Catherine Maynard and the Dandelion

Catherine Maynard, briefly a Thurston County pioneer resident, but better known as one of the founders of Seattle, led a very colorful life. Her many exploits are well recorded. She lived into the 20th century, providing historians with firsthand accounts of the early days, including stories about her brother (Tumwater pillar Michael T. Simmons) and husband (Doc Maynard). But there is one detail about her influence on our daily lives today that is frequently overlooked.


She has been credited with introducing that little yellow flower to Western Washington in the early 1850s. By 1891 my great-great grandmother was writing back to her relatives in Michigan about how great it was to see dandelions in bloom all over Centralia at a time of year they would still be under snow in Lansing. So it didn't take long for that plant to establish itself out here.

Mrs. Maynard's claim to fame in introducing this botanical invader isn't well documented, but historian Nancy Wilson Ross (who was, by the way, born in Olympia) was willing to award Catherine the honor when she wrote Westward the Women (Knopf, 1945):

It is not debatable, however, that she did plant the first wild dandelion for use in medications. Her husband, "Doc" Maynard, was a Seattle character of the rough-and-ready type, who practiced medicine and established the first crude hospital. The dark forests spreading to the very edge of the tidewaters provided no natural home for the golden-faced blossom. Mrs. Maynard was a practical nurse, and owing to her wish for the medicinal aid of the dandelion this stubborn and hardy plant now gives Northwest gardeners as much trouble as it does lawn-tenders in any other part of America.

My question is, did she plant her first dandelions in Olympia/Tumwater, or, Seattle?