Friday, April 6, 2018

52 Ancestors #14: Samuel Beard (1750-1814): Revolutionary War Veteran

Ancestor: Samuel Beard, four times great grandfather
DNA Haplogroup: I-M253

Samuel Beard was born in 1750 in the the portion of Lunenburg County that became Bedford County, Virginia, three years later to Adam Beard and his wife, Elizabeth. He was their third known child and second son. The new county's Board of Justices appointed Samuel's father a Constable in 1754 and I like to think as a small child, Samuel visited the tobacco fields of his neighbors with his father during his inspection tours.

Samuel had attended the Peaks of Otter Presbyterian Church since it was established in 1761 and in 1774 he signed a petition sent by the church to the House of Burgesses requesting permission to own slaves. The fruits of their labor on land donated to the church would support a full-time minister. Samuel and his brothers, David and Adam, were three of hundred and two men to sign the petition.

Continental Army

On 10 Feb 1776, Samuel enlisted in Capt. Gross Scruggs' Company, which was part of the 5th Regiment. The regiment was organized the same month at the Richmond County Courthouse with men from Chesterfield, Bedford, Hanover, Henrico, Loudoun, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania, and Westmoreland counties. Where the regiment was located and fought in 1776 is not known to me at this time.

The regiment was likely sent north in late 1776 or early 1777 and assigned to Peter Muhlenberg's Brigade, which was part of Lord William Alexander Stirling's Division. They participated in the Battle of Trenton on 26 December and the Battle of Princeton on 3 January 1777. These two battles were Washington's first successes in open field warfare and put new life into the American cause.

We do know from an affidavit sworn to by his widow, he participated in the Battle of Brandywine:

"...she had frequently heard her deceased husband, Samuel Beard, speak of and relate his Revolutionary service -- that he was at the Battle of Brandywine [illegible] to the north -- that he drove one of the cannon -- and Gen. Washington asked him if he could not drive out of the road so as to let the Army pass."

Nation Makers by Howard Pyle depicts a scene from the Battle of Brandywine.
The painting hangs in the Brandywine River Museum; courtesy of Wikipedia

The engagement occurred near Chadd's Ford on 11 September 1777. British General William Howe had landed his troops near Elkton, Maryland, in the upper Chesapeake Bay and marched north toward Philadelphia. Gen. Washington stationed his men on the opposite side of Brandywine Creek and offered battle. However, the main part of Howe's troops made a long sweeping march and crossed the creek undetected to the right of Washington's army. Three divisions were quickly shifted to meet the British flanking force at Birmingham Friends Meetinghouse and School. Stiff fighting occurred but the British forces prevailed on Washington's right flank and soon his left flank crumbled. Elements of Nathanael Greene's division held off the British long enough for the rest of the American army to retreat in safety.

After the battle, Philadelphia, the continental capital was vulnerable and was captured by Howe's forces on 26 September. After losing Philadelphia, Gen. Washington led his men to Valley Forge where they camped for six months from 19 December 1777 to 19 June 1778. Samuel Beard was at Valley Forge through at least February 1778, the last record I have for his militia service during this period.

Back to Bedford County

Samuel's father, Adam, died in December 1777 while he was in Valley Forge and his mother died shortly thereafter. The wills of both his parents were proved in Bedford County court on 23 March 1778. His father anticipated Samuel inheriting land from his grandfather, John Beard, on Falling River. However, if this wasn't the case, then Samuel would inherit the portion of Adam's plantation south of the land on which Adam and Elizabeth lived. His mother's will divided the personal property owned by she and Adam equally among their four children.

On 5 September Samuel Beard and Robert Mitchell entered into a marriage bond, affirming there was no moral or legal reason why Samuel and Mary Mitchell could not be married and that Samuel would not change his mind. If he did not marry Mary, he would forfeit the bond. Mary Mitchell was the daughter of Robert Mitchell and their family also worshipped at the Peaks of Otter Presbyterian Church as did the Beard families. They were married by Rev. John Holt on 8 September 1778.

On 26 September 1779 the young couple had a young son, who died the same day. He was unnamed. A year later, on 7 September 1780, they had another son they named James Harvey Beard.

