DeWitt F. Beem


DeWitt F Beem

DeWitt F. Beem

14 Jun 1852 — 08 Aug 1921




Arthur and Irene Beem

The marriage of Miss Irene Beatrice Smith, oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Smith of Sloan, Iowa, to Arthur J. Beem, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Beem of Hornick, Iowa, was solemnized at 8 o’clock Thursday evening [morning], March 12 [1931] by Rev. Miler of the Christian Church.

The bride was attended by her sister, Miss Leora Smith, as bridesmaid. Ernest Beem, brother of the groom, was groomsman, Clara Jane Smith, youngest sister of the bride, carried the ring in a white rose bud.

The bride was gowned in white crepe, princess style, with veil of tulle and lace, caught into a cap of pearls and orange blossoms.  She carried a shower bouquet of bride’s roses.  The bridesmaid was frocked in green chiffon and carried a bouquet of pink roses and sweet peas.

Leila Johnson, of Akron, Iowa, cousin of the bride, sang “I Love You Truly.”  To the strains of Lohengrin’s Bridal Chorus, played by Miss Saloma Swearingen, of Jefferson, Iowa, an intimate friend of the bride, the officiating clergyman followed by the groom and groomsman, took their places at the foot of an archway to await the coming of the bridal party.

This consisted of the ringbearer, bridesmaid and the bride who was brought in on the arm of her father.  The ceremony took place in an attractive archway which was decorated in the bride’s colors of nile green and white.  Palm leaves, ferns, and a white wedding bell adorned the archway.

A very dainty two-course lunch was served by the bride’s parents immediately after the ceremony.

The young couple left that night on a short honeymoon, but returned Sunday evening as Mrs. Beem will continue her school duties in Owego for the remainder of the year.

Out-of-town guests were: Mrs. Josephine Johnson and daughter, Leila, of Akron; Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Dubois and Mr. and Mrs. Earl Polly and family of Albaton; Mr. and Mrs. Archie McFarland, Mr. and Mrs. Vern Cummings, Roy Peterson, of Whiting; Mr. and Mrs. James Hennum, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Peterson and Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Peterson, of Sloan.

Mr. and Mrs. Lee Beem and family, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Metcalf and family, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Larsen, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clift, Mr. and Mrs. Freeman Coover, Mrs. N. J. Lockwood, all of Hornick.  Miss Lois Boyer, of Sioux City, Mr. Ernest Beem of Ames, Saloma Swearingen, of Jefferson.

The bride is a graduate of the Sloan high school, later attending Morningside College and Iowa State Teacher’s College, at Cedar Falls.  The groom is a graduate of the Holly Springs high school.  The young couple will be at home to their friends on the groom’s farm north of Holly Springs after March 30.

Beem Decade Glimpses: 1940


The 1940 United States Federal Census showing both the Lee and Arthur Beem families.

Eugene A. Volkman enumerated the Beem family and their neighbors in rural West Fork Township, Woodbury County, Iowa, on April 8, 1940.

Arthur and Irene Beem had a full household in 1940.  At age 30 years old, they had four children: Evelyn (7), who had just completed the first grade, and Jeanette (3), James A. (2), and Mary Jane (1).  The census indicates that Arthur had completed four years of high school, and his wife had one year of college.  Arthur was at work “For pay or profit in private or nonemergency Govt. work during week of March 24-30.”  He worked 60 hours as a farmer that week.  He worked a total of 52 weeks the previous year.  Arthur’s farm schedule was listed as number 37.  Irene was engaged in “home housework.”

Clara Olson Peterson: Irene’s grandmother who lived with them in 1940.

Irene’s widowed grandmother, Clara Peterson, also lived with the family during this time.  She was the only member of the household not born in Iowa; she was born in Wisconsin 84 years before.  As a child, she had only completed the sixth grade.  Because of her advanced age in 1940, it is unsurprising that the census shows she was unable to work.

Arthur and Irene owned their farm home outside of Hornick, Iowa.  The house was worth $6,000 in 1940 – the equivalent of about $96,716 today (as of 2012).  Although they were not new to the community, they had been in their home less than five years.

