The Peakes of Nelson County: a history of the early Peake families of Nelson County, Kentucky, and their progeny in surrounding counties and elsewhere, with short histories of related Wheatley, Norris, Edelen, and Culver families and unrelated Peakes of Marion County, KY.
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1. Introduction

As with many family histories, this study of the Peake family began as an attempt to locate information on a particularly interesting episode in the life of an ancestor, Thomas Peake, who served with the Union Army in the Civil War. In searching for these details, the possibilities for gathering more information about the Peake family over a wider span of history became apparent. The Peakes and related families trace back to the earliest days of colonization of the New World by English speakers, and the Peakes shared the experiences of the other Maryland Catholic families as they followed the course of American history from the settlement of the Atlantic coast to the westward migrations across the continent.

The first trans-Appalachian region subjected to massive settlement by the newly victorious Americans following the Revolutionary War was Kentucky, as it was largely devoid of permanent Indian settlements. Maryland Catholic settlers, who began arriving in Kentucky in large numbers around 1785, concentrated mainly in the area which now constitutes Nelson, Marion, and Washington Counties. Many of their descendents remained in this and surrounding areas of Kentucky, while for many others Kentucky became the staging point for subsequent westward migrations as new farmlands and other opportunities became available.

The present work concentrates on the descendents of two Peake brothers who migrated to Kentucky between 1785 and 1790. It makes use of tax lists, census reports, church records and other sources to identify Peake descendents in those Kentucky counties heavily settled by Maryland Catholics, in particular Nelson, Washington, Marion, Larue, Hardin and Meade Counties. Some information is also given on the early Maryland Peakes and related families. Information for these families was taken from Sr. Mary Louise Donnelly's Early Colonial Settlers, St. Clement's Bay, 1634-1780, from the family files at the St. Mary's County, Maryland, Historical Society, from Internet sites and from other sources.

The most important single information source for this work was Charmaine G. Welker, a descendant of the Edelen family, who contributed generously from her voluminous files, writings, and source materials covering the Edelens, Peakes, and many other Nelson County families. Other information was also shared by Ken Masterson, Sherri Hessick, Patricia Peak Morrison, Timothy Dooley, James P. Peak, Stronnie McBride, Raymond H. Peake, Maxine Deckard and others generous contributors. More general information was gleaned from a number of publications, all included in the Bibliography. Although computer data bases and publications were irreplaceable aids in this undertaking, much of the information was obtained from original sources. Accessing these sources entailed trips to the National Archives-Atlantic Region, the Virginia State Library and Archives, the Richmond, VA, LDS Family History Center, the St. Mary's County Historical Society, the Bardstown Library, the Nelson County Courthouse, and to churches and cemeteries in St. Mary's County, Maryland, and Nelson, Washington, Marion, and Meade Counties, Kentucky.

Finally, we would like to consider this work as a tribute to the Peakes named below, in whose loving care our generation was raised.

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This work is dedicated to









our Peakes of Nelson County.

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  1. Introduction
  1. Background: the Settlement of Maryland
  1. The Maryland Peakes
  1. The Kentucky Migration
  1. The Pioneer Peakes
  1. The Grandchildren of Kenelm and Francis Peake
  1. Thomas Peake - the Civil War
  1. Later generations: Nelson, Washington and Larue Counties
  1. Later Generations: Meade and Hardin Counties
  1. Urbanization - Gabriel Timothy Peake
  1. Appendices
    1. Family Tree for the Peake Family
    2. Related Families: Wheatleys, Norrises, Edelens, Culvers
    3. The League of Catholic Families
    4. Wills: Kenelm Peake, Rodolph Norris, Thomas Peak, Aloysius Peak
    5. Documents: Heirs of Francis Peake, Charles Peak, Edward Peak
    6. Other Nelson/Marion/Hardin County Peakes
  1. Bibliography
  1. Index of Names

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