Beals, John Wilkenson - Erie County

JOHN WILKENSON BEALS, son of Samuel Beals, was born in Boston, Mass., in 1795. Prior to 1820 he settled in Canandaigua. New York. In 1826 he came to Buffalo. Here he was a partner of Judge Samuel Wilkinson and Jonathan Mayhew, in the copper and tinsmith trade, till 1840. In that year he engaged in the insurance business, with which he remained identified till his death, in 1857. Mr. Beals was one of the most prominent of the early residents of Buffalo. He was a zealous Unitarian and one of the seven founders of the Unitarian Church in this city. He was the owner of the large brick dwelling at Washington and South Division streets, where he lived until he built a house in Swan street, where he resided during the rest of his life.

In 1815 John Wilkenson Beals married Julia Romney, of Boston, Mass., daughter of Edward Romney, a veteran of the Revolution, who rendered distinguished services in that war as Lieutenant in Captain Popkin's company of a Massachusetts regiment of the line. Edward Romney's ancestor Robert, the founder of the family, came to England with William the Conqueror. He received from that king's half-brother, Otto, large grants of land in Kent, including the town of Romney, and was knighted as Sir Robert de Romney. His descendant was John Romney of Sutton- Valence, whose wife Amy is supposed to have emigrated to America in 1702, and whose son, Edward, was the founder of the Romney (or Rumney) family in this country.

Beginning with the early part of the 18th century the genealogy of the Rumney family is as follows. Edward Rumney, who was born in Great Britain, married Elizabeth Vaughan, February 12, 1718. Their children were: Edward, born in Boston, Mass., August 19, 1720, married Abigail Pierson, September 27, 1744, died in Boston; Elizabeth, born in Boston, Mass., February 24, 1721; David, born in Boston, Mass., November 14, 1723; John, born in Boston, Mass., July 21, 1725; Samuel, born in Boston, Mass., August 21, 1727; Joseph, born in Boston, Mass., December 26, 1729; Mary, born in Boston, Mass., May 28, 1732; George, born in Boston, Mass., February 24, 1733, married Eliza Williams, April 3, 1755; Benjamin, born in Boston, Mass., September S, 1735, married Lucy Burnham, December 10, 1767; Lydia, born in Boston, Mass., March 20, 1736. The children of Edward and Abigail (Pierson) Rumney were: Edward, born in Boston, Mass., August 22, 1745, married Seeth Beath, May 13, 1771, died April 6, 1808; and Joseph, who died in South Carolina. The children of Edward and Seeth (Beath) Rumney were: Betsey, born in Boston, Mass., April 25, 1772, married John H. Belcher, July 25, 1793, died in Wilmington, N. C, September 27, 1808; Sallie, born in Boston, Mass., January 24, 1774, married Luther Cole, died in Canandaigua, N. Y., May 15, 1827; Abigail, born in Boston, Mass., Feb. 19, 1776, died July 22, 1777; Nabbie, born in Boston, Mass., June 1, 1778, married John B. Hammatt, January 29, 1805, died in Boston, May 24, 1856; Joseph, born in Boston, Mass., March 0, 1781, married Amy Griswold Downs, July* 8, 1801, died at Jamaica, W. I., July 8, 1801; Mary, born in Boston, Mass., April 6, 1783, died in Hanover, Mass., March 25, 1866; Susan, born in Boston, Mass., May 19, 1785; Edward, born in Boston, Mass., June 3, 1786, married Eliza Wilson in 1816, died in 1823; John, born in Boston, Mass., July 22, 1787, married Lydia H. Barrett, February 18, 1814, and Martha B. McKnight, February 8, 1824, died at Alexandria, Va., April 29, 1836; Sophia, born at Boston, Mass., March 22, 1789, married Benjamin Wells, September 18, 1808; and Julia, born at Boston, Mass., August 28, 1791, married John W. Beals, February 5, 1815, died at Buffalo, N. Y., April 8, 1857. The children of John B. and Nabbie (Rumney) Hammatt were: John B., born in Boston, Mass., June 4, 1807, married Mary McIntyre, May 7, 1829, died September 4, 1838; Abigail E., born in Boston, Mass., April 8, 1809, married Nathaniel Barstow, July 20, 1837; Benjamin H., born in Boston, Mass., July 19, 1811, married Martha Ferris, June, 1833, died December 23, 1838; Edward R., born in Boston, Mass., August 18, 1814, married Marietta P. Worth, August 29, 1843, and later Elizabeth Phelps; Sarah, born at Alexandria, Va., December 22, 1817, married Lewis G. Richardson, March 17, 1842; and Andrew S., born at Alexandria, Va., January 4, 1821, died August 27, 1823. The children of Edward and Eliza (Wilson) Romney were: Mary Eliza, born in 1820, married Horatio Bevan in 1844; and Adele, born in 1822. The children of John and Lydia H. (Barrett) Rumney were: Elizabeth R., born at Alexandria, Va., November 22, 1814, married Joseph Snelling, January 15, 1852; Lydia R., born at Alexandria, Va., August 22, 1816; John E., born at Alexandria, Va., March 22, 1818, died August 1, 1819; John, born at Salem, Mass., January 16, 1820; and Sarah, born at Salem, Mass., March 3, 1822, died November 6, 1822. The children of John and Martha B. (McKnight) Romney were: Martha B., born at Alexandria, Va., January 15, 1825, married Nathaniel Hooper, August 15, 1853; Mary, born at Alexandria, Va., May 14, 1826, died July 8, 1827; Catherine P., born at Alexandria, Va., December 25, 1827, married Edward S. Hall, October 24, 1850; Charles B. McKnight, born at Alexandria, Va., December 25, 1829, died June 12, 1833; Joseph E., born at Alexandria, Va., November 9, 1831, died November 12, 1837; and Charles W., born at Alexandria, Va., September 8, 1835. The children of Benjamin and Sophia (Rumney) Wells were: Catherine, born March 19, 1810, married Samuel Hastings, October 10, 1830; Francis, born November 15, 1812, and Sophia K., born in 1814, married John Man, October 26, 1837. The children of John W. and Julia (Rumney) Beals were: John Wells, born at Canandaigua, N. Y., November 16, 1815, died September 13, 1853; Joseph R., born at Canandaigua, N. Y., February 24, 1817; Susan E., born at Canandaigua, N. Y., February 22, 1819, married on April 21, 1844; Edward Preble, born at Canandaigua, N. Y., March 16, 1821, married Mary Lorenz, January 11, 1848; Samuel, born at Canandaigua, N. Y., July 4, 1823; George, born at Canandaigua, N. Y., August 10, 1825, married Jane M. Cook, January 21, 1851; Julia, born at Buffalo, N. Y., September 24, 1827, died March 27, 1833; Sarah Cole, born January 19, 1830, died August 15, 1831; Sarah Cole (2d), born May 21, 1832, married Calvin H. Allen, February 11, 1862; and Julia Rebecca, born October 31, 1835. As indicated above, the name Rumney is spelled Romney in certain branches of the family.

