George Tompkins Peabody Papers
Finding aid created by Sherman Library and Gardens staff using
Sherman Library and Gardens
614 Dahlia Ave.
Corona del Mar, California 92625
Title: George Tompkins Peabody Papers
Collection Number: 2017_13
Peabody, George Tompkins
Lais Trading & Development Company
Extent: 1 archives box.
Sherman Library and Gardens
Corona del Mar, California 92625
Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, documents, and
news clippings related to the life and professional activities of George Tompkins
Language of Material: English
These papers are open for research.
Property rights to the physical object belong to the Sherman Library. Literary
rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the
responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the
copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The Sherman
Library do not hold the copyright.
George Tompkins Peabody Papers. Sherman Library and Gardens
These papers were a gift from Shelly Fetterman.
George Tompkins Peabody was born July 23, 1879 in Sacramento, California to Henry
Adams Peabody and Sallie Bradley Peabody. Peabody was a key figure in the
development of the City of Newport Beach. He served on the first Board of Trustees
of Newport Beach following the city’s incorporation in 1906. The following year, he
was one of the sixteen “Harbor Boosters” responsible for the creation of the Chamber
of Commerce, for which he later served as President. During his tenure, he handled
the public relations and politics related to the Newport Harbor Development, public
voting bond issues, and public hearings before the Board of Army Engineers
attempting to gain federal assistance. Recognizing the potential of Pacific Electric
Island as a commercial harbor, Peabody was instrumental in persuading oil tycoon
W.K. Parkinson to purchase the island (renamed Lido Isle) in 1923. He, along with
Harry Welch, aided Parkinson in obtaining a permit to build a bridge between Lido
Isle and the Newport Beach mainland.
The Peabodys were a prominent family in Newport Beach. His father, Henry, was editor
and part owner of the Santa Ana Blade newspaper and served as Postmaster for the
Santa Ana Post Office. In his youth, Peabody worked as a reporter for the Blade and
later as a postal employee with the Post Office. He also often worked in the family
store, Peabody’s Grocery, serving customers and delivering ice.
He had a strong interest in forestry and, in early 1900, at the age of 20, joined the
newly-formed Bureau of Forestry in Washington D.C. As Assistant Forester, Peabody
worked in conjunction with Abbott Kinney to survey the forest conditions around
Southern California. Additionally, he surveyed the forest conditions in Tennessee on
behalf of the University of the South, where he also taught a course in forestry,
and conducted a study of the New York State spruce production for paper pulp. Later
that year, he served for two months as Timber Estimator in charge of forestry and
lumbering operations for the Northwestern Lumber Company and the Frank H. Lamb
Timberlands and Timber Products in Hoquiam, Grays Harbor County, Washington.
In August 1901, Peabody joined a three-month gold mining expedition, serving as Mate
aboard the yacht, “Violet.” The following year, he assumed a position as Chief
Amalgamator at the Calmalli gold stamp mill for Charlie Gump and the Ybarra Gold
Between January and May 1903, Peabody joined a voyage to the Philippine Islands,
serving as a Commissary Worker for the U.S. Transportation Service aboard the
“Thomas.” He then returned to Peabody’s Grocery, where he remained until 1910,
overseeing management of the Peabody Investment Co., family enterprise, and the
building of the Peabody Bath House. In the fall of 1911, he journeyed to Baja,
California to prospect for family farm land on which to establish a commune.
From 1912 to 1916, Peabody served as Supervisor of Planting for Dr. A.J. Chandler in
Chandler, Maricopa County, Arizona. At this time, Chandler was experimenting with
long staple cotton farming in the area. Peabody also served as Public Relations and
assistant General Manager of the Chandler Improvement Company, Secretary/Manager of
the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, and Secretary of the San Marcos Summer Club in
Chandler. In 1914, he participated with fourteen others as a tenderfoot ostrich
“cowboy” to drive 500 ostriches fifty miles through Arizona into Chandler.
From October 1916 to February 1917, and again in 1918, Peabody led expeditions to
Baja, California to explore mineral and farming potential in the area on behalf of
the Parkinson Syndicate. Between 1918 and 1930, he served as the Business and Estate
Manager for the Syndicate, and as Director of the Lido Isle dredging project.
Peabody served as Consulting Engineer in charge of the 1926 study into water
potential around Aztec, Arizona and was in charge of installing a water plant in Le
Sage Arizona for the Yuma Company. From 1934 to 1936, he served as Garden Laborer
for the Los Angeles County Playgrounds, S.E.R.A. and W.P.A. He went on to become
Supervisor of Recreation until 1938.
In 1938, Peabody became President of the Lais Trading & Development Company in
Lais, Davao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands. In December 1941, serving as Brevet Major
in the United States Armed Forces Far East, Davao Sector of Mindanao, he was sent to
Davao to take charge of Off Shore Patrol and Communications. During this time, he
became a leader in the resistance movement against the Japanese in the region. He
was later betrayed to the Japanese and held prisoner until his death by beheading in
December 1942. George Tompkins Peabody was survived by his wife, Blanche Peabody,
and their children, George Wilkes Peabody and Ysabel Peabody Fetterman.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection consists of correspondence, documents, and news clippings related to
the life and professional activities of George Tompkins Peabody. This includes
materials related to the history of Newport Bay, business records of the Peabody
Investment Company, and correspondence regarding Peabody’s death in 1942, A portion
of the collection relates to Peabody’s expeditions in Baja, Mexico, including
research materials, letters, and a scrapbook.
Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Newport Beach - Orange County - California.
Baja – A Legacy of Letters – Research Materials
Fetterman, Ysabel Peabody – “Letters from Baja, 1901-1917”
Harbor Lines of Newport Bay
Native Daughter of the Golden West – Henry Adams Peabody
Parkinson Correspondence – Oil Leases
Peabody, Geo. T. – Newport Beach, 1920’s
Peabody, George Tompkins – Baja California Scrapbook
Peabody, George Tompkins – “History of Newport Bay” Orange County –
Peabody, George Tompkins – Resume
Peabody, Henry – Newspaper Clippings – Copied
Peabody Investment Co. – Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, Minutes
Welch, Harry – Correspondence – Regarding George Peabody’s Death
Wilkes, Blanche – Manuscript of Classic Mythology (written junior year)