Raymond voters approve incorporation on August 6, 1907.

  • By Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 1/12/2011
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9687
On August 6, 1907, voters approve a measure to incorporate the town of Raymond, on the Willapa River in Pacific County. The town, just four years old, has grown up rapidly around its lumber mills, and a steady stream of new residents will bring the population to 2,450 by 1910.

Mills and Their Town

Platted in 1904, Raymond was a town of sawmills surrounded by several hundred square miles of old-growth forest that blanketed the Willapa hills. The Raymond Land and Development Company, formed in 1903 by Leslie V. (1874-1961) and Stella (1875-1960) Raymond, Alexander C. Little (1860-1932), Harry C. Heermans (1852-1943), J. B. Duryea, Winfield S. Cram (b. 1866), and John T. Welsh (1866-1954), boosted the town's growth by offering free land to mill owners. Jacob Siler and Winfield Cram opened a mill, as did Alexander C. Little.

Very quickly, a town grew up around the mills. All the buildings, including those at the mills, were built on pilings to raise them above the tidewaters that fill the slough-laced land alongside the Willapa River. The river was essential to the movement of logs down from the hills and out to markets via ships, but the level land adjacent to it was subject to daily tides and was hemmed in by steep hills that rose not far from the river's edge.

On June 10, 1907, a group of Raymond residents presented a petition for incorporation to the Pacific County Board of Commissioners. At the July 6 meeting of the commissioners, a group of land owners from within the proposed town's boundaries opposed the inclusion of their farmland. The commissioners voted to accept the proposed boundaries without amendments.

Voters approved the incorporation measure with 255 votes in favor, 6 against. Additionally, according to the South Bend Journal, the town's new officials had essentially been picked and the "the opposition [candidates were] only a matter of form" ("Raymond's First Election").

Alexander C. Little (1860-1932), the first mayor, served in that capacity for 10 of the next 12 years. Though not always well-liked by his business partners or his fellow city officials, Little was dedicated to developing Raymond. When he was asked in 1910 to serve as president of the Southwest Washington Development Association, Little replied that he was "disqualified because of his partiality for the place where lots are sold by the gallon at high tide" ("Southwest Part of the State").

The town council consisted of seven men: C. Frank Cathcart, president of Raymond Transfer and Storage and Northern Pacific agent; Winfield S. Cram; Timothy H. Donovan, superintendent of the Pacific & Eastern Railway and Sunset Timber Company; Floyd Lewis, real estate agent; Charles Myers, sawyer at the Siler Mill; L. V. Raymond; and Willard G. Shumway, a clerk. P. T. Johnson served as the first treasurer and Neal Stupp as the first clerk and secretary.

From 1927 to 1997, the city was governed by a mayor and a three-member commission. Having only three commission members grew to be impractical, and in 1997 the commission was replaced with a seven-member council.

Sources: Doug Allen, "Celebrating Raymond's Centennial," Sou'wester, Winter 2006, pp. 15-18; Med Nicholson, "Raymond: Empire City of Willapa Harbor," Sou'wester, 2002, pp. 17-18; Florence M. Pratt, "Incorporation of Raymond," in The Willapa Country: History Report (Raymond: Raymond Herald & Advertiser, 1965), 7-9; City of Raymond Municipal Code, ch. 2.05, sec. 2.05.010; "County Commissioners Granted Privilege of Incorporation," South Bend Journal, July 26, 1907, p. 1; "Raymond Shifts Rulers," The Oregonian, December 19, 1927, p. 5; "Southwest Part of the State Unites," Oregonian, March 25, 1910, p. 1.

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