Beall Springs

Sam Beall's history

The Heyday of the Beall Springs Hotel

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"The heyday of Beall Springs was from 1866 until the sale of the property (by Anna, May 27, 1925) to Nathan Johnson.  I many times knew Mother to turn away people for lack of room.

"The original dining room was about 25% of its present (ca 1935) size and was located in what is now the left-hand corner of the present room as you enter from the sitting room.  While Mother lived the dining room was about 20x30 feet in size and extended from the long piazza (about 60 feet long) on the Spring side of the house.  It ran at right angles to the house and extended 30 feet toward the spring."

So far as I know, that's all Dad ever wrote about the Hotel.  He had very little to do with it, since he left in--well, I'll let him tell it:

"At the middle of June 1870 my father was completely paralyzed.  In the meantime (through the aid of my brother-in-law Jim King) I had my start in a country store at Bartow, Ga., 11 miles from Louisville, owned by a retired Methodist preacher and his son.  Mother thought it best that I accept it as a means of taking care of the money supply.

"I lost my job because the preacher had a beautiful daughter with whom I fell desperately in love, by which I made myself a damned nuisance.  It lasted about three months, until January; then I returned home, prepared and planted a crop, and made puny success, but better than if I had continued in my store job.  During the next year Dad passed on (12-15-1872) and I stayed home until October 1873 when I left home again and for all time."  (He went only to Augusta and returned for funerals and weddings, two of which were his. I'll take up his trail later.)


In a 1927 publication, Mineral Waters of the United States, Wm. Edward Fitch located Beall Springs "in an undulating savanna-like region on an eminence at an elevation of about 500 feet above sea level.  There is a small hotel with some conveniences.  There were crude attempts at entertaining guests here as early as 1825, and for many years had quite a reputation as a resort.  The waters are highly charged with natural carbonic acid gas which imparts to the water valuable medicinal properties, especially when drunk at the springs."

An analysis supplied in Geological Survey of Georgia lists 11.529 grams of solids and 6.246 grams of free carbon dioxide per gallon of Beall Springs water, including (in undetermined combinations) Silica, Chlorine, Sulphur trioxide, Carbon dioxide, Sodium oxide, Potassium oxide, Lime (C2O) Magnesia, Alumina, and Ferric oxide.

I don't know when Aunt Anna began to keep her scrap book.  It was not the Hotel's; it was hers.  She loved poetry, rhymes, vividly colored pictures (she had a slight amount of peripheral vision in one eye), patriotic and or sentimental essays, obituaries of relatives and other friends, and any publicity about The Beall Springs Hotel.  She also memorized poetry and the scripts for humorous entertainments.  The book was only hers, but in a way, more than just "hers", because so far as I know it is the only remaining tangible proof that the Hotel ever existed.

One of the newsprint clippings pasted in Anna's scrap book reads "Mrs. Minerva Beall, the proprietress of the noted Beall Spring, departed this life last Sunday night, after a brief but painful illness.  Her many friends will be grieved to receive this sad intelligence.  Mrs. Beall has been a resident of Warren County from her youth, and since her connection with this favorite watering place has become well known to the citizens of Warren and contiguous counties.  The funeral took place from her late residence on Monday."

Whether or not Aunt Anna had been managing the hotel before that day, she certainly did from then on.  Her blind sister Augusta and her brother Jule lived there, and she did have the support of numerous locally influential friends and relatives within a radius of 50-60 miles, but little "Miss Anna" ran it, and everyone was glad.

Minerva (my widowed grandmother) died May 10, 1885, probably leaving no will.  She had eight children.  Three months later they legalized an agreement that preserved Beall Springs to this day and, I hope, from here on:


AGREEMENT OF BEALL SPRINGS HEIRS
AUGUST 1885
STATE OF GEORGIA
WARREN COUNTY

We, the undersigned heirs of the estate of Mrs. M. Beall, deceased, do hereby agree to and do set apart for our mutual benefit (13) thirteen acres of land lying around the Spring known as Beall Spring in the same State & County, it being part of the tract of land whereon the same Mrs. Beall lived and died, courses and distances of which are given in a plat attached and surveyed by Henry Kitchens, Co.S. of Glascock Co. The conditions of the said agreement are as follows:

  1. 1st) Each and every heir of said estate is equally interested in and entitled to equal rights and privileges in & on the (13) thirteen acres reservation.
  2. 2nd) We all, each of us, reserve the right to dispose of our individual interest in said reservation.
  3. 3rd) But we agree not to dispose of our individual interest in said reservation to outside parties until we have given the remaining heirs the refusal at the price offered by the other parties.
  4. 4th) We further agree not to trespass upon said reservation cutting timber or in any other way only by the written consent of a majority of those interested.
  5. 5th) We, also, agree not to sell to anyone the right to trespass upon said reservation in any way whatsoever.