Edward Preble Beals was born at Canandaigua, N. Y., on the 16th of March, 1821. Five years afterward he came with his parents to Buffalo. He was educated at the Buffalo Military Academy and the Academy of Canandaigua.

On leaving school, young Beals became a clerk in the hardware store of Samuel F. Pratt. Here he remained as an employee ten years between 1836 and 1846, his talents, industry and fidelity winning for him a place of constantly increasing importance in the concern. In 1846 was founded the firm of Pratt & Co., in which Mr. Beals was a partner. Under this name, widely known throughout the Middle and Western States, the business continued to be conducted for forty years.

Mr. Pratt died in 1872, and in 1886 the firm of Beals & Brown was organized. This association lasted until the death of Mr. Brown in 1892, and was marked by notable prosperity and a large extension of the trade, which was of both wholesale and retail character. In 1893 Edward P. Beals, his son Pascal P. Beals and W. E. Gass established the great and representative business of Beals & Company, wholesale dealers in hardware, iron and steel, and under the style then assumed the house exists at the present time, being the oldest and largest enterprise in its line in Buffalo. The business, founded in 1818, has had upwards of seventy-eight years of continuous success, and stands an enduring monument of the sagacity, foresight, resolution and persistence of those identified with it.

About 1857 the firm of Pratt & Co., consisting of Mr. Beals, Mr. Pascal P. Pratt and Samuel F. Pratt embarked in the iron manufacturing industry. Purchasing the iron rolling mills at Black Rock, some years later they developed the Fletcher blast furnace. The enterprise thus originated developed into one of the largest manufacturing firms of Western New York, giving employment to thousands of men and sending forth an immense output of iron products.

Toward the close of his life Mr. Beals disposed of his interests in the iron industry and devoted himself to his wholesale hardware concern. He also became prominently connected with banking, serving as a Director of the Buffalo Savings Bank and exhibiting as signal ability in finance as he had in commerce and manufactures. His intellect and, energies were proof against advancing years, and living to the age of eightytwo he was to the last a leading factor in the community and the business world.

In 1848 Mr. Beals married Mary Lorenz, daughter of Frederick Lorenz, a prominent manufacturer and banker of Pittsburg, Pa. The surviving children are Col. Pascal Pratt Beals, Catherine Lorenz Beals, Mary Lorenz Beals, Julia Lorenz Beals and Grace Romney Beals, all residents of Buffalo. Two other children, Edward P. Beals and Frederick L. Beals died in infancy.

Mr. Beals was a strong Presbyterian and for many years a member of the old North Presbyterian Church. In his church relationships as in those of his secular life, he was an example of noble consistency and unfaltering uprightness of opinion, speech and conduct. Endowed with a fine intellect, he was a great reader, kept intelligently in touch with current events and had a wide fund of useful information. His disposition was profoundly benevolent, his deeds of generosity were many, and his modesty, unaffectedness and sunny nature endeared him to all who knew him. The life of Edward P. Beals exemplified in pre-eminent degree the sterling qualities of the man, the Christian and the citizen, and his rewards were peace of conscience, serenity and length of days and the approval and love of his fellow-men.

SOURCE:  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I