Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - The Bean Cemetery

 The Bean Cemetery is located near Waiteville, Monroe County, West Virginia. It is here that my oldest American ancestors in the Bean family are layed to rest. There isn't a lot to see. And we have no idea, at this time, which grave belongs to which person.

There is a single modern day stone, which was placed a few years ago. The Clan MacBean crest is on one side.

On this side are memorials to our eldest Bean ancestor, William. He was born in 1792 and died in 1864. And his wife, Rachel, born 1790 and died 1856.

The remainder of the stones are just that. Stones. Large stones were placed at the head of the graves. If names were ever engraved upon them, we no longer can find them. There may be engravings below the top of the soil, where both the graves and the stones have sunk. (A few years ago my uncle was walking in the cemetery and stepped into a hole. He had gone through a grave. The top soil was thin, and the coffin had rotted away. (I think I might have had nightmares about that!)
On this lone stone we can just make out the letter "C". Unfortunately, there is no record of anyone with a name with the letter "C" being buried there.

The other stones follow:

We do know that at one time, there had been an ornate cast fence around the cemetery. When it rusted away, someone put a wire fence around it. Here you see an old rotted fence post marking a corner of the cemetery. If you look closely, you can see the wire still attached to the post.

And here, is a fencepost still standing. We are peeking through the fence into the forest in this photograph.

It is said that there are several slaves who died and were buried on the outside of the fence. I walked about the outside edge, and was unable to locate any stones that resembled the stones in the cemetery. So, if they were buried on the outside of the fence, their graves were probably never marked.

According to what documentation we have regarding the burials at the cemetery, we know that Rachel, and their daughter Nancy, died within a few weeks of one another from a fever, and are buried there. (They have been the first burials there besides slaves.) William is buried there.
It is believed that William and Rachel's daughter, Emily and her husband Thomas Long are both buried there. Their son, William Long, may also be buried there, as he died prior to his parents and had never married. William and Rachel had a daughter named Margaret, whose daughter, Sarah Eakins died in 1856, and she, too, may be buried here. William and Rachel's daughter, Margaret, may have been buried here when she died after the Census in 1880. Her husband predeceased her, and he, too, may lie here. William and Rachel's son Archibald's first wife, Amanda, is buried here. Another grandchild, Virinda C. Bean, daughter of William Jr. died in 1857, and she may also be buried here. A slave named William (Bean) is buried here, supposedly on the exterior of the fence line. In 1883, an 11-day old infant, with the initials B.M. was buried here. It is suspected he was illegitimate, and belonged to one of the grandchildren.

It is suspected that at least 13 graves are here. 9 with stones.

There are two slaves who were buried across the field and road in front of the house. One winter when the ground was frozen solid, prior to Rachel's death, 2 slaves, who were husband and wife, died just a few hours apart with "fever". They were buried wrapped in quilts, because the ground could not be dug deep enough for coffins. And because there had not been a cemetery yet, Rachel agreed to bury them to the left of the house (facing the house). That spring, William reportedly stated that he hated to move the couple. They were lying together, and it would be so messy to move them as their corpses would have just begun to deteriorate. He agreed to move them to the cemetery William intended to ready for his own demise one day in the next year. The next year, William, who suffered from gout, did not want to move them now. They had been gone for 2 years at this point. Rachel, wanted their graves marked, so as to never be disturbed. William was opposed to stones being placed in his front yard marking the graves of his slaves. Rachel compromised by planting two rose of sharon bushes on the grave. Over the years, the two bushes intertwined, and looked like one huge bush. It had the most beautiful scented pink and purple flowers. It was still there in 2007. Unfortunately, the owners of the property removed the bushes by 2008, and a gravel drive is over the area now.

The cemetery is on a knoll, just inside the forest, which at the time is was conceived, was a huge field. A field continues to be just outside of the cemetery, next to the road that dissects the field from the old house. One look and you can see why old William chose the spot for the cemetery. The house is literally framed by the mountains that surround it. And it's one of the most lush views I have ever seen.

In May, on Memorial weekend, I will be making my annual trek across the field, and just into the forest, to pay my respects to William and Rachel and all of the others who lie there, by placing flowers in front of the William & Rachel memorial stone. Although I never knew them, as they died nearly two hundred years ago, I feel them intimately when I am there. And I sometimes wonder, what would they think if they knew how diligently I searched for even the tiniest scrap of information on them?

I hope that I honor them in my stories and my writing. I was born 94 years after William was buried here. And yet, I feel as if I have known him personally. I can tell you stories  about him, and Rachel. And most of their children as well! (There were 13 children.) But more importantly, I know so many intimate details regarding their lives.

What do you know about your great-great-grandparents? Could you write even one detail about their lives? If not, are you searching for information?

Remember, Mountain Genealogists is here to help if you need it!

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