Carl Beckman

The Third Pastor of Cordelia. By Larry Lass.

The third pastor of Cordelia, as the count goes, was Carl Johan Beckman. Pastor Beckman was born on June 7, 1862 in Ulricehamn, Sweden. Ulricehamn is located in south-central Sweden. The family name may have been Bääckman in Sweden, but his writings were signed as either Beckman in 1894 and Bäckman or Bäkman in 1896 through 1900. His family immigrated to the United States when he was 15 years old. History fails to report information on his early years in the United States. He listed Worcester, Massachusetts as his home town when he registered for college.

Rev. Carl Beckman

Ulricehamn, Sweden

He attended Augustana College from 1881 to 1885. He continued his studies at Wittenberg Seminary from 1886 to 1887 which is located in Springfield, Ohio near Dayton. The seminary was started in 1845 as the educational college of the newly formed English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Ohio, now Evangelical Church of America. The synod split from the German church in the belief the English language was a way to foster the inclusiveness of the new American nation.

The Fortieth Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, Collegiate Year 1886-87, lists C. J. Beckman as a student in the Theological Department. In the 1876-1877 academic year there were seven students in the Junior class, one student in the Middle class (Carl), and five students in the Senior class. Carl Beckman’s name does not appear in the list of theological students for 1887-1888 academic year or the subsequent lists through 1892. It is doubtful if he was ordained since he was not in his senior year at Wittenberg. Records of the Lutheran Church in Ohio indicated he did not serve in Ohio as a pastor.

His activities between 1888 and 1890 are unknown. He was accepted into Augustana Seminary in 1891 and graduated in 1892. Interestingly, Carl Ramstedt, the second pastor of Cordelia, was also at Augustana Seminary at the same time.

Pastor Beckman’s first church was located in Albina, Oregon where he served from 1892 to 1894. Albina, Oregon is in Multnomah County and just north of downtown Portland. Portland was incorporated as a separate city in 1870 with a population of 1500. Multnomah county was created in 1854. The Morrison Bridge was the first Willamette River bridge at Portland and was built in 1887, the Steel Bridge in 1888, and the Broadway Bridge was not opened until 1913.

In 1891, East Portland and the small town of Albina were consolidated with Portland with a population of just under 50,000, about 5,000 of which were Chinese (brought here for cheap farm labor and house servants). Front street was the only paved street (cobblestones).

In 1893, Pastor Beckman was elected the secretary of the Columbia Conference. Zion and Cordelia Lutheran of Moscow called Pastor Beckman to serve in September 1894. Zion, later called First Lutheran, reported very little on Carl’s activities. They reported in their 60th anniversary bulletin, “In 1984, C. J. Beckman took up the work of Pastor Ramstedt and under his leadership the church continued to grow.”

Records of Cordelia improved under Pastor Beckman’s oversight. In 1894, services were held every Sunday. In Carl’s absence, Peter Bohman lead the service. Miss Mary Linguist was the organist. It took Carl a while to become established and to try to pick up the church members spirits after Pastor Ramstedt left because of illness.

In 1895, Cordelia had about 30 adult members, 20 youth, and two new babies. The confirmation picture for 1895 showed Pastor Beckman and a class of eight youth. Financial record showed the pastor’s salary was $100 and Miss Mary Linguist played the organ for $2.65. They provided each child in the church with a children’s magazine. They gave $5.00 to Augustana College and $15.75 for missionary work. Loth Carlson, the treasurer, reported an 85 cent carryover to 1896.

Pastor Beckman with confirmation class on June 2, 1985. Students were Vic Johnson, unknown from Pullman, Sophia Masleson, Grant Rhubens, Anna Schumaker, Jennie Reid, Pastor Beckman, Miss Johnson (later Mrs Gustufson), and Ellen (Ramstedt) Oberg.

Photo from the Ken Bezold Collection.

In 1896, Agnes J. Beckman was born to Carl and Caroline. Ultimately the Beckman’s would have five children. Cordelia’s membership and contributions continued to increase in 1896. After expenses the church had $11.95 remaining at the end of the year. They committed to raise $300 towards a mission church. The organist, Miss Mary Linquist, received $6.92 for playing the pump organ. Financial records appeared to show Mary gave it back to the church. Records also showed each adult member was asked to contribute $4.00 for the pastor’s salary and there were 25 members.

In 1897, adult membership of Cordelia fell to 21 and gift giving for the pastor’s salary reflected this. Carryover funds from 1896 allowed the congregation to continue to pay Carl at the rate of $100 per year. The congregation was able to collect $23.05 towards missions in India. In 1898, the salary of Pastor Beckman was reduced to $80.00 to reflect expected income from the $4.00 gift Smethport Lutheran Church expected from each adult member. The financial records of 1898 indicated he would be paid the $100 for 1898. For some reason 1898 proved to be a financial windfall for Cordelia and about $225 moved through the church accounts.

There are no church records for Cordelia for 1899 and 1890.

Pastor Beckman moved to Bayfield, Wisconsin in 1900 and served there until 1902. He then moved to Gardner, Massachusetts to a Swedish-Finn Church in the Suomi Synod. Immanuel Lutheran of Gardner was started in 1894 and joined the Suomi Synod in 1899. The first building was erected in 1902 near Parker Street. Pastor Beckman remained until 1905. They joined the Augustana Synod in 1906. In1982, they merged with Bethel Lutheran and became Covenant Lutheran. Starting in 1905, Pastor Beckman served dual parishes in Olean, New York and Smethport, Pennsylvania. Pastor Beckman lived in Olean and used the railroad to commute the 26 miles to Smethport.

The Smethport Swedish Mission Church was built in 1894 at a cost of $1624.39 including the cost of the lot. The Swedish Free Christian Evangelical Church of Smethport congregation was very active and proud that most of the debt had been paid when they called Carl to serve. The Swedish Free Christian Evangelical Church of Smethport was erected at a cost of $1624.39 ( price paid for lot included). The citizens of this borough subscribed the liberal sum of $817.75; the amount donated from other places was $158 and the collection at the dedication $49.79 making a total of $1025.54. A balance of $598.85 remained in 1895.

Smethport Lutheran Church

Past Beckman oversaw the building of a new church, while at Bethany Lutheran Church in Olean. The facility was located where the Swedish members could walk to church. Carl was a much loved pastor and community leader. Pastor Beckman died on June 26, 1907 at age 49 due to complications of diabetes. At the time of his death he had five children. He is buried in Mount View Cemetery in Olean, New York. This was a time before Social Security and church insurance and pension plans. Members of Bethany gave the parsonage to his family.

Pastor Beckman’s daughter, Agnes J., died in 1918 and his wife, Caroline E. Beckman, died in 1939 at age 76. Both are buried in the Mount View Cemetery.

Later in 1989 when the Olean church facilities were limiting, and parking challenging to all worshipers, thoughts of relocation had surfaced several times in the past 40 years, but nothing was resolved. In 1991, the congregation received a large bequest from the Beckman family who presented a thank offering gift to help Bethany have a new home. The gift opened the opportunity not only to dream about expansion and options to expand but ultimately to built a new church on new property.

Bethany Lutheran Church