Milton Earl Beebe - LINKS

Milton Earl Beebe
The article below is a reprint of "Biographical Sketches and Portraits of 100 Buffalonians," pp. 13-14

Abel Beebe was one of the first settlers of Buffalo. He came here from Connecticut, about the year 1800, and bought a tract of land at Cold Springs. Buffalo at that time had not been surveyed; indeed, there was hardly a settlement here. Mr. Beebe commenced clearing his land, and he helped to clear away the forest from where Niagara Street is now. In those early days the Indians were very troublesome, and the women and children of the pioneers were in constant dread and fear of the treacherous redskins. Among the early recollections of Mr. Beebe was the religious meetings held by Dr. Chapin, who was not only the local preacher, but Justice of the Peace, besides having a military title of captain or general. The Doctor preached at the cabins of the settlers and by the wayside occasionally, using an oxcart for a pulpit for the want of better facilities.

Mr. Beebe had no conception of the great city that was so soon to spring up on the present site of Buffalo, else he would hardly have sold his farm at Cold Springs and purchased one on the shores of Cassadaga Lake in Chautauqua county, which he did after a few years residence at the Springs. His new location was in the wilderness, every acre of his farm requiring to be cleared of the heavy forest trees before it could be cultivated. On one side of his home, there was not a habitation within six miles. Here the sturdy Yankee pioneer reared a family of seven children - four sons and three daughters.

Milton Earl Beebe

The third son of this family was Justus T. Beebe, who married Miss Harriet C. Quigley of Portland, Chautauqua County, and settled upon a farm in Cassadaga and had four children, two sons and two daughters, the eldest of whom is Milton Earl Beebe, the subject of this sketch, who was born at Cassadaga, Nov. 27, 1840. The home farm was small, and at that time the most prosperous farmers were none too well off. Mr. Beebe found it necessary to husband all his resources to make his income meet his expenditures. The children were compelled to forgo many opportunities for culture and pleasure that their ambition craved. As soon as they were old enough, they "worked out" when not needed at home, and their earnings were pooled in a general fund for family needs. Milton had something of a musical gift, and while only a boy learned to play upon the violin, and thereby became a necessity at country dances in the surrounding region, receiving two and three dollars per night for this service, and these earnings were also used in the purchase of family supplies.

Mr. Beebe was educated in the common schools, generally getting about three months attendance in the winter season, while the remainder of the year was devoted to work. He attended the Fredonia Academy one term, which completed his school education. He developed a taste for mechanics when quite young, often stealing away from family and play fellows, and devoting hours in the construction of some fancied implement, miniature wagon, boat, or some other device, having nothing better to work with than a common pocket knife, a hammer, and possibly a gimlet or a auger. He also had a great fondness for drawing, and frequently indulged in this inclination in skething animals and other objects upon his slate and scraps of paper, for which he received many a lecture from inconsiderate pedagogues, and occasionally something more impressive was administered than talk, when the teacher found his slate and copybook covered with pictures of horses, ships, houses and other objects, instead of mathematical examples, or neatly written pages in imitation of the schoolmasters copy. It was considered to be folly to waste valuable time in "making picturesí and pupils were forcibly reminded of the fact that their parents did not send them to school to squander their time in this reckless manner.


At the age of sixteen Milton concluded to abandon the farm and become a mechanic, and for this purpose he apprenticed himself with a Mr. Levi Totten to learn the trade of a carpenter and joiner at a compensation of ten dollars per month. A natural taste for, and skill in, mechanics, with close application soon made him proficient in his calling, and long before reaching his majority he was carrying on the business of erecting buildings on his own account. For about ten years he followed this vocation in the vicinity of his native place, finding employment in Cassadaga, Fredonia, Dunkirk, and other localities in Chautauqua County. When he was nineteen years old he began teaching school during the winter seasons, and worked at his trade during the summer months.

In the summer of 1861, soon after the war broke out Mr. Beebe was enlisted in the service and was mustered as a member of the ninth New York cavalry the regiment was at camp in New York and Washington until the spring of 1862 when for want of proper equipment, and in consequence of the cavalry branch of the army being rather in disfavor at that time, the ninth regiment among others was detached to service in the artillery.

Mr. Beebe with about 300 others were assigned to different batteries that compose of Col. Huntís artillery in the Army of the Potomac, in command of Gen. McClellan. Mr. Beebe had active service at the siege of Yorktown, and was in several lively skirmishes of the Peninsula until just prior to the famous battle of Fair Oakes, when the Ninth Calvary men were ordered back to Washington. On reaching the Capital, Mr. Beebe was taken sick with typhoid fever, by which he was prostrated several weeks, barely escaping death. When sufficiently restored for removal, he was discharge and returned home. Application was subsequently made for permission to re-enlist but he was rejected by the examining board for physical disability and came home. Mr. Beebe is entitled to pension under government regulation in force but never application for one nor will he, so long as he can earn a living for himself and family.


