The 176-year-old butternut tree that famed Black pioneer George Bush carried from Missouri to Washington and planted on his homestead near Tumwater collapsed from old age on the morning of May 1. The historic tree survived well past its typical life span, as most butternut trees only live to be about 75 years old. However, the legacy of this tree lives on in the Bush butternut tree on the Capitol Campus. This tree was a sapling from the original Bush butternut tree and was transplanted to the west campus. It remains a symbol of Bush’s impact on Washington.
George Bush was a Black pioneer who led wagon trains of families from Missouri across the Oregon Trail to establish the first non-Indigenous American settlement in the Washington Territory. Bush staked a claim to farm 640 acres south of Tumwater. Though Michael T. Simmons is credited with founding Tumwater, the Bush-Simmons party arrived together and Bush was also key in its establishment.