Lee County Biography

Hannah M. (Van Auken) Beemer City of Dixon

      Jesse Beemer Portrait

Hannah J. (Van Auken) Beemer, widow of the late Jesse Beemer, is a most worthy representative of the noble pioneer women of Lee County, without whose help and encouragement their fathers, husbands and brothers could not have accomplished what they did in the development of this region, and in laying the foundation of a prosperous Community. She is one of the oldest settlers now living within the limits of the county, and is contentedly passing the declining years of a well-spent life in the old home in Wyoming Township which she and her husband established here in pioneer times.

Mrs. Beemer was born in Sussex County N. J., June 8, 1821. Her father, John W. Van Auken, was a native of the same State as herself; his father being a farmer, and passing his last years in Sussex County. John Van Auken was reared and married in New Jersey, and subsequently moved from there to Pennsylvania. He finally came from the latter State to Illinois, and lived in Kane County until after the death of his wife, and from that time he made his home in this county with his daughter of whom we write until he departed this life at a ripe age. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Rachel Rosenkrans, was likewise a native of New Jersey.

Our subject spent her girlhood in her native State and when a young woman accompanied her parents to Pennsylvania. She was carefully instructed in the duties of the household, and remained an inmate of the home of her parents until she was called upon to preside over one of her own, her marriage with Jesse Beemer taking place in 1838. He was a native of Sussex County N. J., and a son of Henry and Mary Beemer. He was an active and stalwart young farmer, well fitted to cope with the pioneer life that lay before him, and in his young bride he had a most capable helpmate, who with characteristic cheerfulness, bravery and devotion to the husband of her choice shared with him the struggles necessary in the making of a home in the wilderness, and lightened for him by her constant helpfulness the burden of support of an increasing family as the years passed by. Mr. Beemer bought a tract of forest-covered land near Buttermilk Falls, Penn., and there built a log house in which he and his bride commenced life together. He cleared quite a tract of land, and was engaged in its tillage until 1847. In the month of September, that year, accompanied by his wife and six children that had been born to them in their old home, he started across the country with a team to make the long and tiresome journey to the wilds of Illinois, where he had determined to settle to take advantage of the cheap land and fertile soil of this region. After six weeks' travel the family arrived in Lee County, which they found in a wild, sparsely settled condition, with wolves, deer and other wild animals roaming over land that they were to see converted into valuable farms as the years sped away, and where they were one day to see many thrifty towns and villages.

After his arrival here Mr. Beemer bought a tract of Government land on section 6, Wyoming Township, and there being no house on the place he rented a home at Lauton's Grove the ensuing two years. In the meantime he built the residence which is occupied by his widow, drawing the timber for its construction from Chicago, as there were no railways here for some years after his settlement at this point, and that city was the nearest market and depot for supplies. He devoted himself closely to the work of redeeming his land, constantly making improvements, and in time his farm compared with the best in every particular. He and his wife were industrious and frugal, made good use of their means, surrounded themselves with every needed comfort, enjoyed the respect and friendship of their neighbors, and had as much prosperity and happiness as falls to the lot of ordinary mortals. Their wedded life of nearly half a century was brought to a close July 5, 1886, by the death of the well-belovd husband. In dying he left behind him a good record as a pioneer, as a citizen and in all the relations that he had sustained towards others. His portrait is presented in connection with this sketh and will be welcomed by his large circle of friends who reverence his memory. Mrs. Beemer is the mother of ourteen children, of whom all married but one, and eight of them are living to bless and comfort the sunset of her life, namely, - Alpheus, Rachel, Everett, Millard, Mary, Lydia, Ida and John. These are the names of those who have passed away, - George, Rosella, Sarah, Emma, Lorella and charles. Mrs. Beemer has sixty-four grandchildren and ten great-granchildren.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL


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