Previous: The Heyday of The Beall Springs Hotel
Augustus Beall II, my father and son of the Colonel, was the progenitor of the Cincinnati line. He lived at the Beall Springs Hotel from the age of seven until shortly after his 20th birthday. He went to Augusta in 1873 and never returned except for marriages (two of which were his), funerals, and possibly one or two Sunday Barbeques.
1873 marked, at least legally, the end of the Reconstruction period shamefully foisted on the South by the Republican Party. The South was unhappy. Dad had no prospects, but knew that the odds would be better in Augusta than in the tiny towns around Beall Springs.
His first job, $10 per month, board & room, lasted less than a month; his employer was bilking customers and told him to do the same. Within twenty minutes he had walked into the Augusta Hotel to get warm, just as the manager was asking the departing night clerk if he could recommend a young man to take his place. "Here's one", said the night clerk, pointing at Dad.
Within a year he went from night clerk to desk clerk and the Augusta to the Central Hotel. He became an active citizen, serving on the Board of Governors of the Augusta Georgia Carnival.
In 1877 he left the hotel business in favor of a better paying job as a "Revenuer" in the District of Georgia. On March 8, 1878 he left bachelorhood, returning to Beall Springs to marry Mamie Kennedy.
He described one of his adventures as a revenuer in one of his letters from St. Petersburg in the middle thirties. (He typed on yellow "railroad bond" on an old mechanical typewriter, using only the fingers of his right hand, because his left hand didn't work after his second stroke. He was seated in a wheeled (large rubber casters) chair he had fixed up for himself after a first, less crippling stroke that had merely left him unable to walk.) Here's his account:
"In 1877 I became a member of the Internal Revenue force in the District of Georgia. I was often sent out to locate and destroy illicit distilleries. One of these trips was in the hills of Elbert County. On this occasion I was accompanied by Jesse Wimberly, Wink Taylor, and Claude Holden. We met at Washington, Ga., and rode through the country to Elberton, where we visited Jim Campbell's Saloon & Billiard Parlor.
"We got the names and locations of four distilleries. By noon of the next day we had located the Thurlkill "still" at the bottom of two hills. We had missed the road leading direct to it and had marched about five miles before we came to it.
"When we were within about a quarter mile of it, moving as quietly as possible, we heard the sound of mule feet coming up the hill. It developed that we had found the path (road) that we had previously missed. We divided our party, two on each side of the road, all armed with 16-shot Winchester rifles. By the time we had hidden ourselves a man on a mule was within a few yards of us. At a signal one man from either side of the path and with rifles presented, commanded the rider to halt and demanded his name. He hesitated to answer until told that we had four men with 16 balls each and would fire if he did not answer. He answered, "John Thurlkill."
"We searched him, took from him his Colt's pistol and ordered him to go on to his home and not to leave there during the balance of the day. We went on down the hill, guided by the smoke of the operating still. When we were within about 100 yards of the still the attendants saw us and ran up the opposite hill. We went on and found the still operating beside a 40 gallon barrel of corn whiskey and 1800 gallons of corn beer ready to be distilled.
"We cut the hoops from the tanks of beer and it ran out into the stream which ran close by. We then destroyed the still and all of its parts. I knocked out the head of the whiskey barrel and its contents flowed into the creek. We went then to our horses and started in search of the next still on our list.
"We rode about two miles and came to where the road split, one going straight ahead and the other off to our right. A pretentious house stood in the fork of the road. There was a man sitting on the piazza and I called and asked which road we should take to Deep Creek. He told us to take the right fork and we did, but when we had gone about a mile we were convinced he had misdirected us. We turned back and found him still there. I thanked him for misdirecting us; then we took the other road and found Deep Creek about a half mile away. We went upsteam about three quarters of a mile and found still number 2 and destroyed it along with about 1200 gallons of corn beer and then returned to Elberton for the night.
"The next day we resumed the hunt and in the same section found still number 3 and destroyed it along with 2400 gallons of beer. Again we went to Deep Creek but found nothing more and returned to Elberton.
"We went to see Campbell again, and he advised us to leave Elberton as soon as possible, because a party of men were getting together to treat with us during the night. We went to the Hotel and had our guide to go with the horses to the Hotel stable and put the saddles and bridles where he could get them in the dark.
"I then went to the desk while ten or twelve men sat around. I told the clerk we would want to leave at 7:00 the next morning, so I paid him, including for breakfast the next morning, and gave instructions to call us at 6:00 a.m.
