On January 6, 1913, the town of Duvall, located on a hillside once belonging to the Duvall brothers, incorporates as a city of the fourth class. Francis Duvall had arrived in 1871 and built a riverside cabin, but was unable to pay the mortgage and foreclosed on the property. His brother James, a logger, arrived in 1887 and re-purchased the land. James sold the property in 1909 to the Cherry Valley Townsite Company, which used it to relocate the small town of Cherry Valley, forced to move to accommodate railroad expansion. The relocated buildings and homes form the core of the new town of Duvall. When King County votes to go dry in November 1912, a decision that affects the county’s unincorporated towns, Duvall holds an election on December 30, 1912, to decide on incorporation. The vote is 148 votes in favor of incorporation, 17 opposed. Lon C. Brown becomes mayor in a landslide. The opposing candidate, J. G. Miller, receives one vote. Five members of the municipal council and a treasurer also are chosen.
“The Town With a Big Future”
The town of Duvall was established on property settled in 1871 by Francis Duvall, who planted fruit trees on the 180-acre site. Francis Duvall had trouble making his loan payments, though, and was forced to foreclose on the property. It was later sold to the Port Blakely Mill, once the largest sawmill on the West Coast. In 1887, his brother James, who had been logging near Everett, re-purchased the lot and cleared the land with the help of his prize black bulls. James later sent for his wife Annie, a Tulalip Indian, to join him. The couple had four children. Annie died young and James needed to find a steady income. He moved to Arizona and then to the Yukon, where he mined for gold. Whether he found any is not known. He returned to Washington in 1909, sold his property to the Cherry Valley Townsite Company, and left the area.
By 1910, the Great Northern and the Chicago, Milwaukee railroads, as well as the Puget Sound Railway, had big plans to expand rail service, but the new rail lines would go right through the nearby town of Cherry Valley. The railroads agreed to relocate the existing homes and businesses about a half-mile downstream to the former Duvall homestead. To attract settlers, the Oregon & Washington Development Company advertised lots for $25 each, calling Duvall “the town with a big future.” The ads extolled the potential value of the property: “Would you buy a lot if you knew positively that it would double and then treble in value in a few short months? That is what we are offering you now – every lot in Duvall will double in value in a short time and some of them will be selling within two years for ten times the price we are selling them today … One look at this new town will make you an enthusiastic booster” (“The Town With a Big Future”).
The name Duvall was first used officially in the town’s survey plat of August 31, 1910. A newspaper, the Monroe Monitor, stated on September 9, 1910, that “the name selected honored the picturesque pioneer, James Duvall. The new name, according to the Monitor, had been selected by the railroad companies and the Townsite Company and had been approved and accepted by the postal department” (A Livable Community, 12).
In Favor of Incorporation
On December 30, 1912, 148 residents of Duvall voted “yes” for incorporation, 17 were opposed. Part of the reason for the onesided results was likely linked to the sale of alcohol. In a King County election held on November 5, 1912, county residents voted to go “dry.” Duvall, along with Redmond, Tolt, Enumclaw, and Ravensdale, sought incorporation to avoid that same fate, since “under the state law, all the county and unincorporated cities and towns are classed as one unit. The towns mentioned voted ‘wet’ on November 5, but were made ‘dry’ by the county vote and now seek to become independent” (“Grants Redmond’s Plea”). Reporting on the election results, The Seattle Times noted that Duvall “decided in favor of incorporation and the licensed saloon” (“Duvall Goes Wet”).
Residents also elected their first mayor — confectionary store and pool hall owner Alonzo C. Brown, who received 156 votes; his opponent, J. G. Miller, received one. Five council members were elected: W. P. Hart, F. M. Douglas (1878-1943), B. M. Graham, J. Roy Lucas, a railroad agent, and Charles F. Rehm, a butcher. A. H. Boyd was elected treasurer. Duvall was incorporated on January 6, 1913, and held its first city council meeting the next evening in the back room of Mayor Brown’s pool hall.
