John Herman Beckmann
(1842 - 1921)

beckman house

Brick house built by Beckmann in 1870.

beckman tobacco

Tobacco Warehouse 

beckman plant

JH Beckmann and Sauer Planing Mill and Electric Light Plant

Kundek Corner:
Ferdinand Distinguished Citizens

John Herman Beckmann, Ferdinand Historical Society's 2nd Distinguished Citizen, placed in Kundek Corner at the Ferdinand Library. He was a tobacco retailer, Planing Mill Proprietor, General Store and Machinery Merchant. He was also an avid promoter of the community of Ferdinand.

John Herman Beckmann was the son of John G. Sr. and Anna (Wheeler) Beckmann, who immigrated to the community of Ferdinand, Indiana.

He was the first child of this family and was born on March 12, 1842 in a log house built by his father in Ferdinand. At the age of 17 he enlisted in Company B of the 91st Indiana Infantry and served three years (Atlanta Campaign) during the Civil War. He was honorably discharged from the service at Salesbury, North Carolina, on June 26, 1865.

John H. Beckmann returned to Dubois County on July 15, 1865 and later went to Chicago for a short time to return in 1866. In 1867 he conducted a general merchandizing business for his sister in Cannelton, Indiana. In 1868 he returned to Ferdinand, married Kate Schmitz and started his own merchandizing business. In 1870 he built a home and store on the corner of (now) 6th and Main street. This building is still standing — known as J. Herman Building. From 1869-1874 Mr. Beckmann served as Postmaster of Ferdinand. In 1880 he sold his business to his brother due to failing health and went to French Lick to recuperate. After he regained his health, he returned to Ferdinand and again became an enterprising merchant who engaged in the tobacco, clover, machinery and lumber business for many years. In time, this enterprising merchant handed, on an average, a million feet of lumber, 100,000 bushels of grain and a million pounds of tobacco. His immense tobacco house, that was built in 1887, was situated on the southwest corner of 6th and Maryland streets. To show the immensity of his business, the Jasper Courier of May 1891, reported that Mr Beckmann shipped fifty-two rail-carloads of wheat in 16 days from the Ferdinand Depot.

Mr. Beckmann was an avid supporter of his community and he did many things to promote the community. In 1875, Mr. Beckmann was instrumental in getting the first railroad service to Dubois County with the establishment of the Ferdinand Station Depot. This depot was located at the site that is presently known as Johnsburg.

In 1884 he had a private telephone line built to Ferdinand Station from his office in the town of Ferdinand, a distance of 6 miles. This construction gave Ferdinand the first continuous telephone service in Dubois County. Mr. Beckmann was actively involved with many forms of placements of business enterprises within the community and his involvement led to a solid economic foundation upon which his community could grow and prosper.

In 1904, Mr. Beckmann was one of the founders and President of Farmers Elgin Creamery Company. In January 1906, he resigned as Vice President of Ferdinand National Bank (located and still standing on comer of 9th and Maryland Street {2005}.

In November 1912 Mr. Beckmann and his son in law (Sauer) started a spoke factory later making novelty and porch furniture in 1916. This H. Beckmann and Sauer Planning Mill and Electric light plant at 5th and Virginia St. is still standing [2005} .

From 1901-1918 Mr. Beckmann served as a Dubois County Councilman with the county government and he became well known for his staunch democratic principles, at both the State and local levels.

Mr. Beckmann died June 19, 1921 and is buried in the Ferdinand Cemetery.

Throughout his life Mr. Beckmann was well known for his tireless efforts of promoting his community of Ferdinand and his tremendous involvement with the St. Ferdinand Catholic Church.

An author of the publication "Catholic Church in Indiana - Volume ll" has the following quote concerning Mr. Beckmann. "He deserves all praise that could be bestowed upon anyone individual of his tact, energy, honest dealing and general enterprise as a business man~ "

Mr. Beckmann's community support was very instrumental in making the community of Ferdinand one of the most viable communities within the area.