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Dexter Peabody, a well-known farmer of Newport, was born on the farm where he now resides, December 14, 1822, son of Ammi and Sarah (Johnson) Peabody. A carefully arranged family tree kept by Mr. Peabody shows that the different branches of the family sprung from Francis Peabody, who was born in England in 1614. Francis had a son John, born in 1642, who had a son David, born in 1673, who had John, born in 1714, who was the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch. Jedediah Peabody, son of the last John and grandfather of the present Mr. Peabody, born near Boxford in 1743, was a well-to-do farmer. The first part of his life was spent in Henniker, and the latter in Lebanon, where he died after a long and active life. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. By his wife, Alice Howlett Peabody, he was the father of eleven children, all of whom grew up. They were born as follows: Lydia, in 1767; Ammi, in 1769; Mary, in 1771; Moses, in 1773; Susanna, in 1775; Thomas, in 1777; Alice, in 1779; Andrew, in 1782; Frederick, in 1785; John, in 1787; and Betsy, in 1789.
Ammi Peabody, who was a native of Boxford, Mass., came to Newport in 1796, and settled on the farm where Dexter Peabody now lives. There were no roads then, and he was obliged to cut the first tree in making a clearing. He had the true pioneer spirit, however, and persevered, building a small frame house and gradually bringing order out Ammi first married Polly Rice, of Henniker, N.H., who was the mother of two children-Lucy and Martha. His second wife, Sarah Johnson Peabody, born in Guilford, Conn., in 1780, had twelve children, all of whom lived to maturity. Both he and Sarah were members of the Congregational church. In politics he was a Whig. For the last thirty-five years of his life he was blind. He died in Newport in 1845. Four of his fourteen children are now living, namely: Charles, who graduated at Dartmouth College, and is a Congregational minister, now residing in Pasadena, Cal.; Leonard W., a graduate of Castleton (Vt.) Medical College, and a physician of Henniker, N.H.; Helen, a graduate of South Hadley, Mass., who was principal of the Western Female Seminary of Oxford, Ohio, for more than thirty years and now lives in Pasadena; and Dexter, the subject of this article. The other children were: Asenath, Carroll W., Lucy, Martha, Calvin, Ruel, Maria, Frederick, Sarah, and Eliza.
Dexter Peabody passed an uneventful boyhood on the old home farm, receiving the education which the town schools afforded. While his brothers and sisters one by one went away from home, he remained and took charge of the place, and cared for his parents in their declining years. After the death of both he bought out the other heirs, and settled down there, and has lived in the same spot ever since. It bears the name of Valley View Farm. A more beautiful situation cannot easily be found. The house stands on a noble height rising from a lovely valley, and a fine background is afforded by the dark blue mountains and hills. It is considered one of the finest bits of scenery in the district. The land embraces about two hundred acres, and everything is kept in the most orderly manner, and gives evidence of thrift and enterprise. Mr. Peabody is a member of the Patrons of Husbandry at Newport. Both he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, while in politics he is a Republican.
Mr. Peabody was married in 1848 to Mary E., daughter of Jabez and Sally (Bixby) Fairbanks, and a sister of George H. Fairbanks, who is the subject of another sketch. She died October 12, 1873, leaving three sons, two of whom are now living. The latter are: Charles F., born August 14, 1849, now engaged in the furniture and undertaking business in Iowa; and Frank G., born December 29, 1860, also residing in Iowa, and engaged in the same business as his brother. Wilber, born August 19, 1852, died in Pasadena, Cal., in 1893. Mr. Peabody was again married September 24, 1874, to Martha S. Moore, who was born in Putney, Vt., March 21, 1841, daughter of Curtis and Mary (Dodge) Moore. There were two children by the second marriage-Ralph C. and Helen M. Ralph was born June 29, 1880, and is at home. The daughter, Helen, was born April 13, 1876, and died February 19, 1879. Taking a warrantable pride in his ancestry, Mr. Peabody is an active member of the Peabody Association, and attended the reunion of its members. The hospitality dispensed in the Peabody household by him and his estimable wife is of the traditional New England character, marked by a delightful freedom and abundance.