Lombard's ties to the Underground Railroad
Portrait artist Sheldon Peck used his homestead in Babcock's Grove (now Lombard) to help Underground Railroad travelers. He was a radical abolitionist as were many of the area townspeople. A radical abolitionist urged the full and immediate termination of slavery.
In August 2011, the Sheldon Peck Homestead was inducted into the Network to Freedom – a list of verified Underground Railroad locations. Historical Society staff and volunteers worked over several years researching the Underground Railroad, genealogy and property lines near the Homestead, and Sheldon Peck’s art.
Sheldon's youngest son, Frank Peck (born 1853), recalls as many as seven slaves at a time hidden in the house. Frank's diary tells of Old Charley, a memorable older slave who stayed at the Peck House on his way to freedom, and how little Frank sat on his knee asking him questions. Frank wrote down the words of a song he recalled singing with Old Charley:
Roll on tibbler moon,
guide the tabler not astray
Whilest the nightingale song is in full tune
While I sadly complain to the moon
Frank Peck also noted, "Our home was used as headquarters for all opponents of slavery in this part of the country." Come to the Peck Homestead to see the portrait we believe is Old Charley, painted by Sheldon's daughter Susan!
We are not sure where freedom seekers were hidden on this site. It is quite possible that Sheldon let them rest in the barn until they headed further north. With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, Peck risked fines and imprisonment by carrying out the duties of "station master." Underground Railroad activities ceased with the passage of the 13th Amendment after the Civil War.