Deacon Peckham’s Hobby Horse

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In the 1830s and 1840s Robert Peckham (1785 – 1877) created a group of fascinating children’s portraits. This exhibition represents the first time that a selection of them has been brought together before a national audience.1 It includes nine portraits of children from Massachusetts along with a rare nineteenth-century rocking horse similar to the one depicted in Peckham’s most engaging painting, The Hobby Horse.

Born in Petersham, Massachusetts, on September 10, 1785, Peckham appears to have spent most of his long life in the central part of the state (see Chronology). In 1813 he married Ruth Wolcott Sawyer, who eventually bore him nine children; they lived first in Northampton, where Peckham advertised his services as an ornamental and sign painter, and then in Bolton. He
clearly saw himself as a portrait painter early on, for he placed this descriptor first in an 1814 advertisement listing his services. Yet his only training appears to have been a few months in 1809 that he spent studying with the somewhat more established Ethan Allen Greenwood (1779 – 1856) in the town of Westminster. There Peckham lived for most of his life, beginning with his purchase of land in 1820

Peckham was appointed deacon of Westminster’s First Congregational Church in 1828, a post he would hold for fourteen years. He retained the title of deacon throughout his life, even during years of controversy and estrangement from his church stemming from disagreement among the members concerning the extent of their participation in abolitionist activities. Peckham was deeply committed to the cause. According to his youngest daughter, the deacon’s home served as part of the Underground Railroad.4 Despite residing in the nearby city of Worcester between 1849 and 1863, Peckham retained his Westminster property and connections and remained a prominent citizen there. In 1868, on the occasion of the dedication of the memorial to Westminster’s Civil War dead (one of Peckham’s sons, Samuel Henry,
served the Union and died at the infamous Andersonville Prison),
the elderly Peckham delivered a tribute in verse. He died in Westminster
on June 29, 1877.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1416 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Penny Hill Press Inc, (October 8, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 8, 2012
  • Sold by:  Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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