William Beecher
Nancy Jane Brandt
John Heiser
(Abt 1838-1864)
Matilda Delilah Spade
John William Beecher
Hannah Rebecca Heiser
William Fleming Beecher


Family Links

1. Nellie Mae Harrison

William Fleming Beecher 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • Born: 29 Dec 1878, Mexico, Juniata, PA 3 4 5 6 7 10 11
  • Marriage (1): Nellie Mae Harrison on 6 Jun 1906 in Nashua, Chickasaw, IA 1
  • Died: 9 Oct 1980, Tempe, Maricopa, AZ at age 101 6 7
  • Buried: Traer: Buckingham Cemetery, Tama, IA 5 6

   FamilySearch ID: L61G-M9J.

  Noted events in his life were:

1. Census in 1880 in Delaware Twp., Juniata, PA. 4 John W. Beecher, 27, blacksmith, was living with wife Hannah R., 20; and William F., 1. Everyone and their parents were born in Pennsylvania.

2. Census in 1900 in Traer, Tama, IA. 3 William F. Beecher, 21, born Dec 1878, occupation "hotel clerk", was living as a single person in a boarding house in Traer. He and his parents were born in Pennsylvania.

3. Census in 1910 in Traer, Tama, IA. 12 The 1910 census recorded W. F. Beecher, 30, living with wife Nellie, 24, and daughter Mary, 3. The parents were born in Pennsylvania and Mary in Iowa.

4. Census in 1920 in Traer, Tama, IA. 13 The 1920 census recorded William Beecher, manager dry goods, 41, living with wife Nellie, 40; Mary, 13; Ruth, 6; and Verna, 2 years 4 months when the census was recorded on 15 January 1920.

5. Census in 1930 in Traer, Tama, IA. 14 The 1930 census recorded William Beecher, 51, living with wife Nellie, 47; Mary, 23; Ruth, 14; Verna May, 13; and his mother, Hannah, 69. William and Hannah were born in Pennsylvania, the others in Iowa.

6. Census in 1940 in Traer, Tama, IA. 15 The 1940 census recorded William Beecher, 51, living with his mother Anna Rebecca, 80, and William's daughter, Mary, 32. Also in the home are lodgers Hollis Galley, 48, and Henry Holden, 21. Everyone was born in Iowa except William and Anna in Pennsylvania.

7. Occupation: Employer: Coast to Coast Store, Traer, IA on 27 Apr 1942 in Traer, Tama, IA. 10

8. He was described as 5' 9" 145 lbs. gray eyes gray hair ruddy complexion on 27 Apr 1942 in Traer, Tama, IA. 10

9. Census in 1950 in Traer, Tama, IA. 16 The 1950 census recorded at 3 5th Street: Will F. Beecher, janitor at church, 71, widowed, living with his daughter, Mary E. Beecher, 42, and his mother, Rebecca Beecher, 89. Mary was born in Iowa and the others in Pennsylvania.

10. Residence: in 1957 in Tempe, Maricopa, AZ. 7

11. Residence: on 14 Jun 1957 in Traer, Tama, IA. 8

12. Residence: on 27 May 1973 in Tempe, Maricopa, AZ. 17

13. Residence: on 26 Oct 1973 in Tempe, Maricopa, AZ. 18

14. Newspaper: Arizona Daily News: 100th Birthday of William F. Beecher, 29 Dec 1978, Tempe, Maricopa, AZ. 19 \endash Tempe Daily News, Tempe, AZ, December 29th 1978--
100th Birthday Today

Today's the day! Tempean William F. Beecher, who was born on December 29, 1878, is celebrating his 100th birthday!

He's a happy man; his blue eyes haven't lost their devilish twinkle \endash although they mirror a century of a life that's still being lived to the fullest each and every day.

Birthday cards have been coming in from across the country. Beecher is eager to share them and says, "This one came from Colorado." His daughter, Mary and Ruth, conceal their smiles \endash they've been hiding the cards and giving him just a few each day in order that he enjoy them even more.

He tells us he "likes to eat and laugh and watch Lawrence Welk and wildlife shows and the pop concerts on channel eight." Eyesight permitting, he reads history sometimes but the Bible more than anything else.

