“My dear brother –
I scarcely know how I shall write or what I shall write…The great desire of heart is, and has been, to get my own and father’s family to this country. I think it would be a great move. I have always thought so…To the north down along Admiralty Inlet (that portion of water connecting Pudget Sound with the Straits of Juan de Fuca) the cultivating land is generally found confined to the valleys of streams with the exception of Whidbey’s Island (the large island that blocks up and terminates the Straits of Fuca on the east) which is almost a paradise of nature. Good land for cultivation is abundant on this island.
I have taken claim on it and am now living on the same in order to avail myself of the provisions of the Donation law. If Rebecca, the children, and you all were here, I think I could live and die here content.”
Col. Ebey’s letter to his brother, W. S. Ebey
April 25, 1851
Ebey was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1818. During his childhood Ebey's father, Jacob, moved the family to Adair County, Missouri where as a young man, the young Ebey was trained in the law. At age 25, Ebey married Rebecca Davis and they later had two sons, Eason (who became Phoebe Judson's son-in-law) and Ellison. Born with a naturally adventurous spirit, Isaac temporarily left his wife and young sons in Missouri to discover the American west - specifically the Pacific Coast.
Homesteading Whidbey Island
In October 1850, Ebey moved from Olympia to Whidbey Island. When Congress passed the Donation Land Claim Act in 1850, Ebey claimed 640 acres (1.00 sq mi; 2.6 km2) for himself and his family overlooking Admiralty Inlet then wrote his wife to prepare for a move west with their sons. While awaiting their arrival, Ebey sent numerous letters to his relatives begging their relocation to Whidbey Island in order to snap up the best remaining land for homesteading and farming. Ebey's wife and sons arrived in the fall of 1851 with her three brothers and the Samuel Crockett family.
The remainder of Ebey's family followed in October 1854. Among those of Ebey's family who came to the Pacific Northwest were: Ebey's parents, Jacob and Sarah; siblings, Mary, Winfield, and Ruth; Mary's two children, Almira and Polk Wright; a cousin, George Beam. Jacob Ebey claimed ridge land overlooking what is today called Ebey's Prairie. On the same ridge, Isaac Ebey built a blockhouse for protection against raiding Indians. Isaac and Jacob Ebey's land would prove to be some of the most productive in the area and word of this fortune traveled, drawing settlers from the east into the region and starting a rush of settlers who claimed most of the prairie-land by the beginning of 1853. By 1860, all of the best farmland had already been claimed.