Biography of Joseph Ellison Beck

(Compiled and condensed from histories previously turned into the Organization, together with correction of dates, etc. synonamous with the family group sheets of Joseph Ellison Beck) Allen L. Beck 1966

Joseph Ellison Beck was born 31 May, 1810 in New Hanover Township, Burlington Co., New Jersey. He was the 2nd child born to James and Hannah (Antram or Antrim) Beck. His other brothers and sister were John Antram, Thomas Bowne, William Clayton, James Baites, and Mary Comac Beck.

James Beck established business interests in the meat processing industry and likewise Joseph Ellison Beck at an early age became involved in business affairs and there is record that he was connected with a meat packing business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On the 17th day of Dec 1835, Joseph took as his wife Hannah Harrison Forsyth. They were married in the County of Burlington, New Jersey. The children of this marriage were: Thomas Harrison, Anna or Hannah Lucilla, Alfred R. M., Margaret Francina, Rebecca Rocena, John Forsyth, and Joseph Ellison Beck, Jr. This family had residence in Burlington County, Monmouth County, New Jersey; and Bucks County, Pennsylvania before they moved westward.

A Mormon Apostle, Orson Hyde, was on his way to Palestine in the Holy Land in 1840. He was to go there to dedicate the land for the gathering of the Jews. Enroute, he stopped in Philadelphia to preach a few sermons. Joseph Ellison was present at one of these meetings. He was much impressed with the earnestness of purpose and enthusiasm which Orson Hyde demonstrated in his determination to fulfill his mission in spite of the lack of money. Joseph was also intrigued to hear of the Missionary plan of traveling without “purse or script.” Church history has recorded that a purse of gold was given to Orson Hyde with a request that “Ellison” be remembered in the missionary undertaking, and especially so in the dedicatory prayer at the Mount of Olives. At the time, bro. Hyde gave Joseph a blessing that he would never be in want and that they should go to Zion in safety. For many years the donor remained unknown until Joseph’s son, John Forsyth Beck, revealed the story.

A search through Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple Index Bureau establishes that Hannah was baptized into the then unpopular sect of “Mormons” 15 Sep, 1842 and Joseph was baptized 24 May 1847. Soon the young couple felt the urge to join with the saints in Utah. The packing concern offered him 1/3 interest in the business if he would renounce his religion and stay. Tradition states that relatives on both sides of the family did everything possible to dissuade them from departing. Yet their parents love did not turn to bitterness, as thye sent them a box after arriving the Salt Lake of groceries, clothing, and a new stove.

Joseph and Hannah and children left to cross the great plains from Kanesville with the Ezra Taft Benson Company on 4 July 1849. Many hardships of course were endured in the trek. Cholera broke out and their family was stricken. However Joseph and Hannah had great faith in the promise given to them by the missionary, and they came thru safely. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on the 28 October, 1849, after nearly four months on the journey (Reference: Church Office Bldg., Emi-files-” Joseph Ellison Beck-Church Emigration 1849-Crossed plains in the 5th Company or Ezra T. Benson Company-Journal History Dec 31, 1949-Supplement page 0.”)

The family settled in Salt Lake City in the Ninth Ward. They appear in the Census of Great Salt Lake County, 2 June 1850 on printed page No. 80. In the fall of 1851 the family moved to West Jordan and then in the Spring they moved to Palmyra (Now Sp. Fork, Utah) on the Enock Rees Farm, in the river bottoms. Then due to Indian troubles, the family moved to Fort Palmyra. They lived there about one year. Along with the rest, the family suffered greatly from the grasshopper plague of 1854-1855. They were compelled to live on bran bread and milk.

Again they were forced to move due to crop failure to another fort in Spanish Fork City. This fort was located about where the old A. R. M. Beck home now stands. Joseph Ellison acquired the southern half of the city block where the present Thurber elementary school stands. He erected a two-story home on the southeast corner where the Second Ward now stands. He gave this city property to the Mormon Church, and built a new two-story home on land he owned south of town. He planted a 4 or 5 acre orchard of all kinds of fruit near the center of his 20-acre tract. For many years, this was the scene of numberless family and public celebrations and picnics. From the time this family settled here they met in the “orchard” as a Beck Reunion on 31 May, the birthday of Jos. Ellison. There are many fond memories of descendants today of the “good old days.” It was also the haven of help for the poor and the needy. This home down “the lane” remained his place of abode until he died.

