Beall, Thomas J. (1836–1921)

By: Brian Hart

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

Thomas J. Beall, attorney and Confederate officer, son of Dr. Jeremiah and Susan V. (Neal) Beall, was born at Thomaston, Georgia, on May 12, 1836. He received his primary and secondary education in local schools. After moving with his family to Marshall, Texas, in 1850, he attended Tulane College in New Orleans, Louisiana, and subsequently entered the law department of Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he graduated in 1858. He then returned to Marshall and practiced law until the onset of the Civil War.

Beall joined the Confederate Army as a member of the Marshall Guards, a company organized and commanded by Capt. Khleber Miller Van Zandt. After serving in the initial battles near Vicksburg, Mississippi, he took part in the first battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, where he was wounded and captured on February 16, 1862. He was exchanged for captured Union soldiers in September of that year and participated in the defense of Vicksburg when the city was assaulted by Gen. William T. Sherman. After Sherman's defeat Beall became a captain. He eventually took part in the Wilderness campaign, in which he was wounded, and the battles at Spottsylvania Court House, Richmond, and Petersburg.

After the war he returned to Texas and established a law practice at Bryan. There he married Laura Wilson in 1866. She bore one daughter before her death in 1867. Beall later married Margaret Ragsdale, and the couple raised four children. In 1866 Beall and Bennett Hillsman Davis formed the law firm of Davis and Beall. By 1876 Wyndham Kemp had joined the firm, which was renamed Davis, Beall, and Kemp. About 1881 Beall and moved to El Paso, while Kemp stayed behind to close the law firm in Bryan. Eventually the firm Davis, Beall, and Kemp established an office in El Paso and became one of the most successful firms there. Beall accepted a position as attorney for the Santa Fe Railroad in 1884 and moved to Fort Worth, where he made his headquarters until 1887. That year he returned to El Paso, where he practiced law with his firm until his retirement in 1914. He was selected president of the State Bar of Texas in 1886.

Beall was a Mason and served as grand commander of the Order of the Knights Templar of Texas. He also helped organize the El Paso chapter of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks and was first exalted ruler. He died at El Paso in July 1921.

J. Morgan Broaddus, The Legal Heritage of El Paso (El Paso: Texas Western College Press, 1963). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Texas Bar Journal, April 1976.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Brian Hart, “Beall, Thomas J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994