from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906
Hiram A. Beal, a retired farmer living in New Sharon, was born in Blackford county, Indiana, May 5, 1850, a son of Hiram and Jerusha (McDonald) Beal, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania, born in 1813, the father on the 3d of July and the mother on the 10th of October. One of the great grand fathers of our subject of the name of Cope came from England with William Penn and belonged to a family prominent in the early history of the Keystone state. A record of this family was prepared some years ago and printed. Hiram Beal was married in Ohio to Miss Jerusha McDonald and they removed from that state to Indiana. When their son Hiram was but two years old they became residents of Henderson county, Illinois, where they spent two years and in 1854 they arrived in Mahaska county, Iowa, which was then a frontier district, much of the land still being in possession of the government. Mr. Beal, the father, took up 240 acres of land in Prairie township and made considerable money by buying, improving and selling farms, owning a number of different farms in various parts of the county. At one time he traded for a stock of goods in Peoria and conducted a store for a short time. He had the postoffice in his house and was post master for many years, there being no other office between his home and Oskaloosa at that time. His political views were in accord with the principles of democracy and he served as assessor and trustee of his township for several years. His religious faith was that of the Methodist Protestant church. In his family were seven children : Rachel, now the deceased wife of George W. Ackers, a resident of Adams township, this county; Nicholas, who is living in Prairie township; William, who died in New Sharon but in the meantime had lived in Nebraska for many years; Sparks R., who is also living in Nebraska; Elma, the wife of Robert Mitchell, a resident of Madison township, this county; Naomi, the wife of James Fisher, of Prairie township; and Hiram A., who completes the family. Hiram A. Beal was reared under the parental roof upon the old homestead farm in Prairie township and is indebted to the public school system for the educational privileges he received. He was quite young when brought to this county but he can remember many incidents of interest concerning the early days. Although but four years of age at the time of the removal here he remembers driving across the country from Illinois with teams. In those early days wild turkeys and deer were numerous and also snakes and wolves were in the county and it has been only a few years ago since Mr. Beal saw wolves here. In one summer they killed ten snakes, the shortest of which was more than ten feet in length. There was no railroad at that time and the pioneers marketed their hogs at Keokuk. The buyer would drive the hogs across the county, making further purchases along the way and some times would have as many as a thousand in a drove. The lumber for the first frame house which Hiram Beal, Sr., erected was hauled from Muscatine and oxen were used in breaking land. The pioneer women spun their own yarn and wove their own cloth and the men wore homespun flannel shirts both winter and summer. Matches were in use though were very high in price and they had to be very saving of them and often the neighbors would borrow fire when out of matches. Kerosene was unknown and they made tallow candles and also frequently resorted to what was known as the "slut light." The first lamp that Mr. Beal of this review ever saw was in possession of an agent, who was not only selling the lamp but also a recipe for making a kind of oil. The nearest milling point was the Duncan mill in the vicinity of Oskaloosa and there the early settlers would take their grist to be ground. Great changes have come through the passing years yet there are many incidents of those early days that are remembered with pleasure. A warm spirit of hospitality abounded and the neighbors were always willing to help one an other in their farm work or in building homes. Mr. Beal of this review continued with his parents until twenty five years of age, at which time he was married to Laura Clements, who was born in Van Buren county, Iowa, May 1, 1858. He had previously purchased eighty acres of improved land and the, young couple began their domestic life thereon but after one summer spent there Mr. Beal sold his property and bought a farm of one hundred acres. During the first ten years of his married life he moved twelve timesried lif and selling property and often making as much or more than he could have done by settling down and farming one place. About twenty years ago, however, he purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, partly lying in Richland township and partly in Prairie township. There he lived for seventeen years, developing an excellent farm which was very productive and well improved. Three years ago, however, he sold that property and took up his abode in New Sharon, purchasing the house of Jacob Watland on West Market street. Here he has since lived retired, enjoying a rest which is truly earned and richly deserved. Since taking up his abode in the town he has purchased two farms, one in Union township, and one in Prairie township, and he also owns twenty two acres within the city limits. He bought one hundred and fifty four acres in Prairie township and another tract of fifteen acres adjoining. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Beal have been born four children and the family circle yet remains unbroken by the hand of death. These are Estella, now the wife of Ezra Gable, a resident farmer of Union township, by whom she has one child now eight years of age; Sparks R., who is living upon a farm in Union township, which he purchased from his father; Burt, who is living on his father's farm in Prairie township; and Leslie, who resides on another of our subject's farms in Prairie township. Mr. Beal was formerly a democrat but now gives his political allegiance to the prohibition party, while he and his wife are members of the Friends church. He is of rather reserved nature but of genuine personal worth and those who meet him socially entertain for him the warmest regard. He has gained many friends during his residence in the county, which covers a period of more than a half century.
Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa