Workaday Wednesdays are about the labors our ancestors put their hands to in support of themselves and their (usually) large families.
It goes without saying that those who came before us had far more difficult, inconvenient lives than we do. Most were farmers or self-employed tradesmen. And some, such as Moses Tyler Beach, applied themselves in diverse occupations which, no doubt, used up every moment of daylight. He was a soldier, a farmer, a businessman and a postmaster.
Moses T. Beach, great-great grandfather of George Beach Irvine (1884-1955), was born in Norfolk, Litchfield County, Connecticut. His father was Caleb Beach, one of the early settlers and founders of the town of New Ashford, Berkshire County, MA.
In 1779, at age 17, Moses left his father’s farm and enlisted in the Massachusetts Bay Militia in a company raised to reinforce the Continental Army. He served on and off through 1781, as noted in the below entry in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War.
A copy of the original muster roll shows his service in Capt. Asa Barns’ company.
Moses rose to the rank of corporal in the Militia. A pension record is not on file for him, likely because by the time Congress enacted pensions for Revolutionary War soldiers (1818) Moses was a prosperous farmer and would not have been illegible.
Of note is that Moses’ father, Caleb, also served the Revolutionary cause as a member of the New Ashford Committee of Correspondence. Both Caleb and Moses are noted Patriots in the Daughters of the American Revolution research database.
After the War, Moses returned to New Ashford where, in 1790, he married Lois Brown. Moses remained in New Ashford and with Lois raised a family of five children while working a farm. Their children were: Harry (b. 1791), Augustus (b. 1793), Polly (b. 1795), Tyler (b. 1798) and Louis (b. 1800).
After years of farming in Berkshire County, Western Massachusetts, Moses and his family relocated some 350 miles to East Otto, Cattaraugus County, in Western New York State. As an early settler in East Otto, Moses earned a write-up in the book, History of Cattaraugus County.
Moses was around 60 years old when he embarked on a new life in East Otto. His farming days were over as he set about running two productive mills. As if running his mills didn’t keep him busy enough, Moses also took up the position of the first postmaster of the town.
The mills which Moses built in 1823-24 were still standing over 100 years later when, in 1937, they were sold to a Buffalo businessman. Are the mills still there now, nearly 200 years later? I’m working to find out!
Notice that in the above newspaper article, Moses is given the rank of “captain.” In my research I have found repeated instances of Revolutionary War veterans’ service records being inflated by later generations. But we can be sure that the DAR researchers have done their jobs well, basing their information on original source materials rather than family legend.
Moses Tyler Beach remained in East Otto, surviving his wife Lois (d. 1842), until his death in 1851. As a widower, he is found listed in the 1850 U.S. Census living on the farm of his daughter, Lois (Beach) Bentley, and her family.
In death, Moses’s service to his country was noted in this burial card filed at the East Otto Cemetery. On my next visit to New York, I will try to find his headstone.
What can we take away from a simple sketch of one man’s life?
I find Moses a real inspiration … as a soldier, farmer, miller, postmaster and who knows what else, he experienced a wide variety of employments requiring intellectual and physical skill … not to mention the bravery required of a soldier in battle.
He reinvented himself and branched into new endeavors late in life. Real character-building stuff!