George Washington Beers was born in New York state to John Edwin and Abigail Beers. Although he used 16 August 1851 as his birthdate, court documents and the U.S. Censuses of 1850 indicate George W. was born about 1848. This runs counter to the dates provided in his obituary, on his death certificate, and on his gravestone.
George grew up in various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York. Court documents from 1864 show George W. and his sister Abby, ages 15 and 13 respectively, needing a guardian in New Haven, Connecticut to sell a parcel of land there, which they had probably inherited from their grandmother Eunice Gilbert of New Haven, Connecticut. Alfred Daggett, an attorney who was a relative by marriage to the Gilbert family, acted on their behalf. The proceeds from the sale were to go into a savings account for each of them.
By 1870, George’s father had moved the family from Brooklyn to near Kingston, South Brunswick Township in New Jersey. The census for that year shows the Beers living a few doors away from several Stults families. Neighbors John H. Stults and James S. Stults were the uncles of one Caroline E. “Carrie” Stults, born on May 17, 1855, near Kingston. Her father was Henry C. Stults, farmer, and her mother was Frances Reed, both natives of New Jersey. George and Carrie were married on March 7, 1872 in Somerset Co., New Jersey. At the time, George was recorded as being “of Elizabeth, NJ” and Carrie was “of Rocky Hill, NJ.”
Beginning in 1873, George W. and his father are both listed in the city directories of Elizabeth, New Jersey. During the 1870s, George and Carrie’s residence changed frequently: Pearl St., Washington Ave., South St., Broad St. George’s occupation is listed variously from year to year as an “oysterman” or a limeworker, but most frequently as an “oysterman,” as he was in the 1880 census and on Ella’s birth certificate. At the time, oystering was a major industry.
There was a connection between the oystering industry and the use of “shell lime” in the manufacture of building materials. George’s father, John Edwin Beers, was a mason and was involved in the shell lime industry, as was George, at times. Oyster shells were a source of lime which was used in the manufacture of many building materials. As further evidence of this, both George and John Edwin worked at times, for Freeman T. Winans, a mason and a wholesale and retail dealer in oysters. In 1875, Winans’ business was listed as “Winans and Beers,” with John E. Beers operating at lime kiln at the same address. The kiln was used to burn off the impurities and to extract the lime from the shells.
George and Carrie had six children between 1874 and 1883, but apparently only four survived to adulthood. After 1881, George’s occupations changed. He was listed variously as a “cleaner,” a clerk, a railroad worker, and a driver. The family lived in different locations on Union Street during this time.
George died at age 40 on August 12, 1892, of diarrhea and debility resulting from pneumonia. He was buried in the cemetery in Rocky Hill. The brief death notice and obituary in the Elizabeth Daily Journal read as follows:
George W. Beers, died yesterday at his home, 212 Union street. He had been confined to his home with illness for a long time. He was formerly in the employ of Mr. Shotwell, the oysterman, and F. T. Winans, the mason, but more recently for Col. C. A. Harris. He leaves a wife and four children. The funeral will take place from the bereaved home at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
BEERS — In this city, Aug. 12, 1892 George Beers, son of the late John and Abigail Beers, aged 40 years. Relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend funeral services, on SUNDAY, Aug. 14th at 2 o’clock from his late residence, No. 212 Union Street. Interment at Rocky Hill, on Monday morning.
Shortly thereafter, Carrie moved the family to Rocky Hill, New Jersey. Daughters Emma and Ella married, followed by son, William Henry, in 1901. Carrie, who had worked at keeping house until George’s death, was employed as a “dressmaker” in Rocky Hill in 1900 and as a “nurse” in 1910. She never re-married and would live 35 more years in Rocky Hill.
By 1910, Carrie was living on Crescent Avenue with her daughter Emma; her son‑in‑law, Howard Volk; and four grandchildren. All joined the First Reformed Church of Rocky Hill in 1911, when the Methodist Church failed. Her son, Walter, married to neighbor Margaret Stewart, had joined that church a year earlier.
Carrie’s brother, William, who lived next door, was a teamster and the first firechief of the Rocky Hill Hook and Ladder Company #1, organized in 1902. A trumpet with his name inscribed and the date “1902” was in the possession of the fire company as of 1964.
