BEEMAN, William A.

From Islapedia
May 28, 1890 W. A. Beeman took over as Lighthouse Keeper, Farallon Islands until January 6, 1901 when
C. J. Cain took over. Beeman kept the daily log, now in the
National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego

BEEMAN, William Arrington (1861-1920), born in Sonora, California. He had one brother, Josiah "Joe", and two sisters, Isabella and Mattie Irene.

  • Third Assistant Lighthouse keeper at the Farallon Islands (1889)
  • Second Assistant Lighthouse Keeper (1889)
  • First Assistant Lighthouse Keeper (1889-1890)
  • Head Lighthouse Keeper (1890-1901)

Beeman lived on the island with his wife and children. Two children died while Beeman was keeper.

  • February 22, 1890 [Farallon Logbook, National Archives]: “Keeper's child drowned today. Boat capsized.”
  • Son Royal died in 1899 at age 11 year, 5 months and 23 days [August 7, 1887] after a courageous trip from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco in an attempt to save his life. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA.

The Beemans were related to the Cains on the island. Their children were cousins.

William Beeman died at age 57 in San Diego, California.


William Arrington Beeman = Wilhelmina Elizabeth Oreamuno [Oramans] (1862-1940)

  • Child Beeman (drowned 1890)
  • Royal Mateo Beeman (1887-1899)
  • Mercedes Genevie Beeman [Backus] (1889-1953) = Ray C. Backus (1882-1940)
* Joseph Beeman Backus (1916-1994)
  • Virgina Estelle Beeman [Burke] (1891-1982) [SS#560-20-1588]
  • Isabella J. Beeman (1898- )
  • William Stratton Beeman (1900-1971)
* Sally Anne Beeman (1937- ) = [1956] John Timothy Terry









  • 1893. “ Brief Notes of Interest. Mr. W.A. Beeman, principal keeper on the Farallone Islands, has introduced California Quail on the island recently and reports they are doing well. This and the Rock Wren are the only land birds there.” [The Nidiologist 1(3):47, November 1893.]


  • February 15, 1895 [Farallon Logbook, National Archives]: 32 of my chickens died from poison. W.A. Beeman, keeper
  • December 27, 1898 [Farallon Logbook, National Archives]: Keeper's son [Royal Beeman] very sick. Nothing in sight.
  • December 27, 1898 [Farallon Logbook, National Archives]: Keeper's son worse. Nothing in sight.
  • December 29, 1898 [Farallon Logbook, National Archives]: Mr. Beeman's wife, son, daughter & Mr. Engelbrecht went to City on the black boat 1210 p.m.
  • January 6, 1899 [Farallon Logbook, National Archives]: Pilot #7 called with news of the death of Mr. Beeman's son [Royal].



Island Collections~
ISLAND COLLECTOR INSTITUTION DATE NUMBER SPECIMEN
Farallon Islands W. H. Beeman DMNS July 15, 1893 DMNS-1223 Uria aalge Eggs
Farallon Islands W. H. Beeman WFVZ July 15, 1893 WFVZ-20624 Uria aalge Eggs
Farallon Islands Roy Beeman WFVZ June 27, 1896 WFVZ-49990 Oceanodroma homochroa Eggs





In the News~

May 18, 1890 [SFCall]: “Treasury has made the following light house appointments in California...William A. Beeman, keeper at the Farallon Station.”


