Visitors to the new Hobson History Museum opening this April in Vanderhoof can expect to see much more than just the personal possessions, pictures, letters and library of Rich and Gloria Hobson.
Museum visitors will get rare glimpses into many historical figures they probably wouldn’t have expected. In the wedding picture of Captain Richmond Pearson Hobson and Grizelda Houston Hull can be seen the tall, dark, moustachioed figure of the couple’s best man Serbian inventor and electromagnetic genius Nikola Tesla. (He can be seen just to the right of center, peering over to his right at the bride and groom.) Hobsons had a life-long friendship with the inventor and Richmond Sr. is said to be one of the few who could convince Tesla to leave his lab to go to see the cinema. The New York Times reported that other attendees included James M Hobson Jr., and Grizelda’s cousin Major General “Fightin” Joe Wheeler a veteran of the Civil War Spanish American War and Phillippine-American War.
Admiral Richmond P. Hobson Sr. was a US Naval War hero for his sinking of the Merrimac in Santiago Harbour, Cuba June 3rd, 1898 in an attempt to bottle up the Spanish fleet. Though captured, Hobson became the darling of the American public upon his release from imprisonment in El Morro Castle, Cuba and later parlayed this popularity into a seat in Congress. Hobson later became known as the “Father of Prohibition” for his vigorous work on the cause of banning both alcohol and narcotics.
For his heroism in the sinking of the Merrimac, Hobson was belatedly awarded the Medal Of Honor in 1933 and advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral in 1934.
In 1937, Hobson was involved in a vicious battle to prevent a group led by President Roosevelt from expanding the U.S. Supreme Court when the Admiral died suddenly in Washington.
Grizelda, who lived on and off in Vanderhoof from 1941 until shortly before her death in 1966, was considered a U.S. Navy V.I.P. as long as she lived, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery beside her husband.
Richmond Pearson Hobson Jr. or “Rich” as he liked to be called, rejected the idea of a military career, deciding at an early age he wanted to be a rancher. In 1934, Rich and his friend Pan Phillips moved to the Chilcotin to establish the World’s largest cattle ranch, the Frontier Cattle Company under the most primitive and harshest conditions.
These stories would later form the basis for his hugely successful books “Grass Beyond The Mountains” (1951), “Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy” ( 1956) and “Rancher Takes A Wife” (1956)
Museum organizer Wayne Deorksen says the idea of the Hobson Museum has been very well received in the community and that enthusiasm is rapidly building to see this collection finally available for public display. “This is like waiting for Christmas,” he said.
During the construction phase the Hobson History Museum at 2464 Burrard Street will have an information office open each Friday during the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information sheets will be available and volunteer forms and job applications can be picked up or dropped off.