History of 527 East Sumach Street, Walla Walla, WA


Legal Description

Lot 10 in Block 11 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.

Title History

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 employees 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 527 E. Sumach 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.

Property and Occupant History

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’s name in particular and Boyer’s to a lesser degree show up in dealings concerning this parcel.  A Deed for $1 dated October 17, 1871 transferred this property from A. J. and Emma Cain to Dorsey S. Baker.  D. S. and Elizabeth Baker in turn sold the parcel for $300.00 to John Aubin on May 5, 1874.  There followed a Warranty Deed of October 19, 1874 in which John Aubin transferred ownership to Bethnel H. Hatch for $350.00, and by Warranty Deed for $900 dated June 16, 1879, Bethnel H. and Matilda C. Hatch transferred the parcel to Elizabeth Bourn.

At that time, it was uncommon for a married woman’s name to appear without her husband’s, but J. E. Bourn’s name (he was an agent for Dayton Woolen Mills) does not appear on any document pertaining to this parcel, although the Walla Walla City Directory for 1880 lists both Mr. and Mrs. Bourn as residing on the “north side of Sumach east of Idaho (now Park).”  The 1883 Walla Walla City Directory has no listing for Bourn.  Presumably, he died in 1882 or ’83 and on February 4, 1891 his widow married Joseph B. Keeney, a farmer in Pendleton.  (See attached biographical notes on Mr. Keeney.)  It is likely that subsequent to her marriage Elizabeth Keeney vacated the property on Sumach to join her husband in Pendleton.  Ancestry.com lists the Keeneys as living in Elgin in 1900.  The first listing for Joseph B. and Elizabeth Keeney at 527 E. Sumach appears in the 1905 City Directory.  It is surmised that Mr. Keeney had “sold the farm” by that time and moved with his wife to her property in Walla Walla, but his tenancy there was of short duration, as he died July 10, 1905.

On January 29, 1885, a Quit Claim Deed for $1 was signed, removing J. F. and Sarah Boyer (Baker Boyer Bank) from interest in this property; the Boyers presumably had been silent partners with D. S. Baker in holding a mortgage on the property.

On December 4, 1916, a Quit Claim Deed was signed from “Eliz. (Bourn) Keeney, widow of James E. Bourn” to Horace Cook, a farmer, whose address was listed as R. D. 6; this is noted because it establishes the legal link between Elizabeth Bourn and Elizabeth Keeney.  (It is not known why she was identified as late as 1916 as Mr. Bourn’s widow, rather than as the widow of her second husband, Mr. Keeney.)  Mr. Cook did not establish residence at 527 E. Sumach and by 1921 he had been dropped from the City Directory.  It is also important to note that by 1917 or ’18 Elizabeth Keeney had moved from 527 E. Sumach to 515 E. Sumach.  From this date until very recently, 527 E. Sumach was strictly rental property.

A Notice of Liens for Special Assessments for $114 was entered on December 24, 1920 for Cain’s Addition, Block 11, Lot 10.

A Warranty Deed of October 1, 1923 for $10 and other consideration transferred the property from Elizabeth Keeney, “a widow since 1905,” to M. D. Bishop.

A Warranty Deed dated September 20, 1924 transferred the property from M. D. and Edna Bishop to Nettie M. Galbraith, “an unmarried woman.”  There is no listing in City Directories of 1923 or ’24 for M. D. and Edna Bishop.  Nettie M. Galbraith was principal of St. Paul’s School on Catherine Street and she continued to reside at the school until her death, evidently never occupying the house at 527 E. Sumach.

A Contract of Deed, Estate of Nettie M. Galbraith, dated May 1, 1943, transferred the property to Maude M. Wiseman, “a widow,” for $2,500 at 6% interest per annum.  A Warranty Deed dated October 1, 1943 was filed on behalf of Mary A. Tracy, executrix of Nettie M. Galbraith, deceased, to Maude M. Wiseman, “a widow;” and a Satisfaction of Mortgage of October 15, 1943 established that a mortgage of $1,200 was satisfied and discharged, Mary A. Tracy, executrix of Nettie M. Galbraith, deceased, to Eliz. A. Keeney, a “widow.”

On January 1, 1945, a Warranty Deed for $10 and other consideration was signed transferring the property from Maude M. Wiseman, “a widow,” to Jacob and Esther H. Kessler.  There is no listing in Walla Walla City Directories for the Kesslers in 1945 or ’46.

By Warranty Deed, Jacob and Esther H. Kessler transferred the property to Oscar Olson, “a bachelor,” on January 8, 1946.  (By 1948, Mr. Olson was married to Barbara Olson and residing at 171 Walla Walla Avenue.)

A Warranty Deed transferred the property from Oscar Olson to S. P. and Lydia Field for $10 on February 26, 1946.  An Assignment of Contract and Deed from S. P. and Lydia Field to Myrtle Finkelson, “a widow,” was dated March 1, 1951; and from Myrtle Finkelson to Bert and Jennie Chapman for $6,546.23 on March 27, 1953 (Mr. Chapman operated Bert’s Sandwich Shop, although he was also listed in City Directories from 1953 through the early 1970s as an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers.)  The Chapmans never resided in the E. Sumach house, residing briefly at two other Walla Walla addresses before moving to College Place.