Revolutionary War Redux

On 23 September 1780 Samuel and his brother, David, were sworn into office as captains of the militia. Historical Sketch of Bedford County, Virginia, 1753-1907 said the county furnished its quota of militia during the Revolutionary War and briefly described the role of captains when the militia remained in its home county:

"The militia was drilled at certain stated times by the captain; occasional musters were held at some central point...The soldierly bearing of these farmers was remarkable..."

During the spring and summer of 1781, Cornwallis had overrun South Carolina and was headed for North Carolina. As J. T. McAllister said in his book, Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War:

"Meanwhile, Cornwallis had pushed the Southern army, under General Greene, through North Carolina to the very border of Virginia. Notwithstanding the menace of the British army on the lower James, it was necessary to meet the new danger. Through great exertion, some 1,600 Virginia militia were collected to join Greene. Many of them were from the Valley counties. With their help he gave battle to Cornwallis, at Guilford, March 5th, and crippled him so badly that he made a tumultuous retreat to Wilmington."

Battle of Guilford Courthouse; courtesy of the Sons of the American Revolution

"Col. Charles Lynch[1] of the Bedford Militia was ordered by Gov. Thomas Jefferson to raise 300 riflemen to go to the aid Gen. Nathanael Greene against Cornwallis."[2]

Samuel's widow's pension application takes up the tale:

"...that the said Samuel Beard her husband was called into service in March 1781 to go to the Battle of Guilford [Courthouse] on a six weeks' tour and this being considered a case of emergency, it was to exempt him from a full tour – and she thinks, (but is not certain) that he was under Capt. Campbell and she is also under the impression that he held an office of some kind in said tour to Guilford – She has frequently heard her deceased husband Samuel Beard in his life time speak of his being at the Battle of Guilford – and related many circumstances that took place there – one was that he saw Capts. [Jacob] Moon and Helm after they were wounded – before they died – and spoke of how much they suffered from their wounds on the field of battle. Indeed, no person has ever doubted that Samuel Beard was at the battle of Guilford – common talk in the neighborhood and in the County..."

Return Home and the Remainder of His Life

After Samuel returned home to Bedford County, he resumed life on his farm with Mary and they had four more children who lived to adulthood and one daughter who was born and died on the same day in 1789. She was unnamed when buried.

Samuel's brother David removed to Tennessee soon after the war. His brother, Adam's will was proved on 25 February 1788 and Samuel and his brother-in-law, Rev. James Mitchell, were the executors. He was sued in Bedford County Chancery court by James Wright over some of his brother Adam's land that Mr. Wright wanted to purchase, but the case was dismissed by the court in 1793.

Samuel died in October 1814. His widow lived another 28 years, dying on 28 July 1843. Their burial locations are unknown. In addition to the two infants they lost on the day they were born, they outlived another son, Robert Mitchell Beard, who died in 1837.

During Samuel's life time, his new nation fought a war for independence, ratified a Constitution, appointed its first president, and the U.S. declared war on Great Britain again in what became known as the War of 1812.

Closer to home, Campbell County was formed from a portion of Bedford County in 1782, and Bedford's county seat was deemed too close to the border. Virginia's General Assembly establishes the town of Liberty as Bedford's new county seat. Today, Liberty is known as Bedford. In 1787 the James River Kanawha Canal opened. Cargo and produce from western counties was poled past Bedford 196 miles to Richmond. Some of Samuel's brother, Adam's descendants would take that canal and settle further west in what became West Virginia during the Civil War.

A Final Word

When I first took over our family's genealogical research from my father in late 2012, we knew the maiden name of his grandmother, Effie (Beard) Jennings, but not her parents. My brothers and I took's DNA tests in 2013 and one of the first matches I was able to solve without an already identified common shared ancestor was to another Beard descendant. Several public trees provided direction for my research and months later I was able to prove my descent from John Beard (1705-1780).

Along the way, I learned John's grandson, Samuel Beard, had served in the Revolutionary War on two separate occasions. He had once been accepted by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as a patriot. Mrs. May Julia (Jopling) Hairston had joined the lineage association sometime before her death in 1957. However, her application included no documentation proving her ancestor's Revolutionary War service; it merely indicated she had seen a letter regarding his widow's pension. The DAR Genealogical Research System includes an entry for Samuel Beard but indicates new applicants must prove his service.

Samuel Beard's entry in DAR's GRS; courtesy Daughters of the American

I felt badly for Samuel. I had 30 pages of company muster and payroll records as well as his widow's pension application, which proved his military service. Samuel deserved to be a recognized DAR Patriot! Once my husband and I were settled in upstate New York, I transferred my DAR membership to the Van Rensselaer chapter in Troy and submitted a supplemental application for Samuel. It has been approved by the chapter registrar and I am waiting for final word from the national society. It was one of the more interesting applications on which I have worked as I used two of my favorite types of records -- Virginia Chancery Court records -- to prove the links between Beard generations.

My descent from John Beard and the sources used to
prove linkages between generations; created using
Microsoft PowerPoint

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "The Maiden Aunt," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Samuel Beard is Ancestor number 72 on my family tree:

72 Samuel Beard, born 1750 in Bedford County, Virginia, to Adam Beard and Elizabeth, maiden name unknown; died in October 1814; married Mary Mitchell, daughter of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and Mary Enos, on 5 September 1778 in Bedford County. Veteran of the American Revolutionary War.

72.1 Unnamed son, born and died on 26 September 1779 (mentioned in his mother's pension application).

36 James Harvey Beard, born 7 September 1780 in Bedford County; died in October 1869; married 1) Mary "Polly" or "Molly" McMullen/McMullin, daughter of Matthew McMullen and Margaret, maiden name unknown, on 21 June 1811 in Bedford County, and 2) Rhoda Parker, daughter of James Parker, on 24 October 1850 in Bedford County. Veteran of the War of 1812.

72.2 Elizabeth "Betsy" Beard, born 22 Jun 1782 in Bedford County; died in 1863; married Rufus Thomas on 18 May 1815 in Bedford County.

72.3 Robert Mitchell Beard, born 17 Jul 1784 in Bedford County; died 19 January 1837 in Franklin County, Virginia; married Nancy C. Webb, daughter of Theodorick Fitzgerald Webb, Sr., and Sarah Huff.

72.4 Nancy A. Beard, born 24 Jul 1786 in Bedford County; died 4 February 1864; married Mitchell Ewing, a widower previously married to Phoebe Cox, on 25 March 1805 in Bedford County.

72.5 Frances G. Beard, born about 1788 in Bedford County; died before 1850; married William Claytor Mitchell, son of Samuel Mitchell and Margaret "Peggy" Claytor.

72.6 Unnamed daughter, born and died on 9 March 1789 (mentioned in her mother's pension application).

72.7 Mary "Polly" E. Beard, born 1795 in Virginia; died 7 November 1863 in Holliday, Missouri; married Bird S. Webb, son of Theodorick Fitzgerald Webb, Sr., and Sarah Huff. Removed to Missouri after 1837.

In her pension application, Mary (Mitchell) Beard only named six children: unnamed son, Harvey, Betsy, Robert, Nancy, and unnamed daughter. However, as proved by Bedford County Chancery court case 1852-049, Mary and Samuel had two additional daughters: Frances G. (Beard) Mitchell and Mary "Polly" E. (Beard) Webb.

[1] In 1780 Col. Charles Lynch enforces martial law and oversees the whiplashing of Tory turncoats under a tree at his Avoca estate. No noose is used, but the event leads to the term "Lynch Law," which is later distorted to mean illegal hanging, according to Historical Diary of Bedford, Virginia, USA from Ancient Times to U.S. Bicentennial.
[2] Viemeister, Peter. Historical Diary of Bedford, Virginia, USA from Ancient Times to U.S. Bicentennial, (Bedford, VA: Hamilton's, 1993), page 9.


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The Several Elizabeth Beards
Adam Beard (c1727-1777): Constable of Bedford County
John Beard (c1705-1780): A Man of Means
Who's Your Daddy, Adam Beard?
Beard and Jennings: More Interconnected than I Thought
The Court Case Regarding the Slaves of Mary (Mitchell) Beard
Proving James Harvey Beard's Father
Slaves of John Beard (1705-1780) of Bedford County, Virginia
The Court Doth Adjudge, Order and Decree
The Mother Nobody Knew
George Washington Spoke to Him
Ancestry DNA and Finding a New Cousin

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