Town Histories of Walla Walla County

Submitted by Celia Tomlin


Walla Walla:
"Walla Walla is one of the most beautiful and best established Indian names in the geography of Washington. The origin of the name is easily ascertained as it was recorded [with various spellings] by the first white men [Lewis & Clark] who visited that region. Near the mouth of the river the North West Company of Montreal built their For Nez Perces in 1818, which has been known as "Old Fort Walla Walla." The Territorial Legislature passed an act, approved on April 25, 1854, to organize Walla Walla County. On June 9, 1855, Isaac I. Stevens, Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Washington Territory, and Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon Territory, concluded a treaty with the "Walla-Walla, Cayuses, and Umatilla Tribes and Bands of Indians in Washington and Oregon Territories." In that treaty the place of negotiation is given as "the treaty ground, Camp Stevens, in the Walla Walla Valley." That site was within the present City of Walla Walla. Immediately following this and other treaties the Indian war broke out, during which Lieutenant Colonel Edward Jevnor Steptoe established Fort Walla Walla. Changes of name are well documented [from Garden City to Walla Walla to Steptoeville to Wieletpu to Walla Walla.] By act of the Territorial Legislature, approved January 11, 1862, Walla Walla City was regularly incorporated . [This article documents quotations from several early sources including the Lewis & Clark diaries. [Let me know if you are interested in more information.]

A town in Walla Walla County. It was named by Mrs. V. K. Loose of Seattle. While touring Italy she visited a little hamlet whose name appealed to her so strongly that her husband adopted it for his irrigation and townsite projects in 1906. (R. C. Julian, in Name MSS, Letter 341.

College Place:
A town in Walla Walla county. It was named about 1892 on account of growing up about a college established there by the Seventh Day Adventists. (Postmaster, in Names MSS, Letter 182.)

A town in the southeastern part of Walla Walla County. Herman C. Actor was the first settler, but more interesting were the three brothers Kershaw, also early settler. They were musicians and their favorite tune was "Dixie". They became known as the "Dixie" boys. Where they located, the crossing of the creek became known as Dixie Crossing, a Dixie School, Dixie Cemetery, and finally Dixie Station on Doctor Baker's pioneer railroad, completed the evolution of the town's name. (History of Southeastern Washington, pages 166-177.

A town in the west central part of Walla Walla County. It was platted on June 6, 1904, by Mrs. A. B. Blanchard, on what was known as Eureka Flat. (Illustrated History of Southeastern Washington, page 167.

Fort Walla Walla
Two forts by this name have been historically important. On July 11, 1818, a party of North-West Company men encamped on the east bank of the Columbia River, about half a mile above the mouth of the Walla Walla River and there bagan the construction of a strong fort of heavy timbers. Though the surrounding Indians were of the Walla Walla and neighboring tribes, this for was often called "Fort Nez Perces." In 1842 the fort was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt of adobe. In 1855 the fort was abandoned to prevent the goods and ammunition from falling into the hands of hostil Indians. The town that has grown up at that place is called Wallula. The other Fort Walla Walla was established by Colonel George Wright in 1857 as a protection against the Indians. White men had been forbidden to settle in that region. The Indians were conquered, the prohibition of settlement was removed and the City of Walla Walla grew near the fort.

Located in Walla Walla county and platted by the Walla Walla Irrigation Company. (Illustrated History of Southeastern Washington, p. 167.

Pleasant View:
A town in the northeastern part of Walla Walla County, plotted by W. C. Painter on November 26, 1894. (Illustrated History of Southeastern Washington, page 167.

A town in the central part of Walla Walla County, named in 1881 in honor of C. H. Prescott, General Superintendent of the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. At that time the company made Prescott a railway division with machine shops, etc., which were soon afterward moved to Starbuck [Columbia county]. The town of Prescott was platted May 12, 1882, by the Oregon Improvement Company. The first settlement on the site was by Rev. H H. Spalding in 1859. Great trouble with freights was caused by the same name being given to a water-tank station on the tide flats at Tacoma. It required seventeen years (1893 to 1910) of complaints and correspondence to change the name of the water-tan station.

A Tributary of the Walla Walla River and a town at its mouth in the southwestern part of Walla Walla County, was spelled "Toosha" by Rev. Gustavius Hines, the Methodist missionary, when he wrote on Saturday, May 27, 1843, as follows: "Travelled fourteen miles and camped for the Sabbath on a branch of the Walla Walla River called Toosha, near its mouth." (Exploring Expedition to Oregon, page 185). "Gambler's River was the name given by Lewis and Clark [1805-06] to what is now Coppei Creek and White Stallion to the main Touchet." (Illustrated History of Southeastern Washington, page 278.) The name was changed before Mr. Hines made his journey in 1843, and was referred to with the present form of spelling in 1853 by Lieutenant A. W. Tinkham. ( Pacific Railroad Reports, Vol. I, page 377.) The town was platted by John M. Hill on April 12, 1884. (Illustrated History of Southeastern Washington, page 166.)

Valley Grove:
A town in the south central part of Walla Walla County, was probably given by Mr. & Mrs. Charles McInroe, who settled there in 1879. The name was established there for a station in 1881 by the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company. Mrs. McInroe was postmistress for a number of years. (W. D. Lyman, in Names MSS. Letter 246.)

A town in the east central part of Walla Walla County, was named in honor of Sylvester M. Wait who built a mill there in 1864. The place was known as "Wait's Mill." A post office was secured in 1866 and at the suggestion of the school teacher, William N. Smith, it was called "Delta.: In 1868, the people voted to change it to Waitsburg and the Post office Department accepted the change.

A town at the mouth of the Walla Walla River, in the southwestern part of Walla Walla County, occupies the site of the first or "old" Fort Walla Walla. The name means the same as the Nez Perce word Walla Walla but is in the Walla Walla language. (Rev. Myron Eells, in American Anthropologist for January, 1892.)

Source: Meany, Edmond S. Origin of Washington Geographic Names. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1923. (Republished: Detroit: Gale, 1968) Meany collected these descriptions from many sources including letters collected in Names MSS or Names Manuscripts. These letters were written in response to Meany's request for information. 608 responses useful replies were numbered and used in his book. Publication was begun as a series of articles in the Washington Historical Quarterly starting in October 1917. Meany's sources are in parens.