Voters elect John T. Jordan as mayor of the City of Seattle on July 10, 1871.

  • By David Wilma and Cassandra Tate
  • Posted 11/08/2000
  • Essay 2773
See Additional Media

On July 10, 1871, Seattle voters elect John T. Jordan, stone mason, as the city's mayor.

Jordan, a stone mason and plasterer, had lived in Seattle at least since 1860, when the census recorded his presence as one of 90 unmarried white men in the town then (out of a total white population of 182). Among his early construction projects was the first building on the campus of the Territorial University (later to become the University of Washington), located on the present-day site of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel at 4th Avenue and University Street. The two-story building, with four hand-fluted wooden columns and a distinctive cupola, housed most of the university's functions until 1895, when a new campus was developed on Lake Washington. Jordan worked on the building's foundation, brickwork, and plastering.

Jordan served as town marshal in 1869. He was elected to the Common Council (predecessor of the City Council) during Seattle's first municipal election, in 1870. Under the city charter at that time, elections were held on the second Monday in July, and mayors and councilmen both served one-year terms. When Jordan completed his term as mayor in 1872, he was elected to another term on the council.

Jordan's successor as mayor, Corliss P. Stone, abruptly left office before the end of his term. Stone reportedly embezzled $15,000 embezzled from his business partners and left Seattle for San Francisco in the company of a woman who was married to someone else. Jordan was appointed acting mayor until a special election could be held to fill out Stone's term.

In later life, Jordan became active in the Masonic lodge, serving as an officer in Seattle Chapter No. 1, Royal Arch Masons for many years. In 1884, he was elected first grand chancellor of the Washington territorial grand lodge of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization related to the Masons.


Seattle City Clerk, "Mayors of the City of Seattle," (; Clarence B. Bagley, History of Seattle From the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vols. 1-2 (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1916).
Note: This file was greatly expanded on August 31, 2004.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You