Lot 6 in Block 27 of Cain’s Addition to the City of Walla Walla, according to the Official Plat recorded in Volume A of Plats at Page 41, records of the Auditor of Walla Walla County.
Washington Territory was created in 1853. The new legislature created Walla Walla County in 1854, which stretched from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the crest of the Rocky Mountains in the present states of Washington, Idaho and Montana. In 1855, a treaty council was held on the banks of Mill Creek at the present site of Walla Walla to purchase land from the Indians. The Yakamas, Cayuse and Walla Wallas were dissatisfied with the treaties and war followed. Missionaries, former French-Canadian emp loyees of the Hudson Bay Company trading post at Wallula, and soldiers at the military Fort Walla Walla were the primary European occupants of the area prior to 1859, when it was opened for settlement. The U. S. Government, in a treaty signed on June 9, 1855 in Walla Walla and ratified on March 8, 1859 by President James Buchanan, acquired all of the land in this area from the Cayuse and Walla Walla Indian tribes.
Walla Walla was originally laid out by County Surveyor H. H. Case in 1859, before its formal incorporation as a city in 1862, as a one-quarter mile square with its eastern side centered on the point where Main Street crossed Mill Creek (at roughly the point where it does now). The City of Walla Walla received a Trustee Town site from the U. S. Government that consisted of 80 acres, issued on July 20, 1869 by the Vancouver, W. T. District Land Office. Main Street originally followed the old Nez Perce Indian Trail. Consequently, the streets leading off of it were moved eastward, which gave Walla Walla its peculiar street pattern with the three-street intersection at Palouse, Boyer and Main Streets. To the original plat, additional parcels were annexed from time to time, usually bearing the name of the landowner of record at the time the additions were made.
The property at 501 E Cherry Street is part of the oldest U.S. Patent in Walla Walla. On September 10, 1861, Andrew J. Cain and Cornelius Kelly filed a patent on 160 acres under the Script Warrant Act of 1855 northeast of the original City of Walla Walla town site. During 1862, A. J. Cain surveyed Cain’s Addition to the City (this survey was re-recorded on May 11, 1865, following a disastrous fire which destroyed most of the county’s earlier records).
A. J. Cain was a lawyer in Walla Walla between 1860 and 1873, and an early financier of the Walla Walla Union newspaper. He was elected on the Democratic ticket as prosecuting attorney of Walla Walla County in 1868. He later moved to Dayton and in September 1874 began publication of the Dayton News, a weekly Democratic newspaper. He became known as the “Father of Columbia County” as a result of his leading role in the formation of that county.
On February 13, 1862, A. J. and Emma R. Cain mortgaged 640 acres northeast of downtown Walla Walla to A. H. Reynolds. Almos H. Reynolds founded a pioneer bank in 1869, which became the 1st National Bank in 1878. On October 18, 1867, Sheriff A. Seitel of Walla Walla County conferred a Sheriff’s Deed to Dr. Dorsey S. Baker; Baker paid $2,800 for most of Cain’s Addition at the Sheriff’s Auction. Dorsey S. Baker was a founder of Baker Boyer Bank, and both Baker and John Boyer show up in dealings on this parcel. A Deed for $1 dated October 17, 1871 transferred this property from A. J. and Emma Cain to Dorsey S. Baker. On December 1, 1876 Dorsey S. and Elizabeth Baker sold this Lot 6, Block 27 of Cain’s Addition to Lewis Band for $83.50. On June 11, 1878 Lewis and Betsy Band sold this lot to Saunders A. White for $500. On September 21, 1881 S. A. White sold this property plus Lot 7 of this same block to Robert Kennedy for $800. On March 30, 1896 J.F. Boyer signed a Quit Claim Deed to Dorsey Baker, to clear title on this property; the Boyers presumably had been silent partners with D. S. Baker in holding a mortgage on the property. On April 1, 1910 Robert and Margaret Kennedy transferred title to this lot to their daughter, Edith May Kennedy for $1.
