Peace, James

BORN IN: Scotland
DIED: 10/12/1890
AGED: 95
CAUSE OF DEATH: Accidental Drowning

RESIDENCE: Redwood City

Buried in plot: GAR [View Location]

  • 1801 Thomas Jefferson elected President
  • 1831 Reaper (Cyrus McCormick)
  • 1836 Revolver (Samuel Colt)
  • 1845 Texas annexed into U.S.
  • 1846 Mexican-American War
  • 1849 California Gold Rush
  • 1850 California became the 31st State
  • 1860 The Pony Express
  • 1861 Abraham Lincoln elected President
  • 1861 American Civil War
  • 1865 Abraham Lincoln assassinated
  • 1866 Ku Klux Klan
  • 1869 National Woman Suffrage Assoc.
  • 1871 The Great Chicago Fire
  • 1876 Telephones (Alexander Graham Bell)
  • 1876 Baseball's National League
  • 1877 Phonograph (Thomas Edison)
  • 1879 Light Bulb (Thomas Edison)

OBITUARY ---------------


Times Gazette

Saturday, October 18, 1890

James Peace, the well known pioneer and oldest resident of the county, was discovered in the slough drowned about 1:30 o’clock last Sunday afternoon. He had been seen shortly afternoon that day in an intoxicated condition winding his way along Main Street toward the bay. The exact place in which the body was found was in Holder’s slip, along side of the sail boat which was jointly owned by Peace and A. C. Peterson. Peace’s hat was found between the boat and the bank. Peterson stated to the Times Gazette representative that Peace had been at the boat in the morning but he had told him to go over to his shanty and lie down. In the afternoon, Peterson left the boat to come up town and had hardly been gone a half hour when he returned only to find a crowd about the boat and the body of Peace in the water.

Johnny Wollemberg and August and Haine Grimmenstein were the three boys who first discovered the body. They were coming up from the tannery, saw the appearance of clothes in the water, ran over a plank onto the sail boat and saw a man’s head in the water. They gave the alarm.

John Kubik, an employee of the tannery, according to his own statement, is the first person who passed the boat after Peace arrived and he states that fifteen minutes of one o’clock, he noticed Peace’s hat lying by the bank but thinking nothing of it, passed along. As Peace must have dropped his hat as he attempted to get upon the boat, this must have been subsequent to his falling into the creek.

Among those who arrived upon the news of the drowning being given were Jas. Hannon and C.E. Kreiss, who with the assistance of J.F. Ford, who threw them a rope, and others, succeeded in drawing the body up out of the water and placing it upon the large boat. There it remained until Coroner Crowe arrived with a wagon and conveyed it to the undertaking rooms.

He is buried in the Soldiers Plot at Union Cemetery. His life story follows.


Peace claimed to be ninety-eight years of age, but was probably less. He was born in Stromness, Orkney Islands, his father being a fisherman of Scottish parentage and his mother of Dutch descent. He had one brother named David and two sisters, Ellen and Betsy, none of whom he had ever heard from after leaving the country. At the age of nine, he shipped as a half deck boy for a trip to Greenland. They entered the same straight that the ill fated Sir John Franklin passed through. The ice closed in on the vessel, which was broken up. Among others. Peace was cast away and drifted for weeks in an open boat until picked up. He returned home, and when 20 years of age, came to this coast in the ship Nereid. The vessel was in the employ of the Hudson Bay Co. and Peace was landed in Vancouver. He continued in the service of the company for two years and was sent out on trading expeditions. At one time he went as far north as Sitka. According to his own story, after working there for two or three years, he came down the coast on a vessel which put into San Francisco Bay in quest of hides. He was a second mate, having charge of the captain’s watch and disagreeing with the captain, one night he deserted, taking arms and considerable food in a boat. He landed near the foot of Telegraph Hill and muffling his feet to avoid making tracks, climbed to the top of the hill and remained in hiding nine days. He left the boat tied so that it was recovered by men sent out from the ship to search for him. They gave up the search after four or five days and Peace after waiting as many more days started out to find the mission Dolores or a band of native Indians. He said ho knew at the time he could make friends with the Indians. He discovered the Mission Dolores by means of a trail and found one priest only in charge. This person could only speak Spanish and Peace only English but by means of signs, they made themselves understood. Peace quickly learned the Spanish language and afterwards told his story. He remained at the Mission three years and made friends with the Indians, a large number of whom were about. His next move was to the redwood region about Searsville and in this district, he whip sawed lumber, claiming to have been the first man to do so. He also claimed to have been among the first to manufacture whiskey out of maize, in which occupation he was associated with Captain Burton of San Jose region. Peace acted as agent in securing the maize from the Indians and Burton made the whiskey. Peace joined Win. Smith in Santa Cruz mountains and Smith collected about him a company of men who afterward constituted the Graham party. In 1840, these persons were arrested by order of time Spanish Governor of the state and taken to Mexico. The leaders were charged with conspiracy. The vessel stopped first at Monterey, at which point, Captain J.B. Forrest with a United war vessel was made aware of the arrest. Governments corresponded but Peace and 47 others were taken to Mexico where they remained about eight months. Finally all were released and brought back to California. In 1848, when General Fremont was in the Santa Clara Valley, Peace served under him for three weeks as a guide.

Peace married the daughter of Pedro Valencia at Half Moon Bay and leaves two sons living-James Peace of San Mateo and Amone Peace of this town. He formerly owned considerable land on the coast side, but later subsisted largely on gifts from friends. As for his exact age. H.H. Bancroft, the historian, states that the Neried Vessel was not on this coast until the ‘30’s indicating Peace’s age was not over eighty.

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