Periodically, a community needs to have its official and unofficial leaders introduced and recognized. In Puyallup, that was the function of the newspaper for a half-century.
The Puyallup Valley Tribune, predecessor of the Herald, published a full-page “Better Acquaintance Supplement” in 1915 and again in 1930 as an introduction to “Business and Professional men at the head of civic and commercial movements.”
In 1952, the paper ran a series entitled “Puyallupites in Review,” highlighting individual leaders to “acquaint readers with neighbors in the business, civic and social fields.”
In the 1970s, the newly formed Ezra Meeker Historical Society, with Lori Price and Hazel Hood among its members, gathered materials and house-published three volumes of “Puyallup Pacemakers,” which contained many biographies that were later published in the newspaper. The historical society commissioned Price and Ruth Anderson to write Puyallup, Pioneer Paradise, a history of the town that was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2002.
When that book went to press, we began to think about preparing a book that contained biographies based in part on the “Puyallup Pacemakers” material. In 2012, Arcadia provided a vehicle for such a work in its “Legendary Locals” series.
Ruth Anderson, with contributions from Hans Zeiger, Dennis Larsen, society members and local families, has prepared short biographies and accompanying photographs for a book called “Legendary Locals of the Puyallup Valley.” I asked Ruth a few questions about the work.
AA: How did you go about compiling the list of those you wanted to include?
RA: A small working group at the historical society produced a working list, and as we began interviewing people, they would recommend others. The book captures early pioneers and settlers, living folks whose roots run deep in the valley, representatives of a variety of professions, and major contributors to the life of the community. Of course, since space limited the volume to about 150 brief biographies, many worthy citizens were left out of the manuscript.
AA: Speaking of omissions, are there are any plans for another volume?
RA: The historical society will continue to collect information on people and events to be used in a future effort. But they cannot do it alone. I urge everyone to share your information and photos, an easy thing to do with today’s technology, with the archivists at the Meeker Mansion.
AA: How would you compare today’s legendary folks with those of earlier times?
RA: In the early settlement years, people wore many hats to create, lead and maintain the institutions needed to keep a vibrant community going. These days, most of the essential civic needs are met by government-funded organizations. Hence, donors and volunteers certainly contribute to non-profit organizations and fraternal clubs that support the community, but the newspaper editor is no longer the postmaster, for example.
Look for this book and its author at one of the local signings, or pick up a copy at the Meeker Mansion.
If you go
Author presentations and book signings:
• 10:30 a.m. Nov. 9, Puyallup Public Library
• 1 p.m. Nov. 16, Puyallup Bookmark, 812 39th Ave. SW
• 2 p.m. Dec. 7, South Hill branch of the Pierce County Library System
• 2 p.m. Dec. 8, Sumner branch of the Pierce County Library SystemAndy Anderson is the historian of the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion. He can be reached at 253-848-1770.