SPOTLIGHT ON THE SPOKANE REGION
Who Was Spokane’s Founding Father?
The city of Spokan (The “e” will be added in 1883.) Falls, Washington, was incorporated on November 29, 1881. Spokan Falls’ population was 350 residents and covered a 1.56 square mile area. The Mayor was R.W. Forrest, and a seven-member city council worked with no pay.
Prior to this time, Spokan Falls was a small settlement…lets go back 10 years earlier.
1871 saw James J Downing and Seth R Scranton settling their families on 160 acres on the banks of the Spokane River near the falls. Their settlement was called Spokan Falls, and by year's end, their settlement included a sawmill owned by Downing, a post office, and a general store.
1873 saw James Nettleton Glover, later known as the “Father of Spokane”, arriving in Spokan Falls from Oregon. Along with Glover came his partner Jasper N Matheney. They were seeking land and to possibly build a town. They were impressed with the beauty of the land Downing and Scranton had purchased near the falls and the potential for such property. Glover and Matheney didn’t reveal their intentions to Downing and Scranton; however, they succeeded in purchasing Downing’s sawmill and his land.
Glover ultimately purchased Scranton’s land, bought out his partner, Matheney, and persuaded Frederick Post to build a gristmill—a mill for grinding grain--at the falls. Post was in the process of building a lumber mill farther up the river before Glover approached him about the gristmill.
Glover expanded the sawmill and built a general store where the first post office, bank, city hall, court room, and theater were housed. The Glover and Gilliam Livery Stable was built across the street, and Glover’s residence was on the opposite corner.
1878 saw Glover completing Spokan’s first survey. Glover laid out the streets, developed the main intersections, and named the streets. Glover planned for the streets to be 60 feet wide; he said if the streets were narrower than 60 feet he would not donate his land. This area is now Spokane Falls Boulevard.
Glover was a politician, a banker, a founder, and Spokan’s second Mayor—elected in 1883 and serving until the 1895 election. It is said that Glover did give away chunks of the 160 acres to anyone who promised to build a business in the settlement. He strongly promoted the growth of Spokan’s economy.
The 1893 bank Panic hit Glover very hard; he was the leading banker in Spokane at that time. Glover moved to a more modest home in 1909, where he resided until his death in 1921.
Sources: Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, Spokane Historical, An Illustrated History of Spokane County, State of Washington by Johnathan Edwards