The Pioneer Association of the State of Washington and its predecessor organizations, the Washington Pioneer Association founded in 1883 in Olympia and the Society of Washington Territory Pioneers established about 1871 in King County, included in their founding memberships many of the earliest settlers in the state of Washington. The two organizations merged in 1886 and filed articles of incorporation as the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington on December 5, 1895. This makes the Association the oldest historical incorporation of Washington State. Current members of the Association have provided evidence of their ancestry back to those pioneers who arrived in the region prior to statehood, November 11, 1889.
Pioneer Hall, shown in the photo above, is a depository and museum for historical memorabilia, photographs, books and other records primarily from the Washington Territory and early statehood period. It was constructed to provide a meeting place for the pioneers and their descendants and made possible by generous donations made by three of Seattle’s earliest settlers, Judge John J. McGilvra and his wife Elizabeth (Hills) McGilvra, the land, and Sarah Loretta Denny, $20,000 for the construction of the building. The building was dedicated on June 7, 1910, as part of the proceedings of the 1910 Annual Meeting of the Association. Speakers at the event included former Civil War General, J. B. Metcalfe, Professor Edmond S. Meany, the Honorable Thomas Burke, Mr. E. F. Blaine, Mr. Gust Eckloff, the builder and the Association President Thomas W. Prosch, among the long roster of speakers.
A willow tree on the shore of Lake Washington, east of Pioneer Hall is from clippings that were brought to Seattle from George Washington’s tomb at Mt. Vernon, where willow cuttings had originally been brought from Napoleon’s tomb on St. Helena in the south Atlantic.
Pioneer Hall is also home for the Daughters of the Pioneers, Seattle Chapter, #1, the Fiske Genealogical Library and Colonial Dames of the State of Washington. It is open during regularly scheduled open houses. See the Events Page for details and private tours are possible.
Membership in the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington is open to all, see Online Join page. Benefits of membership include:
Access to family membership applications dating back to the 1880s
Access to resources from four library collections
Complimentary use of the Fiske Genealogical Library for research
Receipt of Pioneer Presences, a quarterly newsletter, and access to past editions
On this site, members can view copies of over 80 portraits that are inside Pioneer Hall.