Mr. Beebe continued the building business in and about Cassadaga after the war, in the mean time devoting leisure moments to the study of architecture, borrowing such books as were to be had in a country place, and buying such others as his small earnings enabled him to purchase until he created an uncontrollable desire to be a master of the profession. He had an ambition to know how to plan and originate as well as to execute the designs of others. To gratify this he came to Buffalo in the autumn of 1865, and became a student for the ensuing winter in the office of Messrs. Wilcox and Porter. He returned to Chautauqua County and continued his carpenter and joiner business during the next summer, to get means to enable him to renew his studies the following winter. The second season was spent in the office off C.K. Porter, one of the firm for whom he studied the previous year.

In the spring of 1866, Mr. Beebe went to Chicago, where he pursued his professional studies with G.P. Randall for two years, and then spent two years in New York, a year in Boston, and another in Worcester, Mass., in a similar manner. Having equipped himself by study and experience for prosecuting the profession of an architect in all its branches, Mr. Beebe came to Buffalo and established himself in this business in 1873, and at once took a leading place in the profession, and has maintained it until the present time. Having obtained a practical knowledge of building, which was supplemented by theoretical training, he was prepared for the duties of an architect in all its details, from the conception and design of a structure, to its completion to the last finishing touch.

Evidence of his taste and skill are not wanting in Buffalo as well as in many places in the surrounding country. The Miller and Greiner block was the first important edifice erected by Mr. Beebe. Since then he has constructed the following:

The present season Mr. Beebe is erecting the Board of Trade building, one of the finest structures of the city, a cut of which is given in another part of this paper. To obtain this contract, Mr. Beebe had to contend with the sharpest kind of competition. His competitors were the leading architects of Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, New York, as well as Buffalo. To carry off the prize in such a contest was indeed an honor. The cost of the building is $150,000, and when completed as it soon will be, it will prove an ornament to this city. He is also engaged to erect the fine block of Jewett M. Richmond on the corner of Seneca and Ellicott streets, the present season.


Mr. Beebe is a zealous Republican, and in 1879 was induce to run for the office Alderman in the Second Ward. He was elected, and in the organization of the Council in 1880, he was chosen President of that body. Previous experience in deliberative bodies enabled him to discharge the duties of the position with tact and promptness, and in such a manner as to secure his re-election by the succeeding Council. It is exceptional for an Alderman to be chosen to preside during his first term. Mr. Beebe was not only selected the first but the second year of his term, which is a phenomenal event in the history if the city. At the close of each year he was the recipient of a valuable and appropriate testimonial from his associates, in recognition of the faithful and impartial manner in which he had administered the duties of the chair.

VS. Grover Cleveland
Mr. Beebeís prominence in political and public affairs while in the Council led to his selection in the autumn of 1881 as the Republican candidate for Mayor. He was nominated by acclamation, no other name being mentioned in the convention. It was an unfortunate year for him, as well as for his party. Political ties were sundered more or less, and Grover Cleveland was nominated by the opposition, and with the popular cry of reform his election was secured over Mr. Beebe.


In November 1862, Mr. Beebe married Miss Rosina Phillips, only daughter of Sawyer Phillips and sister of Philip Phillips, the well-known ballast and professor of Music. One child - a son - is the issue of this union, and he is following in the footsteps of his father, having already attained a good degree of proficiency in the profession of an architect.

Mr. Beebe is prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity, and is a leading member of the A.O.U.W., of which order he was chosen Grand Master Workman for the state of New York in 1880. His ten yearsí business career in Buffalo has been productive of gratifying pecuniary results. In addition to a fine brick residence on Eagle Street; near Michigan, he is the proprietor of "Fern Island" Jersey stock farm, at Cassadaga, Chautauqua County, N. Y.

Physical Description

Mr. Beebe is medium size, standing about 5 feet, 10 inches, weighing about 175 pounds, erect figure, regular features, with a marked Yankee cast, smoothly shaven face, mustache excepted, dark brown hair, rather closely cut, a fluent speaker, an agreeable conversationalist, a close student, an enthusiast in his profession and a thorough-going, reliable man of business.

Our artist has succeeded in reproducing a faithful likeness of the original which is given at the head of this notice.

Research by Daniel Zornick
Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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