Stephen E. Beach.In April, 1911, the city of Chanute elected as its mayor Stephen E. Beach, one of its oldest, most esteemed and respected citizens, and a Kansas pioneer whose personal history is intimately connected with the history of Neosho county and the city of Chanute. The history of Kansas, as of any state, is a composite view of the lives of its citizens, of whom none did a greater work than did the pioneer, and it is to preserve for future generations the record of the lives and helpful deeds contributed to its growth and development, that this volume has been designed.
Mr. Beach first appeared an actor in the scenes of Kansas history early in the '50s, and in 1859 came to what is now Neosho county, where after more than a half century has passed he is yet an active spirit in the county. His first experience with the frontier began at Kansas City, upon his arrival there from St. Louis by boat, in company with Elmer Johnson, an eastern friend. Their objective point had been Leavenworth, but they abandoned their journey at Kansas City and instead purchased a horse and light wagon with which they started across the plains to Denver, in company with a caravan also making the journey. With Beach and Johnson was Sam Purdy, a youth who joined them at Kansas City. When well out on the plains, near the Arkansas river, they left their caravan and drove on alone, intending to make a camping ground in advance of their comrades. While young Beach and a companion were exploring the bluffs for game, keeping their wagon in sight, however, they came to high points overlooking the river and were dismayed and disconcerted on one occasion to see their wagon surrounded by Indians, the whole party retreating from the direction of the two young men, and the horse on a trot, a gait that was a usual sign of danger on the plains. The two footmen broke directly for their wagon and decided to give battle when discovered, if it came to the worst. As was expected, a few of the Indians approached, but every time young Beach raised to shoot at them they would yell and make signs and motions not to do so. The young men were undecided whether these gesticulations were for a friendly purpose or designed to entrap them alive, but as they did not harm the Indians the adventure ended with no more serious consequences to the young men than a marked reduction in the amount of sugar and other articles comprising their commissary. They eventually reached Pike's Peak, but found the country over-run with gold seekers and settlers, and as nothing encouraging presented itself the "one-horse tourists" struck the trail for Leavenworth. On their arrival there Mr. Beach and his partner opened a grocery store which they conducted two months. Then loading their stock into two wagons they removed to Neosho county, where they together established a grocery business at Osage City, later called Rogers' Mills. This was the initial step in a career that from that time to the present (1911) has been identified with the formation and growth of that community as a social and political body. Thereafter the supplies for the store were obtained at Kansas City, which point Mr. Beach visited as frequently as he needed goods or as was necessary as a freighter for others. The store not proving very profitable, however, he gave it up for other pursuits and purchased his first claim on Beach creek, which was named for him because he was the first settler on it. This quarter-section he abandoned in 1865, however, and settled on another tract bordering the Neosho river, which tract he deeded, improved, and still owns. He early engaged in the cattle business and in partnership with Benjamin M. Smith, another pioneer, grazed cattle all over the site of what is now Chanute, and they had as the salting grounds for their herd that portion which now forms the center of the city. He still owns and manages his original farm, to which he has added an eighty, but he removed his family to Chanute in 1885 in order to secure better educational advantages. In later years he has been identified with the Bank of Commerce at Chanute and has been its president two years. Stephen B. Beach is a native of New England, having been born at Wallingford, Conn., Nov. 25, 1837. His father, Nathan Beach, a farmer by vocation, was born in the same state in 1811 and died there in 1882. The mother bore the maiden name of Lucy Pierpont and, like her husband, was a descendant of old New England ancestry. To these parents were born four children: Joel, of North Haven, Conn.; Stephen B., Zerah, of Wallingford, Conn.; and Esther, who became the wife of Rienzi Stone, of Wallingford. Stephen E. Beach passed his boyhood on a farm and was afforded excellent educational advantages in one of the best literary institutions of Connecticut. Shortly after reaching his majority he responded to the call of the West by joining some neighbor boys in a trip to the Rockies, which venture resulted in his final settlement and residence in Kansas. During the Civil war he was a member of the state militia and was commissioned ensign by Governor Robinson and third lieutenant by Governor Carney, the governors issuing commissions without question for whatever position was requested. He was commissioned by Governor Carney a member of Neosho county's first board of commissioners, and at the first election called by this board and the county clerk Mr. Beach was elected superintendent of public instruction for Neosho county, in which capacity he served two years. The first man elected to the office of county treasurer refused to serve, whereupon Mr. Beach was appointed to that office and by appointment and election continued to fill it five years. He served as trustee of Tioga township four years and has also served as a justice of the peace in that township. He was one of the town-site company which established the town of Chanute, and it was largely through his and others' influence that the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad there located a station at the junction of that road with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas line. Mr. Beach's first wife was a Miss Sarah Sinclair, whom he wedded Feb. 17, 1862, and who died Aug. 31, 1865. On March 11, 1866, he was united in marriage to Tressa Burch, who died Feb. 21, 1871. Of this union were born three sons: Elmer died May 22, 1888; Charles married Nellie McKeever and resides at Iola, Kan.; and Harvey E. resides in the State of Washington. On Aug. 3, 1873, Mr. Beach married his third wife, Mary A. Brooks, who died March 2, 1874. On Dec. 24, 1874, Miss Sarah Stanfield became the wife of Mr. Beach and of their union were born three daughters and one son: Leona is the wife of Dr. Johannes Rudbeck of Colony, Kan.; Sylvia E. is a successful teacher in the Chanute schools and the wife of W. E. Wilson; Eunice D. is deceased; and Don C. is a graduate of the Chanute High School.
Mr. Beach has always cast his ballot in accord with his convictions. The Pierponts, his mother's people, were Whigs, and the Beach family, though not partisan, have inclined to support the principles of the Democratic party. Mr. Beach cast his first presidential vote for a Republican and remained with the Republican party until 1872, when he voted for Horace Greeley. Since then he has been identified as an independent and as an independent candidate was elected mayor of Chanute in April, 1911, by a majority of 676 votes, in a Republican city. This may be taken as an expression of the high esteem in which he is held in that city, where throughout a long, busy and useful career he has ever been known as a man loyal to truth, honor and right, one whose self-respect has controlled his every act. He is a member of the blue lodge, chapter and commandery of the Masonic order and has been master of his lodge and high priest of his chapter. He is also a Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason.Pages 1290-1292 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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