Biography of William M. Beach
Member of Ohio General Assembly - Senate


Four brothers of the name of BEACH came over from England early in the Eighteenth Century, one of whom settled in New Haven, and one in Litchfield, Connecticut; one in New York, and the other in New Jersey. The subject of this sketch is a descendant of the Litchfield branch of the family. His mother's father, Rev. Seth Noble, A. M., was from Massachusetts; an early graduate of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire; a refugee from St. Johns, New Brunswick, whence he fled, after the close of the Revolutionary War, sooner than swear allegiance to King George. He was afterward stationed at Bangor, in Maine, and other New England cities, but subsequently removed to Ohio, and was one of the first Ministers to preach a Presbyterian sermon in Central Ohio. He died, and was buried at Franklinton, Ohio, in September, 1807, five years before the forest was broken on the site where Columbus now stands. After the death of his grandfather Noble, his mother, Hannah Gorham, then a young widow, and the mother of two children, married Uriah Beach. They lived for a short time on the Olentangy, near Worthington, Ohio, after which they moved out to Big Darby, bordering on the Darby Plains, and engaged in the nursery business; erected a sawmill, and also the first woolen manufacturing establishment in that part of the State. In the little village of Amity, Madison county, on the 10th day of May, 1831, the subject of this sketch was born. In February, 1S32, his father died, leaving him, when only nine months old, and the youngest of seven children, for a mother, now twice a widow, to care for and control. Until the age of fifteen he remained at home, attending such schools as the neighborhood afforded, and often going out to assist the farmers in such work as they afforded him. At this age, tired of the dull routine and monotony of his country home, and ambitious of better things than it seemed to promise him in the future, he left. home, without consulting any of his friends, and engaged himself as clerk in a dry goods store in a neighboring village. In an obscure corner of the store room, covefed with dust, and bearing the traces of long and patient use, he found three school books Rea's Algebra, Comstock's Natural Philosophy and Wayland's Elements of Moral Science the property of a clerk, now dead, who had preceded him in the establishment. These, with the aid of the village doctor, he soon mastered, and, after having saved from his scanty wages a sufficient sum to meet his expenses, he spent one year at school, in Delaware, Ohio. After leaving school he engaged in teaching, as a means of support, while prosecuting the study of medicine.

He graduated at Starling Medical College, Columbus, Ohio, in 1853. From this time until 1862 he was actively engaged in the labors of his chosen profession. On the 12th of June, 1861, he was united in marriage with Miss Lucy E. Wilson, of Madison county, Ohio, and, on. the 19th day of April, 1862, was commissioned by Governor Tod, one of the State Surgeons authorized by the Legislature, and left at midnight of. the same day for the most terrible of all the terrible battle grounds of the Rebellion, the battle ground of Shiloh.

He was subsequently commissioned Assistant Surgeon of the Seventy eighth Ohio, and, still later, was made Surgeon of the One Hundred and Eighteenth Ohio, and served with it until it was mustered out, in 1865. As an army officer, he was energetic and efficient; and, as an evidence of his faithfulness to duty and devotion to his noble and humane profession, it is not amiss to mention that, six weeks after he entered the army, his child wife, then not eighteen years of age, became a mother; and the first born, and only child that bears his name, was old enough to walk, and to call him by name, the first time he ever saw it.

In 1869 he was selected as a leader of the forlorn hope of Republicanism, in. Madison county, when defeat was almost certain. His well known advocacy of the right of suffrage for our colored population, and the equally well known opposition to this measure by many leading Republicans of the county, made the Democracy of the county and State sure of success; and the election of the Republican candidate, under the circumstances, was certainly an evidence of popular esteem that he may well be proud of. There was a deep significance in that election. His majority was only six votes; but, in that campaign, Madison county held the balance of power, and that one vote, so hardly and so nobly won, saved the Fifty ninth General Assembly of Ohio to the Republicans, and gave to the State, and to the Nation, legislation which history will record as an important part of the great fruits of the Rebellion.

In 1871 he was nominated by the Republican Senatorial Convention, which met in Springfield, Ohio, as their candidate to represent, in the Senate of Ohio, the District composed of the counties of Madison, Clarke and Champaign, and was elected by nearly two thousand majority.

Biographical Sketches of the
State Officers and of the members
of the Sixtieth General Assembly
of the State of Ohio.
By: W. Sarwin Crabb.
Ohio State Journal Book and Job Rooms.
Columbus, Ohio 1872

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