May 26, 1862: Birth of the mysterious “Mrs. Peck”

On this day in 1862, future Duluthian Mary Allen was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. her father Charles, a dentist, moved the family to Duluth in the 1880s, where she met and married Thomas Hulbert in 1883 at Duluth’s First Presbyterian Church. Thomas died in 1889, just a year after their son Allen was born, leaving Mary with little financial support. The next year she married Thomas Peck, a recent widower, and moved with him to Massachusetts. Her new husband was wealthy, and she spent her winters in Bermuda, where she met Mark Twain and future president Woodrow Wilson, to whom she became a trusted confidante. She would become known in the press—who tried to make more of her relationship with Wilson—as “the Mysterious Mrs. Peck.” She became a minor celebrity, and when she sued Peck for divorce in 1911 the story made the front page of the New York Times. She visited Wilson once in the White House, and he visited her once in New York while he was president and helped her financially from time to time, but their appears to have been nothing inappropriate about their friendship. Wilson’s wife and daughters accompanied him on visits with Mrs. Peck. Read more about President Wilson’s “Mrs. Peck” here.

Mary Allen Hulbert, aka “The Mysterious Mrs. Peck.” (Image: Duluth Public Library)