An American Family History

The Bean Family of Washington County, Tennessee

  also spelled Been, Beene  

William Bean was born about 1700.

William Bean (1721, married Lydia Russell),
Elizabeth Bean (1723, George Russell),


Washington County, Tennessee,was established in 1777 as Washington County, North Carolina. From 1784 to 1788,it was part of the State of Franklin.

Nancy (Nanyeh) Ward (1738-1824) was a Cherokee leader in Tennessee who was an important intermediary between European American settlers and the Cherokee people.

Boones Creek is a tributary of the Watauga River.

William Bean was born on December 9, 1721 in Northumberland County, Virginia.

He married Lydia Russell. Lydia was born in 1726 in Northumberland County.

William and Lydia's children may have included:

Mordecai Bean (1743),
William Bean (1745),
John Bean (1745),
George Bean (1750),
Jesse Bean (1756),
Edmund Bean (1763, married Margaret Ellis),
Elizabeth Bean Dove (1764, married George Dove),
Robert Bean (1764, married Rhoda Lane),
Sarah Bean Bowen (1768, married John Bowen), and
Russell Bean (1769, married Rosamond Robertson).

The Bean family built their cabin on a knoll along Boones Creek in 1769.

In 1772 he was elected as a commisioner of the Watauga Association.

In 1776 he signed the petition of Watauga settlers asking to become part of North Carolina.

In July, 1776 Lydia was captured, along with 13 year old Samuel Moore, by some Cherokee people prior to an attack on the Wataugua settlement. Her life was spared by Nancy Ward and she was able to return home. Nancy took her into her house and nursed her back to health from injuries suffered in the battle. Mrs. Bean taught Nancy her new loom weave technique, revolutionizing the Cherokee garments. Lydia Bean also rescued two of her dairy cows from the settlement, and brought them to Nancy who learned to raise the cattle.

He was granted 3,000 acres by North Carolina for his service in the Revolutionary war.

William Bean was at a court in Washington County on February 23, 1778.

In 1780 Washington County court records:

Ord. William Been build a mill on Boone Creek.

The court have appointed
Wm. Been, Thomas Hardiman and George Russell
to appraise Joab Mitchell Estate.

In 1780, William, John, George, Jesse, Edmund, and Robert Bean were with Sevier at the Battle of King's Mountain.

In 1787, Bean's sons constructed a fort that became known as Bean's Station at the on the Old Wilderness Trail.

William Bean died in May, 1782.

In 1799, their daughter, Jane Bean was killed by indigenous warriors while weaving outside the walls of Bean's Station.

Russell Bean was first lieutenant in Captain William McLin’s Company during the War of 1812 from October 12, 1813 to February 8, 1814.

The Cherokeewere indigenous people who lived in the southern Appalachian mountains. European Americans called their towns in eastern Tennessee, the Overhill Towns. The towns included Chota, Tellico and Tanasi.

In 1776, the Cherokee planned to drive settlers out of the Washington District. The settlers were warned and stopped the first attack at Heaton's Station. The second attack was stopped at Fort Watauga. In response to these attacks, the militia burned Tuskegee and Citico.

In 1780, while the militia was away at the Battle of Kings Mountain, the Cherokee raided the setttlements. When the militia returned, Colonel John Sevier's men defeated the Cherokee at Boyd's Creek and destroyed most of the remaining towns.

East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

Appalachia was the 18th century backcountry and many settlers were Scots-Irish. It includes southern New York, western Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee and northern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.


John Bean was born about 1745. He was the son of Captain William Bean and Lydia Russell.

His children with his first wife may have included:

William Bean (1775, married Nancy Blevins),
John Hogan Bean (1788, married Jean McFarland),
Stephen Bean.

John second wife was Rachel Griffith.

Jesse Bean (1794, Catherine Bird)

John died about 1816.

After his death, Rachel married Reuben B. Woodall.

  In 1793, John Alison substituted for William Bean in the Sullivan County Militia.  

Joseph B. Bacon sued Robert R. Bean in Washington County in February, 1821 for debauchery and impregnating his sister-in-law and servant, Martha Patsy Crouch. Robert and Patsy married one month later.

Watauga Pioneer Neighbors



Connecticut's first European settlers were Dutch.

The Nolichucky River flows through Western North Carolina and East Tennessee. It is a tributary of the French Broad River. During the 1770s, European Americans established the "Nolichucky settlements" in what is now Greene County, Tennessee.

from Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History by John Allison

Russell Bean was not distinguished alone because he was the first white child born within the limits of what is today the state of Tennessee: he was said to have been the most perfect specimen of manhood in the whole country, without an equal for strength, activity and physical endurance, and absolutely devoid of fear. He was a genius, also: he was a gunsmith by trade, and it was said that he could make more implements of war and other things of utility, with fewer tools, than any other man ever known in that day and country. He went to Connecticut, soon after he reached manhood, and brought back with him to the western world a supply of what were then modern tools and supplies, with which he established a kind of manufactory of arms, etc.

