Elkananah and Irena Beard, founders of Winchester Friends Meeting.

 

Elkanah Beard and Irena Johnson Beard

1833-1905 and 1835-1920

From the diary of Elkanah Beard in February, 1862

 

    "Lynn, Indiana.  At home.  My mind having been unusually impressed for several months, and from some cause I hope not entirely selfish, I have felt induced to take in this form a few notes of what I conceive to be the working of the Holy Spirit upon me.  Not with any desire or expectation that they will be published but rather for my future reference. [.....] Being now in my 24th year I find the mercantile business in which I am engaged does not admit of my giving as much time to reading, meditation and secret prayer as would be best, and often feeling deep remorse of conscience for having so much neglected that for which I was created, I have resolved to quit the business for a while as soon as practicable [.....].

This photo was donated to the Meeting from distant relatives and currently hangs in the meetinghouse parlor.  Taken around 1860.

     From 1863 through 1869 Elkanah and Irena Beard served in the Mississippi Valley and inaugurated a Quaker relief effort that would have an impact on the region for more than sixty years. They labored among the recently freed slaves providing food, clothing, education and religious services.  After their time in the south they offered themselves to the London Missionary Society for Friends for service in India.  From 1869 through 1872 they worked in mission stations in India teaching and preaching.  Due to Irena's poor health, they returned to Richmond in 1872.  

From the diary of Elkanah Beard in April and May, 1873

    "We have concluded it right to go to Winchester and expect to move in a few days.  The citizens of that place who wish us to hold meeting agree to furnish us a house free of rent, and the owner of the City Hall kindly lets us use it without charge for meeting purposes.....It will likely be a long time before we will see much fruit of our preaching or pastoral care, but I claim that my labor for the Lord will be blessed.....The attendance at (Meeting) is thirty to fifty.  In a room large enough to seat 500, these folks look like a small audience, and if I was to look at vacant seats I might get discouraged, but my thoughts must run higher than chair backs.....I wonder what will come of all this."

     Elkanah and Irena Beard came to Winchester in April of 1873 and were a part of this meeting through it's beginning years, through the building of the first Quarterly Meetinghouse in 1874 and through the building of this present Meetinghouse in 1898. 

Photo of the Parsonage.    During those years they maintained a home here and traveled at various times throughout the US preaching and spent several years working with Indians in Oklahoma.  In 1898, when Elkanah was 65 and Irena 63 they made available, with a donation of $1000 the brick residence and lot adjoining the Meetinghouse on the south to be used as the parsonage.  (The Meeting paid them $325 making the purchase cost of the parsonage $1325 total.)

 From Elkanah's obituary in 1905:

    "For many years rheumatism and heart trouble prevented him from laboring in the cause of Christian religion which he so much loved.  In no place did he show his refined Christian character more than in his home: a good neighbor, safe advisor and loving husband.  In all his cares and labor he was ably assisted by his wife, the choice of his youth, with whom he lived for over 52 years.  But he has fought the good fight and gone to his reward leaving his wife, one brother and two sisters and many friends who will sadly miss him, yet rejoice in the thought that he was a good and faithful servant of the Lord."

 
 
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