Arthur and Irene Beem

They were well off enough to employ two people.  Ray (21) and Leona (19) McCoy were both single young people who had each completed four years of high school and were now living with their employers.  Ray worked with Arthur as a farm laborer while Leona was a “hired girl” who helped Irene with the housework.  Both Ray and Leona worked 60 hours a week; Ray’s wages were $90 while Leona earned $100.  Ray had worked 12 weeks in 1939, Leona 26.

In a quirk of the 1940 census, additional questions were asked of Leona because she happened to be enumerated on line 29.  From this we know that she was not a veteran, English was spoken in her home during her earliest childhood, her father was born in Missouri, her mother was born in West Virginia, she did not have a social security number, and she worked in a private home.  Based on this information, we can identify her parents as William and Nora McCoy, farmers who lived in the same area with five other children.

Lee and Anna Beem

Living next door were Arthur’s parents, E. Lee (61) and Anna M. Beem (54) with their last child still at home, Edwin D. Beem (17), who had completed three years of high school, and Irene Becker (13), a lodger who had completed the eighth grade.

Lee was born in Kansas and only finished the sixth grade while in school, while Anna was native to Iowa and had finished the eighth grade. They were now farmers living in a home worth $8,000 – $128,955 in today’s dollars.  According to the census, it was the same home they lived in five years before.

As a farmer engaged in private work, Lee claimed to have worked 72 hours the week of March 24-30 with 52 work weeks in 1939.  Their farm schedule was listed as number 37.

Although the record doesn’t say, I find it likely that the neighboring renter, Frank Cook, worked for Lee.  Frank was listed as a farm laborer who earned a wage of $310 and paid $5 rent for the home he, his wife Pearl, and their two children lived in.

There were plenty of cousins, aunts, and uncles scattered throughout the Woodbury County countryside.  Just as a small example, Alfred Larsen was listed just after the Frank Cook family.  Alfred was Anna M. Beem’s only brother (and consequently, Arthur’s uncle).  He was 45 in 1940 and living with his wife Esther (39) and five children. A few homes later, Lee and Anna’s oldest son, Earnest Beem (31), lived with his wife Lois (31), two sons, and his brother T. DeWitt (23).  The Beem family was deeply rooted in the Iowa farmland in 1940.

The Arthur and Irene Beem home where they lived in 1940.

1940 U. S. Census, Woodbury County, Iowa, population schedule, West Fork Township, enumeration district (ED) 97-96, page 443 (stamped), sheets 3A and 3B, dwellings 41-44 and 46, Arthur Beem, Lee Beem, Frank Cook, Alfred Larsen and Earnest Beem households; digital images,

World War II and Coffee — By Jeanette Koskey


Jeanette's drawing of a farmhouse

There was the War. It was kind of scary. There was talk that the Japanese were coming to our borders, so we had blackouts and things. We had to pull the shades and turn off all the lights. It was very scary.

I can remember rationing our gasoline. We got gasoline because we were farmers, but we couldn’t go a lot of places and use our car. Then there was rationing for sugar which was a big sacrifice. I was very upset. So, we did not bake. I remember not baking. At Christmastime we did make some candy. Sugar and coffee were rationed.

Mother did not drink coffee and Dad didn’t believe in drinking coffee. But, when mother’s family came, we would make the Swedish coffee – they were all into the perked coffee. You put the egg with the shells in the coffee on the stove. What that did, I don’t know. I can remember it smelled so good. It was very good coffee, but we weren’t allowed to drink it.

“You don’t drink, and you don’t smoke, and you don’t drink coffee, and you don’t play cards, and you don’t go with people that do.”

The Smith Sisters: Irene Beatrice Beem (far right) with her younger sisters, Leora E, Lavonne, Harriet Mable, Margaret E, and Clara Jane (not in order).

Interested in Swedish Coffee? Follow This Link to learn how to make it and why it includes an egg.

Easter and the 4th of July — By Jeanette Koskey


One of Jeanette's many drawings.

Easter was special. We colored Easter eggs when I was little. We colored a lot and we always brought them to Sunday School. One year, I got up early and Mother was hiding them outside. We had trees that had places to put them. She didn’t like that I saw her. Anyway, she hid them.

