This month in Edmonds History: Edmonds’ first merchant Matthew Hyner

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M.E. Hyner Groceries & Dry Goods and Post Office, with Hyner home in background, circa 1887.

My Edmonds News is proud to present a monthly look at Edmonds history, straight from the archives of the Edmonds Historical Museum. For the month of November, we’ll revisit 1887.

In November 1887, Matthew E. Hyner was named postmaster of Edmonds. Hyner and his family arrived in Edmonds nine months prior, in February, when only five other houses existed in the town. He bought the general store at the foot of Main Street, then called George Street, and expanded it, offering flour, dried beans and spices to his pioneer neighbors. At that time, the nearest post office was located in Bothell, so Hyner filed an application and became Edmonds’ first postmaster on Nov. 7.

The post office was located inside Hyner’s store. The mail would arrive by steamer, and Hyner would often have to row out to meet it if the tide was low. The first flag to be displayed in Edmonds was also flown at this post office every fair day; it arrived in 1887, and bore 13 stripes and a star for each of the 38 states at that time.

The Hyner family, which consisted of Matthew, his wife Clara and their four children, built a house one block from the store that served at least one business function as well as domestic ones. The two-story home had a cupola with windows on all sides above the second story, which was used by the children to report an approaching steamer. When the steamer’s smoke could be seen off Point Wells to the south or the tip of Whidbey Island to the north, they would alert Edmonds residents that mail and passengers were arriving. (The house and cupola can be seen behind the store in the above photograph.)

Hyner is considered Edmonds’ first real merchant, and he was also instrumental in the construction of the Congregational Church.  He remained postmaster until 1896, and passed away in 1929.

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