Name: James Chaplin Beecher 1
Birth: 1828 in Boston, Suffolk, MA
James C. Beecher was the youngest child of Lyman and Harriet Porter Beecher. Like his half-sister Harriet, James lost his mother while he was very young. He was raised by Lyman Beecher's third wife, Lydia Beecher. Less scholarly than his oldest brothers, James eventually graduated from Dartmouth, then pursued a life at sea. He served on a coaster which traded along the eastern U.S. coast, before sailing on a clipper ship for Canton, China. James ultimately served five years as a ship's officer in the East India trade.
James returned from sea and entered Andover Theological Seminary, saying "Oh I shall be a minister. That's my fate. Father will pray me into it!" While attending Andover he married Anne Morse, a widow with a young child. The couple had no other children. James and Anne left Andover to become missionaries in Canton and Hong Kong. In 1859, Anne Beecher returned from China for what the family euphemistically called health reasons. She appears to have suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. She spent time in sanitariums, and the water cure facility in Elmira, NY, near her brother-in-law Thomas Beecher.
James remained in China until the outset of the Civil War in 1861. He enlisted in the army and served first as chaplain of the First Long Island Regiment, then as a lieutenant colonel in the 141st New York Volunteers. He briefly returned to civilian life because of his concerns over his wife Anne. After her death in 1863, he rejoined the army and was appointed to recruit an African American regiment, the First North Carolina Volunteers.
After the Civil War, James served as pastor at Thomas Beecher's church in Elmira, NY for nine months. In 1864 he married Francis "Frankie" Johnson, of Guilford, CT. The two opened a school in Jacksonville, FL for newly emancipated people. James and Frankie remained married for 21 years and adopted three daughters. In 1867 he became pastor of the Congregational Church in Oswego, NY, and later moved to Poughkeepsie. James purchased a tract of land in Ulster County to build a home for his family and to preach to the farmers of upstate New York.
In 1881 Henry Ward Beecher asked James to take over Plymouth Church. James reluctantly agreed, he preferred a more rural life. He soon suffered what may have been a nervous breakdown and eventually went to Dr. Gleason's water cure sanitarium in Elmira, NY, where his first wife had sought help. While in Elmira, James took his own life.
Father: Lyman Beecher b: 12 SEP 1775
Mother: Harriet Porter b: 1790
Frances "Frankie" Johnson b: 1832
- Title: http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/hbs/beecher_family.shtml