In late 2010, having volunteered to assist Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington, California, with research in pro-secession activity in California, director Susan Ogle handed me a list of names, places and events for possible investigation. One of those names was that of Dan Showalter, a California politician turned Confederate cavalry officer of whom I'd never heard.

Becoming fascinated just after reading the barest outline of Showalter's life, the next year found me hunting down everything I could find about this largely forgotten character. When I had finished my research -- which included the discovery of several previously unpublished items as well as obtaining the only known photograph from a Showalter descendent -- I had so much material that Susan exclaimed, "You've got a whole exhibit right here!"

And with her guidance, on November 5, 2011, co-curated by myself and Susan Ogle, my "Dan Showalter: California's Arch Rebel" exhibit went on display at the Drum.

Now being slated for removal in August 2012 in that ongoing round of ever-successive new exhibits that mark good museums, I've started this website as a place where, over time, I can memorialize and expand upon all the material accumulated on this remarkable Californian.

Hope you'll return often as this website expands and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"My Dear Friend Anna"

I seem to be in another of these periodic moments when unexpected things come flying at me. By that, I mean the sudden connection with descendants of the various dramatis personae in the life of Dan Showalter and, more and more it seems, obtaining old, never published family photos.

This has happened again. I've now become acquainted with one Larry Vermeulen, the great-great grandson of none other than Anna Forman, the young woman to whom that wonderful letter of February 1864 was written by Showalter -- the one that she never received, but has been consigned to posterity, by virtue of it being recovered from the body of the Confederate spy, shot by Union soldiers, who had been entrusted with carrying it back to California from Texas. I refer you to my earlier postings for the text of that magnificently impassioned letter.

Anna, about ten years after the date of that ill-fated letter, married a J.D. Peters (actually Giuseppe di Pietri). Mr. Peters was the wealthy owner of a steamship line. Twenty-two years Anna's senior, he died in the early 20th century, leaving Anna a well-to-do widow who spent her time between living in an elegant San Francisco hotel and her father's home in Stockton, California. She died in 1921 in San Francisco. She was the founder of the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Stockton. She was born in Vandalia, Illinois, in September of 1845 -- so was only 18 years old at the time of Showalter's letter.

And now, as best I know for the first time ever outside of family records, courtesy of Mr. Vermeulen, is the copy of what appears to be a newspaper photo from an old Vandalia, IL, newspaper with none other than Anna Forman Peters to the left of her aunt, Tabitha Booth:

As best I know, this is the only known photo of Mrs. Peters.

Another surprise: With the help of fellow historian and friend Gene Armistead, it appears that there may actually be a second photo of Dan Showalter! Inquiry has been made and I am awaiting reply as to the availability of a copy and permission to publish. 


  1. Hello Bob;
    Please notify me when your book is published. I realize that it's a work in progress but How close might it be to fruition.
    Don Showalter

  2. Hi Bob, Please let me know when the book is published. I'd like to obtain a copy.
    Thank you