Pages 506-508, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




JAMES B. PEES, of Liberty neighborhood, Allen county, is one of the homesteaders of Iola township. He came to the county in March, 1871, and entered an eighty acre tract in section 18, township 24, range 18, the same year. He established himself among the settlers west of the Neosho river, married one of their pioneer women and has maintained himself a useful honorable and appreciated citizen.

In tracing up the genealogy of Mr. Pees we find him to be a son of Nicholas Pees, a farmer who was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, in 1798. In 1854 he emigrated to Ohio and settled in Champaign county, where he died in 1869. He was a son of John Pees, likewise a native of the Keystone state, whose parents crossed the mountains into western Pennsylvania in the first settlement of that region. Whether this ancestor or his immediate relatives had any connection with the military of the United States during its early wars is not certain, now. It is probable that they were Democratic patriots for Nicholas Pees affiliated with that political party until the issues of the war made him a Republican.

Nicholas Pees married Susan Ingle who died in Allen county May 15, 1885, and is buried at Piqua. Their children are: Ruth A., wife of James McGlumphy, of Pittsburg Pennsylvania; Joanna, who married John McCrary and died near Keokuk, Iowa, in 1848; Mary, whose first husband was Edmon Loyd, resides in Champaign county, Ohio, and is the wife of John Shields; Sarah, who died single; Tephanes, deceased, was married to Joseph McAphee, and James B. Pees, our subject. He was married to E. A. Dennison October 3, 1878.

Mr. Pees was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, August 14, 1842. He was reared in Champaign county, Ohio, from the age of twelve years and acquired a fair knowledge of books from the country schools of his day. With the exception of the years he spent in the army he remained with his father till the latter's death. Soon after that event he decided to come to Kansas and grow up with the county of Allen. He re-


sided a short time on his small tract on Elm creek adjoining Iola but for more than a quarter of a century has maintained his residence near the eighty he homesteaded in the year 1871.

October 3rd, 1878, Mr. Pees married Eliza Dennison whose second husband was Lewis Dennison and whose father was Carver Gunn. The Gunns were Massachusetts people and Carver married Lucy Arvilla Owen, a Connecticut lady. Their surviving heirs are Osman Gunn, of Polk county, Missouri; Eliza, wife of our subject; Clay Gunn, of Polk county, Missouri; Addie, wife of Taylor Hadlock, of Crawford county, Kansas; Bettie, who married John Reed and resides in Bolivar, Missouri, and Rufus B. Gunn, of the same point.

Mrs. Pees' first husband was Jasper Hillbrant one of the first settlers of Allen county. He preempted the northwest quarter of section 24, township 24, range 17, and died here in 1862, leaving a son, William G. Hillbrant, of Iola township. Mr. Hillbrant came into Kansas from Missouri and was in company with Henry Hillbrant who served in the Second Kansas, died in the service and is buried in Leavenworth. The environment of this young couple was certainly frontier from 1856 to 1860. There were not more than four or five families in the woods and on the prairies in the Liberty neighborhood in those days: The Berrys, Parkers, Gardners, Blacks and McQuiggs, but all went well with them till the year 1860 when the great drouth overtook their crops. Their first year's provisions they brought with them and they sold flour to people about the country including L. L. Northrup who was running a store at Geneva. Mrs. Pees returned to Missouri after her husband's death and was not again a resident of Kansas till 1867 when she returned with her second husband.

Mrs. Pees has a son by her second marriage, Thomas Dennison, of Iola, who is married to Hattie Bassett, and a daughter, Lillian M., wife of R. S. Russ, Superintendent of Schools at Pittsburg, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Pees are the parents of two children, Guy E. Pees and Lacy A., wife of Charles E. Morrell.

Mr. Pees enlisted in September 1861 in the Second Ohio Infantry, Company D, Captain James Warnock, with L. A. Harris, colonel of the regiment. The regiment began its service in eastern Kentucky and did much skirmishing along down the river to Louisville and Bowling Green. It was with Mitchell's division on the tour through Tennessee and Alabama to Huntsville, at which point the return journey was begun in the nature of a retreat toward Louisville. On the way north the battle of Perryville was fought. The Murfreesboro or Stone River engagement followed in December of the same year. In the Chicamauga fight Mr. Pees was cut off from his command and taken prisoner. He was taken to Bell Island and remained two weeks before his transfer to Libby prison, at Richmond. In two months he was again moved, this time to Danville, Virginia, and was there imprisoned till March 1864. At each of these removals it was reported that an exchange of prisoners was being conducted and in this way the boys in blue were deceived into journeying from one prison to another without an effort at escape. Mr. Pees was taken to Andersonville prison


from Danville and in March 1865 was taken to a parole camp ten miles east of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and actually exchanged. He was put aboard the illfated "Sultana," with twenty-two hundred men aboard, and started north. Seven miles above Memphis a boiler explosion destroyed and sank the boat and fourteen hundred of the men were lost. Mr. Pees was thrown into the water and chanced to gather up a plank upon which with a few others, he floated down to Memphis. He was badly burned and was placed in the Gaoso hospital where he remained two weeks, when he was again shipped aboard a Mississippi steamer and landed at Cairo, Illinois. He proceeded immediately to Columbus, Ohio, reaching home June 5, 1865.

Farming was what had been taught Mr. Pees before he put on a soldier's uniform and it was but natural that the farm should receive him again when his military duties were over. He consented to remain in the east only so long as his father survived and when he died our subject's advent to Kansas soon followed. His history in Allen county is summed up in the words "work" and "hope." He has worked incessantly and hoped for reward in proportion to his industry. After thirty years of experience on the plains of Kansas he finds himself surrounded with ample substance to provide old age with the comforts of life. He resides in the midst of a community whose confidence he possesses in the highest degree and the welfare of whose citizens is a matter of his personal interest and concern.

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