Junius W. Peak was one of the more charismatic individuals in Texas history. His family moved to Texas from Kentucky in 1855. The family was large, with many brothers and sisters. Jefferson and Martha Reser Peak bought 229 acres of farmland close to the small Dallas settlement. Peak would recall that his father Jefferson paid $110 for the land.
The Peak farm was roughly about two miles northeast of the Old Red Courthouse, an area that now includes the Baylor University Medical Center complex, Dallas Theological Seminary, several very old churches and other landmark entities. Jefferson began constructing a brick home which would become the first brick home in Dallas. In 1879, Jefferson and Junius subdivided the farm into 16 blocks known as Peak’s Suburban Addition, which largely remains intact today. As the land was slowly developed, streets would be named for family members, including Peak and Carroll which ran northwest to southeast, and cross streets Victor, Worth, Jesse, Matt, Flora and Junius. From 1882 to 1889, it was a separately incorporated municipality known as East Dallas.
Junius had enlisted at the age of sixteen in the Confederate Army at Fort Arbuckle in southern Oklahoma, in the first Chocktaw and Chicasaw Mounted Rifles. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to the Second Kentucky Cavalry Regiment and served as an aide in Ohio before being transferred to the Third Tennessee Cavalry where he served as a field orderly. He was wounded twice at the Battle of Chickamauga, along the Tennessee and Georgia border. After recovering from his wounds, he was transferred to the Eighth Texas Cavalry from South Texas where he would serve as a scout until the end or the Civil War.
Following the war, he first became a deputy sheriff and reportedly was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, at least for a while, in Dallas before hiring on with some Texas cattlemen to fight cattle rustlers in 1872 for a year in New Mexico. Peak returned to Dallas about 1874 where he was elected city marshall of Dallas where he would remain for the next four years.
Junius “June” Peak in 1878
In 1878, Peak was elected city recorder of Dallas shortly before being commissioned by Governor Richard Coke to serve as a second lieutenant in Company B of the Texas Rangers Frontier Battalion where he was asked to raise a force, sometimes numbering as many as 110 Rangers and other lawmen, that was charged with tracking down the outlaw Sam Bass. Peak and others serving under Major John B. Jones pursued Bass for several months before a shootout in 1878 in Round Rock, Texas led to Bass being shot. Bass died from his wounds and most of the gang was killed or captured. The event was widely reported, many times with a full length photo of Junius “June” Peak in the front page newspaper articles. Peak would eventually reach the rank of Captain with the Rangers. He remained in service to the Rangers until about 1880, serving with his Battalion in West Texas near Fort Concho, now part of San Angelo. There, Peak would recount, they fought some of the last engagements with Commanche and Kiowa raiders in the North Concho area.
For the next year he worked in construction for the Mexican Central Railroad Company, building and equipping supply stations for the line. He married Henrietta Boll of Dallas in 1881. The couple traveled with his job, living much of the time in Mexico until around 1884 when they returned to Texas. They ran a horse and cattle ranch in Shackleford County for a time, until they relocated to Dallas again in 1899 to seek a place where their two children could be educated. From that time until he retired, Junius is known to have worked in real estate and also served as supervisor of the newly constructed White Rock Lake from 1919 to 1934.
Peak died at his home at 4409 Worth Street in Dallas on April 20, 1934. His residence is still standing today. Peak’s funeral service was held at Brewer Funeral Home and officiated by Dr. Graham Frank of Central Christian Church. Honorary pallbearers included Confederate veterans, the Texas Rangers’ Frontier Association and the Dallas County Pioneers’ Association. Following the service, he was interred at Dallas’ Grove Hill Cemetery.
[Paul Mosley narrates this post here.]
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