In short, the name came from an Indian phrase “pough,” which meant “add more,” and “allup,” which meant “the people.” The Indians who lived in Puyallup’s river area, he said, always gave more than needed or expected to other Indians who came to trade. They were a very generous people.
Our first settlers in the valley began to know the town as Meekersville, after Ezra Meeker, the one most considered the first to plat the land in the valley. Mr. Meeker wasn’t fond of the name, so when the first postmaster was asked by the government postal office the name of the town, he replied Franklin, named after the first postmasters (J.P. Stewart) hometown in New York. However, this name frustrated settlers who found that because Franklin was a common name for communities throughout the still forming United States, their mail often ended up in the various Franklin’s throughout the States. Once Washington became a state, Ezra Meeker was asked to supply a name for the town in which this land laid, he choose Puyallup as its name.
Why Puyallup? Ezra was determined to pick a name that no other town in the United States would have, or ever likely have in the future, so that citizens would be assured that any and all mail addressed to “Puyallup” would no doubt find its way to this distinctively named city.
In later years however, Ezra Meeker always questioned (and regretted) his decision, seeing the difficulty those from outside the region had in pronouncing the name or interpreting its spelling.