Puyallup Valley Preservation Group
Save The Rural Character Of The Puyallup Valley For Future Generations 


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March 2015

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Web Editor: David Hill




2015 Alderton/McMillin School(s) Reunion
Enjoyed by Many

The theme this year was the Alderton School building Centennial Celebration, as classmates and guests honored the memories of the Alderton School.  Upon arrival attendees were offered home-baked red schoolhouse shaped cookies and/or a blue "A" shaped cookie (for Alderton).  A ten foot replica of the front of the Alderton School stood before them with a May Pole and marble board (for playing marble games) in the adjacent mock school yard.  Next was a string of tables with display boards of classmate pictures and other archives.  On stage was a screen welcoming classmates and projecting pictures of committee members working on past and present reunions.


Re-enacted school day activities included a May Pole dance demonstration. The only problem was the amount of years since participants danced it, caused some interesting people jams.  The ribbons managed to braid anyway.


The reunion program consisted of the reading of Alderton School history by reunion committee members.  A slide show followed titled "name this student" that challenged guests to try to identify selected students from class pictures that spanned three decades (1930's-1950's).  Believe it or not there were students from each of those decades in attendance.  The reunion committee members read student memories periodically throughout the presentation.  The food was great and the fun was had by all at this year's reunion.  See some of the reunion photos on the link below.



2015 Alderton/McMillin Reunion

"Apparently Our Last Reunion"

by David Hill

Over 40 classmates and friends attended what has been an annual event for decades.  This year the event organizers and officers of the reunion retired and no nominations were received to replace them.  The annual business meeting at the reunion closed without replacements for the President and Secretary/Treasurer.  During the meeting it was voted on how to distribute the remaining reunion assets to include bank account balance and reunion archives.  It may be possible that the reunions will someday be revived by a classmate, but the event-type reunions will no longer take place as in previous years.  The reunion committee will have it's last dinner meeting in early July to begin to disperse and dissolve the reunion assets as directed.


Maxine Herbert-Hill (President) offered an emotional and heart-felt appreciation to all of this year's and previous year's reunion committee members and to all who have been such loyal attendees.  This marks the loss of another piece of Valley history, but will live on in its archives and memories passed to later generations.  A class reunion every year?  Remarkable!  The Alderton/McMillin reunions have proudly reflected the rural character of the Puyallup Valley.  We will miss them.


The Alderton School


by David Hill

Located on the corner of SR162 and 96th St. E in the community of Alderton, WA, (between Sumner and Orting) stands the decaying campus of the Alderton School.  The campus consists of a two-story school house and adjacent gymnasium.  The school house was built in 1915 (100 years ago) and the gym followed a few years later.   The then modern two story building included indoor plumbing, a full kitchen with electricity, a lunchroom and three multiple grade classrooms which served grades 1 through 8.  The Alderton School provided an education for valley students for more than four decades until the district was consolidated with the Sumner District in 1958.  The School ceased operation in 1961.

A Little History* 

During the 1860’s, there was no Sumner, no Puyallup or Tacoma.  Steilacoom was the “City of the Sound” with only Olympia and Seattle as possible rivals.  The Naches trail brought early settlers in wagon trains into the Puyallup Valley near Alderton.  Orson Annis and his family were the first to settle in the Alderton area in 1869.  In 1876, the railroad was linked from the mining and logging camps to Puyallup and Annis saw the potential for a lucrative town at Alderton.  The railroad connected to the main line that moved not only commercial items such as logs, coal, and limestone, but also travelers.  Many military soldiers passed through Alderton, including a young Ulysses S. Grant.  At one point, a train passed every 10 minutes. Alderton was one of the earliest settlement towns in the Puyallup Valley.

School District No. 6 (Elhi District) was created in about 1865 and included Alderton.  The log schoolhouse had only one room and was not located at the site of the current building. There were no desks, only rough-hewn benches.  

In 1871, District 11 was created out of District 6. During that year, a school was built of logs and served both the Alderton and McMillin areas until 1888.  Still a one-room schoolhouse, the building had three windows on each side.  Finally, there were two-seated homemade desks made of cedar added to the classroom.  In the middle of the room was a stove capable of burning 3-foot logs which provided heat.  One of the early teachers who taught in 1877 was William Spinning. A Puyallup grade school currently bears his name.  

