Monday, May 22, 2017

Parmenas W. Beckes: His Life and Loves Part 1

Rose Robeson has been busy hunting obituaries for Tewalt and Price cemeteries. She found the following one for Permenas W. Beckes, buried in Tewalt,  dated December 12, 1890 in the Vincennes Western Sun.

Intelligence was received today of the death of Parmenas W. Beckes at his home in Russellville, Ill at 5 o’clock last evening after an illness of but four days of winter fever; age  71 years, 10 months, and 26 days. Deceased was a native of Knox County where he resided until a few years since when he removed to Russellville.  He was a brother of Wm. S. Beckes, Thos. J. Beckes and Mrs. Sophi Alexander of this county (Knox) and Mrs. Hugh Barr of Washington, and Benj. V. Beckes of Grand Haven, Kansas. His first illness was felt on last Saturday when he was unable to attend the funeral of his sister, the late Mrs. Emma Milam in this city (Vincennes). He grew rapidly worse and death ensued at the hour above named.  Deceased leaves a widow and several children to mourn his sudden demise.  He held positions of trust in the communities where he lived; was a man of sterling integrity and was prominent in Odd fellowship.  At the time of his death he was a Justice of the Peace.  Mr. Beckes was a member of the Christian church at Russellville.  His funeral will take place tomorrow.

We thought it was unusual that the writer would list in detail the brothers and sisters of the deceased, but not name the widow and children so we thought we would investigate, since we had other Beckes’ buried in Tewalt Cemetery. (We also wanted to give the poor widow a name. It turned out that a lot of his wives weren’t named, but more on that later. )

Parmenas W. was sometimes called P.W. and on one census was shown as ‘Webb’. Most of the time, the census takers couldn’t spell his first or his last name correctly (ie. Barmenas Bachus) and finding him was difficult in the census records.  We are not sure who his parents were, but we suspect his mother’s name was Webb. And from the obit, we now know, of course, who his brothers and sisters were. But we were really looking for his wife.

Our research led us to another Parmenas Beckes in Vincennes, Knox Co., Ind. around the early 1800’s who was the sheriff of Vincennes in 1807. His brother was also Benj. V. Beckes and it is easy for internet researchers to get the two Parmenas’ confused.  They are probably all related and followed the rather irritating habit of naming their children after the relatives of the previous generation. (Irritating at least to genealogists, but not to imply that there is anything wrong with the practice otherwise.)   However, this Parmenas of Vincennes had no children in 1814 when he fought the ‘famous’ duel in Lawrence County.   He probably also fought in the American Revolution and/or the War of 1812. We didn’t research this further because we didn’t think he was related to Tewalt Cemetery. (However, we did get sidetracked with the duel and will post that at a later time!)


In addition to Parmenas’ tombstone at Tewalt, we found a stone for Lavina H. Beckes 1840-1874; one for the Infant daughter of P.W. and E.M Beckes who died March 14, 1870 aged 9 months, and another stone for Caleb B., son of P.W. and E.J. Beckes who died April 10, 1870 aged 21 years. We suspected they were all related but Caleb and the infant appeared to have different mothers, (E.M. and E.J.).   Irene Black’s cemetery book listed Lavina as P.W.’s wife. We naively thought an hour or two of research could resolve perhaps a cemetery transcription error, and in the process determine who his surviving widow was.  How foolish we were, as any professional genealogist could have told us. 

Tomorrow the results of our research.