Besides sending out hundreds of personal letters, Gifford Pinchot placed a number of advertisements in journals and periodicals calling for his first foresters, a group he called the "Old Timers," to submit narratives. The request for narratives above appeared in May 1940 in the journal "American Forests."
Colonel Allen Steele Peck sent his lengthy narrative detailing an astounding 38-year career (July 1902-February 1940) with the United States Forest Service from his home in Denver, Colorado where he had retired. Born in West Barre, New York in April of 1880, Peck, like many of the First Foresters, grew up on a farm in the East and went West recalling his "strong inclination toward out-of-door work (and play)." In the winter of 1900-1901, while students at Union College in Schenectady, New York, Peck and a friend ran across an article in the Saturday Evening Post by Rene Bache. Peck recalled how Bache described "the new profession of Forestry which offered opportunities for young men with a yen for the out of doors." He wrote, "Bache was a versatile chap with a wide range of interest, who like to dig up novel and startling subjects to write about, such as the raising of Angora goats or the discovery of vitamins. This article gave us a definite lead and we applied for positions as Student Assistants in the Bureau of Forestry. It seemed to be just the sort of opening that I had been looking for."
Like many of the First Foresters, Peck's career took him through the Halsey Nursery in Nebraska. He writes, "Leaving my home at Batavia, New York on July 1 (1903), I went to Nebraska as Student Assistant, reporting at Halsey to Charley Scott, after completing the last section of the railroad trip from Broken Bow on a freight train." Peck continues, "The nursery and field planting project at Halsey was well under way. I found there a gang of young foresters, including "Hoss" Stabler, Tom Swan, Krauter, Mast, Bridges and Holroyd....Here, between the the Dismal and the Loup and along the Niobrara, we saw the beginnings of that great job of forest creation that has grown to be such a comfort and inspiration to the people of the sand hills country, and a monument to that early group of foresters who were pricked by the urge to tackle the hardest jobs first--men who took their love of trees to the prairies and plains and could not be satisfied until they had tried to make forests where there were none. To me this summer of 1903 was a second and very important chapter in my training for forestry. I was introduced for the first time to the cattle country of the West, to the chuck wagon, and the saddle horse, and stock saddle as a daily habit. I learned a lot about the fine points of the cow horse, the rattlesnake, the transit and stadia rod, and developed an interest in nursery work and tree planting that has always remained strong. These two months in the sand hills of Nebraska were the first steps in a wonderful jaunt that took me by easy stages to the Rocky Mountains where I was introduced to a Forest Reserve, then to New Mexico, Arizona, California, and finally back to Washington through the South."
From humble beginnings, Peck details a career that crisscrossed the United States and in addition sent him to France where, in the summer of 1917, he assisted in forestry operations with the 20th Engineers directed by William B. Greeley. During a lifetime of service, honors, and awards, in 1920 Peck was notified that he had received the rank of "Chevalier" in the French Legion of Honor. After being discharged from the Army, Peck returned to Denver where he assumed the position of Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region.