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Fannie Peake, noted soprano with venerable lineage, spent her childhood in Hannibal

Piano music, “Lover and the bird,” contributor A. Schuman, St. Louis Mo. Date of music, 1873. Library of Congress.

A noted singer spent part of her childhood in Hannibal, Mo., before gaining fame as a celebrated soprano in both St. Louis and Chicago.

Fannie Peake, who performed in Hannibal on Dec. 29, 1874, as the invited guest of a number of prominent Hannibal businessmen, was born circa 1854, the oldest child of Samuel H. and Elizabeth Lane Peake.

Fannie Peake carried with her in life a notable heritage.

She was a descendant through her father’s lineage of Henry (Harry) Peake, whose family owned land in Virginia next door to George Washington, and who maintained a close friendship with this nation’s first president. Henry (Harry) Peake was an invited guest at George Washington’s funeral in 1799. Henry (Harry) Peake died in 1833 at Palmyra, Mo.

Fannie’s maternal grandfather was Dr. Hardage Lane of St. Louis, an early pioneer of the city who specialized in obstetrics and diseases of women and children in connection with Saint Louis University. He was also a land developer in St. Louis, subdividing tracts in the Poplar and Carondelet street neighborhoods in 1839 and 1846, respectively.

Central in the life of Fannie’s family was Professor Eliodoro De Campi, born of Italian parents in Egypt, who 1872 was chief vocal instructor at the Beethoven conservatory of St. Louis, and in 1878 became the musical director of Dr. Florence Ziegfeld’s Chicago Musical College. Fannie Peake performed in conjunction with the Professor in both St. Louis and Chicago, and presumably took advantage of instruction from this renowned musician. When the Peake family moved to Chicago during the mid 1870s, they made their home with the De Campi family at 3,232 Wabash. The land is now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in South Chicago.

In 1891 De Campi taught “singing as taught in the celebrated schools of Italy,” at Chickering Music Hall, Room 26, corner of Wabash avenue and Jackson Street. (The Elite Directory and Club List of Chicago, 1891)

In 1874, while the Peake family was still living in St. Louis, a group of Hannibal businessmen sent a letter to Fannie Peake on Dec. 14, 1874, inviting her to perform in Hannibal. She responded in the affirmative, and a concert date was set for Dec. 29, 1874.

The letter of invitation, and Miss Peake’s response, were published in the Hannibal Clipper newspaper on Dec. 19, 1874.

The Hannibal businessmen who signed the letter of invite to Miss Peake were:

George A. Hawes, A.W. Lamb, Wm. P. Harrison, Jno. J. Cruikshank Jr., J.R. Winchell, A.J. Stillwell, J.K. Hayward, J.M. Armstrong, W.C. Forman, C.P. Heywood, Jno. H. Garth, J.J.A. Quealy, J.L. RoBards, Henry G. Bourne, Walter D. Anderson, Geo. M. Harrison, Oney Carstarphen, Arthur B. Wilson, Edward Price, W.S. Hallock, John D. Dowling, W.H. Hatch, Thos. H. Bacon, W.H. Brewington, R.F. Lakenan, Benton Coontz, B.F. McPherson, J.P. Richards, Thos. W. Hawkins, L.P. Munger, D.F. Breed, W.R. Pitts, M.L. Pierson, A.J. Settles, J.T.K. Hayward, A.F. Davis, A.R. Levering, J.S. Bockee, V.H. Surghnor, G.B. Herenden and John W. Stillwell.

The night prior to the Hannibal Concert, Fannie Peake and a troupe from St. Louis performed at the Opera House in Quincy, Ill.

The Quincy Daily Whig reported on Dec. 29, 1874:

“The features of the programme (included) Miss Fannie M. Peake, who sang in the first part a selection from Lucretia Borgia, and in part second “The Lover and the Bird” with charming effect. Miss Peake’s second effort was very liberally applauded. The audience were so well pleased with the song that she was called back to favor them again.”

Among Fannie Peake’s notable performances:

June 1875, vocalist for Peter J. Hurck’s funeral in St. Louis.

August 1875, Fannie was vocalist for the Feast of St. Louis, Immaculate Conception church.

January 1876, Fannie was a featured vocalist at a concert at the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis.

January 1883, Fannie was a vocalist at the consecration of Father Patrick Riordan in Chicago.

May 1888, Fannie was a vocalist for a benefit concert at Apollo Hall in Chicago.

An affray in Chicago

Fannie’s siblings include Samuel, born circa 1858, and Lizzie, eight years Fannie’s junior, born circa 1862.

Lizzie, in 1883, much to her family’s dismay, became involved with a man who identified himself as Dr. Buddington, a recognized scoundrel in Chicago and beyond.

The Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., published an account of the romance and ultimate confrontation with the Peake family in its Jan. 18, 1883 edition. (

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