Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Howkin Bulkeley Beardslee (1820-1886)

Portrait courtesy of the Legislative Reference Library of Pennsylvania.

   Acknowledged as one of 19th century Pennsylvania's prominent public men, Howkin Bulkeley Beardslee was a newspaper man by trade, being the owner and editor of both the Wayne County Herald and the Luzerne County Herald. Active in politics in addition to newspaper work, Beardslee served in both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature and was even talked of as a candidate for Congress in the early 1870s.
   A lifelong Pennsylvania resident, Howkin B. Beardslee was the son of Bulkeley and Lucretia (Kimble) Beardslee, being born in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania on May 28, 1820. Recorded as receiving a "rural school education", Beardslee began reading law in the office of local attorney Charles Robinson and was admitted to the bar in 1844. Howkin Beardslee married in November 1846 to Charlotte Clark (1826-1909), with whom he would have several children: Clark (born 1847), Frank, John (born 1849), Charlotte Dollie (1852-1880), Minerva (born 1854), George Washington (born 1858), Clark, Jane (1854-1936) and Mary (1854-1923).
   Within a year of his admittance to the bar Beardslee won election as Register and Recorder of Wayne County, taking office at the ripe old age of 23. He would hold that post from 1845-48 and during his term made his first venture into the publishing world, purchasing the Wayne County Herald in 1847. Beardslee and his partner J.H. Norton ran the Herald as a partnership until 1849, whereafter Beardslee purchased Norton's interest and continued on as both owner and editor until 1861, when he sold off his interest to assistant editors Thomas Ham and Charles Menner. Prior to this sale Beardslee had been elected as Wayne County's representative to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1859 and served during the legislative session of 1860-61. 
   Howkin Beardslee would continue his political rise in 1862 when he was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate from the 10th senatorial district. He would serve one four year term (1863-67) and held seats on the committees on Compare Bills, Estates and Escheats, Private Claims and Damages. Regarded as a "political power' in Wayne County due to his newspaper stewardship and assembly service, Beardslee was:
"Entitled fairly to all of the influence and esteem he gathered up. The elements of his power were not obscure. True, he was not an orator. There was no charm of manner or brilliancy of rhetoric in his speeches. He was not an elegant writer. What he accomplished was in virtue of his character, which eminently fitted him to guide and control."
   A staunch Democrat, Beardslee served for many years as a member of the Wayne County Democratic Committee and twice was considered as a candidate for Congress from his district, but failed "to secure the conference ratification." In 1869 he briefly served as District Attorney of Wayne County due to the resignation of William H. Dimick. 
   Having resumed his newspaper interests, Howkin Beardslee resettled in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1871 to take on the post of editor of the Luzerne Union. He later became sole owner of this paper and remained affiliated with it until about 1882, when he established the Luzerne County Herald. In January 1886 health concerns forced him to relinquish control of that paper and in the following month he removed back to his "old home" in Indian Orchard, Pennsylvania, where he died on March 11, 1886 at age 65. Beardslee was survived by his wife Charlotte and was interred at the Indian Orchard Cemetery.

Beardslee's death notice from the Port Jervis Evening Gazette, March 19, 1886.

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