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Beckman Family History


Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 1/17/2018 at 20:09:18

History Of The Beckmans From Grundy Center, Iowa

Growing together to make Grundy Center the agricultural and trading center of Iowa and the Nation

With the death of Plaetus Beckman Arnold on March 21, 1998, we find 143 years of synergism between the Beckman family, Grundy Center neighbors and friends came to a close.

It all started when Emil Hessel Beckman, his sister Alfreda Beckman Meisner and his brother-in-law, William Frederick Meisner, came to Grundy county from Schweiner, Mecklenberg, Germany, through Illinois. They were well educated and proficient in German and English. In 1855 they came to Iowa to purchase the rich virgin Iowa farm land. Emil purchased 200 acres at $1.00 per acre from the Federal Government and William Frederick purchased 800 acres. It is interesting to note by 1856 all were naturalized citizens and could vote in the Iowa and National elections.

All three farmed from a home built in Black Hawk Township approximately 3-1/2 miles from Reinbeck. All lived in the same house for a few years, but in 1858 each went their own way. Three years later Emil married 19 year old Catherine Smith, daughter of his farm neighbor Solomon Smith. The couple farmed at this location for five years. Their first son, Otto, was born at home on the farm.

In 1866 Emil was appointed Deputy County Auditor so they moved to Grundy Center, Iowa. Later Emil was elected County Supervisor and after that held office as either County Auditor or County Treasurer until his untimely death. The young couple purchased a home on the SW corner across from the County Square in Grundy Center and moved a large farm house from the country to the existing home that was on their lot and had the entire structures rebuilt and modernized. The Atlas of Iowa in 1875 listed their home as one of the show places in Iowa. The home stayed in the family until after the death of VerDeen Beckman Becker, great-granddaughter of Emil and Catherine Beckman.

During the first years in Grundy Center, Emil Beckman was also active in real estate transactions and for that time became financially well off. In 1875 the Baptist Church needed land for a parsonage so Emil and his partner, A. F. Willoughby, gave two lots to the church. That same year a group organized the Grundy County Agricultural Society (Grundy County Fair) and Emil deeded 15-1/2 acres to the society. Some say it was sold, other claim it was a gift and if a Fair was not held or the society closed it, it would revert back to the Beckman family.

In 1877, Emil Hessel Beckman saw the need for a bank in Grundy Center so with his partner Ed Bolt, organized the Grundy County National Bank. They built a two-story frame building for the bank. In 1878 a fire destroyed their frame building and they lost all records of the Grundy County National Bank. However, Catherine Smith Beckman gathered the bank notes and bills, took them home, laundered them and pressed them and they were put back in service--the first case of money laundering?

The following year Emil and C. W. Reynolds erected a brick structure for the Grundy County National Bank. This became known as the Central block north of the courthouse and is still standing today. When the new brick building was built, Catherine Beckman, every week, until the railroad came to Grundy Center, drove her pony cart with deposits, money, etc., to two banks in Waterloo and, of course, brought similar items back to the Grundy Center National Bank.

When the railroad came to Grundy Center in 1880, Emil was on the welcoming committee. The following year, 1881, a typhoid fever epidemic came to Grundy Center and Emil passed away. With four sons and a daughter to raise, Catherine placed an ad in the newspaper for the next two years stating--
"C. Beckman (Successor to Holt & Beckman) was a Banker and Real Estate Dealer. She advised she would buy and sell, exchange, loan money, receive deposits and transact a general banking and real estate business. Collections made and promptly remitted. Complete set of abstracts and deeds of the county."
The ad was signed by J. A. Aplan, Cashier. To assist her she asked her oldest son, Otto, to work in the bank.

In 1882 Catherine Beckman converted one of her farms one mile west of Grundy Center to the Rose Hill Cemetery. She moved her husband's body to the Rose Hill Cemetery. In 1883, Otto went to the South Dakota Territory to marry Abigail LaGrant. Catherine insisted the young couple run the Burr Oak Farm as she felt it would do her son good to be in the fresh air to offset the effects of the typhoid fever that he suffered during the epidemic of 1881.

The following year, 1883, Catherine placed her second oldest son, Herbert Beckman, in the bank and he continued banking in Grundy until the mid-twenties when he went to California to work in a bank in Long Beach. In 1911, his wife, Emma Jane Wilson Beckman, was Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star in Iowa. She died May 11h while in office and since that day the officers of the chapters of the Order of Eastern Star wear white floor length dresses in commemoration of her untimely death.

Also, in 1911, Catherine's oldest son, Otto, died from cancer of the liver. During his illness the Beckman family found what fraternal brotherhood was all about. His fellow fraternity brothers of the Knights of Pythias sat with him and assisted him around the clock the last two painful months of his life.

After the death of Otto, Catherine sold the Burr Oak farm and Otto's widow, Abigail and family (four sons and one daughter) moved to another of the Beckman farms in SE Grundy county. Catherine took $10,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the farm to build the Beckman Mausoleum near the center of the Rose Hill Cemetery. Catherine determined all who would be buried in the crypts. She designated that she, her husband, all her children and their spouses would be there, plus some grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

Emil and Catherine's third son, Emil Hessel Beckman, did not stay near Grundy but went to Medical school and originally practiced for many years in the Twin Cities but in April 1907 he went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to be the first operating surgeon other than the founder Mayo and his two surgeon sons. He died in 1916 from a staff infection during an operation he was doing.

