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The Beede in Books


          When we consider the name Beede in the context of literature we automatically drop one of the first e’s and think of the Venerable Bede, historian and “Doctor of the Church” (672-735). In the last chapter of his great work, "Ecclesiastical History of the English People," Bede offers us a brief comment on his own life, and this, practically speaking, is all we know of it. His words, written in 731, when death was near, not only show simplicity and piety characteristic of the man, but they throw a light on the composition of the work through which he is best remembered throughout the world. He writes, “at the age of seven I was, by the care of my relations, given to the most reverend Abbot Benedict [St. Benedict Biscop], and afterwards to Ceolfrid, to be educated. From that time I have spent the whole of my life within that monastery, devoting all my pains to the study of the Scriptures, and amid the observance of monastic discipline and the daily charge of singing in the Church, it has been ever my delight to learn or teach or write.”


          No adequate edition, based on a careful collation of manuscripts, has ever been published of Bede's works as a whole. But it is, of course, as an historian that Bede is chiefly remembered. His "Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum," giving an account of Christianity in England from the beginning until his own day, is the foundation of all our knowledge of British history and a masterpiece eulogized by scholars of every age.


          But are we Beede of America truly descended from him? (He was a monk, after all, and celibate.) Or could one of his siblings have fathered us all? For those who believe that the name Beede is of French origin we’re looking in the wrong lands, in this case, for our progenitors; for those who hold that we are English, perhaps it’s not so far-fetched.


          I’m holding in my hands a leather-bound early edition of a novel called “Adam Bede,” by George Eliot. George Eliot, author of the celebrated classic, Middlemarch, dedicates this volume, from the early 19th century, to her husband, George Henry Lewes­—George Eliot was a lady, remember! It’s a novel about a carpenter. Adam Bede, the hero, is of a character so sterling that one little anecdote serves to define his whole life and work ethic: As a carpenter, he did some work for a lady whose father, an old squire named Donnithorne, suggested that she pay him less than the fee he requested. Adam insisted that he would rather take no money for the job, for to accept a reduced amount would be like admitting he overcharged for shoddy work. By standing on his principles, he won his full fee in the end and cemented his reputation as a businessman of honor and acumen, proving his fairness to both his customers and himself.


          But who is this Adam Bede? Was he related to the Venerable Bede’s family? Or to us? Surely he was an imagined character, the protagonist of a novel, but where did the name come from? What made George Eliot choose it? In the London telephone directory there are only a handful of Bedes listed nowadays, and in Yorkshire telephone directories (home to Adam) there are none. (A curious note: a 1902 edition of this book was published, in New York, by P. F. Collier & Sons, but its title was slightly different from the original. Its title was “Adam Beede.”)


          But let’s turn our attention now to the Beedes of our era, and to their talents that have brought to light a great range of publications of enormous interest in so many fields. I’ll mention a few of them here, in no particular order.


          An oration delivered at Wilton, New-Hampshire, July 4, 1809, called “In commemoration of American independence,” by Thomas Beedé, was published in that year by a small New Hampshire press called Moore & Hill—two local citizens, it seems. We know this author as the Harvard educated son of Thomas Beede, grandson of Eli, and one of the more illustrious members of the young Beede family in America. In all, four publications of Thomas Beede’s sermons were published around this time, all of which are hard to find, but perhaps local libraries might still have them. What’s interesting to note here, as well, is that the author chose to place the acute French accent above the final e in his name for these books, which must have meant a great deal to him. “A sermon delivered March 2, 1803 at the ordination of the Rev. Thomas Beedé: To the care of the Church of Christ in Wilton,” by William Emerson, father of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was also made available by the same press.


          A great many years go by before we see another Beede publication in America. Finally, in 1898, “Strawberry Culture,” by Geo. F. Beede was released. I can’t seem to find any further information on it, interesting as the title makes it sound, evoking, perhaps, the famed strawberry banks of coastal New Hampshire, and replete, one could imagine, with colorful insights into the life of the Beede family and friends in late nineteenth century New England. Was this George Folsom Beede (1838-1917) of Fremont, son of Daniel, grandson of Eli, great grandson of Jonathan, and great great grandson of Eli the Emigrant?


          “Mary A. Lathbury: her life and lyrics,” by Vincent Van Marter Beede, was published by the Chautauquan in1899. Chautauqua was an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s, bringing entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, and specialists of the day. Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying that Chautauqua is "the most American thing in America." The Chautauquan was apparently their periodical, a rather sophisticated publication in its day.


     Although Lathbury's name may be unfamiliar to us, it is clear that she was a respected hymnist. Dr. Edward Everett Hale said of her, "She has marvelous lyric force which not five people in a century show, and her chance of having a name two hundred years hence is better than that of most writers in America." Beede, in "The Chautauquan," wrote of her, "Those who know her best will freely and unreservedly admit her to the list of uncanonized Women of Great Love.”


