Brewster incorporates on April 29, 1910.

  • By Linda Holden Givens
  • Posted 5/05/2022
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 22460

On April 29, 1910, the Okanogan County Commissioners approve the incorporation of Brewster as a town of the fourth class. The town, originally known as Bruster, is located in Okanogan County at the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers. The approval follows a March 28, 1910, vote by residents in favor of incorporation.

The Path to Incorporation

Homesteaders began settling in the area that would become Brewster in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1896, one of those early homesteaders, John W. Bruster (1840-1902), platted what he named the town of Bruster. Bruster deeded Captain Alexander D. Griggs (1838-1903) of the Columbia and Okanogan Steamboat Company half of his property and the company established a steamboat landing at the new town. The spelling of the town's name was changed from Bruster to Brewster when a post office opened there in 1898.

In 1909, Brewster residents decided they wanted to incorporate their community as a city. Growth in Brewster up to this point was flourishing with businesses that included a law office, a realty company, two stores selling merchandise, a two-story drug store, two barber shops, a lumber company, a jewelry store, and two livery stables in addition to the post office. There was a brisk business selling of orchard lands around Brewster and selling lots in town.

The 1909-1910 Polk's directory described the town as follows:

"Brewster, Okanogan county. Pop 250. Is located on the Columbia River, at the head of navigation. 66 miles from Wenatchee, its railroad, express and telegraph point, and 45 from Conconully, the county seat. First settled in 1896. Contains a hotel, school, water works and general stores. A weekly newspaper was published. Has telephone connection, and daily stage lines to Chelan, Lakeside, Conconully, Coulee City and Winthrop. Steamers make daily trips to Wenatchee. Exports are livestock, fruit and produce. Mail, daily" (Polk's ..., 649-650).

In November 1909, petitions were circulated by the residents, initiating a campaign to incorporate a local municipal government. In January 1910, the petitions for incorporation were presented to the Okanogan County Commissioners. In February the commissioners called for a vote on incorporating Brewster with proposed boundaries that were accepted according to the previously approved and filed plat of the town. An estimated 300 inhabitants were within the boundaries.

George W. Goode (1879-1967) of Winthrop in the Methow Valley northwest of Brewster, opposed the incorporation effort. Goode "alleged the list [of residents] was padded and that the necessary number of voters was lacking, also making charges of non-residency against several of the signers of the petition" (Incorporation Order ..."). The commissioners found allegations unsubstantiated and the incorporation proceeded.

Brewster held a quiet election on Monday, March 28, 1910. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of incorporation, with 71 for and only 2 against.

Elected Officials

Brewster's first elected officials were chosen in the same vote. George Leon Owen Minton (1876-1938) won the mayoral election. Franklin Benjamin Leventon (1878-1940), Dr. Charles Robert McKinley (1873-1953), William H. Gillespie (1881-1966), Frank C. Smith (b. 1870), and J. E. Bassett were elected to the town council. The council members selected J. B. Sawyer as the first treasurer.

George Minton, Brewster's first mayor, was born in Oregon on October 29, 1876. In 1900 he married Hettie Susanna Pepper (1877-1936). They had two daughters, Lynn Zimmerman Minton (1901-1956) and Maude D. Minton Freeney (1902-1838), both born in Waterville. At some point after 1902 the family moved from Waterville to Brewster, where George worked in real estate.

Brewster was officially incorporated as a town of the fourth class on April 29, 1910, at 3:15 p.m., when the Okanogan County Commissioners approved the election results. Articles of incorporation were filed with the State of Washington in May 1910.

Brewster's population increased slowly over the years, reaching 2,463 in 2021. In the decades following incorporation, some businesses struggled while others thrived. Among the latter was Gebbers Farms, begun by Martha Gamble Gebbers (1899-1970) and John S. Gebbers (1897-1982) with the town's first apple orchard, planted by Martha's father in 1910. Operated over the years by four generations of the family, Gebbers Farms grew to become the largest employer in Brewster and boasts having "one of the biggest contiguous apple orchards in the world" and being "the largest supplier of late season sweet cherries" ("Family Tradition").


Sources:

"Brewster in Famous Okanogan County," Brewster Herald, November 13, 1909, p. 1; "Brewster to Incorporate," Ibid., November 27, 1909, p. 1; "Incorporation Order Granted," Ibid., February 19, 1910, p. 1; "Brewster Now Incorporated," Ibid., April 2, 1910, p. 1; "Doings In and About Town," Ibid., May 21, 1910, p. 8; "City of Brewster Next," The Wenatchee Daily World, February 28, 1910, p. 8; "New Brewster Addition," Ibid., May 3, 1910, p. 6; "Brewster Elects Minton Mayor," The Spokesman-Review, April 3, 1910, p. 6; Polk's Oregon and Washington Gazetteer and Business Directory 1909-1910 (Seattle: R. L. Polk & Co., 1909), 649-50; "Family Tradition," Gebbers Farms website accessed March 1, 2022 (https://www.gebbersfarms.com/); HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Brewster -- Thumbnail History" (by Linda Holden Givens), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed May 5, 2022); Brigid Clift, email to Linda Holden Givens, February 3-4, 10, 2022, in possession of Linda Holden Givens, Auburn, Washington.


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