There is a Quit Claim Deed from Aubrey J. and Louise J. Eichhorn to Lester L. and Thelma Montonye for $10, dated October 19, 1976.  The first listing in a City Directory for A. J. “Ike” Eichhorn does not appear until 1968.  Lester Montonye was retired, and Thelma Montonye was listed as a secretary at Washington State Penitentiary.  Additional legal documents pertaining to 527 E. Sumach are listed below by date.

March 17, 1971, Agreement for Deed, Bert and Jennie Chapman to Lester and Thelma Montonye, $10.  Lester Montonye was retired, and Thelma Montonye was listed as a secretary at Washington State Penitentiary.

March 27, 1971, Agreement for Deed, Bert and Jennie Chapman to Lester and Thelma Montonye, $9,500 at 7.5% per annum.

There is a Quit Claim Deed from Aubrey J. and Louise J. Eichhorn to Lester L. and Thelma Montonye for $10, dated October 19, 1976.  The first listing in a City Directory for A. J. “Ike” Eichhorn does not appear until 1968.  September 30, 1977, Real Estate Contract, Lester and Thelma Montonye to C. Edwin and LaVonne R. Anderson, $10

January 2, 1980, Contract, C. Edwin and LaVonne R. Anderson to Robert W. Morgan

November 23, 1982, Mortgage, Robert W. Morgan to Evelyn F. Beagle, $6,297.08

June 20, 1983, Lis Pendens, C. Edwin and LaVonne R. Anderson, plaintiffs vs. Robert W. Morgan, defendant for $1,703.85

July 18, 1983, Statutory Warranty Deed in lieu of foreclosure, Robert W. Morgan to C. Edwin and LaVonne R. Anderson

July 29, 1983, Partial Release of Mortgage, Evelyn M. Beagle, release of real property, but not debt (Evelyn Beagle was the wife of George Beagle, real estate broker, and resided at 104 Thorne)

May 31, 1984, Contract for Deed, C. Edwin and LaVonne R. Anderson to Glenn E. and DeVon F. Chesnut, $42,900

September 18, 2001, Lease With Purchase Option, Glenn E. Chesnut to William J. Carver

February 5, 2004, Warranty Deed, C. Edwin and LaVonne R. Anderson to Glenn E. Chestnut (sic)

October 12, 2007, Glenn E. and DeVon F. Chesnut to Andrew Reed, $45,000

July 28, 2008, Quit Claim Deed, Andrew and Amy Reed to Richard and Carol Reed

July 31, 2008, Richard and Carol Reed to Timothy P. and Kathy S. Sinclair, $85,000

March 31, 2011, Timothy P. and Kathy S. Sinclair to Justin W. Gillen, $70,000

May 25, 2012, Justin W. Gillen and Elizabeth D. Sweeney, husband and wife, to Glenn L. and Kristine D. Hill, $10 and other consideration

Construction of Building

The Walla Walla County Assessor’s Office lists a construction date of 1900 for the current house occupying this parcel.  Sanborn Fire Maps show a structure on the property in 1894, but not in 1890.  The footprint that appears on the 1894 Fire Map does not match the footprint of the current structure; the footprint on the 1905 Fire Map most definitely does.  Whether the structure dating from circa the mid-1890s was enlarged, or whether the current structure is actually the second one to occupy this parcel may be impossible to determine, but the current house would appear to most likely date from the very early years of the 20th century.  It may well be that the Keeneys had the house built when they moved into town from their farm in Pendleton; this would serve to date its construction to 1905.  In its irregular massing, the house reflects a typical late 19th-century “worker’s” bungalow.  It is one and one-half stories, lacking a basement (with a new concrete foundation in 2011-’12), having an unfinished attic and a gable roof.  Exterior siding of the first floor is horizontal shiplap; the attic gable ends display fish scale shingles. Even before the most recent extensive renovation in 2011-’12, it lacked the ornate lathe-turned embellishments one would typically find on a Victorian stick style dwelling.  The wrap-around front porch was supported by simple round columns lacking capitals, rather than more ornate, lathe-turned porch posts (these appear in previous photographs, see attached, but are no longer extant; see similar porch columns on the house on the northeast corner of E. Sumach and Park).

As mentioned, the house had been rental property from approximately 1916-’17 until very recently.  Around 1954 the house was converted into three distinct apartments, each with its own outside entrance, bath and possibly small kitchen.  City Directories from that point on list Apts. 1, 2 and 3 at that address.  During the recent renovation, all exterior entrances were kept, and each of the three bedrooms still has its now updated bath, but the entire interior has been completely redone, eliminating the possibility of accurately dating the house from any interior features.


Walla Walla City Directories, 1880 to present

Whitman College Archives

Sanborn Fire Maps, 1884 – 1905