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A look at the Margaret Peacock Residence

December 17, 2015
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

"Why do you have a copy of the drawing of the Margaret Peacock Residence from the 1881 Chautauqua County atlas hanging in your showroom?" This was my surprised question while on a grape vineyard tour at Johnson Estate Winery a few years ago, and Fred Johnson pointed toward his beautiful old home nestled in the trees to the east of the winery, indicating it was the same as that depicted in the 130 year-old picture.

"WOW!" I exclaimed, "I have wondered where that historic home might be located, ever since I first saw it in the atlas that has been an important resource for historical research - another "history mystery" solved!" Fred and Jennifer Johnson were open to my request to interview them for a future BeeLines story about their special historic treasure, which did not materialize when your Westfield Historian resigned to move to Colorado at the end of 2013. But "the best laid plans" have a habit of changing again, with my return to Westfield and the historian position at the end of 2014. As mentioned in a previous BeeLines, some recent online conversations about the loss of the historic Peacock Inn in Mayville triggered a renewed interest in learning about, and sharing, the history of the Margaret Peacock home as well as another known Peacock home in Westfield located at 186 East Main across from Westfield Memorial Hospital. And so an interview with Jennifer Johnson, and a tour of the home were arranged for early December.

To prepare for the interview, research began with Judge William Peacock (of Peacock Inn in Mayville) to determine the relationship between him and the Peacock families in Westfield, particularly since Judge Peacock, although married, had no children. His biography in the 1881 Chautauqua County atlas noted that he also left no will, so his estate was left to his nieces and nephews. In the Westfield Republican of May 16, 1877, an article about The Peacock Property states that the heirs and next of kin of the late Hon. Wm. Peacock met at the Surrogate's office to settle Judge Peacock's estate. The names included Margaret Peacock, Evans Peacock, and Thomas A Peacock, all of Westfield.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This is the Margaret Peacock Residence as depicted in the 1881 Chautauqua County atlas.

The online digitized Westfield Republican newspapers provided some leads to the names of these relatives; Ancestry.com census records and family trees showed more connections; and the Westfield Architecture booklet published by the Westfield Republican Dec. 3, 1975, had photos and write-ups of the Margaret Peacock House on West Main Road and the Charles E Peacock House at 186 East Main Street (as well as a surprise third Peacock House - that of Thomas Peacock).

According to the Westfield Architecture article, "Between the years 1820 and 1830, William Peacock, surveyor for the Holland Land Company, had a house built for his niece Margaret on land which he previously owned." It is defined as "Transitional: Federal-Greek Revival." The structure underwent "a series of renovations, first designed to change its appearance and then to regain its initial form. Originally the house was built with one main rectilinear box-like form and a wing at the west end; at a later date the wing was moved where it still stands (1975) as a separate structure at the rear of the property The last renovation, done in 1961...current owners, referring to an illustration in the 1881 'Historical Atlas of the County of Chautauqua' which preserved the original appearance of the house, undertook the project of restoring that identity." In 1975, the house was owned by the Johnson family, having purchased it circa 1914.

Miss Margaret Peacock's obituary in the June 4, 1890, Westfield Republican, states that she died May 19, 1890, at her Westfield home. She was born May 20, 1822, the sixth child of Absalom Peacock and wife Jane Nicholson. Margaret Peacock's mother was one of the earliest communicant's of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Westfield, and the church records include her four daughters, and all her grand and great-grand children. Thomas A Peacock, the son of a sister of Margaret Peacock, is also named as a communicant of St. Peter's and the only Peacock-named relative remaining in Westfield in 1890. A May 15, 1881 Westfield Republican notice states that T. A. Peacock gifted a memorial cross in honor of his deceased mother, Alice E. Peacock. Thomas A Peacock was the executor of Margaret Peacock's will.

An attempt at a genealogical chart has been developed from intensive research of the census records and family trees found on Ancestry.com, as well as communications with living relatives of the Peacock family. Some highlights of this research show the following relationships.

Thomas Peacock, born in Ireland in 1730, and died in Mayville in 1838, was married in 1777 to Margaret Anderson who was born in Scotland in 1751 and died in NY state in 1816. They had at least 5 children, of which the following 3 are significant to the Westfield Peacock families - William B Peacock (Judge, Mayville) 1780-1877; John Peacock, born in 1783, died in 1864 in our Barcelona; and Absalom Peacock, 1785-1831. As noted above, Absalom and wife Jane were the parents of Margaret Peacock and 6 other children including Alice E Peacock. The rest of this genealogical record will be shared as the other Peacock family homes of Westfield are described in future BeeLines articles.

 
 
 

 

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