Beans Helped Settle Tennessee; Some Moved On To Hamilton County

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - by John Wilson
Judge Russell Bean
Judge Russell Bean

William and Lydia Bean are celebrated as the first permanent settlers in the section that became Tennessee, and their son, Russell Bean,was the first white child born within the confines of the state.

As the descendants of William Bean spread out from the vicinity of the Watauga River, some of them made their way to Hamilton County. William Hamilton Bean, grandson of Russell Bean, was a major in the Union Army and was elected county tax collector and then sheriff.

The William Bean who ventured into frontier Tennessee was born in 1721, and is believed to be the son of another William Bean, of Northumberland County, Va. The younger William Bean made his way to Augusta County, Va.,and he married Lydia Russell. He began going out on hunting parties with Daniel Boone and others into the untracked wilderness. Despite the presence of hostile Indians, Bean decided in early 1769 to set down roots at the Watauga River where he had camped while hunting with Boone. The Beans were soon joined by some of their Virginia neighbors and kin, including John and George Russell, brothers of Lydia Russell Bean.

It was Lydia Russell Bean who was rescued by the Cherokee "Beloved Woman'' Nancy Ward, according to early accounts. In 1776, Mrs. Bean had been captured by the Indians during a siege at the Watauga while William Bean was away on a hunting trip. When she refused to provide information about conditions at the settlers' fort,she was tied to a stake in preparation for being burned. It is said that after Nancy Ward put out the flames that Mrs. Bean taught her many domestic arts that were then passed on to the tribe.

Most of the Bean children had been born by the time they arrived in the future Tennessee.The older children were William Jr., Robert, George, Jesse, John, Edmund, Jane and Sarah. Jane was killed by Indians at Grainger County when she was 32. Sarah, who was born in 1768 just before the move to the wilderness, married John Bowen and they lived in Grainger County.

Some of the Beans married into the family of William Ellis, who purchased land next to the Beans on Boone's Creek in 1784. Edmund Bean married Martha Ellis. Her brother, John Ellis, married Elizabeth Bean, daughter of Robert Bean and Rhoda Lane and granddaughter of William Bean and Lydia Russell.

William Jr., who was born in 1745, had joined his father on the Watauga by 1778. His first wife is listed as Rachel Ball, and his second wife was the widow Elizabeth Shaw. William Bean Jr.fought under John Sevier at King's Mountain. He also lived in Grainger County, and he died there in 1798. William Bean Jr.'s children included Ahab (by the first wife), Peter Ellis, William, Fetna who married John Valentine Bull, Robert, Edmund, Elizabeth Ann, Jesse, Lydia and Jemima. Robert Bean married Christine Miller, and Edmund Bean married Margaret Tappen.

Some of these children moved on to Hamilton County in the 1830s and 1840s. One of these was William, son of William Bean Jr. Another was Lydia, who married Goodman Scott in 1818 in Grainger County. At the time of the 1850 census, Lydia Bean Scott was living in Hamilton County with her son, Robert Scott. Orlena Scott, daughter of Goodman and Lydia Bean Scott, married Absalom Selcer and they settled at Falling Water.

Russell Bean grew into "a handsome youth with curly black hair and a fine physique. He was the most perfect specimen of manhood in the whole country.'' But he had "a violent temper and a cruel nature, which was responsible for his getting into trouble and being brought into court on many occasions.'' One story is told of Russell Bean terrorizing local officials and of a sheriff who went out to arrest him but could not bring him in. The sheriff is said to have told Judge Andrew Jackson that Bean was at the edge of town and refusing to give up. Jackson strode straight to the site, and Bean meekly submitted. Asked later why he had given up so easily, he said, "I saw the fire in the old general's eye, and I knew I had better surrender.'' On another occasion, Russell Bean was ordered to be branded in the hand with a hot iron and put in the stocks and whipped. They said this "wild and lawless character bit out the burned piece of flesh from his hand in the presence of those who were administering the penalty.'' After the death of William Bean in 1782, Russell Bean inherited his grist mill on Boone's Creek. He received 400 acres upon the death of his mother.

Russell Bean was a gunsmith and metalworker. Most of his sons followed that profession. He married Rosamond Robertson, daughter of Charles Robertson and niece of pioneer Middle Tennessee settler James Robertson. But Russell Bean was a wandering man, and she sued for divorce in March of 1802. It is said that Andrew Jackson found out about the split up and was able to reunite the couple. Rosamond Robertson Bean was feisty herself. She, her sister-in-law, Jane Bean, and Jemima Scroggins were indicted for some sort of trouble in 1798. But the warrant for the three women was returned unserved and was marked "will not be taken, kept off by force and arms.'' Russell Bean on one occasion was said to have returned from a long sojourn and found his wife had borne a child that was not his own. He cut off or clipped the ears of this child "so that it would not get mixed up with his children.'' Bean was said to have been convicted and jailed for this action, and while he was serving time in Jonesboro a fire broke out on March 15, 1803. He escaped from the jail and was heroic in risking his life to extinguish the blaze. It is said that, in reward, Gov. John Sevier pardoned him from his jail sentence. At other times, Russell Bean was on the other side of the law, serving as a sheriff's deputy under his father-in-law and in Memphis. He died at Washington County, Tenn., in 1826. Rosamond Robertson Bean lived until the 1850s.

