and the SWAUK MINING DISTRICT
Researching the Families and Town History
Submitted by Wes Engstrom
IN SEARCH OF HISTORY
Click here to enlarge picture
Do you recognize this picture or anyone in it? The
picture was taken near Liberty probably around 1900. It was
a time when gold mining was still done by hand and after sawed
lumber was available. Otto PAUTZKE, a pioneer photographer who
started in Ellensburg in 1898, took it. There may be other
prints still in existence and maybe someone has written names
and dates on the back.
I am participating with two others in writing a book about Liberty and the Swauk Mining
District and am searching for first hand accounts of what really happened a hundred and thirty
years ago. The discovery of gold in the Swauk is closely tied to the earliest beginnings of
Kittitas County. Thomas B. GOODWIN, one of the earliest settlers with F. M. THORP in the
Kittitas Valley, was a cousin of Benton and Tom GOODWIN, the discoverers of gold in the Swauk.
In 1873 when gold was discovered, there were only a few dozen settlers in all of what is now
Kittitas County, so literally everyone in the valley was affected in some way by the discovery
There have been many accounts written of the discovery of gold in the Swauk and they all
give credit to the GOODWIN brothers. I think, however, some of the accounts give credit to the
wrong GOODWIN. From what I have found so far, the GOODWIN family was large and they used the
same names through many generations. Abner GOODWIN, father of Dr. GOODWIN, Benton, and Thomas,
had eighteen children by two wives. Abner in turn had thirteen brothers and sisters. The
discoverers of gold in the Swauk in 1873, Thomas Benton GOODWIN (born 1838) and Newton Thomas
GOODWIN born 1843) had a cousin, Thomas Benton GOODWIN (born 1846), who came to Kittitas Valley
in 1877. He purchased land a mile and a half west of Thorp. He had nine children. Newton Thomas
GOODWIN had ten children. There are a lot of GOODWIN descendants around.
Included in the discovery party and the mining company that worked the first claims were
W. H. BECK, George MYCOCK, D. Y. BORDEN, John P. BECK, G. W. GOODWIN, Al CHURCHILL, David MUNN,
James BATES and Samuel BATES. Were these all part of the GOODWIN family and related in some
way? The GOODWINs worked their mines for four or five years and then left to go back to farming.
None of the early accounts ever explain why the "gold bug" did not bite the brothers. Why did
they dig gold for a while, and apparently find a lot, and then go back to farming when others
who at the first sight of gold continue to seek it the rest of their lives, whether they find a
lot or not?
I am looking for GOODWIN family members who might be able to explain some of this GOODWIN
family history. I am also looking for any descendants of Liberty miners who may have family
pictures or personal accounts of what happened during the early years. Contact me at
© Kittitas County Genealogical Society 2005