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Samuel Beard was born in June of 1754 in Augusta County, Virginia, specifically in the part of Augusta that became Botetourt County in 1769. There are records of only one Beard settler in this time in this location, and he was James Beard. Two probable siblings of Samuel were Hugh Beard and John Beard, both older than he was. There is some proof that both Hugh and Samuel named their eldest son and daughter James and Jane, so chances are good that these were their parents' names. The family lived on several hundred acres along the banks of the Cowpasture River that flows through the Shenandoah Valley. When Samuel was born, there was Indian unrest in the area, and the French and Indian War officially began in 1755. The families along the Cowpasture, when alerted to imminent danger, would hurry to the nearest fort, one of several built in a long line for protection of the settlers, where they would wait out the dangers along with their closest neighbors. He grew up knowing great danger and learning how to deal with fear. No doubt he became a hunter at an early age, and in later years in Kentucky he would be known as a great hunter.
Once grown, young men began serving in militia units as protection from Indian attack, and Samuel's first official tour of service was in the spring of 1779, when he entered service of the United States as a private volunteer soldier in Colonel John Dickinson's Regiment. We learn much about his activity from his Revolutionary War Pension Application, which he filed in 1832. Colonel Dickinson's unit was formed of men from Botetourt County, and the Colonel was from an old neighbor family on the Cowpasture. The captain of the unit was Samuel's brother, John Beard, and his lieutenant was John Patterson. They were called to protect the westernmost frontier of the settlement from the "invasions and savages" of the Shawnee tribe. This frontier was between the areas of Hot Springs and Warm Springs. Samuel recounted that his unit was to guard the frontier, observe the activities of the Indians, check the invasions, and "chastise the savages". He was a scout or a "spie", one who camped out and moved constantly in the summer, spring, and fall. In the winter, they took up quarters in forts on the frontiers. He served in this unit for two years, leaving them in 1781.
A grandson of Samuel Beard wrote of his family story that Samuel gave Rebecca a gold ring when he left for the Revolutionary War. Whether this meant an engagement ring, a wedding ring, or just a gift, we do not know, but it sounds like an engagement. Rebecca was no doubt a daughter of one of the Cowpasture families of this time.
In the spring of 1781, Botetourt Militia were called upon by the Continental forces to stand ready to serve. They were "detailed off" when called upon by the companies, but did not march as a body. Samuel served about ten months in this unit as a volunteer private. His commander was Colonel George Skillern, his captain was Joseph Prior/Pryor, and his lieutenant was his brother, John Beard. His first adventure was a short, six week march "to the borders of North Carolina". This, he said, was under Captain Alexander Handley/Hanley under Colonel Skillern. It occurred a short time before the Battle of Guilford Court House. Samuel recounted that he was then with a different unit about three or four weeks after the Battle of Guilford Court House, which was March 15, 1781. He furnished a wagon and team for the purpose of conveying the provisions for the army, and he seems to say that the army continued to use his team and wagon for the march to Yorktown. They marched from Botetourt County to Bottom's Bridge, below Richmond on the James River and joined the Continental Army under the command of General Muhlenberg. General George Washington, General Rochambeau, and the Marquis de Lafayette were with their forces on the opposite side of the river. After a few days, the entire army moved on to "Little York" and "invested the town". Lord Cornwallis surrendered. Accounts of other men applying for pensions recounted that this Virginia militia was positioned on a hill overlooking the British positions, next to a French battery. They described watching the British surrender their arms to the French and American forces. What a sight this must have been! Samuel's company was discharged and they all came home to the Valley. His application is full of facts as he tried to remember the sequence of events, but does not include many stories of adventures with the forces; Samuel appeared very matter of fact about his service.
