Page 192-194

As a gentleman who, by his enterprise and practical ability has materially advanced the agricultural interest of St. Joseph County, representing, as he does, two of its important townships, the subject of this biographical sketch occupies no unimportant place among its citizens, and should receive due recognition in this work. He owns two valuable and well-improved farms, one in Florence Township and one on section 25, Constantine Township. The latter is under his personal supervision, and there, in the pleasant home that he has built up, he is passing his declining years.

His parents, William and Eliza W. (Cross) Barnard, were respected pioneers of St. Joseph County, being among its earliest settlers, and for many years they were members of its farming community, with patience and self-sacrifice enduring the hardships of life in the wilderness, that they might build up a home for themselves and family. They were natives of Yorkshire, England, and in the year 1833, desiring to better their condition and to give their children more advantages than they could have in the old country, they embarked on a sailing-vessel with their family of little children, and bravely set their faces toward the New World, and after a long and tedious voyage landed in this country. The same years they made their way to Michigan, and settled for a short time in this township, near Pigeon River. Later they removed to another part of the county, and located on the banks of the same river, in what is now Florence Township. In 1852 Mr. And Mrs. Barnard returned to Constantine and made their home in the village, and there she died in 1860. One year later the husband and father, in the fullness of years, after an honorable and useful life, also passed to his rest from the home of his son, our subject, in Florence Township.

Richard Barnard, of this sketch, was the fourth child of the family of six children born to his parents, his birth taking place in Yorkshire, England, in 1828. He was scarcely five years of age when his parents abandoned their English home to come to this country, so that most of his life has been passed here. He was reared on his father's homestead, and doubtless the pioneer influences that obtained in St. Joseph County at that early date helped to mold his character, to make him, in short, a strong, self-helpful, manly man. In 1850, with many other courageous, adventurous spirits, he being then in the bloom of early manhood, ambitiously sought his fortunes in the mines of California, proceeding to his destination over the great plains. He remained a citizen of the Golden State two years, and met with good success in his quest. But he tired of the rough, hard life of the miner, and at the expiration of that time returned to his home in this State. He established himself in the livery business in Constantine, and was thus engaged for a years, and then sold out to his brother John, who continued the business in Constantine for twenty-five years, our subject retiring to his farm in Florence. This is still in his possession, and contains 120 acres of arable land under admirable tillage, and well supplied with comfortable buildings. In 1872 he took up his abode on his Constantine farm, which comprises eighty acres of as fine farming land as to be found in all Southern Michigan. It is carefully cultivated after the most approved methods, has a neat and handsome set of farm buildings, and everything about the place denotes the presence of a skilled hand, directed by a clear, well-balanced mind. Besides giving much attention to tilling the soil, Mr. Barnard is actively and profitable engaged in buying and shipping stock. July 4, 1885, he met with a serious financial loss, his dwelling being destroyed by fire, with nearly all of its contents, entailing a loss of about $3,000. He has since replaced it by a commodious and conveniently arranged residence.

December 31, 1854, Mr. Barnard was married to Betsey Hotchin, who was a native of England. When she was eight years old she came to America with her parents, Samuel E. and Martha Hotchin, in 1844. They came to St. Joseph County and settled in Constantine Village, whence they subsequently removed to Florence Township, where her father engaged in farming, and there died. After a happy wedded life of nearly thirty-two years, Mrs. Barnard died, March 22, 1886. She was widely respected and beloved for her many amiable qualities, and as far as in her lay she left no duty undone, but was ever true in all the relations of life. She was a consistent and valued member of the Reformed Church. The following is the record of the children born of that marriage: Mary E. if the wife of E. A. Hamilton, of White Pigeon; Hattie E. is the wife of Oldos Barry; William is a farmer in Florence Township, as is also Charles L; and Hannah lives at home.

Mr. Barnard was married to his present estimable wife, a woman of genuine worth, July 18, 1888, the ceremony taking place in Plainwell, Allegan Co., Mich. Mrs. Barnard was formerly Mrs. Alvira Bigelow, widow of Riley Bigelow, and New York was her birthplace, her parents being Mr. And Mrs. Andrew Hicks.

From the perusal of this sketch it will be seen that our subject, the son of St. Joseph County's pioneers, has energetically carried on the work in which his father was engaged, and has been of much assistance in developing and sustaining the interests of the county. He is a man of varied experience, of good understanding, keen, prompt, and withal, honorable in his dealings, and may well be classed among the most trustworthy and esteemed citizens of St. Joseph County. He was formerly identified with the Reformed church, but is now a prominent member of the Congregational Church.

Page 194-195

John Lohoff is numbered among the most able, enterprising and wide-awake farmers of St. Joseph county, and in him Constantine Township has one of her most valuable citizens. He there owns a farm which for fertility, productiveness, neat, tasty and commodious buildings, is not surpassed by any in the neighborhood, and the dwelling erected thereon is considered one of the finest in this part of St. Joseph County, and is an ornament to the locality.

Our subject is a native of Prussia, and his birth occurred in that distant country April 17, 1832. His parents, John and Anna M. (Lamy) Lohoff, were likewise natives of that Empire, and there spent their entire lives. Our subject was reared in his native land, and inherited from virtuous and industrious parents those traits of character which form the best legacy that children can inherit to make life a success-an independent, self-reliant spirit, strong muscles and ability to use them. At the age of twenty years he decided to try his fortune in America, having been previously engaged in agricultural pursuits in his native country. After a voyage of some weeks he landed in New York, and went directly to Canada. He there found employment on the Great Western Railway, and in a short time he came to Detroit. He worked there six months in a brickyard, and in the fall of 1852 made his way to St. Joseph County. He found employment on a farm in Constantine, north of the village, and continued there until 1862, when he bought a farm in the township, comprising fifty-three acres. By persistent and untiring labor he has not only brought this land to an admirable state of cultivation, but has been so successful and has cultivated it to so much profit that he has been enabled to increase the acreage of his land by further purchase, so that his farm now comprises 120 acres of well-improved land, and with its neat and tasty buildings is considered one of the most desirable estates in St. Joseph County. He has erected one of the finest residences in this part of the county.

In 1859 Mr. Lohoff made a trip to Pike's Peak in search of gold. He was away from St. Joseph County in all thirteen months, six of which were spent in the diggings; not being very successful in the search for the precious metals he went to Missouri, and from there back to his Michigan home, arriving in Constantine in April, 1860.

Mr. Lohoff was united in marriage with Miss Henrietta L. Field, in Porter Township, Cass Co., Mich., Aug. 12, 1862. Her parents, the late Harvey and Elizabeth (Davis) Field, were natives of Vermont. The mother died in Porter Township, Cass Co., Mich., and the father in Chautauqua County, N.Y. Mrs. Lohoff was the fifth child in a family of eight children, and was born March 26, 1835, in Cohocton, Steuben Co., N.Y. Mr. And Mrs. Lohoff have had two children- Helen L., and Martha A. Grief has come to this happy household in the death of the beloved daughter and sister Helen, at the age of twelve years, and they can realize the truth of the poet's words:

Tis sorrow builds the shining ladder up.
Whose golden rounds are our calamities
Whereon our firm feet planting, nearer God
The spirit climbs, and hath its eyes unsealed.

True is it that Death's face seems stern and cold
When he is sent to summon those we love;
But all God's angels come to us disguised.
Sorrow and sickness, poverty and death,
One after another life their frowning masks,
And we behold the seraph's face beneath.

With every anguish of our earthly part
The spirit's sight grows clearer: this was meant
When Jesus touched the blind man's lids with clay.
Life is the jailer, Death the angel sent
To draw the unwilling bolts and set us free.

Our subject may well be proud of the success that he has achieved in his adopted country, and of the honorable position that he occupies among the agriculturists of St. Joseph County who have assisted in bringing it to its present advanced and prosperous condition. He is a man of marked energy and capacity, and is prompt and reliable in his dealings; in his domestic circle he is all that a good husband and father can be, and to his fellowmen he is kind and considerate, and is justly regarded as a man of sterling worth. In him this township finds one who is ever ready to do his share toward promoting its interests, and while holding some of the school offices he has aided the advancement of the cause of education. In politics he casts his vote with the Republican party. Mr. Lohoff, who is equally esteemed by all in the community, is an earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Page 195-196

Prominent among the farmers of St. Joseph County, who have for many years taken an active part in sustaining its agricultural interests, is the gentleman whose name forms the caption of this biographical notice. He has one of the best farms in this part of the State of Michigan, finely located on section 34, Constantine, and section 3, Mottville Township. This land comprises 180 acres, in addition to which he owns sixty-two acres on section 17, in Mottville Township. He comes of good old New England ancestry, and his parents, Levi and Lucinda (Starkweather) Beckwith, were among the very earliest pioneers of St. Joseph County. They were born, the father in Massachusetts, and the mother probably in Connecticut. After marriage they settled in the town of Austinburg, Vt., and thence removed to Saybrook, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, of which they thus became early settlers. In August, 1828, with their household goods and family by ox and horse teams, they crossed the border, and coming into Michigan, made their way slowly over the rough, swampy forest roads to that part of St. Joseph County now known as Mottville. They located on section 3 of that township, and continued to live there about six years. They then removed to section 34, Constantine Township, Mr. Beckwith having secured land on the dividing line between Mottville and Constantine, and there they made their home until death. This land is still owned by the subject of this sketch. After their removal to this part of the county their lives were not prolonged very many years, Mr. Beckwith dying in September, 1839, and Mrs. Beckwith in August, 1847. They had ten children, five sons and five daughters.

