James J. PEATE, whose name will be forever associated with the early settlement of Lincoln County, died at his home in Beverly, Thursday morning at 10:30 oíclock. Had he lived until November 29, this year, he would have been 84 years old. His last illness was of short duration, lasting less than a week. He passed away peacefully, content to lie down and take his well-earned rest.
With his death is gone another of the picturesque men of pioneer days, one who lived to tell the story of Indian raids, the battle of Beecherís Island. He was the last of the seven first permanent settlers of Lincoln county, coming here in 1866, the last of the Indian scouts who went to the rescue of General Forsythe at Beecherís Island after the battle of the Arickaree, the last of the old colorful past in this county. The only man still living today to recall the rescue of General Forsythe is Reuben Waller, 93, an old former slave, now living in El Dorado, Kan.
The son of a Methodist minister, born in Pennsylvania, Mr. Peate lived as a youth during the stirring days of the Civil War. He begged to be permitted to join the Union Army. His father refused but the lad received the permission of his mother. Still the father would not let him go so he ran away to war. Brought back by his father, he ran away again when he was barely 17 years of age. Going on a pony he took with him a tiny revolver, his sole protection from the dangers of the west. Less than five inches in length, the revolver was one of his treasured possessions and was always kept loaded in his bureau drawer until his death and although patented in 1839, the revolver is still in perfect condition.
Mr. Peate wrote a most vivid and interesting account of his first few years in Kansas. It follows:
"I ran away from my home in Ohio, April 30, 1866. Arrived in Kansas City, Mo., May 2nd and the next day went to Leavenworth, Kan., by steamer. Returned to Kansas City and took the train for Lawrence, Kan., stayed there over Sunday and Monday started for Manhattan, Kan., by stage. Bought a horse and saddle there and started for the, to me, unknown west. Traveled with two others up the Smoky Hill river to the Solomon river and up that to Limestone Creek. There we were captured by Roman Nose and his band of Dog soldiers. They did not injure us but killed one man in the river while we were with them. Fortunately for us, we ran into a party of hunters that the Indians did not see until we were within rifle range. They drove the Indians back and I returned to Junction City. I left there soon for the Saline river and on the 18th day of May, 1866, arrived in Lincoln county. I soon took a claim on Twelve Mile creek but lived with the Colorado Boys."
The six Colorado boys were the first permanent Lincoln county settlers. Passing through this country while in the First Colorado Cavalry during the war they took a vow that at the cessation of hostilities they would return and settle in this peaceful valley. They were: Edward JOHNSON, Dick CLARK (? Hard to read), Tom SKINNER, Carl DeGRAFF, Eli ZEIGLER and James ADAMS.
Mr. Peateís narrative continues: "In March 1868 the Pawnee Indians stole three horses from Wichita, Kans. There was no Wichita there then. Two men followed the trail of the horses here and as I knew some of the country north of here they hired me to accompany them. We followed the Indians to the headwaters of the Big Blue river and recovered the horses. The next month the same tribe of Indians stole 22 horses from the same place. One of the men and two boys about my age followed them here and waited here three days for me to return from a buffalo hunt as they wanted me to go with them. I went and we recovered some of the horses on the Platte river and some on Loupe river. When we returned I went to Wichita and remained there until July. Then I got a job driving Texas cattle on the trail to Abilene, returning to Lincoln county in August. After I was employed carrying dispatches between Col. Benteen and Gen. Sulleys headquarters at Schermhorns [Schermerhornís] ranch on the Elkhorn. One night the Indians laid in wait for me in the Blue hills but by good luck I got through their lines and away from them. One day at Schermhorns ranch I met Gen. P.H. SHERIDAN and he wanted me to raise 25 or 30 men to join a company of scouts. I raised the number but part of them did not report on account of bad weather. 15 of these men were in the battle of Beecher Island and the rest were there at the rescue. We were on duty at Fort Hays and Wallace and were called out almost every day on account of the Indians killing some persons on the overland road. I did not go south with the troops that fall but came home and soon after was employed as a scout for Capt. [canít read] of the 10th U.S. cavalry and was [canít read] Asher Creek near the Solomon river during the latter part of that winter and spring. My mother wanted me to quit the life of a scout and remain on my farm so I came home but the Indians commenced their bloody work in May and I joined the state militia for six months and was orderly Sargt. for the last three months. In the early spring I was stationed a short time with a troop of the 2nd U.S. cavalry at Lake Sibly on the Republican river. Although sent requests a number of times to guide commands some of them as far north as the Platte river, I refused to go but have regretted many times since that I did not go."
Answering an inquiry made, the late Mrs. Peate wrote the inquirer: "Many a night he rode alone (mere boy that he was) over the prairies carrying dispatches with no guide but his knowledge of the country and the stars. There were Indians everywhere."
In later years, Mr. Peate often spoke of his experiences as a scout. He and his horse never received their official discharge and he would laughingly say, " I can be called back into service any day,." The Beecher Island battle is too well known to be retold here but Mr. Peateís part in it was one of the most thrilling experiences of his career.
