|Rebecca Beardsley Peak
OLDEST MONTICELLO SETTLER GONE
Grandma Peak Dies at the Advanced Age of 92.
The First Person Married in the County.
|Grandma Peak, the oldest resident of Monticello, and for 69 years a resident of Jones county, died at her home last Tuesday morning, the 24th, at the advanced age of 92 years, 6 months, 27 days. She went peacefully to sleep within a day of the 69th anniversary of her marriage. Let us trust that it was celebrated in a happy reunion beyond the darkness of the tomb.
Rebecca Beardsley Peak was born in Delaware county, New York, May 27, 1815. She was the daughter of Benajah and Espeth Grant Beardsley, the latter being of one branch of General Grant's ancestry. Her girlhood days were spent at the place of her birth, but when still young she came with her father's family to Illinois. They traveled by team in company with ten other families. In October, 1837, her father, in company with Thomas J. Peak, to whom she was afterwords married, came from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, on a prospecting tour. They were attracted to Castle Grove by Simeon Forman and Issac Every, who had been old time acquaintances of Mr. Beardsley. They took up claims in Castle Grove, and during the fall of 1837 erected a log cabin. They then returned to Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Mr. Peak, in speaking one time during his lifetime about that journey, said "when we reached what is now Monticello we found only two settlers, Daniel Varvel and William Clark, who had a little cabin under the brow of the hill on the east side of Kitty Creek near Skelley's ford, where they were 'baching' it. Clark had entered the land that now lies north of First street in Monticello, and Varvel the land that lies south of the same street."
In the spring of 1838, Mr. Beardsley returned with his family and Mr. Peak, and then commenced the residence of almost seventy years spent in this locality by the deceased. On Christmas day, 1839, Rebecca M. Beardsley and Thomas J. Peak were married. It was before any marriage licenses had been issued in Jones county, and Mr. Peak walked to a point in Cedar county, to which Jones county was at that time attached for judicial purposes, and secured his license. Theirs was the first marriage solemnized in Jones county. The words which united them as husband and wife were spoken by Thomas Denson, a justice of the peace, who lived on Bowen's Prairie, who was not only the first justice of the peace in the county, but the only person authorized to perform a marriage service. The witnesses present at this ceremony, which occurred 68 years ago, comprised all of the population of the township, and still the wedding was not a large one. Of those present on that ocassion there is still one living witness, Mrs. Peak's sister, Margaret, who afterwards became the wife of the first settler of Monticello and mother of Mrs. J. M. Sleeper, and who is still living at the home of her son-in-law at Gordon, Nebraska.
Mrs. Peak became the mother of five children, all of who survive except one son, who died of injuries and disabilities incurred in the Civil War. The servivors are Mrs. Frances Hogg, of Los Angeles, California, Mrs. W. L. Ross, of Monticello, who is now on the Pacific slope, Andrew Peak, of Arizona, and Mrs. Eppie Price, who has so tenderly and lovingly cared for her mother for several years.
Mrs. Peak was one of those remarkable characters who united the determination and bravery of the pioneer with the quiet, dignified and placid temperament of the home body. She was optimistic, even tempered, and of the good cheer that never stings with detracting speech. Monticello will always honor her memory as a pioneer and let it be set down and remembered that she has a character strong and gentle enough to justify that honor.
Submitted by: Joanne Wilken
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