Given under our hands and signatures this 20th day of August, 1885.

(sigs) J.C.A. Beall
Fannie E. King
Missouri A. Baker
Anna Beall
Agusta Beall
Aug Beall
O. H. P. Beall
Bettie Overstreet

The agreement is recorded in Warren County's Superior Court Deed Book GG, pp.116 & 117, Dec. 5th, 1888.  It didn't take inheritances into account, and immediate members of the family didn't always have the money to keep the shares intact, so the 8 shares have been somewhat fractionated.  Here was the ownership of the original eight shares in 1984:

Ownership Ownership Interest
Samuel 0. Beall 1/8
Mrs. Ruth Avirett 3/16
Mrs. Joyce Hardzog 3/16
Jewell C. White 1/24
Edward Willie 1/24
Vermel Willie 1/24
J.J. & Virginia Johnson 3/8
  Total 48/48

My share, the only one owned by someone named Beall, was Dad's.  The shares owned by the Johnsons went along with the Hotel when Aunt Anna sold it in 1925.  They were the shares of Anna, Augusta, and J.C.A. Beall.  The Johnsons are cousins descended from Harriet Beall, one of the Colonel's sisters.  The other shareholders are descendants of Judge George and Missouri Beall Baker, and are Beall Springs's most active and loyal adherents.

RANDOM QUOTES FROM ANNA'S SCRAP BOOK
AND SUBSEQUENT LETTERS AND CLIPPINGS

"SOCIAL LIFE AT BEALL SPRINGS (Augusta Herald)--Thursday, 15th inst. marked one of the "red letter" dates at Beall Springs.  The camp colony "visited" at the hotel after supper and joining with the guests there enjoyed a most delightful round of singing and recitations.  After some time spent at the hotel the entire company adjourned to the springside and continued the informal program until time came for separating and hieing of each to roosting place.

"Mrs. Albert Beall of Dublin, Ga. favored the audience with several instrumental and vocal solos...
"Miss Anna Beall, the genial proprietress of Beall Springs, in her quaint and amusing style depicted the visit of 'Job's Comforter' to a sick neighbor...
"Miss Marion Weigle of Augusta gave a dialect recitation...
"Mrs. Loftin Thomson of Wrightsville, Ga. recited...
"Miss Christine Brinkley of Warrenton recited a humorous selection...
"Uncle Jim' McGregor gave imitation of a mountain preacher...
"...with the twinkling stars overhead in a clear sky, the gurgling of running waters musically chanting an accompaniment, the rustling of the leaves in the trees, there was sung in chorus 'Sweet By and By', 'There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea', 'Old Time Religion', 'Good Bye, My Lover, Good Bye', and the never-failing standby, 'In The Evening by The Moonlight'."

How unfortunate they were!  No television, not even radio!

Letter from Laura Johnson to Roberta Cook: "...The 4th of July 1891 was a gala day at Beall Springs--more than a hundred boarders, tents under the beautiful pine trees, dancing at the pavilion, dinner on the grounds. I expect about 500 people there."

"ONE DAY AT FAMOUS RESORT FOR SUMMER (Probably the 19-teens, from a Sandersville paper)....when a drink is taken from this mineral spring the desire comes to try it once more.  As an appetizer...for general toning up of the system it has no superior.  Candidates for congress call for chicken breasts, insurance agents pickled chufas, while others appease their appetites with black-strap molasses and Biscuits, or anything else that is in reach at the dining table.
"Automobiles and buggies arrive from all directions...The flow of water is not so large, averaging fifty-five gallons per hour, but that is sufficient for all who come."

"A WEEK AT BEALL SPRINGS... (Summer 1912. Augusta Chronicle. Byline is Walter A. Clark) Excerpts:
"I had advised Miss Anna that I was getting a little too old to walk the eight miles that lay between Warrenton and the Springs and tote my baggage and so when my good wife and I reached that handsome town we found awaiting us a surrey and pair of bays driven by Peter Flournoy, a colored man of the old regime...
"...flaky rolls, buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken and chicken pie, home-cured ham, barbecued mutton..."