President Brigham Young send word to Bishop Butler in Spanish Fork that a good farmer was needed on the Indian Reservation. Joseph Ellison Beck was the one chosen for this call. Due tot his fact, his farm and a home was a favorite rendezvous for Indians and their annual trips into the valley. He was appointed Superintendent of the Indian farm and reservation Southwest of town, serving one year under Church Supervision, and two years under the U. S. Government. He served capably and endeared himself to the Lamanite. In the Spring of 1865, skirmishes flared into the Black Hawk War. Joseph was active in this, and also in the Tintic and Walker Wars.

Sharing in all the privations and hardships of frontier life, was his wife, Hannah. She was born 4 Mar 1817 in Recklesstown, Burlington County, New Jersey, the dau. of John and Margaret (Hodson) Forsyth. Hannah was sent to boarding school and given a college education. She was very refined, industrious and an excellent cook. She was proficient in dyeing, spinning, candlemaking, soapmaking and just about everything a good mother should be: sympathetic toward the suffering and unfortunate–her home made welcome to 16 orphaned children of the Mountain Meadow Massacre. These children were brought to their home by government officers. They cared for the children until relatives from the East came for them. Hannah was a missionary as well, teaching the gospel to all who would listen and more especially encouraged George Sevey who later joined the Church.  She was a real helpmate all her life. She died 13 Nov. 1872 at Spanish Fork, Utah and buried there also.

Margaret Robbins was married to Joseph Ellison Beck in polygamy, 13 Dec 1862. She was born the 5th of Oct. 1843 at Chesterfield, Burlington County, New Jersey. Margaret was the daughter of Isaac Roger Robbins and Mary Ann Burtis. These people joined the church and suffered persecution and more so, bitter opposition of Mary Ann’s relations. As a result, Isaac was forced to flee on the moment, leaving his wife and three children alone. However, Mrs. Robbins departed as planned to go to Zion, unaware of the whereabouts of her husband. What must have been her joy on arriving at the plan in New York to find him there waiting for her. On 4 Feb, 1846 the family set sail by water around Cape Horn, encountering two severe storms at sea, landing at Yerba Buena (no San Francisco) 31 July, 1846. After a year and a half, they emigrated to Salt Lake City. Shoon after Mrs. Robbins died and then Mr. Robbins moved to Provo. Young Margaret grew to womanhood in Provo. She was taught to spin and weave, becoming a capable young woman.

Previous to the marriage of Joseph and Margaret, Margaret helped with the children in the home of Joseph and Hannah. Mr. Beck and Mr. Robbins were very dear friends. There a friendship ripened into love and later into marriage. The following 11 children were born to this union: Isaac, Ann, James, Joseph Ellison, Jeddiah, John Antrim, Burtis, Margaret, Mary, Taylor and Nephi. They were all born in the home built by Joseph in South Spanish Fork. As of this writing (1966) there is just one surviving child–Taylor Beck. This splendid old couple lived their mortal life in perfect harmony and love, rearing their large family and living their religion inconspicuously, but full of good works and faith to the last.

On July 22, 1922 the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of 75 years from the day “This is the Place,” Margaret was an honored guest–a double pioneer; a Pioneer of California and Utah. Margaret died 11 June 1923 at Spanish Fork, Utah.

Sealing records also show that on 6 Mar 1872, Joseph was sealed to Helen Bennett, Roxanna Bennett, Theodosia Hodson, Sarah Hodson; and yet on 22 Sep, 1892 was sealed to Margrett Erson.

Joseph Ellison Beck lived to the age of 93. He died 13 Oct 1903 at Spanish Fork, Utah. On the day of his funeral, every business in town was closed. Flags lined the street in honor and meory of this well-known and beloved man. It was probably the largest funeral held in that day.

The lives of these three are most unusual as viewed from the present, but to them at the time they were filled with everyday needs and purpose for which they came West–that they would have freedom of worship, security carved out by their own energetic hard labors, and a chance to enjoy each day in its full measure.

Joseph was a generous man, but he had helpmates who supported and maintained his generosity. As a man, he had his strengths and weaknesses. His wives complimented his strength by their goodness, so his weaknesses never became paramount. From the record, he went about doing good in his home and community. Descendants to this day should carry their heads and hearts high with pride fot eh heritage that is theirs. And now, God help us to live our lives worty to compliment the hardship of their time which ultimately haev made us what we are!

(And now, if there are any corrections or addition to what has been written, we would welcome to hear from you. We do ask that the information, wherever possible, include hte source of information.)

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