The History of Seattle First Baptist Church
The Duwamish Tribe and Seattle First Baptist Church
Seattle First Baptist Church celebrated its 135th Anniversary year in 2004, its relationship with the Duwamish Tribe had come to light. The very first white pioneer to enter Puget Sound (in 1850) with the intent to become a settler was a Baptist, John Holgate, whose family founded Seattle First Baptist Church (1869). Holgate lived for five months with the Duwamish, who welcomed him and helped him survey the wider region.
When he returned with his brother-in-law, Edward Hanford, they made land claims along today's Beacon Hill, adjacent to the Duwamish village of Tal-Tal-Kus. The children of the families learned to speak Duwamish as they played with the children of that village.
On the eve of the Indian attack on the village of Seattle in 1855 (by Eastern Washington tribes), it was a Duwamish scout and friend who went to the Hanford and Holgate cabins and warned them to escape two miles north to Seattle for safety. Their cabins, livestock and crops were all destroyed in the fighting.
Seattle First Baptist Church was founded in December, 1869, by eleven members who held the first services in the home of Abigail Hanford and baptized new members in Elliott Bay.
Soon they built a wooden building on Fourth Avenue between Cherry and James.
Seattle grew and the church grew, and a larger building was dedicated in 1899. However, the regrading of Fourth Avenue after the great fire of 1889 forced another move and construction was begun on the present location at the corner of Harvard and Seneca in 1910.
The first service was held in this building in September 1912.
Today, the Duwamish Tribe still waits for the Federal Government to abide by a treaty signed in 1855 which recognized the tribe and offered them a reservation and other treaty rights. Today, the tribe is not recognized by the government and has no land. Seattle First Baptist Church, along with other historic churches in Seattle, has signed a Statement of Justice in solidarity with the Duwamish.