On Two Tough, Old Dallas Pioneers: Interesting Articles
This quote is an entire article that was published in the Dallas Times Herald back in 1903:
TWO EARLY PIONEERS AND THEIR STORIES.
"Captain June Peak and How
He Joined the Army, Chickasaw
Indian Fighters -- "Uncle Buck"
Hughes and the Big Flood of 1866.
Captain June W. Peak is 58. He is a splendidly preserved specimen of manhood and one among the last of the early broncho-busters and buffalo hunters of Dallas county. Captain Peak is a superb horseman, and in the 60's and 70's, the mustang did not live that he could not mount and subdue. A veteran of the war between the states, he is proud of relating war stories, and is an accomplished raconteur. "I was plowing in the field when the news came of the fall of Fort Sumpter," he said to a Time Herald representative, "Our farm was at the edge of the old town, and is now known as East Dallas. I was a husky boy then, and an ardent secessionist. Our people had been repeatedly assured that one Southern man could whip five Yankees, and I was very ambitious to whip my five. It must have been a mistake, as it is much easier to whip an enemy with a bayonet at close quarters.
'As I stated, I was plowing in the field when my brother came from town with a copy of our weekly newspaper. Dallas had no daily, and news was week to ten days old when it reached us. At dinner, he read the news and my boy's martial spirit was aroused. I resolved to go as a soldier without delay. Knowing that it would be useless to ask my mother's consent, I made my arrangements secretly. Ben Long, afterwards city marshal, owed me eighteen dollars. The best pony in Dallas county was in my stable. Dinner over, I saddled and mounted him. My mother asked, 'Where are you going, Son?' "To town, to get my money from Ben Long, Mother," I replied. She accepted the explanation, never dreaming that her boy had murderous designs upon the Yankees. Ben Long paid me the money, and I rode home and lariated the pony a safe distance from the house, slipped up stairs, packed my saddle-bags, and under cover of the night, mounted and rode away. That pony had plenty of bottom, and before sun was noon high the next day, I had ridden ninety miles to the northward, and was in the camp of Colonel Bill Young, who had rallied to his standard, the young men of Lamar, Fannin, Grayson and Cooke. Fort Arbuckle was garrisoned by Federal soldiers and was commanded by Colonel Edmonds, a soldier and a gentleman. Colonel Young decided to seize Fort Arbuckle, and we made a rapid march to the place, only to find the fort had been deserted and the Federals were working their way across the Indian Territory.
“Our men were farmers, frontiersmen, cowboys and hunters. Some were armed with squirrel rifles; others had army carbines, and a few were equipped with army muskets. They were fighting men, but poorly armed for pitched battles with trained soldiers with modern firearms in their hands. Well, we decided to give pursuit and capture Colonel Edmunds and his 1200 regulars. Fifty of our boys were detached from the regular command and were sent ahead to spy out the lay of the land as scouts. 'It is fun to hunt the tiger, but it is hell when the tiger hunts you.' Colonel Edmunds was too old a campaigner to be caught napping. One morning, bright and early, we were drawn into an ambush and caught like rats in a trap. Resistance would have been suicide. We were surrounded, outnumbered, and in a bad scrape. What did we do? Laid down our arms and surrendered like little men. Colonel Edmunds treated us kindly. 'Boys,' said he, 'go back to your people. I don't want to hurt you, but if you pursue me another step, there's going to be graves to dig and men to fill them.'
"We did not stand on ceremony, and obeyed the instructions of the Federal commander. Crestfallen and footsore and hungry, we retraced our steps. Colonel Bill Young reconsidered and did not carry out his threat to bag Edmunds and his command.
"No, I did not return to Dallas. The Chickasaw Indians were loyal to the South and raised a regiment of fighters, volunteering for one year. This was the first regiment of Indians to take up arms for the Stars and Bars. I became a member of the command, and we were given plenty to do for the next twelve months. At the expiration of the year, the survivors demanded their discharge. they were homesick, longed for a sight of their wives and children in the Indian Territory. They were loyal, mind you, and were ready to re-enlist after a visit to their families. Colonel Cooper mustered out the redmen, and I re-enlisted with a Texas regiment and saw enough in the four years that followed to convince me that General Sherman was right when he stated that 'war is hell.'
I was attached to Wharton's command and was with him at Houston, when he was shot and killed by General Baylor. They were gallant soldiers, true sons of the South, and it was a pity that a private quarrel should have culminated in a bloody tragedy. We were in camp at Hempstead at the time. General Wharton had gone to Houston on business and General Baylor had followed him to the Bayou City. The shooting occurred in the old Lamar House, I believe, and was one of the regrettable and tragic incidents of the war between the states. I returned to Dallas in 1865, with plenty of experience and a few scars, but my pony and $18 were gone. I was a boy when I joined Colonel Bill Young's squad, and but little more than a boy when the flag of the South went down at Appomattox Court House thirty-eight years ago. My Indian comrades were splendid soldiers, regular dare-devils, and their loyalty to the cause of the South in those trying times, made me love them. It is almost like a dream when I think of it. In 1861, Dallas was a very small village, and the leading farmers raised corn and cotton almost within a stone's throw of the post office. In my boyhood, Texas was a wilderness. Today, she is an empire, teeming with people and is the fifth in the constellation of stars. God has been good to the land of the Lone Star."
Rev. W. H. Hughes is another veteran of Dallas county, who came here in the 50's and knows Dallas county, its history and its pioneers, as he knows his good right hand. He is called "Uncle Buck" by the sons and daughters of the old pioneer families, and his reminiscences would fill a book of many pages. Parson W. C. Young and "Uncle Buck" Hughes are the survivors of the band of men who were called "sky pilots" by the ungodly in the early days of Dallas and adjoining counties. They preached the gospel of Christ on Sunday, held revivals at intervals and tilled the soil between times. Pioneer preachers had work to do, and they never shirked. "Uncle Buck" has a marvelously retentive memory, and has been a close observer. He talked high water and crop conditions to a coterie of old friends the other day. "Yes," he said, "the Trinity is away up this year. The government gauges shows 36 feet of water in the river, I've been told. The rise of 1890 is a favorite theme with navigators and recent comers. These gentlemen should have been here in 1866. That summer, the greatest flood in the history of Dallas county since the coming of white men, swept down upon us. The bottom lands were inundated, and over in what is now known as the Second ward, you could easily have floated a boat. The water touched Ross avenue, and farmers had to go miles out of their way to get to town. The high-water mark of the Trinity was made in 1866, and the floods since that year, have been freshets. Alex Cockrell rescued a family from drowning on the West Dallas pike at that time. It was a heroic performance and Alex was lionized by the people. There is always danger on the West Dallas pike when the river is out of its banks. I crossed it in the 50's, and had a narrow escape. Something should be done to protect life and guard against these frightful accidents."
Mr. Hughes was speaking of the drowning of a German farm-hand and young woman, who started for town from West Dallas and lost their lives before assistance could reach them.
"Wheat and oats yielded large crops," said the veteran preacher-farmer, "and the corn crop is far beyond the expectations of the most sanguine. Cotton is coming all right, and the staple will make a good showing in sections free from bollweevil."
Captain Peak and "Uncle Buck" Hughes are Dallas county pioneers of the genuine type and will swell the throng at the Old Settlers' Reunion at Hutchins on the 29th of July. The people of Hutchins are getting ready to entertain visitors in royal style and all the veterans, men and women of the good old days and good old times will attend the reunion."
------- Dallas Daily Times Herald, July, 1903
Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.