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



from Chattanooga Daily Times, 30 Sep 1894, Sun  •  Page 11


An Interesting Sketch or the Early Day of Tennessee—How Bean Killed Indians—His Descendants Special to The Chattanooga Jonesboro Tenn Sept 29

In writing the history of this upper East Tennessee country historians have usually- begun by stating that in the year 1769 Capt. Wm Bean came from Pittsylvania county Va and built a cabin on the banks and near where Boone's creek empties into the Watauga river. But as to the exact spot where Capt. Bean made the first settlement written history seems to leave the reader in much doubt.

It is a very generally accepted and well authenticated fact among the old citizens living in that immediate neighborhood that Capt. Bean first settled on the farm now owned by Valentine Devault on the north side of the Watauga river and about one mile above the mouth of Boone's creek His cabin or little fort stood very near where Mr. Devault's house now stands and on this side of the river are high precipitous cliffs

It is said that the Indians used to come from down about the Nolla Chuckey river following the old trail that ran near this place—and remains of which can be seen even to this day—up to the Watauga river and would secrete themselves on the high cliff opposite Bean's cabin and watch for a chance to shoot at some of them when they came out.

One day as one of the girls was going to spring an Indian lying high up on the opposite cliff picked her off with his long range rifle. Bean determined to have revenge and so going down the river to the shoal be waded titer ann getting ahead of the Indiaus lay in ambush by the side of their trail and when they come in sight marching in single tile he fired at the foremost warrior and killed him. The Indiaus gathered up their dead brother and continued their march towards the Nona Chuckey. Beau ran off to one side and as he ran loaded his gun and then came in ahead of them dad killed another "heap good Indian" They picked up this dead one and moved forward Bean ran in ahead of them again and getting a good chance fired and this time killed two at one shot Four dead out of a band of perhaps eight so demoralized the remaining Indians that they broke and fled leaving the dead to bury the dead.

On another occasion some of the boys told Bean that they had heard a turkey gobbler over on the cliff and asked if they might go over and shoot it. He told them no that if they went over there they would never get back alive Bean himself went down the river and crossing over at the shoals came up on this side and guided by the peculiar "gobble" of the turkey he slipped up towards the cliff with the stealthiness of a cat and there behind a log lay not a turkey gobbler but a great big greasy Indian hidden behind a log and with his bead-like eyes fixed on the little fort across the Watauga watching for someone to come out so that he could shoot him. Bean put an extra charge of powder in his rifle and took a good dose himself to steady his nerve fired with deliberate aim and there was one more "good Indian" gone. He then cut off the- warrior's head and took it back over the river to the boys telling them "here is your wild turkey!"

Bean afterwards moved over on this side of the river and built a house near Boone's creek. He built a double cabin entered by a single door and under the floor of the room containing the door he had a very deep cellar so when the Indians were around he could remove the puncheon floor and when they came rushing in at that one door they would tumble down into that deep cellar. Then his wife and boys would shoot them or he himself would stand on the edge and knock them in the head. And it is said the old man used to laugh and tell what fun it was to break their heads while they were hopping around in the cellar like so many rats caught in a tub.

Capt. Bean did good service here for a number of years fighting Indians and ridding the country of tories. Then feeling perhaps that he was getting too much crowded he moved on down the country and founded Bean's Station.

His son Russell Bean who it will be remembered history mentions as the first white child born in what is now Tennessee remained a citizen of this county where later on he further immortalized himself by resisting arrest which reads on to the sheriff summoning his honor Judge Andrew Jackson himself to get down off the bench and go out and take Russell Jackson went and took him right here on the hill side south of our court house.

After Russell Bean became an old man and while living over on Cherokee south of town it is said that he used to go out in the Cherokee mountains and shoot squirrels on Sunday. Russell Bean's four sons were Baxter, Charles, Joseph, and Robert.

Baxter after living here for many years moved to Middle Tennessee where he died, perhaps sixty years ago.

Charley Bean certainly entertained no prejudice towards Judge Jackson for arresting his father Russell Bean for years after that event along in the thirties when Jackson was President of the United States he stopped here in Jonesboro and held a reception to which pretty much all the people came. Among others was Charlie Bean wearing a coon-skin cap. He came up smiling with the very familiar greeting of: "Why Lord Jesus Christ general I am mighty glad to see you!" Old Charlie left a son Charlie now living on Indian creek, Unieol county

Robert Bean's son Dr Jas B Bean was well educated was a first class dentist and in 1866 went to Baltimore to live. In 1870 he went to Europe under the auspices of the Smithsonian institute and lost his life on Mount Blanc in September of that year.

The Beans as a family were noted for their good common sense and many if not all of them were men possessed of remarkable skill and ingenuity and could manufacture almost any article in first class style too that it was possible to make with tools. Some of them were unexcelled as gunsmiths and made guns remarkable for their beauty of finish as well as workmanship.

But in all this country there is not a single person living by the name of Bean. There are a few persons however by the name of Crouch and Shipley descendents of Wm Bean living out on'Boone's creek in this county near where he settled 125 years ago.

Daniel Boone and Wm Bean were companions and it is said hunted together out in the vicinity of Boone's creek in this county. Boone moved on into Kentucky and became famous as a pioneer a great hunter and a still greater Indian fighter And his fame is now not only national but might well be said to be world wide for even Byron speaks of him in his poems. But while Boone has achieved much greatness and had a still greater amount of it thrust upon him Bean his comrade—his equal in bravery in usefulness—in everything in fact has been left to blush unseen!

Here in this good old county where Wm Bean built the first cabin—planted the first germs of civilization in what is now the great state of Tennessee where he fought the Indianss and where he was so active in driving out the Tories thus giving permanency to civilization and good goverement his name and his great deeds seem to have been entirely overlooked. Not oven a small creek a high ridge a school house a postoffice or a voting precinct anywhere in this couty bears the historic name of Bean! While on the other hand just because Boone passed through this county on his way from North Carolina to Kentucky and camped at a big spring near the head waters of Boone's Creekk and spent some time in hunting that vicinity and "killed bar on tree" that creek has been given the name of Boone's creek and the beech tree where he "killed bar" and the site of his old camp are regarded—and justly so--is places of ? historic interest and have been visited by hundreds if not thousands of people!

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 2020
An American Family History is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.