On December 22, 1795, future Little Rock Mayor Roswell Beebe was born in Hinsdale, New York. His family were wealthy English immigrants. At seventeen, Beebe went to New Orleans and fought with Andrew Jackson in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. He stayed in the Crescent City for the next two decades building successful lumber and brick businesses.
Due to health concerns, he moved north to a drier climate in 1834. After first stopping in Fulton, Arkansas, he settled in Little Rock in 1835 at the age of forty. He stayed at the home of Chester Ashley and married Ashley’s sister-in-law, Clarissa Elliott. He and Clarissa had two children, Roswell and Cora.
For nearly 30 years, Little Rock had a complicated history of deeds, titles and land ownership. In 1839, Beebe went to Washington DC and received the original patent from President Martin Van Buren. He then set about clearing up the land and title issues, as well as drawing up a plan for the city and laying off blocks and streets. Beebe deeded the streets and alleys to the City for a dollar. He also donated the land on Markham Street for a new State Capitol building (now home of the Old State House Museum). Along with his brother-in-law Chester Ashley, he donated the land for the establishment of Mount Holly Cemetery.
In 1848, Beebe was elected to the Little Rock City Council. The following year, he was elected Mayor. He served as Mayor of Little Rock from April 1849 to February 1850.
While his primary business focus in the 1840s had been real estate, in the 1850s he focused on railroads. Beebe was named president of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company in 1853.
While on a visit to New York, Beebe died on September 27, 1856. His body was returned to Little Rock, and Roswell Beebe was buried at Mount Holly Cemetery. The town of Beebe, Arkansas, is named in his honor.