Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
BECK, ROBERT - At the close of the Civil War many of the young men who had been serving their country during the mighty struggle felt unwilling to settle down in their old homes, the spirit of adventure being strong within their breasts. To this is due much of the emigration which took place during the latter part of the 'sixties, when Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa received so many sturdy settlers. They had been hardened by experience, so they were not afraid of working steadfastly. They were looking for homes and found them, giving to their new communities the best that was in them, and these localities profited from the strict discipline the soldiers had gone through with in the army. One of the men who literally turned the sword of his war experience into a plowshare with which to break Illinois sod, is Robert Beck, of Section 36, Woodside Township. Mr. Beck was born in Maryland, August 10, 1837, being a son of Jesse and Polly (Lee) Beck, natives of Maryland. The parents died in their native State when still young, leaving behind them seven children, all of whom are now deceased with the exception of Robert.
Mr. Beck grew up in Maryland, working for his father until he was eighteen years old. At the outbreak of the Civil War he cast his fortunes with the Union, enlisting in its service in Company J, Second Maryland Volunteer Infantry. He was detailed as teamster, and was kept at that class of work during his entire term of service. He received his honorable discharge at Washington, after serving two years. Following the war he came to Springfield, finding employment with A. M. John Preast, with whom he continued for six years. He then rented a farm, operating it for three years, when he bought his present property of 160 acres on Section 36, Woodside Township, which has been his home for thirty years. Since buying this property he has made many improvements and now has a fine farm, which he devotes to general farming and raising high grade stock. Understanding his work in all its details, Mr. Beck as made it pay him good returns and he is now in most comfortable circumstances, his property all having been accumulated through his unaided personal efforts.
In 1875 Mr. Beck was married, in Springfield, Ill., to Marian Smith, who came of Canadian parents. Further than this she knows nothing about them. Two children were born of this marriage: John, who is a farmer living near his father, and Dora, living at home. In political convictions Mr. Beck is a Republican, but has never sought office aside from those of School Director and Road Commissioner, holding the former twice. In both offices he has displayed so much public spirit, combined with practical good sense, that he might have almost any office in the gift of the people of his township if he cared to accept the nomination.
Personally Mr. Beck is a fine appearing man, and his natural ability makes him dominate his fellow townsmen. Public-spirited in a marked degree, he is always looking out for the best interests of the community and striving to get good government and raise the moral standard. Such men as he are almost invaluable in a locality, and the debt owed Mr. Beck by Woodside Township is not one it can easily discharge, a fact of which the neighbors show their appreciation by their warm, personal friendship, which is displayed upon every possible occasion.