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A-Z History of Sumner, Washington - William Kincaid

Provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times and the City of Sumner.


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William Kincaid

William Kincaid is considered the founding father of Sumner. Although other settlers-Isaac, James, and Abram Woolery, John Van Ogle, and Albert Lane-participated in the settling and creation of the pioneer town, Kincaid is felt to be particularly important.

In 1853 Kincaid lost his wife Nancy to illness, packed up his belongings and his seven children, and left his Missouri home to lead a train of 52 wagons to the Pacific Northwest. The Kincaid Train made its harrowing descent of the Naches Pass and into the territory of Washington by October of that year. He and his son canoed from Steilacoom down the Stuck River and found the 160 acres for his donation land claim before the year ended, making him Sumner’s very first settler. Men who claimed land after him used his claim’s corners as the starting point for their donation land claim.

Kincaid was known as a man of fine character. He shared the western pioneer’s dislike of Indians, but tried to be fair in his dealings with them. In October, 1855, a friendly Indian warned him of Chief Leschi's plan to declare war and allowed his family to escape from the area. His home was burned in what became the Oregon Indian War, but he returned to Sumner six years later to re-build.

Kincaid's sense of justice was persuasively demonstrated during the trial of Chief Leschi at the end of the Oregon Indian War. Leschi had been arrested, jailed, and tried for murder. Kincaid felt the charges brought against Leschi were false, made in the climate of hatred that followed the bloody and bitter conflict. He was one of two jurors who refused to convict Leschi or be intimidated into doing so (the other Juror Was Ezra Meeker). Later, a jury empaneled in Olympia convicted Leschi and he was hung, Leschi’s brother tried to give himself up but was slaughtered in the office of Governor Isaac Stevens before he could do so.

William Kincaid died in 1870 at the age of 75. He left behind a lively family and a legacy of values that shaped Sumner’s character for decades to come. As noted in The Kincaid Story:
John F. Kincaid (William's son) was a strong tempberance man and when he sold his land after the railroad came through in 1884, he incorporated in his deeds a clause prohibiting the sale of whiskey in the new town. The ban lasted until 1951, when the last Kincaid heirs finally agreed to the removal of the clause.

John sold some of his land to George Ryan, another influential settler who became Sumner’s first mayor. One daughter, Laura Kincaid, was Sumner’s first schoolteacher. His daughter Susannah became the wife of Levant F. Thompson, a member of the first territorial legislature. Kincaid’s granddaughter Clara McCarty was the first and only graduate of the University of Washington in 1876.

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Information on these pages is provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times Staff and The City of Sumner, Wa.

Main History page | Puyallup History | Sumner History |The Puyallup Indians | The Puyallup Fair | Read more about Ezra Meeker | Read more about William Kincaid |Why Daffodil Valley? | History of the Daffodil Festival | Indian War of 1855
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