Columbia

Mayors:
C.P. Hutcheson 1893-1894
V.R. Peirson 1895-1896
C.F. Reeves 1897-1899
H.H.A. Hastings 1900
J. Campbell 1900
V.R. Peirson 1900-1904
W.W. Phalen 1905
A.G.Corbett 1906
W.W.Phalen 1907

The Town of Columbia was incorporated in 1892. Among those signing the petition to incorporate as a town in King County were blacksmiths, carpenters, wood choppers, engineers, merchants, sign painters, book-keepers, bricklayers, surveyors, laborers and conductors. At the election on December 28, 1892, 47 voted for incorporation and 12 against. A five-member Town Council was established, with each member serving two-year terms. The Town of Columbia also had a Board of Health, created in 1893, which was composed of three Council members appointed by the mayor. The volunteer fire department, known as the Columbia Volunteer Fire Company, was established in March 1902.

The City of Columbia, like Seattle and other small cities in the area at the time, struggled with the transition from a rural environment to a more urban one. The issues presented themselves in terms of building an infrastructure, such as a water system, sewers and roads, but also in terms of social issues. In November 1903, a petition was presented asking for an ordinance "prohibiting stock from running at large." A committee was appointed to draft an ordinance and it was presented the following month. At that time, a petition with 69 signatures was submitted protesting the ordinance. Council considered the protest, but passed the ordinance 8 to 2.

 Columbia City Council  W. W. Phalen
 Columbia City Council at their first meeting, January 10, 1893. Top row r to l: David C. Brown, City Marshal; Ed Hepler, City Treasurer, C.R. Hepler, Police Judge; Sam Hepler; unidentified boy. Front row r-l: C.P. (Charley) Hutchinson, Mayor; Joe Hellenthal, Councilman; Ernest Voland, Councilman; Mr. Willisy, Councilman; F.E. Bond, Councilman; J.W. Sullivan, Councilman. Rainier Valley Historical Society, 93.001.315 W.W. Phalen was mayor of Columbia City in 1905 and in 1907, when Columbia was annexed to the City of Seattle. This picture was taken in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, about 1895. Before moving to Columbia City, Phalen had a successful grocery business in Mankato, Minnesota. In addition to serving as mayor, Phalen also ran a successful grocery business in Columbia City, and organized the first fire department and a baseball team. Rainier Valley Historical Society, 93.001.261

 

Girls stand on Ferdinand Street 

In addition to petitions for sewer, lights, and water, petitions for the improvements of streets, especially Ferdinand Street, are frequent in the records of the City of Columbia. These four girls, names not known, are standing on Ferdinand Street, a half a block east of Rainier. The planked road is in the background. - Rainier Valley Historical Society, 93.001.404

The small town of Columbia struggled with the issues of growth and building an infrastructure to support the town's population. Complaints and petitions for a water system, improved streets, and a sewer system were common. A letter from Marshal B. B. Burbank describes many of the issues facing citizens.

 Ferdiand Street Imrpovements  Ferdiand Street Imrpovements  D. B. Burbank Letter  D. B. Burbank Letter
 Petitions for and against planking Ferdinand Street. Citizens of Columbia City agreed that improvements needed to be made to Ferdinand Street in 1907, but not necessarily how to do them. LIDs 2 and 8, City of Columbia Local Improvement Files (Record Series 9112-05),
Seattle Municipal Archives


Letter to City Council from D. B. Burbank, August 6, 1900 Box 2, Folder 12, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


 

Columbia achieved "city" status in 1905 when its population reached the required total of 1500. The mayor, W.W. Phalen, called a special election and the public voted in favor of "city" status. Mayor Phalen's annual address to the City Council, reflecting on the year 1905, enumerated needed improvements for the new city, including grading, planking, a sewerage system, water supply, lighting facilities, a telephone plan, and parks and recreation facilities.

Mayor Phalen's address for the year 1906 stressed the need to stop "all waste however small it may be." Phalen expressed disappointment that a chemical engine was purchased for the Fire Department "which falls so short in doing the work required of it." And he noted, "We believe in securing all necessary fire equipments and a thoroughly drilled fire company, but we all believe that a company should be made up of young men who have that get-there and stay ambition which is so lacking in older men."

Phalen enthusiastically supported of annexation to the City of Seattle. He wrote in his 1906 address, "I believe it is the wish of the people and this council that we should call a special election at the earliest possible date, for the purpose of giving to the people, the opportunity of voting to become a part of one of the most up-to-date, enterprising and progressive cities in the world."

The vote on annexation on March 5, 1907, was 109 to 3 in favor of annexation. Columbia became part of the 12th Ward in the City.

   Pro Pool Hall Pool Hall Against Petition 
 Barber shop and pool room on Rainier Avenue, 1907 Rainier Valley Historical Society, 93.001.032

 Another social issue comes to life in these petitions for and against pool room hours. Citizens petitions Columbia City Council in 1905 regarding the regulation of pool rooms. Those signing in favor of closure on Sundays were predominantly women; those in favor of later hours and Sunday openings appear to be predominantly men. Box 5, Folder 7, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


 

 Water system proposal  Abstract vote against annexation  Sewer Letter
 Proposal for water system, July 25, 1902 Box 2, Folder 12, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


Abstract of votes for and against annexation in March 5, 1907 election Box 5, Folder 4, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03), Seattle Municipal Archives  Letter to City Council from Independent Telephone Co. regarding sewer,
January 19, 1905 Box 2, Folder 12, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


 

 Cow Impound Notices  Fire Payroll
The Marshall was responsible for collecting dog taxes and collecting loose livestock, among other duties. This notice, signed by Marshal W. H. Bailey describes impounded cows: 1 Jersy [sic] cow with tips of horns sawed off and one black cow. Box 2, Folder 7, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


 

Ledger showing request for $1.00 to be paid to each member of the volunteer fire department for fire on August 8, 1906. The fire department was reorganized in 1906 and one of the provisions of the reorganization was "that each member in good standing...including said Chief, shall receive compensation at the rate of one ($1.00) for the first hour and fifth (50cents) for each succeeding hour for each and every time he turns out with said department in answer to a fire alarm..."

Box 3, Folder 1, City of Columbia Clerk Files (Record Series 9112-03) and Vol. 2, p. 98, Ordinances (Record Series 9112-02), Seattle Municipal Archives