Bean Notables and Anecdotes
This page contains information and stories related to all members of note of this Bean family line. If you find errors or omissions, or if you have related stories to share please send Email.
(last update 29 May 2003)
Captain William 'Billy' Bean (1721-1782) son of William Bean and Elizabeth Hatton was the first recorded permanent white settler in what later became the state of Tennessee. While settled in Pittsylvania (Danville) County, Virginia he traveled to Holston country on hunting expeditions with Daniel Boone. In 1768 he cleared some land and built a cabin on Boone's Creek of the Watauga River in an area where he understood the hunting was good. The next year he brought his family to the lower Watauga. He was soon joined by his brothers-in-law, George and John Russell, and by other relatives and friends from southern Virginia. His son Russell was the first recorded white born in Tennessee. William is said to have been "a man of parts", having been a substantial landowner in Pittsylvania County and a Captain in the Virginia militia. Members of the Bean family were prominent in civil and military affairs in the Watauga Valley for many years. The colony was outside of any governmental control so they founded the Watuaga Association. In the fall of 1775 the Wautuga residents held a conference and decided to side with the American cause. A committee was formed that included William and they declared themselves the "Washington District." In 1776 an ordinance was appended to the North Carolina Constitution appointed William and 20 other individuals as Justices of the Peach for the Washington District. He served in the Revolutionary War from 1776 to1780 as a Captain in the Watauga Riflemen. At the Battle of Kings Mountain, Captain Bean and his man scattered a band of Tories and hanged 9 of them. His last will and testament was signed in 6 January 1782, four months prior to his death.
Lydia (Russell) Bean (1726-1788), William's wife, was captured along with 13 year old Samuel Moore in July 1776 by hostile Cherokee Indians prior to an attack on the Wataugu settlement. She was intercepted as she made her way from her home on Boone's Creek to Sycamore Shoals. She was sent to the Overhill Towns and was lead to the stake. But she was saved, it is said, by Nancy Ward, "Beloved Woman" of the Cherokees, who told the Indians that they could use Mrs. Bean's instruction in the making of butter and cheese. So her life was spared and later she returned to her home.
Nancy Ward's act may have had far reaching effects. When militant Cherokees prepared to attack illegal white communities on the Watauga River, Ward disapproved of intentionally taking civilian lives. She was able to warn several of the Watauga settlements in time for them to defend themselves or flee. Lydia was sentenced to execution and was actually being tied to a stake when Ward exercised her right to spare condemned captives. She took the injured Mrs. Bean into her own home to nurse her back to health. Mrs. Bean, like most "settler women," wove her own cloth. At this time, the Cherokee were wearing a combination of traditional hide (animal skin) clothing and loomed cloth purchased from traders. Cherokee people had rough-woven hemp clothing, but it was not as comfortable as clothing made from linen, cotton, or wool. Mrs. Bean taught Ward how to set up a loom, spin thread or yarn, and weave cloth. This skill would make the Cherokee people less dependent on traders, but it also Europeanized the Cherokee in terms of gender roles. Women came to be expected to do the weaving and house chores; as men became farmers in the changing society, women became "housewives." Another aspect of Cherokee life that changed when Ward saved the life of Mrs. Bean was that of raising animals. Lydia owned dairy cattle, which she took to Ward's house. Ward learned to prepare and use dairy foods, which provided some nourishment even when hunting was bad. However, because of Ward's introduction of dairy farming to the Cherokee, they would begin to amass large herds and farms, which required even more manual labor. This would soon lead the Cherokee into using slave labor. In fact, Ward herself had been "awarded" the black slave of a felled Creek warrior after her victory at the Battle of Taliwa and thus became the first Cherokee slave owner.
Lydia's brother George Russell, husband of Elizabeth Bean, was killed by Indians while on a hunting trip in Grainger County, Tennessee, in 1796. Her daughter, Jane Bean, was killed in 1798 by Indians while working her loom outside the walls of Bean's Station.
James Roddy (1742-1823) husband of Lydia Russell (daughter of George Russell and Elizabeth Bean) served in the American Revolution in the Watauga Riflemen and fought in the Battle of King's Mountain under command of William Bean. He was later promoted to the rank of Colonel. In 1789 he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate representing Jefferson County.
George Bean (1754-c1820) son of William Bean and Lydia Russell served in the American Revolution as a Private in the Watauga Rifleman serving under command of his brother William. fought in the Battle of King's Mountain.
Jesse Bean (c1756-1829) son of William Bean and Lydia Russell served in the American Revolution as a Captain in North Carolina. He also served in the War of 1812 as a Captain in the North Carolina Militia.
John Bean (1760-c1811) son of William Bean and Lydia Russell served in the American Revolution as a Private in the Watuaga Rifleman serving under command of his brother William. fought in the Battle of King's Mountain.
Edmund Bean (1763-1807) son of William Bean and Lydia Russell served in the American Revolution as a Private in the Watuaga Rifleman serving under command of his brother William. fought in the Battle of King's Mountain.
Lewis Russell (??-??) son of William Russell and Lydia Bean is a veteran of the War of 1812.
Russell Bean (1769-1826), son of William Bean and Lydia Russell was the first white child born in Tennessee. Russell served as a 1st Lieutenant in the East Tennessee Militia during the War of 1812 along with his sons Russel Jr. and Charles. He took a cargo of arms of his manufacture down to New Orleans where "he remained for 2 years, engaged in foot races, horse racing, cock-fighting and other sports of the times." On returning to Jonesboro, he found his wife (Rosamond Robertson, daughter of Col. Charles Robertson) nursing an infant. Her seducer, it was said, was a merchant named Allen.
Russell left the house without a word, got drunk, came back, took the baby out of his cradle, and deliberately cut off both of his ears close up to his head, saying that he 'had marked it so that it would not get mixed up with his children'. He was arrested, tried and convicted of this act of inhuman cruelty, and sentenced, in addition to other punishment, to be branded in the palm of his hand. This was done; whereupon he immediately bit out of his hand the part containing the brand. He was also imprisoned, but soon escaped from jail and was allowed to remain at large for the officers were afraid of him.
His wife soon divorced him, but he was determined to kill Allen Allen's brother he assaulted and beat unmercifully, but, up to the time the court met with Andrew Jackson on the bench they had not arrested him. They reported to Jackson that they could not take Bean; that he was out at his cabin on the south side of town, defying arrest and threatening to kill the first man who approached his house. Jackson immediately ordered 'Summon every man in the court house to bring Bean in dead or alive' Thereupon the sheriff responded ' Then I summon your honor first!.'
Jackson at once left the bench exclaiming, 'By the Eternal, I'll bring him!' Jackson approached, pistol in hand and when he got within shooting distance, Bean arose, called out, 'I surrender to you , Mr. Devil!' and laid down his arms. Jackson took him to the court room, where he was tried and fined heavily.
Little is known of his life from here to 1821. It is known that he was a soldier in Mexico until 1818 when he returned to his home in Tennessee to live with his half brother William Shaw in White County. Here he married the daughter of Isaac Midkiff without informing her of his previous marriage. After hearing of the success of the Mexican revolution, Bean returned to Texas and settled at Mound Prairie. In 1825 he went to Mexico City and was granted land for his services in the revolution. He also received a commission as Colonel in the Mexican army and was appointed to the post of Indian agent for the Cherokees and other tribes in East Texas. In Mexico, Bean renewed his relations with his wife, Senora Anna Gorthas, while keeping his home with his second wife in Texas. After another war, in 1826, in the Edwards Colony in East Texas, Bean settled down in his Neches home and seems to have discharged of his duties as an Indian agent. In 1832 another crisis in Texas-Mexican affairs came about. This was the acute dissatisfaction in Texas at the administrative measures of the Bustamente government. Bean was stationed under Colonel Piedras in Nacogdoches. To keep his commission as Colonel in the Mexican army, Bean remained neutral in the struggle that ensued around Nacogdoches.
His marriage with Senora Anna Gorthas seems to have been pleasant although they had no children, but the same cannot be said about his relations with his Tennessee wife who had two children. Being unable to give his allegiance whole-heartedly to either of his homes during the time of war, Bean had himself arrested. He was paroled after Texas declared and won her independence. He returned to his home in Mexico, near Jalapa, to live out his final days. He died in 1846. Although uneducated, Bean was a natural leader, bold, courageous, resourceful, and ready to take initiative.
Colonel Robert Bean (1779-bef 1843), son of Jesse Bean and Sally Miller, was a pioneer of the Arkansas Territory. He ran the first keel boat up the White River and established himself at the mouth Polk Bayou near present day Batesville in 1814.
Captain Jesse Bean (c1784-c1844), son of Robert Bean and Rhoda Lane, served during the war of 1812 in between 28 July 1812 and 28 July 1817 in Captain Joseph Kean's Company of the US Rifle Regiment as a gunsmith. In 1832 Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, commissioned Jesse to raise a company for the military force at Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River above Fort Smith. This was Captain Jesse Bean's Arkansas Mounted Rangers of the Army of the United States. The company was in service for about a year. The famous author Washington Irving accompanied Jesse's company for about a month and mentioned it in his book "A Tour of the Prairies," published in 1835.
+ John Bowen (1799-1844) son of John Bowen and Sarah Bean migrated from Grainger County, to Madison County, Arkansas about 1832 and there served as Justice of the Peace. Between August 1836 and 1874. John served as the first County Judge for Bowen Township in Madison County, Arkansas. Bowen Township is named in his honor.
James Preston Neal (1820-aft 1889) husband of Adaline Bean (daughter of Mark Bean and Nancy Sparks) was a veteran of the Mexican War. He volunteered in 1857 and marched through Texas into Mexico. He arose to the rank of first lieutenant, and served in this capacity until the close of the war, being mustered out at Comargo in 1848. In 1851 he was elected Mayor of Fayetteville, Washington County, Arkansas and held that office until 1854. During the Civil War he was actively engaged in furnishing the Confederate army with supplies. His brother, Col. William T. Neal, who was killed by the Federals in a skirmish near Clarksville, Johnson County. Arkansas in 1864. In 1871 he established the town of Prairie Grove in Washington County, built the first store and engaged in merchandising, being also appointed postmaster of the town. He held this position until 1887, when he was obliged to resign on account of failing health. He authored and published many interesting sketches of the early times in Arkansas.
George W. Bean (c1841-???) son of Jacob M. Bean and Nancy Ann Bowling served during the Civil war in Company C of either the 34th or 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment.
Edmund R. Bean (c1842-???) son of Jacob M. Bean and Nancy Ann Bowling served during the Civil war in Company C of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment.
Wilson Calvin Tipps (1843-1888) son of David Tipps and Elizabeth Thompson, husband of Nancy Jane Bean, served during the Civil War in Co. E of the 17th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, CSA. He was wounded in action in Virginia and received a medical discharge. This injury resulted in a permanently stiff arm. He died of consumption contracted during the war.
Richard H. Bean son of Mark Bean and Nancy Sparks, served the Confederacy during the Civil War in Colonel Jackman's Regiment, Missouri Mounted Infantry.
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