We had Easter sunrise services. I remember when I was a teenager the youth cooked the breakfast, and that was in another church: The Baptist Church at Climbing Hill. I loved that church. That is the church where I almost accepted Christ. We had an early sunrise service, and sometimes I sang. Then we had breakfast there.

We always got together with some relatives for Easter dinner. I don’t think we always had ham. We usually ate what we raised – like a roast chicken.

Jeanette Beem

We always tried to get a new Easter dress and bonnet and new shoes. That was really big. We didn’t have a lot of clothes. The flowers were starting to come up, and we had Easter Lilies. Lilies of the Valley were always up in front of the house which was really pretty. So, I liked Easter.

On the 4th of July, we always tumbled down the hill. We had watermelon, played the piano, and sang. All the aunts and uncles would come or we would go to our grandparents’ for the 4th of July and all the aunts and uncles would go there. There was potato salad, fried chicken, and all wonderful, good food.

Whole Family Joins in Getting Ready for Christmas


Art and Irene Beem. One of the family’s favorites at Christmas is san bakkle, a crisp, rich-tasting Scandinavian pastry that goes well with coffee or cold milk.

Farm Weekly, Monday, December 20, 1948.

THE HOLIDAY season for the Art Beem family of Hornick, Ia., like on thousands of other midwest farms, is a joyous period of planning and preparation, cooking and baking, and anticipation of things to come on the day of all days – Christmas.

Christmas is eagerly awaited by the whole family and probably doubly so by the five children, who range in age from 2-year-old Nancy to 16-year-old Evelyn. It’s a busy season, too, for in addition to the usual chores are found on the 320-acre dairy farm, there is the Christmas program at the Holly Springs school, the 4-H party the week before Christmas, and the program and Christmas services at the Christian church.

HOME MADE CANDY—Janet Beem, 12, stirs up a batch of home made brown sugar fudge while brother Jimmy, 10, looks on with interest. Janet takes over the candy making department during the holiday season on the Beem farm.

Activities are shared, though, Mrs. Beem pointed out, and each of the children has some particular chore to do. For instance, 12-year-old Janet [Jeanette] likes to show her hand in cake baking and candy making; she’ll have quite a part in preparing the many Christmas dishes. Evelyn, 16, helps with the housework and washing of milk utensils, in addition to sandwiching in several hours of piano practice every day. Mary Jane, 9, and Evelyn take turns in gathering eggs and feeding and watering the flock of 200 hens and 10-year-old Jimmy, the lone boy outnumbered by four girls, helps his father with the evening milking chores. It’s his special job to take care of the calves. That leaves the youngest, 2-year-old Nancy, who doesn’t have any particular job except to be thrilled with the lighted tree in the living room and the shiny, red and white tricycle that Santa brought her this Christmas.

Evelyn watches 2-year-old Nancy who exclaims with delight over the red and white tricycle Santa brought her; Santa just couldn’t resist bringing the tricycle a full week ahead of schedule.

Traditional dishes are served by many families on Christmas eve or on Christmas day. Of course, some are purely American like turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies. Others are reflections of old country background.

In her kitchen, Mrs. Beem annually likes to prepare some of the things that have evolved from her Norwegian-Swedish and her husband’s Danish background.

One of the family’s favorites at Christmas is san bakkle, a crisp, rich-tasting Scandinavian pastry that goes well with coffee or cold milk.

1 cup shortening.
1 cup butter.
1 1/2 cups sugar.
1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add flour to stiffen, usually about 3 cups. The dough is pressed into san bakkle tins, a sort of crinkled cupcake tin. Bake lightly.

This recipe will make from 25 to 30 servings. (See cover picture.)

Mrs. Beem said that originally this recipe called for two cups of butter. If you prefer, you may use it that way, although they are very good with the shortening substitute. Christmas eve lunch, traditionally calls for san bakkles, served with homemade ice cream and hot cocoa.

Beat 6 eggs until creamy. Add two cups of sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla and one-half teaspoon of lemon extract. Use half cream and half milk to sell a one-gallon freezer.

Pack with ice and let the children take over the freezing operations. The result: A rich, home-made ice cream that everyone goes for.

