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An introduction to Peacock family homes in Westfield

December 3, 2015
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

Recently, a historic photo postcard of the former Peacock Inn in Mayville was posted on one of the Facebook pages devoted to historic images around Chautauqua County and Westfield, along with many wistful comments, memories, and sadness at the loss of such a beautiful landmark building to the wrecking ball in the name of progress. A positive outcome was the reminder about a promised BeeLines that was shelved when a move to Silverton, Colorado intervened; the history of a lesser-known Peacock home in Westfield - that of Margaret Peacock on West Main Highway, Route 20 - a drawing of which appears in the 1881 Atlas of Chautauqua County. The history of this first Peacock home will be the topic of a later BeeLines article.

According to a biographical note from the Peacock family papers located in Reed Library at SUNY Fredonia:

"William Peacock (1780-1877) was the first agent for the Holland Land Company in Chautauqua County, settling in Mayville in 1810. He retained his position with the company until the late 1830s, when the Holland Land Company sold its active contracts and remaining unsold and/or reclaimed lands to the Chautauqua Land Company When William Peacock died in 1877, he left a real and personal estate [and] until the middle of the 20th century, his heirs continued to live off of his legacy."

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This is a photo of Peacock Grove circa 1890, looking northeast toward Barcelona from the mouth of Chautauqua Creek at that time.

One of William Peacock's nephews, Thomas A. Peacock, received a large inheritance from the estate of his uncle as well as from his aunt, Miss Margaret Peacock, who died in Westfield in 1890. "Later, Charles E. Peacock of Westfield, the son of Thomas A. and Alice M. Peacock, managed the estate for himself and his two brothers, William and Thomas A. When he died in 1973, Charles E. Peacock left his portion of the estate to his two daughters and his son, Donald Evans Peacock, who died in Westfield in 1987... Charles E. Peacock was involved with the Wright family in an Indian archaeological dig on the Mack farm in Westfield in 1928. There are photographs documenting this activity."

Another Peacock home in Westfield, Charles Peacock home is located at 186 E. Main St., Westfield, across from the Westfield Memorial Hospital; the history of this second Peacock home will also be the topic of a future article in BeeLines.

"Architecture in Westfield - A Historical Survey" printed by the Westfield Republican in 1975, which includes descriptions of both the Margaret Peacock home and the Charles Peacock home, provided a surprise - a description of yet a third Peacock home - the Thomas Peacock House at 31 Jefferson St.! This home is better known to most of us as the location of Julia Militello's Antiques. In a recent interview, Julia Militello confirmed this, and provided some tantalizing bits of information, as well as some "history mysteries" to be researched and documented before this third Peacock home is described in another BeeLines story. She also mentioned that when the pond on the Militello/Peacock property was drained, it provided a surprise historic item that will not be revealed until all is confirmed by documentation. (The plot thickens!)

When the projected BeeLines series about the Peacock homes in Westfield was mentioned, several readers wrote or called to suggest a fourth Peacock home about which to research and write - a lovely home at the corner of McClurg and Union streets with a wrought-iron fence surrounding it. Again, Julia Militello also confirmed this information, and several of these sources have provided some interesting tales from their own experiences with the Peacock family that lived there for many years. Since the stories are yet to be confirmed by documentation, this home may be the topic of a more distant future BeeLines.

Referring back to some more information in the Peacock Papers at the Reed Library at SUNY Fredonia, the notes about the collection state that it "includes a number of maps of Peacock Point at the mouth of Chautauqua Creek, and of Barcelona." Some older readers may remember hearing about or even visiting Peacock Grove (near where Moose Beach is now located) when they were youngsters.



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