Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

BEECHLER, JAMES (1840-1921)

History of Santa Cruz County California, Edward Sanford Harrison

The talents possessed by Dr. Beechler are signally diverse, yet happily and harmoniously blended to form a character well rounded in those attributes that bring material success. The startling contrasts of his native endowments are indicated by the statement that he is a poet, the author of many beautiful verses; further, that in youth he was a noted local wrestler and fighter, and after he entered the Civil War he came to be known as "Fighting Jim" Beechler. With the dreamy nature of the poet and the sturdy robustness of the fighter, he combined the qualities that have brought him prominence and success in the practice of medicine. So great has been his success in the treatment of asthma that during the past four years he has treated more than one thousand persons at the institution he has founded, Beechler's White Cross Sanitarium.

The native place of Dr. Beechler is Bryan, William's County Ohio, and 1840 the year of his birth. From early boyhood his studies were directed with the medical profession as the end in view. For a time he attended Bennett Medical College at Chicago, Ill., and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and in 1871 he graduated from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. Thereafter he practiced his profession in Chicago and later in New York City, also for a year held the chair of anatomy in Bennett Medical College and for a short time was an instructor in the University of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile he had achieved prominence through his service in the Civil War, having enlisted in 1862 as first lieutenant of Company H, in the Ninth Ohio Cavalry. At first he made a specialty of recruiting soldiers for volunteer service. Later he was ordered to report to General Boyle at Louisville, Ky. and afterward he gallantly served his country on the Mississippi and Cumberland rivers. To him was given the command of gunboat Liberty No. 1, which took all of the forts on the river and was the only boat out of seven to get through the lines without capture. While serving as adjutant general on the staff of General Walker he was wounded so seriously that he was taken to the hospital to die, but a strong constitution and careful nursing enabled him to recover.

After a brave participation in the famous seven days' fight from Nashville to Murfreesboro, Dr. Beechler received and ovation from Generals Thomas and Walker for his gallant service. He was the only commanding officer who survived the battle with the gunboats on the river, where he had thirty-six transports under his charge. Among the famous battle in which he took part were Forts Henry and Donelson (2d). Later he saw service in the west with the Indians and under General Miles he held the rank of surgeon in the United States army. During his service in the army he gave his time and energy to his country, free of charge. Prior to his first army service he was married in 1860 to Miss Jeannie Fairfield, a native of Ohio, who was reared and educated in the city of Bryan.

Coming to California in 1895, Dr. Beechler entered upon professional practice. During 1901 he came to Santa Cruz County and settled at Soquel, where he opened a sanitarium on the hill overlooking the village. Later he added to and improved the property and now owns one of the best appointed places of the kind in the state. Modern appliances have been introduced. The equipment includes electric lights on the ground, the roof and the piazza, as well as in all the rooms. A beautiful white cross of lights appears on the front of the house and can be seen at night for miles in every direction. This gives to the sanitarium the name by which it is known throughout the state. Sun verandahs are provided for patients. Fine baths have been installed with a modern system of plumbing. The operating room also is thoroughly equipped with modern appliances. Mrs. Georgia Henderson the head nurse, who has filled the position since 1905, is a graduate trained nurse and much of the success of the institution is due to her intelligent oversight.

While many diseases have been treated successfully by Dr. Beechler (rheumatism, appendicitis, gangrene, male and female disease and cancer) he makes a specialty of asthma. For years he suffered with the latter disease and vainly tried all known remedies. Finally he discovered a remedy which cured himself and has cured many others. For the secret of this cure he has been offered $100,000. Out of one hundred patients treated, he has cured ninety five and once cured, the disease never return. (p. 247)

Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 25, 1921)

DIED: BEECHLER - In San Francisco, March 22, Dr. James Beechler, formerly of Capitola, a native of Ohio, aged 80 years.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 31, 1921)

The Richmond Banner publishes the following obituary of interest in Santa Cruz and Soquel, as Dr. Beechler was a resident at Soquel where he conducted a sanitarium for a number of years. It says:

Passing of Dr. James Beechler

At his home at 6100 Geary street Wednesday, March 22nd, Dr. James Beechler answered the call of the Supreme Commander and passed to his eternal rest.

Dr. James Beechler was born in Ohio eighty years ago and was educated in the schools of that state. When he was in early manhood the Civil War came on the country and the young man answered the call. He was a gallant fighter and soon occupied a high rank in the service. He was in many battles and was the youngest commander in the Monitor service and was the last of the commanders of those famous vessels to answer the final call.

After the war he was a member of the faculty of the Electric Medical College of Pennsylvania and has always been a success in his practice of medicine. For the past year he has had his residence and offices at Geary Street and Twenty Fifth Avenue.

On September 22 last his wife who had been his faithful companion for more than fifty years passed away after a prolonged illness.

Funeral services will be held at the residence at 10 o'clock this Friday morning. Internment will be at Woodlawn cemetery.

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