Sumner was named for 19th century Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, revered for his efforts toward the abolition of slavery. Incorporated in 1891, the town was settled in 1853 by members of a wagon trail that crossed the Cascade Mountains through steep and treacherous Naches Pass. The fertile river valley proved successful for agriculture and the major crops were daffodils, rhubarb, hops, berries, various vegetables, and turf grass. Agriculture is still an important part of the local economy, along with food manufacturing, wood products production, and warehousing and distribution.
Pierce County was created in 1852 from Thurston County. The county has over 125 miles of shoreline and has more elevations that any other county in the state. The county?s climate is diverse, from mild in the valley to extreme on the mountain sides. The Steilacoom, Puyallup, Squaxin, Muckleshoot and Nisqually Indians originally inhabited Pierce County. White hunters, trappers and settlers arrived in the area in the early 1800s. The Hudson Bay Company, a fur trading operation, was established by the British in 1833. Farming began shortly after and Fort Steilacoom was constructed in 1849 to stop the Indian uprisings. The first grist mill was built in Pierce County in 1850, followed by a saw mill (in 1852) and a flour mill (in 1855). Indian uprisings continued so more military personnel came to Fort Steilacoom to help the settlers. Some of these military men would become well known for their actions during the Civil War, including General George B. McClellan, Confederate General George E. Pickett, Union General Philip H. Sheridan and Union General U.S. Grant. The railroad arrived at Puget Sound in 1873. Washington became the 42nd state in 1889.
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