Our Legacy in Brief / Cornelius Beekman

Cornelius C. Beekman, the man who would become Jacksonville's first banker and business tycoon, was born in the Big Apple on Jan. 27, 1828.

The lure of gold in California drew him west in 1850, and he eventually headed north to the gold fields near the Klamath River.

He didn't amount to much as a miner, but he was a heck of a businessman. In 1856, Beekman started an express messenger service in Jacksonville and established a gold-dust-buying business that eventually morphed into the Beekman Bank.

In 1863, when Wells Fargo Express came to Oregon, he retired his messenger business to become the agency's representative in Jacksonville. He held the post for more than 40 years.

Beekman grew rich with his investments in mining operations, real estate and banking. He ran as the Republican Party candidate for governor in 1878, losing the election by 69 votes to W.W. Thayer, a Democrat. Beekman died at age 87 on Feb. 22, 1915.

The Beekman Bank, built in 1858 at Third and California streets, and the Beekman family home, built in 1875 at Laurelwood and California streets, still stand today.

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