Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
BEARD, JOSIAH - The changes that have occurred in Springfield during the last forty or fifty years have been astounding, and are so many and varied that the average citizen of the capital city could hardly believe tales of the earlier days as related by one who has seen the various changes come. Of all the people in the city who have lived here a long time, the person most likely to notice innovations would be a carpenter for, as a city develops in other ways, the building grow larger in size and numbers, and the quality of the structures improve. Josiah Beard, an old-time carpenter and joiner, has lived in Springfield for upwards of a half-century. He is a native of Adams County, Pa., born January 2, 1827, a son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Flohr) Beard, farming people of Pennsylvania.
Samuel Beard was born October 21, 1796, in Maryland, and his death occurred April 24, 1872. He was married June 5, 1821, to Elizabeth Flohr, who was born July 26, 1799, and died in 1882. Their children were as follows: Levi, born March 12, 1822,died August 2, 1862; Lewis, born December 18, 1823, died March 20, 1907; Rachel, born October 20, 1825, died November 19, 1909; Josiah, born January 2, 1827; Reuben A., born October 25, 1828, died November 27, 1908; Julia Ann, born January 12, 1832, died in 1908; George F., born November 12, 1835, died October 14, 1902; David J., born December 15, 1837; and Lydia S., born June 28, 1840, died January 10, 1845.
Josiah Beard received his education in a log school-house on his grandfather's land, when old-fashioned rules were in vogue and a plentiful supply of "strap-oil" was on hand ready to be administered whenever necessary. His boyhood was spent in assisting his father with the work of the farm and he learned the carpenter's and jointer's trade at, or in the vicinity of, Gettysburg, twice a week crossing Little Round Top to go back and forth from farm work, and also attended camp meeting there. He remained at home until eighteen and one-half years of age, when he crossed the Allegheny Mountains by stage coach in such bad weather that it took six horses to take the coach from Chambersbury to Pittsburg. He engaged passage on the old boat "Diadem," going down the Ohio River and leaving the vessel at Cairo. He made many trips up and down the Ohio, meeting with some exciting experiences, including the piloting of a big boat down the river, something he had never done before, and only did then because the pilot has fallen asleep. He also saw the "Belle of the West" when it went over the falls at Louisville, Ky. He was in the State of Mississippi when the war broke out, and with others he began to work his way back to Springfield. There was a blockade to be run, however, and they decided to go to Humboldt, Tenn., to the Tennessee River, below Pittsburg Landing at Fort Hyman where they joined the Federal forces, went thence to Paducah, Ky., with the Springfield Battery, and remained with them for a time, but eventually ran the blockade from Memphis to St. Louis and succeeded in getting to Springfield.
He was near Gettysburg at the time of the great battle there. At that time there were but 6000 people in Springfield, and but three houses worth $8000. Mr. Beard has always engaged in contracting for carpenter work and his labors have been well rewarded. Although well along in years he is still active and in full possession of his faculties and is a very interesting conversationalist, being able, as he is, to tell of the early days in the capital city. He is a Jacksonian Democrat in politics, but is rather broad-minded in his views and votes for the man rather than the party.
On March 15, 1874, Mr. Beard was untied in marriage with Mary E. Crites, daughter of Peter and Margaret (Rombaugh) Crites, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Beard: Frederick C., born December 7, 1874; Edith F., born October 10, 1876 , died March 17, 1901; and Clara L., born November 16, 1878, at home. The family residence is at No. 1225 Fourth Street.