Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
II, page 58, 1923.
BECKHAM, JOSEPH J. One of the oldest passenger conductors in point of service in the South,
JOSEPH J. BECKHAM is widely and favorably known among the traveling public. For thirty-seven
years he has traveled on various runs, first for the Seaboard Railway and since 1905 for the
Southern Railway System, and during this time has won the friendship and esteem of men in all
stations of life. During a leave of absence in 1921 he was elected municipal judge of
Jacksonville, a position to which he was reelected and in which he is now serving.
Mr. BECKHAM was born at Naylor, Lowndes County, Georgia, September 29, 1866, and is a son of
ALEXANDER C. and MARGARET L. (BORING) BECKHAM, both of whom are now deceased. There were but
two children in the family: JOSEPH J. and one who died in infancy. ALEXANDER C. BECKHAM was
born in South Carolina, and during the early '50s came to Florida. Here he saw fighting in
the Indian wars, in which he served as an officer, and this experience made him a valuable
addition to the Florida forces of the Confederacy at the outbreak of the war between the states,
when he joined the Grays and fought through until the close of hostilities. He showed himself
a capable officer and a gallant and faithful soldier and established an enviable reputation.
With the fall of the "Lost Cause" Mr. BECKHAM went to Alachua County, Florida, where he was
engaged in agricultural pursuits up to the time of his death. During his later years he did much
to assist the widows and children of Confederate soldiers to secure their pensions, and any
deserving cause instantly enlisted his sympathy and secured the assistance of his ability, his
time and his personal means. For many years this highly respected citizen served in the
capacity of justice of the peace, and his judgment was respected by his neighbors, who brought
their troubles to him, sure of finding a way out of their difficulties. In politics he was an
adherent of the principles of the democratic party, and his religious faith was that of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, a faith which he lived daily. He belonged to the Masonic order
and was a past master of Waldo Lodge No. 10, F. and A. M.
After attending the public schools JOSEPH J. BECKHAM was given a course at Gainesville Seminary,
then returning to his father's farm. Like many of the youths of the rural communities, he was
attracted by the glamour and possible romance of the railroad, and finally secured employment
as a brakeman with the Seaboard Railway Company. In 1885 he was advanced to the post of
conductor, which he held until 1905, at that time transferring his services to the Southern
Railway system, as passenger conductor, being still connected with this line. One of the
oldest men in point of service, he is likewise one of the most highly esteemed, and his friends
are legion. He belongs to the Railway Conductors Association, and his religious connection is
with the Presbyterian Church. Politically a democrat, while on a leave of absence he was
elected municipal judge of Jacksonville, and, being reelected, is still acting in that capacity.
As a fraternalism he is affiliated with Waldo Lodge No. 10, F. and A. M.; Jacksonville Chapter
No. 12, R. A. M.; Hallmark Council No. 3, R. and S. M.; Damascus Commandery No. 2, K. T., and
Morocco Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.; and Jacksonville Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order Of
In October, 1896, Mr. BECKHAM married Miss BERTHA M. FURMAN, who was born in Florida, and is
worthy matron of Jacksonville Chapter No. 15, Order of the Eastern Star.