Hazel Dixon was one of Seattles African American pioneers. The wife of William Dixon, the grandson of William Grose, the second African American to settle in Seattle, Dixon lived in a period which saw the citys black population grow from approximately 300 to 3,700. This account, written by Dixon in 1937, is one of the few surviving primary source histories of the black community.
In speaking of the early history Seattle the outstanding date is that the big fire on june 6th.1889. Any person or family here at the time of the fire is classed as an old pioneer and Seattle’s early history devides between “before the fire” or “after the fire”.
Reliable data regarding the arrival and the part the Negro had in the early development of Seattle is unfortunatly difficult to find and I believe that if any organization or individual who would compile such a history would be doing the community a great service.
A short time ago Mr. Joe Jackson, in my home, quoted a University of Washington Professor as stating that there were no Negroes in business in Seattle before the fire. Mr. Jackson said he rather doubted this but had no proof to the contrary. He was very pleased when we were able to show him an article by Prof. Ed. S. Meany published in the Fost Intellinger showing that Mr. Wm. Grose operated the “Our House Hotel” and Mr. Robert Dixon a barber shop at the time of and for many years before the fire. I believe there was also a restaurant and Boot Black stand and employment office operated by colored.
Mr. Horace Cayton and Mr. Pete De Bow both published books on the early settlers but a write up in these books depended principably on the willingness of the subject to pay for it and for this reason both books are of doubtful historical value.
I have discussed the early History of our group with Mrs. Wright of Tacoma and Mrs. Oxindine now residing in Oakland and they are both very well informed and very interesting to talk with. Mrs. Oxindine spoke of the Seattle fire. She was living on Beacon Hill at that time.