JOHN CALVIN BEEKMAN
John Calvin Beekman is one of the representative citizens and progressive men of Charlotte. He was born in Chester township, this county, August 21, 1844, and is a son of Martin and Mary Van Lieu (Minor) Beekman, both of whom were born in the state of New Jersey, the former on November 30, 1806, and the latter on May 2, 1804. Both families were founded in America in the early colonial era, and the Beekman family being of stanch Holland Dutch extraction, the name having been one of much prominence in the history of New Jersey. The father died in Chester township, January 13, 1881, on the old homestead farm which he secured from the government in 1837, and his widow continued to remain on the home place, endeared to her by the associations of the past, until her death, April 29, 1893, only three days prior to her ninetieth birthday. They were married in the state of New York, April 25, 1840. Martin Beekman was reared to manhood in his native commonwealth, where he was identified with agricultural pursuits until 1837, when he came with his father, Henry Beekman, to Marshall, Michigan, and a few days later they came to Eaton county, and he purchased one hundred and forty-seven acres of land in the midst of the forest, in section 6, Chester township. Henry Beekman died in this township June 6, 1850, at the age of eighty-five years; he was born in New Jersey. Martin Beekman selected the old homestead by reason of the fact that the main road between Jackson and Grand Rapids had been surveyed past the place, though the thoroughfare had not yet been opened through the forest. He built a log house on the back part of the farm, about hone hundred and forty rods from the road, selecting this site because the ground was higher. On this farm Henry Beekman lived with his son until his death. They kept "bachelor's hall" nearly a year and were then joined by a maiden daughter of Henry Beekman, Miss Ann Beekman, who presided over the domestic economies of the household about two years, after which Martin Beekman returned to New York and married, bringing his bride to the new home in the wilds of Eaton county. Wild game of all kinds was plentiful and largely supplied the larders of the pioneers. The subject of this sketch has in his possession a muzzle-loading shot gun which was found by his paternal grandfather in a mill pond in the state of New Jersey, having been in use during the war of the Revolution, while the same was used for hunting in the early days in Michigan, and thus continued to be brought into requisition until a few years ago. There were but few families living in the township at the time of the settling of the Beekman's and for a time Marshall was the nearest milling point. Martin Beekman built the first frame house in the section of the township, and he developed his original farm. He later purchased eighty acres in Roxand township, eighty in Ionia county and another eighty in Chester township, and he had divided all of the property among his children prior to his death. He and his wife were numbered among the original members of the Presbyterian church of Roxand and Sunfield, martin Beekman having united with the church in 1832. After his death one of the pastor's of his church spoke of him as follows: "To the pioneer Christian his house was a Bethel. To my certain knowledge the sacrifice of prayer and praise was continually offered on his family alter, never pandering the performance of this duty to meet or accommodate worldly contingencies. As far as we may be permitted to judge, Mr. Beekman was a Christian in a high sense of moral principle. Those who knew him the longest and most intimately will bear me out in saying that his faults were comparatively few, with no direct tendency to injure any fellow creature. During a personal acquaintance of over forty years, I have yet to learn of the first instance of his ever trying to injure anyone in either word or deed." Martin Beekman did, indeed, hold a high place in the esteem and confidence of the community, and he served many years in various local offices, especially that of justice of the peace, also having been township clerk and treasurer. He was originally a Whig and later a Republican in politics. Of his four children, the eldest, Henry M., died at the age of four years; William M. is individually mentioned elsewhere in these pages; John C., of this sketch, was the third; and Benjamin F., who died January 21, 1905, married Alice Griffin, who survives him, as do also their two daughters, Mrs. Bertha Nagle and Mrs. Ida Bosworth. John C. Beekman was afforded the advantages of the district school of his section of Chester township, and supplemented this by attending Charlotte Academy one term. He continued associated with the work of the home farm until he had attained his legal majority, when his father gave him eighty acres of the old place, in Chester township, the land being nearly all under cultivation at the time. He built a frame house and a granary and continued to give his attention to the cultivation and improvement of the homestead. In 1876 he purchased two acres of land across the road, in section 31, Roxand township, and moved his house on to this land, where he continued to reside until 1884, when he sold the property and purchased his present farm of one hundred and sixty acres, in section 28, Oneida township, his wife having been born on this place, where he father took up his residence in 1842, her birth occurring May 10, 1850. This land he has recently sold. December 31, 1867, Mr. Beekman was united in marriage to Miss Catherine McMullen, daughter of Edward and Margaret (Barrett) McMullen, both native of Ireland, where the former was born in 1809, his death occurring on the farm then owned and occupied by Mr. Beekman, March 20, 1876; his wife died on the same homestead April 20, 1891, at the age of seventy-three years. They were married in Niagara county, New York. Mr. McMullen having come to America in 1830 and his wife having come here with her parents about two years later. Mr. McMullen became the owner of a farm in Niagara county, New York, where he remained until 1842, when he traded the same for the homestead where he died. In making the exchange the stipulation had been made that a log house should be erected on the place and five acres of land cleared, but when the family arrived in Oneida township, November 6, 1842, they found that no improvements had been made. They accordingly took up their residence in a log school house, not then in use, where they lived until the following April, by which time Mr. McMullen had completed his log house, just west of the substantial brick residence, which he erected in later years. He and his family encountered the vicissitudes and contingencies common to the pioneer days, and he succeeded in accumulating a competency through his well directed endeavors, having added two hundred and eighty acres to his original landed estate and having divided this among his children prior to his death. The parents resided continuously on the farm, save for two years passed in Lansing, where they owned a home, until they were called to the life eternal, both having been communicants of the Catholic church, while in politics Mr. McMullen was a stanch Democrat. Of the ten children Mrs. Beekman was the seventy: Michael is a resident of Sheridan, Montcalm county; John died in Oneida township, January 20, 1884; William is a resident of Ionia; Matthias died at the age of five years; Bernard is a resident of Buffalo, New York; Mary A. died in infancy; Mrs. Beekman was next in order of birth; Joseph is a resident of Carson City, Montcalm county; Ellen is the wife of Ceyland Earl, of Oneida township; and Cornelius died in infancy. Me. and Mrs. Beekman have one son, Edward B., who was born in Roxand township, March 17, 1878, and who resides in Lansing, Michigan. He is a master Mason and a member of the Knights of Pythias, is a Republican in politics and was the first rural mail carrier in Eaton County, having held this position three years. In 1903 he served as census enumerator of Oneida township. He is one of the popular young men of this part of the county, and was educated in the district schools, the Charlotte high school and the Battle Creek Business College. The subject of this review has been identified with the blue lodge of the Masonic fraternity for the past forty years and in politics he is a stanch Republican. He served as highway commissioner of Chester township and has been nominated for various other township offices, but has been unable to overcome the Democratic majorities, though at one time, when candidates for supervisor, he cut the normal majority from one hundred to but two votes, indicating his personal popularity. He is a progressive man and has a most attractive home in the city of Charlotte.