Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Marjorie Cox

From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

Alsace Loraine, for its 2000 years of recorded history, has been a prize much coveted by adjoining countries in Europe. Constant battling for its possession by France and Germany led the sheep-producing Becque family to migrate to the United States in the mid 1800's. Henri Becque married Melanie Etiene in 1845 in France. Black Walnut, Missouri, a small place near St. Charles, was their next home. They continued to raise sheep, but Americanized the name to Beck. They had twin daughters who died in infancy and three other children; Mary, born October 16, 1848; Henry Charles, July 22, 1851; John Louis Firmin, October 3, 1853. The family spoke French and German as well as English.

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Overall, who were in Texas, wrote their friends, the Becks, that good grassland, suitable for sheep, was available in Coleman County; and the winters were milder than those in Missouri. In the spring of 1877, Henry Beck sent his two sons young Henry and Firmin, on their way to Texas with 1500 sheep.  Their father intended to be in Texas before them as them as they were driving the sheep; but the elder Henry died before he could start the journey. Mr. Ezra Overall, brother of Richard and administrator of the Beck will, brought the news to Texas. When Firmin reached the Overall Ranch with part of the herd, he was amazed at how thinly populated the country was. He told Mr. Overall he did not "meet a house" from Santa Anna to the ranch, a distance of over nine miles. The first land Firmin purchased was Section 100, about 7 miles southwest of Valera. This section had and still has one of the best and prettiest waterholes in West Texas, on Elm Creek. After the sheep had been moved to their permanent home, three men rode into camp and suggested that this was not sheep country, and they best move on. Firmin told the men that he wanted to get along with his neighbors, but he had bought that land and intended to stay on it. There was never any serious trouble, though these were the first sheep in this part of the country.


The Overalls were not only instrumental in getting Firmin Beck to Texas; they also introduced him to his future wife, Malinda Elizabeth Pauley, oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Pauley, born in Boone County, Missouri, January 1, 1860. They were married in Coleman, December 16, 1880 (see Pauley family). As the children came along and the sheep increased, so did the size of the ranch, until there were 14 sections. With the exception of one section, this is still owned by the Beck heirs. During the first years, wool had to be hauled to Fort Worth by wagons. After the railroad came through, San Angelo became a sheep and wool center for West Texas. Firmin believed in quality rams for his fine-wooled Delaine-Merino sheep. He preferred they have clean faces and wide-spread horns. There was ''Old Sensation, a 1904 St. Louis World's Fair award winner, valued at a thousand dollars; ''Old Premier,'' some of whose offspring brought nearly two hundred dollars each.


When the children became school age, a house was bought in Coleman. It was a small Victorian style house on South Colorado St. where the Rob O'Hair family now lives. Malinda and the children moved in for the school year, with Firmin riding in for the week-end. The whole family went back to the ranch for the summer. Firmin, a Catholic, believed in the importance of religious education. Each of the children was sent to finish his or her high school education at a Catholic institution- Ursuline Academy and Dallas University in Dallas; St. Edwards in Austin. No matter where they were in school, the boys were always eager to get back to the ranch. Malinda (Pauley) Beck died January 12, 1916, Firmin, December 28, 1923, both buried in Coleman.

 Their children:

(1) Mary Louella, June 1, 882-May 1, 1971, married James Arthur Home, August 28, 1904 (see James D. Horne).

(2) John Charles, January 22, 1884--May 13, 1891.

(3) Oscar Eugene, October 11, 1885-December 9, 1957 (see Oscar E. Beck).

(4) Margaret Malanamus (Maggie), April 17, 1889-in December, 1983, married O. H. Davenport and went to El Paso, where they lived until his retirement. Both are buried in Coleman. There were no children.

(5) Louis Firmin, August 15, 1891--December 25, 1971, married Leah Croom February 14, 1925. They lived in the old Beck home on Section 100. They had no children.

(6) Joseph Edgar (Ted), December 9, 1893-May 25, 1959, never married. He served in the Army in Europe in WWI, then lived the rest of his life on the ranch. Ted was a shy and gentle man, much loved by all who knew him.

(7) George Julius (Shorty), May 10, 1895- August 7, 1965, married Maude Mitchell, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Mitchell of Valera, September 1, 1921. George was a member of the Coleman Rodeo Assn. and served as Arena Director (see Dr. H. H. Mitchell).

(8) William Curtis, November 11, 1900- January 30, 1975, married Alta White of Bartlett, October 10, 1921. Their ranch was the northwest comer of the Beck holdings, five miles southeast of Talpa. Curtis was a Coleman Rodeo Association member. Continuing to raise sheep and cattle, during his later years he also enjoyed raising registered Quarter horses. There were two girls: Marjorie Mayes, October 21, 1922 and Rosemary, August 27, 1927, both graduated from high school at Talpa. Marjorie attended college at Tarleton, at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, and Texas Tech. She married John W. Cox, December 5, 1942 (see John W. Cox). Marjorie and Rosemary were Queens of the Coleman Rodeo. Rosemary attended Texas Tech and graduated from Sul Ross. She represented Sul Ross as Duchess to the Sun Carnival at El Paso. She taught school in Andrews; married R. L. Bland of Abilene, August 20, 1948. After having ranched in Coleman and Crockett counties and in South Dakota, they now live in Trent, where they own and operate the Cal-Tex Feed Yard. Rosemary and R. L. have five children (Rex, Diltzie, John and Becky (twins), and Steve) and eleven grandchildren. Marjorie and Rosemary own the ranch at Talpa; Rex Bland operates it.


Henry Charles Beck, brother of Firmin, was known as "quite a character" around Coleman, and also within the family. He had ranched separately from Firmin. When Henry moved into Coleman, he bought a city block in the vicinity of Hufford Field. His small house, chicken house, barn, and several other small outbuildings were all painted barn red. His pride and joy was his team and small wagon, also painted red. Although his death was not until June 6, 1930, he never owned a car, continuing to contend with downtown traffic, signal lights and all, with his team and wagon.

The Beck Family – 1896


front: Joseph Edgar “Ted,” Louis Firmin, George Jullius “Shorty,” center: Oscar Eugene,
Firmin, Malinda Elizabeth (Pauley), Margaret Malanamue “Maggie,” rear: Mary Louella.

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