Originally settled in 1868 by W.S. Frazier, Milton-Freewater is the only town in America with a hyphenated name. There is some dispute to where the name "Milton" came from, though it is thought to have been chosen by the settlers living in the area at the time. Frazier laid out plans for the town in 1872 and sold some acreage along with water rights to John Miller. In 1873, they started building residential housing, opened a post office, a store, a blacksmith shop, and a school.
By 1889, Milton was thriving and was a local paragon of virtue, boasting at least one religious academy and strict no-alcohol laws. Several local men decided this conservative way of life wasn't for them, and founded a new town just to the north of Milton. Early names for the new town included New Walla Walla and Wallaette, and while Milton would become home to a Methodist College, Wallaette would be home to numerous saloons. Rival newspapers poked fun at each other, and Wallaette was changed to Freewater as part of a marketing plan to encourage settlement with the promise of free water.
In 1950, a narrow vote by residents of both towns led to a merger, where the name Milton-Freewater was adopted, and 61 years of municipal independence for each town ended, saving considerably on duplicate city services.
We encourage you to visit the Fraizer Farmstead if you are interested in learning more about Milton-Freewater and Columbia Valley history.
Click below to view some of our historic photos.