Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

PECK, WRIGHT HUNT (1839-1924)

Historical and Biographical Record of Southern California, J.M. Guinn

Headstone of Wright H Peck
Wright H. Peck
IOOF Cemetery in Santa Cruz

W.H. Peck the genial and popular manipulator of the United States mail at Lompoc is one of those pioneers whose lives are full of interesting happenings, and who have found in the sunshine of California much that they sought after leaving their homes in the east. He was born in Kent county, Mich., in 1838, and up to his seventeenth year lived in his native state, the first nine years of his life being spent on his father’s farm. He then lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he attended the public schools and graduated from the high school, thereafter applying himself to learning the trade of tinner. His father, Orson Peck was born in New York in 1812, and has been a merchant for the greater part of his life. He is now living at Lompoc, and is by far the oldest man in this valley. He married Lydia Hunt, who also was a native of New York state, and who died in Lompoc in 1875. In the family were nine children, but only two survive, the daughter, Mrs. Lydia J. Baldwin, being a resident of Oklahoma.

Upon starting out in t he world for himself, Mr. Peck went to Kansas in the spring of 1857, settling on a farm in Coffey county, where he remained until 1861. When the call to arms for three hundred thousand volunteers for the Civil War, Mr. Peck and his two brothers, Theodore Frelinghuysen and Henry Clay Peck, and his father enlisted, the former, his father and Henry Clay serving in the same regiment. He enlisted in Company E, Fifth Kansas Cavalry, General Clayton commanding, and was at Little Rock and Pine Bluff and engaged in general scouting. The family sustained the loss of one of the sons, Henry Clay, during the war, and all served with courage and distinction, as became loyal citizens, With the restoration of Peace Mr. Peck returned to Kansas, and in Burlington established a hardware business, which he conducted until 1870. The country was wild, and he used to frequently hunt buffalo in what is now Oklahoma. After leaving Kansas he spent a year in Montana, going from there to British Columbia, thence, in 1871, down the coast to California. After settling in Santa Cruz he worked at his trade of tinsmith for three years, removing to Lompoc in 1874. Here he opened another hardware store in partnership with his father, conducting his affairs under the firm name of O. Peck & Son. For thirteen years this enterprising little store continued to supply the demand for tinware and its accompaniments and became an integral part of the commercial life of the settlement. During that time W.H. Peck repaired to San Diego during the boom, but, instead of an anticipated gain, lost heavily. He also spent time in Old Mexico and went to Cleveland county, Okla., for two years and then returning to Lompoc, continued his former occupation of hardware business.

An ardent Republican in politics, Mr. Peck in following in the footsteps of his father, who has ever acknowledged allegiance to Republican principles. He was appointed postmaster during McKinley’s first administration and has since satisfactorily sustained the position. A Mason for thirty three years, he is a Royal Arch Mason and past master at Lompoc, and a charter member of the lodge. He has been an Odd Fellow for twenty seen years, is past grand, and a charter member of the lodge. He is also a member of the Eastern Star, a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic and is associated with the Continental League at San Francisco. At Santa Cruz, in 1872, Mr. Peck married Frances Peck, a daughter of Henry Peck, one of the Forty Niners of California.

Lompoc Record (June 13, 1924)

H.E. McCabe received a telegram from Santa Cruz Monday bringing the news of the death of Wright Peck former resident of Lompoc. The funeral was held at Santa Cruz Tuesday afternoon.

The deceased was one of the prominent men of this community in early days. He came to Lompoc valley in the fall of 1878 and was an important factor in the early development of the colony. He opened up the first tin shop and hardware store in Lompoc being associated with his father Orson Peck, in this line of business.

He was prominent in fraternal affairs having been a charter member of Lompoc Lodge No. 262 F&AM., and Lompoc Lodge No. 248 I.O.O.F. He also wielded considerable political influence in the community and served one term as supervisor of this district and one term as postmaster.

Mr. Peck was a native of Michigan but his family moved to Kansas where they were residing at the outbreak of the Civil War. Mr. Peck and his father and a brother enlisted in the Fifth Kansas cavalry, and all three served in the same regiment and saw active service. The brother died in the service.

