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Aaron McGaffey Beede and Ralph Gordon Beede Papers, 1899-1969
The Aaron McGaffey Beede and Ralph Gordon Beede Papers (1899-1969) has been arranged so that material related to Aaron McGaffey Beede is first. This includes his extensive personal and professional correspondence, dating from 1915 to 1934.
Materials for Ralph Gordon Beede, son of Aaron McGaffey Beede, are arranged last. This consists primarily of personal and professional correspondence (1925-1965). One folder containing the text of speeches delivered by Ralph Gordon Beede, as well as a folder of legislative materials, is also included.
The collection was rearranged in December 2004, so that similar files were arranged together. Please note that no material was discarded during this process.
Aaron McGaffey Beede
A pioneer of North Dakota, Aaron McGaffey Beede began his travels in Sandwich, New Hampshire, where he was born January 15, 1859, to Captain Aaron Beede and Mary McGaffey. He was a versatile man and no one career or place was a staple for him. Throughout his life he would wear many cloaks: a minister of the Gospel, a missionary, scholar, lawyer, public official, and an author.
In 1884, Beede graduated with an A.B. degree as valedictorian of his class, from Bates College at Lewiston, Maine. After this degree, Beede taught and during his spare moments studied law. On November 3, 1887 these studies were interrupted when Beede married Rebecca M. Ridley, daughter to Captain Henry and Eunice (Purington) Ridley, in Athens, Maine. Beede then attended the Andover, Massachusetts, Theological Seminary, and in 1890 received a Bachelor of Divinity degree.
Between 1891 and 1894, Beede was a superintendent of schools at Alfred, Maine. This may be his last academic post in the east, which he left to take over the Chair of Greek and German in a school in Redfield, South Dakota in 1895. Once in the Midwest the Beedes would refrain from moving eastward again and from this point on they would spend the remaining years of their lives in North Dakota. The couple would eventually create a family there. The legislator, Ralph Gordon Beede was the youngest: Margaret Beede, an assistant professor of English at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, was the second youngest: the eldest, Carl Howard Beede, moved to Seattle, Washington where he was a superintendent of the city light, power and heat plant.
In 1899, Beede left this post and headed to Fargo, North Dakota to take over the post of Assistant President at Fargo College (1900-1901). Also, in 1899 Beede received a Doctorate degree in Philosophy from Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois.
In 1901 Beede returned to the ministry to do episcopal missionary work in the Sioux County area. He was responsible for much of the Indian work in Sioux County between 1901-1916, a post which was well suited for Beede since he had learned the Sioux language at fifteen when he spent two years visiting Sioux and Chippewa Indians. There are many recorded stories exemplifying Beede's commitment to his missionary work. Beede would bring his own food and clothing to the Turtle Mountain Reservation when he found the 40 members of the church in a deplorable plight; Beede built the Chapel of St. Denys with his own hands; Beede traveled as far as 70 miles on foot to see a sick man. In 1916 his missionary service ended abruptly when the fiery Beede resigned from the church. Bishop John Poyntz Tyler discussed complaints issued by touring Episcopalians. The complaints criticized the manner Beede was handling the distribution of clothing that had been donated by individuals and guilds of the Eastern Churches.
With the end of his missionary work Beede entered law. Governor L.B. Hanna had already appointed him the first county judge of Sioux County in 1914. From information collected from History of North Dakota by Lewis F. Crawford and God Giveth the Increase: The History of the Episcopal Church in North Dakota by Robert P. Wilkins, it may be deduced that Beede served concomitantly as missionary and judgeship for Sioux County. He left this judgeship in 1922 to enter private practice. In 1924, however, he interrupted his law practice to serve as state Attorney for the same county between 1925 and 1927.