On June 3, 1918 Milton R. and Inez Loney sold the southwest 50 feet of this lot to C. J. and Eva Moss for $3. On October 2, 1920 C. J. and Eva Moss sold this property to John S. and Lillie C. Warren. Following the death of John Warren and his wife, his probate executor Violet MacDonald sold this property to Francis L. and Dorothy W. Baker on December 27, 1957. On May 25, 1964 the Bakers sold this property to Fred E. and Laura B. Jefferis . On July 31, 1964 the Jefferis sold to Edwin G. and Anita May MacMurdo. On July 9, 1974 Anita May MacMurdo, a widow, sold to Clifford M. and Evonne Worden. Wordens sold it to David Kenneth Jones on July 7, 1974. On July 27, 1987 David Kenneth and Elizabeth Lynn Jones sold this property to Steven R. and Vicki A. Ruley.
The 1905 Sanborn Fire Map shows this lot with building with a clearly different footprint than the present house. The 1900-1901 city directory listed Miss Mattie Kennedy, student, Whitman College as a resident at 501 E. Cherry. Her father had purchased this lot in 1881 and possibly built the house seen on the 1905 fire map. Robert Kennedy arrived in Walla Walla in 1859 and settled on Dry Creek with 920 acres of wheat land. He and Margaret, his second wife, had 7 children. They were prominent local citizens and built the building still standing at 25 East Main Street.
Neither of the other earliest owners (Band, White) were listed as living here. There are no reverse city directories until 1931. However, the Whitman College Archives has original hand-written building permits which are organized by date. With some luck I found a permit issued to M. R. Loney on April 5, 1910 for a dwelling at Cherry and Touchet Streets for $1800. He was listed as living at 501 East Cherry in 1910-1911. Milton Loney worked at Hooper’s Co-Op Mercantile Company. In 1920 Clay J. and Eva Moss lived here for just one year. In 1921 Warren S. and Lillie C. Warren lived at 501 East Cherry until 1957 when the house was vacant, following their deaths. John Warren had been a farmer. In 1958 Francis and Dorothy Baker purchased this house and lived here through 1964. He was employed by The Washington State Penitentiary. After Edwin and Anita MacMurdo purchased the house in 1964 it was rented out to several people until Edwin died and then Anita lived at 501 E. Cherry for two years. She sold the house to Clifford M. Worden and his wife who lived here until 1978. Worden was the service manager for Jackson Sporting Goods and Evonne owned The Village Beauty Shop. Even though David Kenneth Jones bought this house in 1974 he rented it to the Wordens until 1979 when he moved in to 501 E. Cherry. Jones worked in the produce department of Fleenors-Southgate grocery (now Harvest Foods). His wife Elizabeth Lynn was a bookkeeper for Acme Personnel Service. In 1984-87 Jones worked for Frito Lay. His wife worked for Bolin Personnel and Christ Life Fellowship Church. In 1988 Steven R. and Vicki Ruley lived at 501 East Cherry and he worked for the City of Walla Walla and his wife worked for the Bon Marche.
Construction of Building
This house is probably the second one on this lot. The first house was built sometime before 1905. Probably the present house was built in 1910, with major remodeling in 20??. The chimney, front windows and front gable, door and porch were removed and and a full-width porch added, giving it a handsome look of a Craftsman house from an earlier period. The Walla Walla County Assessor lists this house as dating from 1935. Since the Warrens lived here from 1921 until 1957 that date seems unlikely. Based on the 1910 building permit and city directory entry, the apparent construction date is Circa 1910, by Milton R. Loney.
- Archive, Whitman College Penrose Library
- Bennett, Robert A., Walla Walla Portrait of a Western Town 1804-1899, Pioneer Press, Walla Walla, 1980
- Building permits: Whitman College Penrose Library (1907-1939)
- Lyman, Professor W.D., Lyman’s History of Old Walla Walla County, Embracing Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin Counties, Vol. 1-2, 1918.
- Sanborn Fire Maps: 1884, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1894, 1905 (with updates until 1950)
- Walla Walla City Directories: 1880-2000 (various publishers–not all years)
- Walla Walla County Assessor’s Office: files + online