Daniel Beach (1830-1913) was born in Tyrone, NY, the son of Obadiah and Mary (Lang) Beach. His first American ancester was John Beach, of Wales, who came with the early Pilgrims and settled at the New Haven Colony before 1643. Prominent among his ancesters was his maternal great-grandfather, Robert Lang who served throughout the revolution as quartermaster of the 3d (Westchester County) New York regiment, organized early in the war, with Pierre van Cortlandt, as colonel, and was engaged in the battles along the Hudson River.
Daniel Beach was reared on his father's farm, and received his early education in the neighboring common schools and academies. He was a student for a time at Union College and was graduated from Alfred University in 1856. For several years he was a teacher in the schools of his native county and in New York city. He served as superintendent of schools in his native town, and was chosen as school commissioner of Schuyler County, NY in 1860. He studied law, and after graduating at the Albany Law School in 1862, practiced law at Watkins, New York. He was married in that year to Angelica Church Magee, daughter of Hugh Magee, and niece of John Magee.
Throughout his life he lived in Watkins, and owned farms in Watkins, Dix, Reading and Tyrone, New York. He was partnered in Watkins with William Martin in a milk route, distributing over 500 qts. of milk daily.
In 1864 he became general counsel for the Fall Brook Coal Co. and the railroad companies owned and leased by it*. Subsequently he was director, general counsel and vice-president of the Fall Brook Railway Co. and the Fall Brook Coal Co., and was for several years treasurer of the latter as well as the Morris Run Coal Mining Co. As a director and officer he was also connected with the construction and operation of the Syracuse, Geneva and Corning railroad; the Tioga Improvement Co.; Buffalo Dock and Terminal Railway Co.; Chest Creek Land and Development Co.; the Beech Creek railroad and several other interests.
In 1868, upon the death of John Magee, he served as excecutor of his very complex estate, in addition to his duties with the Fall Brook Co.
In 1885, he was elected regent of the University of the State of New York. Alfred University conferred upon him successively the degrees of M.A. (1885), PH.D.(1886) and LL.D (1902). In 1888 Hamilton College also conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D.
In 1886, Daniel Beach delivered a major address at the unveiling of a monument to John Magee in Wellsboro, PA, which stands to this day. Delivered outdoors on December 1st, the address is a testament to the stamina of this solid man, as well as that of his audience. The complete address may be viewed here.
"He was the last of that band of wonderful men - Horatio Seymour, James H. Gulick, John Magee, John Arnot, John Lang, Humphries Brewer, Constant Cook, F. L. Drake - whose genius, courage and foresight constructed the bonds which inseparably link together Central and Southern New York, and Northern and Central Pennsylvania, and Mr. Beach was not the least of these".
He was instrumental in the negotiations for the acquisition of the Fall Brook system by the New York Central, and it speaks well for him that he was greatly respected by the Vanderbilts. At the absorption of the system by the New York Central lines, he gradually retired from active life except as a director of the Fall Brook Coal Co., Trustee of the John Magee and George J. Magee Estates, and 1st Vice President of the Fall Brook Railway Company, until its ultimate dissolution.
He died in 1913. In a tribute by the New York State Board of Regents, Commissioner Draper remarked: "He grew up in a pioneer day, builded his character upon a thorough education, became a successful lawyer, acquired a competence by thrift, honesty and industry, reared a fine family, served his fellow men in modest yet in most resultful ways, lived a long life in the vicinity of his birth, and died honored and respected by his neighbors and friends. Such a live is worth while. Such a man is a valued citizen in a free state. There was no lack of moral fiber in Daniel Beach's character and no lack of high purpose in his actions. Impatient of detail, he dealt with large matters in large ways."
* In 1864, upon becoming general counsel for the Fall Brook Companies, Daniel Beach was issued this handwritten pass by John Magee:
"Watkins Dec. 31, 1864
The bearer Daniel Beach is in my employ acting for me. Conductors of Coal Trains between Watkins and
Corning, and Conductors of all trains between Corning and Fall Brook will pass him free of charge
till December 31, 1865.
John Magee, Psnt."
Spectacular view from porch of Daniel Beach farmhouse overlooking Seneca Lake.
(compiled from The National Cyclopedia American Biography, newspaper accounts, and family papers of the time.)