Grandpa Bean was born 1866, just a year after the Civil War ended. His mother followed his father to Ohio in the middle of the War. So, Grandpa was born in Cincinatti. Shortly after he was born on the 15th of December, the family packed up their belonging, and with their 5 children headed back to West Virginia in an oxen pulled wagon. It was so cold that they say Gr-Grandma Bean carried newborn Johnny inside the bodice of her dress to keep him warm. All of Grandpa's brothers were big, tall men. However, Grandpa stood only 5'7" and was slight of build. It is said that Grandpa used to tease and say that traveling in the cold weather as newborn stunted his growth!
Grandpa tried several different business ventures during his lifetime, but seemed to really enjoy being a merchant. He owned stores in both Waiteville, in Monroe County, and in Gap Mills, just across the mountain from Waiteville. The store that he owned in Gap Mills remains standing today, and is still in business! Although it is no longer a "General Mercantile", but is owned by the local Mennonites and sells a wide assortment of handmade furniture and quilts an wide array of other handmade items.
The outside remains the very same as when Grandpa owned it!
This building was built before 1870. When I can earliest recall visiting here, there was even a hitching rail out front of the store from the old days!
The porch floor looks just as ancient as the store!
This slot was used to collect money for IOU's. Customer's could slip an envelope and money thorugh the slot when the business was closed. It was used into the 1970's when it was owned by the Patton family and was still a mercantile.
Inside the store has gone from three rooms, a center mercantile with storage rooms on either side, to one very large room.
Here my lovely cousin, Janie, visits the store and is standing in the middle of the large room.
This old counter is original to the store and was used when my grandfather owned the establishment.
And here is an old Coke cooler, straight from the 1950's. While not there when my grandfather had the place, I still find it a fun item to have in the store today!
Whenever I visit the store I feel a strong bond to my grandfather, simply knowing that at one time he owned the business. That feeling was much stronger and more pronounced before the renovations of the building and it was still used as a General Mercantile, but it still remains!
I am blessed that I live amongst the areas that my grandfather lived and spent most of his life at. Many of our local families are the same families he knew. As a teen I often talked to older adults who knew him well, and was able to glean what the community thought of the man. It was always favorable, and I found he was well respected and a likeable person.
Grandpa first married in 1895. He had 3 children with her, and then she died from complications of tuberculosis. He next married in 1907, and he had 9 children with his second wife. Unfortunately, following the birth of the last child, she died with complications from toxemia, in 1929. Lastly he married my Grandmother in 1935, and had 3 children with her.
All total, Grandpa was the father of 15 children and their births range from 1896 to 1943! He was actually in his 70's when he fathered the last 3 children with my grandmother!
As an old man he shared his lifelong memories with one of his sons, my Dad. And because of this, I've had wonderful insight into his life. I've also been able to find proof of many things with the family, simply because he told Dad so many wonderful stories!
Is there a special place from one your ancestors that you have visited? Or one that you would like to visit?
My dream is to one day find the proof that my gr-gr-gr-grandfather came from Ireland, and just where it was. Lastly, I'd like to visit it before it is too late for me!