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Capt. William Bonaventure PETERS
Margaret MAJOR
Husband:  William Bonaventure PETERS
Birth:  ca. 1830/1, La Havre, France
Death:  5 Jan 1875, Oakland, Alameda Co., CA
Occupation (as listed in 1850 Census):  mariner
Father:  Capt. William PETERS
Mother:  Cicely SILVER
Marriage:  1864, Washington, DC
I realize that, as a sea captain, William B. could be traveling a lot, but the question is given the fact that he is obviously running several stores on the west coast whether he is the same William PETERS as the one who lived in Washington, DC.  The journey round the horn was not a trivial one to make.
Wife:  Margaret MAJOR, believed to be of Washington, DC

If William really did marry Margaret in 1864, then we must immediately suspect he had an earlier wife because the vast majority of men married for the first time ca. age 20, not in their mid-30s.  If he had sons born before 1864, then clearly he had an earlier wife.

.  Jack PETERS, b. 1857?
William J. PETERS, b. 10 Sep 1863? 1865
.  Cecile PETERS, b. 1872

If William B. & Margaret were married in 1864, how can they have sons born in 1857 or 1863?  An 1865 birthyear for son William J., or even an 1863 birthyear, poses serious problems for him because he supposedly married in 1880.  It was very rare for a man to marry at age 17 and simply unheard of to marry at 15.

The erratic movements as given here surely point to a mix-up of two or more William PETERS. 
Year Location Event
1830/1 France: La Havre birth of William Bonaventure PETERS
  ?DC: Washington? birth of Margaret MAJOR
1842 France to America William B. makes the crossing with his parents
1845 NY: Cayuga Co.: Levanna William B. with parents in residence  
but what is a seafaring man doing in Levanna?
1845 Levanna to Georgetown family moves
1850 Census DC: Washington Co.: Georgetown William PETERS, head-of-household
1855 OR: Douglas Co.: Scottsburg William B. PETERS partners w/R.H. LORD ("Lord & Peters")
1857 OR: Douglas Co.: Oakland Lord & Peters open second store
1857?   ?birth of son, Jack
1860 Census DC: Washington: Georgetown William PETERS, head-of-household
1863?   ?birth of son, William J.
1864 DC: Washington marriage of William B. PETERS & Margaret MAJOR
1865?   ?birth of son, William J.
1870 Census DC: Washington: Georgetown
CA: Alameda Co.: Oakland
William PETERS, head-of-household
W.B. PETERS, head-of-household
1872   birth of daughter, Cecile
1875 CA: Alameda Co.: Oakland death of William B. PETERS

Sources (which may or may not pertain to our subject):

Washington, DC, Marriages from 1806 to 1850 (online at GenealogyLibrary.com):
Peters, William Rix, Mary Ann 23 Feb 1830
Peters, William Allen, Massa  4 Mar 1823

1790-1870 Census Index (online at Ancestry.com):  these are all the W./Wm./William PETER/PETERS in Washington, DC, in this index.
1830 Peters William DC Washington Co. 1st Ward Washington p.  46
1860 Peters William DC Washington Co. Washington City 3rd ward p. 668
1870 Peters William DC Washington Co. 1st W. Washington p. 109
1850 Peters William DC Washington Co. Georgetown p. 214
1860 Peters William DC Washington Co. Georgetown 2nd Ward p.  62
1870 Peters William DC Washington Co. Georgetown p. 606

Census Index:  U.S. Selected Counties, 1850 (Broderbund CD-317):
1850 Peters, Philip OR Benton Co.   p. 2
1850 Peters, W. CA San Joaquin Co. Stockton Division p. 8
1850 Peters, W.H. CA Yuba Co.   p. 34
1850 Peters, William CA El Dorado Co. Placerville p. 20
1850 Peter, William CA Yuba Co.   p. 19
These are the only W./Wm./William PETER/PETERS in CA.  Philip is the only PETERS in OR.

Census Index:  U.S. Selected Counties, 1860 (Broderbund CD-318):  no OR records on CD.
1860 Peters, Capt. NC Davidson Co. Silverhill p. 959
1860 Peters, W. CA El Dorado Co. Georgetown Twp. p.  94
1860 Peters, W. CA San Mateo Co. Third Twp. p.  86
1860 Peters, W.B. CA Klamath Co. South Fork Twp. p.   5
1860 Peters, W. CA Santa Barbara Co. Santa Ynez Twp. p.  32
1860 Peters, William CA Sacramento Co. Granite Twp. p.  43
1860 Peters, William CA Santa Clara Co. Gilroy Twp. p.  34
1860 Peters, William CA Tulare Co. Visalia Twp. p.   5
1860 Peters, William CA Tuolumne Co. Township No. 1 p.  96
1860 Peters, William CA Yuba Co. State Range Twp. p.   8
1860 Peters, William J. CA San Francisco Co. 7th Dist. San Francisco p. 373
These are all the W./Wm./William PETER/PETERS in CA.

Census Index:  U.S. Selected Counties, 1870 (Broderbund CD-319):
1870 Peter, William Hurry DC Washington 7th St. Road East of p. 650
1870 Peters, W.B. CA Alameda Co. Oakland p. 38
1870 Peters, William CA Alameda Co. Oakland p. 94

Emails from David Gussett (Sep 2001).

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