Founded in 1890, Puyallup was originally inhabited by 2,000 Native Americans. The city was named after the Puyallup Tribe of Natives who were called thus because of their generous nature – the word Puyallup means “generous people” in their indigenous language. Ezra Meeker, the first mayor of the city of Puyallup, was an early pioneer who traveled the Oregon Trail as a young man. He was the principal founder of Puyallup and was commemorated by a statue near the Puyallup Library in 1926.
In order to understand the history of a city like Puyallup, it is important to understand the man that founded it. Ezra Meeker was a wealthy businessman when he became mayor of Puyallup and spent a great deal of money building a mansion for his wife in a style similar to mansions she’d seen in Europe. Shortly after the mansion was finished, an Aphid infestation nearly ruined his personal finances. He later attempted to rebuild his fortune by running a number of ventures but never fully recouped what he lost in the aphid infestation that ruined his crops.
Despite his troubles, Ezra Meeker left a clear message for Puyallup that the people of the city seemed to remember long after his death: in adversity, you must always move forward. Throughout history, Puyallup has suffered setback after setback (the aphid infestation, the placement of Camp Harmony during World War II, and so on) but, with every setback, the city’s leaders always came up with a solution.
Today, Puyallup is a historically rich city on the eastern edge of Pierce county well-known for its elaborate fairs and charming antique shops. Though not a large city, it could be honestly said that Puyallup is a city with a big heart. Even to this day, the city is well called the land of the “generous people”.
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