The Beam family in northeastern Itawamba County was a musical one, and on Friday and Saturday nights you could find them 'making music' at one of their homes. Carl Beam was particularly gifted and could play several different instruments. In fact, he played with fiddler Merle "Red" Taylor before Red became famous from his association with Bill Monroe and Hank Williams.
After a long week of farming or sawmilling, the Beams would gather at someone's home, push the furniture back up against the wall to make room for a dance floor, and then start their music. Buck dancing was a popular accompaniment, particularly to the tune of the Chew Tobacco Rag. Coal oil lamps provided low light, and to keep mosquitoes away, old rags were soaked with diesel, tied up and lit.
It was a family affair. Kids were always running around, but they knew better than to run in front of where the adults were sitting to avoid getting hit with an errant spit of snuff or tobacco. After tiring, the children were laid on pallets on the front porch while the music went on.
Carl Beam was sixteen years old in the above photo so that dates it as being around 1931. He was the grandfather of Cousin Don Dulaney, and thanks goes out to Don for sharing the photo and the story, both of which were supplied to him by his mother, Dorothy Beam Moody, and his Aunt Hazel Beam Harnage.
The Beams lived along Highway 25 between Salem and Fairview. Elijah Fiester Beam and his wife, Rowena Brown Lackey, arrived in Itawamba County sometime before 1860 when they are found on the state census. Elijah was born in 1812 in South Carolina while Rowena was a Georgia native, born in 1818. They married in Walton County, Georgia on October 21, 1841.
The musicians in the photo were either a son or grandson of Samuel Thomas Beam, Elijah and Rowena's son who was born in Georgia in 1847 and married Nancy Jane Cromeans in 1875 in Itawamba County.
Samuel and Nancy's son, Calvin Smith Beam, is pictured in the photograph along with his sons Arnold and Ruble. Samuel's grandsons Carl and Ivy are also pictured, and they were sons of Elbert Edgar Beam.
Itawamba County, Mississippi
S. Thomas Beam 72, born in Georgia, occupation - retail merchant, dry goods
Nancy 62, born in Mississippi
Calvin S. Beam 41, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Elvira 36, born in Mississippi
Arnold, Pearly, Odis and Ethel, children
Edgar E. Beam 39, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Minnie 25, born in Mississippi
Murdy, Mittie, Narcie, Irene, Carl and Ivy, children
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Calvin S. Beam 52, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Elmira 47, born in Mississippi
Arnold, Odis, Ethel, Rubie, Ruble, children
Edgar Beam 50, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Minnie L. 45, born in Mississippi
Meardy, Narcy, Irene, Sally, Thomas, Delta, Willis, children