Bean had a flat-bottomed boat built under his directions, and with a cargo of arms of his manufacture, consisting of rifles, pistols, dirks, etc., he went alone down the Nolichucky to the Tennessee, thence to the Ohio, and down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where he remained for about two years, engaged in foot races, horse racing, cock-fighting and other sports of the times in that then great city.

On returning to Jonesboro, he found his wife—who was a daughter of Col. Charles Roberson, and had borne him several children—nursing an infant. Her seducer, it was said, was a merchant of the town named Allen.

Bean left the house without a word, got drunk, came back, took the baby out of the cradle, and deliberately cut off both its ears close up to its head, saying that he ''had marked it so that it would not get mixed up with his children."

He was arrested and, court being in session, he was tried and convicted of this act of inhuman cruelty, and sentenced, in addition to other punishment, to be branded in the palm of the hand. This was done; whereupon he immediately bit out of his hand the part containing the brand, and spat it upon the ground.

He was also imprisoned, but soon escaped from jail, and was allowed to remain at large, for the reason that the officers were afraid of him. His wife soon got a divorce from him; but he was determined to kill Allen, and it was known that on several occasions he had secretly watched for him. Failing to get a chance at Allen, who was really in hiding, Bean sought a difficulty with Allen's brother, whom he assaulted and beat unmercifully.

For this he was indicted; but, up to the time that court met with Jackson on the bench, the officers had not been able to arrest him, or at all events they had not arrested him. They reported to Judge Jackson that they could not take Bean; that he was out at his cabin, on the south side of the town, armed, sitting constantly, when at home, in the door, with his rifle by his side and his pistols in his lap, defying arrest and threatening to kill the first man who approached his house. Such was the report made in open court to Judge Jackson, who immediately ordered: '' Summon every man in the court house, and bring Bean in here dead or alive." Thereupon the sheriff, with a grim humor which does him infinite credit, responded, "Then I summon your honor first!" Jackson at once left the bench, exclaiming, "By the Eternal. I'll bring him !"—and he did. He found Bean sitting in his door, as described by the officers. Jackson approached, pistol in hand, followed by the crowd at a respectful distance. When he got within shooting distance, Bean arose, called out, "I'll surrender to you, Mr. Devil!" and laid down his arms. Jackson took him to the court room, where he was tried and fined heavily. . .

Bean's divorced wife married again, and moved to Knoxville, where the unfortunate child died, as did also her second husband. In the course of a few years, Bean himself drifted to Knoxville, where Jackson met him and, it is said, brought about a reconciliation between him and his former wife. They were remarried, and lived happily until the death of Bean.

American pioneers migrated west to settle areas not previously inhabited by European Americans.

from Old Hickory: Young Folks' Life of Gen. Andrew Jackson

His first court was held at Jonesborough. An incident occurred during the sitting of this court, which is illustrative, both of the rudeness of the times, and of the firmness of Jackson.
A man named Russel Bean had been indicted for cutting ofF the ears of his infant child in a drunken frolic. Bean was in the court yard; but, from his well-known ferocity of character, and from his threats to shoot any one who would dare to take him, the sheriff had made the return to the court, that" Russel Bean will not be taken." "He must be taken," said the judge, "and if necessary you can summon the posse comitatus." The mortified sheriff retired, and waiting till the court adjourned for dinner, summoned the judges themselves as part of the posse. Conceiving that this was a ruse on the part of the sheriff to avoid a dangerous piece of service, Judge Jackson replied, "Yes sir, I will attend you, and see that you do your duty."— Learning that Bean was armed, Jackson requested a loaded pistol, which was instantly put into his hand. He then said to the sheriff, "Advance, and arrest him—I wi.l protect you from harm!" Bean, armed with a dirk and a brace of pistols, assumed an attitude of defiance; but when the judge drew near he began to retreat. "Stop, and submit to the law!" cried the judge. The culprit stopped, threw down his pistols, and replied, "I will surrender to you, sir, but to no one else;" and so saying he quietly permitted himself to be taken prisoner. This conduct of Judge Jackson had a wholesome effect on the turbulent spirits of the country.


Washington County, Marriages

Bean, Artey married Miller, Samuel on 07-SEP-1811
Bean, Margaret married Hoss, Jacob on 13-APR-1815
Bean, Robert married Sliger, Caty on 12-MAR-1818
Bean, Liddy married Chinnoth, Joseph on 30-JUL-1818
Bean, Robert married Crouch, Patsy on 07-MAR-1821
Bean, Elizabeth married Crown, Daniel on 09-SEP-1821
Bean, Elizabeth married Crouch, Landford on 12-SEP-1822
Bean, Joseph married Sliger, Mary on 11 January 1824
Bean, Camilla married Austin, Jesse on 09-FEB-1824
Bean, Camilla married Garland, John on 10-MAR-1827
Bean, Patsey married Bacon, Charles on 15-NOV-1831
Bean, Rosamond married Brown, Pelig on 15-APR-1833
Bean, Robert married Hunter, Mary on 17-OCT-1833
Bean, Margaret married Shipley, Elijah H on 25-FEB-1834
Bean, Sarah married Odum, Gabriel H on 27-JUL-1837
Bean, Elizabeth married Hider, Jacob on 29-SEP-1839

Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2019
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