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History of the South Puget Sound

A Brief History of Ezra Meeker


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A True Pioneer

Ezra Meeker
(Plaque outside the Meeker Mansion. Click image for larger version)

Ezra Meeker was Born on Dec 29, 1830 in Huntsville, Ohio and married his childhood sweetheart, Eliza Jane Sumner in 1851. They joined the more than 50,000 Oregon Trail "immigrants" in the summer of 1852 and first settled in Kalama on the Columbia River.

They moved to Puget Sound in 1853 and built a cabin on McNeill Island. After the Indian War of 1855, however, Meeker joined his farther and brother in a mercantile venture in Steilacoom This venture tragically failed when his brother Oliver was lost at sea coming back from California with supplies that consisted of all their money. Broke and destitute, with nothing but an old blanket as a coat, Ezra used the last of his funds to make improvements to a squatter's claim in the Valley.

Meeker cleared his own land and, to get money, hired himself out to his neighbors as a laborer also. A man who was always fond of liquor, he began planting hops with his father, a crop that was destined to put the Puyallup Valley on the map.

He continued working for his neighbors, and became a hop broker, selling their crop and the crop of his neighbors on the world market. He traveled to England four times in four years in the early 1880's, and he and Eliza Jane were even presented to Queen Victoria. He platted the town of Puyallup in 1890, and he was the first mayor of the town.

The failure of the hop fields in the Valley once again left Ezra broke and penniless, but he kept his mansion. He tried various ventures, most of them losing more of his money, until he decided to start a goal he had had for some time; the marking of the Oregon Trail.

At 75 years old, he outfitted an old covered wagon with two oxen and followed the trail back east. President Teddy Roosevelt met him in Washington, D.C. and promised Ezra he would ask Congress for money to mark the trail.

Meeker made four more trips over the Oregon Trail. Once more by wagon train, by car, by rail and, in 1924, by airplane.

Eliza Jane died in 1909, and Ezra finally sold the mansion. He passed away on December 3, 1928, almost 98 years old. It's no wonder, whenever the history of Puyallup or the Valley is looked into, the name Ezra Meeker comes up. He truly was a consistent and outstanding figure of the Valley and our history.

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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Ezra Meeker; Champion of the Oregon Trail : Includes : Hitting the Trail in 1992
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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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