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Short but eventful life for Frank Beeman

By Henry Timman • Mar 9, 2018 at 12:00 PM

For many years in the late 19th and early 20th century, the house at 25 Norwood Ave. was home to the George Beeman family.

Mr. Beeman, during most of that time, was a clerk in the department store of B. C. Taber at One and 3 E. Main St. One son of the family was Frank, who was born in 1879.

Frank was a newspaper carrier in the summer of 1891 and on a Saturday gathered up his Cleveland World paper bag, bid his mother good-bye and left the house. Instead of delivering his newspapers, he decided to go to Cleveland where the family had once lived. He walked along the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad to Collins, where he met a boy who took him to his home for supper (the old-fashioned word for one’s evening meal).

When a passenger train stopped at the Collins depot, Frank got on board and was given a ride to the outskirts of Cleveland, from where he started downtown on foot. We can well imagine his parents’ anxiety as nothing was learned about Frank until the following Thursday. A Norwalk lady and her daughter were in Cleveland and saw the ragged and disheveled boy on the street. The girl recognized him as “Frankie Beeman.”

When questioned by the lady, Frank said he was headed for Buffalo and expressed no interest in going home, though he showed symptoms of homesickness. A policeman was summoned, Frank was taken to his aunt’s home and the parents were given the good news. Mr. Beeman took the first available train to Cleveland and brought Frank home.

The young man grew up in Norwalk and joined our former Co. G of the Ohio National Guard and went with them to camp in Florida when the Spanish-American War broke out — though Company G never saw any legitimate action except fighting disease and boredom in their camp.

Fast forward to 1908. Frank and his wife were operating a hotel in Chagrin Falls. One morning Frank arose early to cook breakfast for a guest and had to fill the gasoline cooking stove tank. He didn’t notice that a burner was open and when he lit another one the stove exploded, burning him severely. He was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Cleveland for skin grafts and further treatment. After eight months in the hospital he was brought to his parents’ home and thrived for a time. About the first of June in 1909 he began to fail and passed away July 12, 1909 as a result of septic poisoning.

His comrades from Co. G turned out for a military funeral for Frank. Six men of the Company were pall bearers and marched behind the hearse from the house at 25 Norwood Ave. to Woodlawn Cemetery. A squad of Co. G men preceded the hearse. At the cemetery there was the usual firing squad, followed by taps from the bugle of Thomas Taylor, a Civil War veteran, who was the community bugler for many decades. Thus ended the short but eventful life of Frank Beeman.

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REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at Colonial Flower and Gift Shoppe at 7 W. Main St. in downtown Norwalk. These preserve my earlier columns in permanent book form.

Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.

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