Olympia Mayor 1872-1873

William Winlock Miller

About

The following information is reprinted from a poster on display at Olympia High School (formally dedicated as William Winlock Miller High School).

Before the establishment of Washington Territory, William Winlock Miller arrived in Olympia in 1850, with the first commission as an American official in what was then known as Oregon Territory, north of the Columbia River, or Northern Oregon.

His first duties were as customs surveryor, measuring the trade through the Nisqually docks of the British Hudson's Bay Company for American tariffs.

Miller served as Olympia's first directly elected mayor, as a member in the Washington Territorial Legislature, as quartermaster general in Governor Stevens' Territorial Army, as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Washington Territory, and as United States tax collector for the territory.

Miller was an accomplished businessman, having interests in savings and lending before banks came to the Northwest. Settlers were generally cash poor, but land collateral was considerable. Miller untimately developed vast real estate holdings throughout Western Washington.

When Washington Territory's population was under a couple thousand and travel was by overland trails or boat, Miller raised supplies, equipment and treasury among settlers to provision the Territorial Army for the Indian Wars. For purchasing, he could only offer scrip, un-negotiated promises to pay at a later date that were ultimately authorized years later by Congress, at a discounted value of 71 cents on the dollar.

Miller's counsel and backing were widely sought by leaders in Washington Territory. He helped in the election of many territorial leaders, including his father-in-law, Judge Obediah McFadden, who served as territorial representative to Congress.

Miller married Mary Margaret McFadden in 1869. They had two children, Winlock and Pendleton. William, Mary and Pendleton are buried at the Masonic Cemetery (in Tumwater, Washington) just off Cleveland Boulevard.

The following information is reprinted from an Olympia High School alumni directory provided to the City by Winnifred Castle Olsen, January 2009.

William Winlock Miller arrived in Olympia from Illinois in 1851 and became one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the Washington Territory. He was successful in business as well as politics, serving in the legislature and as quartermaster general to territorial Governor Isaac Stevens during the 1855-1856 Indian uprising. He was later appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs by President Buchanan. Mr. Miller's popularity in the local community was evident when the people of Olympia elected him Mayor for two terms.

William Winlock Miller was born in Greenbury, Kentucky, January 12, 1822. He died on January 14, 1876 at the age of 54 and is buried in the Masonic Cemetary, in Tumwater, Washington.

In 1853, Mary McFadden came from Pennsylvania to the Washington Territory with her family when her father O. B. McFadden was appointed justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. She married William Winlock Miller in 1869 and raised two sons, Winlock and Pendleton. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Miller carried on and expanded the family businesses and remained active in both philanthropic and social activities. In 1906 she donated land for the first high school building in Olympia with the stipulation that it be named in honor of her husband.