Monday, July 10, 2017

Mystery Monday

Who Was Andrew Gastin?

Who was Andrew Gastin?

If we look closely at this document, we will see on line 39, the entry for the death record of a single man, named Andrew Gastin.

Let's bring this a little closer so that you can see:

and closer still:

Now, we can see a bit better. On Line 39 we see Andrew Gastin. And if we read across, we see he is listed as S for slave, with his owner being one William Bean.  He was listed as a Male. No death date is given, but just directly above him is listed the death of Nancy Bean for October 11th of 1856. Since the last death registered prior to Nancy's date is June 26th, one might automatically assume that the individual died sometime between June and October. But wait, because, above Nancy is listed her mother, Rachel Bean, and Rachel didn't die until November 7th of the same year. And so, we may assume only one thing: all three deaths were reported by William Bean (which is listed on the second half of the page - each entry takes up two pages, with the line extending from one page to the next), and it is obvious since Rachel's death, which is listed before Nancy's did not occur until after, that William simply reported all three at one time. Probably on his first visit to the county seat, in Union, after their occurrences. We can assume that Andrew Gastin died probably in the late fall, after William's last trip to Union until spring.

The cause of death listed for Andrew is "Hooping Cough". Now look directly to the right, and after the cause of death, you will note a number "3" listed. If you were to go back to the top photograph, and follow that column to the top of the page, you will see that this column, and the one preceding it are for the individual's age. Since nothing is listed in the first column, we know that Andrew Gastin was but a mere 3 months old.

Place of burial is not listed in these death records. However, all of the Bean family is buried in the Bean Cemetery, which sits across the road, and just past a large field, atop a knoll, that was cleared during that time, but which has now been over run with tall mature trees. It is said that slaves were buried outside of the fence that once surrounded the cemetery. (the remains of old wooden fence posts, and cattle fencing can still be seen around the cemetery perimeter). I walked this perimeter a few years ago, but could not find any stones that may have marked slave burials. However, there were more stones within the cemetery than of names of those we know who are buried there. While it is told that slaves are buried outside of the cemetery, it is my personal belief that they were buried within the cemetery fence confines.

It is believed little Andrew Gastin is buried here. If you continue across the page, under the column marked "Parents" only one name is listed "William Bean". It is unknown if that literally meant that William Bean was his father, or his owner, as previously written in the column following the fact that he was a slave. If so, who was his mother? Possibly a woman with the "last name" of Gastin? We know that many slaves took on the last name of their owners, not by choice, but simply to mark them as belonging to a particular slave holder.

However, I have been unable to locate a woman named Gastin in the area, either before or after the Civil War.

It is known that some of the former Bean slaves moved to Oklahoma territory following the Civil War. A few years ago, I was in touch with a woman who claimed to be a descendant of William Bean of Monroe County, West Virginia. She said that they used to laugh about their Bean ancestry, and called themselves "black beans". When I returned her wonderfully written email, and asked for more information, I never received an answer. So I am hoping she will find her way to this blog post and write to me once more! I would love to share information!

Little Andrew Gastin's mother may never be known for sure. But, for all intent's and purposes, it looks as if his father was William Bean. And I would wager to bet, that little Andrew is buried somewhere in the same cemetery as that William Bean lies.

It's a sad, sad story of a tiny little 3 month old baby dying of whooping cough. Sadder still, that time has erased his parent's names. At least his mother's name.

I hope, one day, that we will find her. And be able to put a name to little Andrew's Mommy.

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