Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - November 24, 2009

Samuel Maxwell Bean
27 Apr 1919 - 16 Dec 1923

Samuel Maxwell "Max" Bean is another of my little angel Uncle's. He was the son of John Monroe Bean [my grandfather] and Ada Burdette Bean, his second wife.

The history of my grandfather's children can be a bit confusing, and I have touched on this subject from time to time.

John Monroe Bean was born in 1866 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father had been a Union spy during the Civil War. He had actually enlisted in the Confederate Army, and served part of the War under the Stars and Bars, but was in reality doing under-cover work for the Union Army. In 1864, he was taken as a POW to Elmira Prison [Elmira, NY], but when his status was discovered, was then transferred as a Union soldier to Johnson Island, Ohio, where he was now guarding Union Army officers. In the meantime, his wife, with the aid of one of her brothers, left Monroe County, West Virginia with an oxen drawn wagon, and traveled to Ohio, to meet up with her husband. She had 3 little children at the time.

John was born in December of 1866, and just a couple of weeks after his birth, the family moved back to West Virginia in the same fashion they had moved to Ohio, by oxen drawn wagon. The story was told that they nearly froze to death on the trek. Mother Bean tucked the newborn inside of her dress next to her chest, to keep him warm. [John was the shortest adult in his family. Shorter even than his sisters, at only 5'5". He used to laugh and say it was the extreme cold he was exposed to as a baby, it "stunted" his growth.]

John had been raised in the great reformation and rebuilding of the nation following the Civil War. He saw where a merchant could ostensibly make very good money. And as an adult, John was forever attempting to make his fortune as a merchant. Unfortunately, John wasn't a very good merchant, and so when his business would fail, John would fall back onto what he knew best, farming.

John remained single for quite some time. In May of 1890 his father was killed in a gun shooting [his father was a US Marshall at this point]. In June of 1891, just 13 months later, his mother died at the age of 55. It is said she died of a broken heart.

In 1895 John met and fell in love for the first time. A beautiful, diminutive woman from Waiteville, his hometown, named Blanche Crosier. Blanche had a very rough time as a child, her father leaving the family and her mother dying at a young age. She was raised by relatives. But she longed for a family of her own. The couple were wed on June 26th of that year. In November of 1896 they had a daughter, Rita; in July of 1899 a son, Lama; and in July 1902, another daughter, Pauline. By the time Pauline was born, Blanche was extremely ill with "consumption" [tuberculosis]. Doctors tried experimental treatments of creosote to cure her, only to accelerate her demise. Blanche slipped away from this life in October of 1902.

John sent his youngest to live with his brother and his wife, Sam and Mattie. And he "batched" it with his eldest daughter and son.

Then, in March of 1907, John took off by buggy to Greenbrier County. There he set off to find himself a wife, and find one he did. A large-boned, strapping woman named Ada Burdette. Ada was a strong, Christian woman. She worked hard through all that life threw at her. And she and John brought Pauline home and began to raise even more children. In 1908, John Jr.; in 1910, Emmette; in 1912, Audrey; in 1914, Margaret [now our family matriarch]; in 1917, Bill [now our family patriarch]; in 1919, little Max; in 1921, Eleanor; in 1923, little Eloise; and in 1929, Jack. By the time Jack was born, Ada was 46 years of age. She had worked hard to care for her family during her pregnancy, and had not seen a physician. Unfortunately, toxemia took her life just 5 days after the birth of Jack. And John was left with yet more family and another newborn infant without a mother. Jack was sent to live with Ada's sister and her husband.

In 1935, with no children remaining at home, and John now 69 years old, he felt he needed a wife to help take care of him and run his home. He met and married another large-boned, hard-working Christian woman from Sweet Springs [just across the mountain from Waiteville], named Mary Faudree [my grandmother]. Mary was 38 when the two were wed. And John was still spry enough for more children. And so the two began their family.

Walter "Buster" was born in 1937; Edsel in 1939; and Roy in 1943. [Yes, John was in his 70's for each of these final 3 children's births!] John lived until 1955, where at the age of 89 he suffered a stroke and died. Mary lived another 20 years, until January 1st, 1975. The couple are buried side by side at New Zion Union Church Cemetery, in Waiteville.

And so, that is the story of my varied aunts and uncles. There are a total of 15 children born to my grandfather by 3 wives.

Getting back to little "Max", he was a healthy and happy child. Until December of 1923, when he got a chest cold that wouldn't go away. At first they feared he had perhaps contracted tuberculosis. But that was ruled out. Little Max's cough became so brutal that he would turn blue from the exertion of coughing. And on December 16th 1923, little Max gave up the fight. It was determined that whooping cough took his life. Within 2 years John and Ada would lose another 2 children, Pauline and a sweet baby girl, Eloise, to tuberculosis.

Each year, my Dad and I visit all of their graves. We clean them up, and place flowers on the adults, and flowers and toys on the children's graves. It's our way of memorializing them. No, we never knew this little Uncle. But his presence, and his "memory" are as real, and as alive and part of our heritage as any living member today. His parents loved him dearly, and mourned and grieved his passing.

In the little cemetery where Max is buried, [Carmel Cemetery in Gap Mills], the graves are layed in rows. Standing in a row, side-by-side are Max, Roy, Eloise and Pauline. The row directly in front of them, directly in front of Pauline's grave, is Ada's. Almost as though, even in death she watches over those precious little charges.

As long as I am alive, I will make sure that those graves are maintained. And these precious lives are remembered and treasured. That is why I do what I do! I chose to work in genealogical research so that our ancestors are NOT forgotten, but are remembered and revered.

So, for today, I bring you Samuel Maxwell Bean, little "Max", my precious little Uncle.

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