Rev. Solomon Peck, D. D. January 25, 1800 - June 12, 1874
Rev. Solomon Peck, D. D., was born in Providence, January 25, 1800. He entered the Sophomore class in Brown University when he was thirteen years of age. He graduated in 1816, taught in the University grammar-school and in the college three years and a half; was a student at Andover four years, and was ordained a minister of the gospel in 1823. He preached for a short time in North Yarmouth, Me., and subsequently for one of the churches in Charleston, S. C. He was appointed Professor of the Latin and Hebrew Languages in Amherst College in 1825. In 1832 he visited France in the service of the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. A connection was commenced with foreign missions which had its influence on what proved to be the great life-work of Dr. Peck. As the secretary of the executive board for twenty hard-working years he performed an amount of clerical work of the magnitude and importance of which few persons can form any conception. He performed not only this home work, but, as an associate with the Rev. Dr. James N. Granger, he traveled extensively in Europe and Asia, visiting the stations of the Missionary Union, suggesting plans, setting things in order, and in many ways doing what lay in his power to advance the cause he so much loved.
After resigning his position as secretary of the board in Boston he spent some time at Beaufort and Edisto Island, S. C. Dr. Peck opened a school in January 1862 at Beaufort for sixteen pupils ranging in age from five to thirty-five years. None knew the alphabet, but the best of them progressed to 'easy reading' within three months. His school had grown to more than one hundred scholars, and he had employed four Negro teachers to assist him and his daughter in the teaching. The Commission will be gratified to know, that although the opening of the school was at first looked upon with some distrust by the local military command, no obstructions have at any time been thrown in its way, and that it is now expressly regarded with favor.
His daughter would later write a letter to the Outlook on "The First Schools of Our Freedmen: "The article of Dr. W. E. Park in The Outlook of July 1 under this heading was especially interesting to me as I happened to be one of the twenty women who sailed to Port Royal on the steamer with him in March, 1862. He tells of the 'first organized effort to instruct the Freedmen,' under the leadership of the Hon. E. L. Pierce, of Boston, while this is officially true, I would like to claim for my father, the Rev. Solomon Peck, D.D., of Boston, the honor of being the actual pioneer in this work. When he heard of the capture of Hilton Head in November, 1861, he immediately obtained permission from Washington to sail on a Government transport, and was the first civilian to receive this concession, that he might minister to the colored population of those islands, who had been left as sheep without shepherds. On his arrival he not only assumed the pastorate of the large colored church at Beaufort, but addressed himself to the organization of a number of schools for the colored people.
Mr. Pierce arrived at a later date, and reported to Secretary Chase, in the year 1862, on 'The Negroes at Port Royal.' In his report he pays the Rev. Dr. Peck the following tribute: 'At this point, Beaufort, the Rev. Solomon Peck, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, has done great good in preaching to them, and protecting them from the depredations of white men. He has established schools for the children (the first in Port Royal) in which are sixty pupils, ranging in age from six to fifteen. The teachers are the same race with the taught, of ages respectively twenty, thirty, and fifty years....Nor have the efforts of Dr. Peck been confined to this point. I cannot forbear to give a moment's testimony to the nobility of character displayed by this venerable man. Of mild and genial temperament, equally earnest and sensible, enjoying the fruits of culture, and yet not dissuaded by them from the humblest toil, having reached an age when most others would have declined the duty and left it to be discharged by younger men; of narrow means, and yet in the main defraying his own expenses, this man of apostolic faith and life, to whose labors both hemispheres bear witness, left his home to guide and comfort this poor and shepherdless flock. and to him belongs, and ever will belong the distinguished honor of being the first minister of Christ to enter the field which our arms had opened.'"
Elizabeth H. Stanger. Philadelphia
The Government would issue a semi-annual report on schools for freedmen; numbers 1-10, January 1866-July 1870 by John Alvord of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands:
First Schools for "contrabands. -- The earliest school at the south for freedmen, or "contrabands," as they were then called, was commenced by the above association at Fortress Monroe, September 17, 1861. During the day it was for children, and at night for adults.
Soon after the capture of Port Royal, Rev. Solomon Peck, D. D., of Boston, went, with a military permit, to Beaufort, South Carolina, and established a day school, which in a few weeks numbered 60 pupils, ranging in age from six to 15 years. This school was commenced on the 8th of January, 1862.
Barnard K. Lee, Jr., on of the superintendents of "contrabands," assisted by other government officers, opened a Sabbath and day school at Hilton Head, South Carolina, the latter part of January.
Another school in Beaufort, opened February 1, 1862, was taught for a short time by an agent of the American Missionary Association in what was called the "Praise House."
The Tabernacle Baptist Church The Tabernacle Baptist Church was organized on Sept. 1, 1863 by the Rev. Solomon Peck of Boston, Massachusetts, with much of its 500 member African-American congregation coming from the Beaufort Baptist Church. The new congregation acquired this building and continues to use it for worship.
His last public service was as chaplain to the Home for Disabled Soldiers, in Boston, and as secretary of the Freedmen's Aid Society. Dr. Peck died June 12, 1874.
Second Daughter Ira Winans Born on Dec. 26, 1839, at Chili, New York; died Nov. 2, 1931, at Rochester, New York, buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York; married on June 21, 1870, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Sarah Edmunds Peck, by Rev. Solomon Peck, father of the bride. She died July 3, 1897.
Ira served in the Army through out the Civil War. He enlisted at New York on May 28, 1861, as a Private, and was a Lieutenant before the end of the year. He was a Captain [of 99th Regiment, New York Infantry] early in 1862, and the record shows him "Promoted to Major of 26th Regt. U.S. Colored Troops, March 1, 1864".
The record shows him as a clerk, with address as Bowling Green, New York, at the time of enlistment; height 5 ft. 9 inches; complexion, fair; color of eyes, hazel; color of hair, brown.
He was discharged on Aug. 28, 1865, at Hilton Head, South Carolina. After the War he resided at: Brooklyn, Kings County, til spring of 1866; Avon, Livingston County, until Feb., 1868; and, after Feb. 28, 1868, at Rochester, Monroe County, all in New York State. His occupation was traveling salesman.
In his later years, Ira did a great deal of Genealogical work on the Winans Family. In Oct., 1918, he wrote to this writer, O. Clif. Winans, that he had "2600 family records, in each of which a husband or wife was a Winans". He mentioned his work as The Winans Family In America, and signed his letters as "(3) Ira7 Winans, Compiler". In a letter of Feb. 25, 1919, Ira Winans mentioned that he and Prof. Samuel Ross Winans had been working together since 1906, gathering genealogical material on the Winans family.
He did not put his work into print, but there is said to be several boxes of his material in the Rochester, New York, Library, much of which Mrs. Alice Winans Egy, of California, and others, have copied portions. It will be noticed that "Major Ira Winans" is listed quite frequently as "Reference" in this manuscript, and this writer hereby expresses deep gratitude for the great amount of assistance "Major Ira" contributed to this work.
On April 10, 1931, Ira Winans fell in his home and fractured the femur of his left leg. He died Nov. 2, 1931, in the Genesee Hospital, Rochester, New York, of gangrene of left leg and contributory causes.