Beecher is comfortable and relaxed in the home he shares with his daughter, Mary, at 1236 East Alameda. Daughter Ruth, and her husband, the Rev. Alvin Boettcher, maintain their retirement home in Grinnell, Iowa; however, they've been coming to Tempe each winter since 1973. Their being here is appreciated by our birthday boy and Mary, who smiles, "It's been such a help to me to have them here."

Friends have been dropping in today to visit Beecher; and some cousins from Traer, Iowa, Richard and Charlotte Beecher, drove in to mark the event.

Beecher's two grandchildren, Paul Boettcher and Janet Etheredge are unable to be with him today in person, but they'll surely be thinking of him. Paul and his wife, Janet, live at Cedar Rapids, Iowa; their two children are Christopher, 9, and Brock, 2. Janet Boettcher Etheredge and her husband, David, live in Omaha with their 7-year-old daughter, Anne, and their three-year-old son, Scott.

Beecher was born in a little town called Mexico in Pennsylvania's Juniata County.

The eldest of eight children born to blacksmith John W. Beecher and Hannah Rebecca Heiser Beecher, he remembers "that terrible flood (the Johnstown one); we weren't in it but had to stay home for awhile." His youngest brother, Homer R. Beecher, is now 76. Homer and his wife, Marian, moved from the state of Washington to Phoenix last spring and the brothers now enjoy frequent visits together.

As a teenager, Beecher found himself in Dinsdale, Iowa, when the family moved. A tiny village with a little one room schoolhouse was all Dinsdale had to offer. Beecher's tremendous drive for an education took him to near-by Traer, where he worked at numerous jobs until he was able to attend high school there. Older than the other students, he finished in three years and graduated in 1901.

He was managing a general store in Traer when pretty Nellie Harrison came to town to visit her uncle for the summer. She and Beecher "got acquainted at that time and later she came back to town to work in another store." They were married on June 6, 1906; she was 23, he was 28.

Beecher managed several different stores after their marriage; they were not "stores" as we know them today. Everything was under one roof - and he does mean everything! He became a buyer for dry goods and would travel to Chicago on buying trips, bringing back ready-to-wear, yard goods, and rugs.

Nellie passed away 47 years ago in Iowa. Their third daughter had died during her first year of teaching at age 21. Beecher takes a rest from our interview and thinks of his wife and that daughter.

It doesn't last. He suddenly talks of daughters Mary and Ruth with love, "They take good care of me." And he teases them, "but I've seen nicer!"

Mary uses her mother's wooden rolling pin on some whole grain wheat bread she's making and picks up the story of her father. "He's the sweetest person and so even tempered. He and I came to Arizona in 1957 and we lived in Phoenix for the better part of two years."

Since Mary was working at the Hayden Library at Arizona State University, they moved to a house on Orange Street. Eight years ago the university bought that property and they moved to their present cheerful and neat home. Mary retired as a science reference librarian last year.

The daughters tell us their father has never really retired and that just three years ago he'd go camping. They explain that he always felt that he was needed and did all kinds of things people his age wouldn't think of doing. His garden was a source of pride to him.

Mary says, "Dad was always busy here at home during the day; when I got home in the evening he'd always have something ready. On the weekend he'd try to have the house all clean so that I'd have no excuse about going someplace. He liked climbing in Arizona (remember he was 79 when he got here). We'd go on an outing and he'd call to me. I'd look and he was so high up I'd look away. I couldn't stand to watch."

Ruth and Mary tell how he never walked if he could run and how the church loomed large in their father's life. He had taught Sunday school, was a Sunday school superintendent, and even fired the church furnace back in Iowa. A member of First Baptist Church of Tempe, he enjoyed regular attendance until recent years.

In the fall of 1976, Beecher became very ill and underwent major abdominal surgery at the age of 97. This is referred to only as "quite an experience."

It was at this point that the Visiting Nurse Service came into their lives. Mary says, "They've been a wonderful help to us. They trained us to take and now stop by about once a month. We've a warm place in our hearts for the Visiting Nurse Service; Dad likes them and they think a lot of him."

