Helen Adams Stowe Beebe
HER LIFE IN COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
From an interview with the Detroit Free Press
April 21, 1901
Kindly Submitted by Joyce Hynes, a descendant
Hale Strong and vigorous for one of her years, Mrs. Helen A. Beebe, will pass her 90th birthday on the 25th of this month. When a Free Press representative called upon her the other day, she said, As I review my life it is like standing on a great high precipice and overlooking a vast area of land, with its many shades of grains and grasses, interspersed here and here with silver springs winding about. There have been many storms and black clouds yet also many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Verily God has been exceedingly good to me.
I was born at Hudson, NY April 25, 1811 and one of my most vivid recollections of my youth was the visit with my father to the old barracks which the old soldiers of the war of 1812 occupied in Albany. My fathers name was John Adams and he was a near relative of John Quincy Adams, one of the early presidents of the United States. My mother was a direct descendant of Chancellor Livingstone, of New York, and also Peter Stuyvesant family of colonial fame. Three of my relatives signed the Declaration of Independence--Samuel Adams, John Adams and Philip Livingstone and I can trace my family back to 1608.
Beginning with the third President of the United States, I can recollect most of the circumstances of their lives and deaths. I have lived to see all the great inventions that have been accomplished in the last century. The first steam boat invented carried me as a passenger several times up and down the Hudson. I can remember the first steam engine which ran from Schenectady to Albany. I looked to me like some denizen of the bottomless pit as it came snorting and blowing, with its bright eyes of light brightening up the landscape a long way ahead.
Morse, of the telegraph fame, was a near neighbor of ours; the telephone has been invented and many other wonderful things.
I could show you many trinkets which were given to me when I was a girl, among which is a bead purse that was knit by my aunt and presented to me when I was 6 years old.
When but 14 yeas of age I attended a breakfast given by Mr. Tenbroeck Meyer, of Poughkeepsie, to General Lafayette on his second visit to this country in 1824. During the breakfast an old soldier tried to gain admittance, but the guards at the doors would not let him. With tears in his eyes he exclaimed: "For Gods sake let me see once my old General." Lafayette, who heard him, arose and said, 'Let him in! Let him in!" and as the old man came into the room they threw their arms about each other and sinking to their knees, thanked God that their lives had been spared and had been spared to see each other once more. I do not think there was a dry eye in the room during this affecting scene.
I remember, continued, Mrs. Beebe, when we didn't have matches. The flint and steel were employed, and we used to keep a light by folding a piece of linen in a tin box: then striking a light, we would sit it on the fire and pushing the cover nearly tight, let it smolder. In those days too, a stove was a great rarity. The fireplace filled the whole one side of the room, and the men folks used to bring in the big cordwood and chuck it into the grate. And when Christmas time came, the turkey was hung from hooks in the ceiling over a huge dripping pan and in that way was roasted as it turned: and we used to bake shortcakes and Johnny cakes in hot spiders before the fireplace.
I remember when we had nothing but drip candles for lighting, and after that we used whale oil; and then we would light a pine knot and place it in the chimney nights so we could read by the light. Some of he most popular reading matter consisted of the old English Reader, Sampson's Brief Remarker, and Pilgrim's Progress, of which I have still a copy that was given to me when but a child.
I recollect most of the Indian Wars, the impression of our seamen by the British, and I lived in the reigns of four Kings and one Queen of England-George III, George IV, William IV, Victoria and Edward VII.
Mrs. Beebe was married to her first husband, Daniel B. Stowe, of Claverack, NY. September 28, 1829, and nine children were the result of the union, two are now living. He died December 2, 1851. Her only son was a soldier and two of her daughters married soldiers.
Her grandfather, Ebenezer Adams, was a soldier of the American Revolution and served under George Washington throughout the war. Mrs. Beebe is also a blood cousin of General Albert Meyer, a chief of the Signal Corps and who was known as "Old Probability". In 1870 she came to Michigan with her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. Anason Delanoy with whom she is now living.
During the War of the Rebellion she enlisted in the war department, and after a month at Fort Schuyler was ordered to Washington, from where she was appointed by Dr. McClellan superintendent, or directress of low and extra diet, going to Fort Monroe, Virginia, where she remained over two years, or until the close of the war.
In 1871 Mrs. Beebe was married to Erastus M. Beebe, who with his two brothers, Alexander Beebe and Henry P. Beebe broke the road from Armada to Richmond, Mich. And helped found the latter place.
Mrs. Beebe was one of the organizers of the Henry C. Beebe Relief Corps, of Richmond, and is now a member of the Woman's Relief Corps of Fairbanks Corps of Fairbanks Post, G. A. R.