Saturday, January 24, 2015

Duryea Beekman (1840-1924)

Portrait from the Historical Souvenir of Middleburgh, N.Y., 1894.

   Oddly named Schoharie County, New York resident Duryea Beekman was born into a prominent family with its origins in Schoharie County dating back to the 18th century. The son of former New York State Assemblyman Nicholas Beekman and a grandson of William Beekman (the first judge of Schoharie County), Duryea Beekman was born in Seward, New York on August 9, 1840. Being one of twelve children, Beekman's early life is noted by the Grip's Historical Souvenir of Middleburgh, N.Y. as having been "devoted to hard study" upon the family farm, from which he cultivated a "conscientious and persevering character." His family had relocated from Seward to Middleburgh, New York while he was still a child and his early education would take place in that town.
   For a good majority of his 83 years Beekman followed in his father's stead and worked at farming in Middleburgh, New York, where he was "successful in his calling."  In October 1859 Beekman married in Middleburgh to Elizabeth Richtmyer (1834-1915) and would become the father to three sons: Charles (died aged eight months), Dow (1863-1945) and William G.
   In the years following his marriage the name of Duryea Beek grew to be one of the most prominent in business and political circles in Middleburgh. In November 1878 he was elected as Schoharie County's representative to the New York State Assembly, defeating Republican nominee Nathan Stratton by a vote of 4, 480 to 2, 974. Serving in the session of 1879, Beekman was named to three assembly committees, those being Internal Affairs, Roads and Bridges and Agriculture.
   At the completion of his term Beekman returned to Middleburgh, where in 1880 he was named as the president of the recently organized First National Bank of Middleburgh. He would serve in that capacity until his death four decades later, and in addition to being bank president held the directorships of both the Davenport, Middleburgh and Durham Railroad Co. and the Merchant's and Farmer's Mutual Fire Insurance Co. Active in the local Masonic lodge, Beekman was a longstanding member of the Middleburgh Lodge #663 of Free and Accepted Masons. 
  Duryea Beekman celebrated his 80th birthday in 1920 and even after reaching that milestone continued service as president of the First National Bnak of Middleburgh. Four months prior to his passing he suffered a "fall from the steps" in front of that bank, the affects of that injury claiming his life on January 6, 1924 at age 83. Widowed in 1915, both Beekman and his wife were interred at the St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery in Schoharie, New York. Political service continued in the Beekman family in one Dow Beekman (Duryea's son), who would serve at as both District Attorney of Schoharie County and County Judge.
  
Duryea Beekman, from the 1879 N.Y. Assembly composite portrait in my possession.

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