Hurst

Hurst Creek, North Hurst Creek, Hurst Creek Road

Jack Hurst was “a versatile man, able to do all the jobs on the ranch… He played the fiddle and was a good story teller.”33

John (Jack) Milton Hurst was born around Damascus in Stephenson County, Illinois on 2 April 1862.1 He had an older sister, Margarete (1857-1930), and a brother, Martin (1859-1860), who had died young.2 According to family genealogies (on Ancestry.com) their mother, Prudence Meacum, passed away in September 1863.

There is not a lot known about Jack’s early life. Census records indicate that he and his father, Amos, worked as farmers in Iowa in 1880 and 1885.3 Amos passed away 17 March 1891 in Afton Iowa.4 Later sources also point to Hurst as having hunted and guided in Wyoming.5

Canada Bound

John Hurst immigrated to Canada in about 1899.6 When he later applied for his certificate of naturalization in the summer of 1902 he was required to have lived in Canada for a minimum of three years. This certificate, awarded in August 1902, gave Hurst British citizenship, and suggests his intention to stay in the country (Canadian citizenship was only established as separate from British citizenship in 1947).7

It’s unknown why Hurst chose the Windermere Valley. The first trace I was able to find of him is a note of his doing work on the trail up to Jumbo Creek, including building two bridges.8 Soon after, Hurst, along with John Bonander and W.W. Robinson, staked the Leora group up Jumbo Creek on 15 August 1900.9 Hurst would eventually apply for a crown grant on these claims in 1917 (along with Leonard Rees), which were then known as the Clara (Lot 12502) and the Ida (Lot 12501), then described as being up Leora Creek (a tributary of Jumbo Creek – this creek now has no official name, and is one valley west from Leo Creek).10

By 1901 Hurst seemed to be settling into the community, being added as a trustee to the Windermere District Hospital board in Wilmer,11 and filing a pre-emption for Lot 7907 located up what is now Frances Creek (then No 3 Creek).12 Later newspaper reports suggest that Hurst initially had a partner on this ranch, Tom C. Conners, but Conners sold out his interest in the summer of 1903.13

Ranching up Frances Creek

Hurst was the first settler to take up land for farming up in the Frances Creek valley. He called his ranch “Fairview”, but it later became better known as Hidden Valley Ranch.14 Early access to the ranch was via a trail from Wilmer. According to Hurst’s daughter, all goods and implements had to be taken in by pack horse, including all of the farm machinery.15

This lack of road limited Hurst’s ability to sell products from his ranch, just as prospectors further up the creek were also limited in their activities (notably on the Isaac, the Lead Queen, and the McLean group).16 Money was finally awarded by the provincial government in 1906 to extend the wagon road from Firlands up to Hurst’s ranch, and Hurst himself was given the task of laying down the route.17

The Hurst ranch became the most productive and successful of the many properties staked up Frances creek, described in 1906 as having, “All kinds of grain, hay, vegetables and even fruit trees are already to be seen growing luxuriantly.”18 In 1909 Hurst purchased an additional piece of land (Lot 6369), located some distance from his first.19

Even after staking his ranch, Hurst continued to be listed through 1903 in provincial directories as a prospector living in Wilmer.20 In 1903 Hurst also worked for “a long time” (likely through the winter) up at the Ptarmigan Mine,21 immediately followed by a trip with prospector Tom Brown up Frances creek.22 This seasonal mix of prospecting and ranching was not uncommon for many living in the valley at the time.

A Bear Story

Hurst had his fifteen minutes of fame in autumn 1903 with a story of a bear encounter that was re-printed in newspapers across the province. For the squeamish: enough to say Hurst killed a bear by shooting it then pelting it with rocks. Feel free to leave it there and scroll on down to the next heading. As for the full story:

“[Jack Hurst] was out hunting chicken near his Number Three creek ranch, armed only with a double barrelled shot gun, when he saw within a few yards from him the bear. Jack is an old Wyoming hunter and he knows not fear, so he immediately put two shots in the side of bruin’s head, blinding one eye. Bruin chased Jack, but as he ran he reloaded and turning again on the bear Jack shot him through the mouth, knocking out several teeth. Another shot in the head put bruin on his knees, and then Jack dropped his gun and with a continuous throwing of rocks finally succeeded in pelting the life out of the bear. Our reporter saw the head of the bear last Sunday and ate some of the meat. The skull was cracked open, some teeth gone and two just hanging, and shots were flattened out all over the side of the head. It was hard work for two men to lift the dead bear onto a horse to pack it home.”23

