Ernest Arthur Beebe was born January 28, 1855 in Waterford, New London, Connecticut, to William Chaffee Beebe and Mary Ellen Pachey. He married Mary Eva Braman on September 11, 1878 at Braman Hill, Wyandotte, Kansas. On the 1880 Census he is listed as a marble cutter. He and his wife had five children. The oldest four were daughters: May Ernestine, Nina A., Grace, and Alice. Wallace Burdette was their only boy. Wallace was a pilot in WW I and died while on military duty during WW II. The family moved west in about 1892 and settled in Corona, Riverside, California.

On October 6, 1900, The Corona Courier reported:

The people of Corona were greatly surprised Wednesday morning when E. A. Beebe was arrested for stealing a bale of hay from the Boston and south Riverside Fruit Co. Mr. Turner and his employees have suspicioned Beebe for some time as numerous articles, including grain and hay have been missed from time to time. Wednesday morning a bale of hay was missed and every indication pointed to Beebe as the culprit. Mr. Turner at once swore out a complaint and Constable Wall started out Sixth street where Beebe had been seen to go. He was overtaken a mile or so from town and brought before Judge Phillips, when he pleaded guilty after making some flimsy excuse for his conduct and was fined $15 which he paid. About this time E. E. Hamilton discovered a horse blanket in Beebe’s wagon, which was taken from his horse at the time of the opening of the Thieme packing house two years ago. Beebe claimed he got it in a second hand store in Los Angeles, but gave it up. Beebe then went home and returned the hay and shortly after dinner left town. Rumors began to fly thick and fast and Constable Wall procured a search warrant and proceeded with others to search the premises, and the longer the search was continued the greater the find. Many of the articles taken from Barth & MacGillivray’s store, C. W. Main’s residence and the shells recently taken from Dr. Perry’s residence were found secreted in the house and a store house on the premises. Many other articles were also found, including whips, lap robes, harnesses and stuff enough to stock a small second hand store. A warrant was at once sworn out and telephoned to the Sheriff’s office and Beebe was soon located at his brother-in-law’s in Riverside and taken into custody. Constable Wall and C. W. Main went to Riverside Thursday and Beebe confessed the whole matter, but excused himself in saying that for the past two years he has had a lot of trouble with his head and that at times his mind was hazy and as for fixing dates he could remember nothing. He was taken before Justice Mills and bound over to the Superior Court in the sum of $500, in the Main case. Other charges have been placed against him, so it is not at all likely that he will be turned loose. This is a sad state of affairs certainly. Robberies have been committed at different times during the past two or three years and although most of them have been traced to this man through the recovery of much of the plunder, he may not be the only one. The family have done everything to assist the officers in this matter and the sympathy of the whole community is with them in their trouble. He always gave some reasonable excuse to his family for having the stuff in his possession, although much of the stuff named had never been seen by the family, which is very highly respected in Corona as well as wherever they have resided.

The San Francisco Call newspaper gives more details in their October 7th edition:

GARB OF PIETY USED TO CLOAK HIS RASCALITY — Corona Burglar Proves to Be a Leading Church Member — LOOT HIDDEN IN HIS HOUSE — E. A. Beebe, a Man of Family, Confesses Numerous Crimes Extending Back Over Period of Two Years — Special Dispatch to The [San Francisco] Call. CORONA, Oct. 6 – For the past two years Corona merchants and citizens have suffered from the depredations of a cunning thief. The culprit eluded the vigilance of the officers until Wednesday morning, when he was captured by Constable Charles Wall while en route to Los Angeles with some hay and goods he had stolen. His arrest has caused a tremendous sensation, for the thief proves to be E. A. Beebe, a man who has resided in Corona for the past two years and has been a prominent member of the First Baptist Church. His wife has been a teacher in the public schools for two years and was recently reappointed to the position for the present term. Beebe is the father of five children – four girls and one boy – all unusually bright. The hay was stolen from the Boston Fruit Company’s barn, which is located close to Beebe’s residence. He was arraigned for the theft and was fined $15 by Justice Phillips. A lap-robe he had in his buggy at the time of his arrest was given up by him to Merchant E. E. Hamilton, who identified it as his property. Beebe’s residence was searched by Constable Wall and almost all of the articles stolen in the vicinity during the past two years were recovered and identified by their owners. Much of the plunder was concealed in a concrete lemon house. Before the arrival of the officer Beebe fled, but he was later rearrested near Riverside on a warrant charging him with having robbed Charles W. Main’s residence in July of last year. The prisoner confessed his guilt and acknowledged having also looted Barth & MacGillivray’s store on January 7, this year, when he obtained guns, razors and valuable cutlery. He confessed that he had purloined a tent from Dr. J. C. Gleason on April 7 and had broken into Dr. W. F. Perry’s barn on September 24 and stolen 3,000 loaded shotgun shells. Other steals were admitted by the prisoner. Beebe’s preliminary hearing on the first charge of burglary took place yesterday at Riverside before Judge Mills. He was bound over to appear before the Superior Court. Other charges of burglary will be filed against him. The total value of the stolen property is about $500.

