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Profiles in Washington Territorial Librarians – Henry R. Crosbie, 1857

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Henry R. Crosbie

[The Territorial Librarian profiles were compiled by Sean Lanksbury, Mary Schaff, Kim Smeenk, and Steve Willis]

Born ca. 1825, Pennsylvanian “Harry” Crosbie was elected to the first three territorial legislative sessions (1854-1855) as a member of the House representing Clark County (then known as Clarke County), where he had been District Court Clerk. In his capacity as a House member he was also on the first Commission on Education. In the 2nd Session he served as Speaker of the House. He was “replaced” in the Third Session.

Crosbie held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the 1855-1856 Indian War, and at one point served as a scout for Gov. Stevens to investigate rumors of gold discoveries in the Colville area. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination to Congress in 1856. Also in that year he was made the Washington Territory U.S. Attorney. Crosbie may have been a member of Leschi’s legal defense team in the first trial of the Nisqually leader.

In Jan. 1857 the Legislature appointed him to the newly combined office of Territorial Auditor and Librarian for one year at a salary of $325. Shortly after his stint as Auditor/Librarian, Crosbie was made a Justice of the Peace in Whatcom County (as well as Coroner, according to one source) and was an instrumental American legal presence during the San Juan Islands Pig War of 1859. Historians have recognized Judge Crosbie as being a level-headed figure in the U.S./British boundary controversy. He was assigned to the Utah Territory Supreme Court in Aug. 1860. As late as 1894 he was still filing financial claims with Congress regarding his personal expenses for the Pig War episode.



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