First Settler, Robert Fiander

Robert Fiander's Passport
Robert Fiander’s Passport

The following was taken from the History of Pierce County, Volume 3, published in 1927 by William Bonny.

Among the sterling old pioneers who contributed their full quota of clearing and developing this section of the state was one named Robert Fiander, a resident of this country since 1874.

Robert was born in Dorsetshire England, September 30, 1847, a son of Robert and Emma (Chaffey) Fiander. Both of whom died in their native land. (Robert Sr. was engaged in freighting.)

Robert Fiander received limited education in the public schools of his home neighborhood and then was employed in public work in England and Scotland until 1871 when he came to the United States.

For a short time he lived in New Jersey and Iowa and in 1872 came to Pierce County, Washington. Later he went to Thurston County for about two years lived with a brother Richard Fiander, who had come to Washington in 1851 with the Hudson Bay Company.

In 1874 Mr. Fiander filed a homestead claim on Section 14, township 16, range 3 at Swan Lake, Pierce County, being the first settler in that part of the county.

Robert Fiander 1908
Robert Fiander 1908

The land was covered with timber and brush and during the first years of his residence here, Mr. Fiander was compelled to pack in his provisions and supplies from a distance fourteen miles away. However, his larder was well supplied with meat, the county having an abundance of wild game and birds, as well as salmon.

There wer also dangerous wild animals, which made it necessary to be constantly on guard. Mr. Fiander had a number of thrilling and unpleasant experiences in those days. One of which was a hand to hand flight with a large cougar, which he did not conquer until after a long and severe struggle.

After entering his land, Mr. Fiander built a small log house and then began the task of clearing and draining the land, which entailed a vast amount of the hardest sort of work.

Catherine Dean, Robert Fiander's wife
Catherine Dean, Robert Fiander’s wife

Eventually, he created a good farm and ran stock cattle on it until 1912, also devoing considerable attention to raising draft horses until the advent of the automboile. He then turned his attention to dairy farming, keeping about 18 cows, and met with success, except for about three years when he leased the farm.

Catherine Dean Fiander, wife of Robert Fiander, with daughters Clara & Emma 1883
Catherine Dean Fiander, wife of Robert Fiander, with daughters Clara & Emma 1883

He resided there continually until 1922, when he sold the place and lived in Eastern Washington for a few years. The he made his home with a duaghter in Eatonville Washignton until his death.

Fiander House years later
Fiander House years later

Mr. Fiander was twice married, first in 1871 to Jennie, and Indian girl. She died in 1880 and in 1884 Mr. Fiander was married to Catherine Dean, a native of Pierce County and a daughter of Aubrey and Rosie Dean.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton and Debbie and Gary Saint.

Click on images to enlarge.



12 responses to “First Settler, Robert Fiander”

  1. Hi

    I have been researching the Fiander Family for sometime. Richard Fiander was my Great Grandfather Joseph Fiander’s younger brother. Robert was in fact born in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, rather than Dorchester. Not sure if this helps.

    I was so pleased to find this site which I did whilst visiting in Oregon. At that time I decided to try and trace Richard Fiander his older brother and this site has been really helpful.

    Sue Venables


    • This is great information. Thank you! There is more Fiander information and relatives up here. I’ll try to get some more posted. He was a big player here in the early days.


  2. I think the Dean family was there earlier in the Silver Lake area. Fiander’s second wife Catherine is one of Thomas Aubrey and Rosa children.


  3. Does anyone know if Lake Fiander was named after Robert Fiander and his family? I have a friend who is from England (she will be 90 this year) and her mother’s maiden name was Fiander. She was one of 8 siblings. My friend is trying to find out if Robert Fiander is somehow related.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: