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Lydia Beene's Geni Profile

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Lydia Beene (Russell)

Birthplace: North Farnham Parish, Rappahanock County, Virginia
Death: before June 18, 1788
German Creek, Grainger County, Tennessee
Place of Burial: United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Lt Col William James Russell, Sr. and Martha Russell
Wife of Capt. William R. Bean, JR
Mother of Capt. Robert Bean; George Bean; Jesse Bean; Edmund Bean; John Bean and 5 others
Sister of John Russell; Capt. George Russell; Jemima Douglas-Sevier; Absolum Russell; Pleasant Russell and 7 others

Managed by: Karen Richardson
Last Updated:

About Lydia Beene

Capt. William Bean, Lydia Russell, c1744

Pittslvania, Va pioneers of Tenn. Wm b Northcumberland Va d Washington Tn Capt. William Bean, Lydia Russell, c1744

Pittsylvania, Va first white settler west of the Alleghenies; companion of Daniel Boone c1760.


Lydia (Russell) Bean (1726-1788), William's wife, was captured along with 13 year old Samuel Moore in July 1776 by hostile Cherokee Indians prior to an attack on the Wataugu settlement. She was intercepted as she made her way from her home on Boone's Creek to Sycamore Shoals. She was sent to the Overhill Towns and was led to the stake. But she was saved, it is said, by Nancy Ward, "Beloved Woman" of the Cherokees, who told the Indians that they could use Mrs. Bean's instruction in the making of butter and cheese. So her life was spared and later she returned to her home.

Nancy Ward's act may have had far reaching effects. When militant Cherokees prepared to attack illegal white communities on the Watauga River, Ward disapproved of intentionally taking civilian lives. She was able to warn several of the Watauga settlements in time for them to defend themselves or flee. Lydia was sentenced to execution and was actually being tied to a stake when Ward exercised her right to spare condemned captives. She took the injured Mrs. Bean into her own home to nurse her back to health. Mrs. Bean, like most "settler women," wove her own cloth. At this time, the Cherokee were wearing a combination of traditional hide (animal skin) clothing and loomed cloth purchased from traders. Cherokee people had rough-woven hemp clothing, but it was not as comfortable as clothing made from linen, cotton, or wool. Mrs. Bean taught Ward how to set up a loom, spin thread or yarn, and weave cloth. This skill would make the Cherokee people less dependent on traders, but it also Europeanized the Cherokee in terms of gender roles. Women came to be expected to do the weaving and house chores; as men became farmers in the changing society, women became "housewives." Another aspect of Cherokee life that changed when Ward saved the life of Mrs. Bean was that of raising animals. Lydia owned dairy cattle, which she took to Ward's house. Ward learned to prepare and use dairy foods, which provided some nourishment even when hunting was bad. However, because of Ward's introduction of dairy farming to the Cherokee, they would begin to amass large herds and farms, which required even more manual labor. This would soon lead the Cherokee into using slave labor. In fact, Ward herself had been "awarded" the black slave of a felled Creek warrior after her victory at the Battle of Taliwa and thus became the first Cherokee slave owner.

Lydia's brother George Russell, husband of Elizabeth Bean, was killed by Indians while on a hunting trip in Grainger County, Tennessee, in 1796. Her daughter, Jane Bean, was killed in 1798 by Indians while working her loom outside the walls of Bean's Station.

WILLIAM5 BEAN (WILLIAM4, JOHN (MACBEAN)3, WILLIAM 22, WILLIAM 11) was born December 09, 1721 in St. Stephen's Par., Northumberland Co., Virginia, and died May 1782 in Bean Station, Washington Co., Tennessee. He married LYDIA RUSSELL3,4 17595,6. She was born 1726 in Northumberland Co., Virginia, and died Bef. June 18, 1788 in Washington, Co., Tennessee.

Lydia's brother was killed by Indians and she was taken captive. She was to be killed but an Indian woman named Nancy Ward was able to rescue her and get her back home to her family.

Changes to Cherokee society

As a Ghigau, Nancy had the power to spare captives. In 1776, following a Cherokee attack on the Fort Watauga settlement on the Watauga River (at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee), she used that power to spare a Mrs. William (Lydia Russell) Bean, whom she took into her house and nursed back to health from injuries suffered in the battle. Mrs. Bean taught Nanye-hi how to weave, revolutionizing the Cherokee garments, which at the time were a combination of hides and cloth bought from traders. But this weaving revolution also changed the roles of women in the Cherokee society, as they took on the weaving and left men to do the planting, which had traditionally been a woman's job.

Mrs. Bean also rescued two of her dairy cows from the settlement, and brought them to Nanye-hi. Nanye-hi learned to raise the cattle and to eat dairy products, which would sustain the Cherokee when hunting was bad.

The combination of weaving and raising of animals turned the Cherokee from a communal agricultural society into a society very similar to that of their European-American neighbors, with family plots and the need for ever-more labor. Thus the Cherokee began buying and selling slaves. Nanye-hi was among the first Cherokee to own black slaves.

Around the same time Sequoyah introduced the first written language for the tribe. A complete Bible was first printed in the 1830's, hence the Cherokee were considered one of the Five Civilized Tribes

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Lydia Beene's Timeline

September 2, 1726
North Farnham Parish, Rappahanock County, Virginia
May 3, 1750
Age 23
Halifax County, Province of Virginia
Age 27
Pittsylvania Co, Va
Age 29
Halifax County, Province of Virginia
Age 31
Halifax Co, Va
Age 33
Boone Creek, Tennessee, United States
Age 33
Lunenberg County, Province of Virginia
May 3, 1764
Age 37
Halifax County, Virginia, United States
Age 37
Rockingham Co., Va