Descendants of Winthrop Peavey
Compiled by Mark and Jackie Kulow
Generation No. 1
1. WINTHROP6 PEAVEY (JOSEPH5, HUDSON4, ABEL (SR.)3, EDWARD THOMAS2, THOMAS1) was born 1765 in Newington, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, and died September 25, 1826 in Strafford, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. He married RACHEL DECKER June 07, 1808 in Starks, Somerset County, Maine. She was born 1786 in Moscow, Somerset County, Maine, and died Aft. 1862 in Starks, Somerset County, Maine.
Notes for WINTHROP PEAVEY:
Information for Winthrop Peavey came in part from "State Papers, Revolutionary War Rolls for the State of New Hampshire" Vol. 16, compiled by Isaac W. Hammond, published in 1887. Additional information comes from "Revolutionary War Pensioners 1835 State of Maine".
He was on the 1835 List of Revolutionary War Pensioners for the State of Maine which listed him as 68 years old and living in Kennebec County. He enlisted on March 1, 1781 in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire for a period of three years or the duration of the War. He stood 5' 3" tall and of dark complexion. He was 16 years old when he entered the service. He was a Drum Private in Captain Fogg's Company of the New Hampshire Militia. He was mustered by Samuel Folsom. He filed for his pension May 7, 1818 in Kennebec County, Maine. The dates from the 1835 list of pensioners which show his age as 68 would make his birth date 1767. The record of his enlistment at 16 years old indicates a birth date of 1765 which is probably the more accurate date.
A very strange and sad story regarding the life of Winthrop came to light when we found his pension files. His wife Rachel Decker filed for his pension September 25, 1862. According to the statutes regarding the payment of a pension to a surviving widow it was required that she was not married. The assumption was that if she had remarried her husband would take care of her and not the government. In the case of a widow who was remarried but still taking care of the minor children she could receive the benefits to help care for the children. It was very similar in concept to Social Security as it applies to the death of someone before they retire. After the death of Winthrop, Rachel married John Rowe, November 15, 1830 in Somerset County, Maine according to the affidavit of Daniel Rowe, the son of John Rowe. In the same affidavit Daniel stated that his father died May 15, 1848. After the death of John Rowe, Rachel then married Joseph Frederic of Starks, Somerset County, Maine on November 14, 1851. Joseph Frederic died March 24, 1862. Harrison Muegh, who was the town clerk of Starks, Somerset County, Maine certified the marriage and death of Joseph Frederic. This allowed Rachel to apply for Winthrop's pension because with the death of her second and third husbands she was now again a widow and eligible under the pension rules. However, she ran into a small problem due to the further testimony of the town clerk who stated that he was unable to find any record of the marriage of Rachel Decker to Winthrop Peavey, before or after 1808. Rachel stated in her affidavit that accompanied her application for Winthrop's pension that they were married June 7, 1808 by Thomas McNochnie, a Justice of the Peace. Other affidavits in the file were sufficient to convince the pension board that she was legally married to Winthrop although no formal record exists.
In the same pension file is the affidavit of Winthrop that was submitted with his application for his pension, May 7, 1818. He stated that he was 53 years old and was born in Newington, New Hampshire. He was now living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Moscow in the District of Maine. (This was prior to statehood for Maine) He enlisted in February 1781 at Dover, New Hampshire in the war of the revolution against the common enemy for a period of three years. He served in the Company commanded by Captain Fogg in the Regiment under the command of Colonel George Reed, which was the 2nd Regiment New Hampshire line. After four months of service in this company he re-enlisted near Newburgh into the same company under the same command. He served until the end of the war, at which time he received an honorable discharge at West Point in June 1783. He kept his discharge papers for about a year and then lost them and he did not believe them to still be in existence. He served at West Point and other various locations in the New York area. He was at the battle of Fort Herkimer with the Indians under Major Morrele. "From my reduced circumstances, I am in need of assistance from my country for support. I have no income from property, trade or profession. My occupation is that of a farmer, but having been sick for sixteen years, I am just unable to labor except a very little. My family residing with me consists of five persons, myself, my wife Rachel aged thirty five years, my son William aged twelve years, my daughter Betsy aged seven years and son Joseph aged twenty one months."
