top of page

The Life and Times of Thomas K Beecher


  • 1851 to Olivia Day (b. 1826) in 1853 She dies while pregnant; Beecher is devastated.

  • 1857 to Julia Jones (Olivia's cousin and best friend, also born 1826). They had no children of their own, but adopted three and fostered many.

In Elmira

  • Serves as Chaplin 141" NY Regiment, Union Army - 1862-64.

  • Gives first Sunday worship at Confederate Prisoner of War Camp, July 1864 in Elmira.

  • 1866 - Takes a leave of absence for his health and travels to Cape Horn, Brazil and California

  • 1867-8 - Serves as member of the Elmira Board of Education

  • 1868 - School #1 built, later razed and rebuilt. It is named Thomas K. Beecher School in his honor.

  • 1868 - Meets Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) on his first visit to Elmira to see Olivia Louise Langdon. The Langdons were some of the original founders of the Park Church.

  • 1869 - Twain writes "SCAT" article about Beecher's popularity in the pulpit

  • 1870 - February 2 - Co-officiates the marriage between Olivia Langdon and Samuel Clemens

  • 1870 - August - Eulogizes his friend and church stalwart, Jervis Langdon

  • 1871 - The "Park Church" is registered with Chemung Co. Clerk and design commences to build "a church home" as Jervis Langdon had wished. Architect Horatio Nelson White of Syracuse is hired. Attendance at services is burgeoning; more space is needed, even more than the Opera House at Eldridge Park can offer.

  • 1874 - First third of new building completed, now called Beecher Hall

  • 1875 - Sanctuary section completed

  • 1876 - Parlor section completed, Beecher opens first free public library with his personal books out of his pastor's study at 208 W. Gray St.

  • 1880s - Beecher voluntarily keeps city clock on time by taking noon sun sightings with his own transit. He is also known for riding around on his oversize tricycle with tools to help neighbors with home repair and construction projects.

  • 1889 - Annis Ford Eastman is ordained by Beecher at her Canandaigua church. She and her husband Rev. Samuel Eastman, were called in 1894 to assist Beecher at The Park Church.

  • 1890 - Officiates at funeral of Olivia Lewis Langdon (wife of Jervis)

  • 1896 - Officiates at funeral of Suzy Clemens (eldest daughter of Sam & Livy)


  • March 14, 1900 in Elmira. Buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

  • Wisner Park Statue erected by City and dedicated in 1901.

  • Julia Jones Beecher died Nov. 11, 1905 - "Benevolence Invincible"

Portrait of Thomas K Beecher

Birth and Family

  • Thomas Kinnicut Beecher was born on February 10, 1824 in Lichfield, Connecticut.

  • One of thirteen children of Lyman Beecher, liberal reformist clergyman. Lyman had two wives. Thomas' mother was his second wife, Harriet Porter Beecher.

  • His older half-sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852

Schooling and Career

  • From 1836 to 1839 Beecher began fitting for college in Marietta, Ohio.

  • 1839 attended college in Jacksonville, Illinois; he graduated in 1843.

  • He then spent a year with his father in Cincinnati and a year with his brother, Henry in Indianapolis, studying theology.

  • Spent a year at the Ohio Medical University, as an aid to the professor of chemistry and pharmacy.

  • 1846 served as principal North-East Grammar School in Philadelphia

  • 1849-51 served as Principal Hartford, High School in CT

  • Ordained June 26, 1851, Hartford. CT

  • First pastorate in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at New England Congregational Church, a spin-off church created by his famous half-brother, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. However, Thomas was unhappy with its ostentatious congregation.

bottom of page