Biography of Joseph Beezley

JOSEPH BEEZLEY. – This pioneer is of distinguished ancestry, tracing his lineage to the Pilgrims. In his own character he exemplifies the qualities of those old heroes. His grandfather was a general in the British army; and his father added new honors to the name by his marriage to Phoebie Reeves of Virginia. Fourteen children were born to this pair, Joseph, of whom we write, being the twelfth, and his birth occurring at Springfield, Clark county, Ohio, in 1819. In 1824 the elder Beezley moved his family to Indiana, where he resided for two years, and from thence, in 1826, to Danville, Illinois. This place was the home of Joseph until 1842, when he was married to Miss Mary Jane Barr, his present wife. He then left his father’s place and, with his wife, moved to Fairfield, Iowa. In this state he was elected sheriff, serving two years. He resided there until 1851, when, on account of the death of his mother, his father desired him to come to the old home in Danville.

After the death of his father in the same year, Joseph settled up all his business, and the following March, with his wife and children, set out upon the toilsome and adventurous trip to Oregon, in company with Colonel I.R. Moores, Sr. Their trip was attended with all the trials, hardships and losses incident to all immigrants at that time. They arrived in The Dalles October 18, 1852, after seven months of continuous travel. They lost one son by death on the road. Leaving his stock above The Dalles, Mr. Beezley performed the trip to Portland in an open boat, as there were no steamers above the Cascades at that time. The winter of 1852-53 proved very severe; and in consequence all the cattle perished. But in September, 1853, the undismayed pioneer went down to Clatsop Plains and shipped a hundred head of cattle in a sail boat sixty miles up the Columbia, and drove them to the Umpqua valley and made this beautiful region his home for eight years. During this time three sons were born, and he buried two sons and one daughter.

He suffered the entire loss of his property to the value of five thousand dollars by indorsing a note, and after this disaster removed to Benton county in July, 1862. After a three years’ residence there, he concluded that the county was ill suited to his business, and again sold out. As there was no longer any opportunity to go west, he went east, – conducting his family in wagons across the Cascade Range of mountains to Wasco county, where he bought a homestead from a squatter and commenced the business of horse-raising and sheep-raising, which he followed until 1879, when he was enabled to sell out at a handsome figure, moving his family to the city of The Dalles. He makes this his represent place of residence, having a commodious house tastefully furnished, and provided with every comfort. His sons and daughters are now married and in business or conducting homes of their own, and enjoy an honored reputation in their several communities.

Mr. Beezley has ever been one of the most public spirited of our citizens during his thirty-seven years’ residence in the state. He was a true Union man during the war; he has paid thousands of dollars to build up schools; he has contributed thousands more to the aid of struggling churches, – and all this in addition to providing for his family of four children, and providing for their education. This shows him to have been nor ordinary man, but one of whom Oregonians may well be proud, – one of those unwritten heroes who have held no rank other than the warrant and commission of manhood conferred upon them by their Creator. Mr. Beezley, whose noble physical proportions and kindly countenance indicate his mental worth, has been a trustee of the McMinnville College for seven years, and has been honored as a deacon of the Baptist Church, has held honorable positions in the Grange, and is known as one always ready to aid all worthy institutions, and promote the ends of education, morality and religion.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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