A Special Thanksgiving

A Special Baptism: our family on the left; Howard's brother, Prince's family on the right

A Special Baptism: our family on the left–L-R: Barbara (Me), Howard holding Brian. Howard’s brother, Prince’s family on the right: Prince holding Kari Jo and Cleone on the end. Edward L. Beall, Sr. in the middle. Photo taken the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Farmington Presbyterian Church, Farmington, Missouri

Thanksgiving 1968 was a special one for us. Our son Brian was born August 6, 1968 in Louisville, Kentucky, and his cousin, Kari Jo, was born August 29, 1968 in Wichita, Kansas. We were all scheduled to make a migration to Farmington, Missouri for Thanksgiving that year. One reason? The babies were to be baptized by their grandfather, Rev. Edward L. Beall, Sr. in the Farmington Presbyterian Church. This would be Baby Brian’s first big trip!

Howard was teaching school. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and he was scheduled to be home by mid-afternoon. I spent the morning packing and making certain our dachshund Heidi was taken care of. Howard backed into the driveway–we loaded the car–and then we were on our way to Farmington by way of St. Louis. We were driving a 1967 VW Bug at the time, so we were certainly loaded down. Brian went to sleep, something for which I was grateful!

As I recall, it was cloudy–typical of a November day. We drove across southern Indiana and Illinois, and the rain began in one of those states. It rained lightly at first. I remember stopping at a restaurant somewhere in Illinois where I ordered my favorite breaded pork tenderloin sandwich and onion rings–something I generally don’t get outside of Missouri or Iowa. I laid Brian down in the booth beside me. He smiled at first. Then he decided that (a) he was in a strange place; (b) he was tired; (c) he was hungry–and he YELLED at the top of his lungs. Shoving the rest of the sandwich and onion rings down my throat, I bundled him up and went out to the car so the patrons could eat in peace! Wouldn’t you know it? He was sound asleep the minute I fed him. I sat inside the car, listening to the falling rain, wondering whether this was a foretaste of events that would happen.

And that’s when the drama began!

It was pouring down rain by the time we reached the Missouri River. And halfway across the bridge, our windshield wiper motor died right in the center of the bridge!

Talk about a frightening experience!

By some miracle, we made it across the bridge without incident. But we still had 60 miles to go. The rain was still pelting our car. There was no way we could drive 60 miles in the dark without windshield wipers! Howard called his father, who drove to St. Louis to pick us up. We left our car near a station and headed south to Farmington.

But the drama didn’t end there!

Just as we arrived at the house, Howard’s mother was leaving.

“I have to drive to Potosi!” she told us. “Prince and Cleone broke down there!”

Just then, the phone rang. Prince’s car finally started, so Mildred didn’t have to rescue them. We waited for them to arrive, talked for a while. And we all finally settled down to sleep.

But the drama didn’t end there!

When morning broke, the rain stopped–but it transformed into snow overnight leaving a sheet of ice on everything!

Howard’s brother, Ley, his wife Brenda, and their daughter Carmen were scheduled to fly into St. Louis from Kansas City, Missouri the next morning (Thanksgiving Day). Howard’s mother drove to St. Louis to pick them up, and Howard went with her. He wanted to retrieve his car in St. Louis since we didn’t want to walk back home to Kentucky! They checked on his car first, which was fine. Then they travelled to the airport where they waited–

–and waited–

–and waited.

Finally, they heard the announcement:

All flights from Kansas City have been cancelled!

The reason?

It seems that earlier that morning, a plane from Kansas City slid on ice on the runway in St. Louis. So they weren’t going to send any more of their planes to St. Louis unless and until the ice has been cleared. Now, I don’t know whether you are acquainted with the relationship between these two cities. There has always been a rivalry between them outside of opposing football teams. We lived in Kansas City in the 1960s before moving to Kentucky, and I remember how that rivalry was so pronounced. It may have moderated since then, but it was really strong at that time. I think it dated back to the Civil War. St. Louis regarded Kansas City as a haven for incorrigible outlaws and Kansas City regarded St. Louis as a haven for eastern Yankee snobs.

[Kansas City didn’t like Kansans (Jayhawkers) either in the 1960s. But that is another story].

