William Bean

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William Bean
Born(1721-12-09)December 9, 1721
St. Stephens Parish, Northumberland County, Virginia
DiedMay 1782
Known forbeing the first permanent settler in Tennessee
TitleCommissioner, Washington District, North Carolina
Spouse(s)Lydia Russell (1726–1788)

William Bean (December 9, 1721-May 1782) was a Trans-Appalachian pioneer; longhunter; and Commissioner of North Carolina's Washington District. He was the first permanent white settler in Tennessee.


William Bean was born December 9, 1721 in St. Stephens Parish, Northumberland County, Virginia. In 1741 he married Lydia Russell (b. September 29, 1726). They were to become the future Tennessee area's first permanent European-American settlers;[1] William was of English descent and Lydia was of Scottish descent.[2]

Frontier settler[edit]

Historical Marker placed near the William Bean Cabin site

Bean was an associate of Daniel Boone's and a fellow longhunter. In 1769, he built a cabin close to the junction of Boone's Creek and the Watauga River, near what is today Johnson City, Tennessee. Bean may have visited the site with Boone, or Boone and a friend, Richard Callaway, when exploring as agents for Richard Henderson, a land speculator who later played an important role in the early settlement of Tennessee.[3][4]

Later that year, the first child of permanent European-American settlers born in Tennessee, Russell Bean, was born there.[5]

Later life[edit]

Bean's cabin soon attracted other pioneer families, who participated in the formation of the Watauga Association, a semi-autonomous colony.[citation needed]

After its formation in 1776, Bean was named a Commissioner of North Carolina's Washington District.[1]


Bean died in May 1782 in Washington County, North Carolina (now Grainger County, Tennessee).[6]


Later relatives of Bean established what became the town of Bean Station, in present-day Grainger County, Tennessee.[7]


  1. ^ a b Larry Kraus. "Children of William Bean (c 1700 – 1780) | William Bean I Genealogy". larkcom.us. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  2. ^ Grady, J.A. (1973). William Bean, Pioneer of Tennessee, and His Descendants. Grady. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  3. ^ Ramsey, The Annals of Tennessee, 66-69.
  4. ^ Hamer, Tennessee: A History, 64.
  5. ^ "William Bean's Cabin - 1A5 | Tennessee Historical sign". waymarking.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  6. ^ name="wbean died may 1782 washington district north carolina
  7. ^ Bean Station history

Further reading[edit]

  • Carolyn Sakowski; Touring the East Tennessee Backroads; J.F. Blair, pub.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; 1993; pp. 86–87.