Spokane vs. Cheney for County Seat

 

In 1879, new boundaries for Spokane County were drawn and Spokane Falls was given the county seat. The decision was to be ratified in the next election to be held in the Fall of 1880.

The only other town to challenge was Cheney. After the election there was a question of validity of votes. Some thought that Cheney had won by 2-3 votes. But Spokane kept the County Seat. Ben Cheney gave 150 temporary workers the right to vote and then demanded a recount. Five months later all the residents of Spokane Falls were at a wedding party for Dick Wright and Mary Piper on March 21, 1881. About one o'clock in the morning a group of men sneaked through a gulley near Spokane Falls Courthouse. They rudely kicked in the door to the courthouse. They had guns and they demanded a re-count. The auditor, W.H.Bishop, recounted the votes and Cheney won by 71 votes. The election was changed and officially signed. The records were stuffed into gunny sacks and taken to Cheney with the Auditor. (He went wherever the records went.)
The next morning, the auditor was missing and his office was stripped of records. Spokane sent a scout to Cheney and he returned with bad news: "They were standing over the records with 6 shooters." Cheney kept the county seat until 1886 when Spokane won in a new election.
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Revised: November 29, 2003
Report completed in 2000.