He of whom we write was the youngest son of his esteemable parents. He was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, Oct. 1, 1826, and was hardly two years old when they came to St. Joseph County, so that he was reared here in Mottville and Constantine Townships, and has spent the greater part of his life here. He was a lad of thirteen years when he had the misfortune to lose a good father. His mother was spared to her children a few years longer, and she carefully trained our subject in all that goes to make a good man and a useful citizen. Amid the pioneer influences that he obtained here in his early days he grew to be a strong, self-reliant man. In 1849, when scarcely twenty-three years of age, he went to California as one of the "49ers," fired by the ambition to seek wealth in that Eldorado of the gold-seeker. He was there engaged in mining for about four years, and met with reasonably good success where many failed. His thoughts often turned to his old home, and in August, 1852, satisfied with his gains, he returned home by way of the Nicaragua route. He invested his capital judiciously and resumed farming in this township. His farm originally consisted of 160 acres, but he has prospered so well in his agricultural ventures that he now owns 242 acres of as fertile and productive farming land as is to be found in Southern Michigan. It is under a high state of cultivation, and is provided with ample and substantial buildings, and the necessary machinery for conducting agriculture successfully.

Our subject now has a comfortable, attractive home, and to her who has faithfully assisted him in its upbuilding he was united in marriage Dec. 23, 1853. The following is recorded of the twelve children born of their marriage: Ida I. is the wife of Rev. D. H. Reiter, of Mancelona, Antrim Co., Mich.; Solomon V. married Martha H. Wilemin, and lives in Red Cloud, Webster Co., Neb.; Mina A. died at the age of six years; Dougal R. married Ada C. Yoder, and lives in Cass County, Mich.; George A. died when about three years of age; Eliza Ann died when fifteen years old; William S. and Lillie S., twins, are dead; Jane E., Frank E., Elliot W. and Edith I. are all at home. Mrs. Beckwith's maiden name was Eliza Ann Rote, and she was born in Turbotville, Northumberland Co., Pa., Oct. 23, 1834. She was the fourth child of the twelve children, two sons and ten daughters, born to the late Solomon and Maria (Denther) Rote, natives respectively of Northampton County, and of the city of Harrisburg, Pa. They came to St. Joseph County in 1848, and settling in Mottville, made their home there until death; he died Oct. 4, 1874, and she on March 8, 1880.

Mr. Beckwith has had the fortune to witness almost the entire growth of St. Joseph County., since at the time of his earliest recollections it can scarcely have emerged from its primitive wildness. The greater part of the primeval forest with which Southern Michigan was mostly clothed must still have been awaiting the ax of the pioneer, and in their depths still lurked the bear, the wolf and other wild animals, that preyed sometimes on the little flock of sheep or invaded the pen and made away with some choice porker that the early settler was raising against the time of need. Deer, wild turkeys and other choice game were then plentiful, and often graced the table of the pioneer. Our subject was familiar with the Indians, who when his parents first removed to Michigan still frequented their old haunts, and for whom he has always had a friendly feeling. It has been his privilege not only to witness the wondrous change that has since been brought about, but to have been an actor in it. By his well-directed and untiring labors he has not only achieved prosperity himself, but has contributed to the material welfare of his township and county. Mr. Beckwith is honored in religious, social, business and political circles in this community as a man of sound principles and good habits, one who is trustworthy in every respect. Religiously, he and his wife are member of the Lutheran Church. Politically, he is a staunch supporter of the Democratic party. As a good citizen, he earnestly seeks to promote the welfare of Constantine Township, and as a member of the School Board has faithfully assisted in advancing the cause of education. Mrs. Beckwith has actively co-operated with her husband in his work, and has been an important factor in bringing about his prosperous circumstances, and we cannot close this biography of her husband without a further word in her behalf. In her are blended all the qualities that go to make up a good and true woman, and she fills in a perfect measure the duties of wife, mother and friend.

[top of page]
Go to St Joseph Co., MI Biographical Album Index
This page was created on 7 Jun 1998
Design and updates of this page are by Denise (Beckwith) Frederick, Copyright 1998
This Page Has Been Visited times....since since 7 Jun 1998
A very special 'Thank You' goes to Josie Garzelloni and Carole L. (Maudie) Carr for their contribution of St. Joseph Co., MI information and transcription efforts for this huge body of work