C.C. Beekman’s Bank is the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest, the oldest bank building still existing north of California, and the oldest wooden commercial building still standing on Jacksonville, Oregon’s California Street.  How’s that for a pedigree!

Originally established as a gold dust office in 1856, the current 1863 building has been preserved as a museum since Beekman’s death in 1915.  Since you are unable to visit the museum at this time, Historic Jacksonville, Inc.  is bringing the museum to you.  Each week we are sharing museum artifacts and tales of 19th Century banking practices in Thursday Facebook and Instagram posts and of course, here on our website, so join us for this on-going virtual tour!

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman’s Express Safe

This artifact should be easily identifiable—it’s obviously a safe.  It’s also a special safe.  When Cornelius C. Beekman bought his bankrupt former employer’s stables and corral in 1856, he opened Beekman’s Express.  He spent the next 7 years as an express rider carrying mail, parcels, newspapers, and gold over the Siskiyous between Jacksonville and Yreka until he became the local Wells Fargo agent.  To keep miners’ gold secure between trips, he also purchased a safe—this safe.  From this humble beginning Beekman built a business empire of banking, insurance, mining, and real estate interests, and his family became the wealthiest and most prominent of Jacksonville’s pioneer families.

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Location! Location! Location!

We did mention that C.C. Beekman’s Bank is the oldest wooden commercial building still standing on Jacksonville’s California Street.  All other wooden buildings were replaced by “fire proof” brick structures, given that fire was a major hazard in early Jacksonville.  Major fires in 1873, 1874, and 1884 took out most of the original town buildings, even burning right up to the Beekman Bank.  Fire insurance was also an incentive for brick.  Owners of wooden buildings saw their insurance costs skyrocket.  Cornelius Beekman sold fire insurance yet never replaced his wooden building with a brick structure.  Why?  Possibly the real estate mantra:  location, location, location!  Beekman’s Bank was next to one of the town wells and pumps.  That hose you see could be attached to the pump and used to spray down the building in the event of fire.  Admittedly, its efficacy has been called into question given the need for 2 people and the amount of water pressure that could be generated.  Its real purpose may have been to reduce the cost of his fire insurance!

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Gold Scales

Occupying the most prominent place on the bank counter is a huge pair of gold scales, purchased by Beekman in 1857 for a reported sum of $1,000.  They were known to be the most accurate scales in the region. 

Beekman is quoted as saying, “I have weighed enough gold on those gold scales to make a good many men pretty wealthy.  [The largest] brass scale weight can weigh 200 ounces, and yet the scales are so delicate that my breath will depress the scale pan. They are full jeweled and were made by Howard & Davis of Boston.”  The heaviest weight reported was that of a pan of gold dust and nuggets worth $75,000—at a time when gold was selling for $18-$20 an ounce.  Supposedly, over $40 million in gold crossed the Bank’s counters—equivalent to over $1 billion today.

(We might mention in passing that they also weighed many of the children in town–surely valued at more than gold!)

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Records

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum.  Do you ever wonder how we know so much about Beekman’s banking operations?  Cornelius Beekman kept meticulous records of all of his correspondence, orders, and transactions.  He used a copy press, the 19th Century version of our copy machines.  Letters were placed between moistened sheets of very thin parchment paper.  When the machine pressed the pages together, the moist paper would pick up the special ink from the original document.  The writing would be reversed from the original but could be read from the back of the sheet.  Beekman typically used pre-bound ledger books placing blotting sheets between each entry.  Dozens of ledgers still exist containing everything from cigar and oyster purchases to land transactions to running accounts with local merchants to gold shipments.

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Clock

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum.  When you walk into the bank, it’s hard not to notice the impressive clock hanging on the back wall.  It not only keeps the time, it also has a calendar that marks month and day.  When Beekman acquired it in 1876, the Democratic Times noted, “C. C. Beekman this week received a splendid clock from San Francisco, which is about the largest and finest in town.”  This impressive timepiece was manufactured by the Ithaca Calendar Clock Company based on a patent for calendar clocks obtained by H.B. Horton in 1865.   Prior to being offered for sale, the calendar of every clock was run through eight years of days and months, covering 2 leap years. If the calendar registered each date correctly, the calendar movement was considered safe.  The clock received an individual number and could then be offered for sale to the public. The company went out of business in 1918, but its clocks are still ticking and are now collector’s items.  And almost 150 years later, the Beekman Bank clock still runs!

