Celebrating 200 Years of History in 2020

Governor James Addams Beaver



Additional Information

Soldier – Statesman – Jurist
Born of two prominent Millerstown families on October 21, 1837, James
Beaver led a distinguished career in many areas of public service. His paternal grandfather,
The Rev. Peter Beaver, was an itinerant Methodist minister who settled in Pfoutz Valley in 1810.
His father Jacob engaged in the mercantile trade in Millerstown. Five years after Jacob
died in 1840, his mother married The Rev. S. H. McDonald of Millerstown,
who subsequently moved the family to Belleville, PA.  James spent many summers
living with his grandfather Abraham Addams and working on various farms in Pfoutz Valley.
Beaver graduated from Jefferson College (now Washington & Jefferson) in 1856.
He settled in Bellefonte, PA and was admitted to the Bar in 1859. After the Civil War, he
married his law partner’s daughter, Mary Allison McAllister, and the couple had five sons.
In April, 1861 he entered the army and in September, 1862 took command of the 148th
Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. Between May 1863 and August 1864, Beaver was
wounded four times. His right leg was amputated due to a near-mortal wound suffered
at Ream’s Station, NC. President Lincoln brevetted James a Brigadier General in
recognition of his meritorious service, particularly for his distingu
ished leadership at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, in June 1864.
Beaver, a Republican, became Pennsylvania’s 20th governor, serving from
1887 to1891. Governor Beaver substantially improved education, highways, and
conservation of forests and waterways. He introduced temperance legislation,
reapportioned voter districts, codified laws relating to relief for the poor,
and regulated coal. He reduced the state debt by three million dollars,
despite responding to the disastrous Johnstown flood of 1889.
He obtained state funds to improve Penn State’s intercollegiate football field,
which the students named Beaver Field in his honor (now Beaver Stadium.)
Later Beaver became involved in banking, railroads, and coal mining.
Heheld local and national lay leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church. He
served on the Board of Trustees of Washington and Jefferson College, Lincoln University, and
Pennsylvania State University, including acting president of the University from 1906-1908.
In 1895 he was appointed judge of the first State Superior Court and was re-elected twice.
He died on January 31, 1914 at the age of 76.
Sponsored by the decedents of The Rev. Peter Beaver.





Perry County Heritage Trail

The Perry County Bicentennial Committee is happy to be involved with the research and writing of much of the content of the history of Perry County. The committee has been instrumental in working with sponsors to procure and install the markers as shown in this Heritage Trail website.