Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
II, page 39, 1923.
BECKWITH, JOHN P. is one of the widely known railroad men of the Southeast, with a record
of more than forty years of service in capacities ranging from clerk in a way station to
executive officer in some of the most important transportation systems serving the State
Mr. BECKWITH, whose home has been in Jacksonville for a number of years, was born at Plymouth,
North Carolina, June 24, 1858, a son of THOMAS and LINA (PHELPS) BECKWITH. His parents were
also born at Plymouth, where his father practiced law until the outbreak of the Civil war,
when he joined the Confederate army and lost his life in battle when only thirty years of
age. His widow survived him to the age of seventy. Of their two children JOHN P. is the
JOHN P. BECKWITH, owing to the early death of his father, had to achieve his own opportunities
and make his career unaided. He received most of his school education at Smithfield, North
Carolina, and at the age of fourteen he went to work. He was employed at different jobs until
1867, earning a living and accumulating some experience valuable to him later. Then, in 1867,
he went to work with the North Carolina Railway at Durham, North Carolina, as clerk and ticket
agent. In 1880, he joined the Cincinnati Southern Railway as rate clerk in the offices of
His introduction to the railroad and transportation service of Florida began September 15,
1883, when he came to Jacksonville as state and freight agent for the Cincinnati Southern.
In 1885 he was made general agent for the Western Atlantic Railway and the Central Railway
of Georgia at Jacksonville, and in 1890 was made a general freight agent for the Jacksonville
Tampa and Key West Railway in Jacksonville. In 1895 Mr. BECKWITH removed to New York City,
where for about a year he was general freight and passenger agent for the Ocean Steamship Line.
September 13, 1896, he returned to Florida as freight traffic manager for the Florida East
Coast Railway Company. January 1, 1909, he was elected fourth vice president of this railroad,
and since January 1, 1910, has been vice president in charge of operation and traffic.
Mr. BECKWITH is a democrat in politics and a member of the Episcopal Church. On September 25,
1883 he married SADIE NAGLE BOYER, who was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. They have two
children, THOMAS L., who married HELEN KENWORTHY; and FLORENCE MARIE, wife of WILLIAM G.
LOCKWOOD, and mother of a daughter, FLORENCE BECKWITH LOCKWOOD.