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Derringers

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum.  Cornelius Beekman kept this pair of walnut-grip Philadelphia Deringer pistols in their engraved leather-bound case in the Bank.  The 5-piece set also includes a bullet mold, percussion caps, 8 lead balls and 1 short Ramrod.  The set is currently stored in the Southern Oregon Historical Society collection facility.  SOHS notes in its files, “The Deringer pocket pistol achieved its greatest popularity during the mid-1850s and was a favorite of civilians seeking a compact, easily concealed firearm for use in personal defense. Although the Deringer pistol was somewhat limited by its single-shot capacity, its light weight and small size gave it a distinct advantage over bulkier, unconcealable alternatives, and the limitations of its firing capacity could be circumvented by carrying two pistols, which were sold as pairs for approximately $22 to $25 during that time period.” Beekman’s Bank was never robbed.  These pistols may have had something to do with that fact.
 
“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Pheasant

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum. When you walk into a bank, you don’t expect to see a pheasant, especially one that seems to be pondering whether it’s put sufficient postage on a heavy letter. However, the pheasant has been a resident of the bank since 1899 when Thomas Reames was Beekman’s banking partner and the bank was known as Beekman & Reames Banking House. Jacksonville’s December 26, 1899, Democratic Times noted its arrival in a “Here and There” column: “Among the many handsome Christmas presents given and received in Jacksonville, none will excite more general admiration than a finely mounted specimen of the Chinese golden cock pheasant sent to Gen. Thos. G. Reames by H. Pape, Jr., of Corvallis, whose prowess as a sportsman is well known in this neighborhood. The mounting of the specimen is lifelike, and as he stands, with his best foot foremost and all attention, he exemplifies the innate pugnacity that distinguishes his kind, and renders plausible the theory that the game fowl owes his bravery to an infusion of pheasant blood. He will make a splendid counter ornament at the bank of Beekman & Reames.”

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org


Beekman Bank Gold Shipments

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum.  Supposedly some $40 million in gold crossed the counters of the Beekman Bank during its heyday—equivalent to over $1 billion in today’s value.  Much of that gold was shipped to the mint in San Francisco.  Yet Beekman’s gold shipments were never stolen!  So how did Cornelius Beekman secretly move so much gold?  From 1863 until 1912, Beekman was the Wells Fargo agent and the stage stopped outside the bank door.  There was no parcel post at the time, so Beekman shipped and received all kinds of goods.  According to his son Ben, Beekman did not ship gold in a strong box since that would be the first thing robbers looked for.  He would ship gold in old candle boxes, filling them with just enough gold to equal the weight of a candle shipment and covering the gold with straw or excelsior.  Robbers were not going to be bothered with candles when there was other bounty to be had!

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Coin Tester

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum.  Well into the early 20thCentury, much trading was still done on the barter system.  Until 1861, multiple printed currencies issued by countries, states, and banks were in circulation in the U.S., making their value questionable.  However, actual coinage incorporating metals with known value was limited.  For much of the 19th Century one of the most trusted coins was the Spanish real dollar, accepted worldwide.  Foreign coins were legal tender until 1857 when Congress mandated only U.S. coins for transactions.  That’s why Cornelius Beekman used today’s item—a coin tester.  This little invention could test coins passing from customer to bank or vendor. It only checked the gauge, not the weight, but it was still an effective deterrent for counterfeit coins or coins not locally accepted.  You can still see automated versions in banks today.  If you deposit a large number of coins, the teller will run them through a machine that sorts by denomination and spits out any foreign currency.

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Minimizing Fraud

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum.  We have 2 gadgets today, both designed to minimize fraud.  The black gadget is a cancelling machine, essentially a stamp to prevent postage from being reused. Most stamp cancellations today are automated, but hand cancellation is still used for odd shapes and formal mail such as wedding invitations to avoid potential machine damage.  The lion’s head machine is an embosser, a stamping machine that creates a raised impression when used.  Embossers are also still used today, most commonly on legal papers.  Cornelius Beekman used his when signing real estate contracts.

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

 


Beekman Bank Pre-Electricity Lighting

It’s Thingamabob Thursday!  Since Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is not opening the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum for tours this year, we’re sharing some of the items you can find in this museum—the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest.  The bank was not “electrified” until 1906; for most of its institutional life it was illuminated by candles and oil lamps with wicks.  To accommodate miners and farmers who labored during daylight, Beekman also held evening banking hours, making illumination even more challenging.  His wick trimmer, shown here, would have been used multiple times daily.  The candle or lantern wick would have been positioned in the opening, the handle squeezed, and “snip”!  The action would have effectively snuffed the light at the same time.  (It’s also possible the trimmer might have doubled for clipping the ends off of Beekman’s cigars.  We calculate that he smoked about 5 each day since he ordered 1,000 cigars every 6 months!) 

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. (historicjville) on Facebook for regular history trivia and be sure to check back later today when “Mrs. Beekman Invites You to Call”!

