Snohomish County Sesquicentennial – 1861 – County Formed

Snohomish County : An Illustrated History

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Celebrate the Sesquicentennial of Snohomish County

Celebrate the Sesquicentennial of Snohomish County

Snohomish County will be celebrating its Sesquicentennial – see our previous post and the website –

For the story of our county’s formation read the following excerpt from the book Snohomish County: An Illustrated History ~~~~~~~~~`

In 1860 the area [the Snohomish, Stillaguamish River valleys, Everett and Mukilteo shorelines] still was part of Island County, with government at Coupeville and court held at Port Townsend as part of Judicial District 3 (until 1868). With the nation in grave crisis leading toward civil war, a number of the settlers along the Snohomish River wished to participate in that year’s divisive elections. Seventeen votes were cast unofficially and sent to Coupeville, where they were too late to be counted. Frustrated by the situation, a petition meeting was organized and hosted by Emory C. Ferguson where the men requested the territorial legislature create a separate mainland county. Frost and Fowler also may have sent their own. The timing was excellent!

Once again gold and silver had been discovered, and new thousands of eager miners poured into eastern Washington territory, headed for the Boise Basin, Idaho City, and Missoula. Walla Walla surged to the lead in population, most of which supported the Democratic party and had no interest in the issues affecting Puget Sounders, who overwhelmingly supported the victorious Republicans of Abraham Lincoln. Fearing domination of the territorial legislature by those eastern mining interests, a proposal by Territorial Councilman Paul K. Hubbs of Port Townsend to create a new county in his district already had passed by the time the Snohomish men had paddled their canoe down to the capital with their petition.

Effective January 14, 1861, Snohomish County came into existence. The county’s temporary seat would be in Mukilteo, until elections could be held in July, The county’s first officers were Jacob Summers (sheriff); Emory C. Ferguson, Henry McClurg, and John. Harvey (commissioners); Jacob D. Fowler (auditor); Charles Short (judge of probate); and John Harvey (treasurer). A rough census of the non-native population listed 49 men and no women, the majority located near Mukilteo, Snohomish, and Tulalip.

On March 12, 1861 the county commissioners met at Frost and Fowler’s store to conduct their first business: receiving and accepting a petition for the county to build a road from Snohomish City up the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers to Woods Prairie (near the future site of Monroe) and rejecting Fowler’s request to grant him a license to sell a small amount of liquor, holding that they only had authority to issue full licenses for the fee of 8300. Salem Woods (of Woods Prairie) was appointed assessor, with Fowler taking over as treasurer. C.M. Stilwell received appointment as justice of the peace for the Mukilteo precinct, Ferguson for the Snohomish one. At their second meeting on May 6, the county was divided into two voting precincts, ballots to be cast at the store for the Mukilteo precinct and at Ferguson’s house for Snohomish. Salem Woods now became sheriff. Frost and Fowler agreed to the full liquor license, while Ferguson and Cady were licensed to operate their ferry across the river at Snohomish.
The first election oil July 8, 1861 would set the tone of county politics for many years to come. Ferguson showed his skill by organizing 17 votes for his site, while only 10 were cast for Mukilteo.  In 1862 Mukilteo became the county’s first post office, with Fowler appointed the first postmaster.

by Cameron, David A. from Snohomish County: An Illustrated History. Index, WA: Kelcema Books LLC, 2005, p. 63.   For more of the story  – copies of the book are still available