My Ancestors (3) – Alfred Beck Guion – 1853 – 1899

(1) Alfred Beck Guion, (2) Alfred Duryee Guion, (3) Alfred Peabody Guion, (4) Judith Anne Guion

Alfred Beck Guion was born September 24, 1853, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the ninth child of Elijah Guion 2nd and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck. Life must have been interesting. His father has been described as a stern, half-puritanical, New York religionist and minister, who pastored in the smaller Louisiana communities before he was called to St. Paul’s, New Orleans’ principle Episcopal church. His mother was born in Havana, Cuba, July 18, 1819. She and her mother were living at the estate of her mother’s sister, who was married to Miguel Tacon, who became the Spanish governor of Cuba in 1834. The stories of these two unique individuals will be covered in multiple, future posts.

I have not been able to find very much information regarding Alfred Beck Guion’s life in New Orleans. I did find him listed in the 1880 census as living with an aunt, Mary L. Guion, widow of Rev. Alvah Guion, in Brooklyn, New York with his occupation listed as stockbroker.

At some time between 1880 and 1884, He met and married Ella Duryee, second daughter of Joseph Woodward Duryee and Eliza Pell Beadel, a prominent lumber merchant in New York City.

The following quotes are from the Reminiscenses of Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa), written in 1960.

“From the time I was three years old until I was married, we lived in Mount Vernon, a small suburb some 13 miles from Grand Central. My only sister, Elsie, was born there in a house on 11th Ave.

             Alfred and Elsie Guion at the Chester Hill house @ 1894

Soon thereafter (about 1887-8) we moved into a brand-new house which my father had built in a newer part of town known as Chester Hill. Here I spent most of my childhood. My father, who insisted on having the best regardless of expense, was quite proud of this house. He had an architect designed it. My grandfather, (Joseph Woodward Duryee) being in the lumber business, was able to procure exceptional lumber for its construction so that each of the rooms was finished differently, one in Cherry, one in black walnut, one in quartered Oak, one in’s occasion walnut, etc., all selected for their beautiful graining. On the second floor was what we called the “round room” in which even the windowpanes were curved glass. The maids room on the top floor was necessary because in those days it was customary to hire a maid.

Alfred Beck Guion and Ella Duryee Guion (far right) and 3 unidentified women, (possibly her sisters) on the porch of the Lincoln Avenue house.


                                     Lincoln Avenue – original Fireplace


                   Lincoln Avenue – original tile fireplace hearth


                            Lincoln Avenue original fireplace – detail


                      Lincoln Avenue – original front door


                           Lincoln Avenue – original wood trim

Papa was quite active in Masonic affairs being eminently successful in this as in most other projects that interested him, was generally very popular, a good entertainer and storyteller, prominent in the local Episcopal Church of the Ascension where he was a vestryman.

        Alfred Beck Guion

He worked for a brokerage firm on Wall Street and was quite conscientious, so much so that in years of panic (today we would call it depression) losses of his clients, as well, I suspect, as of his own, worried him to the extent of bringing on heart trouble.

My father liked sea trips, one summer he took me to Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy with its tremendously high tides. On the voyage I saw my first whale. Later he took me to Newport News and Richmond, Virginia on the old Dominion Line.

he died in his 40s from angina that Taurus, leaving a heavily mortgaged home and comparatively little life insurance. a Masonic friend of my fathers kindly stepped in and negotiated sale of the Lincoln Avenue house for smaller house on Dell Avenue, with a small cash surplus. It entailed a considerably lower standard of living. My mother, who had a sunny, even-tempered disposition made the best of things.”

Sources: Descendants of Louis Guion, Huguenot, of La Rochelle, France and New Rochelle, West Chester County, Province of New York. A Guion Family Album, 1654 to 1976, Compiled by: J. Marshall Guion IV, Edited by Violet H. Guion, Olean, New York 14760

Colonial Origins of the California Guions, An Informal Genealogical Study, by Ernest Jerome Hopkins

Tomorrow I’ll begin posting a week of letters from 1943. Lad has arrived in California at Santa Anita Base, a newly-converted internment camp and began going to the South Pasadena Hospitality Center. Dan is in Pennsylvania surveying for the Army, Ced remains a civilian working as an airplane mechanic in Anchorage, Alaska. Dick and Dave are still living in Trumbull with Grandpa.

Judy Guion 



11 thoughts on “My Ancestors (3) – Alfred Beck Guion – 1853 – 1899

  1. cat9984 says:

    What a beautiful fireplace!

    • Judy Guion says:

      cat9984 – I was enthralled to be actually walking in the house my Grandfather grew up in. about 120 years ago. I was thrilled that I could see some of the original beauty but was disappointed that so much had been removed or converted. You can only see the outside wall of the round room. It is now a regular bedroom. That was sad. There is also a stained-glass window that is only visible from the outside. The entry and living room are the only places where the original wood molding is seen, I’m blessed with my Grandfathers description to help me see it in all it’s glory.

      • cat9984 says:

        It sounds like it was beautiful. Too bad they changed so much of it.

        • Judy Guion says:

          cat9984 – I can only imagine what the house looked like when my Grandfather lived in it. The way he describes his father’s love of “the best regardless of cost” makes me think of mansions built in the 1880’s and 1890’s. I think it was probably quite impressive.

  2. Mrs. P says:

    check your email, I sent you some stuff from Ancestry. :D

  3. Valerie Watts says:

    According to 23&me, I have .7 Southern European in my 100% European genetic makeup. I’m pretty confident that Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck is the source of that!

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