Historical Moments: San Juan Historical Museum

  • Sat Jun 27th, 2009 1:44am
  • Life
Historical Moments:  San Juan Historical Museum

Jim Crook, San Juan Island Pioneer.

Jim Crook lived his life, where in his own words, “British soldiers once did tramp” on the land vacated by the Royal Marines in 1872. Jim Crook was a farmer, inventor, brother and friend. His way of life is still practiced and revered on San Juan Island. The Crook family, parents William and Mary, son Jim and sisters Mary and Rhoda lived at English Camp for nearly 100 years.

Jim Crook’s parents were heading west on the Oregon Trail when Jim was born in Wyoming in 1873. The Crook family continued on to San Juan Island, where in 1875 they arrived at English Camp. In 1900, Jim and his father built their family home, a two-story house overlooking Garrison Bay, which still stands. By 1900, the Crooks were full time farmers raising chickens and sheep along with selling eggs, wool and fruit. Jim was inventive and self-sufficient, building his own wool carder and fashioning his own clothes from his sheep’s wool. He had many other creative ideas including inventing a pulley system that made his bed in the morning. Jim passed in 1967 at the age of 93, soon after English Camp was made into a National Historic Park.

Since then, many loving hands have helped to preserve the legacy of Jim Crook. The Jim Crook Society, the National Park Service and the San Juan Historical Museum have helped to preserve his story for future generations. In 2008, his story was made available in cyberspace. The Jim Crook Collection, an online collection, was made possible by a partnership between the San Juan Island Library, San Juan Historical Museum, the Washington State Library and the National Park Service. You can access the collection at washingtonruralheritage.org/sanjuan/

The San Juan Historical Museum is developing an interpretive display to showcase items belonging to Jim Crook which include his wool processing equipment, photographs, and his handmade clothing. Please visit the Historical Museum to see first hand the many unique artifacts that help tell the story of a San Juan Island original.