All that said, there is much to admire in the ancestry of my mother and much that is pleasant for me to know. My mother was unable to tell me a great deal about her maternal grandparents. Her father, Martin VanBuren Britt, was an abusive husband and he, as abusive husbands have good reason to do, isolated his wife Susie and her children from her parents. Susie's parents recognized the danger their influence posed for Susie, and kept their distance, much to the regret of my mother, who longed to know her maternal grandparents better and admired what little she did know about them.
Much of my Peabody information came from newspapers, census, and a very exhaustive account of the ancestors of Francis Peabody in a book entitled "Genealogy of Early New England Families, Vol II", which was on file in the Family History Room of the Bartlesville, OK., Public Library, the Peabody portion being compiled and written by C. M. Endicott, Esq., of Salem, Massachusetts. Francis was born in 1614 at St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, in 1614. He came to America in 1635 and married Mary Foster in 1638 in Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts. It was once said that anyone in America whose last name is Peabody can trace their ancestry to this couple.
This information was appended and elaborated upon by several different distant Peabody relatives, among them Velton Peabody who was at the time compiling an up-to-date Peabody genealogy, I don't know if he ever accomplished his goal or not. The most wonderful distant relatives who helped me were Dorothy Peabody Hall and Mabel Maxine Peabody Woody. I visited in their home in Siloam Springs, Arkansas in 1998. Dorothy and Maxine were daughters of Aaron and Susan's youngest son, Benjamin, and his wife, Ottie Wright Peabody. My grandmother, Susan Elizabeth Peabody Britt, was their aunt. They were so very friendly and gracious to me and sent me things in the mail from time to time afterward. I will always appreciate their hospitality towards me, a stranger to them.
People called Aaron Filmore Peabody "Fil", and so I will refer to him by that name from this point forward in order to differentiate him from his father, whose name was also Aaron. I do not know what his middle name was or even the initial.
Aaron and Mary were found on the 1850 census of Calais, Maine. He was 37 and a blacksmith, and their children, Mary A., Albion P., Aaron F., were in the household. Also in the household was Mary's mother, Catherine Whitney. It was passed down in the family that Aaron went to California during the goldrush and "the only thing he made was the trip", and then there was that sheepish smile and a twinkle of the eye, something that reminded me so very much of my grandmother, Susie, deceased since 1962.
By 1856, Aaron and his family were found on the 1856 State census of Canaan, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. Now, why in the world did they go there? Homesteading free land, maybe. The 1860 census finds them in Maysville, Reeve Twp., Franklin County, Iowa. Kate Pauline is age 5/12. In 1863, Aaron and his son Albion Perley Peabody enlisted in Company L, Fourth Regiment, Iowa Cavalry Division, at Hampton, Iowa. They were both discharged on the same date in 1865, at Atlanta, Georgia. Kate Pauline died at the age of two and her burial place is unknown. Mary Asenath met a young man named Edward Popejoy Connor and they were married in 1864. Newspaper accounts mention the presence of his family in Iowa in connection with an investment in a flour mill. But Edward was from Ohio. I didn't find Mary again until 1870 on the census of Oskaloosa, Grasshopper Falls Twp., Jefferson County, Kansas. Her mother, Mary (Whitney) Peabody, was in the household with her, and there is a one-year-old daughter named Corinne, born in Ohio. I assume Mary Asenath was deceased sometime between then and 1890, when Aaron Peabody applied for his soldier's pension. At that time he stated that Aaron Filmore and Albion Perley were his only children still living. The existence of Mary Asenath Peabody and Edward Connor's son, James, born before Corinne and named after Edward's twin brother, is evidenced by his presence in Edward's household on most census years, as Edward's son, and reporting his mother's birthplace as Maine. Edward and James ended up in California. Corinne was not found again after 1870 until 1900 in Oahu, HI. She had been married for ten years and had a 5-year-old child born 1895 in America. 1900 census states this child born in California. Copies of letters that James, who went to California first, wrote home to his father Edward, make reference to the visit from his sister and special music lessons being sought for her daughter.
