One of the beautiful aspects of my job is that to some degree, as long as there's an airport nearby, I can live pretty much wherever I choose. And so, not too long ago, Art Music Recording world headquarters relocated to beautiful Walla Walla, Washington.
This literal corner of the West has had many important roles in shaping history. Geologically, too, there is so much cataclysmic change written on the surface of the earth here that in some places I feel I wouldn't be too surprised if I saw a Brontosaurus lumber into view.
To me, nature and history have always been sources of fascination. It's been exciting delving deeper into the stories of my new home. On a trip to visit a prominent waterfall, the vestige of the ice-age Missoula floods, I came across a little dot on the map which bore my family name, Lamar. And I determined to find out its story.
Even before I started looking for answers, I had a guess. There are lots of little towns named Lamar around this country, especially in the West. This is because, during the time that the railroads were wending their braided tracks across the continent (1885-88), the United States Secretary of the Interior was Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II — my fifth-great grand uncle. Currying favor with him was a popular activity among little towns hoping to be designated as a railroad stop, and many of them changed their name in hopes they could attract his attention. I assumed this was the case with this little place, but not so.
Instead, the little town of Lamar, Washington is named after the “Lamar cabin,” which was not built by but purchased by two Lamar brothers in 1872. It later served as a stage stop, and when the railroad came through in 1888, it flourished briefly into a small town.
The property was later bequeathed to a nephew named James, who in his will, directed for it to be held in trust for the purpose of scholarships — so in fact to this day there is a James Lamar scholarship at Whitman College here in Walla Walla — which is a really good school, by the way. 😀