The next school in Alderton was built around 1888.  The one room wood framed building was located adjacent to the current Alderton campus.  An early teacher, Mrs. Durgin, recalled her assignment.  In 1934, she wrote:  “In May, 1890, County Superintendent Matthews asked me to take the Alderton School teaching position…When 25 students arrived, I found them better mannered and more intelligent than in other schools I had taught…Back then, school was always interrupted by hop training and picking.”

The 1915 Alderton School hosted community dancing and card games every Saturday night. The entire neighborhood attended including all the children.  In later years, square dance classes were included for Friday PE activities. In the spring, the annual May Pole dance was preformed before a community audience. Popular marble games included “Dropsy”, “Pots” and “Chaseys”. Most boys carried pocketknives. How else were you to whittle your time away?


What is the future of the Alderton School?  The school is currently owned by the Spooner Farms. After evaluation it has been determined that both buildings are too far gone to be restored.  Both becoming a hazard, the Spooner's will need to submit request for permission and the necessary permits to remove the structures.  If you want to see some valley history, drive by the Alderton School campus for a look.

To close on a good note, Maxine Herbert-Hill, co-founder of the Puyallup Valley Preservation Group, has been in contact with the Spooners and has had some discussion about placing a permanent monument on the intersection corner of the campus after the buildings have been removed.  There will be future articles on this endeavor and how you can get involved.  Retaining history of this agricultural valley is part of the commitment of the Puyallup Valley Preservation Group.  Happy 100th birthday, Alderton School!

* Sources:  A History of Alderton, Pierce County, WA – 1949; Jerry Bates, South Hill Historical Society, and articles from the Pierce County Herald by Lori Price


2015 Pierce County Farm Forum
Pioneer Park Pavilion, Puyallup
February 27, 2015

PVPG founder Maxine Herbert-Hill took the day to attend the Second Annual Pierce County Farm Forum in Puyallup in February and was very pleased with the program and the content.  To continue reading of her day's experiences and forum discussions select the link below. 

"One topic they did not address was harvesting, but the focus was on potential avenues for selling farm products and how to access them, what those markets need and how to present your products to those various retailers or wholesalers.  The event was well organized with good resources in personnel, presenters and materials.

The hall was lined with exhibits and information with knowledgeable representatives.  The doors were open early enough......"



FOOD HUBS, What Are They?
by Maxine Herbert-Hill




Newland Communities has requested that Pierce County consider a major amendment to their Tehaleh land use permit for Phase Two of the development.  A major amendment includes significant changes to the original permit and are subject to the same procedures as the original application.  The most significant change is to increase the number of single unit housing units by 3000, some of which will be designated for senior living.

The County has the authority to decide whether an Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is required.  The County held an open house on September 30, 2014 and opened a Public Comment 30 day public comment period that will end on October 10, 2014.  If you missed this deadline, we will try to inform you of your next opportunity for review and comment.

Valley communities will be impacted by increased traffic issues amplified by the implementation of the Phase 2 "Highway to the Valley."



County Purchases Development Rights

As reported by Steve Maynard in an article in the Tacoma News Tribune on May 13, 2014, Pierce County has secured the funding to preserving 154 acres of rich valley farmland located in the Alderton-McMillin area of the Puyallup Valley. This was accomplished by purchasing the land development rights from the owners of the land, Dave and Ivan Matlock.  As reported on this website, years earlier, the Matlocks had applied to subdivide the land for development, but have had a change of heart and hope that young farming enthusiasts will be attracted to the opportunity to own a portion of the best farmland in the U.S.

We want to offer our appreciation to Pat McCarthy, County Executive for the action taken by the County to preserve farmland.  McCarthy was quoted in the article saying; "Protecting this property is good for farmers, fish and Pierce County's rural character."  That mirrors how we have felt since the beginning and it shows a change of direction for Pierce County government.  Action does speak louder than words and we commend the action taken by the County to preserve the Puyallup Valley's rural character.