A radical Illinois abolitionist, John Beeson and his wife, Ann, and son, Welborn, crossed the plains to Oregon in 1853 and settled on Wagner Creek near present day, Talent, Oregon. What he and his family witnessed there changed the course of their lives forever when they landed smack dab in the middle of an Indian war. By speaking out in favor of peace and Indian rights, opinions contrary to the majority of white miners and settlers, John Beeson stepped over the threshold of safety and entered a danger zone. After being threatened by local politicians and volunteer Indian fighters, he left his family behind and fled Oregon. In 1856 at the age of 52, he sailed to New York and began a new career as an advocate for the American Indians. He traveled all over the East Coast to solicit funds from philanthropists, gave hundreds of lectures, performed with Indian singers, wrote a book and numerous articles, visited Indian territories, and lobbied congress and government officials.
I am as compelled to write his story as he was to take up his calling. I intend to take a full year off in order to write the long-awaited Beeson book, for which I have been gathering research for over twenty years. Just as John Beeson needed support and funding to complete his mission, I need your help in completing mine. If you are interested in hearing the Beeson story, your welcomed contribution will allow me to combine all my energies to this task. My budget for the project includes a modest $7000 for printing the finished book, $2500 for paying a professional editor and a humble stipend to sustain my own survival while I write and finish up research goals. Any amount will be accepted, but a donation of $100 or more will be rewarded, in due time, with a signed copy of my Beeson book. I will send all donors progress updates and sneak peaks every couple of months. Large donors qualify for exclusive drive-by tours of the old Beeson properties and a walk through the cemetery where they are buried. A video version of the tour will be made available for those who qualify and can't attend in person. Pledges of $1000 or more will have their names written in the acknowledgment page in front of the book. An added bonus is that when the book is published, the Talent Historical Society (a 501- C3 nonprofit organization) will receive a percentage of the proceeds from book sales.
The importance of John Beeson’s contribution to reforming Indian policy in the U.S. has been noted by historians in context with the Indian Wars in Oregon, but there is much more to the story. I am proposing a book which will both document John Beeson’s fascinating journeys in the Eastern U.S. to raise consciousness about the unjust practices against the American Indians and the efforts of his family who remained in Oregon behind the plow to fund John’s projects. While John Beeson was not afraid of ridicule as he reached across the political jungle to relate to others, he was unable to bridge the gap between father and son, husband and wife, once he left his Oregon home. John Beeson managed to stay on message though his interests were widely varied. He was no stranger to eclectic movements of his day such as women’s suffrage, the underground railroad, water cure, phrenology, spiritualism, free love and universal peace. He had the backing of Wendell Phillips, Peter Cooper, Abraham Hewitt and John D. Joyce and lectured along side of Lydia Childs, Belva Lockwood, Helen Hunt Jackson, Dr. Mary Walker and Cora Hatch. Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln both knew him by sight, gave him an audience at the White House and spoke with him about government policy in regards to the Indian Nations. When it came to the topic of justice for the American Indians, no individual was more familiar, to congressmen, presidents, public audiences, and clergy in his day, than John Beeson. Publishing A Plea for the Indians in 1857 was just the beginning of the life’s work which continued until his death in 1889.
One could question the need for another historical book when there are so many other immediate causes begging for energy and money these days. My premise is that the “long ago” story of the Beeson family has orbited around to the same spot today. American culture is still waiting for a breakthrough. If the issues of human rights, government sanctioned plunder, greed, racism, corruption, family drama, apathy, cultural collapse, spiritual growth, political activism and sacrifice sound all too familiar – you will want to help bring about the Beeson book. As long as we still have things to learn, the Beeson story has relevance and insight. Help me add Beeson’s voice to the issues that still resonate today.
I have already made research trips to Washington D C and to Illinois where Beeson once lived. I have corresponded with Beeson descendants and relatives in the U.S. and England. Over the years, I have spent countless hours transcribing original letters and diaries from the Beeson family archives and have collected photographs and primary documents, oral history interviews, and hundreds of newspaper articles. I have scoured libraries and special collections in Oregon, New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois and other states. While I have yet to author a book of this size, I have written a book called Talent in the Arcadia Images of America series and a small book titled Celebrating 100 Years, Ashland Library and numerous articles for various historical publications. My purpose is not to simply regurgitate what Beeson said and did in his lifetime but to inform those who embark on activism in today’s world. Like Beeson and his family, we are living in historic times, and will witness events that just don’t seem right. We can be passive or passionately take a stand for or against something, even if we stand alone. It is my hope that the Beeson story will serve as a motivating example to speak up and live the truths we know.
Risks and challenges
I have long been challenged by having to make a living while trying to write this book. With kickstarter funds from friends and complete strangers, I will be able to devote all my time to writing to complete the book.
I have chosen the publisher and arranged for an editor to look over the work while it is in progress and with the finished manuscript. My highly qualified editor is a retired editor of the University of Iowa press and is acquainted with the outline of the Beeson story.
The publisher takes about 3 months to deliver the finished book once I send in the manuscript for printing. I have a deadline and schedule to assure that my part of the work is done on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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