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Maxwell was the first name suggested for what is now Hermiston. However, the U.S. Post Office denied that idea because there was already a post office named "Maxwell." Colonel J.F. McNaught, a pioneer settler, suggested the name "Hermiston" instead, and it was accepted. The name came from an unfinished book written by Robert Louis Stevenson entitled "Weir of Hermiston." McNaught's wife, Jennie, had just read the novel and suggested the name. And since it didn't duplicate any name in the United States, it was acceptable. So A.L. Maxwell, who worked for the railroad, missed out on his place in local history because his surname was already in use somewhere else.


This is the name of a town laid out as a terminus of the Prospect Hill Railroad. It is to be the shipping point for products of Prospect Farm and this whole region when it is brought under cultivation. These upland plans, lying back from the Columbia about fifteen miles, have always been considered valueless by reason of the small quantity of rain. A number of gentlemen entertaining a different opinion on this point organized the Prospect Hill Co., in 1879, took up and fenced 4,160 acres of land, and began cultivating it in 1880. The large crop harvested in 1881 settled the question of fertility of soil, and demonstrated that thousands of acres formerly considered valueless for agriculture are exceedingly fine grain land. The members of this company are J.R. Foster, C.H. Lewis, T.A. Davis, H.W. Corbett, and J.H. Kunzie. The superintendent is T.L. Moorehouse, after who the town and post office are named. A residence, boarding house, stables, tool house, blacksmith shop, granaries and store house are now here, and upon completion of the road quite a town will no doubt spring up.

From "Historic Sketches of Walla Walla, Whitman, Columbia, and Garfield Counties, Washington Territory and Umatilla County, Oregon," by Frank T. Gilbert, Portland, Oregon 1882


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