Duncan Hunter files a homestead claim in the future Lynnwood on April 22, 1889.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 7/08/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8202
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On April 22, 1889, Duncan Hunter, a native of Scotland and a stonemason, files a homestead claim to 80 acres of dense forest in south Snohomish County. The claim sits astride what will become the North Trunk Road, later 36th Avenue SW.  Hunter is the first non-Indian resident of the future Lynnwood.

Duncan Hunter immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1881 and found work as a stonemason in the red granite quarries of Montello, Wisconsin. He married Jennie Stephenson in 1886 and they had two children. Hunter quit the quarries and tried his had at running a boarding house, but found that not to his taste. He went west and in 1889 filed his claim to 80 acres of federal land in Snohomish County. Under the Homestead Act of 1863 he could gain title to the land if he occupied it for five years and improved it. Hunter built a log cabin in the woods and two years later summoned his wife and children. They traveled by railroad to Seattle, then by steamer to Edmonds. Hunter met them at the wharf and drove them in a wagon across a rough trail to the cabin.

Since the land was still forested, Hunter could not grow much in the way of crops. He sought employment in his old trade as a stonemason and in logging camps and lumber mills. By 1895, the Hunters had four more children, but young daughter Jennie died in 1897 and the parents buried her on the claim. Eventually Hunter sold the trees on the land and planted apples, cherries, and berries. In 1914, he built a two-story frame home. 

The Hunter marriage did not last and in 1926 the couple divided their property.  When Snohomish County wanted to build a road through the claim, Hunter refused because of his daughter's grave and for many years the North Trunk Road showed a dogleg around the plot. After Hunter's death in 1935, his sons inherited the land. Jennie's grave was moved and the road was straightened.

Surviving son Basil Hunter refused all offers by the City of Lynnwood to sell his mother's land for a park. Basil distrusted all forms of government and he regarded the encroaching suburb of Lynnwood as "breeding pens" (Broom, 12). His will blocked any use of the land for park because "parks encourage idleness" (Broom, 13). Basil died in 1982 and he left what was left of his family's land to Planned Parenthood of King County. The agency developed it as an apartment complex, a medical clinic, and a convalescent home. The apartment developers created the 2.5-acre Pioneer Park to honor the Hunter family.

Sources: Judith M. Broom, Lynnwood: The Land, The People, The City (Seattle: Peanut Butter Press, 1990), 9-13.

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