Carl Nelson has investigated old
newspapers, steamboat schedules, jewelry store receipts, church registries, and
tax, school and bank records.
So far, with the exception of an April 1, 1820, notice in the
Missouri Intelligencer saying a letter awaited "Thomas Beall," Nelson
has found no conclusive evidence that Beale was where he
said he was at the time.
Cipher addict Carl Nelson
works at home, believes human eye beats computer.
On the other hand, he has found no evidence that he was not.
Nelson has a theory that the Virginian was
stealing from his brothers.
Indeed, if Thomas were put on a 20th-century couch, his
mumblings to his analyst might lead to a suspicion of unresolved sibling
After all, according to Nelson's research, he had three
brothers who owned 17,000
acres along the James River as well as the largest
gold mine in the Blue Ridge.
Thomas, according to an 1835 Fauquier County tax record, was
taxed ten cents on his sole possession, a horse.
Nelson also claims Beale died in 1851, a pauper in Montross,
Virginia, although others contend he disappeared out West.
Whatever his end, he left behind a good yarn if nothing else.
"It's an endlessly fascinating puzzle," says Nelson, who is
determined, quite literally, to get to the bottom of it.
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