The Founding Father of Spokane
James Nettle Glover (1837-1921) took original deed, surveyed and parceled the original quarter square mile where downtown Spokane is located today. After opening the first area mercantile store, Glover went on to open one of the original banks as well as one of the original newspapers. He was on the original city council and was elected the second mayor of Spokane Falls.
Arriving in the Spokane Falls area from Salem Oregon on May 11 1873, James Glover immediately became infatuated with the natural beauty of the area. Realizing the potential gain from the abundance of natural resources as well as the anticipated arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway, Glover bought the land rights to 160 acres of land located on the south bank of the Spokane River.
The original land claim that Glover purchased was shaped like the letter "T" with the majority on the south side of the river. A smaller piece crossed the river encompassing the falls in their entirety in addition to a small piece of land on the north shore.
He bought the squatters' rights to the land from James Downing and Seth Scranton who had settled there along with Downing's wife and step daughter, two years prior. There was a small saw mill and a handful of other buildings on the land at the time. A couple of the buildings weren't even completed.
Glover's friend and business partner, Jasper Matheny tried to talk him out of making a hasty decision but the very next day Glover negotiated and bought the rights to the 160 acres of land for $4,000. Downing and Scranton had previously made arrangements to sell their squatter's rights to a man named Benjamin. Benjamin had paid them a $400 initial installment but was unable to make any further payments. Glover negotiated that the first $400 he paid went to Benjamin.
Leaving Scranton in charge of the property, Glover and Matheny would soon return to Salem for supplies needed to repair the saw mill and stock a mercantile. In Salem, Glover met up with an acquaintance, Cyrus Teaton who had experience in the mercantile business. Glover, Matheny and Teaton arranged a partnership and returned to Spokane Falls with supplies. Glover's wife, Susan would come join him in in Spokane Falls later that summer.
The original saw mill was a type referred to as a muley saw mill where a water wheel powers a steal whip saw blade up and down to cut the lumber. While this was quite a bit better than two men and a saw pit, it was not nearly as efficient as the circular saws of the day. The mill was capable of producing only 700 board feet of lumber per day.
The three men quickly had the saw mill and the mercantile up and running. Early on the mercantile catered mostly to the local natives and less to the European settlers. In the fall, the local Indian tribe would gather where Hangman creek, (Latah Creek) meets the Spokane River to catch salmon for the winter. Indians would provide good business for the mercantile.
A large part of Glover's original interest in the Spokane Falls area was that it was on the proposed route of the Great Northern Railway. Great Northern began construction on a transcontinental railway just a few years earlier in 1870. Due to political issues that caused financial blocks, the Great Northern halted construction about the same time that James Glover was settling in Spokane Falls.
Glover's partners, Matheny and Teaton became discouraged by the challenging lifestyle and slow progress. In 1876 Glover ultimately bought his partners out. The following year, construction on the northern transcontinental railroad route resumed.
It was not until 1878 that Glover actually recorded his land claim and received deeded rights to his original 160 acres. This was done in Colville, as Spokane Falls was part of Stevens County at that time. He then had the land surveyed and parceled. Most of the streets we see in downtown Spokane still have the same names that Glover gave to them.
During this era other key players to include Reverend Thomas Cowley, Reverend Thomas Havermale, Anthony Cannon and John Brown would arrive on seen. Both Anthony Cannon and John Brown bought 160 acre parcels adjacent to Glover's. Cannon opened a store and soon after opened Spokane's first bank. Brown was an attorney and opened Spokane's first law office. Cannon and Brown would also form a partnership to begin Spokane's first newspaper, The Spokane Falls Chronicle which was a weekly newspaper at the time.
In a census taken in 1880, Spokane falls had a population of over 500. This is about the same time that Spokane County was formed and it was in need of a county seat. Though the election was surrounded with scandal, Cheney was to become the first county seat. Later in 1886 there would be a re-election and Spokane Falls would prevail as the county seat.
On June 25, 1881 Northern Pacific arrived to Spokane Falls. The railroad was being constructed from the east and the west simultaneously. It first came to Spokane from the west. The population of Spokane Falls was over 1,000 by the end of that year. On September 8, 1983, the Great Northern Railway completed its transcontinental railroad in Gold Creek Montana.
In 1882 Glover founded Spokane's first national bank. It was housed in a large two story brick building named Glover Block. This is the same building where the Spokane Police Department resided.
As Spokane Falls grew James Glover became a respected pillar of the community. He was considered by most as honest, trustworthy, a friend to all and generous to a fault. In 1889 Glover built a large mansion on the lower South Hill. This mansion was designed by famous architect Kirtland Cutter and still stands today and can be rented for weddings and events.
Though Glover enjoyed a life of privilege, his life was not without scandal and hardship. Within a year of moving into his newly constructed home, he had marital problems and separated from his first wife. After an extended separation, Glover divorced Susan, his first wife of 24 years. Two days later he married a much younger wife, Esther.
After the divorce, Susan went back to Salem for a short time only to return to Spokane where she caused her ex-husband grief and embarrassment. In 1899 Susan would be admitted to the Eastern State Hospital Insane Asylum because she was found unfit to take care of herself.
James Glover and his new wife Esther lived in the mansion for less than a year. Owning the largest bank in Spokane resulted in an enormous financial impact to Glover with the panic of 1893. That same your, he lost his home and had to move.
In 1909 James Glover had Kirtland Cutter design and build a much more modest home on Summit Blvd. This is where Glover spent the remainder of his years until his death in 1921.
Written by:Todd Hays