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Peek, Frederick Wilhelm Theodore, born 1834


Posted By: Lydia Lucas - Volunteer (email)
Date: 10/17/2011 at 10:50:11

One of the most remarkable old men who ever lived in Sioux county is Frederick Wilhelm Theodore Peek who was in Alton last week to take the train east to ship for Holland where he will enter the national solders home. Peek--though a German born and bred--is a sargeant of the dutch army. For a number of years he lived at Sioux Center where his wife died a year ago.

Peek was born at Gruneplan Brunswick in December 1834. He was the son of a Prussian officer and as such was in the army from childhood. From the age of fourteen to nineteen he was a regular soldier in the German army. In 1852 he came to America with the world-renowned explorer and naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt. He was on Humboldt's body guard when the great explorer invaded the vast unknown west to study its botany and geology and general topography. He saw Des Moines and Sioux City over fifty years ago when both were mere villages. Sioux City was only a speck on the prairies. There were a few stores and dwelling shacks there at the time.

With Humboldt he went through Mexico and South America and after a trip of nine months reached Hamburg Germany again. From 1853 to 1857 he fought in the Crimean was as a soldier of fortune with the German and English legions. After the war he was given free passage to England and thence drifted back to the fatherland. He soon left Germany again for Switzerland where he joined the Swiss legions and served under Ferdinand II King of Naples in the days of the great Garibaldi. After his discharge he went to Palermo and worked in an English shoe factory. He was picked up from there by a Dutch man-of-war and later transferred to a French packet boat which landed him at Marseilles. From there he went to Holland and served two years with the hussars and two more in the infantry. In 1865 he went with the Dutch to the East Indies and fought the Achinese for six years. He went back to Holland but soon re-enlisted and spent another six years in the islands. In 1877 he was pensioned and held various government offices in the Indies for two years. Returning to Holland in 1879 he was married to the wife who died at Sioux Center last year and settled at Velp. In 1892 they came to America.

Peek is a quiet unassuming old man and only when recalling the stirring scenes of half a dozen wars and expeditions does his form--now drooped with age--become erect and his face light up with martial fire. His career has been a checkered one but he spent it as best suited him and at its close he has the satisfaction of knowing that he did not merely EXIST but really LIVED. He saw the world. He helped fight its battles. It is better to have gone through the world thus than to have piled up the millions of a Rockefeller for others to squabble over.

Source: Alton Democrat, July 25, 1903, p. 1.


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