Biography of Thomas B. Beall

No compilation which endeavors to outline the careers of the pioneers would be complete were there omission of the gentleman whose name heads this article: therefore we accord him representation in this place as one of the real builders of the west, being especially conversant with its history, and a participant in the leading actions that form the chief items of its history. Personally, Mr. Beall is a man of fine intellectual powers, well educated, conversant with the affairs of the day and dominated by integrity and principles of uprightness, being highly esteemed by all and his name deserves to be among the very leaders of this northwestern country.

Thomas B. Beall was born in Washington, D. C, on December 28, 1834, being the son of Colonel Benjamin L. and Elizabeth (Taylor) Beall. His father was a commander in the United States army, and was born in Washington. D. C, in 1802. He was a graduate of the military academy at West Point, acted as lieutenant in the Florida war and a major in the Mexican War. During the Civil War he acted as mustering officer until his death in September, 1863. The mother was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1802 and died December 25, 1899, being the daughter of George Taylor, a merchant in Alexandria. Our subject remained with his parents until he was nineteen years of age and was finely educated in William Jewell’s College in Missouri, at the Chapel Hill College in Lafayette County, Missouri, at the State University of Missouri, and at the University of the state of Illinois. His father was commander at Fort Leavenworth for many years, being there from 1846 to 1854. He built Fort Tejon, in Los Angeles County, California, and commanded at Vancouver in the department of the Columbia.

Our subject came to California in 1854 and was in the employ of the government, being but nineteen. He built Lapwai under A. J. Cain, agent, in 1860, and remained with the government until 1861. He owned a ferry at the mouth of the Potlatch and on the Clearwater for years. He mined in British Columbia and in Montana and took up his present place in 1900. His brothers and sisters are Lloyd, in the regular army for years; George, born at St. Louis, and in the medical department of the army: Alexander, deceased; Alfred, County surveyor of Nez Perces County, also civil engineer on N. P. and U. P. railroads for years, now dead; Virginia, deceased; Elizabeth, wife of Theodrick Porter, a brother of Admiral David Porter, but she is now dead; Fanny, died at Port Point. Mr. Beall is a Democrat and has been justice of the peace for years and is active in politics. He is affiliated with the K. of P. in Dayton, Washington.

It is of great interest that Mr. Beall was in the famous battle of Steptoe Butte and a few reminiscences are quite in place. The government was sending a party to locate a north parallel at that time and Colonel Steptoe was ordered to look out a site for a fort near the line. The expedition left Walla Walla on May 3, 1858, crossed the Snake River and got to about where the town of Spangle is now located and the Indians called them to halt. Colonel Steptoe seeing the odds so great against him, determined to return to Walla Walla, and they had gotten as far back as the vicinity of Rosalia, when Chief Saltese came for a conference and Father Joset was interpreter for the Indians. A Nez Perce Indian struck Saltese with a club in this interview and it ceased. The Indians fired on the detachment and as our subject was in charge of the pack train and in a gulch, the work of getting away was difficult. But he succeeded with some others in getting with Chief Timothy of the Nez Perces, and so escaped. Mr. Beall declares that Saltese was not of as good intentions as is supposed, as he was seen to fire and afterwards was found with Lieutenant Gaston’s clothes on. Chief Timothy, however, who was guide to the whites, he believes to have been actuated by genuine friendship.

The paternal grandfather of our subject, Colonel Lloyd Beall, was in command of Fort McHenry, in the war of 1812 when the British fired on the fort. It was this incident that inspired Francis S. Key to write the famous Star Spangled Banner.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903

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