Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - From the Bean Family Cemetery

The Bean Family Cemetery is located on a little back road near Waiteville in Monroe County. Many of its neighbors don't even know the little cemetery even exists! It is run amok with trees replacing what once were stone markers.
A rotted fence post here and there, with occasional coils of old rusty wire mark what once was it's borders.
There isn't a road, or a drive, to get to this little cemetery.

Instead, to locate it, one must first know where the old homestead was at. The house still remains, although it's exterior has undertaken dramatic changes since it was first built, more than 160 years ago.

From there, you must locate the northern drive going into the pasture across the old road from the homestead. Park in that opening, and then walk across the pasture toward the southeast. Angling more east, one comes to the edge of a thick, dense copse of woods. Upon entering this, you will climb a small hillock, and amidst the heavy woods, one will note a scattering of what appears to be old rocks and boulders. Smooth now, these rocks and boulders once held the names of the deceased buried in this heavenly spot.

In the late 1990's, a modern marker was placed for the patriarch and matriarch of the family, William Bean and his beautiful bride, Rachel Wiseman. The marker was placed on the 205th anniversary of William's birth.

In this small cemetery, we know of several family members by name, as well as a couple of slaves, who family legend states were buried on the outside of the old fence line.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing the stones that remain visible, as well as at least one of the family members who are buried here.

This week we will begin with this rather unusual stone marker.

When you first approach this stone, you immediately note that the ground beneath your feet is almost boggy. In fact, there are several boggy areas surrounding this old graveyard. And when one presses around the bottom edge of this stone, it is readily determined that what you see here is actually a top edge of a much larger stone. [Think of a large rectangular stone with a triangle "crown" atop it.]

If there is engraving upon the stone, it is now below the ground level.

There does seem to be a somewhat scroll-looking design engraved in this crown, but it is clearly barely visible.

For the sake of arguing, we will today discuss the burial of William Bean. The patriarch of the family.

The time is the Civil War, and William is no longer a young man, born 18 Sep 1792, he wed Rachel Wiseman in 1813, just months after finishing a 9 year indenture to be become a blacksmith [a profession he never pursued].

William and Rachel had 13 children; 7 daughters and 6 sons. William saw his family torn assunder over the conflicting War. Some of his sons were southern to the core, and others turned to Northern sympathies. It was a heartache for any man to endure. Some say he was too hard on his sons, expecting them to protect the legacy he had spent his lifetime building for his family, without devoting themselves to either side.

William lost his daughter Nancy on 11 Oct 1856 to a mysterious fever. She was buried in the family cemetery. A few weeks later on 07 Nov., he lost his beloved wife Rachel. She was buried beside their daughter.

With the War in full swing a few years later, and his wife and daughter gone, William joined the Home Guard. A group of elderly men who were selected to keep the home community safe while the more abler men were away in the War.

Early on the morning of 01 Jan 1864, William was called to gather a posse of men to chase down a gang of desserters who were marrauding and stealing property from the community. The last straw came when the group began stealing clothing from clotheslines. This may seem a trivial theft to us today, but with clothing at a premium at the time, most individuals only had one or two outfits to their name! The theft of even one piece of clothing was devestating to these persons!

So, William and the posse followed the gang into Wiseman's Hollow on Pott's Creek. As they approached a log cabin, fully surrounding it, William crept up onto the porch [he was now a 71 year old man!] and eased open the door to the cabin.

One of the desserters had been hiding in the loft of the cabin, and shot William in the head as he walked through the door.

William was wearing his prized beaver-skin hat.
Looking at the front of the hat, one can clearly see the entrance of the minnie ball at the top brim. The dark stains one sees around the hat are William's blood. [Family legend has it that everytime someone has put this hat upon their head, they have died mysteriously within just a few short days. I don't know anyone in my lifetime who did this! We've all been just superstitious enough not to try it! Ha ha]

William's body was carried back to the front parlor of his house in Waiteville. Here the local blacksmith was called in, being the closest thing to a doctor available on short notice. The blacksmith decided the wound could be cauterized, and the bleeding stopped and William's life spared. So he heated a horseshoe nail, and proceded to insert it into the wound.

William died instantly.

Newspaper accounts of the time state the remaining posse members gathered up the desserters, and without benefit of magistrate or trial, declared the men guilty. All four men were lined up in front of a shale bank and shot to death on the spot.

Mountain Justice had prevailed.

William was layed quietly to rest beside his wife and daughter on 02 Jan. 1864 in the little Bean Cemetery, atop the knoll across the road from his beloved home.

1 comment:

Debora K said...

I love your Bean/Monroe County posts. I am related to the Wisemans and many other Monroe families. I'm currently doing quite a bit of Civil War period research in that locale.