Winthrop received his pension and this is the first indication of the circumstances that lead to his death. Several other affidavits were in his file verifying different aspects of his life up until the time of his disappearance. One individual remembered that he would walk from Moscow to Augusta every six months to pick up his pension money. At some point his feet were frostbitten so badly that he had great difficulty in walking which may have happened later in his life. In 1826 he was living in Strafford, Strafford County, New Hampshire in the house of John Boody. Several witnesses in their affidavits stated that they knew he had a wife back in Maine but no one knew the circumstances of his separation from his family or why he was living with John. He was a pauper and unable to walk any distance because of the damage to his feet. According to one witness who visited the home on occasion, Winthrop sat in a chair most of the day and moved from there to his bed at night. He would sometimes sit on the porch in the evenings but he was unable to walk more than a very short distance. When he walked he was so bent over it almost looked like his head was touching the ground. In spite of his circumstances he was described as a obstinate person who seldom backed down in his opinions.
According to witnesses Winthrop was last seen on the night of the funeral of John Boody's brother Azariah. Isaac Waldron saw him in the evening, walking towards the house through a nearby apple orchard where Winthrop was lunging from tree to tree as he tried to support himself as he moved. He then laid down under a tree to rest. Witnesses were unclear as to the exact date of the funeral but all agreed it was in August of 1826 and that was the night Winthrop disappeared. They made a search for him the next day but could not find any sign as to where he might have gone. There was much discussion about the disappearance and most people were convinced that John Boody who had a violent temper and was generally a very bad man had murdered him. John was seen the morning of the funeral with a friend coming home from the tavern in an extremely drunken condition. However, with the lack of evidence, no one could bring a case against John. In 1828 Isaac Pillsbury was clearing a piece of property about 2 miles from where John Boody had lived in 1826. He discovered the bones of a human body under some June bushes that had been burnt and then fallen over. He called it to the attention of the neighbors and informed the selectman of the town. Tasker was one of the selectmen at that time and he came to investigate. He found two small trees that were lying on top of the bones. William Maldron's wife who was present during the investigation found eleven buttons of a piece of the pants which she said had been worn by Winthrop. Some of the cloth was still intact and was a "snuff color" which matched the color of the pants Winthrop was wearing on the night of the funeral. The skull showed damage to the jaw bone which was probably the cause of death. The skull was fairly large in size and people remembered that Winthrop had a fairly large head. The conclusion was that John Boody in a fit of rage, hit Winthrop and accidently killed him. He then tried to burn the body in order to hide any evidence. At the time of the discovery of the body John was crippled and living on a work farm in the next county and the selectman did not feel it would have been worth pursuing. There is little doubt that Winthrop was murdered by John Boody.
This is one of several sad stories in the Peavey saga. It answers the
questions surrounding his death but it fails to answer many other questions
about his life.
Why was Winthrop living apart from his family?
Why was he living with such an evil man?
Why didn't he seek help from his brothers who were close by and wealthy?
Why was he 5' 3" tall and his brother John was 6' 4" tall?
Why did he join the service at such a young age?
How did he come to have his feet frostbitten?
What was the nature of his sickness that kept him from working?
Why did Rachel marry a man who was sick and unable to work?
Something about the story of Winthrop just doesn't seem quite right. The rest of the family were all successful, hardworking, religious, and close to each other. What happened to Winthrop? It almost seems like he somehow didn't belong. We'll probably never know the answers to these questions and are left with a mystery even more difficult to solve than Winthrop's disappearance.
More About WINTHROP PEAVEY:
Burial: September 26, 1826, Strafford, Rockingham County, New Hampshire
Military service: March 01, 1781, He filed for his Pension May 7, 1818 in Kennebec County, Maine.
More About RACHEL DECKER:
Burial: Aft. 1862, Starks, Somerset County, Maine
Military service: September 25, 1862, Rachel applied for BLW on the pension belonging to her first husband Winthrop Peavey.
Children of WINTHROP PEAVEY and RACHEL DECKER are:
i. WILLIAM7 PEAVEY, b. 1806, Starks, Somerset County, Maine.
ii. BETSY PEAVEY, b. 1811, Starks, Somerset County, Maine.
iii. JOSEPH PEAVEY, b. July 1816, Starks, Somerset County, Maine.
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