The history of Mr. Beck has for many years been entwined with that of
German township, Richland county, in which he lives, where he has always
been regarded as a valuable and influential citizen and one who possesses
all the higher qualities of the successful farmer.
John Beck was born in Stark county, Ohio, on the 30th of July, 1841, and was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Phillips) Beck. Both were natives of Pennsylvania, the former having been born on the 28th of January, 1797, and Elizabeth Phillips in April, 1806. Jacob remained at home with his parents on the farm in the Keystone state until his twenty-eight year, when his marriage took place in 1825. For about four years he and his wife remained in Pennsylvania and then removed to Stark county, Ohio, where Jacob bought about forty acres of land, on which they lived for some time, until the discovery was made that the title was worthless and they were forced to give up the place. This, needless to say, was a great loss to them. They then lived in different parts of Stark county for some time afterwards, but did not purchase any land and, finally, in the early fall of 1842 they set out overland in wagons for Illinois. The trip covered four weeks and in October they landed in Richland county, Illinois. Jacob Beck found himself there with a wife and one boy, John, aged one and a half years, one dollar and twenty-five cents in money, an old blind mare and a one-horse wagon, in which they had journeyed from Ohio. (For further information on John Beck's parents, see biography of Daniel Beck, of Claremont township, in another part of this volume.)
John Beck made his home with his parents until his mother's death in April, 1872. Our subject for some time afterwards lived with his father. During this time he had acquired a half interest with his brother Henry in forty acres of timber land in German township. Some time later he sold this half interest to William Miller for three hundred and fifty dollars, with which he acquired a sawmill. He later sold the mill to J. J. Goss. On the 8th of October, 1874, he married Elizabeth Sager, who was born on the 17th of March, 1855, in Northampton county, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Reuben and Elizabeth (Snider) Sager, also natives of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Beck's mother died when she was but four years old and she went to live with an elder sister. When about nine years old she came with her father from Pennsylvania to Richland county, Illinois, in the fall of 1864. She and her father remained with a brother. Peter Sager, senior, until his marriage to Leah Crumb, the widow of Isaac Crumb. Our subject's wife then remained with a cousin, Daniel Sager, for about three years and then worked for neighbors. She continued in occupations of this kind until her marriage. Her father afterwards died and is buried in Goss cemetery in German township; his age at the time of his decease was fifty-six. Mrs. Beck was a member of a family of eleven children, nine of whom grew up and six are now living. Upon his marriage, John Beck and his wife rented a farm in Crawford county in the year 1875, and on account of unfavorable circumstances removed that same fall to Richland county. It was at this time that he traded for the saw-mill referred to before. He then moved into Decker township and later bought twenty acres in Preston township which he afterwards sold and returned once more to German township. In January of 1882 he moved to his present farm which then consisted of forty acres. Since that time he has built the house and barn now standing and otherwise changed the face of the land and brought it to its present admirable state of cultivation.
John Beck was the sixth of ten children born to his parents, seven of whom grew to maturity. His father died in April of 1881, aged eighty-four years, and was buried in Goss cemetery. John was not able to obtain an extended education in his young days. However, he attended the subscription school and went for several terms to the free school in Richland county, learning to read, write and spell, also obtaining a knowledge of arithmetic. To John Beck and wife six children were born; three girls and two boys grew up; one child died in infancy. In regular order they were: Dorothy Viola is the wife of George W. Gerber, a carpenter of Claremont township; Sidney Paul married Maggie Byrd and resides on a farm in Shelby county; Bertha May is the wife of E. W. Craig, a farmer of German township; Clara Agatha and Frederick Stephen are both single and live with their parents on the farm. All are fairly prosperous.
In politics the subject of this sketch is a Democrat and has for the greater part of his life taken an interest in local politics. He has been for six years Commissioner of Highways in German township, and School Director for the long period of twenty-one years. Active as he has been in the public life of his community, he has never aspired for a political office of any kind. He and his wife and family are all members of the St. James Lutheran church in Claremont township. He is himself one of the original founders and builders of that church. He has served as church treasurer for about twenty years, as a deacon for several terms, and as a teacher of the Sunday school class for the past thirty-five years, and is now an elder. It is needless to say he has ever been active in all things pertaining to his church. In the township in which he has lived the best part of his life .he is favorably looked upon as an upright and honest man and as an industrious farmer whose success is well deserved.
Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 401-402.