Perhaps throughout Rock Island County there is no name so often recalled or regarded among old settlers as that of Colonel Ezra M. Beardsley, unless it be those of the late Major James M. Beardsley, or the former’s brother, James M. Beardsley. The life of Ezra was one of incessant activity and brilliant success, and up to the time of his death and since he was highly esteemed as an exemplary citizen, a patriot of the most courageous and pronounced character, and a man whom all were delighted to call friend. Strong as iron, he was a child; gentle as a baby, he was an untamed lion when the question of right was in jeopardy.
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Ezra Beardsley was born October 14, 1827, at Ashland, Green County, New York, his parents being Elisha and Caroline (M. Marvin) Beardsley. He traced his progenitors back to the early portion of the Seventeenth Century, many of them having served in the Army and Navy during the various uprisings and wars which have made history for this nation. He came to Illinois in 1844, and until 1870, when he removed to Kansas, had been a resident of Rock Island County. In 1855 he was elected Sheriff; was admitted to the bar in 1859, after a thorough course in law; enlisted in the “three months’ service,” and was commissioned Lieutenant in the Sixty-ninth Illinois Volunteers. He was promoted to the rank of Post-Adjutant at Camp Douglas, then a military prison near Chicago. His humane efforts in behalf of the unfortunate prisoners of war at that time would of themselves furnish material for a large volume. After his term of three months in the Army, Mr. Beardsley returned to Rock Island and re-enlisted. He became a recruiting officer; he organized six companies of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Volunteers, and was elected Lieutenant-Colonel of that Regiment, serving in the famous Army of the Tennessee. Later he was transferred to Arkansas, where he was made Post Commander at Devall’s Bluff, a strategical point on the Arkansas River.
In the spring of 1870 Colonel Beardsley went to Parker, Kansas, where, for a time, he pursued his chosen profession, and, as a diversion, invested in a sheep ranch. Several years afterwards he removed to Lake City, Barber County, Kansas, where he died, 1885.
February 8, 1848, Mr. Beardsley married Sarah Lemon, of Millersburg, Illinois. Their children were Mary C., Seth Marvin (deceased) Ezra Irving, now in Pueblo, Colorado, and William Lincoln, now in Oklahoma, and Albert L., at Fort Madison, Iowa.
As to the personal attributes of Mr. Beardsley, his war record, his reputation and standing as a barrister, citizen, and a parent, feeble words are inadequate to depaint. As a soldier his long career was embellished with inspiring deeds and kindnesses, his courage was miraculous in its recklessness, and his patriotism was undimmed in the darkest hours of the nation’s peril.
His children now reside in several States, and his friends in many more; yet there is never a recurring thought of Colonel Ezra M. Beardsley which does not bring with it a felicitous thought and a moment of contemplation that is good to feel. Surely Rock Island County has furnished the State and the nation with many brave and noble men, and among the front rank the name of Colonel Ezra Beardsley will always be conspicuous.