This is an ongoing series that reports on Lanny Weaver’s and Deb Ross’s weekly trips to the Research Center at the Washington State Historical Society to catalogue documents and photographs relating to Olympia and Thurston County. This installment is written by Deb.
One of the fun parts of my cataloguing efforts is the opportunity to do detective work. Recently I was assigned a collection of photographs of the pioneer Cook family, headed by “Captain” Peter Cook, who had several children, many of whom retained local connections. I was fortunate to have a family history available that had been compiled and published by Cook family descendants. Yet I was puzzled by one person, Theresa Cook, who was married to a John Swan. I could find no reference to Theresa in on-line public records about John M. Swan, who founded Swantown (East Olympia). The mystery deepened when I catalogued a photograph of an obviously Native American, referred to as a son of John Swan’s first wife. Fortunately, local historians Drew Crooks and Roger Easton helped me out. Turns out there were two John Swans – one “our” John M. Swan, and another John Swan, who homesteaded McNeil Island and at one time was prosecuted for adultery, at the time often a reference to illegal marriage with a Native American. Mystery solved!