Historical Details

Peet, George Earl

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/17/2020


by Melvin Peet

George Earl Peet was the fourth son born into the union of Marlin and Paulina Peet, on June 3, 1884, in Troy Mills, Ia. His sister was born several years later. In 1891 the family moved to Keya Paha County, Nebraska, where they settled on a homestead, raising cattle, hogs and feed.

It was here that Earl attended school and grew to adulthood. During his younger years he did various chores around the homestead and herded cattle. He told about finding numerous arrowheads and indian trinkets.

An ant Hill produced many indian beads. Apparently it was right over an old Indian grave. He recalled that he carved his initials on the shells of turtles, then later found the turtles in different areas.      

During his early manhood he worked as a school teacher, blacksmith and a printer.

In 1905 he married Ida Blanche Stokes and to this union, two sons, Melvin and Donald were born. In 1913 the family located on a homestead southeast of Lusk, they raised cattle and hay and did a little dry farming.    On many occasions Earl tangled with rattlesnakes and saved a quart jar full of rattles that he took from the "varmints". One time Melvin and his mother were in the garden, digging potatoes, when a loud "hiss" erupted from one of the potato plants. Melvin's mother knew it was a snake and sent Melvin to the house to get something to kill it with.   He returned with the first thing at hand - a post hole digger.  His mother beat the potato plant and broke one handle out of the digger, when about then a large bat flew out of the plant so there was no snake after all.

Earl and his brother-in-law, Dolph Stokes, made many overnight trips to the Rawhide Buttes to get a supply of wood, which was the only fuel available. They always made camp between the "big" and "little" buttes. During this time, Earl worked some as a printer on the Jay Em and Fort Laramie weekly newspapers.

Earl's first car was a 1915 Model T touring  car with isinglass side curtains. He and Melvin went to Chadron, Nebr. to get the car and on the return trip up through Smiley Canyon where the road was just pairs of ruts side by side. He lost control of the car and in order to keep Melvin from bouncing out, let go of the steering wheel and grabbed Melvin. The car bounced across several ruts and "chugged" to a stop  No damage was done. His second car which he bought after moving to Lusk in 1917, was a 1918 Dodge touring car which was formerly owned by Doctor Walter Hassed.  In 1920

Earl and the boys started to California and as they neared the crest of the Birdseye Pass, south of Thermopolis, long before the canyon road was constructed, they came upon an elderly couple in a Model T Ford which would not negotiate the steep grade.  Earl being an experienced driver, volunteered to assist by driving their car.  As he raced the engine and stepped on the "low" pedal, the car lurched forward a few feet, then Melvin would "chuck"  a rock under the rear wheel to hold the car while Earl raced the engine and went through the procedure again. After several such attempts the car reached the top of the pass. The couple was very grateful and had down hill "sailing" the rest of the way to Thermopolis.

The family moved to Lusk in 1917 where school facilities were better. Earl worked at several occupations. Among them were Reuters Grocery Store, the railroad, Lusk Motor Company, and a "hitch" in the Lance Creek Oil Fields during the original boom, when claim jumping was prevalent.  Earl's job was to live in a small cabin on the claim and "guard" the claim so another company would not move in and take posses­sion.  Earl's wife passed away in 1919 dur­ing the flu epidemic.

Finally in 1924 Earl felt that it was time to fulfill a lifelong ambition-that of becoming a mortician.  He attended school and worked out his apprenticeship in Chicago, then returned to Lusk, where he worked a short time for Irwin-Mills Hardware store, later working for the Midwest Hardware as their mortician. In 1928 he bought out the Midwest Mortuary and established his own business in the building known as the Wolfe Apartments on Pine Street. In 1930, he pur­chased from Anna Gray, the historic home built in 1890 by Frank S. Lusk, founder of the town.   He improved this property and added the Chapel in 1938.

In 1932 he married Miss Agnes Laverty and Mrs. Peet's niece, Mary Agnes Laverty, lived with them from infancy until she com­pleted high school.

During the many years after Earl es­tablished his business in Lusk, he was always in the midstream of many activities. He served as mayor for ten years during which he was instrumental in establishing the airport, paving 100 blocks of streets, improving the water system and city park, and made it possible to establish the gar­bage pick-up system. He was a member of the Lions Club, assisting whenever possible with projects designed for the improvement of the town and community. He was a 50 year member of the Masonic Lodge and active in Red Cross work, always being ready to lend a helping hand to those who were less fortunate.

Among the things from which he received a great deal of pleasure, was the creation in 1946, and production of the "Legend of the Rawhide" in which he acted the part of the colorful Indian chief, riding his horse proudly at the head of the warriors who attacked the wagon train and burned a wagon.

He enjoyed fishing and hunting very much and over the years, traveled into Canada many times with his friends, to fish Canadian lakes. Just about every piece of tackle and equipment that was supposed to entice a fish was in Earl's tackle box.

In 1966 he sold the mortuary to Walther Doctor and more or less retired.

After having lived a complete and fruitful life, he passed away at the age of 86, on Oct. 14, 1970, at the home of his son, Donald, in Auburn, Wash., where he was visiting. Funeral  services were held in Lusk and the body taken to Ainsworth, Nebr. for burial beside his first wife.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Peet, George (06/03/1884 - 10/14/1970) View Record
Obituary Peet, Ida (07/26/1885 - 04/03/1919) View Record
Obituary Peet, Agnes (08/12/1899 - 06/20/1981) View Record
Historical Peet Indian Head Dress View Record