Landholding Beaumont brothers owned showcase farms in Merton, Lisbon
, Living Sussex Sun
By Fred Keller, Sussex Village Historian
The family began its American journey in a rented farm in the Town of Pewaukee in 1852. Eventually the family's landholdings stretch from Pine Lake in the Town of Merton to Esau Beaumont's 122-acre farm on today's Moraine Drive in western Lisbon.
Esau's farm passed down to Alfred, then Eunice, then Michael Beaumont. Like all Beaumont farms, Esau's was a showcase farm. Today it awaits transformation into a residential development across the highway from the Ironwood Golf Course.
The Beaumont family goes back to the French Normans who invaded England in 1066 under William the Conqueror. On Yorkshire land granted to the family centuries earlier, Matthew and Frances (Radcliffe) Beaumont had six children in the early 1800s, five of whom were still alive in 1894. Ephraim was the first born on Feb. 24, 1834.
(Francis' brother was Sir David Radcliffe, a twice-elected mayor of Liverpool.)
The entire family moved to the United Sates in 1850-51 following Matthew Beaumont's scouting trips to Racine and Waukesha Counties. Frances and the five children shipped out of Liverpool on the Bell Rock of Boston and arrived in the United States 26 days later, reuniting with Matthew on his rented Pewaukee farm.
The family remained there until 1855 when they moved onto 640 acres (one square mile) they had purchased in Portage County. They lived there 31 years.
Ephraim was 17 when the family moved to Waukesha County. At 20, he had a great desire to "go west, young man" after hearing about the Pacific Slope. He and a gaggle of young male friends left Waukesha in March 1854 and arrived Sept. 14 in Sacramento.
He remained in California until April 1862, when he sailed to New York on a trek that included crossing the Isthmus of Panama on land (the Panama canal had not been build yet). During his seven years in California he was engaged in vegetable gardening and mining, and the adventure proved to be very rewarding financially.
On his return he purchased 160 acres in the Town of Merton on both sides of the Bark River. Later he picked up an adjacent piece of land that extended the property to the northeast shore of Pine Lake.
He married Deborah Ann Wood on Jan. 1, 1863, in a ceremony performed in a log cabin. Born Jan 27, 1848, Wood was not quite 15 at the time. The couple had three sons and four daughters: Saxie, Richard, Hattie, Charles, William, Bessie and Edith.
Esau Beaumont was Ephraim's immediate younger brother. By the turn of the century, he owned 122 acres of farmland on Moraine Drive across from today's Ironwood Golf Course in Lisbon.
Esau fought in the Civil War while Ephraim was in California and was still in service after his older brother's return.
A staunch Republican, Ephraim became immersed in politics, casting his first vote for John Freemont while he was still living in Downieville, Sierra County, Calif.
Once back in Waukesha County, he served as Merton town chairman, Waukesha County supervisor and as county treasurer. In fall 1874, he was elected sheriff of Waukesha County and served two years.
In 1879 he took on the powerful Lisbon Democrat, Richard Weaver (Sussex's first millionaire), and lost by 73 votes in a contest for the state senate. He was again defeated for the state assembly by Lannon's J.J. Hatfield in 1887. He won that seat finally in 1889.
By this time his land holdings had grown to 280 acres, putting 402 acres in all under the ownership of the two Beaumont brothers.
Ephraim built a resort on Beaver Lake in 1894 just six miles west of Sussex with 11 cottages, containing four to 16 rooms each. The main lodge included a dining room that could seat 150 people.