Phelps & Servin Phelps Family in America reprints now available
Save $201. Reprints of the 1899 Phelps Family in America family history are now available.

John Tucker Beasley 1883-1950

Salesman to Hotel Manager

My grandfather Johnson Tucker Beasley died at age 67 before I was born. He was a bit of a family history buff and found information on Beazley ancestors from Spotslyvania County, Virginia, that he though might be his ancestors:

"Probably the best and most accurate information I secured is from the records of Spotsylvania County, Va., which is adjacent to Culpepper County, Va., where my father was born. No doubt, we are of the same tribe of Beasleys."

I have yet to find a connection between the two tribes, though it still seems likely. His father Luther Sanford Beasley was born in Brandy Station, Virginia, north-east of Culpeper. He moved to Lexington, Illinois between 1870 and 1880, where he married his first cousin Mattie Claggett, also a southerner from Virginia.

Luther Sanford Beasley family circa 1899. In front of the family home in Lexington, Illinois. Left rear, clockwise: Luther Sanford, Johnson 'John' Tucker, Ruth Matella (Claggett), Ann 'Kitty' Catherine, Beulah, Guy Claggett, Ruth Matella , Frances Folsom, and Felix Matthew Beasley. The 1900 census reports John's occupation at age 17 as a dry goods clerk. His uncle Bernard Clagget owned a "dry goods store" as of the 1900 Census, so it's possible Johnson worked there.
Johnson Beasley 1912  14 years old
John Beasley in about 1912 at age 28. At age 17 or 18 in 1900 he moved to Chicago where he got a job as a clerk. In 1910 he landed a job as a Sales Representative with the American Seating Company, "Exclusive Manufacturers Of Furnishings For Theatres Churches Schools And All Public Buildings." At age 30, in February, 1913, he met Lizzie Bremser in the perfume department at Marshall Fields, the largest department store in Chicago. They dated and within two months were engaged. They married two weeks later. The witnesses were Lizzie's best friend, Hazel Liggett, and John's brother, Guy. Lizzie wrote her parents about her pending marriage only five days before. She told them she would be bringing her new husband home the Saturday afterward to meet them.
John Beasley 1938
John Beasley in 1930. John and Elizabeth had their first son Robert 10 months after they were married, on February 9, 1914. He died four days later. John and Lizzie separated for a while. They moved from Chicago to Des Moines, Iowa. John traveled a lot for his job. (Years later his daughter Jane said her father had a reputation as a "high expense man", and a "womanizer and a drinker.") Twins Jane and ruth were born on May 31, 1917. Ruth is frail, and is often ill over the next two years. When on the streetcar, Elizabeth asks strangers to hold Jane, while she holds Ruth.

In 1918, John was promoted to Sales Manager. On September 27, 1918, Ruth died of Influenza, a victim of the Spanish Flu. John and Elizabeth separated for a period. Ten months later Mary Elizabeth (nicknamed Betty) was born. It was obvious when she was born that she was not well. She had a heart defect, known today as blue baby. She died at age 5 on December 30, 1925. In early 1926, the family moved and bought a house at at 5601 Park Ave in Kansas City, Missouri. Less than seven months later, Annabeth was born.
John Beasley
John and Elizabeth were hit hard by the Depression. John moved from his job as a commissioned salesman and became a Manufacturer's Agent for the American Seating Company. No one was buying public seating. John took a second mortgage on the house, despite Elizabeth's strenuous objections.The spector of foreclosure loomed over the family. John moved out in 1930 and went back to Chicago. With no means of support, two daughters to raise, and unable to pay two mortgages, Elizabeth rented the house and moved back to Norwalk, Ohio, where her family lived. In 1943, he worked for the Jonas Photo Frame Manufacturing Co.,
John Beasley December 1948
Johnson Tucker Beasley in December 1946. After he left Lizzie, Jane, and Annabeth in Kansas City, he worked a variety of jobs. In 1942, he worked for the Chicago Motor Club.

John could be a hard man to get along with. His daughter Jane wrote, "In graduate school [around 1944] I came into Chicago to accompany a friend to the hospital. On leaving the hospital I called my father to tell him I was in town, was returning to Ann Arbor on a train later that day, but would have some time to visit, if he were free. He became annoyed that I had not told him in advance of my coming, saying that since I hadn't bothered to tell him, he wouldn't bother to see me. I never talked to him again or wrote him. I only attended a graveside burial service in the little town where he had grown up. This was five or six years after the call."

In 1946, he was in charge of the Bismarck Hotel at 171 W. Randolph Street in Downtown Chicago. In 1947, he managed the Devonshire Hotel at 19 East Ohio St., four blocks north of the Chicago River. When he died of a heart attack on April 1, 1950, he was manager of the Hazel Crest Hotel at 4276 Hazel Ave. on Chicago's north side.