violet (married Linton Harbison), Roy, Henry, George, Alva Edison, Albert Elwood, Fred Howard, Theodore, Loretta (married George Zurbrugg), Esther (married a Polly), Genevieve (married a Gibson), Edward, William, and Marie.
Edward P. Wells served during the Civil War under Custer and was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. He came to Fort Colville as a 1st Sergeant and was discharged at Fort Spokane 1883. He homesteaded in Camas Prairie area. Married Sadie Cook but had no children.
John L. Wheeler came to Fort Colville in 1879, transferred to Fort Spokane 1882, and was discharged in 1883. He homesteaded on Graham Mountain east of Colville. Married Ella Earnest, had one son, Earling, no other descendants that we know of.
Jacob Stitzel was our “Civilian” pioneer. He was active in the affairs of the Fort and in its disposition after it was abandoned. He served in the territorial legislature in 1883 and as a United States court commissioner in 1892. He married Mary Halprunner and had 4 children: Martha (married Evan Miles), Mary (married Alfred Moor), Kathrine (married Gilbert Ide), and James.