You Had Me at Fancy Yarns


Well, doesn’t he look spiffy!  He’s even sporting a walking stick!  I fell for this cabinet card the moment I saw it in an antique shop in Auburn, Indiana.  I was thrilled when I flipped it over and found the sitter was identified.

Jackson “Jack” Milford Beams lived in Spencerville, Indiana.  He was married on Valentine’s Day 1889 and died on Christmas day 1940.

Jack, and his brother, Edward, took over ownership of the family store when his father retired.  Beam Bros. was established in 1880 and was located on Main St. in Spencerville.  It carried dry goods, clothing, furniture, furnishing goods, groceries, boots and shoes, and fancy yarns of all kinds.  Fancy yarns!  That would have been my kind of store.

Beams Store
courtesy of The Willenar Genealogy Center, Auburn, Indiana

Jack was appointed postmaster of Spencerville by President McKinley in 1897 and served as such for at least sixteen years.  He and his wife, Hattie (nee Shutt), had two children; a daughter, Agnes, who died very young, and a son, Argyl, who became a physician.

Interesting side note – Jack and his brother were both prosecuted for crimes when they were in their late forties.  In 1912, Edward was accused of breaking up Charley E. Rhoads’ family by debauching his 25-year-old wife, Jennie.  He was acquitted in 1913.

1912 Dec 26 BEAMS Ed DEBAUCHERY case Garrett Clipper at Newspapers Pg 1
Garrett Clipper (Indiana) – Dec. 26, 1912

In 1918, Jack was charged with being an accessory before the fact to petit larceny.  It was alleged that he was involved in the “Whiskey Party of Spencerville” in January when liquor was stolen off a railroad car.  Jack was put on trial in June, but the verdict is unknown.

1918 May 30 BEAMS JACK Petit Larceny Garrett Clipper Garrett IN Pg 1
Garrett Clipper (Indiana) – May 30, 1918

Find A Grave
Census records
Indiana death records
Various newspaper articles from the Garrett Clipper, Garrett, Indiana
History of Dekalb County, Indiana: with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of old families …, B.F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1914
DeKalb County and its towns (Business Directory), published 1895
Willenar Genealogy Center of Auburn, Indiana



3 thoughts on “You Had Me at Fancy Yarns

  1. Another fascinating story! A very small point of inquiry regarding your captioning of the portrait photo. You state “He is even sporting a cane!” but I suggest that, especially in the context of this posed portrait photo, what he is sporting is more accurately called a “walking stick” isn’t it? Feel free to delete, edit, or not approve this comment as I didn’t know how else to make comment directly to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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