Home of the “John Becks”

The Joseph Sturgis House at 59 Main Street

That there were two John Becks in Lititz is not generally known. Both father and son lived in the historic old Joseph Sturgis home at 59 Main Street for many years. This house was then known as the most beautiful home in Lititz and except for the front is today much as it was then.

John Martin Beck was born in Switzerland in 1746. With a background of two generations of educators he became a very successful teacher in a Boys’ School. In 1786 he received a call to America and on the voyage here made a providential escape. It was believed that the prayers aboard by the Brethren were responsible for pirates that were running them down being caught in a sudden squall that almost wrecked their ship. In Bethlehem he was again engaged in teach- ing boys until 1790 when he married Anna Johanna Grube and then went into the ministry.
Their son John was born the following year. After the death of his wife in 1808 he moved to Lititz and practiced medicine at which he had considerable skill. It was about 1809 when he came to Lititz with his two daughters, Benigna and Johanna. His son John was already here as an apprentice in the shoemaking trade. John Martin married the widow next door, Mary Grosh Kreider, and for the next sixty-four years the old Sturgis house was known as the Beck House.

When son John was 25 he was asked to take over a small school of boys on Church Square. The school was above the old blacksmith shop and the only equipment he had was a large table and benches. He received $200 a year and out of that had to pay for the school books. Three years later he took over the school as a private institution. In 1822 he married Johanna Reinke, a Linden Hall teacher, and in 1822 replaced the blacksmith shop with a two story building. It was expanded further and the Academy always had a waiting list of boys wanting admission.
In 1865 John Beck closed his Academy, and that year the School for Boys was opened on South Broad Street. Abraham Reinke Beck and his wife Joanna Huebener Beck conducted the Beck Family School for Boys from 1865 to 1895. Much as been written regarding the success of this school at Audubon Villa and it was here that Herbert Beck was born. Herbert was a student in his father’s school and excelled greatly. His record as a teacher is known to most of the citizens of Lititz.

Lititz can be proud of the fact that it had four generations of Beck educators: Rev. John Martin Beck (1746-1827); John Beck (1791-1873); Abraham Reincke Beck (1833-1928); and Herbert Huebener Beck (1875-1960). All are buried in God’s Acre of the Moravian Cemetery.


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