The Hartline area was settled between 1885 and 1888. William Bundachue settled one half mile south of town, Henry Coplan a half mile north and one and one half miles east, and a Mr. Hall one and one half miles north.
In 1887 J.H. Hill and wife and Stephen Evans came. In 1887-88 Carey Carr and wife and Gertrude Smith arrived. By the summer of 1886 a big rush brought the D. D. Utts, also the I. I. Coleys, Joseph Myers and family, John Hartline, Patrick Grantfield and James Odgers. Odgers was the originator of the Hartline, Almira, Parnell and Coulee City townsites. He also started the Coulee City News and later worked on the Davenport Tribune, dying in Davenport in 1909.
Late in 1888, when the Central Washington and Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern railroads were running their surveys through western Lincoln and eastern Douglas counties, their sprung into existence, in Douglas county, a town known as Parnell. It was on the survey of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern railroad and was four and one half miles southeast of the present town of Hartline. Here in the spring of 1889, D.F. Reeves and E.J. Brower established a store. This was the only business house in Parnell. J.W. Hartline was interested in the building of a town at this point and proceeded with preparations for the building of a city. Enthusiastic reports were sent out with glowing reports of several businesses that were to be built. In September 1889 a postoffice was established at the new town with the only businessman, E.J. Brower as postmaster. However, at this point, disaster fell on the new community. The construction of the Seattle line was abandoned and along with it the future of Parnell.
In the spring of 1889 John W. Hartline took up the quarter secton of land upon which Hartline is now situated. He erected a small shack, and first building on the Hartline townsite. In 1890 Mr. Reeves, who heretofore had been in partnership with Brower at Parnell, erected a store building on Mr. Hartline’s land and moved his stock of goods up from his former place of business. Reeves did this as he was certain that the Central Washington line would extend west earlier that the Seattle line and the new site was on the surveyed line of the former railroad.
A postoffice was established at the time of the more and named Hartline in honor of the homesteader of the land. Mr. Reeves was named postmaster and the town began to grow. P.J. Young erected a house, Grif Humphrey established a blacksmith shop, and Young put in a small stock of lumber. Since there were several families in the vicinity a school was established.
The year before the school opened in the town of Hartline, 1888-89, the first school in the area was held in the Charles Roberts’ shack a mile north of Hartline. The rural school continued and each winter it would be held in another place.
The first school in town was held in the J.W. Hartline shack and consisted of eight students, taught by a Miss Alice Cope. In 1892 the Coley and Hartline schoolhouses were built. In 1902, because the Hartline schoolhouse was so small, it was sold to the Hartline Standard and a larger building was built. In 1904 the two schools were consolidated.
The town was platted June 5, 1890 by John W. Hartline.
The coming of the railroad did not bring the expected prosperity as it did in so many other places. George W. Roberts erected a platform along the track before the railroad was in operation bought wheat in the new town, thus becoming the pioneer grain dealer. He did not locate here permanently at this time and soon disposed of his business. In late 1891 the second store was established by D.C. Johnson. It operated for two years.
In 1891 the town of Hartline contained the following people: D.F. Reeves and wife; P.J. Young, wife and 3 children; Grif Humphrey, wife and 2 children. Within a mile or two of town lived Carey Carr, William Bundschue, James Hill, H.H. Ames, Charles Ames, D.F. Ames and William Hart.
In 1893 John and George McDonald established grain businesses in Hartline and Coulee City, building warehouses at each place. John handled the business at Hartline and George at Coulee City. In 1894 when Reeves, the postmaster and merchant, died of typhoid, the store and goods were bought out by the McDonald brothers who continued the business for eight years. The next store to be opened in Hartline was built by Patrick Kane in 1898.
Until 1902 the business community consisted of the two grain warehouses, run by Robers and McDonald, and the stores of McDonald and Kane.
In 1902 building boomed in the new town with the addition of a large brick store built by M.E. and E.T. Hay of Wilbur, the opening of the Hartline Standard Newspaper, the building of a hotel, lumber yard and drug store. Also the Hartline State Bank was established that year.
The population in June 1903 was 140 and the next year saw it rise to about 300. In 1904 it was the third largest town in Douglas County.