COMPENDIUM OF BIOGRAPHY.
WILLIAM McBETH is one of the highly respected and substantial citizens of Polk county, whose early home was on the other side of the Atlantic, and who came to this country in limited circumstances, but with the hope of gaining a home and fortune in this free land of ours where better opportunities are furnished ambitious, industrious and enterprising young men than in the old world. His dreams of the future have been more than realized, and he is to-day the owner of one of the best farms in Polk county, pleasantly situated on the northeast quarter of section 12, township 14, range 2.
Mr. McBeth was born in December, 1837, in County Londonderry, Ireland, where his parents, James and Mary (Dennison) McBeth, spent their last days, the father dying when our subject was only six years old. For twenty-one years he was a soldier in the British army, and after being honorably discharged received a pension. One son, James, was also in the British service for ten years and took part in the Crimean war. There were eight children in the family, but only two are now living: Mrs. Isabella Mowbrey, still a resident of Ireland, and William, the subject of this sketch.
The common schools of his native land afforded William McBeth his educational privileges, and he remained in Ireland until July 18, 1860, when he crossed the Atlantic to the new world. After spending one year in New York City, he went to Stark county, Ohio, where he subsequently joined the Union army, January 29, 1862, as a private in the Third Ohio Battery, Light Artillery. After three months spent in Virginia, they returned home and re-enlisted for three years, and at Waynesburg, Ohio, were prepared to go to Fort Henry. Mr. McBeth joined them at St. Louis and took part in the battle of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, and the battle of Iuka, after which they went into winter quarters at Memphis, Tennessee. They were next in the engagements at Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Mississippi, Champion Hill, Black River, the siege of Vicksburg, and after the fall of that stronghold went with General Sherman to drive General Joseph E. Johnston back, which they did at Meridian, Mississippi. They then returned to Vicksburg, where the entire battery veteranized in March, 1864, and were granted a thirty days' furlough. Later they were ordered to Cairo, Illinois, then went with General Sherman to Huntsville, Alabama, and were in the battles of Resaca, Dalton, Kenesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek and Atlanta, July 22. They were then sent with General Thomas to Nashville, and took part in the battle at that place December 15 and 16, 1864, after which they remained there until March, 1865. They were then mounted at Fort Donelson and engaged in hunting bushwhackers until the close of the war. At Cleveland, Ohio, they were mustered out, July 31, 1865. Mr. McBeth was in every engagement in which his battery took part, but was fortunately never wounded nor taken prisoner.
After the war, Mr. McBeth worked in Stark county, Ohio, until 1869, when he removed to Knox county, Illinois, making his home there until April, 1873, when he came Polk county, Nebraska, and secured his present homestead. The few settlers at that time were widely scattered, and antelope and deer still roamed over the prairies. Our subject's live stock at that time consisted of but one cow, and his finances were also low, but a grocer at Osceola kindly allowed him to get his provisions on credit for eight months. The first year he broke some land and raised a small crop of sod corn, and since that time has steadily prospered until to-day he is the owner of a valuable tract of five hundred and sixty acres, all improved with the exception of eighty acres. To accomplish this he has labored untiringly.
In 1868 Mr. McBeth married Miss Sarah Melissa Seaburg, who was born in Stark county, Ohio, January 30, 1843. Her parents, Joseph and Catherine (Munn) Seaburg, were natives of Pennsylvania and Scotland, respectively, were married in the Keystone state, and became early settlers of Stark county, Ohio, where both died. They had eight children, of whom seven are still living, and three sons--Charles M., James C. and Dallas--served in the Union army during the Civil war. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. McBeth, of whom six are living: James M., who wedded Mary Blaschkie, and is now serving as captain of the Sons of Veterans, at Osceola; Emily J., who married Guy Pierce and has one child, Norman A.; Robert H., who is first lieutenant of the Sons of Veterans at Osceola; Frank M.; Mary F.; and William Harrison.
Mr. and Mrs. McBeth are leading members of the Presbyterian Church at Osceola, in which he is serving as elder, and they regularly attend both the church services and Sunday school. He has been senior vice-commander of the G. A. R. post, at Osceola, of which he is an honored member, and his wife belongs to the Woman's Relief Corps. Since becoming a citizen of the United States, he has given an unfaltering allegiance to the Republican party, has been an active worker in its ranks, has served as assessor of Canada precinct, and has been a school officer for the long period of eighteen years. This country has no more patriotic or loyal citizen than Mr. McBeth, who gives his support to all measures which he believes in any way calculated to promote the general welfare or advance the interests of his county, state or nation.