Algona is incorporated on August 1, 1955.

  • By Linda Holden Givens
  • Posted 11/06/2015
  • Essay 11141
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On August 1, 1955, the King County Board of County Commissioners approves the incorporation of Algona as a city of the third class. Algona (earlier known as Valley City) is located in King County south of Seattle, nestled between Auburn to the north and Pacific to the south in the White River Valley. The approval follows a July 19 vote by residents in favor of incorporation. Algona's incorporation will take effect on August 22, when the incorporation paperwork is filed with the Washington Secretary of State.

City in the Valley

Homesteaders began settling the White River Valley area that would become Algona in the 1870s and 1880s. In the first decade of the twentieth century, when it became a stop on the interurban rail line between Seattle and Tacoma, the community was dubbed Valley City. The name was changed to Algona after a post office opened there in 1909.

In the 1950s, Algona residents decided to incorporate their community as a city with a mayor-council form of government. Petition papers signed by residents were filed with the King County Commissioners. The signatures were examined and compared to the registration records and found sufficient. A special election was held on July 19, 1955, for voters living within the four-square-mile area that would become the city to approve or reject the incorporation.

The residents voted 160 to 150 in favor of incorporation, and elected the city's first officials. The Board of County Commissioners approved the incorporation on August 1, 1955, and the results of the vote and the boundaries of the city were recorded and filed with the Secretary of State three weeks later, making the incorporation official. At the time of incorporation, county officials estimated the city's population at about 1,800.

Elected Officials

Algona's first elected officials under the new mayor-council form of government were Ward Joseph Thomas (1882-1957) as mayor, Harriet M. Bailey as city clerk, and Carol J. Gilbert as treasurer. The first city council was composed of Herman A. English, Herbert V. Yandell, Edward C. Solack, Ora Belle Thompson, Durrell R. McAbee, Art Springer, and Thomas Ellestad.

On August 22, 1955, the first day of the new city's official existence, the newly elected officers held their first meeting at 8:00 p.m. at the home of councilmember Ora Belle Thompson. Ernest F. Crane was nominated by Mayor Ward Thomas as City Attorney and the appointment was approved by the council. William Kulberg submitted an application for police officer and was referred to the police committee. The Algona library or Ellestad Apartment Building were suggested as venues for future council meetings, with councilmembers Thompson and Bailey to report back on which place would be appropriate.

Ward Thomas, Algona's first mayor, was born in Wisconsin in 1882 and came to Washington in 1934 from British Columbia. He lived in Black Diamond and was President of the Black Diamond Community Club. Thomas moved to Algona in 1942 and worked for street and traffic improvements in the community. He was instrumental in pushing for incorporating the city of Algona. He served as mayor until the general election in 1956, when he lost by three votes (203 to 200) in a recount, after leading by two votes in the initial count.

Algona's population growth remained relatively low, increasing to 3,105 by 2015. The city transitioned from a rural community to diversifying the economy by attracting new industries and offering services that bring new residents, including some from major metropolitan areas ready to escape the big city.

Sources: Board of County Commissioners of King County Resolution No. 15640, "Calling Special Election for Incorporation, 'City of Algona,'" passed May 31, 1955; Board of County Commissioners of King County Resolution No. 15775, "Declaring City of Algona Incorporated," passed August 1, 1955; Minutes of Algona City Council, August 22 and 29 and September 8, 1955, available at Washington State Archives -- Digital Archives website accessed November 3, 2015 ( EBA6189/1); "Incorporation of Algona as Town Sought," The Seattle Times, April 29, 1955, p. 18; "Algona Mayor Loses by 3 in Recount," The Seattle Times, March 28, 1956, p. 6; Kevin Ebi, "Algona, Pacific Talk about Police Merger," The Seattle Times, April 2, 1996, p. B-2; "Ward Thomas, 74, Former Algona Mayor, Dies in California," Auburn Globe-News, clipping ca. February 7, 1957, "Algona" file, Algona-Pacific Library (King County Library System), Pacific, Washington; HistoryLink.Org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Algona -- Thumbnail History" (by Linda Holden Givens), (assessed November 6, 2015).

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