June 9, 1894 [SFCall]: “Near to death. A tragic adventure of the Farallones. Lighthouse keeper Beeman and his assistant capsized in a raging sea. The United States lighthouse steamer Madroño, which left port yesterday morning to go to San Diego, made an unexpected return yesterday morning and landed eight passengers at Folsom Street wharf, two of whom were in a condition well-nigh resembling that of shipwrecked seamen. The other passengers were three ladies and three children. On the return of the vessel hangs a little tale of marine adventure, in which the two forlorn-looking passengers were chief actors. When the Madroño left here it was the intention of Captain Davis to stop at the Farallon Islands and there leave a supply of provisions and fuel with W. A. Beeman, who is in charge of the lighthouse on the rocky cliffs which the sea gulls call their home. He also had on board Mrs. George Downey of Virginia City, Nev.; Mrs. C. J. Kane, wife of the first assistant at the lighthouse, and her three children, and Miss Ruth Kaneen, who is engaged to be married to E. P. Cashin, the third assistant at the lighthouse. It was about 8 o'clock yesterday morning when the Madroño came to anchor off the north heads of the islands. A very heavy gale was blowing and the sea was running unusually high. Notwithstanding the rough weather though Mr. Beeman and his third assistant, Mr. Cashin, put off in a small boat to her, with the expectation of boarding her until her goods and female passengers who were going to remain at the islands could be landed. They miscalculated the strength of the sea, however, and before they knew it the rough waves were dashing all over their boat until it was fairly swamped. The two men were powerless and were in grave danger of finding a watery grave. The ladies on the Madroño shrieked as they saw the danger while Captain Davis and his men undertook to save the imperiled boatmen by throwing ropes to them. Finally they caught the ropes and were drawn aboard half drowned. The swamped boat drifted around until it was caught with a rope and dragged up alongside the steamer. Afterward Mr. Cashin was lowered down by a rope and baled the boat out. All day the Madroño hung off and on trying to make a landing at the islands, but could not do so. Last night she parted with her anchor in the strong sea and this morning it was decided to return to the city and land the passengers here where they could await an opportunity of going out on a tug and effecting a landing when the sea would be calmer. Both Beeman and Cashin only had overalls and jumpers on when they went out in the boat, and these were pretty well torn in their struggle in the waves, which accounted for their forlorn appearance when they landed here. They went to the house of J. L. Bartlett, 25 Silver Street, where they were cared for by him and his wife, both of whom are friends of the party. They will try to go out to the islands today on the tug Vigilant, taking their boat with them. In their absence the islands are in charge of First Assistant C. J. Kane and Second Assistant R. H. Williams. The Madroño sailed for the south yesterday afternoon and will leave her provisions and fuel at the Farallones on her return trip. Mr. Beeman says the adventure was about as close a call as he ever wants to have.”


Farallon Islands teacher, Miss Hensel, 1896


September 12, 1896 [SFCall]: “The keeper of the lighthouse at Farallon islands asked for school facilities for ten children, offering to furnish free board for a teacher.”


December 31, 1896 [SFCall]: “The Farallon School. What Miss Daily Doud, Appointee of the School Board, may expect to encounter. An interesting story, told in letters, of life on the rockbound haunts of the seagull. Miss Daisy Doud, the pretty young teacher appointed at the last session of the Board of Education to teach the young idea at the Farallon Islands how to shoot, will not, it seems, have everything her own way. When school facilities at the islands became imperative last fall Lighthouse keeper Beeman, who it appears is monarch of the romantic, rockbound demense, applied for the establishment of a school and the appointment of a teacher. He was told in so many words that the City of San Francisco could not afford to pay the teachers it had, much less provide new ones for ten pupils on an ocean excrescence. Nothing daunted Mr. Beeman determined to engage a first-class teacher in his own capacity as a private citizen and applied to Principal Robertson of the Hamilton Grammar School for advice. Mr. Robertson, after due consideration, selected Miss Ellen M. Hensel, who had proved of the highest rank in the Girls' High School and the third highest in Miss Fowler's Normal School. An attempt was made to have Miss Hensel appointed by the board, but she was informed privately that her influence to that end was inadequate. Anyway, Miss Hensel was engaged by Mr. Beeman to teach the young Farallonites. She signed a contract on November 15 for six months at $10 a month and board, and on November 17 last was taken by Principal Robertson to the island, where she has remained ever since. Her mother, Mrs. M. J. Payne of this City, was wondering yesterday what would be the result of the board's appointment. "There are less than ten pupils on the island," said she, "and how is Miss Daisy going to divide them up with my Ellen? Of course, my daughter stands very high—higher than Miss Doud—in her profession, and it seems unjust that the latter should receive $60 a month for what my daughter does, or half of what she does, for $10. I do not wish to say anything against Miss Doud, who is doubtless a nice girl and perfectly innocent in the matter. The fault and the burden seem to lie with the oppressive political system. "But I fear that Miss Doud will not find everything to her taste on the Farallones. Judging by letters from my daughter she is a complete exile, not able to visit her mother during her six months' service, and only able to communicate irregularly by mail. The regular letters go every three months, but my arrangement with kindly pilots I manage to get word to and from her about every two weeks. My Christmas present of books to lighten her banishment has not yet reached her, and in stormy weather communication is completely cut off." Nevertheless Miss Hensel seems quite happy. Following are some interesting extracts discretely made from recent letters received by Mrs. Payne from her bright daughter on the island:

Don't be worrying about me falling off the rocks; I can climb like a goat. *** Write often. I'll get your letters some time and they are just as welcome old as new. *** Your letter mailed on the 15th (this is the 23rd of December) came on Sunday, so you see the pilot-boat is the quickest way. *** There is no piano on the island. *** I will have but three scholars for several months.*** I shall stay until May 17; then if I want to stay longer I can do so, which is a great comfort, for then I can take my vacation and find out about other schools in June or July. *** I must have a sun bonnet—it is the only thing I can keep on my head. *** You see mail and things only come through the lighthouse office every three months. *** We had greens [Lasthenia maritima] for dinner last Sunday. They are the only green things that grow here naturally. It is something between a grass and a weed. The greens are splendid I think. *** Mrs. Beeman is very much disappointed that the things for the children's Christmas have not come yet. They believe firmly in Santa Claus and will be much disappointed if they have no tree. *** Mrs. Beeman is very, very nice to me, in fact everybody on the island is very kind. The school house is about half a block from Mr. Beeman's house. I have a folding lounge in the front room, and when I shut the door I can be alone. I am at the school house now. It has four rooms and was used as a dwelling house when the lighthouse was first built. The hosue is plastered and is very nice and warm. I have three windows in the schoolroom, so there is plenty of light there. I have nine desks, so you see I have room for five more scholars. *** I wish you could look out of my window now and see the breakers dashing upon Saddle Rock!”


March 24, 1897 [SFCall]: “She won her bet on Fitzsimmons. Miss Daisy Doud secured keeper Cashin's long hair. Lots of fun over the payment of a bet on the Farallones yesterday. It was a case of a fine head of hair versus a new suit of the best underclothing. The echo of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight has reached the Farallones. While separated from the Golden Gate by a stretch of thirty-two miles of sea, still the news of the doings of the gladiators was received at weekly intervals. When the last papers reached the island it looked as though Corbett was a sure winner. Nevertheless, Miss Daisy Doud, the new "schoolmarm" on the island, had no faith in the pompadour, and so expressed herself. The lightkeepers were firm followers of Jim, and each and all of them were willing to wager a month's salary against Miss Daisy's glove that the Californian would win. Miss Doud was game, however, and called at least one of the men down. Ed Cashin, the chief assistant keeper, was her chief tormentor, and she got "even with him." "You think Corbett will win," said she. "Well I'll bet you a new suit of underclothes, a new shirt and a new collar and necktie against your head of hair." Now Cashin's hair is the pride of the Farallone station and he thought twice before he accepted the offer. After thinking the matter over and reading the Examiner's account of the condition of the men, he came to the conclusion that he could not lose, and made the bet. That bet was his undoing and now he is as "bald as a badger." When the news of Fitzsimmins' victory reached the rocky island Cashin was reading "trilby" and dreaming about Little Billie and some other characters. He had a rude awakening however. Chief Keeper William Beeman, Captain "Gill" Brokaw of the tug Reliance and two or three others appeared on the scene and aroused Cashing from his reverie. Miss Doud showed him a copy of The Call which chronicled the defeat of Corbett and at once demanded her "pound of flesh." The gallant light-keeper made all kinds of excuses and finally refused point blank to give up his abundant crop of hair. It was a case of "willy nilly" as Captain Beeman, Captain Brokaw of the Reliance and two other of the men on the island were in attendance. Cashin was strapped into a chair and Captain Beeman did the barber's work. as soon as the luxuriant growth was cut short Miss Doud was called for and a well-sharpened razor was handed to her. It was wonderful the change that came over Cashin. Where before he had been fighting at every clip made by the scissors, he was now quiet as a lamb. He didn't even wince when his scalp was lathered, and twenty minuted later when his scalp was as clean as a whistle he got out of the chair and said: "You made a good job of it, Miss Doud." He looked at himself in the glass again, and again remarked: "Yes it is a great job, but it's awful cold." Captain Brokaw fathers the story that Cashin has ordered a Chinese scalp-piece and pigtail, in order to make at least the appearance of a heathen during the time his hair is growing. Miss Daisy has won her first bet and she is satisfied.”


