Centralia History - Centralia, Washington, was founded in 1875 by George Washington, the son of a black slave, and a jack-of-all-trades who journeyed to the Pacific Northwest to create a new life.
Washington was born in Frederick County, Virginia, on August 15, 1817. When his father, a slave, was sold and taken from the area soon after George's birth, his mother left him with a white couple named Anna and James Cochran (or Cochrane), who raised him. While George was still a child, the Cochrans moved west to Ohio and then Missouri. As an adult, Washington tried his hand at several businesses in Missouri and Illinois, but was frustrated each time by discriminatory laws. By 1850 he decided to head farther west in the hope of finding more freedom. The Cochrans joined him, and on March 15, 1850, the family set out with a wagon train heading west. They settled first in Oregon City, but within a few years crossed the Columbia River into what would soon become Washington Territory.