NAME: Mrs. George (Hannah) Peake (Other known derivatives include Peak, Peek, and Peeke.) While there is information regarding Mrs. Peake's husband, George Peake, information regarding her is limited.
DATE OF BIRTH: ?
PLACE OF BIRTH: Maryland?
DATE OF DEATH: ?
PLACE OF DEATH: Cleveland, Ohio?
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Hannah Peake married a mulatto, George Peake, 1722-1827. They were married in Maryland and later moved to Pennsylvania to start their family. Their sons were George, Jr., Joseph, James and Henry. George Peak died at the age of 105 in September of 1827.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Hanna and George Peake were the first Negro settlers of Cleveland. Relative to living in pioneer times, she was known as wealthy woman, quoted as having "a half-bushel of silver dollars." Given that commerce was based on the barter and trade system, possessing hard money was a sign of wealth. Hanna's husband, George Peake served in the British Army during the French and Indian War under General Wolf's command at Quebec. He is also known as a deserter of this unit; he was given the task of paying his fellow soldiers and by some accounts deserted them.
In April of 1809, the pioneer couple crossed the Cuyahoga River near the foot of St. Clair Street and were the first to travel on the Cleveland/Rockport Road; this road garnered its significance as being the first state highway from Cuyahoga to the Huron River. George and Hanna and their two oldest sons traveled by wagon to the area currently known as Lakewood, about 1 mile south of the mouth of the Rocky River where the family then built a log house. George was 87 at the time. They purchased 105 acres in the Rockport area; at time, a purchase like this this was financially significant. Here, George farmed and worked for the people that settled in this district of the city.
George Peake is especially appreciated for improving hand mill used to produce grain meal; his new grinder was hailed as a major improvement over the previously used mortar and pestle mill.
The following is a newspaper excerpt from The Cleveland Leader, published on November 8, 1858:
George Peak, who was a soldier under General Wolfe, and deserted from the army, found a black woman in Maryland who had a half bushel of dollars, married her, raised a family of mulattos in the State of Pennsylvania, and came to Rockport with two of his sons, George Peak and Joseph Peak, in April, 1809; and two more of his sons, James Peak and Henry Peak, came in soon afterwards. When the old m an reached Cleveland, the above mentioned road had been cut out from the Cuyahoga river to Rocky river, and his wagon was the first one that ever came through from Cleveland to Rocky River. The Peaks settled on the farm now owned by John Barnum, Esq. Some of the Peaks built a handmill. The stones were 18 or 20 inches across. This mill was a great improvement over the stump mortar and spring-pole pestle, in use in those days, in grinding hominy. the elder Peak died in September, 1827, at the age of 105 years.
Davis, Russell H. Black Americans in Cleveland from George Peake to Carl B. Stokes 1796-1969. Washington D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1972.
Johnson, Crisfield. History of Cuyahoga County, Ohio...with
Portraits and Biographical sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
Philadelphia: D. W. Ensign, 1879.
- Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Presented by Lakewood Public Library