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Ezra Meeker
Ezra Meeker 1921.jpg
Meeker in 1921
1st Mayor of Puyallup, Washington
In office
August 1890 – January 1891
Preceded by new office
Succeeded by James Mason
In office
January 1892 – January 1893
Preceded by James Mason
Succeeded by L.W. Hill
1st Postmaster of Puyallup, Washington Territory
In office
Preceded by new office
Succeeded by Marion Meeker
Personal details
Ezra Manning Meeker

(1830-12-29)December 29, 1830
Butler County, Ohio, U.S.
Died December 3, 1928(1928-12-03) (aged 97)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Resting place Woodbine Cemetery, Puyallup, Washington
47°10′14″N 122°18′8″W / 47.17056°N 122.30222°W / 47.17056; -122.30222
Citizenship United States
Political party Republican
Eliza Jane Sumner
(m. 1851; her death 1909)
Children 6
Residence Meeker Mansion
Occupation Farmer
  • Uncle Ezra
  • Father Ezra

Ezra Manning Meeker (December 29, 1830 – December 3, 1928) was an American pioneer who traveled the Oregon Trail by ox-drawn wagon as a young man, migrating from Iowa to the Pacific Coast. Late in life he worked to memorialize the Trail, repeatedly retracing the trip of his youth. Once known as the "Hop King of the World", he was the first mayor of Puyallup, Washington.

Meeker was born in Butler County, Ohio, to Jacob and Phoebe Meeker. His family relocated to Indiana when he was a boy. He married Eliza Jane Sumner in 1851; the following year the couple, with Ezra's brother and with their newborn son, set out for the Oregon Territory, where land could be claimed and settled on. Although they endured hardships on the Trail in the journey of nearly six months, the entire party survived the trek. Meeker and his family briefly stayed near Portland, then journeyed north to live in the Puget Sound region. They settled at what is now Puyallup in 1862, where Meeker grew hops for use in brewing beer. By 1887, his business had made him wealthy, and his wife built a large mansion for the family. In 1891 an infestation of hop aphids destroyed his crops and took much of his fortune. He later tried his hand at a number of ventures, and made four largely unsuccessful trips to the Klondike, taking groceries and hoping to profit from the gold rush.

Meeker became convinced that the Oregon Trail was being forgotten, and he determined to bring it publicity so it could be marked and monuments erected. In 1906–1908, although in his late 70s, he retraced his steps along the Oregon Trail by wagon, seeking to build monuments in communities along the way. His trek reached New York, and in Washington, D.C. he met President Theodore Roosevelt. He traveled the Trail again several times in the final two decades of this life, including by oxcart in 1910–1912 and by airplane in 1924. During another such trip, in 1928, Meeker fell ill but was succored by Henry Ford. On his return to Washington state, Meeker became ill again and died there on December 3, 1928 at age 97. Meeker wrote several books; his work has continued through the activities of such groups as the Oregon-California Trails Association.

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