Francis S. Peabody

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Francis Stuyvesant Peabody (1858 – August 27, 1922) was an American businessman who founded Peabody Coal, and became a wealthy coal baron.


His father was a prominent Chicago attorney, Francis Peabody graduated from Yale University intending to follow in his father's footsteps.[1][2] But, after trying the law he switched to working in a bank. Working at the bank provided him with an opportunity to see a business advantage.[2]

With just $100.00 he founded the Peabody, Daniels & Company, at age 24 in 1883, in Chicago, Illinois.[1][3] Peabody Coal started out as a retail coal vendor, buying coal and re-selling it to retail consumers to use in their homes and businesses. Peabody married May Henderson in 1887. He bought out his business partner in 1889, and incorporated the Peabody Coal Company in the state of Illinois in 1890.[2] In 1894, Peabody ran unsuccessfully for Sheriff of Chicago. By 1905, Peabody was the president and director of ten companies. May Peabody died in 1907 after bearing one son and two years later, Peabody married Mary Gertrude Sullivan. The Peabodys moved to the Francis Stuyvesant Peabody House in Hinsdale, Illinois in 1911.

An important political ally of Adlai E. Stevenson I, Peabody was considered as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in 1912. During World War I, Peabody was the chairman of the Coal Production Committee of the Council of National Defense and was assistant to the director of the Bureau of Mines. In 1919, Peabody stepped down as president of the company at the age of 60 in favor of his son Stuyvesant. By 1920 Peabody Coal Company was one of the largest coal companies in the United States.[4] Peabody Coal is now Peabody Energy, currently the largest private-sector coal company in the world.[4]

A long-time member and president of Hinsdale Golf Club, Peabody spearheaded the creation of the Chicago District Golf Association. His primary vision was for a local governing body that was focused on caddy welfare and conducting amateur golf tournaments throughout the Midwest. [5]

He constructed the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Only a year after Mayslake Hall was completed, Francis Peabody died of a heart attack during a fox hunt on his property. It is said that he was buried near the lake, and a chapel was built on the site where he had died.[6] Aged 63 years at the time of his death, Peabody had amassed a personal fortune of $35 million and a business fortune of $75 million.[7]


  1. ^ a b Peabody history Archived 2008-05-19 at the Wayback Machine. - at Peabody Energy Australia
  2. ^ a b c BTU - at
  3. ^ "Humble Roots" Archived 2007-08-05 at the Wayback Machine. at Peabody Energy
  4. ^ a b "Peabody Energy". Peabody Energy. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Legend of Peabody's Tomb". Chicago's Gangsterland Haunted Places Page. Geocities. Archived from the original on 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  7. ^ Cunniff, Bill (May 24, 2002). "Coal baron's 1920 mansion in Oak Brook opens to public". Chicago Sun-Times. Find Articles. Retrieved 2007-09-16. [dead link]