Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Indentured Servant


William Bean was born 18 September 1792, we believe in Baltimore, Maryland. [Family lore leaves us to believe that, and a search through Baltimore Church records indicate a male child was baptized who was born on 18 September 1792, whose name was William Bean.]

At some point, William McBean [William's father], brought his wife, Sarah, and his oldest son, John, into the the Potts Valley area of Monroe County, Virginia [now West Virginia].

What happens next is unknown. William McBean disappears from history sometime before February 1804. It was then that Sarah places John Bean, her eldest son, into an indenture contract. [through the overseers for the county poor] where he was to be taught to be a weaver. [We'll discource on John another time.]

Just a few months later, on his 12th birthday, young William was also placed through the county poor for indenture. A copy of the contract is above.

A transcription of the document reads:
Dated 18 Sept. 1804

"This indenture made this 18th of Sept 1804 one thousand eight hundred and four between Jas. Christy owen Neal Robt Johnston and henry McDaniel of the one part overseers of the poor for monroe County and henry Smith of the other part witnesseth that the so overssers doth bind an orphan boy named William Bean aged twelfth years to the said henry Smith of the county aforesaid and State of virginia to Serve the said henry Smith until he arrives at the age of twenty one years, during all which time the Said William Bean Shall faithfully Serve his Master and all his lawful Commands obay he Sall not suffer any Damage to be done to his Said Masters goods without giving him notice thereof he Shall not frequent Still houses or taverns he shall not play at Cards dice or any unlawful game or at any time abscond himself from his masters business without his Masters leave he Shall not commit fornication nor Contract matrimony during said term but as a true and faithful servant shall truely and diligently Serve his Said Master until he arrives at the age aforesaid and the henry Smith in Consideration thereof doth Covenant and agree to have the so William Bean taught the art trade or Mastery of a Black Smith and provide for him a sufficiency of everyt thing thats requiset for an aprentice during the term of his aprenticeship likewise he is to have him taught to read the holy Scriptures planely to write a plane hand and arithmatic through te rule of three which Education he is to be thoroughly acquainted with at the Expiration of his time and also to give him Such freedom dues as the law direct taking Care to have Said aprentice instructed in the Principals and duties of the Christian religion as far as Said Master is Capable In writing whereof the partys have interchangeably set their hands inscribed this day and year above writen Signed Sealed ad delivered in the presents of - John Hinchman - Owen Neal - Henry Smith - Jas. Christy" [sic]

I have left the grammar exactly as the original was written. There are no paragraphical or line delineations. You will also note that punctuation is sporadic at best.

Young William was taught to be a blacksmith. It was a trade he did not use.

Instead,  9 years later on 20 Nov. 1813, he married the daughter of one of the county's most influential residents, Joseph Wiseman.He married Rachel, who was born in 1790.

By 1820 William had begun to have a collective amount of land that would net him a fortune [worth a couple of million dollars today]. He brought a suit against a Mr. Ballard in Monroe County [to whom he had been indentured], and won a large sum of money which enabled him to begin his climb to fortune. While the suit is named in Monroe County, records, no one, to date, has located the details of this suit. I have searched through the County Clerk's records for the time, and if the suit actually went to court, the records are not there to support it, although the date for hearing was set and is noted on the court calendar.

William led a full life. He and Rachel were married just 13 days shy of their 43rd wedding anniversary, when she succombed to a fever. [Their daughter Nancy had fallen from the same fever just 27 days earlier.] Rachel was buried in the family cemetery on Potts Creek, near present day Waiteville, WV.

William was 72 years old when he lead a posse of "home guard" to arrest some renegade's from the Civil War who had stolen items from various homes in the area [the latest being clothing from a washline]. As he was approaching a cabin in Wiseman's Hollow, one of the renegade's shot from the loft of the cabin. The bullet hitting William in the top of his head.

He was carried back to the Bean home on Potts Creek, and "layed out" in the parlor. He was buried the next day in the family cemetery beside his love, Rachel.

From the county poor, to one of the most wealthiest men in the county at the time, William Bean overcame and prospered.

When I hear individuals say that they are victims of their circumstance, I am compelled to them that we are all victims. But we must rise above that victim mentality to become victors.

What an example I have had to come before me.

William is but one of the examples from which I have shaped my life. The poor little boy, who was placed up for indenture on his 12th birthday. He was my great-great-grandfather.

2 comments:

The Sis said...

What a great motivating story! I love how you told it too...

Such a great heritage we Beans have!! LOVE it!

Thx for sharing! Mandy

hummer said...

Marvelous weaving of the story of William. You must have put many hours into the searching into proofs of his life. Thanks for sharing with the rest of it.