Henry Beeson, a Quaker and descendant of English immigrants, settled with his wife Mary in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The settlement of Beesontown grew up around them, later renamed Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Henry and Mary Beeson had thirteen children, including John Beeson and Jacob Beeson, whose descendants provide much of the material in this collection. John Beeson traveled to Ohio around 1802, and was eventually joined by his father, Henry, sometime around 1812. They made a living by farming, and building and selling mills. John Beeson first married Sarah Schooley on 18 July 1804, with whom he had eight children, including Edward Beeson. After Sarah's death, he married Martha Witter on Nov. 21, 1822; when she died shortly thereafter, he married Elizabeth Carson, with whom he had seven more children.
John Beeson fell on hard times, and sent his children to live with friends and family while he regained his financial footing. His son, Edward, was sent to live on a relative's farm for several years, and after returning home in 1829, was apprenticed to a printer in Beaver, Pennsylvania. Edward, with one of his brothers, eventually purchased the printing office and published the Beaver Republican, a Democratic paper supportive of the administration of General Andrew Jackson. In 1835, Edward traveled to Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin seeking work, and took temporary employment in newspaper offices in Cincinnati and Detroit, including a brief stint with the Detroit Free Press. He and his brothers also acquired land and built a sawmill near Green Bay, Wisconsin. They sold the mill for a profit, which enabled Edward to buy a farm and settle permanently in Wisconsin. Edward married Susan Emily Bell on September 14, 1839. Among their five children was Abbie Beeson Carrington, an opera singer who toured briefly with the C.D. Hess Opera Company in the 1880s. Edward Beeson bought a stake in the Fond du Lac Journal, eventually becoming editor and publisher. Edward Beeson died in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, on December 16, 1898.
Another of Henry Beeson's sons, Jacob Beeson, was a prosperous miller and merchant in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He married Lydia White, and after her death, married Judith Ann Broughton on 30 November 1806. A son, Jacob Beeson, who authored a travel journal and daily diary included in the collection, was born the next year. The travel journal relates a journey taken by Jacob as a young man in 1829, when he traveled by steamer to New Orleans to help an uncle in the dry goods business in Southern Alabama. After several years, he made his way to Niles, Michigan, where he set up his own mercantile business, and married Elizabeth House (b.1829) on 22 August 1848, with whom he had ten children. He served as paymaster in the Black Hawk War, was a member of the Democratic National Committee in 1856, and was appointed receiver of the land office at Detroit in 1857, which necessitated a move to that city. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1867, and in 1876 and 1877 was president of the Detroit Board of Trade.
The Lukens family, connected to the Beeson family by marriage, is included in the correspondence of the collection.