My third great-grandfather, Jesse J. Bean was born on April 15, 1837 or 1838, depending where you look. On his pension papers for the Civil War he indicates he was born in Chambers County, Alabama. The question I still have is – who were his parents? To date, after over a decade of research, I have still been unsuccessful in establishing this information. Even on Jesse’s death certificate, his son John L. Bean indicated that both Jesse’s parents were unknown.
Family oral tradition hints at the real truth. My grandfather and great uncle both remember their grandmother (who would have been Jesse’s daughter-in-law) telling them that Jesse’s mother was a Bean and that she became pregnant out of wedlock by an Indian. Jesse was supposedly raised by his “old grandma.” When trying to match oral stories to fact in the early 1800’s, I’ve learned a little imagination is needed.
Here’s what I know: Jesse lived most of his early life in and around the family of Walter Bean. Walter Bean was born in 1792 in North Carolina to John Bean. Many suspect that Walter’s mother was Cherokee and named Mary. In fact, on the 1850 Talladega County census, a John Bean is shown living with his wife Mary and a Charity Kilgore. Charity Kilgore was the wife of one of John’s other sons and the ages are correct for this to be the same John Bean born in 1776 in Duncan’s Creek, Laurens, South Carolina. A John Bean also filed for a land grant in 1817″on behalf of his wife” as part of the register of Cherokee wishing to stay east of the Mississippi. I believe this John Bean is one and the same as the one on the 1850 Talladega County census. I know John and his children were in Georgia at the time because of Walter’s service during the War of 1812, as well as census records.
At some point in the early 1830’s, John and his children, moved west into eastern Alabama. Two of his daughters – Prudence and Hicksey – are on record as marrying in Chambers County in the 1830’s. It’s a third daughter named Nancy that I suspect might be Jesse’s mother. A Nancy Bean did marry in Chambers County, Alabama on April 15, 1838. I believe Nancy married a Jeremiah Gibbs and moved to Georgia. The question is – why didn’t Jesse go with her? If he was illegitimate as family stories say, this could offer an explanation. I also find it very interesting that Nancy Bean married on the same day as Jesse’s birth, not to mention in the same location. Considering Chambers County was not hugely populated at the time and that there was only one Bean family in this area, this can’t be pure coincidence. Another interesting tidbit – Jesse named his oldest daugher Nancy Idella – coincidence?
Alas, since birth records were not required in the 1830’s, I may never know for sure, but the next step is to visit the Chambers County Courthouse and see what I can find. Considering the carnage left in the wake of the Civil War, I’m not hopeful…