of Jefferson County
"BECKWITH. Sec, 26, Buchanan Township. P.O. Est.
22 Nov., 1877, Levi Fawcett, first postmaster; discontinued 14 Feb., 1901.
Plat, p. 19, 1909 Atlas. Named by the C. B. & Q. Railway Company
for Capt. Warren Beckwith of Mt. Pleasant who was one of its early civil
engineers and was for many years roadmaster of this division. Bethesda
Methodist Church is nearby."
The above information was compiled by Mary Prill and published in the Hawkeye Heritage, July 1967.
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The following story was originally one of a number of articles in the Fairfield Ledger which was later included into the book Villages and Towns of Yester-year in Jefferson County by William R. Baker. We hereby include it on this page with the permission of the Fairfield Ledger.
At one time Beckwith was
a busy little community about five miles east of Fairfield located along
the Burlington Railroad. It was one of the major livestock shipping centers
in Jefferson County.
Sizable stockyards were located along the south side of a long sidetrack from the main line of the railroad. Other buildings and businesses in the community around the turn of the century included a grocery store and post office, blacksmith shop, grain elevator, coal shed, steam operated saw mill and a number of homes. Beckwith boasted a population of 40 inhabitants in 1895.
The story of Beckwith would not be complete without information concerning J. E. Prince who operated the stockyards and shipped livestock on consignment from 1928 to 1942. He was assisted by his son Glenn who still resides on the home place on Highway 34 east of Fairfield. J. E. Prince is deceased.
The Prince family originally lived northwest of Fairfield in Blackhawk Township and moved to the Beckwith Community in 1911.
During the height of the shipping business from 150 to 200 car loads of livestock left the Beckwith stockyards each year for Chicago.
Glenn Prince recalled at least four, and often more carloads were shipped each week. Shipping day was Tuesday.
He further recalled the stockyards would accommodate approximately four car loads of cattle. When the yards were full they had to start loading livestock early to accommodate the shippers. "The railroad kept a long string of livestock cars here on the siding," Prince said. There appears to be no evidence available as to when and by whom Beckwith was founded.
One of the early buildings still standing was a store operated by J. R. Davis. He was also postmaster and justice of peace. The original store building was destroyed by fire in 1895. It was replaced by the present large frame structure which also included living quarters. The structure is now the home of Paul Schram.
The stone foundation of the elevator that was located west of the stockyards is still visible. The sidetrack is still there. A few days ago the railroad had parked three flat cars loaded with rails on the siding.
The old blacksmith shop was finally converted to a garage in 1920.
Glenn Prince said the grocery store sold coal for heating purposes to home owners in the area. The coal was kept in a shed along the sidetrack and the coal cars were unloaded by "man with shovel."
Customers would load their own wagons from the coal shed. Prince said there was a sign inside the shed stating, "Take your share of the slack." Slack was the dust from coal.
Bill Rauscher owned and operated a hardware store and sold implements before he moved to Lockridge according to Prince. Pete Bucher operated a machine shop for many years at Beckwith.
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