Digging in to the history of Spring Place - and a nugget found

Ben on 5th Jan 2009

In the late summer of 2008 I had the chance to get over to Spring Place. It was a brief, overnight trip and unfortunately the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society offices were closed by the time I got there. Nevertheless I got to look around the area, and gradually a rough outline of the settlement began to emerge in my mind.
   My goal was to try to learn more about the history of my anscestor John Beall (JSB). Spring Place formed around the home of Continue Reading »

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Cousins you didn’t know you had

Ben on 11th Oct 2007

Perhaps the most pleasurable part of digging into family history over the past couple years has been meeting people like Patti Johnston Case. Through one of my shot-in-the-dark queries asking some Beall somewhere if he know anything about my earliest known ancestor, Patti got wind from a mutual cousin, Jerry Beall of Portland, and dropped me an email. Lo and behold, I had a new cousin (and new relation, in her grandfather) that I didn’t even know I had before. John S. Beall was her great great grandfather, and she’s been gathering family material Continue Reading »

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Welcome to our family history.

Ben on 5th Sep 2007

Did you love hearing the stories your parents or grandparents told, when you were growing up? I did. I loved it when my Mom and Dad brought to life the ’simpler,’ barefoot Tom Sawyer times of their childhoods (back in the Great Depression), or the great adventure of dodging a freshman English term paper (to learn to fly and go off to war.) As I write this, I still have a crystal clear image of ‘Grandmamma Ragsdale’ as a little girl, watching silently as the Yankee soldiers rode off, then skipping the hardtack biscuit they’d given her over a big wide mud-puddle. The occupying soldiers thought she needed their pity, but she’d rather have starved first. I wasn’t there, of course, just after the end of the Civil War; Mary Elizabeth McCrorey (Ragsdale) was my mother’s grandmother. These romantic images were planted young in me. The silver-screen adventures with their historic backdrops are better than any fiction for me, and their grip on my imagination is as strong as ever.

These Bealls, Longs, Ragsdales, McCroreys, Davidsons, and Mary’s Mitchells, Leonards, Paynes, and others were fascinating people who lived in very interesting times. Learning about the things that went on during their lives has been at least as interesting as the ancestry detective work. John S. Beall, our earliest known Beall ancestor, moved onto land in north Georgia that had been vacated just a couple of years before by the Cherokee Indians, who were forced westward on what became known as the Trail of Tears.

Mary’s great grandfather, Freel Mitchell, went west, too, as a young man. Much further, across-country to California after a bout with tuberculosis. He returned to the North Carolina mountains to settle, choosing a beautiful hollow where he established the homeplace the family still calls “home” today (no matter where they live.) Ours is a family of pioneers and planters, explorers and expats, soldiers and sowers. Pilots, and now sailors!

The basic genealogical records of the Beall family have been published here. This material is excerpted from my grandfather’s work, for whom family and relations were an enduring passion. Most credit for this carefully compiled family history goes to him. Thanks also to Ben’s Mom and Dad for having preserved this material and enriched it with their own.

This page will be a permanent, shareable diary of the people I meet, the historical sketches and guesswork, and the new or refreshed stories other family members tell me. I hope it will chronicle the discovery where JS Beall came from, more than a century and a half ago, when he took a bride and settled down in that remote, former Moravian mission and seat of the Cherokee nation. We know he settled on this near western frontier to become postmaster and clerk of court, merchant and slaveholder, but where did he begin?

In the meantime, Mary and I are scanning in the wealth of historical family photos that have come our way, and will be posting them online in a special family history section of our photo gallery, as time permits.

Do you remember some of those stories, too, from your childhood? Want to share?

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