A lot of the information about Edward Connor and his descendants came from a woman I located (or who located me, not remembering which) on the internet, and she turned out to be living right here in Bartlesville. Small World. As near as I can figure, she is related to the man who married Corinne, and they had a daughter named Hazel and a son who showed up on some census but there is not much information about him otherwise. Corrinne died in California in 1946, but according to a newspaper account she had been living in Hawaii with her married daughter and son-in-law and had been brought back to California because of the war and her poor physical condition.
All this is probably too much information in the wrong direction but the crux of this is that I was never able to find out what happened to Mary Asenath Peabody Connor, whether she remarried between Corinne's birth and 1890, or where she is buried.
In 1894, Aaron Peabody received a Homestead Entry land patent for 160 acres in Texas County, Missouri. Fil and Albion Perley received patents in 1899, with Fil's being in the same section as his father's. Family says this land lies between Cabool and Willow Springs and that Aaron and Mary (Whitney) Peabody are buried there. I have been unable to go there and see if there is a cemetery there I might be able to visit. But I wonder if Mary Asenath (Peabody) Connor is buried there.
Albion Perley Peabody (Perley was the surname of one of the grandmothers, and family called him "Pearl") married Nancy Tharp in 1872 and then on the 1880 census stated he was widowed. He then married Eleanor "Elmer" Weisgarver in 1886. That must've been confusing for folks when referring to "Pearl and Elmer". Her parents went to Yavapai County, Arizona for her father's health and Pearl and Elmer followed. Family says they were buried in Missouri.
Now we have the rest of the family out of the way, so we can get to Fil. Fil married Susan Isabelle Shelby in 1875 in Holden County, MO. Susan has some interesting ancestors. Her parents were Evan Wiley Shelby, born in KY, and Virginia Elmira Sallee, born in VA. Virginia's lineage goes back to Jean Sallee, born 1590, and Suzanne Mestay. Records indicate the Sallee's were French Hugenots who fled to America to escape religious persecution.
Susan Isabelle (Shelby) Peabody
These pictures are in no particular order, most of 'em taken 'waaaay before I was born:
I was always curious about a yellowed piece of paper Mom kept in her "Important Papers" box. Mom told me that it was a poem that Grammy's father had written and sent to her and "Van" after they lost their two sons in a drowning accident. Grammy and Gramps' lives were so tragic. They had nine children, only the last four survived childhood. My mom was their eldest surviving child. Things that happened in that family marked my mother forever. I don't really blame her for being the way she was. She was broken, and probably bi-polar too. Didn't make it any easier to live with her, but I hold no resentments towards her. Such a sad, sad life. May God have mercy on her soul.
I borrowed the poem and copied it as well as I could. Here it is:
There was another that was in the box. I had borrowed it after I got my scanner. By that time she'd lost the poem above and swore I still had it. That was just Mom for you. NOTE: To make the screen bigger, hold down Ctl and press the plus sign.
Mom told me Fil sent his poems in to the Gentry newspaper and they were published, and that got me curious. So about the same time we went to Siloam Springs to visit Dorothy and Maxine, we went to Gentry. We went to the cemetery first. Had no idea where Fil and Susan's graves were, but pulled up almost right beside them. Then we went to the newspaper office and they told us that all the microfilm was at the college in Jefferson City. So we went there and found these:
This from the Charleston Express, exact date unknown, but period placed between 1910 and 1919, under the heading, "JUST THINKS OF MEANNESS":
"Our good friend and special writer, A. F. Peabody, was in town last Saturday for the first time in quite a while. He says that all he does now is to sit around and think of some meanness, but we expect he will be good for a few days anyway because of a little scare that he got Friday night, and which entirely disproved the saying that lightning will not strike twice in the same place. This time it struck four or five times in the same place at the same time, but let us give it to you like he handed it to us: "Ben Peabody's (That is his son and where he lives) house was struck by lightning Friday night about 9 o'clock. It bored a hole through the roof, set the house afire on the inside, blew out a window and melted the screen, tore a hole in the side of the house about two by six, let all the cats and dogs escape, and I think they are running yet. The old man had gone to bed, and the noise caused him to sit up and inquire what all the racket was about anyway." Yes, we can see the "Old Man" sitting up in bed with his hair trying to push his night cap off, if he wears one, and wanting to know what the racket was about. Well, you know what you would do under similar circumstances. Most of us would go right out that hole with the cats and dogs. We are mighty thankful, regardless of the fun, that no one was hurt, and we are mighty glad to see Mr. Peabody in town. We didn't give him much time, but was glad to see him anyway. Come again."
The following from the Charleston Express, December 25, 1919:
"Whereas, Messrs A. F. and B. H. Peabody and their families came to our community nine years ago, purchased a home and have resided among us continuously since their first settling, are Whereas, they have identified their interests with the affairs of the community and have taken a leading part of the social educational and spiritual interest of the community, and Whereas, they have materially assisted in organizing and maintaining the Grand Prairie Farmers Club, and through their influence and faithful effortsthis organization has been real successful, and placed our community at the head of the leading communities of the county, and Whereas, they have sold their possessions here and are about to move to a distant county, and Whereas, they will be seriously missed in all our efforts to maintain a high standard in all community affairs. Therefore, be it Resolved, that the Grand Prairie Farmers Club extends a vote of thanks to these worthy families, expressing to them our appreciation for their untiring efforts in the upbuilding of this community, and also express to them our most sincere regrets of the loss sustained by their departure from among us. Be it Resolved Further, that a copy of these resolutions be spread upon the minute book, a copy sent to the Charleston Express for publication, and a copy presented to the family.
D. P. King, President; Flora Flanagan, Sec.
The Gentry Journal-Advance and Index, Thursday, 05APR1928, under the
heading "Aaron F. Peabody Dies Near Here":
Aaron Filmore Peabody died at his home two miles south of Gentry, Sunday evening, April 1, 1928, aged 79 years, six months, and three days.
Mr. Peabody was born in the state of Maine, September 28, 1848. He was married to Miss Susan Isabel Shelby at Holden, Mo., in 1874. To this union were born two sons, John P. Peabody of Texas county, Mo., and Benjamin H. Peabody of Gentry, Ark., and five daughters, Mrs. D. H. Armstrong and Mrs. H. E. Claflin, both of Liberal, Mo.; Mrs. J. E. Lehr and Mrs. H. Holder, both of Charleston, Ark.; and Mrs. V. B. Britt of Iola, Kan., all of whom survive him. He leaves 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and also one brother, A. P. Peabody of Phoenix, Ariz., besides a very large circle of friends, all of whom deeply mourn his passing.
Mr. Peabody professed faith in Christ many years ago. He was one of the “grand old men” of our community, known far and wide for his uprightness, honorableness in all business matters, and progressiveness in the affairs of his vicinity. Ever cheerful himself, he instilled in all with whom he came in contact, the same uplifting spirit. He was of a poetical nature and many readers of the Journal-Advance, with whom he did not have a personal acquaintance, knew him quite well because of his writings, both poetry and prose. When clouds of disappointment came, and even when accidents happened to him such as would have brought sorrow to the fainthearted, Mr. Peabody would drive the clouds away in song and verse. He was deeply interested, right up to his
last sickness, in the problems that confront our national life; was a great reader, and having a strong grasping mind, was perhaps the best informed man of his neighborhood.
He will be sadly missed not only by his estimable and broken-hearted family, but by all his many friends.
With his son, Benj. H. Peabody, and their families, he came to the Pleasant Grove neighborhood eight years ago last fall. He has lived in Arkansas for 17 years, and with voice and pen ever sang the praises of his adopted state. Eight years ago there appeared in these columns some very choice verse from his pen, one entitled “The Big Red Apple,” and one “It’s Arkansas for Us,” the latter being reproduced elsewhere in this paper. Many other rhymes have from time to time appeared and were enjoyed by the readers of the J.-A.
Rev. Masters, pastor of the Shady Grove Baptist church, preached the funeral sermon at the home at 2:00 p.m. Monday, which was largely attended by many sorrowing friends and neighbors, and the remains were tenderly laid to rest in the Gentry cemetery to await the resurrection morn.
His last sickness was short, being bed-fast about nine days.
He bore his suffering with patience, and expressed a desire to go to his home beyond the skies. May our gracious Heavenly Father be kind to his soul. Our community has lost one of its very best citizens, one who will long be remembered and loved for his noble example and stalwart character. It is indeed sad to know “A. F. Peabody is no more.” R. L. N.-
I don't know if I have any ancestors who "came over on the Mayflower". But I'm grateful for my Peabody roots.