California Genealogy and History Archives
The name of McPeak needs no introduction to the residents of Sonoma county, for the strong and admirable characteristics of the family are rooted in the pioneer upbuilding of the state, and are now finding expression through the medium of the second and third generation of workers, equally reliant, forceful and public-spirited. A native of Missouri, Anthony McPeak was born in Callaway county, in 1836, the son of Mathew and Mary A. (Powell) McPeak, both of whom were born in the south, the father in North Carolina and the mother in Virginia, and both rounded out their long and useful lives in Sonoma county, Cal., the father dying in 1872 and the mother in 1877. Much of the earlier married life of this venerable couple was passed in Callaway county, Mo., and it was from there that they set out with ox-teams in 1852 for California with their family of eight children. Anthony was then sixteen years old, at an age when the novelty and excitement of such a journey appealed to him strongly, and he was also of an age to be of great assistance to his father in driving the teams and performing other duties that such an undertaking as an overland journey involves. After they reached their destination one of the first duties was the erection of a house for the accommodation of the family five miles northwest of Santa Rosa, and in this, too, Anthony assisted by hauling the redwood timbers of which it was constructed.
Altogether father and son worked together in the maintenance of the home until Anthony McPeak attained his majority in 1857, September 27 of that ear marking the beginning of his independent ventures by locating on one hundred and sixty acres of government land, near Guerneville, where the Korbells now reside, and for which he paid the usual price of $1.25 an acre. The land was in its native wildness, but he industriously set to work to put the land in condition for cultivation, and during the fourteen years that he made it his home he worked a transformation that was truly wonderful. In 1871 he disposed of In 1871 he disposed of the land to Korbell Brothers and with the proceeds purchased the property upon which he now lives, near Hilton. The purchase originally consisted of six hundred and ninety-four acres, but in the meantime he has disposed of portions of it by gifts to his children, until he now has two hundred and forty acres. During his early years on this property conditions were propitious for following sheep-raising, and he engaged in this business on quite a large scale for a number of years, having about eight hundred head, he being not only the largest sheep-raiser in this section of the country, but also the first to engage in the business. Of late years, however, he has developed his property into a summer resort known as the Cosmos farm, where woodland and cultivated fields combine to form an ideal spot in which to pass a term of quiet and rest. This is one of the largest and best-known places of the kind in the state, and all who are able to secure accommodations at Cosmos farm with its genial and hospitable proprietor are fortunate indeed. Much of the tract is in its native wildness, covered with large redwood trees and the remainder of the land is in orchard, all of the small fruits grown in this part of the stat being cultivated on a large and prosperous scale. Mr. McPeak has been an extensive traveler, having visited Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado and Arizona, but in none of these states has he found any location that equals his own in Sonoma county, and every visit to other sections of the country finds him returning to his garden-spot in this county, contented with his lot and happy in the thought that he was able to recognize its possibilities and persevere in working them out.
Mr. McPeak’s marriage occurred April 18, 1864, and united him with Miss Melissa E. Bell, a native of the Empire state, born in Lewis county August 25, 1848. Her father, Henry Bell, was a native of Massachusetts, and her mother, in maidenhood Catherine Kiser, was born in Germany. Both parents are now deceased. Of the nine children born to Mr. and Mrs. McPeak four are deceased. Named in the order of their birth the children are as follows: Lenora, deceased; Harmon P.; Presley P.; Henry Martin; Minnie; Mathew Lawrence; Wiley, Redman and Philip, the three latter deceased. Mr. McPeak finds his time fully and pleasantly occupied in the maintenance of his ranch and summer resort combined, besides which he raises stock and keeps enough cows to supply the needs of his table. His son, Harmon P., is interested with him in the care of the ranch and the resort, besides which he is interested on his own account in raising chickens on a large scale. Politically Mr. McPeak is a stanch Republican, his first vote having been cast for the martyred President Lincoln, and his last one for that no less loyal defender of right and principle, Theodore Roosevelt. Although deeply interested in public affairs Mr. McPeak has never cared for public office for himself, and has constantly turned a deaf ear to the importunities of his fellow-citizens to represent them in some position, any one of which his qualifications would justify him in accepting. It would be hard to find anyone more intensely interested in the welfare of Sonoma county than is Mr. McPeak, who though seventy-four years old is vigorous and hearty, with many useful years before him.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011