AN IRON MAN I KNEW


| January/February 1973



B. C. Beall

B. C. Beall chats with an old friend. (I think this is a terrific character'' picture-don't you? I really like it!-Anna Mae) Courtesy of William E. Hall, 15700 Santini Road, Burtonsville, Maryland 20730.

William E. Hall

15700 Sanitini Road, Burtonsville, MD. 20730.

The man of whom I write was my Grandfather, Mr. Bernard Cleaveland Beall. He was the son of Joseph Silas Beall, a master carpenter, and Mary Ella Beall, who was a good housewife and mother to a good sized family. He was born Sept. 30, 1884, in Burtonsville, Md. He was the only son who lived past infancy, although he had 4 sisters. There were 6 children who died at an early age. He was a lifelong resident of Burtonsville, Montgomery County, Md. He attended school through the 5th grade, which was the limit of his formal education. He then began doing chores around the house and garden for his mother and father. He was expected to follow his father's trade as a carpenter, but the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. Every time a steam engine whistle blew in the distance, his garden hoe was found in the garden, but not him. The nightly beating he received lasted only until the next whistle blew. It was not long until he was assisting in the boiler room of a nearby mill which made cotton shirts, dresses, etc. One of the earliest amusing stories I recall his telling is of the engineer in charge sending him to the back door of a nearby place of business, and for 20c coming back with a ten quart bucket of an unidentified cold beverage.

During this time he met a young lady named Mary Elizabeth Merson, who was employed at the mill as a seamstress. She was born July 4, 1883, and had to quit school after the 4th grade, to help take care of her brothers and sisters and help to support the rest of family, as they were a large family with a small income. A few years later, on February 19, 1908, they were united for life, despite the fact it was not liked by either set of parents.

In the meantime he had gone to work for a man known to one and all as 'Uncle Lewis' Wooten, who, along with several relatives owned several steam traction and portable engines and all types of related machinery. This was about 1901 or 1902. 'Uncle Lewis' taught him the operation and care of all of this equipment. By about 1904 he was in charge of one of the outfits. He often told of some of the comical things that happened.

One was of an incident when the crew was going to have to sleep in a hay loft over the week end, as it was Saturday night and no work could be done on Sunday. This was before his marriage, and one of the fellow workers suggested that the two of them go calling on a neighbor farmer, who had two young daughters. After buying two new blue denim overall jackets at the local general store, they proceeded to call on the two girls. They were seated in the parlor about 9:30 in the evening, when the farmer walked in and said, 'Young men it is time for working men to go to bed.' To which my grandfather's companion replied, 'Yes Sir but we were waiting for you to show us where to go.' The farmer replied, 'Come with me young men', and they slept between sheets in a feather bed and the rest of the crew slept in a hay loft. Of course they also had a good breakfast before leaving. I could tell many such stories, but it would make this a book length article.

According to an article published in the Baltimore Sun newspaper, of December 16th, 1956, he purchased his first sawmill in 1915, but I believe there is an error on the date, but I cannot prove it. I believe it was somewhat earlier. While working for Uncle Lewis he helped unload a brand new Geiser sawmill and stored it in a shed due to the beginning of the threshing season. It remained there for two years, and then was bought by grandfather. He already owned a Greencastle traction engine, shingle mill, fodder cutter, etc. The little Greencastle was too small for the sawmill so a larger engine was bought. I believe this was either T or TT Geiser, but I am not sure. I do not know how many engines he owned during his lifetime, but I have records of several Geisers, Fricks, Autlman-Taylors, and at least two Hubers.