Guiding

This newspaper story seemed to help boost Hurst’s popularity in hunting circles. The summer following the bear incident he was employed as a guide for a group of eastern hunters. Hurst reported planning to bring the hunters down into the States,24 but in subsequent years he would use his ranch as a guiding outpost, continuing to put up both hunters and local travellers.25 Hurst’s reputation as a guide became “world wide,”26 and he was “recommended as an excellent guide and outfitter,” for travellers wanting to get into the mountains.27

Family Life

John Hurst married relatively late in life, at age 53 (his marriage certificate lists him as age 42), to Ursula Agnes Ferreira on 20 April 1915 in Wilmer.28 The couple had three children, Enid Laura Hansen (1916-2008),29 Vera Adella Wikman (1918-2011),30 and Mervyn (unknown dates).31

Jack passed away on 1 December 1924 of rheumatic fever, and is buried in the Windermere Cemetery.32 He was remembered by his daughter, Vera, as, “a versatile man, able to do all the jobs on the ranch… He played the fiddle and was a good story teller.”33

Gravestone of John Milton Hurst at the Windermere Cemetery. Photo: Alex Weller

See Also

Lead Queen Mine
Isaac Mine

Footnotes

1. Vera Wikman, “John Milton Hurst,” Valley History and the Windermere Valley Museum (August 1999), p 1. [Newsletter for the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives.] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.41/0bs.9b1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1999_08.pdf
Marriage Certificate for John Milton Hurst and Ursula Agnes Ferreira. 20 April 1915, Reg No 15-09-148235. BC Archives. http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Image/Genealogy/e19e5bd0-3975-47db-b25d-92a6bb1dbde7
2. United States Census 1860. Illinois, Stephenson County, Town of Waddam (taken 27 July 1860), page 306, Line 13 (A Hurch). https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXHF-YMF
3. United States Census 1880. Iowa, Union County, Township of Sand Creek (taken 13 July 1880), page 10, Line 21-22 (Amos Hursh and John Hursh). https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDLK-SRW
Iowa State Census 1885. Iowa, Union County, Township of Sand Creek, page 15, Line 25-26 (Amos Hursh and John Hursh). https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:H4K6-32M
4. Amos Hurst (1812-1891), Family Search, Person ID number MTCR-TK6.
https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/MTCR-TK6
5. “Killed Bruin With Rocks,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 29 October 1903, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1903/10/29/1/Ar00104.html
“District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 6 September 1906, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1906/09/06/1/Ar00105.html
6. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. British Columbia, District No 17 (Kootenay East), Sub-district 11 (Columbia), Wilmer Rural, page 1, line 21 (John Hurst). https://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item/?app=Census1921&op=img&id=e002870884
7. “County Court,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 14 August 1902, p 2. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1902/08/14/2/Ar00206.html
8. “News of the Mines,” The Outcrop (Canterbury B.C.), 26 July 1900, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1900/07/26/1/Ar00107.html
9. “Mining Items,” The Outcrop (Canterbury B.C.), 28 February 1901, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1901/02/28/1/Ar00102.html
10. “Certificates of Improvements,” The British Columbia Gazette, Vol 56, No 50 (14 December 1916), p 2621. https://archive.org/embed/governmentgazett56nogove_p3w5
British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1917 being an Account of Mining Operations for Gold, Coal, Etc in the Province of British Columbia (Victoria: Government Printer, 1918), p F452. https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0059813
11. “District Hospital,” The Outcrop (Canterbury B.C.), 22 August 1901, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1901/08/22/1/Ar00102.html
12. “Land and Works,” The British Columbia Gazette, Vol 47, No 14 (14 April 1907), p 1549. https://archive.org/embed/governmentgazett47nogove_g8w1
13. “District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 20 August 1903, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1903/08/20/1/Ar00103.html
“District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 3 March 1904, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1904/03/03/1/Ar00106.html
14. Vera Wikman, “John Milton Hurst,” Valley History and the Windermere Valley Museum (August 1999), p 1. [Newsletter for the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives.] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.41/0bs.9b1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1999_08.pdf
15. Vera Wikman, “John Milton Hurst,” Valley History and the Windermere Valley Museum (August 1999), p 1. [Newsletter for the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives.] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.41/0bs.9b1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1999_08.pdf
