Franklin Peale: Noted Pioneer

Written By: nppladmin - Feb• 26•21
Originally published to on February 26, 2021.

Today’s History series features a prominent pioneer who hailed from a famous portrait artist. Enjoy!

Franklin Peale was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 6, 1838 to Reuben and Mary Ann Peale. At an early age he applied himself to become an artist. He had natural artistic talent, being a great grandson of the famous portrait painter, Charles Willson Peale.

On September 16, 1859, he married Mary Ann Comly of Philadelphia and to this union nine children were born.

When Franklin was 18 years of age, he enlisted in Company G, 118th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; and fought in the Civil War for the Union. Franklin was shot in the left thigh during the Battle at Shepherdstown, West Virginia and lay on the battlefield for three days and two nights. During this time, he was under the continuous fire of a company of Union artillery in which his father (Rueben Peale) was serving.

After the war, Franklin re-united with his wife. In 1867, they moved to North Platte, as Peale had a job with the Union Pacific Railroad. Franklin set up the paint department in a shop at the rail yards and his job was to paint the locomotives. At that time, it was custom to adorn the locomotive with floral and artistic designs and portraits of citizens of national prominence. Peale worked in his paint shop until the early 1880’s, when he broke ties with the railroad and opened up a paint and art supply store on the site of today’s North Platte Community Playhouse in downtown North Platte.

On June 13, 1873, Franklin Peale sold five acres of land to the newly formed North Platte Cemetery Association at $20 per acre with 10% interest until paid. Lots were sold at a cost of $10 per single lot and that money was used to pay back the cost of the land purchase. This five acres was what eventually became the North Platte City Cemetery at its current location on Rodeo Road. Of course people died and were buried in the area before 1873. One such location with multiple graves was known as the original grave yard, was located near the intersection of 4th & Jeffers Street, approximately where RX Express and the CenturyLink buildings sit today.

Mr. Peale took an active part in the religious, civic, commercial and social affairs of the then frontier town, aiding in laying the foundations of the present city of North Platte. He was a member of the following: Episcopal church; Platte Valley Lodge No. 32; A.F.& A.M. of Stephen Arnold Douglas Post No. 69, G. A. R.; Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the American Revolution; and Walla Walla Lodge No. 56, I.O.O.F.

Mr. Peale and his family resided in North Platte for forty-five years. In 1912, he and his wife moved to Denver where they were near their children. Mrs. Peale passed away December 22, 1917 and Mr. Peale passed away on April 13, 1922 at age eighty-five. At the time of his death, he was survived by his seven (7) children, thirty-seven (37) grandchildren, and twenty six (26) great grandchildren.

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