"The stairs to the second floor were on the outside of the building. We went up in a noisy manner, pulled off our shoes, and very quietly went down and on to the stable, mounted, and started away in the darkest night I ever saw.
"We found our way to the outskirts of town with no trouble, but there was a deep gully right by the side of the road, and we soon found that we were riding in it. We feared to go back, so we pushed one of our party up the side of the gully and he found the road. We dismounted, whipped our horses to climb out, then climbed out and remounted. That was between 8:00 and 8:30. We rode on, wondering if there was a spark of light anywhere. After midnight we found a shack with a bright light in it. We called aloud and finally a negro came out and we got a lot of lightwood strips from him, lighted a number of them, and traveled on.
"Finally we reached Broad River, and with some trouble awakened the ferryman, who refused to take us across the river until our rifles put him in a better humor. We got aboard and he pulled over the river by a small cotton road, and it was just at the break of day and we had traveled about 14 miles."
In another of his letters Dad recounted a "Revenuer" episode in which the rearing of his horse, frightened by the sudden shout of his companion, caused Dad to be swung 90° just in time to have a rifle bullet from a "still" operator take a button off his vest instead of making a hole in his heart. The letter has been lost or misplaced, but not my recollection of it.--s.b.
Mamie Kennedy Beall died in childbirth on Christmas night, 1878. Wade Foster Beall lived only five months.
A year and one week later Dad returned to Beall Springs, or perhaps to Davisboro, Ga., where Oliver lived with his Inman stepchildren, to marry Gerdonia (Donie) Inman. By this time Dad was no longer with the Treasury Dept.; he had been through a whirlwind of jobs: Receiving Teller at Western Union, Bookkeeper at A.E. Sholes & Co., then a brief, unprofitable time as an entrepreneur (Roofing & Cornices). Next came Haines Bros. Fancy Groceries, followed by half ownership of a tobacco company. His partner misrepresented the sale, had to return Dad's money, which bankrupted him.
Next he went with W.H.Brigham (Wholesale Groceries) for three years, then the Standard Lumber Company as bookkeeper and "Financial man". He had also begun supplementing his income as a "stringer" for The Atlanta Constitution.
My brother Eugene Augustus was born to Donie Inman Beall Nov. 1, 1880. He is the brother who called my Uncle Oliver "Grandpa" which greatly confused me until I grew old enough to understand the situation.
Gerdonia died in Augusta on the 17th of May eight years later. Eugene went to live with his grandparents in Davisboro, Georgia.
Dad was still with Standard Lumber, but a turning point was in the offing. An M.D. who was a close personal friend came to him for some humanitarian help. The Bookkeeper at Thomas & Barton, one of the foremost music houses in the South, was the senior Thomas's brother and one of Dr. Wright's patients. The man was in poor health, as a result of which he had been falling back in his work, as a result of which he had been over-worrying, which was causing him to fall back even faster--all this in the direction of a complete breakdown of the man and damage to his brother's company. Dr. Wright wondered if Dad could think of a way to help.
"I said I'd go direct from my work every night and all Sundays until the work was caught up. I was to have no compensation. All went well and at 11 p.m. one Sunday night the books were in up-to-the minute condition."
Things happened fast. Dad's employer found out what had been going on and got nasty about it. Dad resigned. Messrs. Thomas and Barton found out what had been going on, conferred, made Dr. Wright's patient the firm's Treasurer, and Dad became Bookkeeper.
Back to Dad's letter:
"That was 1891 and it ultimately led to my appointment as Manager of the Piano Department of the John Church Company in Cincinnati in 1894.
"...I did not know how to take the front off the upright piano nor did I know what action was used in the Everett. I went on the job Monday morning and the first customer I had was a Scot named McCormack from Toledo. I bravely took him upstairs and sold him second-hand Everetts at prices ranging from $100 to $140. They were not marked and I learned afterwards that they were being offered at $80 to $110.
"I hesitated to ship them until I could have them worked over, which took 5 days, and then I shipped them. Mac was so well pleased that he immediately ordered 9 more that he had taken the numbers of. Before I got his repeat order, realizing my utter unfitness for the job I had a tuner, Major Davidson, meet me at the store on Sunday and show me the pianos from top to bottom and give me as much information about Everetts as he knew.
"I held the mgr job 2 years then Sec'y-Treas 29 more years and quit it at a salary of $115 per week in the Fall of 1925."
....At which point he, Mother, and Betty Jane moved to St. Petersburg and left me to finish high school in Cincinnati. He died in St. Petersburg April 10, 1938.
Following are the pertinent vital statistics, Cincinnati Branches, Families of Gus Beall II descent:
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