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Roseline Peck


Mrs. Roseline Peck, 1874

WHI 38795

Madison experienced explosive population growth between the 1830s and 1860s. Yankee settlers comprised the majority of residents until an increasing number of foreign-born and first-generation European Americans chose to make their homes in the booming capital city in the 1850s. Among Madison's early residents were Roseline Peck, Levi Havemann, and Alice Hough.

Eben and Roseline Peck are considered the first white settlers of Madison. Together they ran a public house in a cabin just east of Capitol Square. Born in Vermont, Roseline (1808-1899) moved with her husband to Blue Mounds in Wisconsin Territory in 1836 and to Madison in April 1837. While the cabin was still under construction, she boarded travelers, territorial legislators, a few local residents, and workers constructing the first Capitol building in Madison. That fall Roseline gave birth to the first white child born in Madison, a daughter named Wisconsiana Victoria Peck. The Pecks moved to Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1840. Mrs. Peck endured a difficult life in Wisconsin. Her husband abandoned her in the 1840s, leaving her to raise and support the family by herself.

First House Built in Madison, 1857

Painted by C.A. Johnson. This oil painting on canvas depicts the Peck cabin which stood on Butler Street, where the G.E.F #3 Building stands today. Early residents declared the painting an accurate representation of the cabin. Third Lake (Lake Monona) is in the background.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object #2003.99.1

Brass Key, 1837

This is the key to the padlock on the door of the Peck cabin.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1981.31

Fiddle and Bow, 1830s

Roseline Peck played this fiddle, with its carved lion's head scroll, at gatherings inside the Peck cabin. As she played, residents and travelers danced on the hardwood floors. Mrs. Peck provided the entertainment at the first wedding in Madison, held at the cabin in April 1838, as well as a New Year's Eve party later that year.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1969.304.2a

Bracelet and Earrings

Although she was not wealthy, Roseline Peck possessed this set of jewelry which had been passed down through her family.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1971.186

Money Bag

Roseline Peck used this heavy canvas apron with its hidden interior pouch as a money bag. An item such as this was a necessity given the absence of banks in Madison before 1853. Museum 1951.2202