Peake, Mary S.
- Tonia M. Compton
educator, was born Mary Smith Kelsey in Norfolk, Virginia, to parents whose names, occupations, and marital status are unknown. Peake's 1863 biographer, Lewis C. Lockwood, described her mother as “a free colored woman, very light” and her father as “an Englishman of rank and culture” (Lockwood and Forten, 6). At the age of six Mary was sent to live in Alexandria, Virginia, in order to obtain an education. She resided with her aunt and uncle, Mary and John Paine, for ten years during which time she received formal schooling and training in needlework and dressmaking. Mary attended two different schools for African American children, where she was under the tutelage of both black and white teachers.
While education for blacks was generally illegal throughout the South Mary was able to receive schooling in nearby District of Columbia Blacks were allowed this right until the adoption of a ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.