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E multis paleis paulum fructus collegi

Chapter III

Early Days in Cooperstown and Buffalo

Wherein is given the Beadle genealogy and the birth of Erastus. He works
for Phinney, 1838, and goes to Buffalo, 1847. With his brother
Irwin, he starts his own stereotype foundry, 1850.

RELATIVELY LITTLE is known of the early life of Erastus Beadle, and still less is known about his brother Irwin. Published data are very scarce and scattered. Much that has been published heretofore, in various magazines and books, is inaccurate, and while the same stories have been repeated again and again, they have, to a great extent, been copied one from the other. Here the tale will be told as it has been brought together from contemporary newspapers, letters, court records, directories, voting lists, and so on, uncolored, and with the omission of only a few sensational details that barely touch the lives of the principal characters in the story.

The earliest known ancestor of Erastus and Irwin Beadle was Samuel Beadle,(1) who was living in Charlestown, Massachusetts, as early as 1656. He removed to Salem, about twenty miles away, in 1661, and died there, March 10, 1663.(2) A record book, (3) owned jointly by Homer and Horace Beadle, and later used by their nephew, Erastus, who compiled a genealogy which was never published and seems to have disappeared, contains the statement that Samuel came originally from Bermuda, but a note in the handwriting of Erastus says that this is not true.

And Samuel Beadle, of Salem, begot Nathaniel, his first child.

And Nathaniel, who was a cord-winder (cordwainer), married Mary Hix on the second of April, 1670; begot, as his eighth child, Joseph, in Salem, October 14, 1687, and died before 1704.

And Joseph, also a cordwainer, married Elizabeth Evans, June 9, 1708. He begot David as his fifth child, and died before 1722, perhaps 1715.

And David, who was born in Salem, married Abigail Beadle, his second cousin, in Salem, October 22, 1736. Before 1741 he removed to Weathersfield, Connecticut, and died there April 28, 1782. And David begot Benjamin, in Weathers-field, December 18, 1741.

And Benjamin married three times: first Mary Munn, who had ten children, all born in Colchester, Connecticut, and who died January 31, 1781; second, Sibyl Gillit, who had six children in Colchester, and who died in 1789; and third Rhoda Hinckley, who had four children in Colchester and two in Otesgo township. Benjamin fought in the Revolutionary war under Generals Clinton and Sullivan. He removed from Colchester in 1796, going in a sloop to New York, then up the Hudson as far as Lansingburg, and then by team overland to Otsego County. For a time he was located in Stewart's Patent, in Otsego, then went to Chenango County, and died in Sherburne, New York, June 24, 1810. His son Flavel, by his second wife, was born in Colchester, March 13, 1788, and among his brothers and sisters were Abigail, James, Horace and Homer (twins who married twin sisters by the name of Bowers), and Chauncy.

And Flavel grew up and was married in Pierstown, New York. In 1833 he went to Michigan to live,(4) but came back to New York after a few years, farmed in Chautauqua County for eighteen months, returned to Otsego County in 1838, and died there, August 1, 1854. He had ten children, of whom Erastus Flavel, by his second wife, Polly Fuller,(5) was third son but sixth child. Irwin Pedro(6) was also a child of Polly (who was born October 11, 1787, and died April 12, 1864). Among their other children were Franklin (Frank), Sarah, Sibyl, James, and Emily.

We are concerned chiefly with the brothers Erastus, Irwin, and James. Erastus was born in Pierstown(7) September 11, 1821, Irwin in 1826,(8) and James in 1828.(9)

Erastus probably did not have a great deal of schooling. When but twelve years of age he went with his parents to Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, but returned with them to Chautauqua County, New York, eighteen months later. He was there apprenticed to a miller by the name of Hayes. The Freeman's Journal(10) said that the first work ever done by E. F. Beadle was that of tending mill in Chautauqua County, where he made quite a reputation for his skill in cutting letters out of wood and using them to mark grain sacks. He thus earned enough money to be able to pay his own and a brother's way back to Cooperstown, where he was soon apprenticed to H. & E. Phinney, printers and binders. No date was given for this return to Cooperstown, but in an advertisement published by Beadle when he began his own stereotype foundry in 1850, he claimed over twelve years' experience, which would make his apprenticeship begin in 1838, when he was seventeen, the year his father returned to Cooperstown.

At this time H. & E. Phinney were the owners of the bookstore and printing plant established by their father, Elihu, in 1795. They were famous in their day, and published Bibles, religious books, schoolbooks and histories, and had operated their own stereotype foundry since 1820. When their establishment was destroyed by fire in 1849, they removed to Buffalo, although Elihu, Jr., continued the bookstore in Cooperstown for many more years. In 1854 H. F. Phinney removed to New York and formed with H. Ivison the well known educational publishing house of Ivison & Phinney, which later became Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co.

