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A-Z History of Sumner, Washington - Quotes

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

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Lucy Ryan, born in 1849, traveled from her home in Baraboo Wisconsin, in the company of a chaperone to marry George Ryan in 1875, who became Sumner’s first mayor. The ceremony was held in a bare hotel room in San Francisco. From there, they took a boat to Tacoma, a rowboat to the Puyallup Indian Reservation, and a wagon into the Puyallup Valley.

Quotes taken from Lucy’s letters to her grandmother bring her experience of early Sumner to life for us:

November 5, 1975. “I am lonesome, wouldn’t take much to make me gray. What fools girls are to want to get married and leave good homes for no home at all. I believe no one in the whole wide world is situated as we are.”

Early 1876: “I was thinking the other day how little we use our own language outside of our own family. We speak “pidgin English” to the Chinaman and Chinook to the Indians. This is the trade language, introduced fifty years ago by the Hudson’s Bay Company, for use with the different tribes. It is taught at the school in the reservation as well as English. Indians will speak nothing but Chinook to us. I understand it very well and can talk it enough to get along with them.”

September 8, 1876: "We have 16 men to board. There are 250 Indians camped on our farm to pick hops. Some have come 500 miles in full Indian costume and look wild enough to be real savages."

September 26, 1876: "At one time there are parts of 11 tribes, 2000 Indians in the valley, some from the Snake tribe came 700 miles. The Klickitats are great six-footers with thick heavy hair hanging to their waists. They are gay with paint and feathers dressed in the most fantastic manner imaginable. They nearly all carry knives and some tomahawks. There are religious ones, Methodists and Catholic. Sometime I will tell you of going to their meets... I'm busy as my girl left as she had whooping cough, and I have been trying out lard and tallow and make seven pounds of butter a week. Am using onion syrup for my boy's cough."

September 14, 1878: "We have to keep a heavy watch of men day and night on account of fire. Two hophouses were set on fire and last Wednesday two large barns were burned, one containing 3500 bushels of grain and all of the farm implements. The other had several tons of hay and no insurance. They burned at the same time. We feel so sorry for Mr. Braley, a young married man with a wife sick with consumption and a baby. He had rented this farm and intended to take his wife to California where her mother lives. Now all he had was destroyed. If the one who did these cruel things is found he will be hung as the men in the valley are quite excited."

October 18, 1878: "I went upstairs and brought down all my old music out of the bottom of the big drygoods box, the first time I have had it out. It was rainy and I was lonesome and thought I would enjoy fingering the old melodeon again. The next best thing was trying to sing the old songs (so I thought). Up and down went my melodious voice, but, alas, I never found a note that I used to know so well. My voice squeaks sadly now. It needs oiling I guess. We can sing Home Sweet Home and Greenville together but that is about all."

(A special thank you to Carol Peterkin Myers, a great-granddaughter of Lucy Ryan, for helping to correct this)

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

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