The town stretches for a mile on the Beason-Chestnut blacktop
that runs north and south. In town, the blacktop is called Broadway. East
and west of the main drag, the town stretches for a little more than
half a mile, and that is the extent of the town of Beason.
are street signs -- a North Street, a South Street and three streets
between; East and West streets and three streets between. There is little need to have them in a town so
small that every neighbor is within a fair walk of each other.
There are farms surrounding the little unincorporated community
that carry a Beason mailing address, but with no businesses left
open on Broadway, there is little need to come into the town, save
to pick up mail or spend volunteer hours at the Beason Fire House.
For many years, the stores along Broadway have been shuttered and
abandoned. Many are in a state of disrepair that makes them
unsalvageable even for materials.
Beason is quiet indeed. A town where everyone knows each other
and visitors are rare.
That is no longer the case, beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
The story of an entire family being killed has made the national
and international headlines. The report of senseless killings of five members
of a family has spread along the wires and the Web until every news
source in the world now has seen the horrific story come across
On Tuesday the town was crowded with people. The next several
days there will be even more.
Pastor Dayle Badman of the Beason United Methodist Church hit
home the point when she said she had a list of news sources asking
her to call them back, including the New York Times.
There were television vans and camera crews all over the area as
CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox rolled footage. Professional freelancers were
everywhere, as well as the Associated Press. And this was Tuesday.
"Wait until tomorrow and the major press has had a chance to get
here," promised Dan Fulscher, emergency management director.
The area around the Beason Fire House was packed with perhaps 50
volunteers in orange safety vests. "These people are all trained and
they are here to do whatever tasks the sheriff asks of us," Fulscher
said. "Right now they are running on adrenaline. They have jobs to
do and that keeps their minds busy. Later when this has a chance to
sink in, it's going to be tough on many of them."
The words among those volunteers, all from central Illinois, were
the same as those echoed by residents. There is disbelief. There is
shock. This was like something they saw on the news somewhere else,
but never expected to see here in Beason, Ill., never in Logan
County. Those words were said again a dozen times or more as people
went about their jobs or their daily lives, almost numb from the
realization that the worst had now visited them.
They were now members of the town that no one had ever heard of
before, now on the nightly news across the country.
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On Tuesday afternoon, Beason residents, friends of the Gee family
and others who just wanted to offer their prayers gathered at the
United Methodist Church at the southeast corner of town. Several
schoolmates and friends of the children were present, and their
tears told you they, too, couldn't believe this had happened. Not
here not in Beason.
The pastor told media sources that this gathering was the first in
what will be a long healing process for this community. "There are
many at work, and we will make arrangements for an evening service
soon," she said. "This is so sad. We are a small community. We all
know each other."
She added: "Something like this doesn't happen in Beason."
It doesn't happen in Logan County: until now.
Pastor S.M. Davis from Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln
attended the ceremony. He related that the children had attended his
church's summer Vacation Bible School. Another man said that he
picked them up for the trip to Park Meadows and that they were
wonderful children, finding their way with God.
Many in the church didn't know the family, but that didn't matter
to them. Their faith brought them to the Methodist church to pray
and to seek comfort as the questions swirled in their minds: "Why
us? Why here?"
An old-timer outside the church said that he heard from distant
family that the story is all over the country. "I think the last
time there was a murder in Beason was about 1900," he said. "A
storekeeper shot a burglar. But I think that's it for anything bad
like this in Beason. Until now," he ended with a whisper.
As the day began to wind down, out-of-area media began asking
where they could find lodging. They are preparing to stay as long as
this story runs the electronic waves of information.
Others will come, and the news across the nation will tell of a
great sadness that occurred in the quiet town of Beason, Ill.
And across the nation people and families will read and watch and
talk of what a terrible thing this has been. And they will all say,
"Thank goodness this doesn't happen in our town. Not here. Not where
Note: The First United Methodist Church of Lincoln is accepting
donations on behalf of the Gee family. Checks should be made out to
First United with "Gee family" written in the memo area. The
church's address is 302 Broadway, Lincoln, IL 62656.