The name Daniel Beck, of Claremont township, needs very little
introduction to the people of Richland county for it is a name that has ever
been associated with the material and spiritual progress of the community
for an extended period. No aspersions can be made on any action of his
during a pilgrimage of upwards of sixty-three years. He has been one of the
original promoters of the establishment of St. James Lutheran church, and he
has lent himself at all times to all movements for the betterment and
advancement of the people of the locality in which he resides.
Daniel Beck was born in Olney township on the 19th of October, 1845, on what was known as the "Hooverler" farm. He was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Phillips) Beck, both natives of York county, Pennsylvania, in which county they were married. His parents at the time of their marriage soon moved to Ohio, where they lived for a few years in Stark county. In the year 1842 they migrated overland in a one-horse wagon to Illinois, where they settled in Richland county and moved onto the "Hooverler" farm in Olney township, which they rented, living there for three years. In their family they reared Bessie Hooverler for six years, for which they received sixty dollars. With this money they entered forty acres of timber land in German township, although they had intended to enter the land where the St. James Lutheran parsonage now stands in Claremont township. There was not a single effort at improvement made in the land they entered. They set to work and cleared enough space to build a log house, after which they started to clear the rest for farming purposes, and bring it to perfection. Here, Daniel Beck's parents remained until the time of their deaths. His mother died in April 1872, having passed her sixtieth milestone. His father survived her several years, dying in April, 1882, at the age of eighty-four. Both are laid to rest in Goss cemetery, German township, which is about two miles from the spot in which they lived for so many years. They were the parent, of ten children, seven of whom grew to maturity, three dying in infancy. Daniel, the subject of our present sketch, was the ninth in order of birth. He remained with his parents on the home farm until his marriage to Susan Ditch, which took place December 24, 1867. His wife, who was born December 25, 1851, in Stark county, Ohio, was the daughter of John and Catherine (Boatman) Ditch, her father being a native of Pennsylvania, and her mother of Ohio, their marriage taking place in Ohio. Her parents came to Illinois in the spring of 1852, coming along down via the Ohio river to Evansville, Indiana, thence overland to Illinois, where they settled on a farm in Claremont township, Richland county, where her father bought forty acres, for which he paid two hundred and fifty dollars, and which consisted of unimproved land. He started in and built a log house for his family, and put the land into the shape of a farm. Here they lived until the death of her mother which occurred December 23, 1880, at the age of fifty-four years. Her father survived five years longer, dying January 16, 1885, at the age of sixty-six. Both were buried in Goss cemetery, German township. They were the parents of fourteen children, of whom half the number arrived at maturity; seven dying in childhood. Mrs. Daniel Beck was the seventh in order of birth.
For a year after their marriage Daniel Beck and his wife lived with his parents on the German township homestead. At the end of that time Daniel took a lease on ten acres in German township. This was all timber. He built a log house, a rather small one, and cleared the land, remaining there for four years. He then moved upon the farm he now occupies in section 28, Claremont township. During his early days in Richland county, as is well known, deer and wild turkeys were very numerous, and the many wolves which inhabited the timber made life precarious for the sheep.
In his early days Daniel Beck met with some hardships and ill-luck which might have daunted a weaker man. Application and industriousness brought prosperity, however, and he has now a well kept farmstead. In order to build his house there he cut the timber on his land, hauled it to the saw mill, and had it sawed into lumber, and hauled it back again, unaided. He employed his brother-in-law, John Ditch, to build the house.
He and his wife have had six children. Four grew up and two died in early life Sarah E. is the wife of Eli Sager in Claremont township; Rachael C. died at the age of fifteen; Mary Matilda married Sam Cerber, deceased, and is now the wife of Adolph Scherer in German township; John Luther died aged eight years; Ira J. lives on a farm in Madison township; and Emma Eunice died in infancy. Daniel Beck and his wife also reared three orphan children, two boys and one girl. One of the boys, Charles Smith, is now married and lives in California near Long Beach. Leslie Dickerson, the other boy, and Carrie Shaw, the girl, still live at home on the farm. They are receiving a good education. Miss Shaw is a graduate of home schools and possesses three diplomas.
Daniel Beck before he was quite five years old attended subscription school in Claremont township; afterwards at a subscription school in German township; and for another term in Claremont township with Ben Lawyer as teacher. He attended school, off and on irregularly until his twenty-first year. The "three R's" were principally the studies engaged in, and considering the schooling of the day he received a very good education. The hewn pin legged seats, without backs, were then in use, and wide planks set against the sides of the wall were the desks used to write on.
In politics Daniel Beck is a Democrat, with a lasting admiration for both Stevenson (once Vice-President) and the silver-tongued William J. Bryan. He is, or at least has been somewhat active in local affairs. He was once elected poundmaster, an office which he declined. He served several terms as a School Director in the school district of Hickory Point. He lives in section No. 28. He has never sat on a jury, and though he was summoned several times as a witness the few cases never came to trial.
He and his wife and family have always been members and faithful workers of the St. James Lutheran church in Claremont. He is an elder of the church, having been chosen to fill a vacancy. He can lay the claim also, as before stated, to be one of the originators of the church, which is now in its third building, being at one time an old log structure.
In everyday life, Daniel Beck is a man whose word is as good, if not better, than the bond of many. Honesty and integrity are no meaningless words with him and his records as a man and citizen are without blemish.
Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 323-325.