Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bester B. Peck, Husband and Father, 1798-1863

When I first located Bester B. Peck, it was in the October 28, 1850 federal enumeration for the Town of Norwich, New London County, Connecticut. His daughter and my gr-gr grandmother, Mary Peck, was still living in her father’s home per the 1850 federal census. [i]  This census stated Bester was 52 years old dwelling with 50 year old Mary and children Lydia age 21; Abby age 18, Mary age 11 and Bela age 9. My ancestor, 11 year old Mary Peck, would marry Walter S. Wilson six years later and leave Connecticut shortly afterward. 

The earliest record I have for Bester was when he married Mary A. Case in Norwich, Connecticut.

Bester B Peck and Mary A Case 1827 Marriage, Norwich, CT

The Norwich Vital Records contained the following entry [ii]:

   “To all whom it may concern this is to certify that Mr Bester B Peck of Franklin and Miss Mary A Case of Norwich were joined in Marriage at Mr Asael Case’s agreeably to the laws of the State of Connecticut on the 9th day of December in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty seven by me.  Norwich Dec’r 9th 1827
                                                                   William Palmer
                                                                        Minister of the Gospel
Entered for record Dec 10th 1827
   B Huntington Town Clerk”

A matrimony notice was published in the Norwich Courier Dec. 12, 1827 [iii]:

   “In this town, on Sunday evening last, Mr. Bester Peck, to Miss Mary Case, daughter of Mr. Asahel Case.”

The minister that married Bester and Mary, William Palmer, was a clergyman from the First Baptist Church, Norwich, Connecticut. The Connecticut State Library owns a microfilm copy of the church’s records including minutes, accounts, member lists, baptisms, admissions, dismissions and deaths [iv]. Mary A. Case and one of her sisters was a member of this church but neither Bester B. Peck nor any of the Franklin Peck’s was mentioned. 

Having learned from the Norwich vital records Bester had been a Franklin resident gave me a new location to search. Franklin is a small town bordered on the east by Norwich.  Rather than finding Bester and Mary in Franklin when the 1830 federal census was taken, I found them in Norwich [v].  Three people were enumerated; Bester, a male between 30 and 40 years of age; a female under the age of 5, daughter Lydia; and Mary, a female between 30 and 40 years. 

Bester Peck was still residing in Norwich according to the 1840 federal census [vi].  The family was larger than I expected with 2 persons unaccounted for.  Bester and Mary’s family had grown.  The eldest daughter Lydia, middle daughter Abby, youngest daughter Mary and an unidentified male under 5 years of age were in the household.  I would later learn from Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, Connecticut burials the little boy was a son named Henry B. Peck born about 1837 and died Jan. 26, 1844 [vii].  Two more sons died as boys. Andrew J. Peck was born about 1833 and passed Nov. 20, 1836 and his brother, Charles Peck born July 28, 1842 died July 2, 1843.  A 70-80 year old female was also living in their home.  I don’t know who she was.

Abby Peck was Bester and Mary’s first child to marry.  On August 26, 1855, she wed William H. Warren in Colchester, New London Co., Connecticut.  Both were residents of Colchester and the marriage was reported in the August 31, 1855 issue of the Christian Science [viii].  By 1860 Abby (Peck) Warren was a widow and living in her parents’ home with two sons, William P. and Frank B. Warren [ix].  There’s conflicting information concerning Abby’s death.  Yantic Cemetery [x] burials indicate Abby died March 22, 1860 while the 1860 federal census taken August 24, 1860 has Abby alive in Bester’s household. The Norwich Aurora reported Abby’s death March 22, 1861, age 28, in the Town of Greenville [xi]. One of Abby’s sons will point to an important clue in my research which I’ll write about in a later post. 

Bester had worked as a laborer in 1860 as well as 1850 according to the federal census.  Norwich city directories for 1861 and 1862 reveal Bester was employed as a machinist with his home at 21 High G (G being the Town of Greenville). [xii] He died May 6, 1863 in Norwich. Bester’s headstone inscription provided his date of birth, March 7, 1798 [xiii]. His widow, Mary, would pass away a few years later on March 10, 1865 [1][xiv]

[i]1850 Federal Census, Norwich, New London Co., CT at Ancestry.com; Page 149, Line 23, Bester Peck Household, Image 145
[ii]Norwich Vital Records, Page 701
[iii]Norwich Courier, Norwich, Connecticut, Dec. 12, 1827 Issue, Vol. VI, Iss: 37, Page 3 from the Early American Newspapers Series I
[iv]First Baptist Church, Norwich, Connecticut, Church Records 1800-1924, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT, Microfilms #64 & #65
[v]1830 Federal Census, Norwich Town, New London Co., CT, Page 232, Line 13, Bester Peck Household
[vi]1840 Federal Census, District No. 14, Norwich, New London Co., CT, Handwritten Page 14, Printed Page 3655, Line 4, Bester Peck Household
[vii]Connecticut Headstone Inscriptions, Charles R. Hale Collection, RG 72:1, Volume 98, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT, Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, CT, Pages 531-532
[viii]Newspaper Marriage Notices 1755-ca 1870; Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT, Christian Science, August 31, 1855 Issue
[ix] 1860 Federal Census, Town of Norwich, New London Co., CT, Page 314, Line 22, Bester Peck Household
[x] Connecticut Headstone Inscriptions, Charles R. Hale Collection, RG 72:1, Volume 98, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT, Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, CT, Page 532
[xi]Connecticut Death Records, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT; Newspaper Norwich Aurora provides death date March 22, 1861
[xii]Norwich City Directories Prior to 1920, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT; Microfilm Cabinet 13
[xiii] Connecticut Headstone Inscriptions, Charles R. Hale Collection, RG 72:1, Volume 98, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT, Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, CT, Page 531
[xiv] Ibid

My Line of Descent:
3rd Great Grandparents Bester B. Peck and Mary A. Case
2nd Great Grandparents Mary M. Peck and Walter S. Wilson
Great Grandparents Jerome Walter Wilson and Grace Lee Clark
Grandparents Viola Lillian Wilson and Frank Leroy Doty
My Mother



  1. Wow!! What a goldmine of information you found in the First Baptist Church, Norwich, Connecticut. I am thankful that the state was able to collect and maintain those. Impressive!

    1. The Connecticut State Library contains a wealth of information. I've spent many happy hours walking the aisles and searching their microfilm collections--probates, deeds, newspapers, church records, etc., etc.