Beginning in 1854, Cotton was performing with Matt Peel. Although young, Peel had already been in the business for nearly a decade. In the summer of 1854 Peel's partner, Luke West, died suddenly in a Boston hotel. For several years afterward Peel continued to perform as "West & Peel's Original Campbells." At left is a rare photograph of Matt Peel and Luke West. Once Cotton began work with this troupe he crafted a role as "Old Bob Ridley." It was a role that would echo throughout his life.