Beecher family

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Originating in New England, one particular Beecher family in the 19th century was a political family notable for issues of religion, civil rights, and social reform. Notable members of the family include clergy (Congregationalists), educators, authors and artists. Many of the family were Yale-educated and advocated for abolitionism, temperance, and women's rights. Some of the family provided material or ideological support to the Union in the American Civil War. The family is of English descent.

Locations named after persons of this family include: Beecher, Illinois, named after Henry Ward Beecher and Beecher Island, named after Lt. Fredrick H. Beecher.

Beecher Family.jpg
Beecher Family, ca. 1858-1862
Current regionMassachusetts
Place of originCounty Kent, England
MembersLyman Beecher
Harriet Elizabeth Beecher
Henry Ward Beecher
Connected familiesFoote family
Perkins family


The American Beecher family began with John Beecher from Kent, England. Along with his wife and son Isaac, the Beechers embarked with a company of emigrants and arrived in Boston on the 26th of June, 1637. During its early days, Boston welcomed all Puritan emigrants, though many of these emigrants were not content to settle in the vicinity of Boston, owing, in part, to the difference in religious opinions. In September of that year, John was a member of an expedition party to explore the surrounding lands for plantation settlement. He was one of seven men left to winter in what would become New Haven, Connecticut. John died during that winter. His bones were discovered in 1750 in digging for a cellar of a stone house. The main body of settlers arrived in New Haven harbor in April, 1638.[1] Isaac Beecher was then fifteen years old. From him all the New Haven families of the name are said to have descended, and from whence the name has spread throughout the surrounding country, numbering, among the direct descendants, the West Haven branch of the Beecher Family and the Lyman Beecher Family, which would become an American religious force throughout the 19th century.

Immediate family[edit]

Lyman Beecher (1775-1863)[edit]

Presbyterian minister, American Temperance Society co-founder[2] and leader. Beecher was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to David Beecher, a blacksmith, and Esther Hawley Lyman. His mother died shortly after his birth, and he was committed to the care of his uncle Lot Benton, as W. Bray, and at the age of eighteen entered Yale, graduating in 1797. He spent 1798 in Yale Divinity School under the tutelage of his mentor Timothy Dwight.

Catharine Esther Beecher (1800–1878)[edit]

American educator known for her forthright opinions on female education as well as her vehement support of the many benefits of the incorporation of kindergarten into children's education.

William Henry Beecher (1802–1889)[edit]

American minister who was called "The Unlucky" because misfortune attended all his ventures.[3]

Mary Foote Beecher (1805–1900)[edit]

George Beecher (1809-1843)[edit]

Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (1811-1896)[edit]

American abolitionist and author, best known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), which depicts the harsh conditions for enslaved African Americans. The book reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Stowe wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential for both her writings and her public stances on social issues of the day.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)[edit]

American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and speaker, known for his support of the abolition of slavery, his emphasis on God's love, and his 1875 adultery trial. Henry attended Amherst College in 1834 and Lane Theological Seminary in 1837 before serving as a minister in Indianapolis and Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Charles Beecher (1815–1900)[edit]

American minister, composer of religious hymns and a prolific author.

Isabella Beecher (1822-1907)[edit]

Leader, lecturer and activist in the American Suffragist movement.

Thomas Kinnicut Beecher (1824-1900)[edit]

American preacher and the principal of several schools. He was a traveling man, living in many places such as: Litchfield, Connecticut, Boston, Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Elmira, New York. There is a memorial statue built in Elmira, New York where he spent a large portion of his life. He was a close friend of Mark Twain and married him to Olivia Langdon Clemens.

James Chaplin Beecher (1828–1886)[edit]

American Congregationalist minister and Colonel for the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Notable members[edit]

Thomas Clap Perkins (1798–1870)[edit]

American lawyer and politician.

Frederic Beecher Perkins (1828-1899)[edit]

American editor, writer, and librarian.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)[edit]

American feminist, sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist and served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" which she wrote after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis.

Family tree[edit]

The following is a brief family tree of the Beecher family, and its many notable members :[4][5][6]

John Beecher
emigrated to America 1637
birth. unknown
(died 1638)
Nathaniel Foote
emigrated to America 1633
birth. abt. 1593
(died 1644)
Isaac Beecher
emigrated to America 1637
birth. 1623
(died 1690)
Nathaniel Foote
emigrated to America 1633
birth. abt. 1620
(died 1655)
Joseph Beecher
birth. 1647
Nathaniel Foote
birth. 1647
(died 1703)
Joseph Beecher
birth. 1670
(died unknown)
Nathaniel Foote
birth. 1682
(died 1774)
Nathaniel Beecher
birth. 1706
(died 1786)
Daniel Foote
birth. 1716
(died 1801)
David Beecher
birth. 1738
(died 1805)
Eli Foote
birth. 1747
(died unknown)
Lyman Beecher
birth. 1775
(died 1863)
Roxana Ward Foote
birth. 1682
(died 1774)

Descendants of Lyman Beecher[edit]

