William T. Beekman, father of the one of whom this biography is written, is a native of Somerset County, N.J., and was born Feb. 23, 1815. He lived in his native State until 1837, when he emigrated to Menard County, Ill., where he worked at his trade, that of a wheelwright and carpenter, at which occupation he carried on a large business. At the age of forty he commenced railroading on the Jacksonville and Bloomington branch of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He laid the iron to Mason City, Ill., when he was appointed Superintendent of that road, and served in that capacity for eight years. His wife's maiden name was Mary C. Spears, a native of Menard County, Ill. Her parents came to this State from Green County, Ky., in 1823, and located on a farm. Her father is now living (1889) on his first purchase at the ripe old age of eighty-four years, her mother dying in June, 1879. There were ten children in this family, whose record is subjoined.
John T. married Sarah Colby of Menard County; he died July 13, 1881, leaving two children - Lucy M. and Colby. He was a sergeant in Company F, 114th Illinois Infantry under Col. Judy. He participated in the Red River campaign and the siege of Vicksburg; was with Grant at the battle of Jackson, Miss., and his record covers thirteen battles. At New Orleans he had charge of 1,500 colored troops. His widow now resides on the farm owned by him in Menard County; Maria E. married John M. Zane, a nephew of Judge Charles Zane, of Springfield; he is a lawyer in Sac City, Iowa, and the father of two children - William F. and Florence. George S. married Jennie Harrison; he is following mechanical pursuits in Springfield, Ill., and has one son, Harry. Julia J. married Richard Pollard, a commercial salesman; they reside in Denver, Colo. Cornelius T. married Lou Kuchler, daughter of Dr. Kuchler, of Kansas City, Mo. He follows the profession of bookkeeping. Mary Anna married Walter W. Mathews, of Odebolt, Iowa, where he is a merchant and Postmaster; Sarah H. and Carrie W. are single and live with their parents; William H. is unmarried, and is practicing law in Omaha, Neb.
The subject of this sketch and wife own a well improved farm of 470 acres, and he is a successful breeder of horses, cattle, hogs and sheep. He rents a portion of his farm.
The family are members of the Baptist Church. Politically, Mr. Beekman is a sound Republican, and he was, perhaps, inspired by the fact that the first political speech he heard was delivered by Abraham Lincoln. He had the honor of being Chairman of the Republican club of his precinct during the Harrison campaign.