An American Family History

Russell Bean

  also spelled Been, Beene  

Russell Bean was about 1769. His father parents were William Bean and Lydia Russell. Many historians claim that he was the first European child born in what is now Tennessee. He was a gunsmith.

Russell married Rosamond Robertson on October 8, 1789, in Washington County, Tennessee. Rosamond was the daughter of Charles Robinson and Susannah Nichols. She was born 1775 in Virginia.

Russell Bean, Jr.
Baxter Bean (1790, married Margaret Leach),
James Bean (1793),
Charles Bean (1795),
Joseph Bean (1800, married Mary Baxter),
Robert Bean (1802),
Camilla Bean (1804, married John Garland),
Roseanna Bean (1806, married Asa Shipley).

Russell was first lieutenant in Captain William McLin’s Company during the War of 1812 from October 12, 1813 to February 8, 1814. His sons, Russell and Charles were in the same unit.

Russell is buried in Uriel Cemetery, Jonesborough, Washington County, Tennessee.


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.

The Village Messenger 
Fayetteville, Tennessee
06 Oct 1824, Wed  •  Page 2

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.

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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