Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BEEKMAN, James William, born in New York City, 22 November 1815; died there, 15 June 1877. He was descended from William Beckman, who sailed with Peter Stuyvesant to New Netherlands, and was an officer of the West India company, and afterward an alderman, under English rule. After studying under a private tutor, Mr. Beckman was graduated at Columbia College in 1834, and studied law with John L. Mason, but never became a member of the bar. His father's death in 1833 left him a fortune, and the death of his uncle, James Beckman, added to this the family estate on the East River near Fifty-second street, in-eluding the old Beekman mansion, a place of historic interest from its prominence in revolutionary times. Thus made independent, Mr. Beekman traveled extensively, making a careful study of the workings of different European governments. He was chosen state senator in 1850, and served two terms. In 1861 he, with Erastus Coming and Thurlow Weed, was appointed by a meeting of conservative men in New York to go to Washington and urge President Buchanan to relieve Fort Sumter. Mr. Beckman was vice- president of the New York hospital, president of the woman's hospital, and a director of the New York dispensary. He was also one of the early members of the New York historical society, before which he delivered a centennial discourse in 1871 and read papers at different times. On 4 December 1869, he delivered an address before the St. Nicholas society on "The Founders of New York," which was afterward published (New York, 1870). See "Memoir of James William Beckman," by Edward F. De Lancey (New York, 1877). In February 1876, he published a report on a village of hospitals. BEERS, Ethel Lynn, author, born in Goshen, Orange County, New York, 13 January 1827 ; died in Orange, New Jersey, 10 October 1879. Her maiden name was Ethelinda Eliot, and she was a descendant of John Eliot, the apostle to the Indians. Her earliest writings bore the pen-name of "Ethel Lynn," and after her marriage with William H. Beers she wrote her name as it is now known. Her most noted poem is "All Quiet along the Potomac," suggested by an oft-repeated dispatch during the first year of the civil war. Its authorship was warmly disputed; but, as is usual in such cases, only one of the claimants had written other verses of equal merit. That was Mrs. Beers, and there is now no further doubt as to the genuineness of her title. The lines originally appeared in "Harper's Weekly "for 30 November 1861, with the caption "The Picket Guard." Mrs. Beers says in a private letter : "The poor' Picket' has had so many authentic claimants and willing sponsors, that I sometimes question myself whether I did really write it that cool September morning, after reading the stereotyped announcement ' All Quiet,' etc., to which was added in small type' A Picket Shot.'" The most popular of her other pieces are "Weighing the Baby," " Which shall it be ?" and "Baby looking out for Maine" She had long had a premonition that she would not survive the printing of her collected poems, and she died the same day the volume was issued, "All Quiet along the Potomac, and other Poems" (Philadelphia, 1879).
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