Biography of Major Cassius R. Peck
Oregon Biographies





Major Cassius R. Peck, who to the profession is known as a very intelligent and exceptionally able lawyer and to the public as a man of the highest type, has in his career but carried out the principles handed down to him from an ancestry clean mentally, morally and physically for many generations. He was graduated cum laude from the University of Vermont and such antecedents and such an education give a man an interest as wide as the world and as broad as human intelligence. His natal day was July I, 1880, and the place of his birth the town of Brookfield, Vermont. His father, Cassius Peck, was born at the same place in 1842 and was married in his native town in 1867 to Luna Arnold Sprague, a daughter of Asa Sprague. At the time of the Civil war Cassius Peck, Sr., joined the "Boys in Blue," becoming a private of Company F, First Regiment of Berdan Sharpshooters. He enlisted at the first call for troops in 1861 and served until the close of the war, winning the rank of sergeant. He afterward became a prominent figure in the political history of the Green Mountain state, serving as a member of the house and senate of the Vermont legislature. He was also a trustee of the University of Vermont and of the Vermont Soldiers' Home. His life was devoted to the occupation of farming, which he followed for many years, his labors being ended in death in 1912. He had for more than a decade survived his wife, who passed away in 1901, both dying in Burlington, Vermont. It will be of interest in this connection to note something concerning_ the ancestral history of the family, which was founded in America in 1638, the first representative of the name in the new world being Henry Peck, who came from England and settled at New Haven, Connecticut. The great grandfather of Major Peck of this review was Thomas Peck, a native of Connecticut, and the grandfather was Reuben Peek, who was born in Brookfield, Vermont, and became a manufacturer of that place.

Cassius R. Peck, whose name introduces this review, was a pupil in the public and high schools of his native state and then entered the University of Vermont, from which he was graduated cum laude with the class of 1902. He then prepared for the bar and in the law, properly studied, he learned the big principles upon which the universe of human civilization lives and develops. He was admitted to the bar in 1902 and practiced in 1903 and 1904 in Burlington, Vermont. In the fall of the latter year he made his way to Oklahoma, where he found a bright people under wholly new conditions, not tied down by any fetters of the past, and in this new environment he readily adjusted himself as a capable, well educated man should. His surroundings compelled him to consider very largely the elementary principles of life. He soon became acquainted with people of every sort and condition and had the respect of everyone whom he met. In February, 1905, he was appointed assistant United States attorney for the district of Oklahoma and filled that position until July, 1906, beffig known as an intelligent, efficient and thoroughly trustworthy officer. At the latter date he was transferred to the interior department as attorney and member of the Osage Indian Allotting Commission, with headquarters at Pawhuska, Oklahoma, his duty being to allot the lands and property of the Osages among the members of that tribe. The work of the board was singularly well done and a fair share of the credit of that work belongs to Major Peck. When the commission had completed its labors in 1909 it was dissolved and in that year Major Peck came to Oregon, settling at Marshfield, where he practiced law until August, 1917.

At that date, America having entered the World war, Mr. Peck was admitted to the officers' training camp at the Presidio at San Francisco, where he remained for three months. He was commissioned captain of infantry and was assigned to Camp Lewis, in the state of Washington, and almost immediately thereafter detailed to the judge advocate's office at Camp Lewis, where he continued until June, 1918. He was then made camp judge advocate and so served until October 1, 1918. In September of that year he was promoted to the rank of major in the judge advocate general's department and did duty under that commission until October 1, 1918, when he was ordered overseas being assigned to a vessel in crossing when the armistice was signed. Orders came to return to Camp Upton, New York, where he acted as camp judge advocate until honorably discharged on the 31st of December, 1918. With his return to Oregon he resumed the practice of law at Portland as a member of the law firm of Griffith, Leiter & Allen. In his business he is alert and persistent and with these qualities combines a high sense of honor and fairness. It is characteristic of him that he entered the training camp at San Francisco and without former military experience obtained a commission as captain at the end of a ninety day course, later receiving his commission as major at Camp Lewis. The same thoroughness and close application have characterized his professional record. He studies his cases and studies his facts and studies the law, after which, it has been said of him, that he studies his cases some more, presenting them as a well prepared lawyer presents his cause. He has been successful with juries and court because of his good preparation for trial and because he did not attempt to misstate the law to the court nor the facts to the jury. His success has been the result of earning, winning and holding the regard, appreciation and confidence of those acquainted with him as an honest, efficient, large natured man and lawyer.

On the 9th of June, 1903, in Bennington, Vermont, Major Peck was married to Miss Lilian Louise Valentine. They have become the parents of a daughter, Alma Louise.

Fraternally Major Peck is a Knight Templar Mason and member of the Mystic Shrine and his religious faith is that of the Presbyterian church. He belongs to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Delta Theta, college fraternities, to the Arlington Club and Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club of Portland. He is also a member of the American Legion and has done important work in that connection. He was elected temporary president of Portland Post at its first meeting, May 24, 1919, and then proceeded to take charge of the work of organizing the local post. At its second meeting on the 6th of June he was elected president and guided the organization as president of the post and chairman of the executive committee until May 1, 1920. At the time he retired as president Portland Post was the largest post of the American Legion, having sixty three hundred members, and his administration turned over to the new administration the sum of fifty eight hundred dollars. Mr. Peck was a delegate to the state convention of the American Legion of Oregon in September, 1919, and was also elected a delegate to the national convention at Minneapolis in November of the same year. At the Minneapolis meeting he was appointed chairman of the constitution committee and was instrumental in drafting the national constitution of the American Legion which is now in force. He was also chairman of the respective committees which drafted the existing constitution of the Department of Oregon and Portland Post. At a meeting of Portland Post on May 3, 1920, the title of first past commander was conferred upon him. He takes great interest in all civic affairs and is welcomed to any society by reason of the sterling traits of his character.

From:
History of Oregon Illistrated
Vol. 3
BY: Charles H. Carney
The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company
Chicago - Portland 1922


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