Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Robert Bean and Martha Womack

Much new information has come to light on Robert Bean and his wife Martha Womack, and how they fit into the larger Bean and Womack families.

The claim that Robert Bean's wife was Martha Womack, and that she was the daughter of Jacob Womack of Watauga, was made by Lowry Franklin Owens (1864-1953). Note that historical evidence has verified that Martha was a Womack, but she was not the daughter of Jacob Womack.

Womack researcher Beth Walton found this:

Lucy Estelee Beene Rankin, a descendant of Robert Bean and Martha Womack wrote "The Bean Tree" Here is an exact excerpt from the book, written by Lowry Franklin Owens, great grandson of Robert Bean an Martha Womack:

".....Grandmother's father, Robert Bean fought in the War against the British, and I've often heard them tell that he was a "deadshot" with his rifle, and in one battle he killed the commanding officer, but I do not remember the name of the Battle, but he fought with a General Clarke from George as did others of his Watauga neighbors. I remember they talked a lot about the Battle of King's Mountain and as well as I can recollect this was near the North and South Carolina border.


Great grandfather Bean married Martha Womack (she was nicknamed "Patsey") soon after coming to the Watauga, and her father, Jacob Womack, was one of the early settlers there. After the close of the War, Robert and Martha Bean with their chldren began to move south through Tenessee and except for a brief say in Georgia, settled in Franklin County, Tennessee. He moved over to the adjoining County of Marion after it was formed and died there about 1824."

Also:

Verbatim: '.....On 7 Sep 1951 he wrote, " I, Lowry Franklin Owens am eighty seven years old, and was born the 21st day of April, 1864, in Old Tishomingo County (now Prentiss County), Mississippi; and as the last living grandson of Rhoda Bean and John Owens, I have been requested to write a short history of my family, which I will endeavor to do to the best of my knowledge........"

".......Grandfather John Owens was a very remarkable man as he lived to be 114 years, 6 months, 2 weeks of age and I remember him well as he died in 1877 when I was about thirteen years old. He would tell me he was nearly twice as old as his wife when they married. He was about thirty-five and Grandmother Rhoda was only eighteen, and yet he outlived Grandmother and married again, * cut his third set of teeth *, and his eyesight returned all after he was ninety years old. He is buried in the Old Forked Oak Cemetery about half a mile from the present Church and Cemetery on land now owned by Joe Moss in the 4th Distict of Prentiss County, Mississippi. Grandmother Rhoda Bean Owens died in Jackson County, Alabama before Grandfather moved here to Mississippi in 1848.

Grandfather John Owens fought as a young man in western North Carolina against the British and Tories as his father and family were Whigs. After the Revolutionary War was over several years, he married Rhoda Bean, and some of her people spelled the name Beene. Grandfather was born in North Carolina, but Grandmother Rhoda was born in what is now Tennessee, as her father Robert Bean had come as a young man with his parents from Virginia and settled on the Watauga."

Some tall tales to be sure. The exaggeration of the age of John Owens' age, for example, is addressed here.

The notion that Robert Bean and his wife Martha Womack were related to the Beans and Womacks of Watauga was wide-spread. Francis Marion Womack claimed the Watauga Womacks and Beans as kin in his 1905 letter; he was the nephew of the Levi Womack who married Martha Bean, daughter of Robert Bean and Martha Womack, and he mentions Bean's Creek several times.

Bean researchers found a Bible record of Robert Bean and Martha Womack's family. I transcribed it here, from records I ordered from National Archives. It is important to note that Martha's maiden name is not given in the bible record. From the bible, we learn that Robert Bean was born 3 May 1764, and his wife Martha was born 20 Mar 1758.

I was somewhat doubtful that Robert Bean's wife was even a Womack. Then I found this history of the Cothern family (this is a large PDF file). The Cothern surname is spelled many ways. Charles Cawthon married Elizabeth Womack in Virginia. Some time after Charles died, Elizabeth Womack Cawthon and her family moved to Franklin Co, GA, near where Robert Bean's family lived.

Elizabeth Womack Cawthon's uncle, William Womack, died in 1790 in Charlotte Co, VA. He was around 80 years old, and although he had married at least twice, he had no children. He had a fairly large estate of land and slaves. Some of that went to his widow, but the rest was split between his siblings. However, most of his siblings were dead by 1790, so it went to their children or grandchildren. There were several chancery cases in Charlotte Co, VA (which can be found on the Library of Virginia site) involving William Womack's estate. The Virginia Historical Society has the Asa Dupuy papers; Asa Dupuy was one of the many people who administered William Womack's estate, and his papers, along with the Charlotte Co, VA chancery cases, are a wealth of information on a large part of the Womack family. The William Womack estate is a vast topic, beyond the scope of this essay.

Frederick Stevilie was Elizabeth Womack Cawthon's lawyer, and he corresponded with Asa Dupuy in letters transcribed in the Cothern book PDF. In one letter dated 23 Apr 1814, he mentions Robert Bean and his wife:

... the Children of Abner Womack, and of John Spradlin all lived in the uppermost parts of Georgia, and are all seperated by removall to Different parts of the the Western Country, that the Cost would overrun the profit, to attempt to collect their parts [long blot] There are some of the Grand Children of John Spradlin living in Georgia, and James McBees wife Sally & Robert Beans wife were I believe the Children of Abner Womack. McBees wife Lives in Franklin or Jackson County Georgia & Bean is gone to the Western parts.
A couple words of explanation and caution:
  • Abner Womack was NOT the father of Martha Womack Bean and Sarah "Sally" Womack McBee. Frederick Stevilie was mistaken on this point. Abner Womack was the much younger half-brother of Elizabeth Womack Cawthon. Abner Womack fought in the Revolutionary War, and received a pension while living in Butler Co, KY; his pension application reveals he was born in 1764, after Martha Womack Bean was born in 1758, so no way was Abner her father. In fact, the Cothern book PDF also has a letter from the lawyer of Abner Womack of Butler Co, KY to Asa Dupuy concerning Abner's share of his uncle William Womack's estate. I will discuss the actual Womack father of Martha Womack Bean and Sarah "Sally" Womack McBee below.
  • The John Spradlin mentioned by Stevilie was John Spradling, husband of Mary Womack, sister to Elizabeth Womack Cawthon.
  • By the "Western Country", Stevilie just meant west of north-east Georgia, which included Middle Tennessee, where Robert Bean had moved.
The letter from Frederick Stevilie to Asa Dupuy was my proof that Martha, wife of Robert Bean, was really a Womack. Furthermore, the letter places Martha Womack Bean in the Womack family related to the William Womack who died in 1790 in Charlotte Co, VA. This is important, because it places Martha in an entirely different Womack DNA lineage than that of Jacob Womack of Watauga, who was claimed by Lowry Franklin Owens to be Martha's father.

The letter also revealed a previously unknown sister for Martha, Sarah Womack, wife of James McBee. In the Francis Marion Womack letter (mentioned above), he stated that "There were many of the Beans, McBees, Pains, and other families connected to father's family" in the Swedens Cove area of Marion County Tennessee; and he also state that his uncle, William "Buck" Womack married a McBee, whom we know from census records was Sarah McBee (she was quite likely a daughter or granddaughter of James McBee and Sarah Womack). James McBee was the brother of Joanna McBee, wife of Robert Walters of Franklin Co, GA, who had 4 Walters children who married 4 Cawthon children of Elizabeth Womack Cawthon.

This will likely be a two or three parter essay, and I will continue later.

1 comment:

Nancy Caffee said...

I am a descendant of the Bean's of Tennessee I would like the true facts if possible my line is through William Obadiah Bean. This article is very interesting.