Spokane History Timeline

The Four Corners, the Birth of Spokan Falls, and James N. Glover

Spokane Early Map Drawn

The corner of Howard + Spokane Falls Blvd was the center of the first settlement. The street has had several names. First it was called Front Street, then Trent Avenue, and now Spokane Falls Blvd. Spokane really started in May, 1873, when James Glover arrived and saw the falls. He knew that this would be a very good townsite. Two men lived here, Seth Scranton and JJ Downing. Some say Scranton and Downing had their families here, but others say that they were running away from the U.S. Marshal for cattle rustling. Anyway, when James Glover arrived he bought it for $1600, and then went back to Portland to secure supplies.

James Glover, Father of Spokane

James Glover was born in Lincoln County, Missouri on March 15, 1837. He was one of eleven children. His dad was French and his mom was German. When he was twelve his family came by covered wagon from Missouri to Salem, Oregon. He opened a fruit store in California when he was 20 then returned to Oregon to work as a carpenter. In 1862, he began mining operations in Washington and Northern Idaho. He did this for eight years than returned to Salem, Oregon where he helped run a ferry on the Willamette River.

J.N. Glover


James had heard about the beauty of the Palouse and Spokane area from a friend, so at 36 years old, he decided to make the long journeyin May, 1873. He and his partner Jasper N. Matheney came up the Columbia and Snake Rivers then completed the trip on horseback. When James and Jasper got there James could not believe how lovely it was. James dream was that someday Spokane would become what it is now. Glover and Matheney returned to Oregon to get their families and convince C. F. Yeaton to return to Spokane with them. They started a sawmill after returning and later Glover started a store to trade furs for goods with the Indians and the few settlers in the area. Not many people were moving to Spokane. His partners got discouraged and left Spokane. They sold their land to Glover giving him a total of 160 acres.


Glover's Store

In June of 1877, the Nez Perce war broke out and the settlers gathered in Mr. Glover’s Store or on the “Big Island” in the Spokane River to protect themselves from the Indians. Mr. Glover told the Indians that soldiers would come if they didn’t leave. He didn’t know that the army was only one day away. His story worked and scared the Indians out of Spokane. Mr. Glover convinced General Sherman to have troops spend the winter in Spokane. They stayed until the following summer and built Fort Coeur d’Alene. Glover’s store sold food and goods to the soldiers and new families felt safe to move into Spokane. (At right is Glover's store)


Glover Certificate


The number of families in Spokane increased quickly after Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in June of 1881. Glover urged others to settle in Spokane Falls, like a lawyer, a merchant, a doctor and a missionary. He gave them land to help them get started. He convinced Frederick Post to move from Post Falls and build a mill on forty acres of Glover’s land. Glover requested Spokane’s first survey in 1878. (See certificate at left) He helped with the survey and got to name many of Spokane’s downtown streets. He named Mill Street because his first mill was build there (this was later renamed Wall Street), Howard Street for General O. Howard, Sprague for one of the men that worked on the railroad, Post Street was named for Frederick Post, and Monroe, Washington, Adams, Lincoln and Madison after presidents. Glover insisted that the streets be one hundred feet wide and said he wouldn’t give his land if they were only 60 feet wide.

Glover can be credited for our beautifully planned downtown. James N. Glover is the “Father of Spokane” he helped plan and build Spokane. When his friends gave up and left, he stayed behind and brought the city together. Even, when 32 blocks of Spokane downtown burnt down in August of 1889, Glover didn’t give up hope. He and others rebuilt Spokane out of stone and brick and made it bigger and better than before the fire. Glover tried to save the First National Bank of Spokane during the recession of 1893 by putting all his money into the bank. After the financial collapse, he lost all his money and even his home. He held his head high and became an example for everyone. He reminded people that things would get better. He was right. The country and Spokane made it through the financial collapse and Glover lived in Spokane until his death on November 18, 1921, at 84 years old. He truly was the “Father of Spokane.” He was a leader in our community for 48 years, and that is why Jimmy Nettle Glover is so important to Spokane.

California House

*The California House, also called The Windsor Hotel before the great fire of 1889 burned it down, was located where the Carousel now stands.

William C. Gray and his wife Clara built it. They were living in the unfinished hotel in 1879, and Clara had made a closet by hanging a curtain over the wall and hanging dresses on pegs behind it. When Mrs. Gray went to get her dress for a dance to raise money for the school house, she found her dress frozen stiff and stuck to the wall. She had to literally iron it off the wall. She made it to the dance and danced the first waltz in town.

Photos used with permission from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/ Eastern Washington State Historical Society.
L2003-28.371 = Glover
L93-66.238 - Glover Store
L2003-28.371 = Glover Survey Certificate
*1884 picture of California House, Glover and Gilliam Livery Stable and the Echo Rolling Mill
Reports completed 1997, 2003, and 2007.

copyright (c) 1997, Discovery School All rights reserved.
Revised: November 29, 2003; August 26, 2007; Last modified July 27, 2011