The Pecks came to California and first settled at Santa Cruz where they remained for a couple of years before coming to Lompoc. At the time of the boom he went to Los Angeles and then to Ensenada, finally going to Oklahoma where he was in the mercantile business for a time. The again returned to Lompoc and resided here until about fifteen years ago when he and his wife went to Santa Cruz. Mrs. Peck passed away in that city a few years ago. H.E. McCabe and J.D. McCabe of this place were his cousins.

The Robinson bridge which spans the Santa Ynez river at the east entrance to Lompoc was built during Mr. Peck’s term as supervisor.

Santa Cruz News (June 9, 1924)

W.H. Peck Grand Army Veteran is Called to Rest

Wright Hunt Peck, after an illness of two months, passed away this morning at his home, 133 Front street. Mr. Peck first came to Santa Cruz in 1870, and the first year after his arrival was united in marriage. In 1873 he left or Lompoc where he became interested in the work of the Pioneer Temperance colony that was established there. Mr. Peck again came to Santa Cruz after the big earthquake and had resided continuously here since. during the last few years he lived in retirement.

Mr. Peck was prominent as a G.A.R. veteran and a member of the Odd Fellows. He had been a member of the order for fifty years and as a mark of honor wore a jeweled pin presented to him by the local lodge.

The funeral will be held on Wednesday at 2 o’clock. The G.A.R. will have charge of the services at the parlors of Wessendorf and Son while the Odd Fellows will officiate at the grave.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (June 12, 1924)

Funeral of Old Army Veteran

The funeral services over Wright Hunt Peck were held yesterday afternoon from Wessendorf and Son’s undertaking parlors and were conducted Wallace Reynolds Post G.A.R. and Rev. I. H. Hoover of the Baptist church.

Many flowers had been sent by the friends of the deceased and the Odd Fellows attended and were in charge of the services at the grave.

The old soldiers served as pall bearers.

Unknown Santa Cruz Newspaper (September 1923)

Fifty Year Jewel for W.H. Peck

The Odd Fellows, after their regular lodge session last night, were joined by the members of Isabella lodge, Rebekahs, for a most interesting time, in honor of Wright H. Peck of this city. The especial occasion was the presentation of a fifty year jewel to Mr. Peck. It came from Lompoc, sent by the lodge, personally brought be E.C. Rittenhouse, who made the presentation speech. It was a magnificent affair, with the dates in diamonds. Mr. Peck responded, and then the following very good program was enjoyed, S.W. Noble, presiding: Robert Bias, group of three songs; with encore (Miss Geraldine Hayes accompanying); reading, Dorothy Larson; Miss Hayes, sang, Mrs. H.F. Edson at the piano; Francis Hamlin, violin number, accompanied by Otto Kunitz; songs, Mrs. Val Waterman, with Mrs. Neil Reid at the piano. E.C. Rittenhouse gave a talk, upon request. the remainder of the evening was given to cards and games.

Notes from Edson Strobridge, April 2000

Wright Hunt Peck was born on Dec. 21, 1839 in Vergennes Kent Cnty Michigan. On July 12, 1861 he enlisted as a private in Co. E of the 5th Kansas Cavalry. He was mustered out on Sept. 12, 1864. He was later to affiliate with the Robert Anderson Post # 66 GAR in Lompoc and Wallace Reynolds Post 32 in Santa Cruz.

While living in Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, he worked as a Tinsmith, Farmer, Merchant, and Postmaster. He died in Santa Cruz on June 9, 1924 and was buried at SC IOOF Cemetery in Block N, Lot 54.

SOURCES: He was also a member of Starr-King Post #52 , GAR in Santa Barbara; US Military Service Record Index; 1879 SB Co. Great Register, age 39 yrs, b MI, Tinsmith, Res Lompoc, Reg., June 12 1879; 18808 Census, Lompoc Town, age 40 yrs, Tinsmith, b. Michigan; GAR Roll Service Book, Starr King Post #52, Wyles Collection, UCSB; Register of the Dept. of Calif. Grand Army of the Republic, 1886, pg 122; 1907 GAR State Encampment Register, Santa Barbara, Res: Lompoc; A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Frederick H. Dyer, 1908; Santa Cruz News, Sept. 1923 “Fifty Year Jewel for W.H. Peck “(Odd Fellows); Historical and Biographical Record of So. Calif., J.M. Guinn, 1912; Santa Cruz Co. Death Record, Farmer, widowed, Res at place of death 30 yrs: in Calif 50 yrs; Calif Death Index, age 84 yrs, State File #30990.

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