Johannes Jas. Beekman
Stefan Bielinski

Johannes Beekman was born in 1733. He was the last of the six children born to Albany blacksmith/businessman Jacob Beekman and his wife, Debora Hansen Beekman.

In 1759, he married Schenectady native Maria Sanders. The couple settled in Albany where six of their seven children were baptized in the Dutch church. As the only surviving son, Johannes was able to raise their family in his father's house on Pearl Street where he too became a second ward mainstay.

From his Pearl Street base, this Johannes Beekman became a successful merchant and landholder. He was identified with the wealthiest Albany householders on city assessment rolls from the mid-1760s.

He entered public service in 1756 when he was appointed firemaster. In 1763, he was elected assistant alderman in the second ward. After serving for several years, he was elected alderman in September 1775. A seat on the city council identified him as a leading member of the Albany business community. At the same time, he served in the Albany County militia. In 1768, he was identified as a lieutenant.

Early in the conflict, the forty-two-year-old Beekman joined the crusade for American liberties - risking property and position in the process. Early in 1776, he signed the "General Association." He represented the second ward as an active and dedicated member of the Albany Committee of Correspondence during most of its life. When the city's municipal government resumed operations in 1778, he again was chosen second ward alderman and served for several years.

John J. Beekman's public career transcended the local level when he was elected to represent Albany in the New York State Assembly in 1781 and 1782. During that time he was active in Indian diplomacy. He was appointed mayor of Albany in June 1783. His mayoralty paralleled the end of the war as Beekman served until October 1786.

Following his tenure at city hall, Beekman settled into the home at what became 52 North Pearl Street - managing his assets and raising his family following the death of his wife in 1794. His household was attended by four slaves. During that time, he also was involved in a number of civic initiatives including the construction of the new Dutch church then taking shape beyond his Pearl Street home.

In August 1797, his storehouse and stable on Middle Lane were destroyed by fire. In 1800, the census configured the second ward home of simply "John Beeckman" without his deceased wife and with five slaves.

Six months short of his seventieth birthday, Mayor John James Beekman died in December 1802. He was buried from the church where he was a lifelong member.



the people of colonial Albany The life of Johannes Jas. Beekman is CAP biography number 3866. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. He sometimes was referred to as "John James Beekman." The use of the middle name (typically carried a leter or two beyond the middle initial "J") prevented confusion with contemporary kin John M. and John H. Beekman. However, not all historical recorders always used the initials. For example, three different Albany householders were listed as "John Bateman" (Beekman) on the census of 1756!

The first child was baptized in Schenectady in 1761. the others were christened in the Albany church between 1763 and 1781. Perhaps the newlyweds lived for a time with Maria's family. By 1763, however, Johannes Ja. Beekman was a member of the Albany city council.

In 1815, his son, John Sanders Beekman, was living at 52 North Pearl Street.

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first posted 3/4/02; updated 1/24/13