10. Rich History
The Palouse Region is steeped in agricultural history but Pullman has a colorful history of its own. The following are two accounts of how the city may have been founded.
Founding Story #1
In 1875 a man named Bolin Farr, in search of a homestead site, camped beside a Palouse meadow where three creeks were joined together. All night long the gurgling water lulled his sleep and with the coming of the morn, he heard the golden song of thrushes in the willow. “Here,” said he, “is where I’ll stake my homestead, and call it Three Forks Ranch.
Bolin Farr worked hard to clear his land and plant his crops. Two years later, in seventy-seven, his first neighbors came-settling on homesteads cornering to his own. Thus, the town of Three Forks got its start, though the first post office and store were not established until 1881.
With the vision of a true pioneer, Bolin Farr set aside a tract of land and platted it to town lots, after which he cst about to find a name befitting such a place. George Pullman of the Pullman Company chanced to be a friend, so in his honor, Three Forks faded out, and Pullman took its place upon the map. –Radio Script, 1952.
Founding Story #2
In September of 1877, Daniel G. McKenzie of Kansas brought his family West and settled in the area of the Palouse known as Three Forks. The Bolin Farr family, and several others, came along a short time later, and set up their homesteads next to McKenzie.
The early settlers desired a post office, so in June of 1881, Oriville Stewart suggested the name of Pullman, after the great sleeping car magnate. The United States Postal Service was a trifle slow in granting the request, so Mr. Stewart ran the Post Office with $100 of his own money as a gift to the community. Six months later, the Postal Service established an official Post Office at the town of Pullman.
With great ambition, the early settlers set out to build Pullman. As a result of their efforts, the town came out of public ownership in 1881 and 1881. With title to the land sevured, the town fathers platted the land, and proceeded to begin in earnest their efforts to develop the town of Pullman. – From Lawrence R. Stark in Bunchgrass Historian, vol. 9 no. 2, 1981.
Looking For A Site
“George A. Black, S.B. Conover, and A.H. Smith, the committee appointed by Acting Govenor Laughton to locate the agricultural college and school of science, have made a tour of the counties that are in the race for that institution.”
“At 4:20 o’clock in the afternoon they stepped off the regular freight on the platform of the Pullman depot. The kid band in uniform played soul-stirring selections and headed the throng of commissioners and citizens to Main Street.”
“The commissioners had many compliments for Pullman, its natural resources, fine stores, and store buildings, and it is believed that an impression for good was made upon their minds.”
“Two sites, the Bedder and the Farr property, both adjoining the town, were shown to the commission, and no mistake will be made by them if they locate the college on either.” – Pullman Herald, April 18, 1891.
The Four Hills of Pullman
A distinct feature of Pullman is the four hills that surround it, playing a large part in the way the town has been developed. To the southwest is Sunnyside Hill. The first homes to receive the gentle warmth of the morning sun are those near Gladish School on Sunnyside Hill.
To the southeast is Pioneer Hill, originally known as Methodist Hill. Actually, the Methodist Church building, Pullman’s first, was built on Sunnyside Hill in 1882. The Congregational church was built on Methodist Hill. But, the Methodist minister and many of the church members, such as the McKenzies and the Squires, made their homes on Methodist Hill. Old time “shouting” prayer meetings were held in these homes.
The hill to the northeast, now College Hill, was known as Mechanics Hill before and after the new college, Washington Agriculture College and School of Science, opened the doors of its first building, Crib, in 1892.
To the northwest lies Military Hill, given its name from the Military Academy, Pullman’s prep school of 1891. The school served the educational needs of Pullman’s young men for four years, after which it burned to the ground. Major Walker’s home, N.W. 325 True, is among the few remaining homes of the faculty. – Heritage Hike for Pullman, Pullman Camp Fire, Oct. 1975.