The children of Russell Bean are listed as Baxter, Charles, James M., Joseph, Robert, Camilla who married a Garland, Rose Ann and Nancy. James M. Bean made his way to Rhea County, where he married Minerva Payne in 1821.The James M. Beans moved on to Hamilton County, and he served as a deputy sheriff. James M. Bean died about 1845 when he was 48. His children included Louise, William Hamilton, Easter, Minerva, Martha who married Daniel Jackson in 1860, and James M. Jr.

William Hamilton Bean, who was born in 1833, married Martha Stout, daughter of Samuel and Mary Stout. The Stouts were originally from North Carolina. The William H. Beans lived in the vicinity of Daisy. He served as a constable prior to the war. Both William H. Bean and his younger brother, James M. Bean Jr., joined the Sixth Mounted Infantry of the Federal Army in 1864. William Bean rose to the major rank before being mustered out at Nashville. James M. Bean Jr. became a corporal, but he was reduced to captain after he was missing without leave.

After the war, most public offices were reserved for Union loyalists. William H. Bean became the county tax collector in 1870. He won election as sheriff in August of 1872. However, his election was challenged in court by the County Court that was led by Judge A.G.W. Puckett. The challenge was based on an assertion that Bean had not settled all his accounts as tax collector. The case went to the Tennessee Supreme Court,where it was decided that Bean's election was invalid. The County Court put James C. Conner into office in his stead. The sheriff previously in office, A.B. Conner, filed suit as well, saying he should have retained the post. But James C. Conner was allowed to stay in office. William H. Bean lived on at Daisy until his death in 1909 when he was 76. Martha Stout Bean lived until 1920. They had one daughter and one son. The daughter, Sarah Louise, married John Hill Poe, a son of Samuel Poe and grandson of the pioneer settler Hasten Poe.

The son, James A. Bean, was born in 1856 near Daisy. He was active in politics and in real estate, accumulating a considerable amount of property. James A. Bean moved to the promising suburb of Alton Park in 1896, and he served as its postmaster from 1901 to 1906. The Beans lived on Highland Avenue. He was chairman of the executive committee of the Republican Party for the Fourth District and "a liberal supporter of various churches and charities.'' He and his wife, Kate, had a daughter, Maxie, who died in 1892 when she was eight. James A. Bean died in 1910.

James M. Bean Jr., brother of William H. Bean, married Amanda Gann in 1870. Their children include John W. who married Louise Gann, Belle who married Albert Penny, Nola who married John Penny, Hallie who married Mode Clift, and Timothy who married Clem Penny and then Mrs. Ann Gibson Hutcheson, who was first married to John Dale Hutcheson. James M. Bean Jr. died as the result of a leg wound that he had suffered in the Civil War. He was buried at the McGill Cemetery. After his death, Amanda married John Gann. She died in 1934 and was buried at the Soddy Presbyterian Cemetery.

Some of the Beans changed the spelling of the name to Beene.

William Gann, a great-grandson of William H. Bean, owned the major's saber that he used during the war.

Chattanooga City Court Judge Russell Bean is named for Tennessee's first white child. He is a descendant of James Madison Bean, who was born in Virginia in 1802 and married Hollie Virginia Swearingen. James Madison Bean was sent to Jackson County, Tn., as a small boy. He married Hollie Virginia Swearingen, and they had 14 children. One of the daughters, Priscilla, died in a fire that destroyed their home. Afterward, James Madison Bean moved his family to Jackson County, Ala. One of the sons was Crawford Carlton Bean, who was born in 1836.

Judge Russell Bean had brothers attorney Martin Bean, Crawford Bean Jr. and David Bean. They are sons of Crawford Bean, who was a Chattanooga attorney. Crawford Bean was a son of John Crawford Bean and grandson of Crawford Carlton Bean, who fought along with his six brothers for the Confederacy. Crawford Carlton Bean married Martha Alice Sanders. Crawford Carlton Bean was living at Stevenson, Ala., when he died in 1914. John Crawford Bean was born just after the Civil War. He married Jeston Elizabeth Sanders.

Attorney Crawford Bean married Eloise Elizabeth Nash, who died in 2011 when she was 100. Originally from LaFayette, Ga., she met her husband while she was working for TVA in Chattanooga. The Crawford Beans raised their sons on a farm at Mountain Creek.



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