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Famous village residence not always home to Peacocks

January 14, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

After reading the Buzzings from BeeLines in November 2015, which included a "Sneak Preview about the Peacock Homes," a message from a faithful reader read, in part, "As you look around Westfield for old Peacock homes, could you see what you can find about the house on the corner of Union St. and McClurg St? My understanding is that at least some Peacock family lived there in the early part of the 1900s." Then, just a few days later, another faithful reader phoned about the same house, and shared a few memories and stories from personal experience.

The next "hint" about this home came from a contact person descended from Charles E Peacock, who wrote, "I recall a story about another house in town being built as a small replica of Charles house on Main Street. I think it was for one of his children, although not for my grandmother Virginia Peacock." And a follow-up email exchange regarding the possibility of that being the one on the corner of Union and McClurg received an affirmative reply, "Yes, that is the house."

Using the few leads above, and knowing that Charles E. Peacock had three children - Donald, Virginia, and Marjorie - and that since Virginia was not the resident at the house in question, the most logical sibling of Virginia to have lived in another house known as a "Peacock" home seemed to be Donald.

While researching the Charles E. Peacock home at 186 E. Main St., some Dunkirk OBSERVER newspaper clips were found about Donald and other sister Marjorie. There were two in 1940, one mentioning that a James Gammel was the weekend guest of Miss Margery Peacock at the home of her parents (Charles and Lillian Peacock) in Westfield. The other, in the Tuesday, June 18, 1940, issue, page 3, noted, "Margery Peacock left Monday to attend the wedding of her brother, Donald Evens Peacock, this Thursday in Baltimore." A clipping from 23 May 1941 reads, "Mrs. Charles Peacock was the weekend guest of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Evans Peacock in Arlington Virginia."

Military records indicate that Donald Peacock enlisted in the army, 12 March 1943, and was released 21 November 1945, after WWII ended. His Death Date was listed as 19 October 1987.

US Census records show Donald Evans Peacock living with his parents at 186 East Main in 1930, in New Jersey in 1935, and in Washington DC in 1940. The death date noted was used to locate Donald's obituary, which gives 186 East Main as his home in 1987, and notes his surviving wife, since 1981, as Helen Gibbs Kerns Peacock. There remains the mystery of what became of his first wife, as not even her name has been located to date. Apparently he had no children by either wife, and only a stepson, F. Gibbs Kerns. He was preceded in death by both parents as well as his two sisters - Virginia Skinner, and Marjorie Gammel.

AHA! So Marjorie's guest, James Gammel, apparently became her husband. Off to the obit files for Marjorie Peacock Gammel, and Virginia Peacock Skinner maybe? Well, Mrs. Virginia Peacock Skinner, 44, of 50 Elm Street died in January 1959, and we already know she was not the Peacock resident at McClurg and Union, but her son, Gary Skinner, happened to be a classmate to yours truly, Westfield Historian! Mrs. James G. Gammel (Margery Peacock Gammel), of Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, died in 1970, prior to the death of her parents. And at that time, her brother, Donald E. Peacock was living in Buffalo.

Well, that meant that none of Charles Evans Peacock's children were the Peacocks living at McClurg and Union, so property ownership records were the next source of information. The Chautauqua County GIS map was searched to find the current owners, and that showed the address of 32 McClurg, as well as the preceding owners. The county clerk tax map records card for that address listed at least six more owners back to 1961, including my stepdad between 1963 and 1967 (yes, Mother did tell me he lived there at one time), but no Peacock, so it was off into the deed archives to do a "Title Search" on my own. The next names located were Mary Peacock Pitts, and Catherine Peacock Smith, that involved some sort of litigation about a will in 1961, and finally led to a 1953 deed transfer between Mary Peacock Pitts (Grantee) and Constance Peacock Slocom, Thomas A. Peacock, (crossed off name Catherine F. Peacock Smith), and Alice M. Peacock (grantors), where the grantor and the grantees all lived at 32 McClurg, being the same premises deeded to these 5 people by Lester A. Graf in 1946.

Well, this had become very complicated and the county offices were closing, so although I have been back there and found out much more of the rest of this story, it is time to send off this much to my editor at the Westfield Republican and hope that it is in time for publication. Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the Peacock Home at 32 McClurg - in Part 5 b of this series!



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