Helen Adams Stowe Beebe


 Detroit Octogenarian With An Illustrious Ancestry

Interesting and Patriotic Career of

Helen Adams Beebe of Military Avenue

Kindly Submitted by Joyce Hynes, a descendant


     One  of the interesting historical names in Detroit today is Helen Adams-Beebe, of 377 Military Avenue. Her Lineage is one of which she may well be proud.  The names of many of her ancestors are found on the republic's honor roll; and one feels in her presence, that the heroes of yesterday and the world of today are not each in separate spheres but united still by the ties of blood she comes of New England stock, being a direct descendant, on her father's side, of the old Adams family which has given us two worthy presidents.  Her parental grand father, Ebenezer Adams, was a near relative of President John Adams.  He enlisted in 1776, and served all through the war of the Revolution, carrying to his grave honorable scars.  He was with Washington at Valley Forge during that memorable winter of 1777 and 1778.  His mother was Ruth Merrill of another well-known New England family.


     On her mother's side Mrs. Beebe is descended from the old Livingstone family of Livingstone Manor, and Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New Netherland, familiarly known as "Silver Leg Peter," whose sister was Mrs. Beebe's great grandmother, on the maternal side.  One of her ancestors was Philip Livingstone, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and she is an own cousin of Gen. Albert Meyer, form whom a number of forts have been named.

     Mrs. Beebe's maiden name was Helen Adams.  She was born in Hudson-on-Hudson, April 25, 1811 and is therefore 87 hears of age.  She has outlived two husbands.  She married first Daniel B. Stow and second cousin of Daniel B. Stow and second cousin of Harriet Beecher Stow, Sept. 28, 1829, with whom she lived very happily 25 years until his death in 1852.  It is with a smile that she says no cloud ever darkened their domestic prosperity.  After remaining a widow 20 years, she married, on May 11, 1872, Erastus M. Beebe, who was the founder of Beebe's Corners, now Richmond, Macomb county, Mich.  He died in 1886.


     When the Civil War broke out, Mrs. Beebe, with characteristic patriotism, felt that the nation needed it's daughters as well as it's sons, and in spite of the protests of her friends and relatives, she applied for a position as army nurse, was excepted, and enlisted immediately.  She served first at Fort Schuyler, and later at Fortress Monroe.  She relates many pathetic incidences of her experience in the hospital [to read a letter from Helen to her children, click here], and many a dying boy has turned his eyes upon her as he passed away, and feebly raising his arms has murmured a faint "good-bye, mother," to her parting kiss.  Regarding the suffering the union soldiers endured at Andersonville, Mrs. Beebe spoke freely of one occasion when 500 prisoners were brought from there to Fortress Monroe, so weak that they were unable to lift a finger; so emaciated that the prints of their teeth showed in their cheeks and their eyes were sunken so far into the head as to admit of hickory nuts being placed in the sockets.  The only thing about her army life that Mrs. Beebe regrets is that she was unable to shoulder a musket.


     Mrs. Beebe has met some illustrious men in her day.  On Lafayette's last visit to this country he dined at the home of her uncle Ten Broek Meyers, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.  Her father being an invited guest, she accompanied him and sat in the dining parlor with the Marquis and his friends.  She tells of a touching incident in this connection Armed guards were stationed at either end of the dining hall, and at the doors of the rooms beyond.  And old man had succeeded in passing the guards in the further apartments, but when he reached the door of the dining-room the guards crossed their guns and refused to let him pass, where upon he cried out, "For God's sake let me see my old general."  Lafayette ordered the man in, and the latter prostrated himself before him in grateful obeisance.

     Mrs. Beebe also has met Presidents Grant, Lincoln, and Van Buren, the family of the latter being very intimate with her father's, and it is with pride that she boasts of having received considerable attention at one time from the president's son.


     She rode on the first steamboat that sailed on the American waters, the Clinton, invented by Robert Fulton.  She remembers the digging of the Erie canal, and the invention of the telegraph, and it is interesting moreover, to note that Prof. Morse was once her neighbor.  She has watched the development of lights from the dip candle to the modern electric.

     Mrs. Beebe has been the mother of three children.  Two are living.  Theodore H. C. Stow and Mrs. Helen A. Delanoy, with the latter of whom she has her home.  Notwithstanding her years she is strong and well and informed the writer that the hour or two spent with him was the longest time she had spent sitting continually for weeks.  It is hard to realize that 87 years have passed over her head which bares not a single streak of gray.