December 30, 1898 [SFCall]: “Lighthouse keeper Beeman attempted the trip to this city in a Whitehall during a gale. While cruising near the Farallon Islands yesterday afternoon, Captain F. W. Jordan of the pilot-boat America came upon an open boat, in which were W. Beeman, head lighthouse keeper, his wife and two children, one an infant of two months and the other a boy of ten years, and H. Engleberg, the assistant lighthouse keeper. They were in distress and Captain Jordan picked them up and brought them to this city, making a special trip and returning to sea last night. The son of Mr. Beeman has been ill for some time, and as he became worse yesterday it was decided to attempt the trip to this city in an open boat. The party left the island about 1 o'clock p.m., expecting to reach San Francisco in about three hours. The sea was very heavy, and the wind was blowing a gale from the north. Despite the efforts of the two men at the oars but little progress could be made. After being out four hours but sixteen miles had been made, and this considerably out of their course. Both of the men were greatly fatigued by the with the heavy sea when Captain Jordan arrived on the scene and went to their rescue. He landed them at Meiggs wharf about 10 o'clock last night, and the sick boy was immediately taken to a doctor. The father had been waiting several days for a quiet day to bring is son to the city and had also been on the lookout for some vessel which he might hail. Vessels very seldom touch at the islands, the tender Madroña [sic] being about the only one, and her trips are about a month apart. The serious illness of the boy required medical attention, and Mr. Beeman determined to risk the trip in an open boat. The fortunate appearance of Captain Jordan and his kindness in taking the party on his boat probably saved their lives, as the Whitehall could not have lasted in the heavy sea.”


January 5, 1899 [SFCall]: “Death of little Royal Beeman of the Farallones. Little Royal Mateo Beeman, the boy whose mother braved the terrors of a norther in order to bring him from the Farallones to a doctor, died last Tuesday. It will be remembered that the boat in which the mother and her companions attempted the dangerous trip was nearly swamped and all of them would have been drowned had not the pilot boat America gone to their assistance. Captain Jordan not only picked them up but brought the party to the city. The best medical care could do little Royal no good, so he passed away in his mother's arms.”


January 7, 1899 [Marin County Tocsin]: “Little Royal Mateo Beeman, the boy whose mother braved the terrors of a norther in order to bring him from the Farallones to a doctor, died last Tuesday. It will be remembered that the boat in which the mother and her companions attempted the dangerous trip was nearly swamped and all of them wold have been drowned had not the pilot boat America gone to their assistance.”


