Leonard Wood Peabody, M.D., of Henniker, one of the oldest medical practitioners in Merrimack County, was born in Newport, Sullivan County, September 13, 1817, son of Ami and Sarah (Johnson) Peabody. He is a descendant of Francis Peabody, who, born in England in 1614, came to New England on board the ship “Planter” in 1635. This ancestor, after residing in Ipswich, Mass., for a while, removed to Hampton in 1638, and in 1651 settled in Topsfield, Mass. From him the line of descent comes through Captain John Peabody, who was born in 1642, Ensign David Peabody, born in 1678, John Peabody, born in 1714, to Jedediah Peabody, born in 1743, who was the grandfather of Leonard W. Jedediah served in the Revolutionary War, and participated in the battle of Bunker Hill. In 1781 he moved his family from Boxford, Mass., to Warner, N.H., where he resided for many years. The maiden name of his wife was Alice Howlet; and their last days were spent in East Lebanon, N.H., where they died at an advanced age. Their children were: Ami, Lydia M., Mary, Moses, Susannah, Thomas, Alice, Andrew, Frederick, Betsey, and John. Of these, one, Alice, who married Eleazar Whitney, remained in Merrimack County.
Ami Peabody, born in Boxford, Mass., in 1769, was twelve years old when his parents moved to New Hampshire. When a young man he settled in Newport, N.H.; and his death occurred in that town, January 27, 1845. The first of his two marriages was contracted in Henniker with Patty Rice. She had two children, namely: Lucy, who married Leonard Wood, of this town; and Martha, who married Harvey Phelps, and moved to Crown Point, N.Y. Neither is now living. The second marriage was made with Sarah Johnson, a native of Guilford, Conn., and a daughter of Miles Johnson, who served in the Revolutionary War, and was among those who passed the historic winter at Valley Forge. The children of this union were: Asenath, Calvin, Reuel, Maria, Eliza, Frederick, Sarah, the Rev. Charles, Leonard W., Carroll W., Dexter, Helen. Asenath died at the age of twenty-seven years. Calvin settled in Linn County, Missouri. Reuel settled in Illinois. Maria married Dutton. Woods, of Concord, N.H. Eliza, who remained a spinster, passed her last days with her brother, Leonard W. Frederick settled in Illinois. Sarah became the wife of Henry S. Dutch, and lived in Oxford, Ia. Carroll W., who was a carpenter by trade, resided in Sullivan County. None of the above are living. The Rev. Charles Peabody, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 1839, was for many years a field agent of the American Tract Society. He is now living in Pasadena, Cal. Dexter Peabody now occupies the old homestead in Newport. Helen Peabody, the youngest, who was born in 1826, and completed her education in South Hadley, Mass., in 1847, became the first principal of the Western Female Seminary in Oxford, Ohio, and held that position for thirty-three years. Some time ago she spent a year in Japan, visiting her former pupils. Since her return to the United States she has resided with her brother in Pasadena, Cal. Mrs. Sarah Peabody survived her husband ten years.
Leonard Wood Peabody acquired his early education at the Kimball Union Academy. Subsequently for a time he was a teacher at the Concord Literary Institute, of which his brother Charles was principal. After pursuing his preliminary studies in medicine with Dr. Timothy Hayes, of Concord, and Dr. J. L. Swett, of Newport, he attended lectures at the Vermont Medical College in Woodstock, from which he was graduated in 1844. He began practice in Henniker, where he remained for a short time. Then he located in Epsom, N.H., residing there for twenty-six years. He returned to Henniker in 1871, and was engaged in practice here until his retirement, some two years ago. He excelled as a general physician in the treatment of disease. In the course of his professional career he was called to over one thousand obstetrical cases, usbering into the world six physicians, besides several ministers, lawyers, and editors. When diphtheria made its appearance in this State in 1861, he was remarkably successful in coping with that dread malady, considering the fact that there was at the time little or no knowledge concerning its character. A paper prepared by him upon the subject at that time showed that he had a correct understanding of its nature. He is a member of the State and Central District Medical Societies, having served as President of the latter. He has been a delegate to the National Medical Association, was a delegate from the State Society to the examination at Dartmouth College in 1861, and in 1867 he received an honorary degree from that institution. He is a member of the New Hampshire Historical Society and of the New Hampshire Antiquarian Society. Taking much interest in the objects of the latter organization, he has contributed to its collection of antiquities, and furnished several valuable genealogical records. Some time since he presented sixty volumes of old medical journals to the State Historical Library. In politics he was originally a Whig and later a Republican. He cast his first Presidential vote for William Henry Harrison, and he has since voted for every Whig and Republican candidate up to the present time. He represented Henniker in the legislature in 1885, and has frequently served as a delegate to district and State conventions.
On January 28, 1846, Dr. Peabody was united in marriage with Louisa Lerned Kelley. She was born in Warner, N.H., January 23, 1821, daughter of the Hon. Abner and Jerusha (Fowler) Kelley. Her grandfather was Rev. William Kelley, the first settled minister in Warner; and her father was at one time State Treasurer. Dr. and Mrs. Peabody are the parents of three daughters; namely, Elizabeth Kelley, Sarah Matilda, and Maria Antoinette. Elizabeth Kelley Peabody, who graduated at Oxford, Ohio, in 1866, married the Rev. William Wilmer, of Attica, Ind., a Presbyterian minister. Sarah Matilda married Curtis B. Childs, B.S., and resides in Henniker. Maria Antoinette, who was a student of Oxford Seminary when that institute was destroyed by fire, resided at home until November 18, 1896, when she married Charles F. Peabody, of Clarence, Ia. Besides these the Doctor has also reared and educated a nephew, Clarence Elwin Peabody, a son of Carroll W. Clarence Elwin, who resided with Dr. Peabody from the time when he was seven years old until he reached his majority, is now living in Boston. Dr. Peabody is a charter member of Henniker Lodge, I. O. O. F., of which he has occupied the important chairs. He has also held a seat in the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire.