Alonzo (Jane2, John1) was born in Canandaigua, N.Y., Nov. 4, 1820. In January, 1821, his parents moved to Royalton, Ohio, and five years later to the adjoining township, Parma, where his childhood was spent. He attended school in the district school which in those pioneer days was in session only a few months in the year.
At the age of 15 years he engaged as a sailor on the lakes and followed that occupation during the navigation season for about 30 years. He was captain of a vessel for many years.
On Jan. 18, 1846, he married Miss Hannah Esty (born Feb. 22, 1828), of Richfield, Ohio. He moved to Sheboygan, Wis., where he purchased a farm, but still followed the life of a sailor. He was elected to a seat in the legislature of Wisconsin, and served one term with credit to himself and to his constituency.
On the breaking out of the Civil War he raised two companies of volunteers for the service but was himself rejected because of physical disabilities.
On May 5, 1853, his wife died, leaving him with four children, the oldest of whom was not 6 1/2 years old. That his little ones might have the care they needed, he married, on June 2, 1853, Miss Mary Crosby (born Sept. 12, 1834), of Sheboygan, who was a loving mother to his little ones, and a devoted wife, tenderly caring for him throughout the months of suffering preceding his death.
In 1869 he purchased a farm in Sumner Township, Bremer Co., Iowa, and moved his family there. A few years later he sold this farm and purchased one near Jessup, Iowa, where he resided until 1880. His health having failed, he sold his farm and moved to Independence, Iowa, where he lived until the spring of 1890. He then purchased a farm in South Dakota and moved to it. But the change of climate, and worries over failure of crops and other losses brought back his old trouble with his stomach. He was brought to the home of his son near Independence, Iowa, where he died Dec. 4, 1890.
Mr. Beels was a man of more than ordinary ability considering the few advantages to secure an education. He was a conscientious Christian. For 35 years he was a member of the M. E. church and for 25 years he was a licensed local preacher. He was a liberal contributor to the work of the church. He was a member of Lodge No. 142 I.O.O.F.
He held the respect of the entire community and leaves behind him an honourable name as a man, as neighbour and as a good citizen. -- From the Independence Journal.
By first wife.
* Henry A., b. Dec. 18, 1846, d. Nov.8, 1860.
* Eliza J., b. May 22, 1848, d. Nov. 27, 1860.
Lovenia M., b. Aug. 31, 1849, d. Oct. 31, 1892.
* Julia D., b. Feb. 17, 1851, d. Nov. 11, 1860.
By second wife.
* Mary E., b. June 14, 1854, d. Nov. 5, 1860.
Finley F., b. April 27, 1858.
William S., b. Mar. 15, 1863.
Minnie M., b. May 31, 1864.
* Mr. Beels, while near Buffalo, N.Y., on his last voyage for the year 1860, received a telegram to come home. On reaching home he found that three of his children had died of diphtheria and that two others were very sick. One of the sick ones died soon after his return.
Will S. Beels
As a matter of fact there is nothing of interest in my prosaic life worthy of blackface type or italics in the family history. Let me get the bald outline out of the way:
The old family Bible says that I was born on the morning of March 15, 1863, on the old farm near Sheboygan Falls, Wis. I brought my parents and the rest of the family with me to Iowa in April, 1869, arriving on the first day of April, and located at Independence. My experience for the following few years was divided between farming and town life, and enduring some of the vicissitudes of the semi-frontier and the wheat failures of the early '70's, when life was a round of pleasure staring the mortgage in the face and hoping that the blight and chinch bugs would journey to other lands. But I finally brought the family through the crisis, and reasonable comfort attended father for some years before his death in 1890.
Stern necessity and some circumstances controlled my education, which was confined to a few terms in a graded town school, and the rest to rural schools. My ambition had been to go to college, but that was denied. In 1880 I entered a printing office as an apprentice, having previously decided that the legal profession or the sacred calling of newspapering was the last notch to fame that could be acquired. The newspaper job opened first. You will note that after years of experience I call it a job while in youth I looked upon it as a profession; and also it is apparent that the proposition of finances did not enter into the choice at that time. I have been following newspapering uninterruptedly ever since, sometimes with a reasonable amount of excitement and again with a dull routine. From 1885-87 I owned the Register at Oelwein, Iowa; from 1888 to 1894 was located at Emmetsburg, Iowa, where I established the Tribune, which is still successfully running. Have been editor and manager of various papers at various times, and finally drifted to Hopkinton, Iowa, to buy the Leader, induced partly by the necessities of political leaders who desired a safe and sane republican paper in this locality. I found the proposition so good from a business standpoint that we seem to have anchored -- at least I have been here for eleven years.
I have never held political office of consequence, though several times overtures have been made to induce me to become a candidate. I have always taken an active part in local political movements, and though I have some affiliations with the state leaders and the so-called "machine", the glamour has never attracted me seriously to leave the business.
I think the most exciting experiences in my brief career are rather tame, though at the time they seemed important enough. The first real excitement I remember is the first pair of copper-toed boots with red tops; the next was a pair of home-made galluses to hold up a pair of home-made denims. The last was my initiation to the mysteries of the printing office. Though in the years since I have joined most all the fraternal organizations, including Masonry up to the 32nd degree, I don't know of anything that has affected me so solemnly as the instances mentioned.
I did try my hand at pioneering, I suppose because it was in the blood. I went to Dakota territory in 1884, setting a stake at Pukwana. The next town -- Chamberlin, was then the jumping off place of civilization, and it was sure wild and wooly in those days. I annexed a claim on the Crow Creek reservation, which later President Cleveland withdrew from settlement. I have always been an admirer of Cleveland since, though at the time it seemed to me he was sure enough a bad democrat. But the withdrawal from entry sent me back again to God's country.
I am not a member of any church, though I have always stood my share of the preacher's salary and worked with the churches on every moral proposition for the advancement of the community. Of course I was baptized in the good old Methodist church, but here my wife and I affiliate with the Presbyterian persuasion -- mainly because we can do the most good that way, and because they are very strong in Hopkinton and are maintaining a Presbyterian college to whose deficit I am frequently called on to subscribe. Politically, of course, I am republican. They call me a standpatter. I claim to be a progressive but not an insurgent. Anyhow, I have a barrel of fun with my friends and enemies alike. It is a great game.
My wife's name was Flora A. Howard, and she was born in Caledonia, Minn., March 21, 1863 -- six days later than myself. We were married at Oelwein, Iowa, Nov. 30, 1886. There are no children. Mrs. B.'s parents were Warren H. Howard and Margaret Nelson; the former a native of New York and the latter of Indiana. The mother died Sept. 1, 1892; her father is living with a son at Marcola, Ore.