The heritage he leaves is a treasured one. He faithfully kept a diary and these volumes are remarkable records of the pioneer life. Among his most loved possessions was a fine old gun sent him by his grandfather and uncle shortly after he located in Lincoln county. It was always with him on his scouting trips, strapped across his back, with him on buffalo hunts, and when he rode against the Indians. Although made in 1860, the gun is in remarkably good condition as Mr. Peate often cleaned it and kept it well oiled. He was also fond of keeping scrap books and has a volume well filled with clippings, obituaries of the Colorado Boys, other close friends, stories of the frontier days, the Arickaree battle and its commanders. In generations to come these possessions will become more and more dear to those who will keep them.
Truly it can be said of Mr. Peate, he did not live in vain.
Funeral services were held in Beverly, Sunday afternoon with the Rev. FARWELL in charge. Interment was made in the Beverly cemetery. The large number of friends and neighbors who attended the services, as well as the many beautiful floral offerings all paid silent tribute to the memory of a much loved and respected citizen of Beverly, Lincoln county, Kansas, and the nation.
James J. Peate was born in Warren, Penn., on Nov. 29, 1848. He attended school in his home town until April 30, 1866, when the call of the west became irresistible to him and he left his home for the western plains. From the dull level of every day walks and ways, he stepped at once into the stirring events of a great era. Into no living manís life, probably, will ever come such wonderful, history making events as those which transpired during Mr. Peateís lifetime.
He came to Lincoln county on the 18th day of May 1866, and took a homestead on Twelve Mile creek, about two miles west of Beverly, but for the next two years he lived with the "Colorado Boys." Of this period in his life Mr. Peate wrote of himself: "I farmed a little but hunted considerably, traveling more than a hundred miles to the North, South and West."
It was in the spring of 1868 that he first came in personal contact with the famous General Phil SHERIDAN. He recruited about twenty of the scouts who later gained such great fame under the command of Colonel Forsythe at the battle of Beecherís Island.
He was a first dispatch carrier between the various forts that had been established on the frontier and made many remarkable trips through Indian-infested territory. He carried messages at night between the different forts to keep each commander informed of the movements and information that others had gained. He was enlisted in the Forsythe Scouts, but was on detail duty as a guide to a troop of the Seventh Cavalry, colored troops, when the rest of the battalion left on their now famous march across what is today Thomas and Rawlins counties in pursuit of a band of Indians who had raided a supply train near the present site of Winona. The tale of the battle of the Arickaree has often been told but few there are who are familiar with the story of the dash to the rescue made by Colonel Carpenter and his tiny command, guided by Peate.
When two of the scouts from Beecherís Island finally managed to thread their way through the Indian sentries who encompassed the Island, and made forced marches to bring news of the beleaguered garrison to the command at Fort Wallace, orders were soon issued and Col. Carpenter, with a command consisting of 17 Negro cavalrymen and a few scouts, with an ambulance and a wagon load of provisions struck off across the plains and James J. Peate acted as the companyís guide. With rare bravery they went to this unknown country to hunt for the little garrison on the island. They made a forced march at the rate of five miles per hour. On the Republican river they lost some time in their search for the island. Here they were happily surprised to meet Jack Donovan, one of the brave men who had escaped through the Indian lines. He helped to pilot them across ridges to the site of the battle. Mr. Peate was the first to reach the stricken force of scouts on the battle site.
It was shortly after this experience that Mr. Peate left the scout service and returned to Lincoln county. Here he became a member of the Stateís Militia, organized in the spring of 1869, under the command of Capt Tucker. In this organization Waldo HANCOCK, also an honored citizen of Beverly, was a comrade and a friendship was established which lasted until the end.
Mr. Peate was united in marriage to Laura W. PAGE on December the 8th, 1872. She preceded him in death in June the 26th, 1925. He leaves to mourn their loss three sisters, Kate O. Peate, Minnie Peate and Imelda Settew, all living in Los Angeles, Calif. There are also surviving several nephews, nieces and grand-nephews and grand-nieces as well as a host of other relatives and friends, all of whom will ever cherish his memory.
He lived on his homestead many years, until the spring of 1888 when he and his wife moved to Beverly where he engaged in the mercantile business, associated with Mr. HANCOCK. Then for a time he was occupied with the creamery industry, making butter and cheese, until he took over the management of the Martin Lumber Yard, which he purchased with some associates a few years later. He continued to manage the Yard until 1906. When the Beverly State Bank was organized in 1903, he became a stockholder and director, holding this position the remainder of his life. After the death of his wife, his niece, Miss Elsie PAGE, took charge of the home and patiently and lovingly made the closing days of his life happy and peaceful.
Now the long, long, Trail is ended and Jack Peate is no more. What a wonderful era he lived in! When men were men, and a manís word was as good as his bond. He was a prominent actor in the grandest epoch of Kansas history. He fought for the pioneers of the state in the noblest cause that ever warmed the hearts of its earliest settlers. He was born into the hard ways of a hard work, yet, through it all, his neighbors came to love him and those who knew him, honored him because of his inflexible, well-balanced purpose of lofty devotion to duty, unselfish sacrifice for others, sympathetic and tender in the hour of trouble and through the misfortune of others, making light always of his own. Hardships, privations and toil could not sour the sweet currents of his nature and even death failed to chill the generous ardor of his soul.
"If Death should come with his cold, hasty kiss,
Along the trench or in the battle of strife;
Iíll ask of Death no greater boon than this:
That it should be as wonderful as Life."