A Guide to the Benjamin B. and William D. W. Peck Papers, 1845-1867, 1892
Brothers Benjamin B. and William De Wolf Peck owned a general store in Gonzales, Texas, during the second half of the 19th century. Nicholas Peck, father of Benjamin and William Peck, moved to Gonzales, Texas, from Rhode Island in 1831 and fought in the Texas Revolution. His sons followed him, Benjamin in 1837 and William in 1849. The remaining members of the Peck family stayed in Rhode Island. Benjamin Peck started a mercantile business in Gonzales, Texas, in 1845 under the name B. B. Peck Co. Upon his arrival in Gonzales William Peck clerked for his brother’s store, until he became a partner in B. B. Peck Co. in 1855.
Benjamin Peck helped defend the Texas frontier from Indian depredations during the Republic and state-hood periods. In addition, he was a Provost Marshal for the Confederate army, unable to serve in the field due to ill health. Benjamin Peck died in 1863 in Gonzales, Texas. William Peck also served in the Confederate Army, first in Ben McCulloch’s volunteer company, which seized government property in Texas, then in Company F, Nichol's Infantry Regiment, Texas Volunteers, and finally in Cavalry Company D, Battalion of Waul’s Texas Legion as First Lieutenant and Captain. From 1861 to 1865, William Peck participated in several battles and military engagements including the capture of Holly Springs and the battle of Fort Pillow.
Following the Civil War, William Peck recommenced his mercantile business in Gonzales, first under the name Peck & Evans, with his partner, A. G. Evans, and after 1875 under his own name.
The papers consist of 63 handwritten letters, 1845-1867, 1892, written by Benjamin and William Peck to their sister in Bristol, Rhode Island. Both men write about family, work, and social life in Gonzales, Texas. The collection documents life in Gonzales and discusses many issues of importance to Texas during this time period, such as slavery, annexation, Indian troubles, health, Mexicans, the secession convention, and gunfights. Furthermore, they compare life in Texas with life in the North, and relate the growth of their business and city, hurricanes, theft, and murder. In one letter they comment on their inability to travel north with their slaves for fear abolitionists will steal them.
The collection is open for research use.
Benjamin B. and William D. W. Peck Papers, 1845-1861, 1892, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers