Phillip Peers


The Daily Journal, Flat River, Mo., Monday, March 19, 1979

              He was a Harvard-educated lawyer who never practiced law.  He was a member of the Confederate Army but never fired a shot.   He once owned a major part of Denver, Colo., but lost it all in the Civil War.  Despite it all, he still became one of Farmington’s most outstanding citizens. 

            His name was Phillip E. Peers and he was a member of a family that included sons and daughters who were merchants, wives of judges and outstanding civic leaders. 

            Peers was the son of John Peers, one of the city’s founding fathers and the first man to open a store in the community.  He grew up like most young men of his times in a rural village in Missouri. 

            His life changed, however, when he was sent by his mother to live with her sister in Maysville, Ky.  The idea was to send him to a local prep school and then east to college.  That was accomplished and he entered Harvard. 

            During his first year at school he proved to be much like students of today.   He was interested in things he wanted to do and did not apply himself in the pursuit his mother had selected for him. 

            After his first year at Harvard his grades were nothing to write home about.   Unfortunately for Peers, Harvard did.  His mother was most upset when he arrived home. 

            After several weeks of long talks he resolved to go back to college and apply himself.  When he returned home he brought his mother a diploma, from Harvard Law School. 

            Peers again proved that he was like some of the youth of our time when he rebelled once more.  “I’ve done what you asked but I shall never practice law.  I shall never fight for a living,” he told his mother. 

            While he never did practice law, he did become active in politics and probably did fight for his living at some point. 

            Peers was ill when he arrived home from college.  He was so ill that his family reportedly feared for his life. 

            Proving his strong will despite his illness he signed on with the Bassinette Fur Co. out of St. Louis and traveled west with a friend named Tom Pin, also of Farmington. 

            The wagon train traveled at a rate of 15 miles per day as it moved west.   For the first six weeks, Peers was too ill to even come out of the wagon. 

            Once he arrived in Colorado Peers started to regain his health and became active in the company’s trading post in what is now Denver. 

            He was known by the Indians, from whom the company purchased hides and furs, by two names. During the time he opened the business he was called “the man who opens the door.”  Later, when he became an account his name became, “The man who makes black flowers with colored water.” 

            Peers saw the value of the area where he was living.  He staked a claim to what is now a major part of Denver.   While he was processing his claim the Civil War broke out.  His claim was voided when he went off to fight for the South. 

            “Fight” was not exactly the right word.  On his 100th birthday Peers told a reporter he had given time and blood to his country.  When asked where he was wounded he said he fell off his horse and got a bloody nose.  The account in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat said the reporter walked off in disgust. 

            Peers did have Civil War experience that he was quite proud of in later years. 

            He led a group of men that brought over $3 million west in a wagon to keep the war going there.  It was in the west that Peers saw his final days in the rebel army.

Thanks to Jeanne Hunt Nassaney for transcribing this article for us!