An American Family History

William Bean

  also spelled Been, Beene  

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 was the son of William Bean.

About 1744, he married Lydia Russell. Lydia was born in 1726 in Northumberland County.

William and Lydia's children may have included:

William Bean (1745),
Robert Bean (1747)
George Bean (1750),
Jesse Bean (1756),
Jane Bean (1764),
Sarah Bean (1768, married John Bowen), and
Russell Bean (1769, married Rosamond Robertson).

In 1762, John built a temporary the shelter that William and Lydia Bean moved into 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 Kings 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 1793, John Alison substituted for William Bean in the Sullivan County Militia.

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

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.


Robert R. Bean was born in 1800.

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


Slavery is an immoral system of forced labor where people are treated as property to be bought and sold. It was legal in the American Colonies and the United States until the Civil War.

from The Millers of Millersburg and Their Descendants

Jesse Beene, Sr. (q. v.) was doubtless a son of Captain Jesse Bean of the Watauga Settlement in Tennessee and this Jesse Bean was either a son or a nephew of Captain William Bean, the intrepid settler of the Tennessee wilderness in 1769. 

William Bean was one of the pioneers of that State and one of its foremost historical characters. He was born in Pennsylvania, lived in North Carolina and came to Tennessee from Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

He married Lydia Russell of Virginia and with five children they braved the attacks of Indians and the hardships of the wilderness to settle on Boone's Creek, Tennessee, in 1769. They first lived in a rough cabin erected previously by William Bean and Daniel Boone on a hunting expedition and here was born Russell Bean, "the first child of English parents born in Tennessee." 

Captain William Bean and his wife, Lydia (Russell) Bean, had at least six children:
Jane (who was killed by Indians in 1799) and
Russell Bean.

Jesse Bean was one of the Captains of General John Sevier of Tennessee and fought in the Battle of King's Mountain. He was either another son of Captain William Bean or, more probably, a son of the Captain's brother, John Bean of Washington County, Tennessee.


from The Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century by James Gettys McGready Ramsey

Of those who ventured farthest into the wilderness with their families, was Capt. William Bean. He came from Pittsylvania county, Va., and settled early in 1709 on Boon's Creek, a tributary of Watauga, in advance of Carter and others, who soon after settled upon that stream.

His son, Russell Bean, was the first white child born in what is now Tennessee. Captain Bean had hunted with Boon, knew his camp, and selected this as the place of his settlement on the account of its abundant game. His cabin was not far from Watauga. He was an intrepid man, and will be mentioned hereafter. Bean's Station was afterwards settled by him.


In the name of God, Amen. I, William Beane Sr.,...

first of all, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Liddy,

  • one negro girl, named Grace, and
  • all my horses and cattle and hogs and sheep, and
  • all my household goods, together with
  • the land and mill whereon I now live, during her natural life and after her decease,

the land and mill to be given to my beloved son, Russell, and

the remainder, that is given to my beloved wife, at her decease to be equally divided amongst my children, and all the residue and remainder of my estate, real and personal, after my just debts being paid, to be equally divided amongst my surviving children. Also I leave my sons, William, and Robert, and George, executors of this, my last will. his
William X Bean
Signed, Sealed, published, and declared in the presence of us, this 6th January, 1782.
Thomas Hardeman. his
John X Callahan. mark
Robert Stone. 

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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