Hugh Beard, the son of Samuel and Rebecca, was born between 1780 and 1790 in either the Valley of Virginia or in Eastern Tennessee, as his parents moved into Eastern Tennessee in about 1783. Unfortunately, he died between 1845, when he was listed on the state census for Panola County, Mississippi, and 1850, when he was not listed on that census, the first one that provided all the names of the family. Because of the gaps in early records, there is a lot that we just do not know about Hugh. Because of the sad state of burned family records in the Deep South, there is a good bit that we do not know about his descendants. That said, the following history of Hugh and his family does give us a good idea of the life and movements of the family.
Hugh grew up in Greene County and its parent county of Washington in Eastern Tennessee and no doubt spent a lot of time on and around the Nolichuckey River there, on which his father and uncles and probably his grandfather owned land. When a young adolescent, he made the journey up to what would become Adair County, Kentucky with his extended family and many allied families. The Beards were buying their lands there by 1798 and by 1800, they were well settled on Kentucky's Green River on land that Hugh's father Samuel had purchased from General George Rogers Clark. According to old accounts of the family, Samuel had a reputation as a proficient hunter and no doubt he taught all his sons the same skills.
Samuel and some of his sons moved into central Tennessee in the 1812-1820 range and records are found for them in Maury County and then in Bedford County, which counties are contiguous. Hugh Beard probably was one of the two Hugh Beards recorded as serving in the War of 1812 from Adair County, Kentucky. The other Hugh listed may have been his cousin, Hugh S. Beard, the son of old Hugh Beard. Both men served in the 1812 and 1813 years and details of the records can be found in the Timeline listed in the 1812-1813 period.
Hugh seems to have married a Clendennon/Clendennin daughter between the years 1810 and 1819. In 1810, John Clendennon died in Sevier County, Tennessee and left 212 acres of land on Flat Creek in Sevier County to his heirs, listed as his wife Mary, James, John, Polly and Nancy Clendennon, Ester McGee (wife of John McGee), Jenny Beard (wife of James Beard, who we think was the cousin of our Hugh), and Betsey Clabaugh, the wife of Charles Clabaugh. In 1819, court papers pertaining to the estate of John Clendennon were executed which listed all the heirs again--nine years later, after the marriage of Hugh Beard to one of the daughters. Back then, husbands were the legal representatives for their wives and were therefore listed in the documents, many times in place of the wife or daughter's name. In this list was included "Hugh Beard of Bedford County, Tennessee" as well as "James Beard of Maury County, Tennessee". In the original list of heirs in 1810, Hugh Beard was not listed married to one of John's daughters and there were two unmarried daughters, Polly (Mary?) and Nancy, so it appears that he married one of these two daughters between 1810 and 1819. In the 1820 census in Bedford County, there were many sons both grown and not grown listed in Samuel Beard's household and Hugh and his wife probably lived there, even though the age groups may be checked incorrectly, as happened frequently. In another Clendenning/Clendennon document filed in 1824, both Polly and Nancy were still listed as heirs so we assume both were still living then.
By 1830, Hugh's parents Samuel and Rebecca Beard had moved two counties west to Henderson County, Tennessee, leaving grown sons Hugh and Elijah Beard listed as heads of households on the Bedford County census that year. They lived in the small community called Flat Creek. On this census, Hugh is listed with seven males in his home, but we think that five of them were his own sons and the two elder ones were his younger brothers, possibly David and Samuel. Two young females were listed, but we have so far name and knowledge of only one, Seralda. The eldest female listed was 20 to 30 years old, and Hugh was aged 40 to 50. It certainly could be that his first wife had died and he was married to his second wife before this census. From recent research, we have found that a Mary "Polly" Burrow Grammer of Bedford County, Tennessee married a Beard man and lived "in the state of Mississippi" in estate papers of her mother, Elizabeth Grammer, filed in the 1850s. We believe that this is the Mary Beard, born about 1797/9 in Georgia, who appears on the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Panola County, Mississippi as the widow of Hugh. Mary was born 14 April 1799, according to family records in her father's handwriting, in probably Hancock County, Georgia. She was the daughter of John Grammer and Elizabeth Abernathy. Seralda Beard Houston, the only offspring to survive until the 1880 census when such information was obtained, listed the birth state of her mother as Georgia. Seralda was born about 1824 in Tennessee.
