Who was Mary Fell Stevenson?
Enumclaw itself was homesteaded in 1879 by Frank and Mary Stevenson. In 1885, the Northern Pacific Railroad routed their transcontinental mainline through the site, accepting their offer of cleared, level land on which to build a siding. Confident that the area would grow, the Stevenson's filed a plat with King County that same year. They built a hotel, and gave away lots for a saloon and a general store. At first the people called the town "Stevensonville" after the founders, but they soon refused the honor. One resident suggested "Enumclaw," which was the name of the strange sawed-off promontory north of town. The name's uniqueness gained favor with the locals.
Mary Fell Stevenson moved with her husband from California, and they were considered the "father" and "mother" of the town. Mary Fell was born in July 1852, emigrated to America from Canada in 1869. Through 1878, there were few settlers in the area and none of them were women. She was 27 years old when they filed their claim. Frank cut a path through the dense forest and built a cabin, crude and without windows. They later built a bigger one, but it had only one room. The Stevenson's had no children nor would there be any in the years to come. Mary recalled the homestead in the shadow of Mt. Rainier was "wild and woody land, full of mud, water and mosquitoes." Mary rode her horse along rough forest trails to a post office seven miles away. In 1885, the Northern Pacific Railroad accepted the Stevenson's gift of cleared, level land for a siding and routed its transcontinental railroad through their homestead. Through 1889-1891, they platted new additions and sold lots for homes and businesses. As caring stewards of the community, they gave away additional building sites for the Catholic and Presbyterian Churches, a cemetery and a public school, as well as land for a lumber company. Mary is described as "honest, sincere, public-spirited, and highly regarding by all who knew her."
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