Not so abnormally developed in any direction as to be called a genius, Alfred Franklin Beal however has been one of the active men of Clarinda, identified for many years with its business interests and its public concerns. He is preeminently a man of affairs and one who has and is still wielding a wide influence. With no aids at the outset of his career he has worked his way steadily upward until he is now at the head of one of the leading commercial interests of Clarinda and at once gives the impression of alertness, enterprise and strong force of character.
He was born in Union county, Ohio, September 27, 1849, his parents being Jeremiah and Mary A. (Hartford) Beal, who were natives of Pennsylvania and Ohio respectively. About 1823 the father accompanied his parents on their removal to the Buckeye state, and in the year 1853 emigrated to Henderson county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming for many years. In 1874 he took up his abode in Mahaska county, Iowa, where he resided until his life’s labors were ended in death in 1896. He was a member of the Society of Friends or Quakers and lived his life in harmony with the teachings of that religious sect. He died at the venerable age of eighty-five years, while his wife was but thirty-two years of age at the time of her demise.
A. F. Beal was a little motherless lad of three years when he accompanied his father on the removal from Union county, Ohio, to Illinois. He acquired his preliminary education in the common schools and after he had devoted a few years to business he entered the Denmark Academy at Denmark, Iowa. He also attended the Prairie City Academy at Prairie City, Illinois, and when but fifteen years of age he cut wood at a dollar per cord in order to earn the funds necessary to enable him to pursue his further studies. In 1869, at the age of nineteen years, he entered business circles while becoming identified with a general mercantile enterprise in Terre Haute, Illinois. He began doing business on credit but in 1877 changed his methods and has since carried on all business concerns on a strictly cash basis, never swerving from this rule. In 1881 he came to Clarinda, where he opened a general store, which he has since conducted and developed for a period of over forty years. He has been very successful, winning a constantly growing trade by his reliable methods and his earnest desire to please his patrons. In 1893 he erected a store building on the north side of the square, where he has since conducted his store, having now a well selected line of goods attractively displayed in a two-story brick building, twenty-four by one hundred and forty feet. His name is prominent in commercial circles and has always stood as a synonym for business integrity, enterprise and successful management.
Mr. Beal has also figured in connection with other important public interests. In 1897 he was made a director of the Clarinda Chautauqua Association and has been a member of the board since that time with the exception of a period of two years. He was once school director but has never been an office seeker, preferring to do his public service in a private capacity. He is a member of the Presbyterian church, and for a number of years has served on its finance committee.
On the 16th of September 1873, Mr. Beal was united in marriage to Miss Ellen Foresman, of Prairie City, Illinois, a daughter of Arthur and Elizabeth Boyd (Hayes) Foresman, the father a millwright by trade. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Beal were born six children, of whom one died in infancy. The others are: Tacie, the wife of Dr. C. C. Klumph, of Chicago; Winifred, the wife of Marion D. Looney, a farmer of Salem, Oregon; E. Clyde, a civil engineer, who is residing in Spokane, Washington; George Hamilton, a teacher in the high school at Chicago ; and Blanche, wife of Wilson C. Hanna, a chemist in Colton, California.
Mr. Beal is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having taken the degrees of the lodge, chapter and council. He has also been a member of the Modern Woodmen Camp for twenty years. Indolence and idleness are utterly foreign to his nature. He is a man of enterprise, positive character, indomitable energy and liberal views. Throughout his life he has persevered in the pursuit of a persistent purpose and he gained a most satisfactory reward. His life has been exemplary in many respects and he has the esteem of his friends and the confidence of those with whom he has had business relations. Always courteous and cheerful, displaying deference for the opinions of others, yet it is known that his loyalty to his beliefs cannot be shaken.