Mukilteo incorporates on May 8, 1947.

  • By Phil Dougherty
  • Posted 1/10/2011
  • Essay 9690

On May 8, 1947, incorporation papers for the Town of Mukilteo are filed with the Washington secretary of state. Mukilteo is located on Possession Sound in Snohomish County. The first mayor is Alfred Tunem (1896-1972); he will serve until 1956.

Early Years

The point projecting into Puget Sound where Mukilteo developed was once the site of a year-round village of the Snohomish Tribe. It was visited by British Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798) in 1792 and named Rose Point; U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes (1798-1877) changed the name to Point Elliott when he anchored nearby during his 1841 excursion. On January 22, 1855, territorial Governor Isaac Stevens (1818-1862) met with 82 Native American leaders at Point Elliott to sign the Point Elliott Treaty, in which the Indians ceded their lands to the U.S. government in exchange for relocation to reservations, cash, and retention of hunting and fishing rights. 

As new settlers began to arrive in the early 1860s, Point Elliott became known as Mukilteo, an approximation of its original Native American name. It was briefly the county seat of Snohomish County when the county was first created in 1861. The community grew slowly through the remainder of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth; its industries included a cannery, one of Washington Territory’s earliest breweries, a powder plant, and of course, lumber and shingle companies. By 1947 Mukilteo’s population was approximately 775.

Incorporation and Mukilteo’s First Mayor 

On April 29, 1947, Mukilteo residents voted 223 to 137 in favor of incorporation as a town of the fourth class. The Board of County Commissioners of Snohomish County approved the incorporation on May 5, and formal incorporation papers were filed with the secretary of state at 11 a.m. on May 8, 1947.   

Mukilteo’s first officers were also elected in the April 29 election. Alfred Tunem was elected mayor and Jack Gribble was elected treasurer. Luke Holtgeerts, R. D. McMasters, William Osborne, Richard Taylor, and Otto Zahler were elected councilmen. 

Alfred Tunem had lived an interesting and varied life before becoming mayor. He was born in Norway in 1896 and immigrated to the United States when he was a toddler. He attended college in Minnesota and Montana, and was a veteran of World War I. He served as superintendent of schools in Montana and East Stanwood (which later consolidated into Stanwood) in northwest Snohomish County before moving to Mukilteo in 1944 and opening an insurance agency in Everett. In Mukilteo’s 1947 mayoral election he handily defeated two other candidates -- his vote total exceeded the combined total of his two opponents by a wide margin -- and he served as mayor for nine years before choosing not to run in 1956. He also served as a leader in several social organizations, such as the Order of the Eastern Star and the Everett Central Lion’s Club.

Mukilteo Today

Mukilteo became a code city when it adopted the state municipal code in 1970. But its population growth remained relatively sedate, increasing only to 1,426 in the 1980 census. However, a 1980 annexation of an area south near Mukilteo Speedway and a subsequent 1991 annexation of Harbour Pointe (a planned community) dramatically increased both the city’s population and size. 

The U.S. Census reported Mukilteo’s population at 20,313 in 2010. The city encompasses an area of 6.25 square miles, stretching south of the original town site near Mukilteo’s waterfront, which is now known as Old Town.

Sources: “City Races Highlight Vote In Snohomish County,” The Seattle Times, March 11, 1956, p. 14; “Ex-Mukilteo Mayor Dies; Alfred Tunem,” Ibid., December 13, 1972, p. F-9; Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Mukilteo -- Thumbnail History" (by Margaret Riddle) (accessed October 26, 2015);  "About Mukilteo," City of Mukilteo website accessed January 2, 2011 (; “Mukilteo city, Washington,” U.S. Census website accessed January 2, 2011 (;  “Washington State Historical Decennial Populations for State, County, and City/Town: 1890 to 2000,” website accessed  January 2, 2011 (;  “Proceedings had in the Matter of the incorporation of the Town of Mukilteo,” Town incorporation papers, May 8, 1947, Secretary of Washington State, Washington State Archives.
Note: This essay was revised and updated on October 26, 2015.

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