The Rocky Hill Public Library has a copy of a letter written by Jane Cornell Gagnon in 1992 to her friends at the Rocky Hill Gazette. In the letter, Mrs. Gagnon, obviously advanced in age, reminisces about her childhood in Rocky Hill. She doesn’t give dates, but we can surmise that she refers to a period between 1915-1920, of which she writes:
“I lived in the house with Mrs. Volk. She had two girls and my sister and I used to go follow the brook up, take a dip in the brook go on up to about Seafartha [farm]. We always took baskets and brought home grapes, apples etc. Mom would make jelly, can some for winter. There was an Italian fellow that lived across the field from our house. He was great with electric things. He had a radio. He rigged up with batter[ie]s and wired it across the field to our house and we listened to that. On that same road there was an Italian man that lived up that same street we used to call “Happy Jack.” He was such a cross person. One day I was coming home from school, I heard a child just screaming, I looked over across the field just as his little girl’s hair went up in flames. Her mother pulled up water from the well and threw it on the child. I ran as fast as I could screaming to my mother to get help. Mrs. Bears (don’t know how to spell it) was at home and also lived in the other side of the home. They ran as fast as they could to help but the little girl died.”
The “Mrs. Bears,” above, was likely Carrie Beers. Carrie, herself, died of a heart attack on September 28, 1927, while visiting relatives on Staten Island, New York.
Children of George Washington & Carrie (Stults) BEERS
GEORGE WASHINGTON BEERS was born about 1849 in Kings Co., New York State. He died on 12 August 1892 in Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ. He married CAROLINE E. “CARRIE” STULTS on 7 March 1872 in Somerset Co., NJ, daughter of Henry C. STULTS and Frances H. “Francy” REED. She was born on 17 May 1855 in near Kingston, S. Brunswick Twnshp., Middlesex Co., NJ. She died on 28 September 1927 in 7485 Amboy Rd., Richmond Co., NY. George Washington BEERS and Caroline E. “Carrie” STULTS had the following children:
i. EMMA AUGUSTA BEERS was born in March 1874 in New Jersey. She died on 4 March 1936 in Rahway, NJ. She married HOWARD SUTPHIN VOLK about 1893, son of Thomas T. VOLK and Mary S. He was born in June 1872 in New Jersey. He died on 2 November 1915 in Rocky Hill, Montgomery Twnshp, Somerset Co., NJ.
ii. WILLIAM HENRY “HARRY” BEERS was born on 10 July 1875 in Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ. He died on 20 June 1942 in 309 Manhattan Ave., Tottenville, Richmond Co., NY. He married BERNARDETTE MARIE CLAIRE VERONICA MARTIN on 12 November 1901 in First Reformed Church parsonage, Rocky Hill, Somerset Co., NJ, daughter of David MARTIN and Emilie Justine LEMOINE. She was born on 15 May 1882 in Montreal, Canada. She died on 4 February 1968 in Staten Island Hospital, Richmond Co., NY.
iii. EVA MARY BEERS was born on 10 April 1878 in Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ.
iv. ELLA MAY “ELLIE” BEERS was born on 10 April 1879 in 440 S. Broad St., Elizabeth, Union Co., New Jersey. She died after 1940. She married GEORGE EDWARD JAYCOX on 20 July 1895 in Rocky Hill, Somerset Co., NJ, son of David R. JAYCOX and Sarah E. HATHAWAY. He was born in June 1875 in New Jersey. He died after 1940.
v. WALTER EDGAR BEERS was born on 7 July 1881 in New Jersey. He died in May 1967. He married MARGARET ANDERSON STEWART about 1918, daughter of Stephen STEWART and Elizabeth IRVINE. She was born on 3 April 1887 in Scotland. She died on 3 April 1978 in Medical Center, Princeton, Mercer Co., NJ.
vi. FRANCES E. BEERS was born on 20 April 1883 in Elizabeth, Union Co., N.J.
- 1850 U.S. Census for John E. Beers (Williamsburgh, Kings County, NY).
- 1855 New York State Census for John E. Beers (New Lots, Kings Co., NY).
- 1860 U.S. Census for Henry C. Stults (South Brunswick Township, Middlesex County, NJ).
