Society of Mayflower Descendants honor historic Wisconsin leaders
Several dozen associates of the organization founded by people who can trace their ancestors to the Mayflower, the famous English ship that brought Puritans – known today as Pilgrims – to the New World in 1620, visited their charter members buried at Forest Home Cemetery on July 28.
Of the 29 original founding members from the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Wisconsin, 11 are buried in Forest Home Cemetery. In addition, 7 of the organization’s governors have been interred there since 1901.
A wreath was placed at the grave of Ellen M. Hayes Peck (1838-1909) as part of the ceremony. In addition to being one of the founders and the first governor of the Mayflower Society, Ellen Peck organized the Daughters of the American Revolution in the state of Wisconsin and became their first regent. Her portrait is displayed in the DAR building in Washington DC near the White House.
“We wanted to honor Ellen Hayes Peck for her work in getting a Wisconsin Chapter of the Mayflower Society started,” said Dooley. “She was a woman who accomplished much in her lifetime. The charter was granted in February 1901, and Ellen Peck served as governor from that time until her death in 1909.”
Jan Van Rens, Executive Director of Forest Home Cemetery, and tour guide Anita Pietrykowski worked with Dooley, who helped organize the chapter’s summer outing. Dr. Paul Haubrich, a local historian, led the group on a special tour that highlighted several of the early members and governors of the Society, and provided in-depth information on the people buried there.
From the November 22, 1909 tribute to Ellen Hayes Peck, given at the 9th Annual meeting held in Milwaukee:
“Except for her work this state organization would not have been formed, at least not for some years. It was really up hill work as she met little encouragement but the little band of women who met at her home in January 1901, were inspired with some of her enthusiasm as the organization was effected. He who knew Mrs. Peck realized that the word “failure” was not in her vocabulary. Mrs. Peck was a woman of indomitable courage, wonderful perseverance and with all the kindest feelings toward humanity. She was ever ready with clear judgement, good advice and keen interest. No one ever heard Mrs. Peck say an unkind word to anyone or of anyone.”
The Mayflower Chapter’s 6th governor, Alice Greenwood Chapman, is buried at the site of the Chapman Family’s bronze angel, which was designed by the famous sculptor Daniel Chester French who also designed the sitting Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
After the tour by Dr. Haubrich, board and members voted to place a bronze Mayflower Descendant grave marker on Peck’s headstone, pending approval of family members. The audio segment was recorded live during the member presentation, and includes condensed historical information. The images captured highlights from the special event.