About 1835, Hugh's father Samuel died in Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee on a visit to a son there. Shortly thereafter, Hugh and his family along with some children of his brother James Beard and some allied families went into the Deep South and settled on lands in Panola County, Mississippi. Panola was a new frontier, created in February 1836 as one of twelve new counties, from land ceded in the Session of 1832. This part of Mississippi had excellent soil and water and Panola was considered one of the richest, fastest growing places to settle at this time. The word "panola" is the Indian word for cotton, and this was the main cash crop of the area known to Mississippians as "the hills" for the rolling green countryside. The Beards are said to have settled east of Long Creek with Tennessee neighbors like the Bynums and others. In 1840, Hugh "Brora or Borad or Board" is listed there, but it is definitely our Hugh Beard. He is listed next door to Enoch Bynum's family, and one of Hugh's sons would eventually marry one of the Bynum daughters. Hugh is now 50 to 60. His wife is 40 to 50, which does not match the 1830 wife. The age does fit his widow Mary, who is listed on the 1850 census as age 53. Hugh is listed in Panola County Tax List of 1841 with five males and three females in the home; he is listed on the 1845 Tax List in the same county with "eight in household". That is the last record we have of him, as he died before 1850.
And so we find all our Mississippi Beard families in 1850, living in a cluster of relations, all entwined in each other's lives for so many years. They are not rich large plantation owners with many slaves and thousands of acres, but they are landed and each male of adult age owns a good number of good Panola soil There seemed to be enough left from Hugh and his deceased brother James to provide all the sons with a good place to settle and prosper. Hugh had passed away, but the future looked secure in such a place, and he had been with them there for over ten years and overseen the hard business of clearing and planting, planning and building their Mississippi homes.
On the 1850 census, Hugh's widow Mary was listed as 53 years old and born in Georgia, so she could not be the Clendennon wife. Another reason to believe she was a second or even a third wife is her much younger age than Hugh. There were some grown children of Hugh in their own homes, but the ones still at home were Ely, age 20; Martha J., age 18; David, age 16; Elijah, age 15; Nathan, age 12; and Elizabeth, age 9. All the children were born in Tennessee until Nathan, born about 1838 in Panola County. In 1853, Mary was listed on the state census of Mississippi with five males and three females in the home.
In 1860, Mary "Biard" was listed in Panola County with son E. M., age 34; Martha Rodgers, age 28 (and already a widow with three children); W. G. Rodgers, her son born 1852; Sarah Rodgers, her daughter born 1854; Martha A. E. Rodgers, her daughter born 1856; Elizabeth Beard, 19; Eliza M. Beard, age 3, and David E. Beard, age 25. We believe that little Eliza was Mary's granddaughter, the daughter of son Nathan.)
The Mississippi heritage of this line is a source of Deep South pride and history, but it came with a high price. Hugh and the others could not have known that this rich area would someday be such a bloody battleground, nor could they realize that so many sons would be lost in the struggle and the family's future would be so shattered by it. Most of Hugh's sons served in Mississippi units in the Civil War, and a majority of them do not seem to have lived through it. Our Beard family, like so many others, was decimated by the Civil War and their family history records were consumed by the burning courthouses that were ignited across the landscape of the South. It is a challenge to find the traces of them now, but every find is a victory and a glimpse into the lives before the War. All but one of the seven probable sons of Hugh and Mary Beard of Panola County just disappear from the records. When the War was over, only one, William C. Beard, can still be found. Of the three daughters of the family, we know the post war history of only one, Seralda Beard who married Joseph Houston. One son and one daughter were left to carry on. It is a blessing that James Mitchell Beard did marry and fathered two vigorous sons before he died, for those sons established a large line of Beards who today fly the flag in Texas, where both of the grandsons of Hugh Beard eventually made homes for their descendants.
By 1870, Mary had died and was not listed. Of all her children, only William and Seralda Beard Houston seem to still be alive by then. Some of the other relatives--the Wards and the James Graham Beard family, descendants of Hugh Beard's brother James, had made new homes in White and Independence Counties, Arkansas, and some were still in Panola County, where there would be Beards for the next 175 years and are still today. The following is a listing of the children of Hugh Beard. We do not know the mother's names of these children yet. At the end of this list is information concerning some Beards who may or may not be related to Hugh Beard, but because of location and ages are included as possible relations.
The following individuals are found near our Beard families in Panola County censuses but it is not known what their relationship is to our family. They are mentioned here as possibilities only:
Andrew R. Beard is found on the 1850 census of Panola County. He was born about 1820 in Tennessee, so he could possibly be an older son of Hugh Beard or of Hugh's brother, James Beard. Andrew was married to a Feletia; she was born about 1822 in Tennessee.
Jessie W. Beard is found on the 1860 census only, in Panola County. He was born about 1824 in Tennessee. His wife Martha J. was born about 1836 in Tennessee. It is interesting that Seralda Beard Houston named a son Jessie, so we might look at this Jessie W. as a brother to her, but if so, where was he in 1850?