Beard, Mr. Robert Rose

Mr. Robert Rose Beard

On December 17, 1907, Robert Rose Beard presented the citizens of Pella, Iowa with their new library. Beard, whose involvement with Pella’s library began in 1905, had guided the library through its construction as president of the library board.

Beard was born in Detroit, Michigan on 4 October, 1846.[1] He moved to Pella in 1870.[2] On 2 July 1870, he married Maria Scholte,[3] the widow of Reverend Henry Scholte. By 1880, he had established himself in the community and is listed in that year’s census as being employed as a Merchant.[4] At the turn of the century, Beard was widowed and working as a wall paper dealer in Omaha.[5]

While he was residing predominantly in Omaha, Beard remained connected to Pella and still listed it as his primary address.[6] In 1903 he married Kate Beard, another resident of Pella.[7]

Beard’s involvement with the purchase of land from Sibrigje H. Viersen on 28 April 1905.[8] Beard, and his associate David Singer Huber, purchased Viersen’s land on the Church Square in Pella for $6,000 to be held in trust for the purchase of books.[9] Beard, Huber, and local lawyer Pierre Henry Bousquet presented their plan to construct a library on the site to the city council on 2 May 1905.[10]

Following the special election to approve the construction of the library, Beard was selected to a six year term on the library board.[11] He also was awarded the presidency of the board over Peter Gaas and Sibirgje Viersen. He would serve as president of the library board until July of 1917.[12]

Beard was a highly involved leader of the board; sitting on the majority of the committees of the board and taking an active role in all decision made. When the legal battle between George Pas and the board made using the architect’s plans impossible, it was Beard who travelled to Des Moines to employ Hallett & Rawson to draw the plans on which the library is based.[13]

Outside of his responsibilities with the library board, Beard served as the president of the Pella National Bank, Chairman of the Executive Committee and of the Board of Trustees for Central College, and was highly involved in religious work in the community.[14]

Beard and his second wife Kate would remain married until his death, on 31 October 1920.[15] Beard died in Des Moines at Mercy Hospital,[16] and was buried in Pella’s Oakwood Cemetery.[17]

-Russell Buchanan


[1] G.A. Stout, Souvenir History, 181.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1758-1996 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

[4] Year: 1880; Census Place: Pella, Marion, Iowa; Roll: 354; Page: 703B; Enumeration District: 126.

[5] Year: 1900; Census Place: Omaha Ward 3, Douglas, Nebraska; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0025; FHL microfilm: 1240923.

[6] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

[7] Iowa Department of Public Health; Des Moines, Iowa; Series Title: Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1922; Record Type: Textural Records

[8] Marion County, Iowa, Deed Book 28: 276.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Meeting Minutes: Pella, Iowa City Council, 2 May 1905.

[11] First Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Free Public Library, Pella, Iowa, 27 July 1905.

[12] Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Free Public Library, Pella, Iowa, 77 July 1917.

[13] Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Free Public Library, Pella, Iowa, 18 July 1906.

[14] G.A. Stout, Souvenir History, 181.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] U.S. Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA; Operations, Inc., 2012.