Alonzo Brown was born in Pennsylvania around 1877 and made his way west as a young man to Granite Falls, where he mined silver and gold. He married Petra Lund, a Norwegian immigrant, in 1908, and the couple settled in Duvall in 1911. “Lon was a great promoter and civic booster and was always looking for ways to improve and better the community … He bought three lots on Main Street, across from his store, and began erecting a large building which he offered for use as an agricultural exhibit for his latest promotion, the Snoqualmie Valley Fair. A bandstand was erected in front of the agricultural building, and the new Duvall Brass Band began practicing for the coming event, which was scheduled for September 18, 19, and 20, 1913” (A Livable Community, 18). Town officials were thrilled when Governor Ernest Lister (1870-1919) visited Duvall during the fair and made a rousing speech from the bandstand.
One of the town’s early newspapers was The Duvall Citizen, first published on November 4, 1911, by Mable Dufford. As a single woman and a journalist, Dufford was a novelty, so much so that when she sold the paper in March 1913, the news was covered by The Seattle Times: “The only paper in King County founded, owned, edited and published by a woman, has been sold to David Peacock, of Rouleau, Canada. Two years ago Miss Mable Dufford founded The Duvall Citizen. Six months ago she married R. L. Pinkerton but she retained the paper until a few days ago” (“Woman Editor Quits”).
By the end of 1913, Duvall was booming. The town was home to a variety of businesses, including a livery barn, barber shop, drug store, two tailor shops, bank, movie theater, blacksmith shop, shingle mill, and the luxurious 18-room Forest Inn, a three-story Bavarian-style hotel that had cost $10,000 to build.
From Farmers to Hippies
In the early twentieth century, Duvall settled into a quiet existence. From 1920 until 1950, the population remained about 250 people. “Still, Duvall maintained its charm. The farmers dealt with bankers who knew their names and their land. The merchants sold on credit. Folks knew each other and life chugged along like the riverboats that better roads had made obsolete” (“Duvall: A Transplant with Deep Roots”). In 1932, the town elected an all-woman council and mayor, Mabel Bourke (1883-1976), who served for two years. The women were commended for having trees planted along the five streets in town.
By the 1960s, young people seeking to return to the land were drawn to the area and by 1980, the population more than tripled. “Since the late 20th century, the city’s pastoral appeal has been drawing residents who commute to jobs in aeronautics and technology in nearby communities. Duvall’s historic corridor has helped to define an artistic movement that has been evolving since the 1970s (“Duvall to Celebrate Centennial”).
In January 2013, numerous activities were planned to celebrate the town’s centennial. There were official speeches, live music, community booths, children’s activities, and a birthday cake. Town residents enjoyed re-enactments of Duvall’s past, staged by members of the Cascade Community Theatre, complete with period costumes. A contest was held to design a centennial logo. The winning design, created by Matthew Fisher, displays the centennial dates above a flowing stream. Around the logo’s perimeter appear items that have helped define Duvall’s character for the past 100 years: community, family, logging, music, spirit, environment, farming, sports, art, technology, and riverboat.
“Buy a Lot,” The Seattle Times, October 2, 1910, classified section, p. 1; “Duvall: The Town with a Big Future,” Ibid., October 23, 1910 classified section, p. 2; “Grants Redmond’s Plea,” Ibid., December 3, 1912, p 5; “Duvall Goes Wet,” Ibid., December 31, 1912, p. 8; “Woman Editor Quits,” Ibid., March 17, 1913, p. 20; Ian Ith, “Duvall: A Transplant with Deep Roots,” Ibid., July 29, 1999 (www.seattletimes.com); Allen Miller and Don Williams, A Livable Community: The Story of Duvall, (Snohomish: Duvall Historical Association, 2007); HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Duvall – Thumbnail History” (by Alan J. Stein) http://www.historylink.org (accessed December 13, 2021); “Duvall to Celebrate Centennial,” The Weekly (Woodinville), October 9, 2012 (https://www.nwnews.com/community/duvall-to-celebrate-centennial/article_5cd2cc61-0519-55d1-a568-ae6948a52d8c.html); Lisa Baumann, “City of Duvall Will Kick Off Centennial Celebration Sunday,” The Patch, January 4, 2013 (https://patch.com/washington/woodinville/city-of-duvall-will-kick-off-centennial-celebration-sunday); “History,” About Duvall, City of Duvall website accessed December 13, 2021 (www.duvallwa.gov); “Duvall’s History,” Duvall Chamber of Commerce website accessed December 13, 2021 (www.duvallchamberofcommerce.com/duvalls-history/); “Certificate of Incorporation of Duvall,” January 6, 1913, Record of Incorporated Cities and Towns, Office of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Olympia.