Biography of Clarence E. Beck

Clarence E. Beck. When he was sixteen years old Clarence E. Beck left the high school at Arkansas City and by practical work began to discover the extent of his capabilities and his possibilities in the business field. For a couple of years he worked in retail grocery stores. In July, 1894, he went with the Ranney-Davis Mercantile Company. He was put to work as a fruit sorter. Six months later he was advanced to the packing room. Another six months and he was assigned to a place at the bill desk, and after a year was promoted to the shipping desk. In these different positions he not only showed a proper diligence and faithfulness of performance, but also indicated his capacity for increased responsibilities. The company soon took him out of the general office and sent him on the road and put him on the sales force. He sold goods for Ranney-Davis for a number of years, and was then brought back to the office as cashier of the company. His particular ability was in handling credits, and he was eventually given charge of the credit department, and along with that position he had since acquired the executive offices of secretary and treasurer. He is now secretary and treasurer and credit man for the Ranney-Davis Mercantile Company, one of the largest wholesale concerns in Southern Kansas.

The man who begins at the bottom and goes to the top is always the object of just admiration. Mr. Beck only recently passed his fortieth birthday, but is numbered among the business leaders of the state. Though most of his life had been spent in Kansas, he was born at Bouquet, Pennsylvania, December 11, 1876. His Beck ancestors came out of Germany and settled in Pennsylvania several generations ago. His grandfather, Leonard Beck, was born in the vicinity of Madison, Pennsylvania, and died there in 1909 when past seventy-eight years of age. He spent his career as a farmer. He married Miss Mathias, who was born in Pennsylvania and died near Irwin, in that state, in 1912. Four of their children are still living: Catherine, who lives at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, widow of Josiah Allshouse, who was a farmer and subsequently in the building and quarry business as a contractor; Sarah is the wife of Lyman Kintigh, a farmer at Irwin, Pennsylvania; Sanford is a miller and operates the old mill at Bouquet, Pennsylvania, which his brother Cyrus formerly owned; and Cyrus F., father of Clarence E.

Cyrus F. Beck was born at Madison, Pennsylvania, in 1853, grew up and married in his native community and becoming a miller operated the flour mill above mentioned. In 1884 he came out to Kansas, locating at Hazleton, where he was in the furniture and undertaking business until 1888. In the latter year he moved to Arkansas City and for several years was a retail grocer. For three years he was a furniture dealer, and then left Kansas to look after his business in the zinc mines around Joplin, Missouri. After several years in Southern Missouri he went to Arizona, acquired some interests in the gold mines, but in 1913 retired and had since lived at Los Angeles, California. He is a democrat and a member of the Congregational Church. Cyrus F. Beck married Alwilda Pool. She was born at Irwin, Pennsylvania, in 1855, and died there in 1892. There were four children: Clarence E., the oldest; Myrtle F., who died at Arkansas City in 1908, the wife of John J. Griffith, who is now secretary for a mining company at Tonapah, Nevada; W. Frank, who is teller in the German-American Savings and Trust Company at Los Angeles, California; and Bertha B., wife of William S. Graham, check clerk for the Arkansas City Produce Company.

Clarence E. Beck received most of his education in the public schools of Arkansas City, and had finished the freshman year in high school when he gave up his books and studies in 1892 to enter the commercial field on his own account. He gives practically all his time to his duties as secretary, treasurer and credit man of the Ranney-Davis Mercantile Company, but is also treasurer of the Crescent Gas and Oil Company. He owned his home at 215 West Central Avenue. Mr. Beck is independent in politics, is a member of the Commercial Club and the Rotary Club, affiliates with Crescent Lodge No. 133, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Bennett Chapter No. 41, Royal Arch Masons; Arkansas City Commandery No. 30, Knights Templar, and affiliates with the Christian Science Church.

He had been twice married. He was married in 1900 in Arkansas City to Miss Gertie E. Chadwell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Chadwell, who are now deceased. Her father was a pioneer in Cowley County, Kansas, and a rancher. Mrs. Beck died in August, 1907. She is survived by one daughter, Ruth Geraldine, born December 14, 1905. In June, 1912, Mr. Beck married Miss Jocie May Miller, a native of Kansas and a daughter of G. W. and Belle T. (Thurmond) Miller. Her father is a retired merchant, residing at Caldwell, Kansas. He was one of the first hardware merchants of Arkansas City in the early ’80s.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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