Frank Peats (1834 - 1895), settled in Rockford, Illinois in 1855. Previously he had lived in Chicago and Aurora with his family. In Rockford, he worked as a painter and house repairer. When the War Between the States broke out, Peats enlisted with the 17th Illinois (Company B), mustering into service on July 3, 1861.
He was quickly promoted to captain after the resignation of an officer. In April 1862, he received a promotion to major.
In late 1863, Peats was detached from his regiment in order to recruit soldiers in Galesburg, IL. This assignment lasted until March 1864, but it is unclear if Peats mustered out of service at that time. After the war, around 1870, Peats became the Sheriff of Winnebago County, Illinois.
The museum's Frank Peats Collection consists mainly of documentation relating to Peats' duties as a major with the 17th Illinois Infantry, and as the regiment's recruiting officer. Also included are a portrait of Peats, shell jacket and presentation sword, family diaries and letters, and documents from his time as Sheriff of Winnebago County, Illinois.
The "Lincoln and the Gatling Gun" exhibit will be on display through September 12, 2010. Museum staff have begun planning "Civil War High Tech" to open February 5, 2011. The exhibit will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.