Oak Harbor incorporates as a city on May 14, 1915.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 7/26/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8224

On May 14, 1915, Oak Harbor, population 401, incorporates as a city. On June 12, proud residents stage a parade of livestock, display a home baking exhibit, watch a talent show, listen to speakers, and enjoy a noon luncheon. Oak Harbor will soon see construction of a community cannery, and a ferry to Utsalady on Camano Island from nearby Strawberry Point will begin operation.

On Whidbey Island the communities of Coupeville (1910) and Langley (1913) had already incorporated as cities. Incorporation allowed residents to pave roads, provide drinking water, and supply other services important to growth and prosperity. Oak Harbor was a market town for local farmers and dairymen with daily steamer service to other points on Puget Sound.  

In May 1915, 308 residents petitioned the Island County Commissioners for incorporation. In the first election, pioneer and Union Army veteran Jerome Ely won the position of mayor, J. T. Rogers was city clerk, J. M. Pratt was treasurer, and H. Myuskens, H. Hulst, Frank Stallman, and J. R. Maylor became councilmen. They held the first council meeting in clerk Rogers’s offices in the bank. Since the new city had no money, Mayor Ely advocated fiscal restraint in his inaugural address.

At the big celebration on June 12, the Heller Band played and P. P. Custer, president of the Fruit Growers’ Association spoke to the crowd. Afterwards, luncheon was served for 25 cents a plate at the Byrne Hotel.

Sources: Dorothy Neil and Lee Brainard, By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came: A History of Whidbey’s Island (Oak Harbor, WA: Spindrift Publishing Co., 1989), 253, 261-262; HistoryLink.org the online encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Island County – Thumbnail History,” (by Daryl McClary) http://www.HistoryLink.org (accessed July 19 2007).

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