Puyallup: News

South Hill Historical Society pieces together local history

South Hill Historical Society treasurer Ben Peters, left, past president Paul Hackett and Carl Vest, director of research, talk during a meeting last week in Puyallup.
South Hill Historical Society treasurer Ben Peters, left, past president Paul Hackett and Carl Vest, director of research, talk during a meeting last week in Puyallup. Staff photographer

For years, the history of Puyallup’s South Hill was spotty. It wasn’t until Carl Vest, an active member of the South Hill Friends of the Library at the time, heard a librarian talk about the lack of information for students working on projects about the hill’s history.

Vest and others began collecting artifacts and history, and in 2001, the South Hill Historical Society was born.

In the 14 years since, the nonprofit has interviewed nearly everyone age 80 and older and who has lived on South Hill for a significant amount of time.

“We asked them to reminisce about their years on the Hill,” Vest said. “We would talk to them about everything under the sun.”

Interview subjects, who members record via video camera for the society’s archive, would talk about how rural the South Hill was, with animals everywhere. They talked about how terrible the roads were, and even a few water shortages.

One thing all subjects reflected upon was how difficult the South Hill was to homestead on.

The society researches local history from all different angles, whether it’s old documents, maps or Pierce County archives. It also has gathered over the years various artifacts related to South Hill, which are stored at a local facility.

One thing is for certain for the society: All the information that tells the area’s story can’t be found in one place.

“It takes a while to track down the information,” Vest said.

President Bob Ballou is the only native of the area for the group; the rest have taken a liking to the town’s history after relocating here.

“We’re just enchanted with the town,” said vice president Terry Maves.

With most of the members of the group being retired, most say it’s a good way to keep themselves busy — all while figuring out the history of their community.

“We have a very strong feeling of community,” founding member Paul Hackett said. “It’s a good incentive to realize history.”

For more information on the South Hill Historical Society, visit http://www.southhillhistory.com.

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