#jacksonvilleoregon #historicjacksonville  #walkthroughhistory  #virtualtour #history #nationalhistoricdistrict #oregonhistory #goldminingtown #beekmanbank

 


Beekman Bank Countering Fraud

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum, the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest.  Do you pay bills by checks?  Could a check you write have an extra zero or 2 added to it?  In the 19th Century, people (including Beekman) didn’t really trust checks.  One concern was having a check “raised” (fraudently changed) by the payee.  Hence the introduction of various forms of check protection.  We’ve previously shared cancellers and embossers.  Today we have a check writer which left a numerical impression that was very difficult to alter in a check’s payment amount field.  Downward force on the check left very small inked shreds in the paper.  The best-known check protectors in the early 1900s had the brand name Protectograph. The Todd Protectograph Co. was established in 1899 by G. W. Todd and made hand-operated mechanical check protectors. Their earliest known ad came in 1902 for the Protector shown here.  By 1910, they reportedly claimed that 85,000 Protectographs were in use in businesses.  With every Todd Check Protectorgraph came a $1,000 insurance policy in the eventuality a fraudulently raised check did get by.

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

#jacksonvilleoregon #historicjacksonville  #walkthroughhistory  #virtualtour #history #nationalhistoricdistrict #oregonhistory #goldminingtown #beekmanbank #checkprotector #check fraud

 


Beekman Bank School Supplies

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum, the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest.  In addition to being a banker, Beekman was an entrepreneur.  As early as 1857, Beekman sold schoolbooks out of his express office, later adding other school supplies.  There is still a large crate behind the counter of the Bank Museum that contained a shipment of schoolbooks from J.K. Gill. 

Once a student had purchased schoolbooks, there apparently was a policy in the late 1800s of simply exchanging new books for old.  An 1879 Ashland Tidings issue included a story of “Little Freddie,” who, upon exchanging at the Bank “two old ‘chawed up’ articles that might have once been books for two new ones, rushed breathlessly up to his parental ancestor exclaiming, ‘Oh, papa, didn’t I cheat him though?”‘ 

We doubt that Beekman felt cheated since he was a major supporter of education.  He served on the Jackson County school board as a member or president for many years, donated funds to construct the 1911 schoolhouse, purchased the school bell for the structure, funded college education for several students, served as a Regent of the University of Oregon for 15 years, and was a co-donor of the Failing-Beekman Prize for literature at the University.

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

#jacksonvilleoregon #historicjacksonville #virtualtour #history #nationalhistoricdistrict #oregonhistory #goldminingtown #beekmanbank #bankmuseum #19thcenturyschoolbooks

 


Beekman Bank Script

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum, the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest.  We talked last week about Beekman selling schoolbooks and supplies out of the Bank.  One of the most popular, and universally used items, was this Spencerian System of Penmanship instruction booklet and the bank still has a drawer full of them!  Can you still read script?  Platt Rogers Spencer, whose name the style bears, used various existing scripts as inspiration to develop a unique oval-based penmanship style that could be written very quickly and legibly to aid in matters of business correspondence as well as elegant personal letter-writing.  Spencerian Script was used in the U.S. from approximately 1850 to 1925 and was considered the American de facto standard writing style for business correspondence prior to the widespread adoption of the typewriter.  Spencerian Script is the motif used in many well-known trademarks including Coca Cola and the original Ford Motor Company logo.  In other words, paper “script” money was not the only script the Beekman Bank circulated!

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

#jacksonvilleoregon #historicjacksonville #virtualtour #history #nationalhistoricdistrict #oregonhistory #goldminingtown #beekmanbank #bankmuseum #19thcenturyschoolbooks #penmanship #spenceriancript #handwriting

 


Beekman Bank Brown Paper Packages

Since the 1863 Beekman Bank Museum is not open for tours, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. is sharing “Beekman Bank Nuggets”—stories and items from the bank museum, the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest.  U.S. government parcel post did not exist until World War I.  If you had anything other than mail to ship, it went by an express service, the most prominent of which was Wells Fargo.  From 1863 to 1912, Cornelius Beekman was not only the local banker, he was also the Wells Fargo agent.  Are you familiar with the “My Favorite Things” song from Sound of Music?  Up until the 1930s, if you ordered merchandise or goods, they came packed in a wooden crate or a “brown paper package tied up with string.” At any given time, the Beekman Bank was filled with crates and packages either coming or going.  Although various forms of glue have existed for over 6,000 years with bases ranging from sap to fish bladders, masking and Scotch tapes didn’t make their debut until 1925; duct tape in 1942 during World War II.  

“Like” Historic Jacksonville, Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for regular history trivia and visit our webpage for a treasure trove of Jacksonville history:  www.historicjacksonville.org

#jacksonvilleoregon #historicjacksonville #virtualtour #history #nationalhistoricdistrict #oregonhistory #goldminingtown #beekmanbank #bankmuseum #wellsfargo #parcelpost #tapehistory 

 

 


info@historicjacksonville.org

© 2018 Historic Jacksonville, Oregon