And the San Francisco Call adds more in their October 11th edition:

FIVE YEARS IN SAN QUENTIN IS BURGLAR BEEBE’S FATE — Corona’s Erstwhile Honored Citizen and Leading Churchman Sentenced by Superior Judge Noyes at Riverside — Prisoner Meekly Appeals to the Mercy of the Court — Committed Many Crimes and Eluded Officers for Two Years — His Rascality Uncovered by the Shrewd Work of a Constable — Special Dispatch to The [San Francisco] Call. CORONA, Oct. 10 – E. A. Beebe, leading churchman, prominent citizen and self-confessed burglar, is now on his way to San Quentin Prison, and the property owners of Corona are rejoicing that his two years’ career of petty thievery has been brought to a close. Beebe was arraigned before Superior Judge Noyes at Riverside yesterday and entered a plea of guilty to the charge of burglary preferred against him by Charles W. Main of Corona. The prisoner meekly appealed to the mercy of the court, but Judge Noyes sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment in San Quentin. Today Sheriff Coburn started northward with Beebe to place him behind the walls of Warden Aguirre’s hostelry. The arrest and conviction of Beebe are still the sensation of the hour in Corona and vicinity. Since he came to the town two years ago he, until his arrest on Saturday, was regarded as an honest, upright citizen. A prominent member of the First Baptist Church, he for two years played the role of pious hypocrite and no one in the town suspected his real character. In tracing a long series of burglaries to Beebe Constable Wall showed detective ability of a high order. Beebe’s thievery began with his advent to the town. For the past two years residence after residence has been entered by a burglar, and several business places have been robbed. During all that time not the slightest clew was left behind by the mysterious thief until last week, when the diligence of Constable Wall resulted in the arrest of Beebe as he was going to Los Angeles to dispose of the proceeds of a recent midnight raid. When he confessed having stolen the articles found in his wagon, it was at once surmised that he was the culprit who had committed all of the other robberies of the last two years, and when his home was searched much stolen property was recovered. Then Beebe broke down and admitted that he had committed all of the burglaries that had so long puzzled local officials and citizens. Public sympathy goes out to Mrs. Beebe and her children. She has taught in the public school here for the past two years, and recently was reelected for the present term. The couple has two [five] very bright children.

The Corona Courier reported that “Beebe Was Sentenced for Five Years” – E. A. Beebe, who was arrested last week for burglary, was taken before the Superior Court on Monday and plead guilty. Mr. Beebe made an earnest plea before the Judge, who sentenced him to only five years in San Quentin. Deputy Sheriff Cressman took him north Tuesday. A large portion of the stuff stolen has been recovered and Constable Wall has been kept busy for the past week distributing the plunder to the various owners.

