The Firth Family

The Family of the Bellevue Sheep Farm

The Firth Family is one of the euro-American families of the San Juan Islands

The Firth Family, known for their ownership over the Bellevue Sheep Farm in its later years consisted of Robert Firth, his wife, Jessie Firth, and their 9 children. Robert Firth was a native Scotsman from the Orkney Islands in Scotland. When he was 19, he got a job with The Hudson Bay Company which led him towards the San Juan Islands.

In 1862 Robert Firth took over the management of the Bellevue Sheep Farm which was previously operated by Charles Griffin. Robert Firth held the farm on separate, yearly-leases until 1872 when the decision Kaiser Wilhelm I to award the San Juan Islands to the United States as their territory. To keep the farm Firth had to become an American citizen which occurred in 1878. After he became an American citizen Firth was applied for and was granted two plots of land on the San Juan Islands that totaled to be 226.2 acres.

In 1889 Robert Firth ended up renting the farm to his oldest son Robert Jr. He then went with his youngest daughter to stay at the famed Pickett House. His life on the farm is collected in a series of Journals that told his day-by-day adventures on the farm as part of his duties while running the Bellevue Sheep Farm for the Hudson Bay Company.

The farm was kept in his family’s name until 1927 when owner ship changed to Joe Chapelle. The grand children of Robert Firth and grandchildren of his nine children still live on the islands as many of the children married into local families on San Juan Island. Firth and his family are buried in the San Juan Cemetery at Friday Harbor, Washington.