If you’re looking for facts about the man, the myth, and the legend…all of that can be found elsewhere. This page contains what I want you to know about my 2nd great-grandfather.
Chalk never went by his full name. Like, ever. You will never see or hear a member of the family refer to him as Chalkley. He only had one mother and Martha died a loooong time ago.
Chalk also never took himself seriously. That’s not to say he wasn’t a serious force to be reckoned with but he loved to make jokes and he was an extremely kind and generous man. Except with regard to Wyatt Earp! Here’s what he had to say about Earp’s attention-seeking after leaving Dodge:
I really don’t do the Old West thing but I do find the document below interesting and consistent with everything else I know about Chalk. I’m not saying Wyatt Earp was a punk but he was certainly no Chalk Beeson.
The snark runs deep in our family. As does the love and compassion for animals. When I run down the list of Chalk’s titles and professional accomplishments, none compare to the example he set in Topeka:
Speaking of Topeka, Chalk never missed an opportunity to be quoted in the papers. And whenever someone tried to get the better of him, he turned the tables and had some fun with them. I’ll summarize this story from January of 1907 because the dispatches of the day were extremely verbose.
The State House wanted to adjourn for the weekend one Friday and Chalk objected because Kansas is a big state and not all of the Representatives could just pop home for the weekend. His objection carried and his friends were pissed they had to stay and work. So Saturday rolled around and Chalk’s bill came up for a vote when he was in the lobby having his shoes shined. They saw their opportunity for payback but someone alerted Chalk and he went running onto the floor with one shoe shined. It was too late, though; W. R. Stubbs of Lawrence recommended Chalk be fined a barrel of apples for his tardiness. Chalk sent Cyrus Leland out to buy a barrel of apples which were enjoyed during the afternoon session. This quote ran in the Topeka State Journal on January 26, 1907: “I would have been glad,” said Beeson, “to have added a half barrel of applejack to the order if the house had just suggested it.”
That wasn’t the end of the story, however. The apple thing became a routine and a couple days later, Chalk announced that he had “found” some money in the House. W. R. Stubbs jumped up and declared that someone had stolen $10 from his desk. Rep. Brandon made a motion that the person who “lost” the money be fined a barrel of apples. The motion carried and the money was used to buy another barrel. How do you like them apples?
Chalk was famous for never firing his weapon in anger but it really was much more than that. As Ford County Sheriff, he showed exceptional compassion for people in distress. I won’t share the whole story here because it shouldn’t have been printed at the time but this is an example of the care and concern Chalk showed people in the community:
I read another account of a man who was convicted of murder and Chalk was asked to comment on whether he thought the man should receive the death penalty. Chalk said he believed we could afford to be merciful. He truly understood the strength and wisdom in showing restraint.
I’ve been carrying this gem around with me in one of Ida’s old scrapbooks since I was a teenager. It turns out Chalk was also rather sentimental.
I can’t not mention the music. And the parties. It wasn’t uncommon for Chalk and Ida to have 50 dinner guests who would stay up until dawn.
They all looked so serious in photos and lithos but these people had FUN. They made music and art, especially when their circumstances sucked.
Chalk was extremely involved in the community. I mean he was a 33rd Degree Mason but he was in allllll the other clubs, too! And taught freaking Sunday School. Can you even imagine?! It’s exhausting just thinking about all of the things. But he loved Dodge City and he would be so happy to see what it’s become.