Marks of Distinction
John Wallingford had a mark of distinction for which he did nothing. In Representative Citizens of The City of Seattle and County of King Washington, he is described as “an ideal citizen “ whose “labors have been of much benefit to Seattle.” Such praise, however, has been repeated for every other local leader who subscribed to have his short biography included in any one of the several early twentieth century “vanity” publications like Representative Citizens .... What really distinguished John N. Wallingford is this. At the time of his death in 1913, Captain John Wallingford, the Civil War veteran whose father had fought the British in the War of Independence, was the last living member on the Pacific Coast of the Sons of the Revolution.
John N. Wallingford was born in Athens, Maine. His forebears were English, arriving here before the War of Independence. Wallingford’s father, also John, fought in the Revolutionary war, following which he married Betsey Bunker of Pittsfield, New Hampshire, and with her returned to Maine to make a farm and a family of 10 children including John Jr., who was born on July 4, 1833.
The 28-year-old future namesake of a Seattle north end neighborhood was living in Minnesota when he enlisted in 1861 as a volunteer private to fight in the Civil War. Four years later, when the war ended, he was in Washington D.C. and the captain of his own company. The highlight of his life followed almost immediately upon Lee’s surrender. John N. Wallingford was among those who participated in the grand victory review that marched through the streets of the capital and before the joyfully waving President Abraham Lincoln.
Following the civil war John Wallingford returned to Minnesota and his general store. By the time he arrived in Seattle, he also had managed a lumberyard in Napa City, California, for 14 years. The solvent Wallingford, at last, settled in Seattle in 1888 -- the perfect year to extend roots here if one’s interests were in buying and selling land. Wallingford's were. As his 1903 biographer put it, “Mr. Wallingford has made judicious investments and closely watching market values he has so handled his prosperity that it has brought him an excellent return upon his investment.”
John and Arabelle Wallingford had a son and a daughter. The son, Noble, followed the gold rush to Alaska. The daughter, Emma, married William D. Wood (1858-1917), the Wallingford’s neighbor to the north, developer of the Green Lake district and one time Mayor of Seattle. Like his son-in-law, John Wallingford also took an active role in city politics. He was twice a member of the Seattle city council and for two terms served as police commissioner. He was a Republican, a Methodist, and an Odd Fellow.