Private Robert Morris Peck

Sunday, April 1, 2:00 pm

Leo Oliva as PeckLeo E. Oliva will present Private Robert Morris Peck, First U.S. Cavalry, on the Santa Fe Trail, 1857-1861 at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 1, at the Kaw Mission State Historic Site in Council Grove as the second of four presentations scheduled for the educational program series, Kaw Councils 2012.

Robert Morris Peck joined the U.S. Cavalry in 1856 and served in the frontier army in Kansas during most of his enlistment. In 1901 he wrote his memoirs of military service.  Leo Oliva portrays Peck in 1901, recalling his stories of a soldier’s life, including expeditions and service at military posts along the Santa Fe Trail. Peck served in the 1857 Cheyenne Expedition, was among troops that protected the trail and established Fort Larned in 1859, escorted mail coaches on the trail, served in the Kiowa Expedition of 1860, and was among troops that established Fort Wise (later Lyon) in Kansas Territory (now Colorado). He spent time at Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, Fort Larned, Fort Wise, and Fort Union. Oliva will share Peck’s stories of army life, especially his experiences on the Santa Fe Trail, including Council Grove and Lost Spring.  Peck will answer questions after the presentation.

Leo E. Oliva became interested in frontier military history during the 1959 centennial celebration of the founding of Fort Larned and has been researching and writing about frontier military posts and trails ever since. A graduate of Fort Hays State University, he earned graduate degrees at the University of Denver. He is the author of Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail, six of the eight volumes in the Kansas Forts Network series, and Fort Union and the Frontier Army in the Southwest. He has written several other books and many articles, most dealing with the frontier army and trails. He is a student of Kansas history and writes a weekly newspaper column on “Our Kansas Heritage.” A former university professor who retired to take over a family farming operation near Woodston, Leo continues to farm and write history. He was editor and publisher of the Santa Fe Trail Association (SFTA) quarterly, Wagon Tracks, 1986-2011. He is former chairman and current treasurer of the Fort Larned Old Guard, friends support group for Fort Larned National Historic Site, which purchased the site of the Cheyenne and Sioux village on Pawnee Fork in Ness County that was captured and burned by Gen. W. S. Hancock’s command in April 1867. He is currently manager of the village site. He is a frequent lecturer on Kansas history, the frontier army, and overland trails.

He is a founding member of the SFTA and the Smoky Hill Trail Association. Oliva has been portraying Robert Morris Peck, trooper in the First Cavalry, 1856-1861, for four years.

The Friends of Kaw Heritage, Inc. (FKH), the Kansas Historical Society and the SFTA sponsor Kaw Councils 2012.  Free refreshments compliments of FKH. Open to the public. Regular admission fee applies. For information, contact the mission at 620-767-5410, or visit or