Beall Springs

Sam Beall's history


Our "Beall" name comes (via a prison in Barbados) from Scotland, where it was spelled "Bell".  Our blood lines, after more than three hundred years in the melting pot, come from just about everywhere.  A certain group of Bealls--the ones descended from my late brother Augustus Beall Jr. and from me, Samuel Oliver Beall--can rightly call themselves Beall Springs Bealls.  No other Bealls can say that.

To be able to say that, here and now, is not so impressive as it once was, there and then.  "Then" refers to the latter half of the 19th Century, which is long gone; but "there" refers to a tiny place in Georgia that is still perking along.  The U.S.Coast & Geodetic Survey pins it in the center of the 60 square mile rectangular spread they call the "Beall Springs, Ga. Quadrangle."

Beall Springs is about seven miles southwest of Warrenton, Georgia on State Route 16, which curves as it crosses Long Creek in order to avoid the small stone-walled Beall Family cemetery.  I don't know why they've always said "Springs", because there's only one spring on the place, and not much of a spring at that.  The place itself used to include thousands of acres, mostly in cotton, and a hotel, opened in 1825, the nucleus of which had been the Beall family home.  It was known throughout the South as a place to escape from the miasmas and mosquitoes of the coastal swamps and plains as well as a source of extraordinarily healthful drinking water and home-cooked food.

During the War Between The States my grandmother and aunts cared for wounded Confederate soldiers, and were briefly tormented by some of Sherman's henchmen.  My grandfather, (Colonel [U.S.A], Sheriff, State Representative and Senator) Augustus Beall was too old to serve in the C.S.A.  Around 1885 the Beall Springs Hotel, managed by my Aunt Anna from then until 1925, really came into its own as a "watering place" and vacation resort where dancing, tennis, swimming, strolling and especially eating could be enjoyed.

It was a dark and stormy night when, around 1950, the long-vacant hotel owned in absentia by Cousin Nathan Johnson was struck by lightning and reduced by morning to ashes.  For years the perimeters of the missing buildings would be marked each spring by the emergence of thousands of daffodils.  That may still happen, but I doubt it.  Today the area called "Beall Springs" consists of only thirteen wooded acres surrounding and protecting the source of that single small spring steadily yielding about a gallon of water per minute, which it had been doing in the name of Beall Springs since 1787 and, according to the Cherokees and Creeks, whose healing spring it used to be, for at least 200 years before that (long before De Soto was successfully kept away from it by his Indian guides, even before its existence had been rumored to Ponce-de-Leon!)

A Georgia State Historical Marker tells part of the story, but the thirteen acre reservation, generously restored and tended by the Warrenton Kiwanis Club, is privately owned by the holders of eight shares issued in 1885 to the eight children of Colonel Augustus and Minerva (Massey) Beall.  I own the share that was issued to my father, who was also named Augustus.  He's the one who came to Cincinnati with his son (my brother) Eugene Augustus.  In Cincinnati he fathered Augustus Jr., then me, then our sister Betty Jane.  My share of the Beall Springs reservation will go either to the next oldest Beall Springs Beall along the time-line when I'm through with it or to the State of Georgia if and when it decides to buy up the surrounding lands and turn the whole place back into a park -- whichever comes first.

What follows is a skimpy admixture of facts and fictions about the Bealls, the Spring(s), and rudimentary family trees of innumerable "kinfolk".  I greatly regret that as the current Sire of the Beall Springs Bealls I don't know more about them, because I could have learned had I been less preoccupied with myself.  As a youth I knew and could have corresponded with, even interviewed most of my aunts and uncles and many of my cousins as well as people who worked at the hotel.  The trouble is that I was a youth; history was old stuff, and everyone and everything was going to last forever, anyway.

I want to urge two courses of action upon those who are following me down (or up?) the stream of time:

  1. Regardless of your present age, or whether or not you think that you or anyone else will ever care whether or not you did it, start and continue compiling and preserving a daily report of and commentary about your own activities and other occurrences, local or global, that happened to gain your thoughtful attention.
  2. No matter how confidently you believe that you will never want (or will always remember) the pertinent details, make sure that full identification of the people involved, as well as the date, time, place, and occasion, is firmly and readably affixed to every photo, tape, disk, clipping, or other scrap of paper that you intend to put away for "safe keeping".  If you don't it will some day prove to be not worth keeping.

Believe me.

Sam Beall

Next: The Scottish Bealls