Matthew Hyner, Leading Edmonds Merchant and First Postmaster

Matthew Hyner, entrepreneur, merchant, postmaster and prominent citizen, helped shape Edmonds in its earliest years.

It was February 21, 1887. 

The steamer Monroe, taking advantage of the high tide, slowly eased up to moor at Brackett’s wharf. The gangplank lowered, and a young family of five stepped gingerly onto the dock.  They were Matthew Hyner, his wife Clara, and their three children, Paul, Ruth and Robert.

The Hyners came to Edmonds from Illinois looking for a chance to build a new life on the shores of Puget Sound. While Matthew had enjoyed some success as a factory worker, being a wage earner did not suit him. He longed to build a life as an independent business owner. He’d managed to save some money and wasn’t afraid of hard work.  He saw in Edmonds a place where he could apply these to realize his dream.

Hyner began immediately. The store at the foot of the wharf was for sale. Hyner purchased it, enlarged it and added more stock. Within six months, he was recognized as Edmonds leading merchant, and joined the ranks of the venerable George Brackett and Allen M. Yost as one of Edmonds' leading citizens. He built a house behind the store, and quickly settled into the life of a respected community member.

Word of Hyner quickly spread beyond Edmonds, and in November 1887, only nine months after his arrival, the U.S. Postmaster General appointed him . Mail service to Edmonds was spotty at this time. The mail arrived by steamer from Seattle, but there was no central post office and distribution was haphazard.  

The Hyners built a home about a block uphill from the store, and above the second story constructed a roof cupola with windows on all sides. Hyner appointed his children as lookouts, and they would stand watch in the cupola.

Upon spotting the mail steamer rounding Point Wells, they would alert their father, who then took a leisurely walk to Brackett’s wharf to transfer the mail. But if the boat happened to arrive at low tide and couldn’t moor at the wharf, Hyner would dress for the weather, jump in his skiff, and row out to meet it.

By 1896, Hyner had enough of the daily grind of postmastering and the occasional windy, cold, wet rows to meet the mail boat.  He left the job to concentrate on his family and running his store, but maintained close ties with the post office and the new postmaster, L.L. Austin. (This association led to Edmonds' first telephone switchboard operating out of the post office, with Hyner's daughter Ruth as head operator. See Patch article ".")

Today Hyner’s store is long gone. The space is now home to the (recently ) and the newly opened Demetris Woodstone Taverna restaurant (see YouTube interview with Nick Bagley, manager of Demetris Woodstone Taverna).


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