“My kids were scheduled to fly in here!” my mother-in-law complained. “How are they supposed to get here?”

“Well, you’ll have to sit down and wait,” she was informed. “They are on their way–by bus!”


“I believe that’s the direct route.”

She called to update us on the situation.

“This isn’t fair!” she complained. “I want to be there in Farmington holding my babies, and I have to sit here in this stupid airport all day. Well–we’ll have Thanksgiving when we all get there!”

Six hours later, they all arrived. Howard followed them down in his car, relieved that it was finally safe in Farmington. And once they all stopped talking and settled down at the table–the Thanksgiving feast was tremendous. Everyone enjoyed both the food and the conversation!

Then, when the dishes were out of the way–

“Well, we have to celebrate Christmas!” my Mother-in-Law announced. “You’re all here now, and you won’t be here next month!”

So, out came the tree, the other decorations, and the music. Once the halls were appropriately decked, we had our gift exchange. It was probably after midnight again when we finally ran out of gas! I remember the touch football game in the yard the next day. Then Brenda, Ley and Carmen had to return to Kansas City since Ley had to be at work at TWA that evening.

Sunday was the day of the baptism, the event so conveniently worked into our Thanksgiving-Christmas celebration!

The baptism was a signature event. Howard’s Uncle MacPherson Beall (people called him Mac) and his family drove to Farmington from St. Louis for the occasion. And Clan Beall all descended upon the Farmington Presbyterian Church, sitting in the designated section for honored guests. My father-in-law had been minister at that church for several years, so the gathering was a quite an occasion. Then came the moment of the baptism. Brian’s parents (us) and Kari Jo’s parents (them) journeyed to the front with the babies in tow. What I remember most about the baptism is that Baby Brian recognized his Grandpa Beall and began his little chant: “Da-da-da-da-da-”

“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost! Amen!”

We had to have another celebration after all of that!

The MacPherson Bealls went to the house in Farmington as did the rest of the Clan. We had another feast (Thanksgiving leftovers) and plenty of dinner table conversation. Beall table conversations generally turned to politics and other world events. In those days, the conversation focused on Richard Nixon (the newly elected President) and what he planned to do about ending that awful war (Vietnam)–and whether or not Howard’s cousin, Scott, would be called up for duty. He said he expected it; his wife said “No!” (He did serve as a medic. He retired several years ago after many years as a surgeon!)

Our return trip to Kentucky was without mishap or misadventure. Brian slept most of the way. The sun shone brightly and the roads were clear.

And our little dog Heidi was certainly glad to see us!


“What Would You Like On Your Tombstone?”


2014 began with a bang!

Yesterday (New Year’s Day) I found the graves of three Howard’s illusive ancestors on Find-a-Grave.com! He has been looking for them for years with no luck. The entries for these people on Find-a-Grave were only made recently: his great-great grandfather–his great-great grandmother (I stumbled across her totally by accident!)–and his fourth great grandfather!


The search for his great-great grandfather has been a steady project for years. People believed that Thomas Heugh Beall died in Henderson, Kentucky in 1830. End of story. There were no death records to support this contention. He last appears on the 1830 census for Henderson, Kentucky and does not appear anywhere in 1840. I suppose people assumed he died in 1830, or shortly thereafter.

Well, he didn’t!

He died shortly after the 1850 Census in Henderson, Kentucky, and he is shown on that census record with his wife!

(The Civil War destroyed many of the records in courthouses in Kentucky. I suppose people have to take what they can get!)

There isn’t much left of his tombstone as it has been sinking into the ground. The Find-a-Grave volunteer who took this picture noted the following:

“Birth: 1787 Death: unknown Note: Dates on marker are buried. Living in Henderson Co. in 1850 with his wife, (Susan) [Note: name on the census record is Sarah] Burial: Fernwood Cemetery Henderson Henderson County Kentucky, USA Created by: Lynn Fischer Record added: Aug 07, 2012 Find A Grave Memorial# 94940496”

The mystery surrounding Thomas Heugh Beall is finally solved. But what about his wife, Sarah Cheston?