It was in this large plant that Erastus Beadle learned typesetting, stereotyping, printing, and binding, an all-round education that later stood him in good stead. 'Rastus, however, was progressive and, being artistic, did some wood engraving. He sent specimens of his work, in 1842, to Benson J. Lossing, a famous engraver who later became a historian, and Lossing,(11) in a letter dated October 29, 1842, replied that "With proper implements, materials and practice," Erastus might succeed, for the specimens sent "show much skill." However, he painted a gloomy picture of conditions in New York for any ambitious boy or man along that line, but offered to help Erastus all he could if he, Erastus, against his advice, decided to come to New York City. 'Rastus probably thought better of it, for he continued with the Phinneys until 1847.

In the month of December, 1847, Erastus left Cooperstown for Buffalo. He himself wrote,(12) in 1857: "I left Cooperstown ten years previous in the month of December, with a view—if the place suited me—of taking up my residence in Buffalo." He had been married to Mary Ann Pennington, of Cooperstown, in April, 1846, and on his trip to Buffalo left his wife and a baby, not three months old, in Cooperstown. The baby, he said, was "one of the motive powers that induced me to try a new home." Jewett, Thomas & Co., the publishers of the Commercial Advertiser of Buffalo, had just started a new stereotype foundry in October(13) of that year, and it is quite possible that 'Rastus knew this and had it in mind when he left Cooperstown. He was engaged by them as one of their stereotypers, probably immediately upon his entrance into Buffalo, and certainly before the spring of 1848, for he appears as stereotyper in the 1848 Buffalo City Directory,(14) which was issued on or before the first of June, 1848.

The Commercial Advertiser (Fig. 4), the oldest paper in the city, was at that time owned by Elam R. Jewett(15) and Thomas M. Foote, under the firm name of Jewett, Thomas and Co., and was edited by Thomas N. Parmelee. It was the evening paper; the Morning Express and the Buffalo Daily Courier were two other papers, but the three are so much alike in appearance that it is almost necessary to look at the heading to see which paper is in hand. James O. Brayman, who later worked for Beadle, was at that time editor of the Daily Courier. Each of these papers had but four pages daily, made up of at least three pages of advertisements and very little local news. Never was there a notice of changes in business houses except in paid advertisements, and very rarely were comings and goings of the citizens noted. News was news only when it related to murders, accidents, suicides, and fires. Advertisements, with few exceptions, such as real estate, were not classified, and the first page of the paper contained nothing but advertisements—the chief purpose of the sheet. Thus, in one day for example, the following advertisements of a few lines each, without display and in appearance much like present day want advertisements, were printed in the hetereogeneous sequence shown:
Furniture, stoves, dissolution of partnership, steam engines, tomato soy, legal papers, pantaloons, house and sign painting, window glass, champagne wines, New Orleans molasses, charcoal toothpaste, 50 kegs of butter, mess pork, prunes, tarred rope, coal hods, 100 bu. timothy hay seed, daguerreotypes, laborers wanted,(16) ladies' fine gaiterboots, umbrella and parasol men, backgammon boards, Towne's readers, night tapers, California money belts, gold thimbles, ladies' foot muffs, slip in Unitarian Church, yellow pie-plates, ladies' oyster saloon, wolf sleigh robes, segars, black bombazine, Gillott's pens, bug poison, pickled tripe, 5 bales hops, sardines, fine-cut tobacco, maple sugar, pickled peppers, stearine candles, hats for young gentlemen, leeches, female academy,(17) foot tubs, cockroach powder, damaged goods, strayed or stolen, 50 empty wine casks, sleigh bells, etc., etc.

Fig 4. The home of the Commercial Advertiser on Main Street, Buffalo, 1850

Robert Adams, the father of the Robert who was to become Beadle's partner, does not appear in any Buffalo directory, but his widow, Martha (later listed also as Martha M. and Margaret), appears for the first time in 1849-50.(18) In that year and later she was supporting her family by a fancy goods or variety store at 407 East Seneca Street; her boys, Robert, William, Harry, and David, being at that time, twelve, eleven, seven, and three years of age. In 1849 appeared also, for the first time, an advertisement of Benjamin C. Vanduzee,(19) designer and engraver, who was to be Erastus' partner for a short time a few years later.

The year 1850 saw Erastus(20) still a stereotyper for Jewett, Thomas & Co., and in this year, or possibly late in 1849, his younger brothers, Irwin and James, also came to Buffalo,(21) the former to become a bookbinder, the latter to assist his brother as stereotyper. James O. Brayman had become assistant editor of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser. It is not known whether Irwin was a bookbinder on his own, or worked for some Buffalo bindery. He was 24 years of age, and it seems likely that he was engaged in one of the larger binderies. Bookbinders seemed to be in demand. Phinney & Co. had an advertisement in the Commercial Advertiser for a binder on November 1, 1849, and Read's Book Bindery advertised for one March 4, 1850. Jewett, Thomas & Co., were also binders as well as printers, publishers, and stereotypers, and it is not improbable that Irwin worked for the same firm as his brothers. When the 1850-51 directory was printed, he boarded at 11 Court Street, but on the 27th of September, 1850, he was married in Buffalo to Elizabeth M. Dunbar.(22) Irwin did not long remain at his trade of binder, for on November 16, 1850, an advertisement, of which the following is a part, appeared in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser and the Morning Express.