The daughters talk of how they're having a special sheet cake from the bakery for the 100th birthday and Beecher gives a hearty chuckle when chided about being a Pennsylvania Dutchman. They say he's just so much fun and happiest when he's feeling useful \endash even while peeling potatoes or folding towels.

This is an important day for William F. Beecher; we join with his loving and happy family to wish a handsome and great gentleman many happy returns!
(Photo of William Beecher in wheelchair) Caption:
Century Man: Tempean William F. Beecher has enjoyed every day of every year of the past century but today is special to him and to his family and friends. A hard worker who never walked if he could run and a charming man with a sense of humor. Beecher even jokes about the time he used a cane: "It had a habit of getting clear across the room"... he couldn't keep track of it. Beecher has two children, two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

15. Obituary: Arizona Republic: obituary of William Fleming Beecher on 11 Oct 1980 in Phoenix, Maricopa, AZ. 7 William Beecher

TEMPE - William Fleming Beecher, 101, a retired dry goods and grocery store manager, died Oct 9, 1980, in his home, 1236 E. Alameda Dnve.Mr. Beecher was born in Mexico, Pa., and came here in 1957 from Traer, Iowa. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Tempe. He is survived by daughters, Mary E. Beecher and Ruth Boettcher; a brother; two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Services will be 10 a.m. today in Carr Mortuary, 26 E. Fifth St.

William married Nellie Mae Harrison, daughter of William Franklin Harrison and Mary Elizabeth Gerry, on 6 Jun 1906 in Nashua, Chickasaw, IA.1 (Nellie Mae Harrison was born on 29 Sep 1883 in Nashua, Chickasaw, IA,1 9 20 21 22 died on 10 Oct 1931 in Traer, Tama, IA 9 20 22 and was buried on 13 Oct 1931 in Traer: Buckingham Cemetery, Tama, IA 20 22.)


1 FamilySearch.org, Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XJCC-6K5 William F. Bucher and Nellie M. Harrison, 1906.

2 Records of Richard Beacher (510 Toledo St, Traer, IA 50675).

3 1900 United States Census, Iowa, Tama County, Traer: Perry Township: Series: T623 Roll: 460 Page: 136.

4 1880 United States Census, Pennsylvania, Juniata County, Delaware Township, Family History Library Film 1255137, National Archives Film Number T9-1137, Page Number 381B.

5 Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=61182974.

6 Iowa Gravestone Photo Project (http://iowagravestones.org), http://iowagravestones.org/gs_view.php?id=1049086.

7 "Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)" (Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona.), 11 Oct 1980, page 83. Obituary of William Fleming Beecher.

8 The Courier (Waterloo, IA), 14 Jun 1957, page 8. Obituary of Rebecca Beecher.

9 The Courier (Waterloo, IA), 14 Oct 1931, page 8. Funeral of Mrs. William Beecher.

10 Ancestry.com, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), William F. Beecher, b. 29 Dec 1878, Mexico PA.

11 1880 United States Census, FHL Film 1255137; National Archives Film T9-1137; Page 381B.

12 1910 United States Census, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MG9F-S4F W F Beecher, Perry, Tama, Iowa, United States; citing sheet , family 84, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374437.

13 1920 United States Census, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDMJ-MB3 William Beecher Traer IA.

14 1930 United States Census, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XMKQ-H6Q Mary Beecher in household of William Beecher, Traer, Tama, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0020, sheet , family 294, NARA microfilm publication .

15 1940 United States Census, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KMBB-6NR William Beecher, Traer, Perry Township, Tama, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 86-20, sheet 4B, family 99, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 1207.

16 "1950 United States Census," https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6FQV-LJ94 Will F Beecher Traer IA.

17 "The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)," 28 May 1973, page 3. Obituary of Ira A. Beecher.

18 The Courier (Waterloo, IA), 28 Oct 1973, page 7.

19 "Tempe Daily News (Tempe, AZ)," 29 Dec 1978, 100th Birthday of William F. Beecher.

20 Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=61182946.

21 1900 United States Census, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M92Z-7XT Frank Harrison, ED 30 Bradford Township Nashua town, Chickasaw, Iowa, United States; citing sheet 23A, family 572, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240423.

22 Iowa Gravestone Photo Project (http://iowagravestones.org), http://iowagravestones.org/gs_view.php?id=1049084.

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