“My own life, of sixty years, have been spent among these characters and surroundings; I have faithfully tried to record in this labor.” In a 1913 letter from Merritt to Brown Shoenheit.
Merritt Beeson was born in Dodge City to Chalkley and Ida Beeson on December 29, 1878. Elizabeth Irene Beeson was born in Appleton, Wisconsin on January 17, 1892 to Phillip V. and Appolonia Bloedel Schaetzel. On March 13, 1913 the two were united in marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Merritt Beeson began operating the Beeson Museum in 1932 in the basement of their home on the southwest corner of Beeson Road and Sunnyside Avenue. They had had assistance from Merritt’s brother, Otero. This institution arose from the collection started in the 1870’s by Merritt’s father, Chalkley. By the time Chalkley died in 1912, the family had many souvenirs and relics from the late 19th century. Included in this assortment were items used by Chalkley’s Cowboy Band. Prominent were a pair of golden eagles and musical instruments. Many heirlooms from both his and from his wife’s family graced this assembly of artifacts. Documents and photographs also made up an integral part of this large collection. Later, the Museum expanded and moved east to a the “Corral” on South Second. The Beeson Museum was a repository for scholars studying the history of the area, and it was a Mecca for tourists. Numerous letters to and from the Beeson’s in the Boot Hill Museum archives attest to the fact Merritt himself was a “go to” source for early Dodge City history. Both Mr. and Mrs. Beeson corresponded with prominent Dodge City old timers and family members of early Dodge founders. Josephine Earp, Wyatt’s last wife, was one of these, as were members of the Masterson family and Samuel Crumbine, who had become nationally famous in the area of public health. After Merritt died Jan. 28, 1956, Elizabeth managed the Museum until it closed in 1964. She died on October 15, 1984 at the age of 92. The legacy of Beeson Museum lives on at Boot Hill Museum which acquired most of its collection when Beeson Museum closed. Many of these artifacts are displayed in the “Beeson Gallery,” with others housed elsewhere throughout the complex.
Merritt and Elizabeth had two children; a boy who died in infancy and Irene Cross. Irene died in 2016, and had three children; Jan Shaw, Mark Cross, and Wade Cross. Wade passed away in 2016. Merritt had one child, Ida Elizabeth “Betty” Beeson Miller by his first wife, Marie Mary Douthitt Beeson. Betty had two children who have passed away; Michael Beeson Miller and Vee Ann Miller.