Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Xelpho F. Beidler (1862-1929)

A rare Xelpho Beidler campaign postcard, recently featured in an Ebay auction!

    Anyone with an unusual first name like "Xelpho" is worthy of more than just a passing glance, and in my case locating the name of Xelpho F. Beidler via a 1908 edition of the Rock Island Argus has helped uncover the life of this historically neglected Logan County, Illinois resident, a man who in 1908 was a candidate for Secretary of the state of Illinois. Aside from a few brief newspaper reports on his candidacy, little else is known of Beidler's life, including his burial location.
   In its September 23, 1908 write-up on his candidacy, the Rock Island Argus relates that Xelpho F. Beidler was born on April 13, 1862 in Lincoln County, Illinois, his parent's names being Dr. John Hoke and Rebecca Forsythe Beidler (1839-1923). Xelpho's mysterious middle initial "F." remains unknown at this time, but seeing that his mother's maiden name was Forsythe, the "F." may, in fact, stand for this name. Xelpho removed to Adrian, Michigan with his family while still a child and his early education took place there.
  The Beidler family would later relocate back to Illinois, settling first in Peoria, and later, Mt. Pulaski. Xelpho attended school in both of these cities and as a young man took on a job at his uncle's drugstore, located in Mt. Pulaski. The 1911 History of Logan County (which records Beidler under the initials "X.F.) gives mention that he was later a traveling salesman for a time, and in 1890 married Pennsylvania native Anna B. Martin. It is unknown at this time if the couple had any children at any point during their marriage.
  In the early 1890s, Xelpho Beidler became engaged as a cigar manufacturer in Mt. Pulaski and continued in this vocation until 1894, when he was nominated (and later elected) as Mt. Pulaski postmaster, holding this position until 1898. In that same year Beidler began a successful campaign for Logan County clerk, and following his victory was subsequently reelected to two further terms in 1902 and 1906. 

From the "Broad Ax", October 31, 1908.

    Xelpho F. Beidler attained his highest degree of public prominence in 1908 when he was nominated by the Democratic Party as their candidate for Secretary of the State of Illinois. After successfully winning the Democratic primary in mid-1908 Beidler became of several candidates vying for the office, including incumbent Republican James Albert Rose. The outcome of the November 1908 election found Xelpho Beidler in a second place finish, polling a respectable 448, 925 votes to James Rose's winning total of 621, 371. Rose continued to serve as State Secretary until 1912, dying in office at age 63, having served as secretary for fifteen years, the longest tenured Secretary of State in Illinois history.
   In 1912 Beidler was once again a candidate for Secretary of State but failed to make his candidacy last beyond that year's Democratic primary. Little is known of the life of Xelpho Beidler following his candidacies, excepting a notice on the ancestry.com genealogical website, which notes that he died sometime in 1929. An exact date of death for Mr. Beidler is unknown at this time, as is his place of burial. However, burial locations for both his mother Rebecca and sister Gracia have been located (via Find-A-Grave) which lists both mother and daughter as being interred at the Hanford Cemetery in Hanford, Kings County, California.

1 comment:

  1. I thank Andy Osterdahl for his article. I found it very interesting given that I am a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan and a casual follower of its history. It seems Xelpho F. Beidler and Jacob H. Beidler, were two brothers who, in 1887, ordered the survey of the Plat of Park Beidler on the northerly shore of Goguac Lake in then Township of Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan. It should be noted that the Township merged with the City of Battle Creek in 1983. The Plat of Park Beidler corroborates Mr. Osterdahl's account that Xelpho F. Beidler was a one-time resident of Logan County, Illinois as that county name is cited in the language of the plat document. The author, Berenice Bryant Lowe, in her book, Tales of Battle Creek, characterizes the brothers as a pair of four flushers, i.e., individuals full of boasting and bragging with little promise of delivering. The said plat seems to be consistent with their alleged seamy reputation given that many of its lots measure no larger than 33' x 82.5'. This was likely meant to maximize the number of lots the Beidlers could market in the short run, but history shows that it compromised the plat's sustainability as a viable development in the long run. I must admit that the Beidlers were not entirely unique in this regard. I find there are other subdivisions of that day with lots of comparable size. Of course, one must remember, there were no ordinances to bridal the greediness of developers at that time. Today, the City of Battle Creek zoning ordinance would not provide for such small lots to be developed.