- 1860 U.S. Census for John Beers (17th Ward, Kings Co., NY).
- 1870 U.S. Census for Frances H. Stults (Harlingen, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ).
- 1870 U.S. Census for John E. Beers (South Brunswick Township, Middlesex Co., NJ).
- 1880 U.S. Census for Geo. W. Beers (Elizabeth, Union County, NJ).
- 1885 New Jersey State Census for George W. Beers (Ward #4, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ).
- 1895 New Jersey State Census for Carrie E. Beers (Montgomery Township, Somerset Co., NJ).
- 1900 U.S. Census for Carrie E. Beers (Rocky Hill Borough, Montgomery Township, Somerset Co., NJ).
- 1905 New Jersey State Census for Howard S. Volk (Somerset Co., NJ, as published at www.FamilySearch.org).
- 1910 U.S. Census for Howard S. Volk (Rocky Hill, Montgomery Township, Somerset Co., NJ).
- 1915 New Jersey State Census for Howard S. Volk (Rocky Hill, Somerset Co., NJ, as indexed at FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org%5D).
- 1920 U.S. Census for Emma A. Volk (Rocky Hill Borough, Somerset Co., NJ).
- 1930 U.S. Census for Walter E. Beers (E.D. #43-287, Tottenville, Richmond Co., NY).
- Birth Record for Caroline Stults (South Brunswick Township, Middlesex Co., NJ, dated 3 April 1856), New Jersey State Archives.
- Birth Record for Eva Mary Beers (State of New Jersey, 10 April 1879).
- Certificate of Birth, Ella Beers, April 10, 1879, Elizabeth, New Jersey.
- Certificate of Death for Carrie E. Beers (City of New York Department of Health, Borough of Richmond, 29 September 1927).
- Certificate of Death for Harry Beers (City of New York Department of Health, Borough of Richmond, 22 June 1942).
- Church records, First Reformed Church of Rocky Hill.
- Correspondence of Jane Cornell Gagnon to “Friends of the Rocky Hill Gazette,” dated 24 March 1992, at Rocky Hill Public Library, copy in possession of author.
- “Death” (George W. Beers) (Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday, August 13, 1892).
- Death Certificate for George W. Beers, (New Jersey State Archives, death date 12 August 1892).
- Elizabeth City Directory (Fitzgerald, Dillon, & Co.), 1873.
- Elizabeth City Directory (Merchants Union), 1876, 1875.
- Elizabeth City Directory (Drake & Cook), 1877.
- Elizabeth City Directory (Hall), 1879-80.
- Elizabeth City Directory (Drake, Cook & Hall), 1881-82.
- Elizabeth City Directory (Cook & Hall), 1883-84, 1886-87.
- Elizabeth, New Jersey Directories, 1883-91 (as published online at http://www.Ancestry.com, dated 7 June 2000).
- Engelbrecht, Vivian F., Rocky Hill, New Jersey 1701‑1976, Rocky Hill Tercentenary Committee, 1976.
- Find-A-Grave (at http://www.findagrave.com).
- First Reformed Church of Rocky Hill, New Jersey (Church records).
- Gravestone of Carrie E. Beers (Rocky Hill Cemetery, Rocky Hill, NJ).
- Gravestone of George W. Beers (Rocky Hill Cemetery, Rocky Hill, NJ).
- Letter to author from Mary Louise Regan, dated December 30, 1986.
- Marriage Record of George W. Beers and Carrie E. Stults (Marriage Book C, Somerset Co., NJ).
- New Haven Probate Records #13,017; Beers, George W. and Abby Maria; 1864.
- New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980 (as published at http://www.familysearch.org).
- Record of Birth, Caroline Stults, May 17, 1855, New Jersey State Archives, Vol. W, p. 106.
- Return of Marriage for William Henry Beers & Bernatta Vironica Martin (State of New Jersey, 12 November 1901).
- Smith, Dorothy Valentine, Staten Island: Gateway to New York, Chilton Book Company, Philadelphia, 1970, pp. 149-52.
- Thayer A. Bolmer, Memoirs of Rocky Hill, booklet in possession of Mary Jacobs Library, Rocky Hill, NJ, 1964.