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History of Sumner, Washington
From Agriculture To Zehnder

Provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times and the City of Sumner.

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An A-Z History of Sumner, WA

Sumner was settled in 1853 by members of a wagon train which crossed over the Cascade Mountains through Naches Pass. In 1883, the town was platted on the 160 acres owned by John Kincaid. The establishment of the Northern Pacific rail line through the Sumner area and the construction of the depot influenced the development of the community.
Sumner was incorporated at a special election held on January 27, 1891 and George H. Ryan was the first Mayor of Sumner.

Some believe the origin of the town's name remains a mystery. Sumner may have been named after Thomas Sumner, the father-in-law of Ezra Meeker, a famous pioneer and Puyallup's first mayor; or after U.S. Sen. Charles Sumner, a famous anti-slavery politician from Massachusetts during the Civil War era; or even after a woman who served as a deputy in the local post office. Her first name does not appear in local records. It could have something to do with Ezra Meeker's wife, Eliza Jane Sumner, also.

However, there is some recorded evidence that the village was first called Stuck Junction, and later Franklin (it seems this "village" covered most of Sumner and Puyallup at the time). A local resident, J.P. Stewart, was instrumental in establishing a post office serving the area now governed by Puyallup and Sumner, and he named the area Franklin after his hometown in New York State. When the nearby post office relocated, another one was needed in Sumner. The new post office was located at the Ryan's home with Mrs. Ryan as the first post-mistress. The U.S. Postal Department requested a new name for the post office since there were so many places named Franklin and delivering mail became confusing. Three townsmen, John F. Kincaid, L.F. Thompson, and George Ryan could not agree on a name, and each placed a name on a slip of paper and put it into a hat. A boy was called into the store to pick one of the slips and it came out "Sumner."

Reporting a population of 538 in 1900, Sumner had grown to about 7,700 in 1995.

The Primer

the Spirit of Sumner: (A-Z History of Sumner) A Primer was commissioned by the Sumner School District for The Spirit of Sumner, an arts education project of the City of Sumner and Sumner School District. It is intended to give the project's artists in residence a sense of Sumner's history and a common frame of reference as they begin their work with students, parents, and members of the Sumner Community

A number of anecdotes come from three life-long residents of Sumner. Tress Dassel (born 1909), Mary Elizabeth Ryan (born 1922), and Madge Spears (born 1907) got together on a winter afternoon in February, 1999 to share their memories.

Information has also been drawn from:

Andrews, Pete and Janette. 1983. History of Sumner's Newspaper
Sumner: Pete and Janette Andrews.

"The Beginnings of Whitworth College." Sumner Chronicle (14 June 14, 1991).

"Come Home for Christmas to Sumner." Sumner Promotions Assn.

"Cultural Resources." Sumner Comprehensive Plan Update Draft Environmental Impact Statement June 1992, City of Sumner

"Dateline of events from Sumner's first 75 years." Sumner: Sumner Historical Society.

"Early Sumner residents lived 'up Stuck'." Pierce County Herald

The Kincaid Story: A collection of articles and letters of William Moore Kincaid, The father of Sumner, and his family. Compiled by Janette Andrews and Dorothy Peterkin. Orting: Sumner Historical Society and Heritage Quest Press, 1991

Ryan, Amy. 1988. The Sumner Story. Orting: Sumner Historical Society and Heritage Quest Press.

"Sumner: looking back and ahead." Puyallup Herald

Sumner: Ryan House Museum." Sumner Historical Society.

"Sumner scours its stones." Pierce County Herald.

" Sumner was a college town at one time."

Sumner's first First Lady."

Welcome To Sumner. 1998. Sumner: City Of Sumner Community Development Department

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Sumner Quick facts
(from 2002)

Population: 8,504, up 35 percent from 1990.
Median age: 35.
People: 90 percent white, 0.9 percent black, 1.4 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, 1.7 percent Asian, 0.2 percent Pacific Islander, and 6 percent Hispanic.
Median home value: $144,000.
Percentage of families in poverty: 9 percent.
Median household Income: $38,600.
Industry employing the most people: education, health and social services.
Mean travel time to work: 28 minutes.
Bachelor's degree or higher: 20 percent.
In the armed forces: 0.2 percent.
School districts: Sumner.

The Washington Story: A History of Our State. Ruth Pelz. Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 1988, 1993 (revised edition)

Doin' the Puyallup : An Illustrated History of the Western Washington Fair Since 1900

sumner history
Washington in Maps

by Iris Miller

sumner history, online community
Washington Trivia Revised Edition
by John V. Hedtke

Main History page | Puyallup History | Sumner History |The Puyallup Indians | The Puyallup Fair | Read more about Ezra Meeker | Read more about William Kincaid |Why Daffodil Valley? | History of the Daffodil Festival | Indian War of 1855
All historical information has been compiled through the hard work and diligence of the Daffodil Valley Times staff. Anyone may copy this information for private or public use provided links are given to Daffodil Valley Times (http://www.daffodilvalleytimes.com) and full credit is given to Daffodil Valley Times. Thank you!

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