Meeker, Ezra, 1830-1928

Alternative names
Birth 1830-12-29
Death 1928-12-03

Biographical notes:

Meeker was a pioneer on the wagon trail.

From the description of Letter : Los Angeles, Calif., to Rolland A. Vandegrift, University of Southern California, 1924 April 28. (Natural History Museum Foundation, Los Angeles County). WorldCat record id: 23367142

Ezra Meeker was an early pioneer who traveled the Oregon Trail by ox cart as a young man. Beginning in his 70s he worked tirelessly to memorialize the trail, repeatedly retracing the trip of his youth. Meeker was born in Huntsville, Ohio; his family relocated to Indiana in 1840. Married in 1851, in 1852, with his wife and his newborn son, he headed to the Oregon Territory during the era of the donation land claims, ending up near Puget Sound. They settled permanently in Puyallup in 1862, where Meeker began growing hops for brewing beer. He was the founder of the Pacific Northwest Hops Industry. By 1885 his business had made him wealthy. His wife convinced him to allow her to build a mansion similar to those she had seen in Europe. Three years and $26,000 later, her mansion was finished. However, in 1891 an infestation of hops aphids destroyed his crops and nearly ruined him. He subsequently tried a number of ventures, including dehydrating fruits and vegetables, working on packaging milk in paper containers, and four largely unsuccessful trips to the Klondike looking for gold. He also wrote a novel about his experiences on the trip west. Meeker is an important figure in what is now the southern portion of King County and the eastern parts of Pierce County. A statue to Meeker was erected near the Puyallup Library in 1926. He was a historian and a tireless promoter of the Oregon Trail. He passed away in 1928.

From the description of Letter from Ezra Meeker to Mrs. Etta B. McNeill, librarian in Montesano, Washington, 1921 December 21. (Washington State Library, Office of Secretary of State). WorldCat record id: 213488608

Long-lived Washington State pioneer, civic leader, and prolific author, Ezra Meeker (1830-1928), migrated to the Pacific Northwest along the Oregon Trail, eventually residing in what would become Puyallup, Washington, where, after amassing a fortune, he later achieved even greater renown by becoming a relentless promoter of his own pioneer legacy. Meeker was born in 1830 in Huntsville, Ohio, but his family settled in Indiana. Following his 1851 marriage, Meeker, his wife (the former Eliza Jane Sumner), and their infant son, Marion, would leave for Oregon the following April. In 1862, the Meeker family settled permanently in the Puyallup area. Meeker soon established a successful hop growing business. By the mid-1880s, he had become one of the wealthiest and most prominent men in the Territory. Meeker was involved with numerous other business ventures, including platting the town of Puyallup and gold mining in the Yukon. He also served as the first mayor of Puyallup. At 76, he became a national celebrity when he loaded up his ox cart and retraced the Oregon Trail to the east. He gave speeches along the way to advocate for the trail's preservation, winning the support of President Theodore Roosevelt for his project. In later years, he would make the trip again by automobile, train, and airplane. Meeker published extensively and continued to promote the Oregon Trail through a variety of means until his death.

From the description of Ezra Meeker correspondence and manuscripts, 1894-1924. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 123954124

Pioneer, businessman, promoter, and historian of the Oregon trail.

From the description of Scrapbook, 1924-1930. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122638158

Oregon and Washington pioneer, who devoted his later years to the commemorative marking of the Oregon Trail.

Also widely known as the author of several works on the Trail and pioneer life in the northwest.

From the description of Ox team days : speech, 1923 July. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 38861509


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Ark ID:


  • Pioneers--Correspondence
  • Aeronautics
  • Frontier and pioneer life
  • Pioneers
  • Pioneers--History--19th century--Sources
  • Oregon
  • Hops
  • Frontier and pioneer life--History--19th century--Sources
  • Agriculture
  • African American pioneers
  • Historians--History--Sources
  • Pioneers--History--Sources
  • Historians--Correspondence


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  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Oregon National Historic Trail (as recorded)
  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • Overland Trails (as recorded)
  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)
  • Washington (as recorded)
  • Oregon National Historic Trail (as recorded)
  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • Portland (Or.) (as recorded)
  • Fort Hall (Idaho) (as recorded)
  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • Oregon National Historic Trail (as recorded)
  • Washington Territory (as recorded)
  • Omaha (Neb.) (as recorded)
  • Fort Hall (Idaho) (as recorded)
  • Portland (Or.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)