16. “The District News,” The Outcrop (Canterbury B.C.), 5 December 1901, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1901/12/05/1/Ar00102.html
17. “District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 8 March 1906, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1906/03/08/1/Ar00105.html
“District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 22 March 1906, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1906/03/22/1/Ar00102.html
“No 3 Creek Ranchers,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.) 12 April 1906, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1906/04/12/1/
18. “No 3 Creek Road,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C>), 28 June 1906, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1906/06/28/1/Ar00105.html
19. “Land Notice,” The British Columbia Gazette, Vol 49, No 22 (2 July 1909), p 2897. https://archive.org/embed/governmentgazett49nogove_j6h1
“Department of Lands,” The British Columbia Gazette, Vol 50, No 40 (6 October 1910), p 11404. https://archive.org/embed/governmentgazett50nogove_n1k9
20. “Peterborough,” Henderson’s British Columbia gazetteer and directory for 1902, Vol 9 (Victoria: Henderson Publishing Company, 1902), p 224.
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0308122
“Wilmer,” Henderson’s British Columbia gazetteer and directory for 1903, Vol 10 (Victoria: Henderson Publishing Company, 1903), p 285.
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0308106
21. “District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 19 February 1903, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1903/02/19/1/Ar00103.html
22. “District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 16 April 1903, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1903/04/16/1/Ar00112.html
23. “Killed Bruin With Rocks,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 29 October 1903, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1903/10/29/1/Ar00104.html
24. “District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 21 January 1904, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1904/01/21/1/Ar00107.html
25. “Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 10 November 1904, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1904/11/10/1/Ar00107.html
26. “District Croppings,” The Outcrop (Wilmer B.C.), 6 September 1906, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1906/09/06/1/Ar00105.html
27. A.O. Wheeler and Elizabeth Parker, The Selkirk Mountains : a guide for mountain climbers and pilgrims, (Winnipeg: Stovel Co, 1912), p 135. http://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.83397
28. Marriage Certificate for John Milton Hurst and Ursula Agnes Ferreira. 20 April 1915, Reg No 15-09-148235. BC Archives. http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Image/Genealogy/e19e5bd0-3975-47db-b25d-92a6bb1dbde7
29. “Deaths,” The Vancouver Sun, 1 March 2008, p F10 [90]. https://www.newspapers.com/image/497458239
30. Vera Adella Hurst (1918-2011), Family Search, Person ID number LT7Q-STC. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LT7Q-STC
31. Vera Wikman, “John Milton Hurst,” Valley History and the Windermere Valley Museum (August 1999), p 1. [Newsletter for the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives.] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.41/0bs.9b1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1999_08.pdf
32. Death Certificate for John Hurst. 1 December 1924, Reg No 1924-09-342132. BC Archives.
33. Vera Wikman, “John Milton Hurst,” Valley History and the Windermere Valley Museum (August 1999), p 1. [Newsletter for the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives.] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.41/0bs.9b1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1999_08.pdf

Other Resources

BC Geographical Names, “Hurst Creek,” (flowing E toward Frances Creek), Accessed 2 January 2021. https://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/15678.html
BC Geographical Names, “North Hurst Creek,” (flowing SE into Hurst Creek) Accessed 2 January 2021. https://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/17090.html
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2 thoughts on “Hurst

  1. Hello Alex,
    I began a comment earlier and it disappeared. I’ll begin again.
    I’ve been enjoying your In the Windermere posts especially the latest re Jack Hurst who was my maternal grandfather. Although I didn’t know him my mom Vera and her sister Enid had stories they liked to tell.
    I have some detail about Mervyn that you may like to fill in. Name John Mervyn Hurst, known as ‘Merv’, born December 25, 1920, died January 12, 2001, also a multi-talented man.

    Like

    • Thank you Barbara! I think I was introduced to Jack by his saddle at the museum – I would see it every morning when I opened up the buildings and wonder it had been. It’s been a pleasure learning more about him!

      Like

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