John M. Crooks, now deceased, was numbered among the Idaho pioneers of 1862 and was at one time the owner of the land upon which the town of Grangeville is now located. He was born in Indiana, June 28, 1820, and was of Irish and German lineage. He married Martha Pea, a native of Virginia, and in 1852 they crossed the plains to Oregon, accompanied by their five children. One child was added to the number during the journey. For many long weeks they were upon the way, traveling across the arid sands or through the mountain passes, but at length they safely reached their destination and settled in the Willamette valley, near Corvallis, where Mr. Crooks secured a donation claim of six hundred and forty acres. In 1856 he removed to The Dalles, where he engaged in farming until 1862. He then drove his stock to the Camas prairie, Idaho, and conducted meatmarkets at Florence and Warren. In 1865 he removed his family to the prairie, obtaining five hundred and eighty acres of land, which included the present site of Grangeville. There was a small log house upon the place, and there he took up his abode. He continued his stock raising and was very successful in his business undertakings. He was also prominently identified with the progress and development of the locality. He was one of the organizers of the Grange, and in 1876 aided in building the Grange Hall, from which the town took its name. He was very generous in his efforts to promote the growth of the village and gave lots to all who would build thereon. In 1868 he erected a good residence for his family, and there spent his remaining days. He was always friendly with the Indians and they with him, and when the Nez Perces Indian war broke out they made a compact that they would not molest one the other, and to its terms they adhered.
Mr. Crooks died in 1884, at the age of sixty-four years. He was a noted frontiersman of Oregon and Idaho and an honored pioneer who materially aided in the general progress and growth. He left a widow and eight children to mourn his loss, and six of the children are now living, namely, J. W., who is engaged in farming at White Bird; Isabelle, wife of C. W. Pierson, resides at White Bird; J. B., a mine owner residing in Grangeville; Charles V., a physician, who is engaged in the practice of medicine in Waterloo, Nebraska; Alice, wife of P. C. Sherwin, who resides on Salmon river; and Emma, wife of Charles Bentz, a resident of White Bird.
Mr. Crooks, the father of this family, platted the town of Grangeville and for some time conducted the stage line between Grangeville and Lewiston. He also embarked in various business enterprises, which proved of public as well as individual benefit. At the time of his death when his estate was settled up, blocks of sixteen lots were sold for one hundred and thirty-nine dollars, and these have since sold for four thousand dollars, and thus the estate was found to be bankrupt. His wife died in 1897, at the age of seventy-live years.
Their son, J. B. Crooks, who has kindly furnished us with the history of his honored father, was born near Corvallis, Oregon, November 11, 1854, and with the family came to Camas prairie in 1865. He has been engaged in the stock business and is now operating quartz mines at Warren. He has made quartz locations south of the great descent on Buffalo Hump and is the owner of a tenacre block of land in Grangeville. In business circles he occupies a leading position, and he possesses the essential qualifications of a successful career, enterprise, perseverance and diligence. He is well known throughout Idaho County and is a worthy representative of one of the pioneer families.