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DAR shares the story of Lydia Bean

TEMECULA – Daughters of the American Revolution continue to raise awareness of the courage and sacrifice of the patriots who won America’s independence. On a national level, Americans and others traveling along our nation’s highways may notice stand-alone bronze markers which they previously had not seen; these are the DAR America250 Patriots Markers.

According to NSDAR President General Denise Doring VanBuren, “The program has been established to honor the memory of the men and women with whom we have a sacred compact to ensure that these United States of America continue as a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is also designed to raise appreciation amongst current and future generations of Americans of our patriots’ sacrifice for their benefit.”

The society’s goal is to continue to create a coast-to-coast network of markers, both stand-alone and as plaques in prominent locations.

On the local level, Luiseño Chapter NSDAR is embracing its American History and sharing it with the public. In an ongoing effort to connect the past to inspire the future, the Luiseño Chapter America250 Committee is pleased to present the stories of Lydia Russell Bean and her husband William Bean. They are the direct ancestors of a DAR member who is a resident of Murrieta.

Lydia Russell was born about 1726, and married William Bean in 1743 in Augusta County, Virginia. Prior to their marriage, William had seen the Holston River Valley on hunting expeditions with Daniel Boone. He cleared some land and built a cabin on Boone’s Creek where he understood the hunting was good. The area became known as the Watauga Settlement. The couple began their family with their first child born in 1745, followed by six more, with the last child born in May 1769 just after their relocation to Watauga.

According to author Matt Dixon in his book The Wataugans, “the first permanent white settlers of record arrived in a part of North Carolina that is now known as Tennessee, in 1769.” The area where the Beans settled is about five miles from the current Johnson City, Tennessee.

The outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775 “further agitated the tense situation on the Appalachian frontier.” In January 1776, a young Cherokee chief named “Dragging Canoe and the British forged an alliance, and in April of that year the British supplied the Cherokee with a large cache of weapons in hopes they would wreak havoc on the colonial frontier. Now well-armed, the Cherokee sent a message to the Watauga settlers, giving them 20 days to leave Cherokee lands or face attack.” (Finger, Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition, Indiana University Press, 2001, pages 45-66).

With the Cherokee approaching, some 150 to 200 settlers crowded into Fort Caswell. Unable to take the fort, the Cherokee halted the assault and settled in for a lengthy siege.

In the ensuing days, a teenager named Tom Moore was captured outside the fort and taken to Cherokee town Tuskegee, where he was burned at the stake.

On July 21, 1776, prior to a British-inspired attack by the Cherokee on the Watauga Settlement, Lydia was captured by the Cherokee. She was held at one of their villages at gun point and witnessed some of her neighbors tortured and killed. Despite the threat of death, she refused to give information to the Cherokee regarding the status of the nearby fort.

The leader ordered that she be burned at the stake. As the fire was lit, priestess “Beloved Woman” Nancy Ward intervened, and saved her life. Lydia never wavered, never gave in, and was willing to give her life to protect the fort.

While a captive, Lydia taught Beloved Woman many domestic arts such as making butter and cheese and conserving food. These skills were taught to other women of the tribe. Eventually Lydia returned home and chose her best milk cow to give to Beloved Woman in appreciation for saving her life. Records state that Mrs. Bean is credited with starting the cattle herd in this Cherokee tribe.

William was said to have been a “man of parts;” prior to his relocation, he was a substantial landowner in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, a captain in the Virginia Militia, and prominent in civil and military affairs. He was a farmer, trader, and soldier; a “first settler” and a true colonizer.

Bean died at Bean’s Station, Washington County, North Carolina, prior to May 1782. He was 61 years old. Lydia lived to the age of 62, dying in Washington County, North Carolina, in 1788.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution recognize William Bean for his civil service as Justice of the Peace 1776, Judge of County Court 1777, and a Commissioner of the Watauga government (State Records of North Carolina, Volume 23, page 995, Volume 11, page 653).

Lydia Russell Bean has been recognized for her “patriotic service” (Ramsey, ANNALS of Tennessee, pages 157-158; Alderman, OVERMOUNTAIN MEN: EARLY Tennessee HISTORY 1760-1795, page 34; Dixon, THE WATAUGANS, Appalachian State University, page 46).

Luiseño Chapter’s America250 Committee will honor another patriot with the publication of his/her story in August. For more information about Luiseño Chapter, contact Regent Anna Anderson at anna.anderson@luiseñ Luiseño Chapter – located in Temecula – has 105 members living in Riverside and San Diego counties.


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