Sarah was easier to track down. She was born in Hunterdon, New Jersey and by 1860, she was in Cumberland, Maryland living with her son–Howard’s great-grandfather, William Ryland Beall, who had a huge tobacco operation! She last appears in his household on the 1870 census. I speculated that she was probably buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Cumberland–the one where I almost fell into an open grave years ago–but I didn’t recall seeing or photographing a tombstone there for any Sarah Beall. My search took me to Find-a-Grave once again, and I searched all the Beall records there. Lo and Behold–there was a entry for a Sarah Beall, who died in 1871. That date was a few years off from most people’s records. However, the Sarah Beall in William’s household in 1870 did not appear in his household in 1880. There was no photograph on her grave, so I put in a request. This morning–the request was fulfilled! And yes, this has to be Sarah Cheston Beall, the wife of Thomas Heugh Beall! According to the entry:

“Birth: 1793 –Nov 27, 1786 Death: Mar. 3, 1871 Inscription: Aged 84 yrs, 3 mos & 26 days Burial: Rose Hill Cemetery Cumberland Allegany County Maryland, USA Plot: Section 1 Created by: John Fazenbaker Record added: Dec 27, 2013 Find A Grave Memorial# 122304708”

(Her actual birthdate was probably November 27, 1786 since she was 84 years, 3 months and 26 days old at the time of her death.)

There is no other Sarah Beall of record her age on the 1860 or 1870 Census for Cumberland, Maryland! I believe I have succeeded in finding her! 🙂

And now, concerning Howard’s fourth great-grandfather, Richard Beall?


Richard was another problem. Howard knew his exact dates of birth and death, but he had no idea where he was buried. I was trolling through the Ancestry.com search engine, and stumbled over a Find-a-Grave Entry for him.

“Guess who I just found!” I announced to Howard.

Computers totally amaze him. He doesn’t tweet, and he doesn’t do Facebook, and he doesn’t turn on a computer unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“Are you sure it’s him?”

Yes, I am sure. There is no photo of his grave on his profile. Someone has already put in a request for that, and Find-a-Grave only allows one photo request per memorial. So we both have to be patient and wait. But this is Richard’s entry:

Jan. 17, 1738
Prince George’s County
Maryland, USA

A ug 18, 1778
Montgomery County
Maryland, USA

Richard Beall was born in Prince George’s County, Maryland on 17 Jan 1738 as the eldest son of Samuel Beall, Jr. and Eleanor Brooke. He and Brooke Beall, his brother were twins. Whether or not identical twins, is not recorded. He died in 1778 and his will was probated in Montgomery County, Maryland. In 1775 he was commissioned by Frederick County Maryland Committee of Safety to collect $133 in NW 100 to buy arms for the Revolutionary Army. On May 20, 1777 he was appointed Justice of the Peace for Montgomery County, Maryland.

The Will of “Richard Beall of Samuel” is as follows as copied from Will Book A, pp. 39-40, in the office of the Register of Wills at Rockville, Md. . . A verbatim copy except that the item giving his soul to God
and his body to the earth is omitted.

“In the name of God, I, Richard Beall of Samuel, being in health and sound memory, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in the manner following:
“Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved children all real and personal estate to be equally divided among them share and share alike to them and their heirs forever.
“Item. I will and bequeath that my beloved wife, Sarah Beall, have her third part of my land laid off to her in the place she shall choose and at her decease to be equally divided among my children as aforesaid share and share alike to their, and their heirs forever.
Item. I will and bequeath if my said wife do marry that my children during their minority may be put to school and the expense thereof be paid out of the rent of their estate at the discretion of their uncle, Samuel Beall, the 3d, who is hereby appointed their guardian if their mother do marry.
I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved wife Sarah Beall whole and sole executrix of this my last will and testament, this 12th day of September 1775.
(Signed) Richard Beall of Samuel.” (Seal.)
Probated, August 19, 1778.

Family links:
Sarah Brooke Beall (1738 – 1797)

Asa Brooke Beall (1774 – 1853)*

*Calculated relationship
Rock Creek Cemetery
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA

Created by: Candee
Record added: Feb 21, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105591027″

So my year started off with a bang as far as Howard’s ancestors are concerned.

Now I need to turn my attention to Levin Dean and start writing Chapter 16 in my book!