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William Beckett Family of New Boston

Mercer County Home Page
Surnames Page

Alternate Spellings - Becket, Beckett

Links - Mercer County History - Part 3

Contacts and Sources - Newspaper Golden Age, March 28, 1855 and census records

William Becket is first identified in 1850 census in the town of Dillsboro, Dearborn, Indiana: #168 Wm Becket, 35, tavern keeper, $1500, born England; Mary, 31, England; James Sherer, 36, dentist, Pa; Adolphus Maskel, 25, Gy; Drucilla Greene, 22, In; James Devit, 26, farmer, In; George Randle, 26, farmer, Indiana. Since Mr. Becket is not identified as a hotel keeper or any such and these persons are not identified as roomers or boarders, we assume they were merely disporting themselves in the tavern when the census taker came by???

We next hear of Mr. Beckett in an article in the New Boston Newspaper in March 1855. Apparently the residents of New Boston were not happy at the advent of a tavern in the town and managed to persuade Mr. Beckett to take up a different occupation:

Golden Age, March 28, 1855
A Funeral Sermon
Mr. Beckett informed us the other day that he would, after last Saturday, discontinue the business of selling liquor, and that we might preach the funeral sermon of his shop in our next paper- so here we go to our task:
"The subject of our present discourse came to New Boston about the close of steamboat navigation last fall. His appearance caused no unusual sensation, as he came in the garb of honesty. For a short season he run well, the race set before him, and none had cause to regret his immigration. But presently the "old man" began to be made manifest. Sin, as a sweet morsel, began to roll over the tongue of his visitors, and the seeds of dissension which he had sown, quickly sprang up. But, this was not all, my hearers. He stopped not with the mere beginning of the frenzy he had created, but showed a disposition to "carry the war even into Africa." Many were the good missionaries of temperance who were sent to stop the ravages of this monster, but all their efforts were without avail. Wider and deeper became the wrongs which he inflicted and heaven only knows what all we would have been called upon to suffer, and what ponderous crosses we would have been forced to take up, had not God sent his angels, in the shape of Circuit Courts and Grand Jurymen, to stop the mouth of this Lion (or as some say, John Bull, which, however, would be a slight variation from the original text) of iniquity. We therefore, have the satisfaction of saying to you friends, that by Divine interposition this hideous exrescence was removed from our midst on Saturday last. It came to its very timely end by a chronic affection which resulted in strangulation. May it ever remain deep hidden in the blackest shades of a neverending oblivion, is our sincere prayer!
Mr. Beckett informs us that he will soon have his bakery in operation, and that as soon as the weather requires it he will also open an ice cream saloon. M."

Dearborn County, Indiana is on the Ohio River and from the article we learn that Mr. Beckett likely arrived by steamboat since he came at the end of "steamboat season." His reason for choosing Mercer County is unknown and was apparently unfortunate as he hit at the height of the temperance movement in New Boston (see History Part 3 linked at the top of the page).

In 1860 Mr. Becket is still in New Boston: #1883 Wm Becket, 45, grocer, born England; Margaret, 41, born En; Anna L., 6, Il. Since Anna would have been born in 1854 perhaps she chose the place by arriving as the steamboat was passing through New Boston? We assume that Mary from the 1850 census is the same as Margaret of the 1860 census since the age and birthplace remain the same. Whether Mr. Becket had given up on the bakery and the ice cream salon or had simply added groceries to the mix is not known. By 1870 the family is nowhere to be found. We wish we knew more of this little family and especially whether Anna survived. We did not find an identifiable marriage record for her in Illinois or Iowa.