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John Willis Lawton, author of North Western Journeys


JOHN WILLIS LAWTON was born and grew up in Yakima, Washington, a 1961 graduate of Davis High School. He was educated at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and Washington State University in Pullman. He is retired from a career in city management and divides his time between his mountain home in Judith Basin County, near Raynesford, Montana, and the central coast of California, where he pursues his interests in history research and writing, and photography. John and his wife Carol enjoy spending time with their three young grandchildren in California.   

This family saga of westward migration is told through the voices of people who lived 100 years ago by means of letters, diaries, oral history and photographs. It includes a memoir of the author’s improbable discoveries as he found the stories of the grandfather he never knew. The Lawtons’ first ancestor arrived in Massachusetts in 1635. Its succeeding generations followed forest cutting to the west, across the northern states, until one branch of the family arrived in frontier Spokane in 1890. Will and Irene Lawton followed a string of settlers from Wisconsin, where the pine forests were playing out after a quarter century of logging. They established homes and businesses in Spokane, then left in 1906 and settled a few miles west in the scablands of the Columbia Plateau, where they bought land, took up a homestead, and commenced farming and storekeeping. The dream worked until misfortune and flawed assumptions eventually led to the loss of all they had built. The family had been multi-generational and closely knit. But by 1920 the family had scattered because of untimely deaths and the collapse of homesteading. As a fatherless boy, Walter Lawton, Will’s son, spent years in Idaho’s mountains herding sheep to get by.


Please join us for a reading and signing with John!

Event date: 
Saturday, July 8, 2017 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Event address: 
5629 Summitview Ave
Yakima, WA 98908