Chasing the “Wild Bunch”–One Woman’s Journey

Chasing the Wild Bunch: One Woman's Journey

Chasing the Wild Bunch: One Woman’s Journey


Mary Margaret Dean-Inghram Stillians (1795-1866) was my third-great grandmother. For years, the family knew very little about her, other than her first name. Some family members thought she came from England, while others thought she was of Spanish heritage. Some even thought she was a Gypsy. Intrigued with the mystery surrounding her, I embarked upon a search for her and for her family over twenty years ago. My questions took me to court records and to cemeteries in Greene County, Pennsylvania and in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in addition to the state archives of Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky–but not without a number of minor and major setbacks.

I was about to give up on ever finding her until my mother’s death in 2003. My father’s treasures were hidden inside cupboards in my parents’ garage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa–old photo albums and a large grocery sack full of pictures his mother had given him years before. He thought no one else would be interested in them, so he hid them inside the garage and passed away in 1974 without telling anyone they were there. I remembered those albums in our old house when I was growing up and would often tag along with him to the basement with my “Who’s this?” — “Who’s that?” questions that were never-ending. With my interest rekindled in family history in the early 1990s, I asked my mother about them. She told me Dad had thrown them away–they had no room for them in their new house when they moved to the northwest side of town. A flood in Summer 1993 revealed the sack of old pictures. Happily, I hauled those back to Colorado. Eventually, Mom discovered an album she found in another cupboard, and she gave that to me the following summer when we stopped to visit her while on our way to Pennsylvania. Since those were the only items she could find, I presumed the rest of the albums had been destroyed, but they were waiting to be discovered after her death on the highest shelves in various cupboards in the garage and were sent to me by my sister via a number of UPS shipments. The final one was found shortly after my sister and I had sold the house and after the new people took possession. This was the one I had been hoping to find! Information gleaned from those albums and memories of discussions with my father about his mother’s maternal great-grandmother rekindled my interest and enabled me to complete my study.

This is Mary’s story–who was searching for her own identity as well!

For more information, check out Books by Beall

Rebel From Back Creek: James Byron Dean (1931-1955)

Rebel from Back Creek: James Byron Dean (1931-1955)

Rebel from Back Creek: James Byron Dean (1931-1955)

James Dean was one of the most mesmerizing and controversial actors of all time who died in a car crash September 30, 1955 at the age of twenty-four. Yet since his death, he has maintained a word-wide following. This book is the result of a ten-year search by the author into the genealogical background of the actor. Extending her thesis from her previous work that we are all the sum total of our ancestors, she provides an in depth look at some of his ancestors, and the way or ways they influenced him. A child of the 1950s, Barbara Inman Beall remembered the actor, James Dean, from his early television dramas and his movies. In 1955, she was listening to a news account of his death when her father entered the room and asked her what happened. When she told him that James Dean died, he responded by saying, “Well, he was related to your grandmother!”

To purchase the book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and for more information about the book–go to Books by Beall


The Sum Total–A Search for Levi Clay (1843-1917) and Jesse James (1847-1882)

The Sum Total: The Search for Levi Clay (1843-1917) and Jesse James (1847-1882)

The Sum Total: The Search for Levi Clay (1843-1917) and Jesse James (1847-1882)


The great-granddaughter of Levi Clay (1843-1917), Barbara Inman Beall, Ph.D., published a book about the July 21, 1873 train robbery in Adair Iowa committed by the Jesse James gang. Titled “The Sum Total: A Search for Levi Clay (1843-1917) and Jesse James (1847-1882)”, the book was published in November 2010 by Aventine Press.

Dr. Beall first heard the story of the train robbery from her father in 1955. She began her research 22 years ago, and completed the book this fall. An employee of the railroad, Levi Clay was aboard the train that night, and slipped off in the darkness for Casey to send out the alarm. There is a great deal of genealogical information that is incorporated in the book, as well as actual newspaper accounts of the robbery. The author has also included actual photographs from her grandmother, Adelia Clay Inman’s collection.

No longer available on Barnes and Noble; available on Amazon on a limited basis from private sellers. I no longer have copies available for sale.

For more information, check out Books By Beall