Parkland’s overlooked history

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Pierce County is a region that is probably not noted for its richness in history. Parkland itself since its establishment in Pierce County tells a wide array of stories of pioneers, wild shootouts against claim jumpers, and the creation of Pacific Lutheran University.

Students probably don’t take the time to engage themselves in the historical background of Parkland but by using PLU’s library resources, a wealth of knowledge can be easily found in both book and electronic form.

Just by reading From Wilderness To Suburbia by Richard D. Osness, interesting facts and pictures about the Parkland and Spanaway history can be found.

The creation of Parkland can be traced back to the years of the pioneers in the 1800’s.

Thomas and Agnes Tallentire were the first Pioneers of the area. The Tallentires and the rest of their family first settled in the Parkland area in 1851 near what would later be the Parkland Lutheran Cemetery. They originally migrated from the Oregon territory.

The Tallentire’s children, Thomas and Esther, would later become key figures in the Parkland community.

It wasn’t all peace and tranquility in the Washington Plains, in fact a small vigilante force had to be organized to deal with claim jumpers. Two armed and dangerous claim jumpers, simply known as “Mcdaniel and Gibson.”

By diving deeper into the electronic databases, you can read further information on how Pacific Lutheran came to be from the Parkland-Spanaway-Midland Communities Plan PDF.

The establishment of Pacific Lutheran is an interesting story as well. The Scandinavian influence on architecture throughout the University can be explained by the influx of Scandinavian people coming into the area near the turn of the century.

One of the founding members of Pacific Lutheran was Bjug Harstad, who would later have a hall named after him. His zeal for education and Lutheran heritage would empower him to create Pacific Lutheran and become its first president.

Another interesting fact is an old steam powered train called “Old Betsy” that connected Tacoma to Spanaway and Parkland in the 1890’s. It was discontinued in the 1930’s but the railway still exists.

To learn more information regarding history of Parkland, Spanaway, and Pacific Lutheran visit Mortvedt Library’s third story to access the University’s archives.



Categories: Parkland, Politics, Student Life

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