From Albert Lee Norris, who worked there:

"...meals were served in the large dining hail on three long tables and each meal was 50 cents and all you could eat.  You didn't have tea because you came to drink Beall Springs water...
"Miss Anna had a store in the back of the hotel.  Papa was the clerk and I was a jack-of-all trades.  We carried most everything a country store would sell at that time."

From a newspaper ad June 1, 1917:

"The table fare will be unsurpassed by any hotel in the South.  Fresh vegetables, milk and butter, eggs and chickens, country hams, flaky rolls and old-fashioned milk-yeast light-bread.
"...joggling boards, swings, Croquet grounds, tennis courts, pond for boating,...Pavillion for dancing, string music two nights per week, Long distance telephone connection...cottages...roomy garage free of charge...Baths in house, Hot or Cold, free to guests.  The Picnic Grounds have been visited by as many as 4000 people in one day."

The Beall Springs Hotel ceased to exist when Aunt Anna sold it in 1925.  Nathan Johnson owned the land and buildings, but they remained unoccupied.  In the early fifties, on a dark and stormy night, the hotel was struck by lightning.

Augusta Chronicle, 1-7-1970:

"The old car sagged as it crept up the dirt road and turned off on Ga.16 toward Warrenton.  It was driven by a respectable middle-aged man who looked scared when the state patrol cruiser drew level.
'Pull over,' motioned GB Agent Red Herndon, who was new to the vicinity.
'I ain't done nothing,' protested the driver.
'Nothing?' said Herndon, getting out of the cruiser and looking into the rear seat of the old car. 'Great day!'
He had hit the jackpot, he thought, for it was loaded with jars, jugs, cans, and plastic bottles of clear sparkling liquid.
'Nothing? Looks like you got the moonshine market cornered.'
'It's water,' protested the old man.
Unbelieving, Herndon uncorked a bottle and sniffed.  It was water.
"And that was the first time I heard of Beall Springs, says Herndon.

"Once everyone had heard of Beall Springs; it was one of the most popular spas in the area.  Few people go there now, for the old hotel burned down in the early 1950s.

"Not even foundation stones remain of the hotel, only the sheltering pecan trees, a scuppernong vine, and thousands of daffodils that bloom in the spring and are gone....Primarily, the Springs were the attraction; fashionable and jaded men and women solemnly paraded down to the waters from the hotel, mornings and evenings, with their bottles or silver cups.  Nearby were benches where they rested and chatted before returning to the hotel for the tremendous home-cooked meals that undoubtedly caused their kidney complaints in the first place."

In 1970, the Warrenton Kiwanis Club, mindful of what not only their community but every community would lose if the springs were allowed to suffer and die of misuse volunteered to provide needed improvements and care.  From the Warrenton paper, written by Cousin Joyce Odom:

"They recently began cleanup work at the long-neglected site, installed a concrete slab around the spring and a stainless steel faucet along with benches and picnic tables.  Then they invited members of area Kiwanis Clubs and their families to an old-fashioned barbecue under the big trees at the springs...(Augustus) operated the hotel after his mother's death, and during that time (1860--1925) Beall Springs reached its peak as a fashionable and popular summer resort.  Some of the more ambitious dreamers in Warren County feel the area can reach such heights again.  It's entirely possible, for the area is truly beautiful..."

Here's what it says on the historical marker:

BEALL SPRINGS

Beall Springs has faithfully produced chalybeate (ka-libī-e-at) water for centuries.  Chalybeate water is characterized as water containing iron salts.  In addition to iron, Beall Springs water contains nine other minerals.

First frequented by Indians who used the water for curative purposes the springs were ceded to the state in 1773.  After cession the land was acquired by the Beall family who allowed public access.  The springs have been in continuous public use ever since.

In the nineteenth century Beall, Madison, Indian, Porter, Rousseau, and Catoosa springs as well as many others became popular resort areas.  These watering places became great social centers and vacation spots as well as escape areas from the fever-ridden lowlands.

Beall Springs was the host to Confederate Vice-president Alexander Stephens and Senator Robert Toombs as well as other notables when watering places were in vogue.

Georgia Historical Commission

On Mar. 3, 1977, C.H. Evans, Kiwanian who spearheaded the rescue of the spring, told me that they put a visitor's register at the spring.  In 2 or 3 months several hundred people registered from thirty-one states.

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