Marysville incorporates on March 20, 1891

  • By Margaret Riddle
  • Posted 10/06/2019
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 20878

On March 20, 1891, Marysville, located north of Everett in Snohomish County, incorporates when Washington Secretary of State Allen Weir (1854-1916) files the order to form it as a fourth-class town. Citizens voted in favor of incorporation on March 12, electing the town's first mayor and council members who, following official filing, met to deal with the demands of explosive population growth.

Trading Post and Logging Camps

During the 1860s loggers and homesteaders began clearing the dense woods throughout Snohomish County. Since travel was mainly by water, locations along the Snohomish River were ideal for logging operations, and by the 1870s many logging camps dotted the river's shoreline. Marysville's beginnings link directly to the Tulalip Reservation, land assigned to regional tribes by the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, immediately west of present-day Marysville. In 1872 James Comeford (1833-1909) accepted a government appointment to establish a trading post on the reservation near the mouth of the Snohomish River. Here Comeford and his wife Maria (1846-1904) lived and operated the store, trading with Indians and a growing number of loggers working in 18 nearby camps.

Six years later Comeford purchased 1,280 acres east of the store from timber traders who had extensively logged the land in the 1860s. The Comefords paid $450 for the property, acreage that would become the town of Marysville. Comeford spent the next few years clearing more of this land and, according to an article published in The Northern Eye in June 1878 ("Marysville Thumbnail ..."), it was spring of that year when the Comefords moved onto the property, building a house with an attached warehouse, a wharf, and a store on Front Street (now 1st Street). In 1884 the Comefords sold the store, wharf, and warehouse to settlers Mark Swinnerton (1840-1906) and Henry B. Myers (1859-1906).

Becoming a City

A small town began to develop in the mid-1880s and Marysville was platted on February 25, 1885, by J. D. Morris, and dedicated by James P. and Maria Comeford. It is generally assumed that Maria was the town's namesake. Washington statehood (1889) and the completion of the Great Northern Railway (1891 into Everett and through Marysville) accelerated development throughout Snohomish County and by 1889 Marysville had several productive sawmills, about 25 houses, two hotels, a schoolhouse, and a saloon. Town population was estimated to be about 200 in 1891. New businesses opened, and Marysville built a railroad depot that year as well as its first church. In January 1891, the Quil Ceda Creek bridge north of Marysville was completed, connecting the town with the Kellogg Marsh area. Five miles south of Marysville, workers cleared land at the beginning Everett townsite to make real the grandiose plans of wealthy East Coast investors.

While Everett quickly took the shape of an industrial city, Marysville would thrive for decades on an economy of logging and agriculture. Enthusiasm was high in 1891 and the town was prospering. To keep it so, townspeople felt that an official government was both advantageous and necessary. Everett would wait for two years to do the same.

With strong citizen support, voters approved a measure to incorporate on March 12, 1891, and also elected city officials at that time. Candidate Mark Swinnerton received the most votes so was chosen as mayor. Elected council members were Henry B. Myers, Alexander Spithill (1924-1920), E. Smith, W. Plate, and C. W. Schaeffer. Swinnerton had come to Washington from Mills County, Iowa, where he had been engaged in a marble and stone works business. In the 1900s Swinnerton would become involved in mining in Silverton.

On March 20, 1891, incorporation papers were filed with the Secretary of State, making Marysville an official fourth-class town whose west boundary was drawn, as phrased in the official document, "one mile to the line of the Tulalip Reservation" ("Election to Incorporate ...").

The year 1891 also saw the arrival of the large Stimson Mill Company, whose main regional plant was on Salmon Bay in King County. That year the company chose Marysville as the site of its logging camp operations. By 1895 Stimson's presence was dominant. According to a Seattle Times writer that year:

"The Stimson mill company logging plants are at Marysville, over which Mr. James Roe, one of the directors, presides. Here are generally employed between 100 and 300 men. In connection with the camps are thirteen miles of logging railway, three locomotives, three eight-horse teams and in addition a donkey engine" ("Famous Stimson Mills ...").

Town Growth

Marysville weathered the Panic of 1893, a national depression that lasted for about five years, and with the rest of the nation, rebounded in the early 1900s, a decade in which Marysville emerged as a major lumber and shingle manufacturing center with 10 mills producing more than 1 million board feet of lumber per day. Farmers found the soil especially good for crops and soon the town excelled in growing produce, particularly strawberries, a product that Marysville would be known for as well as for its lumber.

Town boundaries formed at initial incorporation remained the same until its first annexation in 1954, when city limits pushed north and east as population grew. In 1960 Marysville was upgraded from a fourth-class to a third-class city.


Sources:

"Election to Incorporate the Town of Marysville," March 20, 1891, Record of Incorporated Cities and Towns, Office of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington; An Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Interstate Publishing Company, 1906), 349, 374; William Whitfield, History of Snohomish County, Washington (Chicago/Seattle: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1926), 557-569; HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Native American Tribes Sign Point Elliott Treaty at Mukilteo on January 22, 1855" (by Walt Crowley), "Marysville Thumbnail History" (by Phil Dougherty), http://www.historylink.org (accessed September 9, 2019); "History of Marysville," Marysville Historical Society website, accessed September 2, 2019 (www.marysvillehistory.org); "Famous Stimson Mills," Seattle Times, December 21, 1895, p. 24; "Mark Swinnerton", U.S. Find a Grave website accessed September 19, 2019 (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60831822).


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