Schuman Auction Service

Fillmore History

The Man Who Died Twice

Paul Pelky

The following information was taken from a newspaper called THE FILLMORE LEVER of Fillmore, Missouri. The article was dated Friday, July 21, 1899 and was written by O.L. Cayton. It is only a part of the original article. There were many tales about the Fillmore resident,  Paul Pelky, and the fact that he was known for dying twice is interesting. The article was brought to the Schuman Auction Service's attention by Margaret Hanner Jones.

Paul Pelky was born on April 15, 1794 in an obscure town of Normandy, Francis destined by fate to roam the world as an exile. He was a lineal descendant of Admiral Pelkeire, who was murdered in the riots that occurred on St. Bartholomew’s Day in France, was exiled from Normandy, France in his 12th year. He landed in Quebec with his parents and other relatives.

At the age of 15 and an apprentice to wagon maker, he fell in love with a girl who was exiled from France at the same time and his father would not let him marry. As result he fled from home and his family never to return. He landed in New York and from there wondered from place to place, journeying up the St. Lawrence and then to the French settlements in New Orleans. He remained in New Orleans for several years and was found next in St. Louis with Joseph Robidoux. They traveled together through Yellowstone and then to Black Snake Hills, where St. Joseph now stands.

In 1845 Robidoux sold Pelky a property at which he started a wagon shop. During the winter of that year he, to all appearances, died and was prepared for burial and was placed in a coffin. In descending the stairs the pall bearers slipped down the stairs. At the bottom it burst open and Pelky, with a curse, freed himself from the boards and shroud and walked up stairs.

He later fought in the Mexican War and when returning he closed his shop in St. Joseph and worked for P.G. Cayton for five years. On July 31, 1850 he took the oath of  allegiance renouncing Great Britain and ever afterward remained loyal to this country.

In 1854 he moved to Fillmore where he lived until his death on July 15, 1899.

In 1858 he preempted 40 acres of land in the southern part of Holt County in a section known as “Cracker’s Neck.” He was required to go to Plattsburg to prove his claim. In the meantime John Hewitt of Holt County had intentions of jumping his claim. At 2:00 a.m. Pelky started on foot to Plattsburg, and at daylight after finding that Pelky had gone. Hewitt followed on horseback. Pelky filed his claim and was preparing to return when Hewitt arrived in Plattsburg. He walked the entire way.

In 1862 he enlisted in the Union Army and returned to Fillmore in 1863 and reopened his wagon shop and saloon, but was compelled to close the latter and in a few years gave up wagon work and commenced gardening.

He never married and his companion was a violin or some pet animal. For several months his favorite pet was a goose which would follow him as faithfully as a dog.

His intense hatred of Churches was not generally known. Among his papers was found much manuscript that stated that his objects of worship were the Sun and Moon. He was firm believer in witch craft and a small pebble that fell from the roof of his house was his most valued treasure and as far as anyone knew he allowed no one to touch it. He claimed that it had miraculous powers and he is supposed to have swallowed it before he died.

After his death in July of 1899, his remains were interred in the Fillmore Cemetery on Saturday, July 15, 1899, thus ending the one hundred and 5 years of his eventful life.

In personal appearance he was not prepossessing. He was about 5 feet 5 inches tall, and his body did not appear to be much more than a skeleton: his hair was grizzly gray and in youth coal black. He received $12.00 monthly as Mexican war veteran and was the oldest member in the United States of the Fillmore Post of the No. 170, G.A.R.. He also claimed to be the oldest bachelor in the world. He died with plenty of money to bury him nicely, but had none hoarded.
In preparing the above sketch, I am indebted to R.M. Cole, Chas W. Spicer, W.J. Barnes, John Messick, and Geo. Bowers
                                                   O.L. Cayton


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