Biography of Mrs. Caroline C. Beckwith
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





CAROLINE COOPER BECKWITH. - The distinction of having been the first white women in the Eel river valley and the fourteenth and fifteenth white women in Humboldt county belongs to Mrs. Beckwith and her sister, Mrs. Rowena VanDyke. Mrs. Beckwith, hale and hearty at the age of seventy nine, recounts many exciting and even dangerous experiences with the Indians that still roamed the dense forests. It is impossible for a writer of this day and generation to adequately depict the trials and anxieties of her pioneer history. There have been many memoirs written concerning the era associated with the discovery of gold, but every pen has faltered before the romance, the renunciation and the anguished apprehension of the women and girls who left their loved ones in the east and endured the terrors of Indian massacres, the privations of poverty and the loneliness of the western frontier. Grateful reverence from later generations is due these early settlers, and the twilight of the useful existence of Mrs. Beckwith has been surrounded and brightened by the affection of children, the devotion of friends and the companionship of the few survivors of those far distant days. Sorrows, such as come into every life, have flecked her pathway with shadows, but always she has been bright, courageous and hopeful. Joys, too, have come into her life, but perhaps nothing has given her more satisfaction than the devotion of her children, whose successful and useful careers she did much in establishing.

A native of Prince Edward Island, the childhood of Caroline Cooper seemed absolutely devoid of advantages. Her father, an English sea captain and a man of considerable prominence in maritime activities, had little money, and the maintenance of the large family in comfort in the rigorous climate of the island became a serious problem. Finally he was led to the west by the discovery of gold. Early in 1850 he set sail from his northern home along the Atlantic coast. Accompanying him, in a vessel he had built himself, were his wife and thirteen children and their families. All went well during the voyage of nine months, but misfortune awaited them, for the party arrived in San Francisco during a serious epidemic which carried away many members of the family. Three or four of the sons came to Humboldt county and engaged in lumber manufacturing, and were afterwards joined by two of their sisters, Caroline and Rowena. Three of the brothers were killed by the Indians on Eel river and a fourth brother perished in the same manner near Hydesville. Of a once large family Mrs. Beckwith and Mrs. Rowena (Walter) Van Dyke are the sole survivors. It will thus be seen that Mrs. Beckwith's life has been unusually eventful and her knowledge of pioneer conditions in Humboldt county most comprehensive.

While the name of Caroline Cooper Beckwith is worthy of perpetuation in the annals of Humboldt county, not less worthy is the name of her honored husband; Leonard Crocker Beckwith, a native of Connecticut and from the age of ten years until eighteen a sailor on the high seas in a New Bedford whaler. Arriving in Humboldt county in the fall of 1851, he settled in the Eel river valley near Fortuna and bore a part in all the pioneer history of the community. Until his death in the year 1905 he owned and operated a claim of one hundred sixty acres near Rohnerville, but in addition to cultivating the land he did much for the public service and also ran a pack train to Trinity county. A brave Indian fighter, he enlisted in the early Indian wars and helped to drive the red men out of the county, thus making it possible for white settlers to engage in farming peacefully and uninterruptedly. On the organization of the Eel River Lodge of Masons he became a charter member and he stood four square on the philanthropic and humanitarian principles of the order. Of his marriage to Caroline Cooper there were nine children, namely: Gertrude, Mrs. D. H. Allen, of San Francisco; Leonard, who was drowned in Van Dusen river; Mrs. Anna Poole, deceased; Frank Walter, of Humboldt county; Mrs. Caroline Prichard, of San Francisco; Harry S., of Los Gatos; Helen, Mrs. George S. Shedden, of Eureka; Mrs. Maude Stevens and Mrs. Hattie Davis, both of Seattle, Wash.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Humboldt County, CA
Biographies

California
Biographies

Online
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012