AUGUSTUS F. BEARD, who had long been identified with the farming interests of Menard county, has been a witness of America's progress and improvement for more than three-quarters of a century. He was born at New Boston, Merrimack county, New Hampshire, on the 25th of August, 1827, his parents being Andrew and Rachel (Marshall) Beard, who were also natives of the old Granite state. Mr. Beard is descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry, the family being founded in America by three brothers, Andrew, Joseph and Archibald Beard, who came from Coleraine, County Londonderry, Ireland. Archibald landed in Virginia in 1764 and two years later Andrew and Joseph crossed the Atlantic to Boston, Massachusetts, but never saw the other brother after coming to this country. Andrew Beard, who was our subject's great-grandfather, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1710, and in his native land married Lydia Goardly, who was related to the family of Commodore Porter and was visited by him while his fleet was at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Here father was an English officer in the American Revolution, while her son William fought against him as a member of the Colonial army. On coming to the new world Andrew Beard brought with him his family, the son William being then fifteen years of age. From Boston the family proceeded north into New Hampshire and stopped over night at Bedford, that state. During the night their landlady gave birth to twin girls and the following morning William was invited in to see them. As he was leaving the mother said she would give him one of them and strange to relate he married one of them in later years. She bore the name of Jane Burns and was closely related to the noted Scotch poet Robert Burns. They were married on the 20th of March, 1790. William Beard was born in Coleraine, Ireland, October 20, 1751, and was the eldest son of Andrew Beard, who was a blacksmith by occupation. In June, 1775, while working on a building on his father's farm, in New Boston, William received the news that the British had landed in Boston and with the consent of his parents he immediately repaired to Charlestown to take up arms in defense of his adopted country. His mother's last words to him as he was leaving home were: "Go, son, and fight for your country, and if the enemy ever see your back never let me see your face again." He participated in the battle of Bunker Hill and was one of the forty to volunteer to bring some cattle across a neck of land under a raking fire from the enemy in order to prevent their capture. The Revolutionary war records of New Hampshire mention that after the battle the government allowed him four shillings for repairs on his musket. Investigation has shown that at the storming of the heights he shattered his gun stock over the head of a British soldier who had stabbed him in the face with his bayonet. In 1777 Mr. Beard received an ensign's commission and was one of the scouts that commenced the attack on the enemy at Bennington. It was here that General Stark on entering the fight uttered the historic words, "We conquer to-day or Molly Stark will be a widow." Although in several engagements Mr. Beard was never wounded except as before mentioned and at the close of his service returned home with an honorable military record. Although entitled to a pension he nobly refused it. He followed farming and blacksmithing and continued to make his home in New Hampshire throughout the remainder of his life. His death occurred January 2, 1832, and his wife died February 9, 1830.
Andrew Beard, the son of William and the father of our subject, was born January 30, 1791, and was a life-long resident of New Hampshire. He also devoted his energies to farming and blacksmithing, working at his trade when the smith had to make his own nails and do all work by hand. He lived an active, useful and honorable life and became the owner of a good farm in his native state. He taught school for a time and was a member of the New Hampshire legislature. In 1816 he married Elizabeth Cochran, a daughter of Deacon Cochran, and to them were born two children, John and Margret. John married Emily Marshall, of Unity, New Hampshire, to who were born two sons, George and Clarence. Margret married Hiram Angell and they had one child, Emily. For her second husband she married John Gilmore, but both Mr. and Mrs. Gilmore are now deceased. Mrs. Elizabeth Beard died January 11, 1826, and her husband subsequently married Rachel Marshall and removed to Newport, New Hampshire. Her death occurred March 30, 1860, and he passed away March 31, 1861. By the second union there were two children: Augustus F., of this review; and Ann Elizabeth, who died in infancy.
Augustus F. Beard is indebted to the schools of Newport, New Hampshire, for the educational privileges he enjoyed in youth. His training at farm labor was also ample, for at an early age he began assisting his father in the development of the fields. After attaining man's estate he followed the occupation to which he had been reared and became the owner of seventy-five acres of land in New Hampshire, which he afterward sold prior to his removal to the Mississippi valley. During the Civil war he enlisted at Newport as a musician in the Sixteenth New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry but was soon discharged on account of illness. He came to Menard county, Illinois, in 1862, and here he resumed farming operations on a tract of land west of Petersburg. He purchased his first land here in 1892 and is now the owner of a good farm of three hundred and fifty acres, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation, adding to it many modern equipments and improvements.
At Sunapee, New Hampshire, November 6, 1851, Mr. Beard was united in marriage to Miss Nyrha Hurd, a daughter of Hiram and Esther (Patten) Hurd. Her father was born in Newport, New Hampshire, June 3, 1800, and was of English lineage, and her mother, who was born in Deering, that state, December 22, 1804, was also of English descent. Mrs. Beard was born June 8, 1833, and pursued her education in New Hampshire. Her father came to Illinois in 1854, journeying by rail to Springfield and thence coming to Petersburg by stage. He purchased land here and at the time of his death was the owner of between six and seven hundred acres. He prospered in his undertakings in the west and developed an excellent farm, which made him one of the substantial agriculturists of his community. He died May 26, 1886, and if he head lived seven days longer he would have attained the age of eighty-six years. His wife died February 14, 1892, at the age of eighty-seven years.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Beard have been born two sons, both of whom are living. Hiram, who is now forty-eight years of age, married Miss Lillie Simons, and they reside two miles southwest of Petersburg. They have one son, Leon, who is now twenty-one years of age. Irvin H., forty-four years of age, married Effie Lewis, and they reside a quarter of a mile west of Petersburg. Their children are three in number: Mabel, eleven years of age; Willis, aged eight; and Marshall, six years old. Irvin H. Beard obtained a first grade certificate and taught school in De Witt county, was also a teacher for several years in the country schools of Menard county and later engaged in teaching in the city schools of this county. His attention, however, is now given to agricultural pursuits.
Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Beard has supported the Democratic party. He and his wife are members of the Christian church and are a well known old couple of this portion of the state. Although Mr. Beard has advanced far on life's journey, in spirit and interests he seems yet in his prime, still superintending his business affairs and taking an active interest in all that pertains to the progress, improvement and up-building of his locality. In all the relations of life he has been honorable and upright and he is now spending his declining years in peach and quiet, enjoying the confidence and friendship of many with whom he has been associated.<