Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not So Wordless Wednesday

This beaver-skin hat has quite the tale to tell.

This hat was owned by my great-great-grandfather, William Bean.

William Bean was born in 1792 in Baltimore, Maryland. At the tender of age 12 [actually exactly on his twelfth birthday], he was placed for indenture. He was to be trained to become a blacksmith, as well as learn the studies needed of every young man in

In 1813, at the age of 21 he was released from his indenture, and
married the lovely Rachel Wiseman.
The couple produced 13 offspring. And William went on to become a prominent gentleman in the farming community of Monroe County.
In 1864, with the young men away at War, William, at the age of 72, was part of a home guard that was left to protect the women and children, and preserve what they could of the farm community.
A group of renegade deserters had been looting farms and homes locally, and in this county [where both Union and Confederate armies were welcomed, due to the status of the new state of West Virginia] these men were wanted by both Northern and Southern armies.
On this occasion, the renegades stole laundry from a woman's wash line. William went to round them up. Enough was enough!
William tracked the thieves into Wiseman's Hollow and to a cabin there. When it became obvious the men would not come out, William entered the cabin to bring them out. When he opened the door, one of the men shot from the loft of the cabin. The shot struck William in the top of the head.
The deserters escaped.
William's body was brought to his home on Pott's Creek, where he was layed out and prepared for burial. The hat he had been wearing when he was shot was brought home with him.
The date was January 1st, 1864.
William was buried in the little family cemetery just across the field from his house. It was here he had buried his wife, Rachel, and his daughter, Nancy. His daughter-in-law, Amanda, was also buried here. As were at least two of slaves, Andrew and William.
The day following his death, a posse caught up with the deserters who had shot William. The posse was incited over the death of their friend. Justice was swift. They lined the men up against a shale bank, pronounced them guilty, and opened fire with their pistols.
Sometime before the turn of the century [1900] a legend had been born regarding old William's beaver skin hat. It was said that if anyone ever put it on they would die very shortly afterward.
"Remember cousin so-and-so? He put it on and he died two days later!"
Everyone knew "Someone" who had tried it on, and had died within a few days.
Uncle Bill [who is 92 years young] just told me that when he was a young boy, the hat had been in the home and he had picked it up, determined to try it on. It was quickly snatched from his hands and he was sternly warned to never put it on his head, or allow anyone else to!
The hat today is as you see it above. The beaver skin worn smooth and faded from black to a worn brown. The blood stains on the front of the hat are quite noticeable. The bullet hole at the crown of the hat is also easily identifiable.
The hat is owned by a direct descendant of William's. Her intention is that it will become housed in the local museum on her demise.
She keeps it securely locked away in a closet, where no one can place it upon their heads.

1 comment:

dustbunny8 said...

What a great story to have of your family!And the hat too!