Seattle pioneer Doc Maynard dies on March 13, 1873.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 11/04/1998
  • Essay 198
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On the evening of March 13, 1873, David Swinson "Doc" Maynard (1808-1873) dies at his Seattle residence (site of 208 1st Avenue S). He is 65 years old.

"Doc" Maynard was proprietor of Seattle's first store, a physician and surgeon, realtor, justice of the peace, school superintendent, notary public, clerk of the court, attorney-at-law, etc.

Born and raised in Vermont, Maynard moved to Ohio in 1832 to practice medicine. In 1850, he joined a wagon train that crossed the continent along the Oregon Trail, reached Puget Sound in September 1850, and stayed in Olympia, Oregon Territory. (In 1853 the northern part of Oregon Territory became Washington Territory.)

After one and a half years Maynard moved to Seattle and homesteaded on a Donation Land Claim. He remained in King County for nearly the rest of his life. Maynard named the town Seattle and, in what was to become Pioneer Square, was the first to plat the town into city blocks.

A Generous Man

The Weekly Intelligencer described Maynard:

"Although possessed of at one time what has within a few years proved to be one of the most valuable donation claims in the Territory, in consequence of the rapid building up of this city upon it, he died a comparatively poor man, having generously donated portions of it to parties as an inducement for them to settle upon it, and having sold the balance � for nearly a nominal consideration" (Weekly Intelligencer).

Beriah Brown, editor of the Puget Sound Dispatch, called David Maynard "the father of the town of Seattle." Brown went on to say:

"The personal character of the deceased is best known to those who have been his intimate associates for the last 20 years, and they, without exception, concur in ascribing to him the following characteristics: he was generous to improvidence, and charitable to a fault, scattering his bounties and his charities with an indiscriminate hand, and with slight regard to the worthiness of the object. He loved his fellow men with a love which seemed entirely free from selfish considerations; shared his substance and contributed his care and professional skill to any and all who seemed to require them, regardless of merits or faults of any, and if he had an enemy on earth he never appeared to recognize the fact by an unkind word or act of retaliation. As might reasonably be expected of such a character, he sacrificed all his abundant opportunities of accumulating wealth, to the weakness of an uncalculating generosity and he died poor."

The faults of our deceased friend and brother, were those most common with social and generous natures, and will be buried with his mortal remains, while his many acts of disinterested charity and noble generosity will sanctify his memory in many a now aching heart" (Puget Sound Dispatch).

For a "considerable time past [Dr. Maynard] ... has been very low" with a disease of the liver. In early March 1873, the doctor, "seemed to have abandoned all hope of recovery," ordered a coffin and "gave explicit and particular directions as to its construction" ( Weekly Intelligencer, March 10, 1873).

March 22, 1873, was the 65th anniversary of David S. Maynard's birth and the date selected for his funeral. "Nearly every" business in Seattle closed in respect for Dr. Maynard. The Plymouth Congregation Rev. J. F. Damon gave the sermon at the "largely attended" funeral held at the Pavilion (southwest corner Front Street [1st Avenue] and Cherry Street). The Seattle brass band led the "solemn cortege," with Maynard in the coffin built to the deceased doctor's specifications, through the town's streets and to the cemetery. Upon arrival at the cemetery Reverend Damon gave another sermon.

Maynard's remains and those of other pioneers were relocated in the mid-1880s to Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill. Denny Park now occupies Seattle's original burial ground.


J[ames] Willis Sayre, This City of Ours (Seattle: J. W. Sayre, 1936), 91; Thomas Prosch, "A Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897" (typescript, dated 1900-1901, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Library, Seattle), p 223; Puget Sound Dispatch, March 20, 1873; p. 1; The Weekly Intelligencer, March 10, 1893, p. 3; Ibid.,, March 17, 1843, p.3.

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