Sheldon Peck Homestead - Lombard, IL
Posted by: adgorn
N 41° 53.322 W 088° 00.528
16T E 416307 N 4637910
Quick Description: Sheldon Peck used his homestead to help Underground Railroad travelers. He was an abolitionist as were many of the townspeople in the area. His homestead is preserved today as a history museum.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 9/29/2009 4:25:57 PM
Waymark Code: WM7B6G
From (visit link
"Sheldon's youngest son, Frank Peck (born 1853), recalls as many as seven slaves at a time hidden in the house. Frank's diary tells of Old Charley, a memorable older slave who stayed at the Peck House on his way to freedom, and how little Frank sat on his knee asking him questions. Frank wrote down the words of a song he recalled singing with Old Charley:
Roll on tibbler moon,
guide the tabler not astray
Whilest the nightingale song is in full tune
While I sadly complain to the moon
Frank Peck also noted, "Our home was used as headquarters for all opponents of slavery in this part of the country."
The locations of where slaves were hidden at this site are not known. It is quite possible that Sheldon let them rest in the barn until they headed further north. With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, Peck risked fines and imprisonment by carrying out the duties of "station master." Underground Railroad activities ceased with the passage of the 13th Amendment after the Civil War.
Sheldon Peck had moved to Chicago in 1836. It was here that Sheldon tried to find success as a portraitist. However, the economic panic of 1837 left few clients for Peck. It was then that the Peck family sold their Chicago property for a wagon and a team of oxen and moved twenty miles west of Chicago to a town called Babcock's Grove, the former name of Lombard . The family pre-empted approximately 80 acres of land, eventually gaining a land grant signed by President John Tyler in 1843, having purchased it for $1.25 an acre.
An 1840 census listed Sheldon Peck's occupation as farmer. The 1850 census recorded his occupation as a portrait painter. Harriet Peck, his wife, was known to produce cheese for the local market and would likely have been involved in processing wool into cloth.
By 1853 the family had grown to ten children. Sheldon lived on the farm until he died of pneumonia on March 19, 1868.
Recognized as the oldest house in Lombard, the Sheldon Peck house was constructed in what was once Babcock's Grove around 1839. The farmhouse, which stands on the corner of Parkside and Grace in Lombard, was home to the Peck family, the first school in the area, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and a place of business for Sheldon Peck, a portraitist from the mid-nineteenth century. This house was home to descendants of the Peck family until 1995 when it was donated to the Lombard Historical Society. The Society restored this house to the 1840 to 1860 time period. It is open as a museum on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and by appointment. Tours of the house and educational programs are available.