Biography of John J. Peebler

JOHN J. PEEBLER. – Among the very first settlers of the Grande Ronde valley, if not the first actual one to begin residence here, we mention the esteemed gentleman and worthy pioneer whose name appears above, and who has been identified with the interests of Union county since its organization and with this section before Union county was in existence, laboring ever for the promulgation of sound principles and the inauguration of good government and the material progress and substantial improvement of both his state and county.

John J. Peebler was born to Samuel C. and Dorothy Peebler in Jefferson county, Iowa, on July 25, 1836, and when he was six years of age his parents both died, leaving him an orphan at that tender age. There was but one intervening day between these deaths, which made it doubly sad. The struggles that must have come to the young lad from this date until we next see him are veiled and we necessarily pass them by. In 1853, when he was a youth of seventeen summers, he made the arduous and yet exciting trip across the plains with his uncle, David Peebler. The entire distance was covered with ox teams and the train was composed of forty or more wagons, and it is of note that they made the whole trip without accident or molestation. They located in the vicinity of Salem, and there he assisted his uncle in the work of the farm for two years and then participated in the well known Rogue river war with the Indians. Following this struggle he went to the mines, remaining for two years, and then repaired to Douglas county near Roseburg, where, in December, 1859, he was joined in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Amelia A., daughter of Thompson and Nancy Grubbe, and to them have been born the following children: An infant, deceased before it was named; Olive Syrene, wife of John F. Green, of Payette; Evan T., married to Annie Walker, living near Lagrande; Mary A., deceased; Clara Henrietta, wife of William Allan, near Lagrande; Henry Walter, Adolph Eugene.

In the spring of 1862 Mr. Peebler came with his family to the Grande Ronde valley and selected his present home place. At that time there was but one log cabin in the valley. He set to work with the energy and skill and courage of the true pioneer to make a home and to open the country for settlement. He entered land and improved it with fences and buildings, and because of his thrift and industry, prosperity ahs attended his efforts. Since 1862 he has remained here and has seen the country settle and the buildings rise and the towns of the county spring up, and steadily he has pursued his way, that of the upright, intelligent and substantial citizen, ever laboring for the welfare of all. From time to time he has added to his real estate of six hundred acres, which is well improved and very productive. The entire amount is fenced and good buildings, as barns, dwelling and other necessaries are erected and maintained, while a good orchard and other evidences of labor and sagacity are abounding on every hand. All of these things testify plainly of the position that Mr. Peebler holds in the agricultural and stock-raising world. He is one of the leaders of the county and as such is entitled to especial credit, since he took the raw material from nature’s hands and wrought out the good things that are his now to enjoy. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masons, and in that relation, as in all the relations of his life, he is esteemed and highly respected. Now as the golden years of his career begin to run apace and the season for riper thoughts and the maturer fruits of life draws on, he is justly entitled to enjoy the fruit of his labor and reap the rewards of his thrift and integrity, since he wrested from the wilds of nature the domain that he possesses and fought back the savages who repelled the invasions of civilization’s pilots, and has always in his relations with his fellows been upright and manly and dominated with wisdom and kindness.


An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

1 thought on “Biography of John J. Peebler”

  1. The information about John J. Peebler is very interesting and even exciting – to think a young boy of six years of age grew up and against many odds of a lifetime established a ranch and the other necessities of life, but most of all a large and loving family.

    I would like to point out one small error. The biography mentions John J. crossed the plaines “…. with ox teams and the train was composed of forty or more wagons.” Though ox teams were used almost all the time crossing the plains, but the Peebler family used horses. Perhaps the other wagons on the journey used ox teams. I don’t know. But the “uncle David Peebler” mentioned in the biography was my great great grandfather and I have writings by family members which describe the journey westward fairly well. In fact in one description, David’s wife, Frances Susanna Imbler (Peebler) describes she was lowered IN her wagon in the mountains near Barlow Hill in Oregon. She was just not going to allow her wagon that she had carefully packed with the family belongings, herbs, spices and dried foods by looping ropes around trees and attached to HORSES directed by the men to moved backwards lowering the wagon down the slope of the mountains unless she was in it!

    More details which should add the biography of John J. Peebler. There were five other small children in the family of John’s father, Samuel Sears Peebler and his mother Darthy Foutch: William Henry aged 10, Mary Ann aged 8, John James (of this biography) aged 6, Michael David aged 4, Charlotte Syrene aged 2 and Cyrus Samuel Darius aged 4 months. (Michael David Peebler, was probably named after his grandfather, Michael David Peebler whom I consider the father of ALL people with the surname of Peebler – because his father’s surname was of different spelling. In addition, many people consider the little boy, Michael David Peebler, to be the first white person born west of the Mississippi. I don’t know if it is true. He was 96 years old when he died in 1935 in Livermore, IA.)

    The children were all distributed to various Peebler families living in Jefferson County, IA area. I am sure the shock of Samuel and his wife Darthy’s death was devastating for the entire Peebler family. But the families did not hesitate to take the small children. A mother’s death is particularly hard on small children. The story is that the shock of Darthy’s husband’s death and the recent birth of the youngest child, Cyrus, was just too much on her and she passed away the next day.

    David Peebler, was a very religious man all of his 97 years and raised John James Peebler to young adulthood. When David decided to moved to Oregon – because the grass was as high as a horses shoulders – in 1853, John went with the wagon train as the biography describes. My great grandfather, John Frederick Peebler, was a boy of 15. I’m sure that the two boys grew up as brothers. (John F. Peebler was born in 1838 in December. Ironically, I was born in 1938 in December!) Two of my great grandfather’s sisters, Ann Elizabeth, aged 13 and Martha Malinda, aged 11 walked all the way to Oregon from Iowa, bared foot, shepherding two mares.

    There were 12 children in David and Susan Peebler’s family not counting John James. But two children, Agnes and Agnes, died soon after birth and another child Michael died at age 2 of a rattle snake bite. The three oldest children, Francis, Mary and Nancy were married and went to Oregon with their father and mother. The fourth child, William, married the year after arriving in Oregon. But all of David and Susan’s children went to Oregon in the same wagon train.

    My great grandfather had a son, Charles, who married my grandmother, Anna Luella Langford. She had a daughter, Mary, who married my father and, luckily for me, they decided to have children. I was born in 1938 and decided to put my family history together beginning in 1976.

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