Beekman-behind-Bank-CounterBeekman Bank

The Beekman Bank, constructed around 1863, was one of the few wooden commercial buildings to survive Jacksonville’s numerous fires.

When Cornelius C. Beekman purchased this lot, he had already been in Jacksonville for almost 10 years. In 1853, Beekman had obtained a job with Cram, Rogers & Company, an express company in Yreka, as a “connecting agent” in the new mining town of Jacksonville, Oregon. Beekman himself rode over the Siskiyou Mountains two or three times a week from Jacksonville to Yreka carrying gold dust, parcels, and letters for miners and settlers.

Cram, Rogers & Company failed in 1856, and Beekman purchased their Jacksonville stables and corral for $100, establishing Beekman’s Express. He initially operated out of a one-story structure that he shared with Dr. Charles Brooks’ Drugstore on the southeast corner of California and Third streets.

Beekman also used the Beekman Express structure as a “gold dust office.” In 1857, Beekman’s office became the first bank in Southern Oregon and the second oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest. By the time he constructed the current Beekman Bank site, some $4 million in gold reportedly passed across his counters.

Beekman ran his bank with a personal touch. When someone wanted to borrow money, he had to approve the request. If the individual was trustworthy and the investment sound, he loaned my own money rather than that of the bank. However, rather than paying interest on customer deposits, Beekman charged the depositors for storage. Beekman also sold books, supplies, and stationery out of the bank.

By 1912, Beekman had competition from the Bank of Jacksonville, new banking regulations had been introduced, and most businesses had moved to Medford. He officially announced the closure of his bank that year, but continued to operate for his old customers until 1915, the year he died.

At his death the doors were closed, and the Bank building remains as it was when Beekman operated it.

© 2021 Historic Jacksonville, Oregon