James Henry Beall biography

HON. J. H. BEALL. The gentleman whose name stands at the head of this review is one of the old settlers of Texas, and is the senior member of the law firm of Beall & Beall, prominent at the bar of the state. He is now living at Sweetwater, and in Western Texas has a large and distinctively representative clientage connecting him with much important litigation in this part of the state. He was born in California but was reared in Texas, and thus throughout the great part of his life has been identified with the interests of this commonwealth.

Josiah Beall, his paternal grandfather, was a native of Mississippi, who had two brothers who settled in that state, one of them, General William Beall, being well known. The other brother was Dr. Frederick Beall, who attained considerable prominence in his profession. In fact the Beall family was a leading and influential one in Mississippi. These three brothers were sons of General Frederick Beall, who removing westward from Maryland, took up their abode in Mississippi, where the family name was pronounced as though spelled Bell.

Walter D. Beall, son of Josiah Beall, is now a valued resident of Sweetwater, Texas. He was born in Mississippi, and on leaving that state accompanied his parents on their removal to Missouri, where he was married to Miss Sarah Watson, a daughter of Judge Watson, of Jackson county, Missouri. In the year 1853 he came to Texas, settling in Denton county, where he was engaged in the stock business and farming. He afterward located in Tarrant county, near Arlington, but because of his wife’s failing health made an overland trip to California in 1856, remaining on the Pacific coast until the inauguration of the Civil war. Learning that Texas had voted for secession and had joined the southern Confederacy, he closed out his various business interests in California and returned to the Lone Star state, where he offered his services to the cause of the south, remaining a soldier for four years or until the close of the war. He was during a greater part of his military service a member of Company K, Seventh Regiment of Texas Cavalry, and while with the army rose from the ranks to the grade of captain, at one time having charge of the commissary department of his regiment in the field. Following the close of hostilities and his return he continued his residence in Tarrant county until 1881, when the family removed to the west part of the state, settling in Nolan county, where they have since resided. The mother of this family, Mrs. Sarah Beall, died in Nolan county in 1887, when fifty-four years of age. By her marriage she had two sons and a daughter: J. H., of this review; W. W. Beall, who is living in Sweetwater, and Katie, now the wife of E. L. Collins, of Pecos, Texas.

James Henry Beall, whose name introduces this review, was born in Los Angeles county, California, on the 18th of June, 1858, while his parents were residing temporarily in that state. He was two and a half years of age when the family returned to Texas, and his youth was largely passed in Tarrant county. He lived upon his father’s farm and had the usual experiences of the farmer boy, giving considerable time to the mastery of the branches of learning taught in the schools of the neighborhood. He also attended a boarding school for a time, taking up the higher branches of study and although he did not have the privilege of pursuing a collegiate course, he secured a fair education, and by reading, research and investigation has continually broadened his knowledge as the years have gone by. When he arrived at the age of twenty-two years he was married and came to Nolan county, reaching this locality in the spring of 1881. It was in December, 188o, that he wedded Miss Josie Crisman, of Dallas, the Crisman family having come from Alabama to Texas.

Mr. Beall found Sweetwater but an embryo city, it having recently been established, so that its life was in its youngest stages. In the fall of 1881 he accepted a position in a mercantile house, where he remained for three years and during that period he devoted his leisure hours to the study of law. For three or four years he continued his reading of the principal text-books on law, acquiring considerable knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence. In the fall of 1882 he was elected tax assessor for Nolan and Fisher counties, for the latter, being unorganized, was attached to the former for judicial purposes. In the fall of 1884 he was again elected to that office and in 1886 he was admitted to the bar and entered upon what has been his real life work—the active practice of law. He was not long in gaining a good clientage, for he soon demonstrated his ability to successfully cope with the intricate problems that continually confront the practitioner in the courts. In 1892 he was elected county judge of Nolan county and held the office for one term, while in 1894 he was chosen to represent what was then the one hundred and sixth district of Texas in the state legislature, where he served for one term, when he refused to accept a second nomination. From that time until 1902 he was out of politics and gave unremitting attention to his law practice, his devotion to his clients’ interests being proverbial. In the year mentioned, however, he became candidate for district judge of the thirty-second district but was defeated by James L. Shephard, the present incumbent, by a majority of one hundred and forty-seven.

In January, 1896, the law firm of Beall & Beall was organized, his brother, W. W. Beall, becoming his partner. This is considered one of the strongest law firms in Western Texas, for they now have a growing practice, receiving an extensive amount of legal business from Sweetwater and the immediate district. Judge Beall is strong in the argument of a case and prepares his cases with great care and thoroughness, measuring the points of evidence with almost military precision, so that each is given its due prominence, nor does he ever lose sight of the important point upon which the decision depends. The law firm of Beall & Beall is one of the best in Western Texas. Judge Beall devotes his attention principally to civil law but has comprehensive knowledge of various branches of the legal profession.

Judge Beall has been twice married. His first wife died in 1894 leaving a son and two daughters, Genoa, Florence and Herbert. On the 31st of October, 1895, Judge Beall wedded Miss Jennie George, of Sweetwater, a daughter of J. C. George, one of the old citizens of this section of the state. They have four children, James, Dent, Aline, and Bessie. Judge Beall is a member of the Woodmen camp and the Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows and Masonic lodges, and in the last mentioned has attained the Royal Arch degree. He is also a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, with which he has been identified for thirty-four years and for the past twenty-five years has served as one of its elders. He is honored and respected in every class of society because of his strong mental endowments, his high attainments in his profession and his genuine personal worth.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 382-383.