History of Wilbur, Washington               




Submitted by Marge Womach


Wilbur Boasted 405 People, 1890

The Spokesman: Aug 26, 1923


Town Properly Incorporated in That Year After two Unsuccessful Attempts


Had Two Bad Fires

Woman and Three Children Died in Blaze of October, 1891

Second Caused $155,000 Damage  



The 33rd anniversary of the third incorporation of the town of Wilbur passed August 11. The first attempt to be recognized as a municipality was made by Wilbur citizens under territorial law in the early part of the year 1889.


In accordance with the territorial law, towns of this class could be incorporated by order of the district court and under this provision Wilbur was issued a decree of incorporation March 25, 1889, by the fourth district (judicial) court then in session at Sprague. Municipal officers were appointed and acted until the admission of Washington as a state, when the supreme court set aside all such towns, which included many besides Wilbur.


The second incorporation was secured by petition, and the officers duly elected, when it was found that an error had been made in the boundaries included in the election notices and again Wilburís incorporation was pronounced void.


The third and successful attempt was completed and filed at Olympia August 11, 1890; then Wilbur was listed as a fourth class town with 405 inhabitants and third in size in Lincoln county at that time. Its first mayor was A. H. Maddock; the present mayor is David Thomson. 


In the fall of 1889 the Northern Pacific was laid and the pioneer conditions were rapidly improved. Now Wilbur has 100 inhabitants according to the last census. Its total assets are $61,171, with ample money on hand to pay all indebtedness. At incorporation the number of business houses were but 13, it is said, now numbering three times that many.


Wilbur has survived two very disastrous fires. The first occurred in October of 1891, causing a loss of $12,200, and the first tragedy in Wilbur history. In this fire Mrs. Damon Wagner and three children perished.


The second big fire was on July 5, 1901. It originated in the department store owned and operated by former Governor M. E. Hay and his brother, the late E. T. Hay. The total loss of this fire reached $155,000, of which the Hay firm sustained $135,000. True to the undaunted spirit of the pioneer, each loser started business again within a few hours, shacks and tents housing them temporarily. This second disaster firmly fixed the determination for municipal water and in 1903 a splendid system was installed, which is fed from abundant springs. This system was installed at a cost of $12,000, and last year alone it netted the town $1076. The barrenness of a prairie town has been materially beautified, to say nothing of the immeasurable lessening of fire hazards.



History of Wilbur, Lincoln County, Washington, submitted

by Marge Womach, December, 2005 to the WAGenWeb.

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