Mary and Chuck Metzger traveled from Colorado to see and tour the Beekman House Saturday in Jacksonville. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

Beekman House visit sparks memories

JACKSONVILLE — A great, great niece of town pioneer Cornelius Beekman found the same pictures that scared her as a small girl in Dundee, N.Y., hanging in the living room of the Beekman House here.

During a visit last week, Mary Metzger, whose grandmother Julia Elizabeth Dailey was the daughter of Cornelius' sister Lydia, found similar furnishings and details in the house here and the one that Cornelius grew up in at Dundee.

Cornelius Beekman was considered Jacksonville's first banker. He arrived in the town in 1853 and built the Beekman Bank in 1863 at the corner of California and Third streets. The bank closed after Beekman's death in 1915, but the building remains intact just as when Beekman operated it, including original furnishings, gold scales and other memorabilia.

The pictures that frightened Metzger as a child show Cornelius' parents at a later stage in life with what could be described as stern expressions on their faces.

"When I was a little girl these same photos were in the back hall," said Metzger. "I was frightened of these pictures and used to run through it."

Metzger lived in the Dundee house for a year following World War II. She visited and stayed in it a number of times over the years.

Jacksonville Heritage Society President Carolyn Kingsnorth gave Mary and her husband, Chuck, of Centennial, Colo., a tour of the house as part of their first visit to Jacksonville. The home, with its original family contents, has been a tour site for decades.

Jacksonville's Beekman House has colored, one-way glass surrounding the main entrance door. The home in New York also has colored glass at the entrance, said Metzger. A cupboard in the dining room has a French Limoges china set similar to one that Mary inherited.

The visit also sparked memories of banker Beekman, who was not only a leading entrepreneur in Jacksonville but also a generous benefactor.

Metzger recalls Beekman was referred to as "Uncle Cornel" when her grandmother talked about family.

"He was treasured in the family," said Mary. "He was generous when times were tough."

Beekman also was generous to the Presbyterian church in Dundee as well as the one in Jacksonville. Here he helped with construction funds and bought the bell for the 1881 church.

"I think from the correspondence he was giving equally as much for the Presbyterian church (in Dundee)," said Metzger.

The family's emphasis on learning, travel and culture also emerged. Metzger noted the numerous books in the Beekman House and said she has some given as gifts with inscriptions inside the covers.

"They gave a lot of books to each other," said Mary. "I have some of my grandma's books from (Beekmans' daughter) Carrie."

Metzger, her brother Jack and one other family relative are the only ones to have visited Jacksonville, she said.

Beekman frequently visited Dundee, where he and the family would spend several months, said Kingsnorth. But in his writings he lamented the fact that few of the family came west to visit.

Jacksonville assumed ownership of the house in November from Jackson County. Funds from grants and donations to the Heritage Society before city takeover will fund various projects.

A new shake roof has been installed. Brick sidewalks were leveled and pickets painted by Jacksonville-Applegate Rotary members in late April.

Work planned for the porch is expected to begin soon. It has been delayed as the State Historic Preservation Office must now approve work on the city-owned property.

Events at the house this summer will depend upon completion of work. Kingsnorth said she hopes it will be open to the public on the second Saturdays of July, August and September, but that living history tours probably won't happen this year. All events must be approved by the City Council.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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