Having dealt with some of the more famous residents of Woodland Cemetery, I’m going to share some of the monuments I just like for their visual appeal. This monument for the Beckel family certainly qualifies. It’s one of the few I’ve ever seen that has a bee hive on the top. I will add that I have seen an actual hornet’s nest on a monument but that’s a story for another time (and cemetery).
A native of Cornwall in England, Daniel Beckel was born in 1813. At age 16, he assisted his step-father, a civil engineer, who worked on the construction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Afterward, they became the contractors that constructed the great St. Mary’s Reservoir for the Miami Canal.
After that, Beckel came to Dayton and started building the Beckel House (a hotel) in 1853. The Civil War slowed its progress and it was completed after he died. In connection with William Dickey and Joseph Clegg, Beckel established a private bank and was almost the sole owner of the Miami Valley and Dayton Banks. Beckel was also elected to the Ohio Legislature (in 1851), was secretary of the Dayton Hydraulic Co. in 1845 and president of the first gas company, Dayton Gas Light & Coke Co. in 1849. To say he was a busy man would be an understatement.
Beckel married Ohio native Susan Harshman in 1845. They would have 12 children but only five would live past their teenage years. One of them, Daniel Jr., died in 1867 at the age of 14 in a much publicized carriage accident.
Daniel Beckel Sr. died on Feb. 26, 1862 at the age of 48 from apoplexy. The biography I read of him surmised it was from overwork. Susan died in 1890 at the age of 66.
I noticed when I photographed one side of the monument that the name “Ladow” was inscribed on it. It’s a rare treat to find a stone mason’s name on a marker so I looked him up. Lo and behold, I found an entire newspaper article from the Nov. 19, 1862 Daily Empire describing it in great detail. That’s even more rare. It’s possible that Ladow wrote it himself and purchased advertising space for it to be published.
One of Daniel and Susan’s daughters, Annie, would marry Torrance Huffman. Torrance was the son of William P. Huffman and brother of George P. Huffman, Sr. George started what became the Huffy Bicycle around 1892. Let’s go across the street to the Huffman family vault, which is definitely an eye-catcher.
Huffman Family Empire
There are 89 Huffmans buried at Woodland and many of them are connected to the family whose name is at the core to a bicycle empire. A monument on top of the Huffman vault bears the name and profile of William Huffman (1769-1866). A native of New Jersey, William married Lydia Knott around 1801. They would have one son and four daughters.
William and Lydia gave their son, William P. Huffman, a good education. He read law with Warren Munger, Sr., however, with the view of not adopting the law as a profession, but as a means of being more thoroughly equipped for a successful business career. William spent 10 years in farming before devoting the rest of his life to banking, real estate, and in extensive building operations.
Lydia died at the age of 86 in 1865 and William died the following year at age 96. I don’t think it was his idea to create this vault but I don’t know for sure. I think it was likely son William who made the arrangements for that. I can’t say I’ve seen an in-ground vault like the Huffman one with such a handsome monument on top. I’m thinking it possibly came years later when grandson William Huffman, Jr., who was a limestone dealer in the 1870s, might have procured it. William Jr. is also entombed within the Huffman vault with his wife, Emily.
William P. Huffman has his own monument in another part of Woodland and I didn’t have the opportunity to photograph it. His son, George P. Huffman,learned much from his father and studied law as he had. George was active in banking, real estate, and investing. It was he who started Davis Sewing Machine in 1892, which later became Huffy Bicycle (known then as Dayton Bicycle). One of the company’s first designs, the “Dayton Special Roadster,” was rolled out in 1899 on cylindrical ball hubs, 23-inch tires, and wooden rims. Like the Wright brothers with their successful bicycle shop, the Huffman were joining in on the bicycle craze of the era.
George, who suffered from the kidney malady Bright’s Disease, died young from a stroke at age 35 in 1897. His wife, Maude McKee Huffman, did not remarry and died in 1927. Their son, Horace (1885-1945) would guide the family fortunes into even greater success as Huffy Bicycles became a household name.
“To Live in Hearts We Leave Behind is Not to Die”
A native of England, George Jackson Roberts (1834-1910) was a water pump manufacturer. He and his wife, Adelia, had one daughter, Mary “Minnie” Roberts in 1865. Minnie would eventually marry John Jamieson in 1892, who went to work for her father. Minnie and John, along with their son, George, lived with her parents according to the 1900 U.S. Census.
The first person buried in the Roberts plot was Minnie’s younger brother, George Clarence Roberts. Tragically, he died in San Diego, Calif. from a sudden illness at the age of 30 in 1891 only three weeks after he was married to a woman named Nellie Gerkins. His body was brought back to Dayton to be buried at Woodland.
There’s a monument quite similar to this one at Atlanta’s Westivew Cemetery. A lone woman sits with her head propped up, gazing pensively down. Maybe that’s why this one pulls at my heartstrings.
Minnie died in 1906 on March 23, 1906 at age 40. I was unable to find out what her cause of death was. Her father, George, died a few years later in 1910, at age 76 from a heart ailment.
John Jamieson remarried to Leonora Piper, who was 17 years his junior. Minnie and John’s son, George Robert Jamieson, made a name for himself as an artist, architect and book seller. He died on Sept. 9, 1929 at age 31 from a heart ailment. John Jamieson died in 1935 at the age of 73. His second wife, Leonora, is buried with her parents in another cemetery. She died in 1977.
The deaths of three members of the Roberts clan at relatively young ages is heartbreaking to think about. I suppose that’s why the words on the monument are rather haunting. “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
I’ll be back next time to wrap up my series on Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum.