John Beatty-The Father of Cambridge
Although we know from his gravestone his birth to be in the year 1738, his birthplace and date is unknown to the history books. However, his life would not be. John was known as the “Father of Cambridge” and the true patriarch of our town. As a young man he fought in the French and Indian war, as a grown man he fought in the War for Independence and as an old man he fought in the War of 1812. One could say, Zaccheus his son, gave Cambridge to him as a gift wrapped present for the great man he seen his father to be.
When John was 38 years old his wife gave birth to his most accomplished child, to the say the least. It was Sunday, December 11th, 1774. when Sarah Beatty gave birth to Zaccheus Beatty on a cold Maryland day in Frederick County, Maryland. It would have been an exciting year in Frederick County as some men had invented the Catoctin Iron Furnace, which was used to bend iron with much greater ease then the anyone had yet seen before. Buildings were designed and erected specifically to utilize this new technology. Unbeknownst–or maybe totally known and inspired by–at the time this new technology would come mightily handy for the colonists in the spring. Tensions between the British Crown and the Colonies had been escalating recently, as the Colonies cried for assistance on the frontier against the increasingly hostile Indians, Parliament insisted on taxing the Colonies without their representation for that protection. On April 18th 1775, just 4 months after the birth of Zaccheus, battles of the Revolutionary war began at Lexington and Concord Massachusetts.
The Red Coats begun confiscating weapons and ammunition shortly before the battles began, and so it become increasingly important for the colonists to have technology at which the could produce their own weapons and melt down luxuries into bullets. In 1777 the “Hessian Barracks” were erected by captured Hessian and British soldiers in Frederick County. Like the Catoctin Furnace, it is very likely this would have been something John Beatty would have been happy to have had a beer with you and reminiscence about if he were here today. These barracks would serve as a “jail in the Revolution, held prisoners from the War of 1812, were used as an armory, a Civil War hospital, and as the original building for the Maryland School for the Deaf.” According to photographs I have taken and collected on Ancestry.com, John Beatty would eventually leave his children, including the newest addition Zaccheus and his wife, to go fight for the Patriots in the new War of Independence. There is also a War of 1812 marker on John’s grave in the Founders Cemetery located in Cambridge across the street from the old municipal building. While John lived in Cambridge he ran tavern and a ferry given to him by his son. He was instrumental in setting the plat of the town and selling those plat’s to our first settlers. Him and his wife were named by the Sarchet Family in their stoies as having a leading role in their decision to stay in Cambridge rather than move on to Cincinnati where they had originally intended to settle.
John Beatty’s original stone recognized him as a veteran of the French and Indian War and the War for Independence but was weathered unreadable and replaced
Zaccheus Beatty – A Pioneer Man With Big Plans
Growing up with such an established man as John for a father must have either been very daunting because filling his shoes would have been difficult to do or it would have been inspiring. I am guessing the latter. Zaccheus grew up to find a job as frontier surveyor for the military out of Wheeling and then eventually he became a “land agent” working out of Newellstown, which is today known as Steubenville. When he came upon Ezra Graham’s ferry and the Beymers Tavern in what is today Cambridge, he must have thought something great about their idea’s because he immediately went back to his office and bought an undivided one-half-interest in the land. This gave him just enough of a right to lay full claim to it and send his father out to assert the families new ownership. According to Russell Booth, in the book, “A Brief History of Guernsey County, Ohio” John “bought out” Ezra Graham and the Beymers businesses sending them on their way. This is probably true, as we have lost the rest of Graham’s life to history, but we know the Beymer family went on to buy land just east of Four Mile Hill and platted the town we know as Old Washington in 1805.
Zaccheus father John setup right away collecting tolls and inviting people in for a meal and place to stay on their journey further west. Zaccheus on the hand, continued his work finding valuable land and working as a surveyor. Zaccheus had big plans for this area though, him and his brother-in-law Jacob Gomber were very close not only through family but through business, as they platted Cadiz and Cambridge together. He must have thought of Cambridge as the bread and butter though or he would not have set his father and Jacob up to go about attracting visitors to buy land. After his father had attracted a large number of immigrants from Europe named the Sarchets to invest in their platted town of Cambridge, Zaccheus decided it was time to move to Cambridge himself. One can only imagine the excitement of his decision. Coming home to his fathers tavern excited of seeing their plans grow, as they attracted was seemed and turned out to be great citizens that come as far away as Europe. They must have felt like international successes.
I imagine it is 1807, and I can see them gathering around an old fashioned frontier meal discussing what the town would become one day. The future looked bright. Zaccheus lived back and forth between Cambridge and Steubenville until 1809 when him and his wife decided to settle here for good. When Guernsey County was organized in 1810 someone had to represent her in the Ohio Assembly. According to William G. Wolfe, “everyone looked to Zaccheus Beatty in accord.” Zaccheus was also a commander in the War of 1812 and he went onto be our regions leader in the states Senate for two terms. He built the first bridge across Will Creek to replace the toll bridge, he replaced his fathers tavern with an updated one, he worked with sawed lumber from his brother-in-laws “Gomber Mill” to was a charter member of the Masonic lodge. He is also responsible for donating the land for the town square and the Founders Grave Yard. He and Jacob Gomber raised most of the money for the first county courthouse and jail. There is hardly a single man you can point at more responsible for the development of Cambridge then Zaccheus Beatty. Him and his wife Margery had ten children all together, he was described once by Eveline Tingle, “He is a heavy set man, not very tall, of light complexion and genteel.” Nobody ever said you had to be tall or skinny to be great. He did August 31rst 1835 and is also buried in the Founders Grave Yard. 😉
There are a lot of different names we throw around when we talk about the founding of our great county seat of Cambridge. The Zane’s, Mr. Graham, the Biggs, the Metcalf’s, the Beymers, the Gombers, the Hutchinson’s, the Sarchets; the truth is, most of these families were in one way or another related to each other. They were cousins, uncles, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters and they were all instrumental in the settling and founding of our area. Of these great names of the past, few hold as much weight and grab as much attention among local historians as the “Beatty’s.” It is not because they were the very first. It is because of the scale in which these pioneers worked.
Some were surveyors who seen a small fortune from Wills Creek. Some were farmers who seen great soil in the Valleys of our hills, some thought the coal would be valuable and others were more grandiose with their vision of what would become of this land. The Beatty’s, were of the grand kind, they were veterans of war and had likely seen American Civilization at its finest. They had the rhapsodic, bombastic, histrionic plan to build an extravagant yet eloquent city. I say these things for the evidence lies in the name. I imagine many nights the Beatty’s sat around the campfire talking about how people would call Cambridge, Ohio the “Cambridge of the West” as our nations greatest and most brightest men had for more than a century graduated from a place called Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Beatty’s dedicated their lives to setting a foundation for which this place would grow into an opulent Victorian town. It is more than fitting for us to have an important street named for them and I think we should probably even have more then that.