  • Lyman Beecher (1775–1863), son of David Beecher and Esther Hawley Lyman[7][8]
    • Catharine Esther Beecher (1800–1878) was an educator and women's-rights activist
    • William Henry Beecher (1802–1889), a Congregational minister in Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts[9]
    • Edward Beecher (1803–1895) helped organize Illinois' first anti-slavery society, Yale graduate; married Isabella Jones
    • Mary Foote Beecher (1805–1900), married Thomas Clap Perkins (1798–1870) in 1827; Perkins was the brother-in-law of Roger Sherman Baldwin[10]
      • Frederic Beecher Perkins (1828-1899), library director in Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA, and author;[11] married Mary Ann Fitch Westcott. They had two children including
        • Thomas Adie Perkins (b. 1859)
        • Charlotte Perkins (1860–1935), feminist; m. Charles Walter Stetson in 1884 and had one child, divorced in 1894; married her first cousin George Houghton Gilman in 1900 (see below)
      • Emily Baldwin Perkins (1829–1912), married Edward Everett Hale in 1852 and had eight sons and one daughter, Ellen Day Hale (1855–1940), an artist
      • Charles E. Perkins (b. 1832)
      • Catherine Beecher Perkins (b. 1836), married William Charles Gilman. They had four children, including
        • George Houghton Gilman
    • Harriet Beecher (1808–1808)
    • George Beecher (1809–1843) Yale graduate, m. Sarah Buckingham in 1837
    • Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (1811–1896), wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin; m. Calvin Stowe (1802–1886) in 1836
      • Harriet (Hattie) Beecher Stowe (1836-)
      • Eliza Tyler Stowe (1836-)
      • Henry Ellis Stowe (1838-1857)
      • Frederic William Stowe (1840-1870?)
      • Georgiana May Stowe (1843-1890) m. Henry Freeman Allen (1838-1914)
      • Samuel Charles Stowe (1848-1849)
      • Charles Edward Stowe (1850-) m. Susan Munroe
        • Lyman Beecher Stowe (1880-1963)
        • Leslie Munroe Stowe (1883-1887)
        • Hilda Stowe (1887-1969) m. James Donnelly
    • Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887), married Eunice White Bullard (1812–1897) in 1837; namesake of Beecher, Illinois
      • Harriet Eliza Beecher (1838–1911 m. Samuel Scoville (1834-1902)
      • Henry Barton Beecher (1842-1916) m. Harriet Jone Benedict (b. 1841)
        • Kate Eunice Beecher (1864-1890)
        • Henry (Harry) Ward Beecher (1867–1948 m. Mary (May) Frances Beecher
          • Margaret Wardington Beecher (1901–1978 m. Alfred Taussig Abeles (1891-1983)
            • Alfred Beecher Abeles (1923-1945)
            • Shirley Elling Abeles (1926-2006)
            • John Henry Abeles (1935-2010)
          • Henry Ward Beecher III (1903-1986)
          • Lyman Beecher (b. 1905)
        • Margaret Humphey Beecher (1868-1949)
      • George Lyman Beecher (b. 1844)
      • Katherine Esther Beecher (b. 1846)
      • William Constantine Beecher (1849-1928)
      • Alfred Beecher (b. 1852)
      • Herbert Foote Beecher (b. 1854)
    • Charles Beecher (1815–1900) married Sarah Leland Coffin (1815–1897) in 1840.
      • Frederick Henry Beecher (1841-1868), died at the Battle of Beecher Island,[12] Beecher Island being posthumously named after him.
      • Charles McCulloch Beecher (1843-1906)
      • Helen Louisa Beecher (1847-1901)
      • Mary Isabella Beecher (1849-1928) m. George Warren Noyes (1842-1927)
      • Esther (Essie) Lyman Beecher (1852-1867)
      • Edith Harriet Beecher (1854-1867)
    • Frederick C Beecher (1818–1820)
    • Isabella Holmes Beecher (1822–1907), m. John Hooker (1816–1901) in 1841
    • Thomas Kinnicut Beecher (1824–1900), a Congregational minister in Elmira, New York,[13] married Olivia Day (1826–1853), the daughter of the president of Yale, Jeremiah Day, in 1851, and after her untimely death married her cousin Frances Juliana Jones (1826–1905), one of the granddaughters of Noah Webster, in 1857.
    • James Chaplin Beecher (1828–1886), colonel of the 35th United States Colored Troops.



  1. ^ Hughes, Reuben Beecher. Genealogy of a branch of the Beecher family. New Haven, CT: Hoggson & Robinson, 1898. Accessed May 4, 2017. Internet Archive
  2. ^ The Washingtonian Movement
  3. ^ Time Magazine, Monday, Apr. 02, 1934.
  4. ^ Beecher family. Finding Aid Archived 2007-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Hughes, Reuben Beecher. Genealogy of a branch of the Beecher family. New Haven, CT: Hoggson & Robinson, 1898. Accessed May 4, 2017. Internet Archive
  6. ^ Foote, Abram W. Foote Family. Vol. 1. Rutland, VT: Marble City Press, 1907. Accessed May 4, 2017. Internet Archive
  7. ^ RootsWeb
  8. ^ "FamilySearch: Lyman BEECHER (AFN: P68M-48)". Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
  9. ^ Stowe, Lyman B. Saints, Sinners and Beechers, p.141
  10. ^ Harrison, Bruce. Descendants of Sir Robert Drake, p.181
  11. ^ Lane, Ann J. To Herland and Beyond; p.27
  12. ^ U.S.Army Historical Register 1789-1903, vol.1 p.457
  13. ^ "Pages in the History of Elmira". Archived from the original on 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2008-11-04.

Further reading[edit]

  • French, Earl A. and Diana Royce. Portraits of a Nineteenth Century Family. Hartford, Connecticut: The Stowe-Day Foundation, 1976.
  • Hooker, John. Some Reminiscences of a long life with a few articles on moral and social subjects of present interest. Hartford, Connecticut: Belknap and Warfield, 1899.
  • Rugoff, Milton. The Beechers: An American Family in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1981.
  • Van Why, Joseph S. Nook Farm. Hartford, Connecticut: The Stowe-Day Foundation, 1975.
  • Caskey, Marie. Chariot of fire: religion and the Beecher family. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1978.
  • Stowe, Lyman Beecher. Saints, Sinners and Beechers. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1934.

External links[edit]