Marsh's has a long history. Wellington Marsh, Sr. came from
Yakima, his wife Harriet was from Cle Elum. The Marsh's farmed
rutabagas in North Dakota where they went broke. In 1921 they
moved to Washington and opened
an Ice Cream and Candy Shop. In 1930 Wellington grabbed an
opportunity of a lifetime when the Pacific Steamship Co. passenger
liner Admiral Benson went aground in the fog at Peacock Spit, near
Cope Disappointment. The 30 passengers and 65 crew members were
rescued, but Capt. C. G. Graham refused
to leave the ship. For nine days and nights the captain stayed on
the liner. He was determined to keep his command.
During this time Wellington opened a
hamburger stand on the Benson Beach and served the curiosity
seekers that came to see the beached ship. He had a very good
business. In 1933 with prohibition ended he opened the Crawfish
Tavern in Grays River, then moved to Long Beach in 1935. This was
the start of Marsh's Free Museum. Marian Marsh once said, "A lot
of places like this got started in taverns. People would bring in
mementos and swap them for beer. It was the depression and people
didn't have money for beer, but they had junk in their attics.
That's my theory. Kind of makes sense"
The best attraction at Marsh's is Jake the Alligator Man, and they
have lots of stuff to see. Ray Pryor an antique dealer bought
Jake at an auction when Whitney's Museum in San Francisco closed
in 1965. Wellington Marsh Jr. didn't want to pay the $750 dollars
for him but his wife Marian talked him into it.
A lot of folks claim Jake was a valet in a New Orleans whorehouse.
Others say that Jake was a sideshow freak who smoked cigars and
could nod yes or no to simple questions when asked. There
have even been people that stopped by to visit Jake that say
they've seen him alive in a Texas carnival. Out of all the
curiosities found in Marsh's Free Museum Jake the Alligator Man is
the most amazing. Jake is the star of Marsh's. He sits
in his case with all the granger of a king looking over the other
oddities of his kingdom.