Friday, August 7, 2009

Bean Family Reunion

Tomorrow is our Bean Family Reunion. This reunion is held every two years. And it only lasts for an afternoon.

But I'm hoping I can change things a bit.

Tomorrow I fully intend to petition for our reunion to be held for an entire weekend beginning with our 2011 event. Lasting from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.

Our little reunion is held in the mountains of West Virginia. In the very rural county of Monroe [where there is literally not a single stoplight in the entire county!]. In the very tiny hamlet of Waiteville, where there is neither store nor post office.

This once bustling community was literally carved out of a tiny valley in Virginia. Peter's Mountain is the state line for as far as it runs, except for Waiteville. Waiteville at one time was reknown for its virgin timber and mineral ore. And then shortly after 1910 that all changed. The timber was cut out. The ore ran out. And the railroad, which had been used to haul out both, tore up its tracks and left. Up until the 1970's there was a single store which also housed the little post office. Today, these individuals have their mail delivered by the Union postal carrier. And either go into New Castle or Pearisburg, Virginia, or into Union, West Virginia for their groceries. [No late night trips to grab a snack!]

But it's from this tiny place in the mountains that my heritage is layed.

About 1790 came an Irishman who had served as a Loyalist in the American Revolution. He received several land grants. One rather strange grant was for a tract of land near Waiteville known as "Stoney Creek". This is a mountainous range of land that was literally carved through the mountains thousands of years ago by the swirling waters of the creek that continues to flow through. The steep, stony walls lining this valley [more like a passage!] makes one pause and wonder why anyone would want so much land here! Perhaps at that time trapping would have been good here? Who knows.

To this Irishman and his bride were born 2 sons. John and William. And then, suddenly in February of 1804, John is placed in indenture. His father is gone. We don't know if he died or what happened to him. The same year, in September, William is placed for indenture as well.

The next year, the mother is found on the personal property list as a widow. Amount owed is listed as "nothng atall". Under possession "just her clothes and spinning wheel". And then she disappears from history.

The following year, the property on Stoney Creek is sold for back taxes.

And then, in 1813, William is released from his indenture. He has reached the age of majority. Just 2 months after that release, he marries the daughter of a prominent family within the country. The following year they have their first child. And William begins to purchase property.

William brought a suit against the former owner of his indenture, and obtained a large financial settlement. Family legend states that there was actually a 3rd brother to John and William, and his name was Roy. He was younger than William. And shortly after the 1804 indenture, Roy ran away and was never heard from again. [I've not found any record to prove this however. Many others have also searched.]

With his new found gains, William purchased even more property. By 1836, when his last child [the 13th] was born, he was considered quite the gentleman farmer, and owned over 1600 acres of land in the valley.

It is the descendants of these 13 children who meet every two years in the very same valley.

We meet the last standing school house for this community. It was here that my Dad went to school as a young boy. Just 3 rooms and a kitchen. At one point it handled grades 1-12. In its last years of function, it handled grade school only.

Our hope is to "camp out" in this remote area for our weekend long reunion in 2011.

But tomorrow, we begin at 10 a.m. and last till about 5 or so.

Of my 5 children, I had hoped for 3 to arrive. One has already let me know, they won't be there. I still have hope for the other 2. My husband, a long-haul truck driver, is doing his best to get here. We still don't know if he'll make it or not.

One cousin was due to arrive today. She phoned to say she'd missed her flight by 24-hours. A date mix up.

Another cousin called, and has to work. Another, fell in her yard and literally broke her neck! [She'll recover, but it's going to take time!] And yet another is sick. Two have health problems and can't be here. And one has moved too great a distance away for him to be able to get here [financial constraints].

Still, we're hoping for a crowd of about 75.

I am so looking forward to tomorrow! Even knowing that not everyone can be here, I am so excited! It's like the eager anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve! I can hardly wait!!!

I'll let you all know how it goes!

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