Emil and Catherine's daughter, Augusta Beckman Becker, became a practical nurse. After marrying a doctor, she assisted him in his practice in Whitten, Iowa. Dr. Frank Butler died during the flu epidemic of 1918 and after his death, Augusta moved to Waterloo with her family.

The youngest son, Fritz Smith Beckman, was only 1-1/2 years old when his father died. After graduating from Grundy Center High School he attended the University of Iowa to become a dentist. Dr. Beckman practiced dentistry in Grundy Center from 1904 until 1948 when he retired. He and his wife built a beautiful home on the south side of the square on the east portion of the Beckman SW half block. He passed away in 1952. His wife managed the home and other properties including the Beckman home on Lake Okoboji until 1968 when she passed away.

The only daughter of Fritz and Tillie Freeze Beckman was VerDeen Freeze Beckman Becker who grew up near her great-grandmother, Catherine. As a little girl she was assured that there would be a crypt in the Mausoleum for her and her husband. In May of 1948 she married Ernest Becker. Since the original Beckman home was unoccupied at that time, they moved into the old homestead mansion. After her husband's death, VerDeen continued residing there and managed the properties for her mother and later for herself until 1968 when she went to a retirement home in Marshalltown. She returned to Grundy Center Nursing Home a year before her death. She and her husband were buried in the Beckman Mausoleum as promised.

The grandchildren who stayed in Grundy Center or retired to Grundy Center were William Emil Beckman and Fritz Otto Beckman, both sons of Otto and Abigail Beckman.

William farmed in Grundy County until the late twenties when he went to Marshalltown to assist in making candy and ice cream in a candy/ice cream store. In the thirties he opened his own store and during WWII moved to Cedar Falls to open a cafe, candy/ice cream store on the main student street next to the State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa) campus. His son Malcolm and daughter-in-law Mary Green Beckman (full professor of Harp and Music Theory at UNI) helped in the store until William retired in 1961 and Malcolm continued to run the store until it was sold in 1964.

William returned to Grundy Center to nurse his wife, Savilla Galbraith Beckman, and manage the farm properties he had near the town. His daughter, Plaetus Beckman Arnold, after her husband's death, also returned to Grundy to be near her aging parents and to assist her father with the care of her mother. After his wife died, William and his daughter, Plaetus, shared a home and remained active in the community they so enjoyed. William continued to oversee the farms and other business ventures until his death in 1979. William and Savilla are both buried in the Beckman Mausoleum.

Fritz Otto Beckman, after graduating from the Waterloo Business College, went to Reinbeck to open a bulk oil station business. He moved to Grundy Center in the mid-twenties to operate a bulk oil business plus a large gasoline service station on the main thoroughfare in Grundy. He retired in 1958 but stayed in Grundy Center until he moved to a nursing home in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, to be near his daughter, Kathryn Beckman Haworth. He passed away in December 1987 and is also buried alongside his wife, Lena Pabst Beckman, in the Beckman Mausoleum.

When Plaetus Beckman Arnold was growing up in Grundy Center, she was also assured by Catherine Beckman that as the first great-grandchildren she would have a crypt in the Mausoleum. She received her nursing degree from the University of Iowa, worked in Chicago for many years and became a nurse anesthetist. After serving in WWII as a nurse she returned to Chicago to continue her nursing career. In 1955 she married Doctor Ralph Douglas Arnold and when they moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, she assisted him in the operation of a hospital they had at that location. Ralph Arnold passed away July 2, 1962, in Rochester, Minnesota, while he and Plaetus were going through the Mayo Clinic.

Plaetus returned to Grundy Center and after her mother's death returned to nursing in Grundy Center part-time. She retired in 1975 for the last time and cared for her father, managed the farm properties and was the chief caretaker for the Beckman Mausoleum. She moved from Grundy Center to Friendship Village in Waterloo, Iowa, and was residing there at the time of her death May 21, 1998.

A memorial for Plaetus Beckman Arnold will be held June 22, 1998, with a coffee at 10, followed by the memorial service at 11 a.m. in the Chapel at Friendship Village, 600 Park Lane, Waterloo, Iowa. Her remains will be buried in the Beckman Mausoleum. Thus ends the saga of the two groups working together--the Beckman family and the friends and neighbors of Grundy Center, Iowa.

Other children of Otto and Abigail Beckman:
John Beckman and his 1st wife Iva Morrison, are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Ernstena Beckman Tennant with her husband Stanton Tennant, are buried in Colfax, Iowa, where they published a weekly newspaper (Their son Otto Tennant wrote this piece for the family from the history that his mother had collected.).
Herbert Hessel Beckman and his wife, Ruth Edna, are buried in front of the Beckman Mausoleum in Grundy Center.

The first cousins of Plaetus Beckman Arnold and her sister-in-law invite all who have known the Beckmans to share with us in saying a fond good-bye to Plaetus and their stories about our family.

Living First Cousins of Plaetus Beckman Arnold:
Otto Tennant (Ernstena Beckman Tennant) - Des Moines, Iowa
Lorayne Shimp (John A. Beckman) - Eureaka Springs, Arkansas

Children of Fritz O. Beckman:
Kathryn Beckman Haworth - Excelsior, Minnesota
Fritz LaGrant Beckman - Pasadena, California

Children of Herbert H. Beckman:
Herbert J. Beckman - Fort Worth, Texas
Paul E. Beckman - Sacramento, California
Joyce Beckman Davis - New Hope, Minnesota
William T. Beckman - Minden, Louisiana
Bonnie Beckman Campbell - Escondido, California
Ruthann Beckman Tunks - New Hope, Minneapolis

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 11 June 1998


Grundy Biographies maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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