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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BENJAMIN F. BEESON, a prominent farmer residing in Calvin Township, Cass County, was born near Richmond, Ind., August 23, 1832, and was the third in a family of eight children, four boys and four girls, born to Jesse G. and Ann (Renesten) Beeson. His father was born at Richmond, Ind., December 10, 1807, being the son of Isaac Beeson, a native of North Carolina. The Beeson family originated in England, and, while we have no positive proof, it is said that three brothers (of whom the father of Isaac was one) came to this country during Colonial times, one settling in Pennsylvania, one in Virginia and one in North Carolina. They were Quakers and were among the most aristocratic and wealthy families in the South. Some of them severed their connection with the Quaker Church, and, engaging in the slave trade, became very wealthy as planters and slave-owners.

The grandfather of our subject was greatly opposed to the institution of human slavery, and becoming disgusted with his surroundings he sold out everything he had at a great sacrifice, and while he was yet a young man and single started for a State where the institution was not lawful. He settled at Richmond, Ind., where in 1804 or 1805 he married Miss Rambo. He married outside of the Society of Friends, and from that day he was not identified with the church of his forefathers. He became a farmer and also owned and operated three distilleries on his farm, making a fortune in that way. During the War of 1812 he served as Captain. He was a man of liberal education and great executive ability and was a life-long Whig in politics. He was three times married. Of the first union the father of our subject and one sister were born. By the other two marriages there were five children.

Jesse G. Beeson grew to manhood in Indiana, where he received a good education and for many years engaged in teaching. June 5, 1828, he married Ann Renesten, who was born September 30, 1803. Her father, an Irishman by birth, came to this country and settled in Pennsylvania, where she was born. A frugal, economical man, he accumulated a large amount of this world’s goods and at his death left a large property. Of the children born to Jesse G. and Ann Beeson, William H. was born on the 25th of March, 1829. Isaac N., who was born on the 15th of December, 1830, married Etta Wheeler, and they have one daughter. He has for years been occupied as a traveling salesman. Mary J. was born December 28, 1835, and married David Huff, a real-estate and loan agent at Lincoln, Neb. She died February 17, 1893, leaving her husband and one daughter to mourn her loss. Lurany, who was born May 10, 1838, married Austin Dixon, a hotel-keeper of Madison, Wis. Eliza, who was born July 25, 1840, married Nathaniel DeFoe, a farmer residing near Cedar Falls, Iowa, and they are the parents of one daughter. Laura E., who was born August 30, 1842, married Robert Cameron, a real-estate dealer at Algona, Iowa, and they have one daughter and one son. Anderson G., who was born June 26, 1847, conducts a large real-estate business at Lincoln, Neb. The mother of these children died June 21, 1870. The father afterward married again, but his second union was a childless one.

In the spring of 1833, when the subject of this sketch was little more than a year old, the family came to Michigan and settled in Cass County, not far from Dowagiac. The father became a wealthy man and was one of the prominent citizens of the county. In 1853 he served in the State Senate, having been elected on the Whig ticket. Later, when the Republican party was organized, he cast in his lot with that political organization and remained with it until the time of his death, which occurred February 19, 1888.

B. F. grew up on his father’s farm, receiving the ordinary education of the pioneer days. He remained with his father until he was twenty-two years of age and in 1858 engaged in the mercantile business. In 1859 he married Miss Jennie E. Banks, who was born in New York State, being a daughter of Walter Banks. Her grandfather, Adam Banks, was born in l769. Tradition says that he was found on the oyster banks of the coast of Germany when a mere child, and the parties finding him, not being able to secure any trace of his parentage, gave him the name of Adam Oysterbank, in token of the place where he was found. Some of the descendants are still known by that name in the United States, but this immediate branch of the family dropped the “Oyster,” and took simply the name of Banks. After emigrating to America, the family settled in Connecticut and later migrated to Greene County, N. Y., where the father of Mrs. Beeson was born in 1792.

Mrs. Beeson’s mother bore the maiden name of Polly Dunbar, and was born in Greenfield, Saratoga County, N. Y., June 16, 1796. Her father, Nehemiah Dunbar, was a Revolutionary soldier, who enlisted in the army when a boy of but thirteen years and served until its close, being discharged with the commission of Captain. He died in McDonough, N. Y., March 11, 1833, and his wife passed away March 7, 1834. Grandfather Banks died in the same place in August, 1826, and his wife passed away in Union, Wayne County, N. Y., on the 12th of August, 1844. Mrs. Beeson’s father was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died in New York State, June 12, 1862. Her mother died in Ann Arbor, Mich., April 15, 1872. Mr. Banks had an only brother, Aaron, who came to Michigan from Wayne County, N. Y., and died here. A sister, Laura, who was born in 1806, married Rev. A. A. Allen, a Methodist minister, now deceased; she lives with her son in Detroit, Mich. Betsey married a Mr. Daniels and died April 26, 1849. Abigail became the wife of a Mr. Thompson and died many years ago.

The family of which Mrs. Beeson was a member consisted of eleven children, nine of whom are now living. John, a Lieutenant in the army during the late war, was for many years a teacher in Cassopolis; in fact, this was a family of school teachers. Mrs. Beeson was for many years a teacher in New York State and all her brothers and sisters followed that profession. Mr. and Mrs. Beeson have three children, as follows: Grace, who was educated at Hillsdale, and married Fred D. Ashley, a business man of Clinton, Iowa; Dix H., who was also educated at Hillsdale, married Ella James, and is now a druggist at Three Oaks, Berrien County; and Otis J., who was educated at Cassopolis and the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, and is spoken of as one of the most thorough teachers of Cass County, where he has taught for four years.

After having engaged in the mercantile business for a number of years, Mr. Beeson in 1864 crossed the plains to Montana, but after a short sojourn in the far West returned to Michigan, and twenty-six years ago he located on his present farm in Calvin Township. As a Republican he has been a prominent factor in local politics and has served as Supervisor of his township for eleven years, besides holding other minor offices. He devotes his attention principally to his personal affairs and his farming interests, but nevertheless maintains a constant and unvarying concern in the welfare of the community and may always be relied upon to aid in public enterprises. He is counted among the worthy men of this locality, and everybody is a friend to Frank Beeson. He and his wife are members of the Baptist Church, with which they have been identified for many years.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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