William Becht

Contributed by: William Brackett

The Twentieth Century History of Berrien County Michigan was written by Judge Orville W. Coolidge and was published in 1906 by the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago and New York. In this work on page 295 and 296 you can find a biography for William Becht and it reads: “William Becht, who is living in Watervliet township not far from the village of Coloma, was born at ‘The Hemlocks,’ his father’s home in Van Buren county, Michigan, on the 28th day of December, 1860. He is a son of Christian and Louise Amelia (Mitchell) Becht, who were natives of Germany and came to the United States fifty-two years ago. Making his way westward, the father worked in a sawmill and was thus early identified with the lumber interests of the state, which constituted the first important course of living to the settlers in Michigan. His first home ‘The Hemlocks’ was given in payment of a doctor bill, for his wife was ill for twenty-six years. He enlisted in the service of the Union army of the Civil war and remained with the army for three years. He was injured by a horse falling upon him while fording a river. After removing from Van Buren to Berrien county, he settled on a tract of land of thirty acres west of Coloma, building a little board cabin there. He is a shoemaker by trade and has since followed that business, yet making his home upon his farm near Coloma.

His wife passed away March 18, 1905, in the seventy-third year of her age, while Mr. Becht has attained the advance age of seventy-five years. His wife was an invalid for more than a quarter of a century and required constant attention, her daughter Lucy acting as her nurse. She also had charge of the house from the age of ten years and sacrificed her own pleasure and prospects in life for the care of her mother and the younger children born unto Mr. and Mrs. Becht, all of whom are yet living. William Becht, whose name introduces this record, remained at home until fifteen years of age, after which he was employed by J. D. Emery two summers, and then began working for H. W. Williams. He was employed in the lumber woods, rafting logs down the river and also working in a sawmill for six years. His time was thus spent until his marriage which important event in his life occurred on the first of January, 1885, the lady of his choice being Miss Clara Brant, a daughter of Edward and Martha Brant, mention of whom is made elsewhere in this work. Mr. Becht was employed by Mr. Brant for three years, after which he rented the Brant farm until he purchased the property, comprising one hundred acres of land. He also operates another farm of two hundred acres from Mr. Brant, who lives in Benton Harbor, having charge of the interests of his father-in-law in this part of the county.

In his agricultural pursuits he is enterprising, active and progressive and is devoting his attention to the raising of corn, cattle and hogs. He also has twenty acres planted to peaches, plums and apples, and in addition there is an old orchard upon the place. He keeps eleven cows, also has high grades of horses as well as cattle. In his business he is meeting with creditable success and his close application and enterprise constitute the basis of his prosperity. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Becht has been born a son, Lincoln Edward Becht, who is now twelve years of age. In his political affiliations Mr. Becht is a Democrat but without aspiration for office. He displays in his life many of the strong and commendable traits of character of his German ancestry and at the same time has a progressive spirit and ready adaptability which have ever marked the American people. The success he has won is due entirely to his own labor and an analyzation of his history shows that he has placed his dependence upon the safe and sure qualities of determination and industry. He has never trusted to chance or any fortunate combination of circumstances and through earnest labor has won a creditable position as an agriculturist of Berrien county.”