Beall is a name with Scottish origins, and so this year I thought it might be fun at Christmas to highlight that heritage! To get you in the mood, I hope you enjoy this "Piano Guys" video taken in the Scottish highlands...gorgeous place...maybe we can take the family on a family heritage trip there some day...
For our photo shoot, taken at the Beall Homeplace and including Bernie’s mother, we used plaids and cable knit tights and a cable sweater on our youngest grandchild, hard and soft step dancing styled shoes, flared skirts and dresses, and even some celtic styled jewelry. :)
Even the old outbuildings and overcast weather cooperated to give a Scottish lowlands ‘feel’ to this shoot! Our photographer, Susan Schmidt, is outstanding - she always seems to take my ideas and make them better than I could have imagined!
I actually took two step dance classes and loved it - I am sure the jumping is good to stimulate ‘osteogenesis’ to improve my bone density but it also hurt pretty much afterwards especially at the site of the compression fracture in my knee so I had to take a break. But I plan to go back, and two lessons was enough to learn a basic Scottish step that I could teach my granddaughters and photograph for fun. :)
The farmhouse homeplace where Bernie’s grandparents raised their ten children (where Bernie lived until he was 12 years old), is still is in use! His mother still lives in the house next door, which she and Bernie’s father built and moved into when Bernie was 12. It was fun to include Bernie’s Mom, Bernardine, and the homeplace in this historic photo shoot!! The old hay barn that Bernie enjoyed playing in when he was a boy, was sadly recently demolished, but a stone wall still stands which we used for a seat for one of our photos.
Although it is hard to know for sure, it looks like our Beall clan can trace themselves back to Alexander Beall, born in 1565, in Largo, Scotland. His known son, Dr. James Beall of Largo, Fifeshire, Scotland follows next in line. James was a PhD of Ministry, Doctor of Divinity, in St. Andrew’s Fife, Scotland. He was born about 1603 and died at age 43. He had 10 known children, two of whom were Ninian, (b. 1625) and Thomas (1638-1707 -- remember Thomas for later).
Ninian came first to America as a dissenter (Presbyterian) after being captured by Oliver Cromwell’s British forces at the battle of Dunbar in 1650 in Scotland. He was taken prisoner, sent to Barbados, but had turned up in southern Maryland by 1658. After a 7 year apprenticeship with a Quaker merchant, he joined the militia, eventually becoming the head of it! By the time of Ninian’s retirement at the age of 74, he had attained the rank of Colonel and the highest military post in the colony: Commander-in-Chief of the Provincial Forces of Maryland.
Colonel Ninian Beall was an “industrious Scot,” and a renowned frontiersman. In addition, over the course of his life, Beall was a planter, grist mill operator, iron foundry operator, and he served in numerous public offices. He was also a major land owner and a church leader. He brought the first Presbyterian minister to Maryland, gave land for a church and was one of the original elders. Ninian was eventually instrumental in bringing many of his fellow Scots, especially from his own clan, to Colonial Maryland. One historian even described the Bealls of Maryland as America’s first family dynasty!
He eventually owned about 30,000 acres of land in colonial Maryland. Among Ninian’s many land holdings was 'Beall's Levels' (swampy river-bottom land) which is the land where the White House is today! He also owned Dumbarton Oaks, which is still located on Wisconsin Avenue in uptown Georgetown. In fact, Ninian’s son George co-founded Georgetown! Another prominent part of his holdings includes the land which is now the National Arboretum.
Originally the name was Bell - the ‘a’ is thought to have been added in an attempt by the English to break up the clan system although originally the pronunciation was kept the same. Ninian would sign his name “Ninian Beall as in ringing” and to this day we hear both pronunciations being used in different areas. Who knows - maybe we are distantly related to the world famous violinist Joshua Bell??
Bernie’s mother, who has done some genealogical research, has theorized that possibly Ninian’s brother Thomas is who we descend from. (But it is possible we descend from another brother or possibly even a cousin that Ninian encouraged to immigrate to the USA.)
Fast forward about four generations from Dr. James Beall and we come to Basil Beall (1796-1877) who is Bernie’s great, great, great grandfather. Basil settled on a farm in Lewisdale, MD (near Clarksburg) and is buried in the graveyard next to the church that Bernie grew up attending. As is his son Basil Barry Beall (1830-1875), his grandson Richard Cronin Beall (1858-1940), and his great grandson Barry Ranson Beall (1886-1959) who bought the homeplace from his great Aunt whose husband built it roughly around the time of the Civil War! His youngest, Fred Parker Beall (1930-1997), is the fifth generation of Bealls buried there. Fred, of course, married Bernardine (Bernie’s Mom). She graces our photos this year!
Wow! So many lifetimes, so many people have borne the name Beall in the past - it is fun to dream and imagine what some of those lives might have been like. Abbi, our oldest granddaughter, may someday be a great grandparent with a legacy all her own! That’s true for all our other grandchildren! Wow. I wish I could meet all the Bealls in this noble train of faith in the past; I wish I could see into the future too! But most of all in this present, I want to be a faithful Beall passing on the things of true value to future generations.
The Scots were a rugged people living in a rugged landscape, and to quote historian Bill Potter, "If they weren't fighting the English, they were fighting each other!" Although the idea of clan and family is a beautiful thing, passing down stories of heroes and bravery and giving us our identity from the past, there were often conflicts and altercations between as well as within clans too! What we want to cling to and emulate is the good in the clan, the many of those in our ‘clan’ who sought to honor God with their lives and to pass down that heritage to the next generation. An example would be the legacy of Bernie’s grandfather, Barry Ranson, who made a significant and renewed personal commitment to God in the 1920s. He was a changed man. His many children saw it and were dramatically influenced to follow Christ themselves due to his example.
Hardship is part of life and God is with us through it all. Sometimes I wonder if the people who have the potential to cope best in life are the ones that haven’t had easy lives. We want our children to have beautiful and fulfilling lives but really we only learn through the hard things that inevitably come. May we all be like the Scots in our resilience and our perseverance! And may we also see that God is with us through all the hardships and that He is making all things beautiful in His way and in His time. And may we look forward to the day when there is only one redeemed clan of people, composed of every tongue, tribe, and nation, unified and worshiping our Savior before the throne of our Father in heaven. At that time, all the things we get hurt about and disagree about won’t matter any more. There will be no fighting, no war, no tears. As beautiful and informative as clan and family can be in this life, how much more beautiful will the family of believers be in our life after death! “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)
‘Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last!’ We, as the Bernie Beall ‘Clan,’ wish you the best celebration of the birth of our Savior that you have ever had! No matter what your heritage, may your focus be on the legacy of faith we get to pass down to future generations through the economy of sacrifice and love!
May God's deep love and richest blessing be yours this Christmas and always,
~ Bernie and Linda for 'Clan Beall'
Great Commission Families, 35 Jeffrey Lane, Brunswick, MD 21758
703-975-6719 — www.GCFamilies.org — email@example.com
Above top: Bernie & Linda holding picture of Bernie's grandparents and their ten children, while standing in the very spot it was taken 85 years ago.
Above bottom: Photo of Barry & Edith Beall and their ten children. Bernie’s dad is the toddler in his mother’s arms. (1933)
In closing, we hope you enjoy these two videos, the first of Nicola Benedetti, a Scottish raised violinist, talking about her recording of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, and then below it, an audio from youtube of Nicola playing the nine minute long final movement of the Scottish Fantasy if you care to listen!