DAVID AND LETITIA NELSON PEDEN
Something about this area of the United States has a special appeal to people of Scottish decent as the considerable vigor of the Caledonian Society here proves. One of these Scottish families had to travel a round-about route to arrive, but it did.
David Peden was born Nov. 25, 1863, in Ayrshire, Scotland, and Letitia Nelson Nov. 22, 1858 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Davie’s parents, John and Ellen McFarland Peden moved about 1866 to Ireland where Dave received his education so it was from Ireland that he came to the United States to settle first in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1884. Miss Nelson had come to Battle Creek two years earlier to join a brother.
On Apr. 5, 1887, Dave and Letitia were married and left for New Mexico Territory, arriving in Raton. They worked on a ranch until he left June 1, 1892, with a trail herd for Montana (E2 Ranch), arriving Sept. 25, 1892, on the lower Powder River about 40 miles from Miles City.
Dave continued to work for the E2 where Mrs. Peden was known as the “Cowboys’ Angel.” She administered to the sick and was also an excellent cook and any cowboy arriving at their home knew he could get a good meal. If no one was at home, the cowboys would cook a meal, wash the dishes and leave the house in order.
Mrs. Peden had pets including two antelope with rather unusual names, a sheep, a dog and two cats which followed her about the ranch. In the evening she would call, “Malcolm, Mathew” and the antelope would come bounding over the sage brush for their supper.
In 1899, Dave was appointed superintended of the Custer County Farm. In 1907 the family moved to a farm in the valley. His brand was NW.
Dave threshed grain of various kinds for farmers for miles around. The machine was operated by a “whim” to which horses were hitched and moved in a circle for power. Later he bought a J. I. Case steam engine and pulled the thrasher from farm to farm to provide power. His daughter, Julia, known as Jo, also became very proficient in operating the engine.
The farm families gathered at the Kircher School for Saturday night dances. Each family took turns providing the midnight lunch. In winter a team was hitched to a bobsled which contained buffalo robes and heated soapstones for warmth and the family would be off to a country dance, maybe in the Pine Hills.
Mr. and Mrs. Peden were members of the Caledonian Society of Miles City and enjoyed Scottish gatherings.
In 1911 they sold the farm and moved to Miles City where Dave joined the police force. In 1920 they moved to Big Rapids, Mich., and farmed but the next year he sold the farm and returned to Miles City. Dave worked at Ft. Keogh then until about 1927 when he became a guard at the State Penitentiary at Deer Lodge. About 1936 he returned to Ft. Keogh for a time and then went back to work at Deer Lodge, retiring in 1941.
Mrs. Peden died in August, 1941, and Dave in March, 1947. Both are buried in Custer County cemetery in Miles City.
Peden children were, Julia Emily who married Charles Edridge and lived in Portland and Earle Stuart who married Myrtle Barton and lived in Miles City, are deceased. Agnes Stuart married Sterley A. Miller and lives in Billings.-- Transcribed from Fanning the Embers, p. 325-326, published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana.