John A. Gellatly: Wenatchee’s First Citizen and Moral Crusader

Wenatchee First Citizen John A. Gellatly found plenty to cut his political teeth on during the rough-and-tumble Wild West era of the Apple Capital’s past. By 1909, Gellatly had succeeded in making Wenatchee a dry town and had issued an order to all prostitutes to “leave the city or reform.”

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“God pity ‘em,” Gellatly is quoted as saying about the town drunks that would fill the city’s jail before the dry order. “We surely ought to stop a curse like that.”

His success in setting the standard for prohibition made him friends throughout the state and helped to win his election to a single term in the Washington State House and four years as lieutenant governor. He later ran two unsuccessful campaigns for governor.

Gellatly is one of the historical figures featured Feb. 22 during the Wenatchee Valley Museum’s People of Our Past program.

“If anyone deserves the title of Wenatchee First Citizen, it’s Gellatly,” said museum education coordinator Selina Danko. “He served in just about every political office Wenatchee had to offer.”

Gellatly, portrayed by Marv Gellatly, is one of five historical North Central Washington characters presented by the museum this winter. The rest of the lineup includes Wenatchee industry builder and pioneer E.T. Pybus, portrayed by Don Collins; Dryden pioneer rancher and author Dora Tibbits, portrayed by Kathy Smithson; railroad baron James J. Hill, portrayed by Bill Murray; and Colockum-area mail-order bride Nellie Cox, played by Sue Lawson.

Each actor will perform three times during the day with a culminating evening meet-and-greet gala starting at 6 p.m. Performances at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are by donation. Tickets for the evening event are $15 for members and $20 for non-members and include historically themed heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, live music and a chance to mingle with the characters following the performance.

For more information about the People of Our Past program, contact Selina Danko at 888-6240 or sdanko@wvmcc.org. 

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