My Ancestors (1) – Kemper Foster Peabody – 1861-1933

I recently read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intriqued. I decided to take up the challenge. I’m starting with my Great-Grandfather, Kemper Foster Peabody. Next Sunday, I’ll compose a post about his wife, Anna Charlotta (Westlin) Peabody. I hope you enjoy reading about my ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.

(1) Kemper Foster Peabody, (2) Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, (3) Alfred Peabody Guion, (4) Judith Anne Guion.

Kemper Foster Peabody, about 1886

Kemper Peabody was born at Plymouth, Wisconsin, August 2, 1861, one of 12 children. He attended Shattuck Military School, Faribault, Minn. He married Anna Charlotta Westlin, (born at Ostersund, Jemptland, Sweden, on May 13, 1865), at Wagon Landing, Wisconsin, on June 26, 1889. Their first son, Burton Westlin, was born in Dunbar Township, North Dakota.

He was a civil engineer and a member of the second Legislative Assembly of North Dakota from 1891-2. He was commissioned under the General Land Office to appraise the Fort Rice Military Reservation from 1892-3. He then was the Bank Examiner of the State of North Dakota, from 1894-5. Their first daughter, my Grandmother, Arla  Mary, was born in Sandoun, North Dakota, February 9, 1892.

He surveyed for the construction of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad from Tower to Ely, Minnesota, while employed by the Chicago Great Western Railroad in construction work from 1897 to 1901. Four more children, Kemper Francis and Helen Perry, were born in North Dakota, and Anne Westlin and Laurence Kane were born in Iowa, during this time.

In 1901 he came to New York for the New York Central Railroad as Building Inspector in the Engineering Department; he was General Foreman, Maintenance of Way Department, from 1902 – 9. Their youngest daughter, Dorothy Westlin, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He became Assistant Supervisor of Bridges and Buildings from 1909 – 17.

During this time, he and his family attended the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, New York. My Grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, and his family also went to that church. One memorable Christmas, the church held a Pageant and Arla was chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary. My grandfather wrote in his Reminiscences:

         Arla Mary Peabody and her father, Kemper Peabody c. 1911

“That night as I watched her holding the child with tender contentment and a placid, dreamy look in her soft brown eyes, something inside me suddenly exploded. I had read about “love at first sight”, but this wasn’t first sight. Here was a girl I had known and seen for several years, but apparently I had not seen her at all. This couldn’t be the same girl! Had I been blind! Here was the most enchanting person anywhere in the world. I didn’t know what had happened to me. I was in a daze. I didn’t dare speak to her: she was too far above me. All I could think of on my way home was how I could be worthy of even speaking to her.”

Alfred and Arla were married on March 27, 1913. As the family increased in size with the births of Alfred (Lad), Daniel and Cedric, they decided it was time to have a house of their own. Grandpa continues in his Reminiscences:

“We finally decided on the lot in Larchmont Gardens, and with the money I had saved, I bought one of the first “redi-cut” homes on the market and with the help of my father-in-law, who was Construction Superintendent on the N.Y. Central, aided by one of his workmen on his free days, the house was erected.”

By this time, Kemper Peabody held the position of Supervisor of Piers and Buildings from 1917 – 25. He was General Supervisor of Buildings on the New York Central Lines east of Buffalo from 1925 until his death on Sept. 26, 1933.

Source: The Ancestry of Franklin Merriam Peabody, Collected and made into this book as a mark of affection by his grandfather, Franklin Asbury Merriam, 1929.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1944, when all five boys are serving Uncle Sam.

Judy Guion


One thought on “My Ancestors (1) – Kemper Foster Peabody – 1861-1933

  1. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing!

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