          “Death of a Mill Girl” (Josiah Beede Mysteries) by Clyde Linsley, who may or may not be a Beede, is just one of several books in a series, which includes “Saving Louisa.” This one is set in the autumn of 1836. The body of a beautiful young woman has been discovered on the farm of retired lawyer and military hero Josiah Beede. Now, Josiah must lure a killer out of hiding before another innocent is murdered—or the wrong suspect is hanged. In Die Like a Hero, another title, Josiah Beede “really has a full plate,” according to one reader, “what with investigating whether President Harrison was murdered, while also looking into the disappearance of a neighbor and protecting Randolph and Louisa from a ruthless slave—Louisiana.”


          In 1977 The University of Ohio Press published “The Art of the Self in D. H. Lawrence” by Marguerite Beede Howe, who is also the author, among other contributors, of “Women at Work: A Psychologist's Secrets to Getting Ahead in Business.”


          “Winnipesaukee, and Other Poems,” by Eva Beede Odell, was published in 1923 by The Meredith News Press, of Meredith, New Hampshire, one assumes. She also wrote another book, “Roxy's Good Angel and Other New England Tales.”


          In 1975 “Simple Sewing (An Early Craft Book)” was published by Gretchen Beede and George Overlie.


          An Australian, John Beede, wrote a novel called “Rear Gunner,” published in 1976, a story that follows the fortunes of a group of Australian airmen. The author was just such an air gunner—hard-living, hard-drinking, impatient of authority—and his fiction is said to have all the searing immediacy of truth. It was previously published as “They Hosed Them Out.”         


          “Greek Drama, a Collection of Festival Papers” (Festival Papers, Vol. II) edited by Grace Lucile Beede was published by the Dakota Press in 1967, and this was followed by her “Vergil and Aratus: A study in the art of translation.”


          More than 13 very technical volumes, among which are “The Geology of Coke County,” and “The Geology of Runnels County,” were published by J. W Beede beginning in about 1918, mostly by the University of Texas Bulletin. J. W. Beede clearly had an enormously distinguished career in his field.


          Prairie women, a novel, by Ivan Beede was published in 1930, the only book he seems to have written. Long out of print, I suppose one might be able to fish up a copy on line somewhere.


          Benjamin R. Beede is one of our most prolific Beede authors, but perhaps very few of us would ever come across his writings no matter how much lay interest we might have in international affairs. He’s published six volumes to date. “Military and Strategic Policy: An Annotated Bibliography (Bibliographies and Indexes in Military Studies)” is the second in a series designed to provide a list of written material that deals with national security matters. Although the book begins with the first Eisenhower administration, its emphasis is on the post-1960 era and in particular the years following American involvement in the wars of Indochina. Its contents encompass such subjects as general and comparative studies of military strategic policy; Vietnam and its impact on national security; Carter and national security: continued detente rights and rearmament; and Reagan: reassertion and rearmament. Other titles of his include “Index to Contemporary Military Articles of the World War II Era, 1939-1949 (Bibliographies and Indexes in Military Studies),” “Politics and Government of New Jersey 1900-1980: An Annotated Bibliography,” “Intervention and Counterinsurgency: An Annotated Bibliography of the Small Wars of the United States, 1898-1984,” and “Legal Literature: some fundamentals.”


          “Tahoe's Magical West Shore,” by Jill Beede was published by Tahoe County, in 2001. She is also author of a fascinating article about Snowshoe Thompson, one of the most intriguing heroes in California's history. From 1856 to 1876 he made legendary 90 mile treks over snowdrifts up to 50 feet high and through blizzards with up to 80 mile per hour winds, to deliver mail to those living in isolation. He was the sole link between California and the Atlantic states during the long winter months.


          “Brown Plumes,” by Clara M. Beede, was published by Pegasus studios in 1939, and “To southern California on a Budget,” by Robert Owen Beede was published in the 1950s.


          “Shelley as a Literary Critic” by Margaret Adam Beede, appeared in 1937.


          John Beede, in 2005, published “Climb on! Dramatic Strategies for Teen Success,” an inspirational novel for kids just entering high school. One reviewer feels that teens will relate to the situations, such as Anna's, the protagonist’s, unfortunate home life and the loneliness she feels, and see that there are steps to be taken to improve their future, no matter how big or small their goals.


          “Raising Healthy Horses” was published by Bob Beede in 2000.


          “Toward the Sun,” poems by A. McG Beede, published in 1914, was followed a year later by “Heart-in-the-Lodge: All a Mistake.” “Large Indian Cornfields in North Dakota Long Ago: An Indian drama for petite school children,” was another effort by the same author.

[Editors Note:  The Rev. Aaron McGaffey Beede was born 1859 in Sandwich, NH to General Aaron Beede and Mary Boyden McGaffey.  He became a minister and moved west to minister to the Indians.]


          A host of books of all sorts have been published by Beede authors over the years, mostly by small presses or author-published; in fact, lists nearly ninety entries for Beede authored books. A lot of family knowledge is perhaps contained in these pages, in one form or another, a legacy barely tapped, buried treasures waiting to be brought to the surface. The libraries await our inquiries.


Paul Gervais [BEEDE]

Lucca, Italy

March 2007

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Copyright © 2007 by Jack W. Ralph -- All Rights Reserved -- Last Update: Sunday July 20, 2008