Biography of Philo D. Beckwith
Cass County, MI Biographies



Cass County

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Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

Philo D. Beckwith was born in the Township of Pike, Allegany County, N. Y., March 6, 1825. This section was at this time a new country and was a portion of the "Holland purchase." His father, Stephen Beckwith, was a cooper by trade. He married Miss Narcissa, daughter of Daniel Beach, an early settler in an adjoining township. The elder Beckwith died at the age of forty, his wife at the age of fifty. At the age of nineteen, Philo D. was married to Miss Catherine M. Scott, who was three years his junior. Five years subsequent to their marriage, the young couple decided to come West, and the autumn of 1844 found them in Detroit with stout hearts but slender purses; in fact, Mr. Beckwith was obliged to dispose of a small quantity of cloth in order. to liquidate his indebtedness at the hotel and pay his fare to Ypsilanti. The winter of 1844-45, he spent in Yysilanti and in the spring went to Battle Creek, where he found employment in a woolen factory. Here he remained four years, when he went to work in a machine shop. In 1851, he removed to Michigan City, where he was engaged in the shops of the Michigan Central Railroad. The following year he came to Niles, and after a few months came to Dowagiac and built a small iron foundry, which he operated with the assistance of one man. In 1858, he bought a small tract of land on the creek, of Justus Gage, and built a foundry which he ran for nine years, and when he commenced the manufacture of "The Roller Grain Dtiil" during this time, it was only by the most rigid economy and untiring energy and industry that he was able to avert financial ruin. In 1858, he invented and commenced the manufacture of "The Round Oak Stove," in connection with the drills. The stoves soon found an extended sale in this and adjoining States, and in 1868, he built the nucleus of the works as they now exist. From this time he began to reap the reward of his years of toil and persistent effort, and he now gives employment to about sixty men. Mr. Beckwith is a gentlemen of whom the Latin phrase, "Faber suce fortunce" is eminently applicable. Commencing life with only his natural resources for his capital, he has conquered success in all departments of life. Mr. Beckwith has identified himself largely with the best interests of Dowagiac. He was President of. the village before its incorporation, and in 1881 was elected Mayor.

History of Cass Couny, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of it's Prominent Men and Pioneers.
Waterman, Watkins & Co., Chicago 1882.

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