Preferred, too, by the family is a quickly made rye-graham bread that can be mixed in the morning and served for dinner.

Use half white and half graham-rye flour, following usual bread recipe. Add four cups of liquid, either potato water or milk. Use two dry yeast cakes, one-half cup sugar, two tablespoons of molasses, one tablespoon of salt. Let raise and form loaves.

SERVE WITH COFFEE – Mary Jane Beem shows the finished product, a tempting, frosted Swedish coffee ring, one of the favorites of the Art Beem family of Woodbury county, Ia. The recipe for this treat is given in the story.

For breakfast or in-between snacks. You may want to try another favorite, a Swedish coffee ring.

Use your usual sweet bun recipe, and then divide into thirds. Use one-third for the ring; the rest may be used for buns.

Roll to one-half inch in thickness. Spread with butter. Then spread one and one-half cups of chopped dates. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll as for cinnamon rolls. Instead of slicing make a ring of dough joining the ends. Place on a greased pan. Take scissors and clip every half-inch to a depth of one inch. Let raise for one hour and then bake 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Top with powdered sugar frosting.

With home-raised popcorn and home-made candy there are plenty of added treats for the children. Fudge, divinity and brown sugar fudge are usually on the holiday schedule and here is where Janet takes over. Here is her recipe for brown sugar fudge:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons syrup
2-3 cups rich milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook and then set until cool. Then beat until smooth and pour into a buttered dish.

Fruit cake is traditional, too. Mrs. Beem always bakes it before Thanksgiving, insuring a good supply for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s day.

When the children were smaller Santa used to come Christmas eve when the children were asleep and bring the tree and gifts. Now Santa really exists only for 2-year-old Nancy and the rest of the children heartily cooperate to carry out that theme. The tree usually goes up a week before Christmas with all the children helping to decorate. Presents go under the tree but it isn’t until Christmas morning that the tension is relieved and everyone unwraps his presents.

CHORES TO DO – Work gets done faster and the whole family can enjoy Christmas festivities if everyone pitches in to get the chores done early. Nine-year-old Mary Jane Beem is responsible for gathering the eggs and feeding the 200 hens on the farm.

Mr. Beem gets up at 5 a. m. every morning to start milking his 30 cows, but Christmas morning is one time when all the children get up with him. No urging is needed. On the contrary, there are usually a few queries all through the night, “Mother, is it time to get up yet?”

Christmas — By Jeanette Koskey


HOME MADE CANDY—Janet Beem, 12, stirs up a batch of home made brown sugar fudge while brother Jimmy, 10, looks on with interest. Janet takes over the candy making department during the holiday season on the Beem farm.

Christmas was very special because of the food we prepared. There was a newspaper at that time – a supplement to the Sunday Journal that came out. It was like a farm journal, and they came and took pictures and wrote a whole article about our family and how we prepared for Christmas.

My job was to make the fudge. There was a picture of me doing the fudge and my brother Jimmy was watching. I think they had Mary gathering the chickens and different things that they did. The sunbackles that Mother made were a Swedish [or Norwegian] cookie.

We each got one or two presents, and then we had one big one for the family. Christmas wasn’t centered on presents, but it was spent preparing for all the good food: the homemade breads, the cookies, the candies. It was just really wonderful growing up.

We always went to church Christmas Eve and had a program which we were always in. Santa would come into the church. It was just Santa. We all knew what Christmas was all about. We would get a brown bag of traditional Christmas candy – that hard candy – and an orange which was really a treat. We did not have a lot of fruit in the winter. We had canned fruit but not like fresh oranges and things. That was a luxury.

Then we went home, and we opened our presents on Christmas Eve. I can remember Grandpa and Grandma coming down on Christmas morning sometimes, so we did it Christmas morning then. I am not quite sure when the change was; I think it was when we got a little older.

I remember them coming down one Christmas morning. We never had a lot of presents. We all had one and maybe a small one, but then Dad said, “Oh, there is one more present!” Grandpa and Grandma [Lee and Anna Beem] were there. I remember getting a toboggan. That was for all of us. Other times Jim would get a bike or something big like that.

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