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William Moore Kincaid, Founder of Sumner


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William Moore Kincaid, Founder of Sumner

(excerpted from a letter written by Capt. Rogers and printed in the Puyallup Citizen in July 1890)
William Moore Kincaid was a native of Kentucky. He had an adventurous spirit, though, and moved to Missouri in 1830. Then he heard about the lush, fertile agricultural fields of Oregon and, in 1850, packed up his wagon, strapped a large team of oxen together, and headed west on the Oregon Trail.
After being the first white man in recorded history to cross the Naches Pass, William Kincaid arrived in the Puyallup Valley in October 1853 (it really took three years?) and decided this was where he wanted to live. Winter was coming on, though, so he and his son started off by taking advantage of their oxen team and worked with the timber cutters in the Steilacoom area.
W. M. Kincaid filed his claim for what is now Sumner on January 1, 1854. He was a very remarkable man, and a man of great conviction as well. William carried with him the “normal” white man’s feelings of dislike of the Indians, but he didn't let that cloud his judgment, and he seemed to have treated them fairly. So fairly, in fact, that a friendly Indian warned him in time to get his family out when the Indian uprising (later known as the Oregon Indian war) started.
Some credit the outbreak of the war to ex-governor Isaac I. Stevens, who was also an Indian agent at the time. Whoever started it, Indian chief Leschi became known for his lack of compassion and penchant for blood during the war, but these things could never be proven.
After the cessation of hostilities, Leschi was brought to trial. Two, and only two, members of the Jury would not convict Leschi under any circumstances. There was no proof of his personal involvement, and these two people, Mr. Kincaid and Mr. Meeker (the founder of Puyallup), would not convict a man (be he white or red) of murder and send him to his death without proof.
Unfortunately, another jury was convened in Olympia, a less scrupulous one, and they convicted and hung Leschi. Leschi’s brother, a sub-chief who seemed to have no involvement in the war, was then butchered in the Governor’s office by white men.
For more information, look for the book “The Kincaid Story” in the Sumner Library.

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