June 28, 1899 [SFCall]: “A day at the Farallones. The rookeries inspected by L. C. A. Strother. He was greatly amazed at the great size and large numbers of the wolves of the Pacific. There was an expedition to the Farallon Islands yesterday that is likely to have some bearing upon the question of killing sea lions, as a means of preserving the food fish and especially the salmon, in the near future. A number of gentlemen, whose reports have a certain weight at Federal headquarters, went to the islands as the guests of Captain U. Sebree, the lighthouse inspector of this district. Principal among them was A. T. Vogelsang, chairman of the State Fish Commission; Deputy A. W. Wilson, and Lancelot C. A. Strother, a scientific gentleman and sportsman recently from the east. In order that the importance of the visit to the home of the seal herds may be understood it must be remembered that a couple of months ago the State Fish Commissioners were urged by the river fishermen to take steps toward reducing the sea lions, which are killing thousands of pounds of food fish, to say nothing of the loss of nets costing from two to four hundred dollars. Permission was obtained from the Federal authorities at Washington to carry out the plan laid down and a number of expert rifle shots were sent to the Farallon Islands and to the rookeries near the bay. It was also decided not to do much killing until the breeding season opened in June, when the animals have less fear for the hunters and their guns About the time the real work was to have commenced the permission by the Federal authorities was suddenly revoked on account of a few protests sent to the Treasury Department by a number of Eastern sentimentalists and the League of American Sportsmen, who seemed to have an idea that the thinning out meant the extermination of the sea lion herds of the entire coast. Mr. Vogelsang at once wrote to the people at Washington protesting the interference of those who were not familiar with the situation here. The force of his argument seemed to have some weight, for when Mr. Strother headed for the West several members of the league expressed the wish to have the views of an enthusiastic sportsman upon the situation. As it was about the time for Captain Sebree to make his regular trip to the islands he invited the gentlemen to go out with him. The lighthouse tender Madroño left the city at 7 o'clock yesterday morning, and in due time was piloted to the islands by Master Davies. Under the care of Captain W. A. Beeman the party was taken to the big rookery on what is known as the Saddle Rock, where the main breeding ground is located. At this season of the year the large males are particularly savage, and unless a gun is used they prevent man from putting foot on the rocks. As shooting had been prohibited the party was obliged to view the situation from a distance. The rock covers an area of several acres and from the top to the water's edge every part was occupied by "king bulls", females and hundreds of pups. Mr. Strother was astonished at the enormous size of the sea lions. He stated that the impression of the protestants in the East is that these animals are about the same size as those exhibited in the zoological gardens, something over four feet long. These he saw yesterday run from eight to fourteen feet in length and weigh from 1200 to 3000 pounds. Several of the larger ones measured over three feet through the neck six inches back of the ears. It was estimated that on the Saddle Rock alone there were fully 2500 sea lions, to say nothing of the young, which were very numerous. From there the steamer took the party to the North Farallones, four huge rocks which are several miles to the north. The same condition of affairs was found to exist there, only that the sea lions were more numerous. The rocks were covered with the fish killers and more were coming. A rough estimate by the members of the party placed the total number of seals in sight at over 9000.—a short run was made to the rookeries at Point Reyes, but the rocks were deserted. Mr. Strother states that the people of the East have no conception of the situation here. While he did not say what report he will make to his friends, it is safe to say that if his arguments have any weight the prohibition to killing will be raised next season. It is very likely that the personal observations of Mr. Vogelsang will be sent to the authorities at Washington. Mr. Strother will next visit the rookeries to the south in a day or so. From the rookery below Half Moon Bay he expects to secure the head and shoulders of one of the large bull sea lions to send to his friends in the East for inspection. The specimen will eventually find lodgment in one of the institutions of learning at Toronto, Canada.”


May 18, 1890 [SFCall]: “Treasury has made the following lighthouse appointments in California: Henry W. Young, keeper at the San Luis Obispo Light Station; John W. Kenns, second assistant at Point Reyes; William A. Beeman, keeper at the Farallon Station.”


May 9, 1908 [Lopmoc Journal]: “Wm. Henderson was in from Point Arguello yesterday on a brief visit. He has been appointed keeper of the lighthouse at the point, succeeding W. A. Beeman, who will leave the first of the week for San Diego to take charge of the government light at Point Loma. Mrs. Beeman and family will also have their home at the latter place.”