Putnam County


Simon Beck, an influential citizen and well-to-do farmer, owning and operating one hundred and thirty-eight acres of land, which lies on section 31, Hennepin township, is a native of Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, his natal year being 1854. His father, Andrew Beck, was likewise born in Lebanon county, October 8, 1819, and he was there married in April, 1848, to Miss Elizabeth Clemens, also a native of that county, born October 30, 1825. They remained in their native place, where the father engaged in farming, until 1865, when they made their way westward, coming to Putnam county, making the journey from the east by rail to Bureau Junction, from which place they continued their journey to Hennepin, this county. The family home was established on Hennepin prairie, where the father rented a tract of land and continued his operations as an agriculturist. Mrs. Beck was very lonely after coining to this county and often longed and cried for her old home in Pennsylvania. Her husband would try to console her by telling her of the success which they would enjoy later on in their new home, although he, too, was equally as lonely, and he would then go to the barn and resort to tears. They, however, worked on earnestly and persistently until they acquired a competence that after a few years enabled them to purchase land, this being a part of the property which is now operated by the son, Simon. There the father continued his operations and made his home until his death, which occurred August 27, 1892, being found dead in his bed. He had been in poor health for several years, but upon retiring the night previous to his death was feeling as well as usual, but was found dead in the morning, his death supposed to have resulted from heart failure. Both he and his wife were reared in the faith of the Lutheran church, but after their removal to Illinois they became identified with the Methodist denomination. The father was a democrat in his political affiliation, but was never active as an office seeker, preferring rather to concentrate his time and energies upon his private business interests. After his death the property was divided among his heirs, and his widow still survives, now making her home in the village of Florid with a sister of her husband. Although Mrs. Beck is in her eighty-first year she retains her mental faculties to a remarkable degree and is still an intelligent and interesting old lady. In the family of this worthy couple were four children, of whom our subject was the third in order of birth and he is the only one surviving at the present time, a son and daughter having died in Pennsylvania previous to the removal of the family to this state, while a brother, Jerry, died in Granville in August, 1906.

Simon Beck was reared and educated in the Keystone state to the age of twelve years, when he accompanied his parents on their removal to Putnam county, where he continued his education in the country schools of this county and assisted his father in the operation of the old homestead farm until he attained his majority. He then made arrangements for having a home of his own, by his marriage to Miss Sarah Clemens, who was born in Virginia. Her father, Jerry Clemens, removed to Putnam county about 1865, but later took up his abode in Carroll county, Missouri, where he died in the spring of 1906, having reached the venerable age of eighty-four years, while his wife was called to her final rest several years previous.

Following his marriage Mr. Beck located on the old homestead, operating his father's land until the latter's death, when, upon the division of the estate, our subject came into possession of a tract of eighty acres of land which was unimproved, save that a small frame house had been erected thereon. He took up his abode on his newly inherited property and at once began to develop and improve the land, and in due course of time he placed his fields under a high state of cultivation, from which he annually harvests abundant crops. He has since enlarged and remodeled his house and now has a modern and commodious country residence, supplied with all conveniences and equipments. In 1895 he erected a barn, using oak timber in its construction, and which cost eighteen hundred dollars, this being one of the finest barns in this part of the county. He has also erected a windmill and has a reservoir tank from which the water is piped to the house and barn, thus furnishing an ample supply of water for domestic use as well as for watering the stock. He has added a tract of fifty-eight and a half acres to his original holdings, thus making a valuable and well improved farm of one hundred and thirty-eight acres, in addition to which he owns twenty-two acres of timber land. He is a man of sound judgment and displays excellent business ability in the management of his farming and stock-raising interests.

Unto our subject and his wife have been born four children, but only one is now living. The eldest died unnamed in infancy. Mary E. died when one month old. William F. died at the age of two years, six months and nine days. John Henry, who was twenty-eight years of age on the 20th of July, 1906, is residing with his parents. Mr. Beck has always given his political support to the democracy, but has never been active in public affairs. He and his family belong to the Presbyterian church at Florid and are highly esteemed in the community in which they reside.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 507.

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