Biography of Christopher Beal Beeks
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Christopher Beal Beeks was a Kansas pioneer whose memory should be kept green in coming generations. He was a man of quiet forcefulness intent in his devotion to those things that he believed right, and he made his career count for much in his chosen community because of a faithful performance of those duties that lay nearest at hand.
He was a Kansas pioneer of the territorial period. He came here in 1859. Though a native of Virginia he was reared on a farm in Ohio, and his people being comparatively poor and his early youth being spent in a time when the needs of existence were of more importance than those of intellectual culture he had very limited advantages in the way of literary education.
While in Ohio he married Hannah Jane Osler. He came to Kansas with his wife and two children, Edgar and Oscar, with his mother, Nancy Beeks, and with two sisters, Hattie and Mary. In coming West the family embarked on a boat at Wheeling, West Virginia, dropped down the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, and up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, and from that point another boat brought them up the Missouri River to Westport Landing, now Kansas City. While looking around for a permanent location Mr. Beeks and family lived the first year in Johnson County, Kansas, at Lanesfield, now one of the lost towns of Kansas. He finally bought a tract of land about two miles northwest of the present site of Baldwin City. Early in 1860 he moved to the land and began developing a home. The first shelter for the family was a log house. After getting that in readiness he put out a crop. The year 1860 was one of the disastrous drought years in Kansas, and the first one that seriously affected the fortunes of its early settlers. Mr. Beeks’ entire crop was destroyed and he did not even get the seed back. In spite of that severe experience he determined to remain a Kansan. It was fortunate for him that he had brought to Kansas perhaps more means than many of the early settlers, and he was able to tide over this lean year. Other hardships and privations came, and not all of them were due to unfavorable climate. The war came on, there was almost constant trouble between the free soil and the slavery elements, not to speak of invasions originating outside the state. He suffered much from the outlawry that prevailed before and during the Civil war times, and it sometimes became necessary for him to leave home in order to preserve his life. During the war he served in the Kansas militia and helped protect the state from foreign invasion. Through good years and bad, through hardships and privations and periods of prosperity, he continued to strengthen his hold and position in Kansas and finally had his land improved and was in a situation where he might take life more easily when death came to him at the age of fifty-eight. He died January 29, 1888. Three children had been born to him and his wife after they removed to Kansas.
Christopher B. Beeks distinguished himself by his indefatigable labor, and though of but average stature, there were few who worked harder and with better results. Besides what he did to establish a home and look out for his family he was soon recognized as a forceful character in his community. He served as justice of the peace, and though not a lawyer he became well informed on the essential principles of law, and frequently advised his neighbors in their legal difficulties. His integrity of character was perhaps of greater importance than his legal knowledge, and for that reason his influence enabled him to accomplish a great amount of good. He was appointed and served as deputy county attorney and in that capacity prosecuted a number of liquor cases tried at Baldwin and brought over from the river towns. About the close of the Civil war he had moved into Baldwin in order to give his children the exceptional advantages of Baker University. Politically he was an independent republican, was a member of the Odd Fellows, and was one of the most active Methodists at Baldwin. He served as a member of the board of trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, and in this connection it is noteworthy that his son Charles E. Beeks was a member of the board of trustees that built the present handsome Methodist church edifice at Baldwin. The late Mr. Beeks had an executive mind, one that prompted him to action when anything was required to be done. His most marked characteristics were his sturdy manhood and his absolute honesty.
Of his children the only one now living at Baldwin is his son Charles E. Beeks, who was born at Baldwin February 7, 1867. Baldwin had always been his home, and his education came from the public schools and Baker University. Mr. Beeks was reared on a farm and had followed farming as his chief occupation. He is also vice president of the Baldwin State Bank. He is a trustee of Baker University, an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is a republican in politics and is affiliated with the Masonic Order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
On August 24, 1898, he married Miss Ella Follin. They have one son, Claude.