Dancing was a hot topic while a frozen river blocked mail

Following are recollections from this week in Olympia 150 years ago, including excerpts from the Pioneer & Democrat newspaper.

Dancing: “We observe that some of the leading religious papers are ‘joining issue’ on the dancing question. One says it is frivolous and corrupting, while another contends that persons who are capable of being corrupted by dancing, will certainly find some effective mode to become so, if this be denied to them. Our observations – Dancing satisfies the demand of nature for action. It is action for both mind and body. It is accompanied by music, which is one of the most elevating and grateful pleasures known to man. It has been made solemn among savage warriors; a mode of exalted worship among the pious; one manner of showing social, rational amusement, which delights those who engage in it, and those who are spectators.”

No mail from Oregon: “Since the 8th inst., communication between ourselves and Oregon unceremoniously ceased, in consequence of the freezing of the Columbia River. We may expect Oregon mail next week.”

Moving the Capitol? “Mr. Short, of Clarke county, has introduced House Bill, No. 10, ‘An act to locate the Capitol of Washington Territory at Vancouver.’ The citizens of Olympia have been in a perfect fever of excitement, whilst those who have been envious of our central location are in ecstasies at the bright prospect now before them for a removal.” (For many years, other cities in Washington tried to secure the Capitol. In 1853, when Isaac Stevens, the first territorial governor, made Olympia the first capital, Olympia was more populated than any other city on the Sound. Later, several cities in Eastern Washington tried to shift the location to their sites.)

Bills introduced in the House: Mr. Ferguson introduced House Bill 4, an act to create and organize the county of Clickatat (now Klickitat County). H.B. 2 was an act to create and organize the county of Harney, and H.B. 3, an act to dissolve the bonds of matrimony existing between William W. Davis and Alice Davis, was passed. (In territorial days, divorces had to be granted by the Legislature.)

South Sound historian Roger Easton can be reached at

Sesquicentennial celebration

This marks the 46th weekly installment in a yearlong series looking back at life in newly incorporated Olympia 150 years ago this week. The Olympian has teamed up with South Sound historian Roger Easton on this feature celebrating the city’s 150th birthday, relying on newspaper articles from the Pioneer & Democrat, town council minutes and other historical records.