Miles Beach.


"Hath he not always treasures, always friends,

The good man? – treasures – love and light,

And calm thoughts, regular as infant’s breath

And three firm friends, more sure than day and night –

Himself, his Maker, and the Angel Death."



MILES BEACH, one of the early and most prominent citizens of Saratoga, was born in Salisbury, Conn., May 19, 1775 – one month after the battle of Lexington. His mother’s name was Lucy Stevens – his grandmother being Lucy Thompson, a sister of Smith Thompson, a former Chief-Justice of the State of New York, afterwards a United States Judge. His ancestors repose in the old Puritan burying-ground in Hartford – a moss-covered grave-stone still bearing the names of "Colonel Miles Beach and Sally Beach." Zerah Beach, the father of the subject of the present sketch, removed with his family to the town of Ballston, in 1786; and in 1807 his son Miles was married to Cynthia Warren, daughter of Captain John Warren of the Revolution, and granddaughter of Major Isaac Belknap of Newburgh.

The latter officer was an intimate and confidential friend of Washington, who was a frequent guest at his house, and also entrusted him with many commissions demanding for their successful execution superior judgment and bravery. It was with Major Belknap’s daughter, Elizabeth (the mother of the present Mrs. Miles Beach and the late Hon. W.L.F. Warren), that Washington opened the ball given at the Temple, in April, 1783, on the announcement of the exchange of the preliminary articles of peace. {See Eager’s History of Orange County , and Ruttenber’s History of the Town of Newburgh .}

In 1809, the family removed to Saratoga, where Mr. Beach, who had early manifested a taste for mercantile pursuits immediately opened two stores – one just north of Congress Hall and one near the High Rock Spring in what was then, as it is now, called the "Upper Village." Subsequently, in 1814, he consolidated the two at the corner of Church Street and Broadway. He died in 1837, leaving two sons – one of whom, William A. Beach, of New York City, is an eminent lawyer – and two daughters.

Mr. Beach was a man of influence, both on account of his mercantile abilities and sterling good sense. For many years he was the leading business man and one of the successful merchants of the town, and for a long period postmaster of the village. Prominent also, as he was, in the politics of the day, he was on terms of intimate friendship with such men as Martin Van Buren, Flagg, and Croswell, who in the summer season were frequent visitors at his house. Cowen and Walworth were also familiar guests around his hearthstone – attracted there by his comprehensive mind, his sound judgment, and his extensive knowledge. Among the many admirable traits in the character of Mr. Beach was his readiness to assist those who needed help in the start of life. No one, if worthy, no matter how indigent, appealed to him in vain; and several persons, now occupying influential positions, have told me of his kindly aid extended to them when they were on the point of giving up the race in despair.

Mr. Beach was also a man of great integrity of character, possessing, moreover, warm affections and the most tender sensibilities. This latter trait was shown especially in his treatment of the aged. It is said that even when he was a little boy he was always affected to tears by one bowed down by the infirmities of age; and throughout his entire life this peculiar tenderness of his heart was exhibited. He was a firm believer in the religion of Christ, and died in the hope of a blessed immortality.

The widow of Miles Beach still survives at an advanced age – she having completed her eighty-sixth birth-day on the 2 d of August, 1874. She still occupies the old homestead on the corner of Church Street and Broadway which was erected in 1814. Mrs. Beach was educated at the Moravian School in Bethlehem, Penn., a school which, to this day, ranks among the best in the country, {For a more particular account of this school, its principles, and the peculiar customs of the Moravians, the reader is referred to Stone’s " Memoirs of Mrs. Gen. Riedesel ." Mrs. Gen. Riedesel, after her capture by General Gates, was quartered there by the Continental Congress, until her husband’s exchange. Also a History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Bethlehem Female Seminary . 1858. By William C. Reichel.} and she still cherishes the sacred and tender memories that cluster around the spot where, more than seventy years ago, under the benign and hallowed influences of Christian nurture, some of her happiest years were spent. Among other anecdotes, illustrative of the principles upon which this truly model school is carried on, Mrs. Beach relates with great tenderness of feeling the kind and gentle admonition she received from Brother Van Vleck. On one occasion one of the larger girls had lifted her over the fence separating the school garden from the widow’s grounds that she might pick up apples for them. One of the widows saw the proceeding, and as she alighted on the ground picked her up and carried her to Brother Van Vleck, from whom she received the tenderest reproof – in fact, the spirit of love and gentleness seemed to pervade the entire school. Mrs. Beach is remarkable for the clearness and fine preservation of her faculties, shown both by her wonderful conversational powers and the polished grace of the "old-school" manners.



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