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Edward C. Peck was born in Canada in 1834. When a young man he came to the United States and in 1858, he joined a party of emigrants en route to California. He came over the old Santa Fe Trail as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico, at which point they decided to strike westward along the Whipple trail and emigrant route between Albuquerque and Los Angeles. Without any serious mishaps, the party reached the villages of the friendly Zunis. Although warned against the Navajos and Apaches, the party continued their journey to the west. They reached the little Colorado and crossed to the west side at Sunset, near the present town of Winslow. They then travelled down the west bank of the little Colorado to the mouth of the Canyon Diablo, from which point on they were continually harassed night and day by Apaches. By the time the party reached Antelope Springs, near the present city of Flagstaff, the Indians had become too numerous to proceed further.
The emigrants decided to retreat at once. They travelled all night in comparative safety, which was a disappointment to the Indians, who expected to murder the party at their leisure. The party travelled altogether at night until they reached the Zunis, where they stopped for some time to recuperate their worn out animals and themselves, following hunting and trapping until the fall of 1863, when Peck returned to Arizona in company with two others, Collier and Farrington.
Peck secured the first hay contract at Fort Whipple, which was then located in Chino Valley. It was for three hundred tons of hay at thirty dollars a ton, to be cut with hoes. After completing his hay contract, in the forepart of 1864, he and his partners moved to Granite Greek to a point just above the Point of Rocks, two or three miles from where Prescott now stands. Here they built a cabin and cared for loose stock at three dollars a head. King Woolsey, a member of Governor Goodwin’s staff, was selected to lead an expedition of a hundred men against the Apaches. Their rendezvous was at Woolsey’s ranch on the Agua Fria, now known as the Bowers Ranch. The command was divided into squads of ten men to each squad, with a captain over it. Peck commanded one of these squads.
Afterwards, when General Frank Wheaton commanded the Northern District, with his headquarters at Fort Whipple, Peck was his general guide and scout at that fort. He knew the country well and was invaluable as a guide, being cool, cautious and brave. After retiring from the army, he was shown in Prescott some rich silver ore. After examining it carefully, he said: “I know a place where you can get tons of ore as good as that is.” The result was that he and two or three others went out and Peck showed them what afterwards became the Peck mine, where there were tons and tons of ore that would go from one thousand to two thousand dollars a ton. For a time his mine paid largely, but it became involved in litigation, and Peck retired from it a poor man. He died in Nogales, December 13th, 1910, at the age of 77 years. Could the history of his life in Arizona be written in detail, it would be as romantic and interesting as that of Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and other early pioneers in our country.