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Marysville was established in 1872 by government-appointed Indian agent James P. Comeford, an Irish immigrant who had served in the Civil War, and his wife Maria as a trading post on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.
The reservation, located to the west of modern-day Marysville, was established by the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855, signed by local Native American tribes and territorial governor Isaac Stevens at modern-day Mukilteo. The treaty's signing opened most of Snohomish County to American settlement and commercial activities, including logging, fishing and trapping.
The timber industry was the largest active industry in the area during the 1860s and 1870s, with hillsides in modern-day Marysville cleared by loggers for dairy farms.
The Comefords' trading post accepted business from the reservation and logging camps that were established near the mouth of the Snohomish River. In 1874, Comeford acquired three timber claims from local loggers for $450, totaling 1,280 acres, and cleared the land in preparation for settlement. Comeford and his wife moved to the present site of Marysville in 1877, building a new store and wharf.
Although Marysville remained a one-man town until 1883, a post office and school district were both established by 1879 using the names and signatures of Native American neighbors of Comeford's, who were given "Boston" names for the petition.
Comeford completed construction of a two-story hotel in 1883 to welcome new settlers. Among the first residents to arrive were James Johnson and Thomas Lloyd of Marysville, California, who suggested the town's name be used for Comeford's new town. Comeford sold his store and wharf to settlers Mark Swinnerton and Henry B. Myers in 1884, and moved north to the Kellogg Marsh (now part of Marysville) to farm 540 acres of land he purchased.
Marysville was formally platted on February 25, 1885, filed by the town physician J. D. Morris and dedicated by the Comefords. More settlers began to arrive after the completion of the town's first sawmill in 1887, joined by three others by the end of the decade. Marysville was officially incorporated as a fourth-class city on March 20, 1891, with a population of approximately 400 residents and Mark Swinnerton serving as the city's first mayor.
The Great Northern Railway also completed construction of its tracks through Marysville in 1891, building a drawbridge over Ebey Slough and serving the city's sawmills. A newspaper named the Marysville Globe was established by Thomas P. Hopp in 1892 and continues to be published for the city.
The first city hall was opened in late 1901, at a cost of $2,000, the building also housed the city's fire department, and later the first public library in 1907. Electrical and water supply systems were both inaugurated in 1906, alongside the construction of a high school building.
The timber industry in Marysville peaked in 1910, at which point the city's population reached 1,239, with 10 sawmills producing lumber on the shores of Ebey Slough.
Agriculture began to grow in Marysville, with its fertile land suited for the growing of strawberries in particular. By 1920, the city had more than 2,000 acres of strawberry fields, leading to the coining of the city's nickname of "Strawberry City" and the establishment of the annual Strawberry Festival in 1932.
An automobile bridge across Ebey Slough and the Snohomish River estuary to Everett was completed in 1927, with funding from the state department of highways to complete the Pacific Highway (later part of U.S. Route 99, and present-day State Route 529).
The city remained relatively unchanged through the Great Depression, with the diversity of industries credited for Marysville avoiding the worst of economic hardship experienced by other nearby communities. During World War II, an ammunition depot was built on the Tulalip Reservation near present-day Quil Ceda, later being re-used as a Boeing test site after the aerospace company expanded in Everett.
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