About this Image

From Sohon Drawing


Early Settlers in Walla Walla

"Samuel M. Baldwin: Businessman"

by Shaun Reeser


Samuel M. Baldwin was an early leading figure in Walla Walla. Although he never held an important office in the town, he nonetheless was influential in shaping the city. Baldwin was a business partner with E.B. Whitman, Walla Walla’s first elected mayor, and L.W. Greenwell, another prominent community member. Baldwin and Whitman were also together on the committee to organize the first Fire Company (firefighting unit) in Walla Walla. Additionally, they served together on the board of a new railroad corporation to create a rail line from Walla Walla to Wallula, Washington.

As with any early businessman in the western frontier, Baldwin was not free of legal troubles. The Frontier Justice Records of Walla Walla County held at the Washington State Archives Eastern Region Branch list Baldwin in the records nine times as both a plaintiff and defendant in 1861 and 1862. There are three instances that the cause of the civil case is “Collection, Account,” and in each, Baldwin is the defendant. Of the other six occurrences “Collection, Promissory Note” is the listed as the case type, and in two of these instances Baldwin is the plaintiff.

These brief examples show the impact of one citizen in the creation of a modern city. They also show, however, that these same people were often on both sides of judicial proceedings, likely in business deals. To learn more about the types of cases that Samuel Baldwin was in, please see the Frontier Economy section.