The Isaac Munroe Story
Isaac Munroe was a Peabody leather manufacturer in the Nineteenth Century. He was a member of the Peabody Unitarian Church, and established the Isaac Munroe Foundation for Children through his will.
Isaac was born in Danvers (to become Peabody) on November 29, 1821. He was the sixth and last child (and only son) of Isaac and Mary (Curtis) Munroe of Danvers. His father was a leather manufacturer, and died 2 ½ months after Isaac’s birth, “killed by his team” in Lynn. Isaac’s mother died in December 1842.
One year after his mother’s death, on December 31, 1843, Isaac married Hannah L. Galeucia, also of Danvers. Hannah was born in Salem on March 15, 1824. The Galeucias were a large family, and Hannah probably had several brothers and sisters – definitely lots of cousins.
Isaac died on March 9, 1892, at his home in Peabody – aged 70. He died of complications from a cancerous humor of the stomach. Hannah died of apoplexy in Peabody on December 2, 1901, aged 77. They had no children.
* photos graciously provided by the Munroes’ descendant Lt. Col. Nelson M. Warner, Naples, Florida
In the 1870 census, Isaac Munroe was described as a manufacturer of leather. At his death in 1892, the Salem Evening News reported that he had been retired 20 years or more. His father was employed in manufacturing according to the 1820 Danvers census. [Peabody was set off from Danvers, as “South Danvers”, in 1855; its present name dates from 1868.] Since Isaac was born in 1821 and attained majority in 1842, he was a tanner for at least 30 years.
According to his obituary, “for many years he followed the business of tanning, carrying on the yard on Crowninshield street now owned by P. T. Nelson”. The Evening News also reported that on his death he had accumulated considerable property. The 1870 census lists his real estate value to be $9,000 and his personal estate value to be $7,000.
Local city directories for Peabody (the “Naumkeag Directory of Salem …”) in the 1890’s and early 1900’s give the Munroes’ residence as 17 Kosciusko street, Peabody, until Isaac’s death. After widowhood, Hannah was listed at 11 Kosciusko Street.
Most of what we know comes from the unusually extensive Evening News obituary, plus their report on his funeral service.
- “Deceased was in many respects peculiar, and in some things eccentric. He was skeptical in religious matters, and his rationalistic views on that subject were known to all who knew him.”
- He gave largely to the poor without ostentation.
- He was the leader of the social life of the town in his younger days.
- He was viewed as patriotic: he went to Antietam battlefield to bring home the body of a Peabody soldier.
- He erected a monument to another Peabody (Civil War) soldier at his own expense.
- He expended time and money, along with Peabody shoe manufacture and inventor William Wells, to sponsor a balloon ascension in Peabody Square on Aug. 29, 1867. The balloon was owned by William Wells’ brother Parker Wells of Lynn, and was flown by a Mr. Hall (“a bold and fearless aeronaut”). The balloon flew from Peabody Square towards Harmony Grove Cemetery and landed near Andover Street.
- He led several excursions to the mountains “solely for the enjoyment he derived from the work”.
- Funeral services were conducted by by L. K. Washburn of Paine Hall, Boston, who “spoke beautifully of the life of the deceased, but went no farther and held out no hope of immortality. He compared this life to that of a person on an island surrounded by the waters of death, and when a life was lost in those waters it was followed by silence and oblivion.”
- The casket was covered by flowers.
- Music included the singing of “One by One”.
Vital Records of Danvers, (Salem, Essex Inst., 1909), v. I & II.
John A. Wells, The Peabody Story, (Salem: Essex Inst.), 1972.
Salem Evening News, 9 March 1892.
Salem Evening News, 14 March 1892.
Salem Evening News, 3 December 1901.
Naumkeag Directory of Salem 1890-91, et al.