Beadle & Brother's
Buffalo Stereotype Foundry
No. 6 West Seneca Street.

This new establishment is furnished with every facility for stereotyping, all kinds of work. . . . Possessing a perfect knowledge of the business, in all the various branches, with over 12 years' experience. . . .

                                             E. F. Beadle
November 15, 1850              I. P. Beadle

James Beadle, now twenty-two years of age, appears to have joined his brothers in their new foundry, although not as a partner, but he left them late in 1852 or early in 1853(23) to go to Auburn, N. Y., to work for Miller, Orton & Mulligan—a very unfortunate move on his part, as it proved.(24)


1 There is a copy of his will in the Essex Antiquarian, volume 7.
2 According to the Freeman's Journal, Cooperstown, N. Y., December 20, 1894.
3 Now in the New York Public Library.
4 Freeman's Journal, Cooperstown, December 20, 1894.
5 The name is given as Polly Turner by Delia T. Lutes: "Erastus F. Beadle, Dime Novel King," New York State Historical Association, XXII, April, 1941, 149.
6 Irwin's middle name, Pedro, was supplied by his grandson, Robert Cameron Beadle of Brooklyn.
7 Pierstown was a settlement on the west side of Otsego Lake, and extended from Leather Stocking Falls north about three miles to the north line of Cooper's Patent. It was common practice to designate as Pierstown all of the territory within Cooper's Patent that lay north of Cooperstown proper. Pierstown, named after the Pier family, was settled contemporaneously with Cooperstown, and was at first the more populous. They had asheries, distilleries, woolen fullers, tanneries, taverns, a church, school, etc., but now all that is left is a Grange Hall and scattered farms.
8 In the Brooklyn, N. Y., Register of Voters for 1874, Irwin gave his age as 48 years, and in the registry for 1879, as 53 years.
9 The age of James, in the notices of his murder in the Auburn Daily Advertiser and the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser (Oct. 3, 1856), was given as 28 years.
10 Loc. cit.
11 In manuscript room, New York Public Library.
12 To Nebraska in '57, p. 88.
13 Advertisements begin October 7, 1847, in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser.
14 The Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, 1847-48.
  James O. Brayman, Editor Buffalo Daily Courier, h. 5 Church St.
  (There are no Beadles, nor any of the Adamses or Vanduzees with whom we are concerned.)
  Ibid., 1848-49.
  Erastus F. Beadle. Stereotyper, Jewett, Thomas & Co., h. 13 South Division.
  Mrs. Martha Adams. Widow of Robert A. Fancy store. 407 E. Seneca.
  B. C. Vanduzee. Engraver. 161 Main. b. 2 Mississippi.
15 Elam R. Jewett was born in New Haven, Connecticut, December 10, 1810, and died January 9, 1887. The American Stationer, January 13, 1887, gives an account of his life.
16 As strike-breakers on the Ohio basin. Men were receiving 62 1/2 cents a day and wanted 75.
17 Board, washing and tuition, $112 per annum.
18 The Commercial Advertiser Directory, Buffalo, 1849-1850 (Issued in May, 1849)
  Erastus F. Beadle, stereotyper, Jewett, Thomas & Co., h 7 Church.
  Mrs. Martha Adams, widow of Robert. Fancy Store. 407 E. Seneca
  (Neither Irwin nor James Beadle is listed)
19 Commercial Advertiser, Buffalo, March 19, 1849.
20 Commercial Advertiser Directory, Buffalo, 1850—51 (Issued about June 1, 1850).
  Erastus F. Beadle, stereotyper, Jewett, Thomas & Co. h. Chippewa, west of Delaware.
  Irwin F. Beadle, bookbinder, b. 11 Court St.
  James H. Beadle, stereotyper, Jewett, Thomas & Co.
  James O. Brayman, Ass't. editor, Commercial Advertiser, b. 27 Pearl.
  Benjamin C. Vanduzee, designer and engraver, Commercial Advertiser Bldg., 161 Main.
  Mrs. Martha Adams, widow of Robert. Fancy store. 407 East Seneca.
21 The population of Buffalo in 1850 was 42,266.
22 Anon., Early Settlers of New York State. Akron, N. Y., III, 1937, 127.
23 His name is not given in the Buffalo Directory for 1853 or thereafter.
24 See the year 1856, below.

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