Biography of Theodore S. Peck
Chittenden County, VT Biographies





PECK, THEODORE SAFFORD, was born in Burlington on the 22d of March, 1843, in the house he now occupies. He is of English descent, and is seven generations distant from Joseph Peck, the first of his ancestors in this country, who died at Milford, Conn., in the year 1701. Through his father's mother he is descended from Solomon Keyes, an influential citizen of Chelmsford, Mass., who died in 1702. His ancestors on: both sides fought with credit in the Wars of the Revolution and of 1812-15. Dr. John Peck, the first of the name in Burlington, one of the pioneers in the wholesale trade in the country, was General Peck's grandfather. He died here July 24, 1862. He owned and occupied the block which bears his name. His son, Theodore A. Peck, was born in Burlington August 8, 1817, and from 1840 to 1862 was extensively engaged as a druggist in his native place. In 186t he removed to Watertown, N. Y., where he died on the 18th of May, 1872. In 1842 he married Delia H. Safford, daughter of the late Rev. Hiram Safford, of Burlington. The subject of this sketch is their oldest child. General Peck's boyhood was without incident. He had finished his education in the public schools, but had not determined upon his future life work when the Southern Rebellion broke out. At that time he, with many other noble sons of Vermont, quickly responded to his country's call, and, in that fearful and protracted struggle, soon established his claim to be named among her bravest defenders. From the time of his enlistment, September x, 1861, he served as a private in the First Vermont Cavalry until the 9th of July, 1862, when he was promoted to the rank of regimental quartermaster sergeant in the Ninth Regiment of Vermont Volunteer Infantry, Colonel George J. Stannard, commanding. Two further promotions followed within two years. On the 1st of January, 1863, he was made second lieutenant, and July 1, 1864, appointed first lieutenant. On the 25th of February, 1865, the Senate of the United States confirmed the action of President Lincoln, elevating him to the position of assistant quartermaster of United States volunteers, with the rank of captain.

That these promotions were bestowed in recognition of worthy conduct is well attested by the following facts: The subject of them participated in the battles of Middletown and Winchester on the 24th and 25th of May, 1862. On the 1xth of September, in that year, he was captured at Harper's Ferry, was soon after paroled prisoner of war, and on the 1st of January, 1863, was exchanged. He was engaged in action at the siege of Suffolk, in the skirmishes of Nansemond and Black Water Rivers, Virginia; and was under General Dix in the raids on the Peninsula from Yorktown toward Richmond. In the winter of 1863-64 he went to North Carolina and took part in the action at Newport Barracks, and hi the raids on Swansboro and Jacksonville. In July, 1864, he was assigned to duty with the Army of the Potomac before Petersburg, Va., and was in the trenches with his men on the Bermuda Hundreds front, where the troops were exposed to the unremitting fire of the enemy. On the 29th of September he crossed the James River and actively participated in the successful assault on Fort Harrison, and in its defense on the following day when the enemy attempted to retake it. He was also present at the battle of Fair Oaks on the 29th of October, 1864.

The second election of President Lincoln was attended with so much excitement that riots were apprehended in all the larger cities, and Captain Peck was dispatched with his command to New York, to aid in protecting the city against the expected disturbances. He then returned to the Army of the James, and remained in trenches all winter, and until the surrender of Richmond in April, 1865. At that famous conquest he was one of the command that first entered the city, where he remained until he was mustered out in July, 1865. Thus he served nearly four years in one of the most terrible wars recorded in history; passing through all the vicissitudes of a soldier's career, performing his duties as a private in the ranks, and as an officer in the line and on staff; as a member of the cavalry corps, and also of the First, Third, Ninth, Eighteenth and Twenty fourth Army Corps in the Armies of the Potomac and the James. In further recognition of his services the government, at the close of the war, offered him two commissions in the regular army, which he declined. But he was not permitted to lay aside all the associations of the war. Upon his return to Vermont he was appointed chief of staff, with rank of colonel, to Governor John W. Stewart, and was afterward made colonel of the First Regiment of Infantry of the National Guard of Vermont. In 1869 he served as assistant adjutant general of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Vermont; in 1872 as a senior vice commander; and in 1876-77 as department commander. In 188r he was appointed by Governor Roswell Farnham adjutant and inspector general in place of General James S. Peck, resigned. Since then he has been twice elected to the office, both times without opposition.

The civil history of General Peck's life, though less eventful, is none the less a credit to his talents and integrity. In 1869 he started upon his career as an insurance agent in a small way, and by energetic and careful management, has pushed the growth of his business to its present large proportions. He now represents fire, life, marine, and accident insurance companies, the aggregate capital of which amounts to about three hundred millions of dollars. His business extends throughout Vermont and Canada. He is actively interested in many of the most prominent business concerns in Burlington, among which may be mentioned the Porter Manufacturing Company, the Baldwin Manufacturing Company, the Burlington Shade Roller Company, and the Powell Manufacturing Company, in each of which he is a director. General Peck is a man of public spirit and enterprise. In politics he is thoroughly Republican, though he has always avoided the entanglements of civil office. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and was for ten years grand marshal of the Grand Lodge of Vermont. On the 29th of October, 1879, he married Agnes Louise Leslie, of Toronto, Ont. They have one child, Mary Agnes Leslie.

From:
History of Chittenden County, Vermont
Edited by: W. S. Rann
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, New York. 1886


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