Victorian Mourning Customs at Beekman House

Victorian Mourning Customs at Jacksonville’s Historic Beekman House

JACKSONVILLE, OR – The Victorians created elaborate rituals around the passing of a loved one.  Death was considered part of life’s texture, giving it essential meaning.  Join Historic Jacksonville at the 1873 Beekman House between 11 am and 3 pm on Saturday or Sunday, October 15 and 16, to explore how Jacksonville’s most prominent pioneer family honored the dearly departed in the late 1800s.

The historic Beekman House, located at 470 E. California Street in Jacksonville, will be decorated as a Victorian home in mourning.  One hour docent led tours beginning every 15 minutes will talk about proper Victorian mourning etiquette for home décor, clothing, funerals, and social behavior as well as superstitions, séances, mementos, and a few popular practices of the time that we would find bizarre today.  Tour admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors and students.

For the Victorians, death was an integral part of life. Despite all of the medical and technological advances of the Victorian era, people were still very much surrounded by death.  Infant mortality was incredibly high while life expectancy, especially in some major cities, was frightfully low.

Most people died in their homes, and most funerals were held at home.  Both Cornelius and Julia Beekman died in the Beekman House, and their daughter Carrie was at their sides as they declined and passed.  Their younger daughter, Lydia, had died in 1873, shortly before the house was completed.

A funeral invitation and Victorian casket in the house parlor will recreate the sense of a home funeral of the era.  Mirrors will be draped in black, clocks stopped, and photos of the deceased turned to the wall.  Beekman mourning clothes and jewelry will be on display along with mourning stationery and calling cards and other mementos of the dearly departed..

From humble beginnings as an express rider carrying mail, packages, and gold over the Siskiyous to Yreka, Cornelius C. Beekman built a business empire of banking, insurance, mining, and real estate interests.  The Beekmans were the only ones to occupy the family home and all the contents are family possessions accumulated over their 60+ years’ occupancy.

 

For additional information, call 541-245-3650, or visit www.historicjacksonville.org.

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