|Jack Williams says that he first came to Cooke City with his father in a model T during the early 1930's. His father was a "jack of all trades" - an occupation Jack picked up along the way. He remembers Cooke City when it was primarily a mining town, when mines would work year round and a smelter ran three shifts a day. Jack and his wife of fifty-five years. Roberta, have lived in Cooke City year round since 1978. They had spent a number of years there in the 1940's and 50's, with "Jack working odd jobs while also running their small ranch in Lodge Grass.|
|For a few years after the McLaren mine (one of the last) and the Cooke City School closed, Roberta would take their children to Lodge Grass for school, and Jack would remain in Cooke City as one of only a few winter residents. The winter of 1952, only he, and Nick Babiluk (who owned the Union 76 Station), Mrs. Soderholm of the Cooke City Store, a few dogs and a cat remained. Jack also remembers a winter of 27 feet of snow and temperatures of less than minus 60 below! "But, there was no wind!"||
|The Williams live in a cabin (shown above) estimated to be 140 years old. Built about four miles down stream from it's present location it was originally a freight station.|
|Jack has much of his art work displayed in his home, and for sale in their home. He took up painting in 1971, though he had spent his childhood sketching to pass the time. He had squatted his own homestead in the Big Horn Mountains at 17, herding sheep and trapping. Untrained in art, Jack is considered a "primitive" artist, preserving his view of history. His works are scattered worldwide and include oils, pastels, pencil, charcoal and pen and ink sketches. Visit the Gallery|
|Jack and Roberta have seen many changes in their community. Winter residency is up to 90, and visitation has increased so much that Jack says, "Winter used to be nothing, now you can't even find a parking space. Though they have no intention of leaving their rustic home, Jack says. "Where ever you find a mountain with pine trees, you'll find me!"|
Billings Gazette, Thursday, October 7 , 1999. Frank Jack Williams Jr.
COOKE CITY - Primitive artist Frank Jack Williams Jr., 85, of Cooke City, died Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1999, at home. Frank was born June 10, 1914, in Dayton, Wyo. His family moved to Lodge Grass in 1926. Here he gained his knowledge of the Crow and Cheyenne Indians. In 1971 at age 57, Jack began painting professionally.
Jack observed his wife, Roberta Hammett, from mountain tops and camps for quite some time. On May 21, 1941, Jack and Roberta were married. Jack continued his mountain homestead, but they went to a chrome mine at Dean in the fall of 1941. They lived and worked there until the fall of 1943. A mine accident injured his back. Jack and Roberta continued to live and work at the mine until it closed. They bought a sheep ranch on the Little Big Horn near Lodge Grass. In 1949 they moved to Cooke City.
Jack was the son of the late Frank Jack Williams Sr. and Harriett Williams.
He is survived by his wife, Roberta of the home; two daughters, Shirley White of Gastonia, N.C., and Mary Edwards of Hardin; one sister, Margaret Kodl of Buffalo, Wyo.; two brothers, Richard "Dick" and Harry D. Williams of Livingston; four grandsons and three great-grandchildren.
Affordable Alternative Cremation & Burial Services made the arrangements.