Setting the Scene for Centennial Celebration: A Look at January 27, 1913

Jan 24, 2019  -  Enumclaw Patch | Enumclaw News

 We voted a week ago on whether the town should become a city. Today, the county commissioners counted the ballots, and the results have just been announced.

Those for incorporation---------------172

Those against incorporation---------136

The vote to incorporate has passed.

The certificate of incorporation has been signed today!1

It was a bitter fight that had split the town, at least until the results were in. Then people forgot their differences and held a spontaneous party at the Rialto Opera House.

Enumclaw was a congenial locale, famous throughout the northwest as home to the largest concentration of cooperatives in the region. Farmers joined together to share the risk of fire with a co-op, Farmer's Mutual. The Cooperative Creamery pooled expenses for processing and marketing, while a Berry Cooperative did the same for fruit. Rochdale's opened as a cooperative store. For the most part, people worked together for the common good.

But by 1912, the spirit of unity was showing some strain. The Milwaukee Road opened a depot and began passenger and freight service in direct competition with the Northern Pacific, which had put the town on the map. The Herald opened as a second newspaper, competing with the Courier in a town that could hardly support one paper.

"Most people managed to keep out of the discord until the subject of incorporation of the town was raised by the business community. Then discussions began to get heated between old friends. . . The newspapers, which were already in a state of open war, took up the subject with a vengeance, one on one side and one on the other."2

A vote on incorporation had been held only nine months before on March 5, 1912, following a hearing in Seattle on our proposed boundaries. Several parties objected, including such town mainstays as the White River Lumber Company and notable citizens like the Montgomerys.3 Large landowners petitioned to be excluded, so only a small remnant of land was left to incorporate. Not surprisingly, major issues were taxes and assessments for various improvements. The people overwhelmingly turned the proposition down. But the issue was not settled, at least in the eyes of the proponents.

Meanwhile, another battle raged. The old school where the city hall now stands was gone, replaced by the new three-story brick J. J. Smith building farther out on Griffin Avenue. In trade for that property, the city received the Griffin Street block between Wells and Porter. Many citizens thought it should become a park, while others favored selling it as lots to generate revenue for the town. The latter seemed to have won, since an auction was held. However, Sam Lafromboise made the only bid, and that was for the fire department. So the site did become a park (and small fire station) for many years.

Then several of the business leaders met in John Blake's store to discuss reintroducing the idea of incorporation. An informal vote of this select group: 34 in favor of incorporating and nine against. The committee to draw up new boundaries included John Blake, Byron Kibler, and Sam Lafromboise.4

The mood was tense when the second vote was held in January of 1913. But the votes were tallied by County Commissioners and the results were posted. Incorporation had won this time, and the mood of the waiting crowd changed abruptly. The Courier reported the happy news:

"One of the best indications of a 'get-together' spirit that could transpire was the little jubilee pulled off in the opera house after the ballots had been counted and the result was made known. A large crowd had been waiting anxiously around to learn the news. When the decision was announced, it was the signal for bursting forth. Of course, the bursting would have taken place whichever way the election went. But anyhow, she busted. The K. P. Band struck up with patriotic airs and the crowd proceeded to the opera house. Archie McKinnon officiated as moderator, and he had some job on his hands trying to moderate that shouting crowd of enthusiastic new citizens. By the use of much strategy he succeeded in introducing a few speakers. Some of them were speechless with joy and took it out in cakewalking. Mayor-elect John W. Blake had gone to bed as soon as the results had revealed his official distinction, but somebody went and routed him out. He was carried on the shoulders of proud constituents and set up on the stage for a speech. Mr. Blake blushingly acknowledged that he was it, and promised to be good. Further remarks were made by others, and Councilman Taylor gave a startling dramatic reading and a terpsichorean stunt.

It was a season of great joy. One would hardly have suspected that the matter of incorporation had reached such depths in the emotions of our people. There were some in the assembly who were opposed to incorporating, but they made as much noise as anybody".5

And today, 100 years later, on January 27, 2013, Enumclaw is celebrating with another party!


1. Certificate of Incorporation at Enumclaw City Hall.

2, 3, 4. Nancy Irene Hall. In the Shadow of the Mountain. The Courier Publishing, Enumclaw, 1983, and republished by Heritage Quest Press, Orting, 2004. p. 242.

5. Enumclaw Courier, January 27, 1913.


The Histories of Enumclaw

Introduction--Enumclaw: The First 6020 Years

Early Enumclaw: 6000 Years Ago to the Mid-1800s

Early Enumclaw: The First European Americans Arrive

The Adventures of Allen Porter's Wagon

Enumclaw's Early Plateau Neighbors

Schools and Districts


Enumclaw Becomes a Town: 1879-1913

Enumclaw Cooperatives

January 27, 1913

Incorporation through World War II: Enumclaw from 1913-1945

Logging and Lumber

Growth and Prosperity: Enumclaw from 1945-2008

Searching for a Town's Identity

Recent Past to the Present: Enumclaw from 2008-2013

The Limits of Growth

Enumclaw's Next Two Decades: 2013-2033

Alternative Futures
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