Nine years later [1909] the story ends:

SUSPECTED BURGLAR DIES IN JAIL CELL — Carpenter Succumbs to Heart Disease Following Arrest — OAKLAND, Oct 28 – Ernest A. Beebe, a carpenter, 53 years old, living at 2217 Fulton Street, Berkeley, died this afternoon from an attack of heart trouble which seized him while he occupied a cell in the city jail awaiting removal to Berkeley, where he was wanted on two charges of burglary. He had been arrested only this morning, and had undergone a “sweating” at the police station. The disgrace of and attending nervous strain induced the attack, which resulted fatally. He was arrested this forenoon in Oakland. Beebe’s attempt to sell some rings and pins from which he had removed the gems led to his arrest on suspicion. Questioning of the prisoner strengthened the police suspicions. The prisoner was obdurate and when the detectives had obtained his address they informed the Berkeley officers so that a search might be made for other evidence. His home was searched and the discovery of clothes and jewels connected Beebe with the burglary of L. Gimbel’s apartments at the El Doree apartments, University and Shattuck avenues, Berkeley. Articles were found which had been stolen from a house in Walnut Street, Berkeley. An autopsy was performed at the morgue tonight by Dr. Weston V. Rice and Dr. O. D. Hamlin, the suspicion having been held that Beebe had taken poison in the jail. A severe heart disease was found to have been the cause of death.

BURGLAR FOND OF FANCY CUT GLASS — Ernest A. Beebe, Who Died in Jail, Left Wagon Load of Loot in Rooms — BERKELEY, Oct. 29 – When the police searched the rooms of Ernest A. Beebe, carpenter, who died in the Oakland city prison following his arrest and accusation of a dozen burglaries committed here, they found much valuable loot. Beebe’s taste for some unknown reason seemed to center on cut glass [jewels]. In suitcases, drawers, cupboards and other places Chief of Police Vollmer found carefully wrapped in newspapers enough cut glass to supply a caterer. Beebe had accumulated such a mass of stolen property, only a small proportion of which he attempted to sell, that he also rented rooms at 2200 Bancroft way, which he held in addition to those at 2417 Fulton Street. At one place; the police found more than 56 pieces of cut glass, several dozen silver spoons, three overcoats, and several suits of clothing, 13 pairs of trousers, fancy vests and ties by the score. Besides there were collars and shirts, a family bible, a pair of opera glasses and small articles of value. The police have only as yet begun their investigations, but have discovered that among the places he robbed are the homes of G. A. Scott, 1431 Walnut Street; R. J. Rice, 2742 Grove Street; J. C. Law, 2426 Ellsworth Street; L. Gimbel; El Doree apartments, and other places. In each case entrance was affected by skeleton keys, of which the police found 75 different varieties in his rooms. Beebe is said to have been, a former convict, who came here after serving a term in San Quentin. He was 53 years of age, and when caught in the act of disposing of stolen-goods was seized with an attack of heart failure, from which he died in jail before he could be brought to the bar to answer for his crimes.

[The original San Francisco Call newspaper articles can be accessed for free at the California Digital Newspaper Collection.]

His wife, Eva Beebe, went on to raise an incredibly talented and successful family. Eva taught third grade for over 30 years in Corona, until she was 75 years old. Her house was across the street from the First Baptist Church where she attended. They were a very musically talented family, and Eva taught music lessons. They were all well-educated and several followed in their mother’s footsteps and were educators, or were married to teachers. Eva died on Christmas Eve 1939.

Eva Beebe

Grace Barry, May Waldorf, Nina Bodilsen,
Eva Beebe, and Alice Sharpe


William Chaffee Beebe was born November 24, 1829, in Waterford, New London, Connecticut, to Charles Beebe and Dolly Chaffee. He married Mary Ellen Pachey on March 8, 1850, in New London, Connecticut. They were the parents of seven children: Charles G., Ernest Arthur, Ella Mary, Eliza Jane, Nina Endora, Hattie Bella, and Alberta Mott. He enlisted for service in the Civil War on January 4, 1864, in Company D, 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment Connecticut on the Union side. While in the service he was a cook. He was wounded in left leg. He mustered out on September 15, 1865, at Washington, DC. He lived to be 84 years old. He died on March 7, 1914, in Waterford, New London, Connecticut, and is buried next to his wife in the Jordan Cemetery in Waterford.