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Dr Havilah Beardsley

Dr Havilah Beardsley

Birth
New Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Death 23 May 1856 (aged 61)
Elkhart, Elkhart County, Indiana, USA
Burial Elkhart, Elkhart County, Indiana, USA
Plot Block E, Lot 29
Memorial ID 86470594 · View Source
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Businessman, Entrepreneur. He was an early pioneer and settler in what is now known as Elkhart IN and is often referred to as the "Father of Elkhart." He was the 5th son of Elijah and Sarah (Hubbell) Beardsley. His father was a Revolutionary War veteran and was also one of the "Indians" who participated as a 13-year-old youth at the Boston Tea Party, boarding the British cargo ships "Darthmouth," "Eleanor," and "Beaver" on December 16, 1773, and dumping all the tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of the British-imposed tax on tea. His family moved from Connecticut to Ohio when he was young boy and he served in the War of 1812. In 1816, he enrolled at Urbana University, Urbana OH, to study medicine and graduated from Transylvania University, Lexington KY, in March 1825. He married Rachel Calhoun, a first cousin of Vice-President and noted statesman John C. Calhoun, in 1823, at Greenfield OH. After practicing medicine for a few years in Ohio he decided to abandon it and explored westward to northern Indiana after hearing stories on the beauty of the St Joseph River valley. After visiting the site, he returned with his family in 1830 and settled on the north bank of the St Joseph River across from where the Elkhart River empties into it. Seeing there was a need for doctors in the sparsely inhabited area, he decided to resume his medical practice. He recognized the advantage of water power in the area and on April 21, 1831, he purchased a large tract of land (about one square mile) from Pierre Moran, a local Potawatomi Indian Chief, for $1,500.00. The sale was approved by President Andrew Jackson in January 1832 (a requirement at that time when land owned by an Indian was sold to a white man before it could be legally recorded). With the assistance of a surveyor, he proceeded to lay out a village, naming it Elkhart (the same name previously given to the river that flowed into the St Joseph River), and began selling lots to citizens. Shortly afterwards he constructed a sawmill and established a ferry across the St Joseph River. Between 1837 and 1840 he built several mills along the banks of the Elkhart River for the purpose of grinding corn, flour, and manufacturing textiles. In 1848, he built the first brick house in Elkhart where he and his family resided which still stands today and is undergoing restoration and is open to public tours. In 1858, two years after he died, the village of Elkhart was incorporated into a town as it began to grow. In 1875, it was incorporated into a city. There were seven children born to the union of Havilah and Rachel Beardsley, five of whom survived to adulthood and went on to became prominent citizens. Two children, Narcissia and Raper, died in infancy in Elkhart, Indiana. NOTE: He was originally interred at the first cemetery in Elkhart IN, which was located at the present-day corner of Prairie and Middlebury Streets. His remains were then moved to Grace Lawn Cemetery when it was opened in 1864.



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  • Created by: William Bjornstad
  • Added: 9 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 86470594
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Havilah Beardsley (1 Apr 1795–23 May 1856), Find A Grave Memorial no. 86470594, citing Grace Lawn Cemetery, Elkhart, Elkhart County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by William Bjornstad (contributor 47016546) .