BIOGRAPHY - Fred W. Beardsley

FRED W. BEARDSLEY, Secretary of the Gibson Canning Company, was the leading spirit in founding that institution and has been actively identified with its successful management ever since. He is a native of Ohio, born in Canfield, Mahoning County, on the Western Reserve, on the 27th of November, 1831. His parents were Philo and Lois Smith (Gun) Beardsley, both members of old New England families. The father was born in Warren, Litchfield County, Conn., August 14, 1794, and was of English descent. The Beardsley family, of which our subject is a member, was founded in America by William Beardsley, an English emigrant, who first settled in what is now Stratford, Conn., in 1635. The mother of Fred W. was born December 24, 1797, in New Preston, Litchfield County, Conn., and was descended from Scotch ancestry, her family dating its settlement in the New World prior to the Revolutionary War. The parents of our subject were married at New Preston, Conn., March 3, 1816, and the same year moved by ox-team to Ohio, settling on the Western Reserve, which, at that time, was a wild and almost uninhabited region. Philo Beardsley was a man of excellent business ability, and, in course of time, became a well-to-do farmer. In politics, he was a Whig until the agitation of the slavery question, when he became a strong Abolitionist. On the rise of the Republican party, he espoused its principles and ever remained true to them. Both he and wife were active workers in the Congregational Church. In the days when each State required its citizens to spend some time each year in military drill, Mr. Beardsley held the office of Captain, and was ever afterward known as Capt. Beardsley. On the 27th of August, 1848, his wife passed from among the living. She was the mother of twelve children, six sons and six daughters, of whom eight are still living. Mr. Beardsley died February 21, 1870.

Fred W. Beardsley is the eighth of the abovenamed family. After a preparatory course in the public schools, he entered Mt. Union College, taking a scientific course, but left during the senior year. For some six winters he engaged successfully in teaching school, and at the same time conducted writing-schools. It is doubtful whether there is a finer penman in the county than Mr. Beardsley. In 1860, he was elected Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas and ex-Officio Clerk of the District Court for Mahoning County, and was re-elected by acclamation, serving in all six years. While thus engaged, he spent his leisure hours in reading law, and in 1866 was admitted to the Bar, in Cantfield, Ohio, where he practiced his profession until his removal to the West.

In October, 1860, our subject was married, in his native county, to Miss Jaqueline Gee, a daughter of Peter and Almira Gee. Mrs. Beardsley was born in Berlin Centre, Mahoning County, Ohio. Her father was a native of Ellsworth, Mahoning County, and the mother of Deerfield, Portage County, of the same State. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley, of whom two are living: Almira Day, the eldest, is now the wife of Thomas Finnegan, of Kankakee, Ill.; Lois G. died at the age of twenty-two years; and Bertha E. resides with her father.

In 1872, Mr. Beardsley came to Illinois as business manager for an Ohio capitalist, who had large sums of money loaned and invested in this State, and in 1876 moved his family to Champaign County, where he resided three years, and in 1879 removed to Gibson City, where he still makes his home. He was in charge of the same business from 1872 until 1888, collecting and re-loaning, until the capital was withdrawn from the State. Much of that business covered investments in farming lands, which was conducted with ability and fidelity and to the satisfaction of the proprietor. Besides this, he was extensively interested in raising live stock. In 1885, Mr. Beardsley interested himself in the organization of the Gibson Canning Factory. He was chosen secretary, which position he has since filled. These works are the second largest in capacity in the United States, and in round numbers pack annually two million cans of corn, and in the summer of 1892 they expect to exceed that amount. In addition to his interest in the canning business, Mr. Beardsley is the owner of four farms, lying in Ford County, aggregating six hundred and seven acres. One of them, a farm of two hundred and forty acres, is situated at what is known as Switch D, on the Lake Erie & Western Railroad; another, of one hundred and sixty acres, is a mile west of Gibson City; another, of fifty-two acres, joins the city on the south; and the last, of one hundred and fifty-five acres, joins Gibson City on the west. He keeps a herd of one hundred and fifty Short-horn and high-grade cattle, a flock of Oxford Downs sheep, besides Berkshire and Poland-China hogs and Morgan horses.

On the 21st of December, 1891, Mr. Beardsley was called upon to mourn the death of his wife, who had been his faithful and devoted companion through the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears, the trials and successes of his life for thirty-one years. She was an earnest Christian woman and for many years was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. During all these years, she was faithful to every duty, devoted to her husband and children and always made her influence for good felt, not only within the limits of her home, but in the social circles and the community where she dwelt.

Just a few weeks prior to her death, Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley had moved into their new home, which is one of the finest in Gibson City, and a model of convenience. Every department of the house is furnished with both hot and cold water, supplied from a reservoir above which is filled by a hot-air pump; private gas apparatus lights the house, and the latest improved hot-water system furnishes it with heat. In short, it would be difficult to conceive of a home more complete in its appointments. How different this edifice is from the pioneer cabin of twenty years ago!

Mr. Beardsley and his daughter are members of the same church to which the wife and mother belonged. In politics, he is a Republican and has always taken an active interest in the success of his party. In the days of slavery agitation, Mr. Beardsley, true to the traditions of the "Old Western Reserve," was an original Abolitionist, and during the war that grew out of the slavery troubles, he gave the Government a hearty and patriotic support, contributing more money to the cause than any other man in his native township. During his residence in Mahoning County, Ohio, he was chosen and served as Secretary and Treasurer of the County Fair Association, was Secretary of his local School Board, and was otherwise prominently connected with public affairs. Since his residence in Ford County, Ill., he has always shown a laudable interest in local matters and has ever been found public-spirited. A thoroughly' practical business man, he enjoys in a marked degree the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.

Extracted 04 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 225-226.

Templates in Time