Faced with the challenge and opportunity to produce a book on the 150 most influential people in the history of the Puyallup Valley, Ruth Anderson proceeded the only way she could.
“There are so many people who have been part of the history of the valley, and any two writers could come up with quite a few different names,” she said.
Anderson had a few advantages. One, she loved Puyallup, which she’s called home since 1993. Two, husband Andy is the historian for the Puyallup Historical Society, where she’s been active for years.
“We wanted to capture as many pioneer types as we could, so I looked at works done by the historical society,” she said. “There are so many multi-generational families in the valley, people who had done interesting things.”
And then, there were those still alive. Choosing among them, said the retired Air Force intelligence officer, was more difficult.
“One of those in the book, for instance, is James Martinson, the double amputee badly wounded in Vietnam,” she said. “There were a few people I wanted in the book but never reached. They simply didn’t return repeated telephone calls.
“Those in the book who are living include a Medal of Honor winner, a Miss Washington, an Olympic swimmer ”
Due out this month by Arcadia Publishing, “Legendary Locals of the Puyallup Valley” will feature short stories and photos of 150 folks who have influenced the region.
When I asked her to come up with a Top 10 list from a book with 15 times that many people, Anderson agreed — with one caveat. None of the 10 could be among the living.
OK, then. Here’s her quick, subjective, off-the-cuff list:
1. Henry Sicade. A Nisqually Indian born in 1866, he graduated from college, sat on the Puyallup Tribal Council and the Fife City Council, and helped found the Fife school system.
2. Ezra and Eliza Meeker. Two Ohioans who came west on the Oregon Trail in 1853, they became wealthy farmers. He was Puyallup’s first mayor and she an early advocate of women’s voting rights.
3. Ronimous Nix. A Pennsylvania man who came west to claim land in the valley, he fought in the Indian War, became a prosperous landowner and married three times. He once had the largest herd of cattle in the region.
4. Clara McCarty Wilt. The daughter of pioneers, she was the first University of Washington graduate (1876) and the first woman elected superintendent of schools in Pierce County.
5. The Rev. George Whitworth. This Presbyterian pastor brought his family over the Oregon Trail in 1853, established 15 churches and a college in his name that eventually moved to Spokane.
6. Herman Klaber. This Austrian immigrant managed a Puyallup hop warehouse and owned hop fields, amassing a fortune. He died in 1912 aboard the Titanic.
7. Robert and Agnes Montgomery. He was a journalist who combined the Sumner and Puyallup newspapers, serving as editor and publisher, and was elected Sumner’s mayor. She was a poet, active in the community.
8. Theophilus Scheffer. This well-educated wildlife expert migrated west with the U.S. Biology Survey and found, on a mountain beaver, the largest flea known to exist. It was named for him.
9. The Shigeo Takeuchi family. He farmed the Northwest, settled on a Puyallup berry farm and had a family of five. During interment at Camp Harmony, one daughter graduated high school and three sons enlisted. All were reunited after World War II.
10. Deborah Stein Munson. A tuba-playing Puyallup High teacher whose passion brought the arts to Puyallup, she chaired art projects and festivals and mentored young artists.
This will be Anderson’s ninth book, including a novel based in a fictional town (read: Orting) about what happens when Mount Rainier is hit with a series of earthquakes.
“It didn’t sell in Orting,” Andy Anderson deadpans. “They just don’t care.”
As for her latest book, Ruth Anderson has one goal.
“I hope the book encourages young people to sit down with their grandparents, their parents, and find out their own family histories — then put it down on paper.” “Legendary Locals of the Puyallup Valley”
Where: On sale late this month at Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion.
When: Author Ruth Anderson will sign books Nov. 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the Puyallup Library; Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Puyallup Bookmark book store; Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. at South Hill library; and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. at Sumner library.larry.larue@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/larue