Michael Troutman Simmons "was well known to all the citizens of this Territory, especially to the early settlers, many of whom will never forget his hospitality, his public spirit, his zealous readiness to afford them aid and counsel, his extreme liberality in contributing to every work or enterprise calculated to promote the progress of the Puget Sound settlements, then in their infancy." These words of praise are from Simmons' obituary in the Washington Standard of November 23, 1867.
Michael T. Simmons' accomplishments are legendary. After crossing the Oregon Trail in 1844, he led the first settlers to the banks of the Deschutes River in the fall of 1845 and at the site he dubbed New Market, now Tumwater, he established the first permanent American settlement north of the Columbia River. Here with the help of the other settlers he built the area's first grist mill in 1846 and the first saw mill in 1847. He was appointed a justice of the "Vancouver District," served as Olympia's first postmaster and was elected to the Oregon Territorial Legislature. He attended both the Cowlitz and Monticello Conventions to press the U.S. Congress to form a separate territory north of the Columbia River. For many years he acted as the Indian Agent for the Puget Sound District.
Despite his association with the founding of Tumwater, Michael T. Simmons did not remain here long. In 1850 he sold his rights along the Deschutes to Clanrick Crosby and moved to Olympia, where he operated a store. He sold the store in 1853 and moved to Mason County, where he took out a Donation Land Claim and built another saw mill in 1854.
When he died in 1867 of acute hepatitis, he was living in Lewis County. His obituary called him " ... a man of iron constitution ... and vigorous intellect, ... at one time he was the representative man north of the Columbia river, wielding an influence which he long retained ... "
Lying beside him is his wife, Elizabeth Kindred Simmons. They married in 1835. When they crossed the plains in 1844, she led 4 young sons and the next year gave birth to a fifth along the banks of the Columbia. Altogether, Michael T. and Elizabeth Simmons had 12 children, losing only one in infancy. Some of their children join them on this site and elsewhere in this cemetery.
They also share this spot with Elizabeth's parents, David and Talitha Kindred. The Kindreds were among the original settlers of Tumwater and settled just west of George Bush in an area that is today just south of the Olympia airport. Here David Kindred did not build the first schoolhouse as his gravestone seems to think, but he did build the first wood frame house. Their original resting place was in the Union Cemetery, but unfortunately too close to the road. They were disinterred when the road was widened and moved to this location in the 1960's.