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Friday, June 25, 2010

Major Frank Peats 17th Illinois Infantry

For the museum's upcoming "Lincoln and the Gatling Gun" exhibit, collections staff selected a number of objects, including a shell jacket and presentation sword belonging to Major Frank Peats of the 17th Illinois Infantry.
Frank Peats, circa 1860. Oil on canvas. Dunn Museum 63.1.3
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.

Invoice for 50 bushels of coal used at the 17th Illinois' recruiting office in Galesburg, IL. Dunn Museum 94.5.320

Frank Peats' shell jacket, circa 1863. Dunn Museum 63.1.7

Invitation  for Frank Peats and his wife Bessie to attend the Grand Army of the Republic's birthday party for Lincoln, 1867. Dunn Museum 94.5.11

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.

Detail of Frank Peats' Civil War presentation sword, Dunn Museum 63.1.1

The Peats items had been in the possession of his daughter, Mabel Peats Bloodgood of Oak Park, Illinois, and sold to a collector who then donated the materials to the museum in 1963. Though Peats did not live in Lake County, the museum's founder, Robert Vogel, actively collected Civil War materials, sometimes accepting items without a local connection.

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.

To research the Frank Peats Collection please contact the Dunn Museum's curators at 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trying to find the ancestor's of Major Frank Peats. Would someone be able to help with this?