Beede was a member of the District's Social Service Commission, which he served along close friend Orin G Libby. Beede resigned over ideological differences he could no longer stomach. As the Church began to amble farther away from Beede's own ideological view, his resignation was all that would have saved the disheartened Beede. The Church's support of World War I and its attacks on trade unions and civil liberties were signs the Church and Beede held distinctly and opposite views and beliefs. In a letter to Libby, Beede writes that between the two of them he was the less hypocritical one: this quality made Libby an excellent choice as a substitute for Beede as the Commission's chair.
Beede was a radical in matters of politics and economics. Some of his publications attest to this radicalism. He wrote at length about social problems. He authored Some Hindrances to Social Progress in the United States in 1899, and Social Teaching of St. Paul in 1900. Other publications show Beede the playwright and poet, including Sitting Bull Custer (1913), Heart-in- the-Lodge (1915), and Towards the Sun, poems by A. McG. Beede (1916). Aaron McGaffey Beede died on October 5, 1934, in Rochester, Minnesota. He is buried alongside his wife in a family plot in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Ralph Gordon Beede
Ralph Gordon Beede was born in Redfield, South Dakota, on June 3, 1895, to Aaron McGaffey Beede and Rebecca M. (Ridley) Beede. A lawyer and newspaper publisher, Beede was also a politician who served nine sessions in the State Legislature from 1939-1943 and 1947-1959.
He attended the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks into his senior year. He did not graduate, but did teach at schools in McClusky and Goodrich for four years until he was inducted in the U.S. Army on March 11, 1918, due to World War I. He was stationed in Hawaii as part of the Hawaiian Infantry until he was discharged in February 1919.
After leaving the service, Beede moved to Fort Yates, North Dakota, where he purchased the Sioux County Pioneer. Beede studied law under his father, while also running the newspaper. He was admitted to the bar in July 1924. Soon after, Ralph Gordon Beede began an apprenticeship with F.B. Lambert in Minot until December 1925. Moving to Elgin after his association with Lambert ended, Beede purchased Elgin News changing its name to Grant County News. He would publish this newspaper, intermittently practicing law and government, in Elgin until 1960, when it was sold to A.J. Sondag.
An active Nonpartisan League member, Beede served as State Representative of Sioux County from 1939-1944, and from 1951-1960. He acted as House Speaker during the 1943 session, in addition to acting as the minority leader in 1941, 1951, and 1955. He was endorsed for the United States Congress in the Republican Primary in 1944 and was candidate for Attorney General in 1945. At the end of the 1967 North Dakota State Legislature, Beede was honored in joint session for his "outstanding services to his community, state, nation, and especially to the North Dakota Legislative Assembly." In that same year, Beede's health worsened to the point he gave up his law practice. Ralph Gordon Beede died on December 4, 1969.
Sources: History of North Dakota by Lewis F. Crawford; God Giveth the Increase: The History of the Episcopal Church in North Dakota by Robert P. Wilkens; South of the Cannon Ball: A History of the Sioux, the War Bonnet County by May E. Hinton
Included are four ledgers: the first ledger, “A,” is undated and consists of an untitled literary manuscript. Ledger “B” contains the handwritten text of Beede’s speeches, as well as newspaper clippings consisting of the text of speeches. Ledger “C” consists of miscellaneous documents and entries regarding Beede’s missionary work. The final ledger, “D,” contains diary entries for 1919.
Arranged third are Beede’s eighteen handwritten journals, which date 1912-1922. The journals record his activities as an Indian missionary, as well as reflections on his life and times. Weather reports and local happenings were also frequent entries. Researchers are urged to note that the end date for some of the journals was difficult to determine. The listed dates in the Box and Folder Inventory should not be viewed as absolute.
Several of his unpublished manuscripts, including a lengthy one on Indian customs, are also included. The manuscripts also include two essays written on the Dakota Indian Victory Dance, one mystery play, and one article written for possible publication. Beede’s finished publications are arranged next. Duplicate copies of publications were cataloged and added to the North Dakota Book Collection. Material related to Aaron McGaffey Beede ends with two folders of miscellaneous material located following the publications.