Back in the Valley, Samuel settled down to tend his acres after the war years. In 1783, he was listed next to James Beard on a tax list in the Bath County records, and the notation is made that they are "just below the Bath line", so they were still in Botetourt County, or just under that county line, in Bath. Here are some good pictures of the type of land found along the Cowpasture River, with views of the Beard Mountains: http://www.bacovaproperties.com/Inactive%20or%20Sold%20Properties/Cowpasture_10_Acres.htm
Until proven wrong, we are identifying this James as the father of Hugh, John, and Samuel Beard, who are later found with him in other places. Samuel's eldest son was named James, and he was probably born during this period and named for his paternal grandfather. This was the last record of Samuel and his probable father, James, on the Virginia tax records. The next year, 1784, Richard Mayse was appointed overseer of a road "in the room of Samuel Beard", and that is the last mention of Samuel in Virginia. In 1783, Samuel's brothers John and Hugh are both found in the records of Greene County, Tennessee and are on the 1783 Tax List for Greene County that is famously full of Revolutionary War veterans called the "Nolichuckey Boys" for the river they settled alongside. Samuel and James Beard begin appearing in Greene County records soon thereafter. James purchased land on the south bank of the Nolichuckey River, extremely close to lands of Hugh and John Beard, on August 10, 1785. In the document he was listed as "James Beard, Esquire", indicating an older, established gentleman. Samuel's eldest daughter Jane married in 1792 in this county. Life was dangerous in the "Southwest Territory", called the first wild, wild west of America. The Cherokees and other tribes were constantly at war with the settlers here, and all the Beard men were listed in militia units, with John Sevier their commander. They lived on land along Horse Creek, a tributary of the Nolichuckey River, and many of the Valley of Virginia families were with them. Samuel is shown buying lands, serving as a witness for land transactions, and serving on jury duty in early Greene County, Tennessee. See the Timeline for all documented events of this period. From a close study of both Virginia and Eastern Tennessee documents and events, it is clear that Hugh and John Beard, together with several allied families, were in Eastern Tennessee by 1783, and that Samuel and the Beard men's probable father James Beard were still on the Cowpasture River at that time but moved into Eastern Tennessee and settled close by, probably in the year of 1784, and definitely by the year 1785. In 1792, Knox County was formed from Greene County, and there is evidence that our Beard families were now living near what would become Knoxville. Details of deeds and other records can be found in the Timeline .
Throughout these turbulent years, there was Indian unrest and many battles were fought. Interestingly, our family seems to have moved up en masse to Green and Adair Counties, Kentucky, in about 1798-1800, just as the Indian wars and struggles virtually came to a close. See the Adair County 1802 Tax List for a picture of our families in that year, all assembled in Adair County. A biography of one of Samuel's sons, Josiah, notes that Samuel was a noted hunter and settled on acreage along the Green River, giving land to his relations so that they may settle nearby. This appears correct, for at least two sons in laws are also listed on the same list. This account is taken from an old Kentucky published history; see the account here.
At some point, the second generation from Samuel and his brothers appear to have started settling on lands south of Adair County, in middle Tennessee. This seems to happen from about 1810 to 1820. Much of this land was set aside for military grants, but as the Bedford County, Tennessee records burned twice during the 1800s, documentation is not there for us to know how our Beards came by land there. By 1820, Samuel himself and his elder brother Hugh Beard were both listed on the census in Bedford County, Tennessee. By the year 1830, Samuel had moved just two counties west, to Henderson County, and was enumerated on the census there, with his son James nearby. Also listed on the same page as Samuel Beard was the widow Mary "Fausatt", who was the mother of John Faucett who married Samuel's granddaughter Sarah Elizabeth, as well as "Nancy Ward", the widow of Jeremiah Ward. Two Ward men married two granddaughters of Samuel and Rebecca. All of these granddaughters were the daughters of Samuel's son James, who lived "nearby", according to the old family histories. The 1830s in Tennessee were eventful years, as an economic downturn in farm and land prices was followed by a catastrophic tornado and a cholera epidemic. The Trail of Tears went right through this area of Tennessee and Samuel, the old Indian fighter, no doubt witnessed first hand that sad affair. In these early 1830s, Samuel was tending to his estate business. In 1832, he applied for his Revolutionary War pension, received a list of questions from the War Department, and in 1834, filed a more detailed application. He was approved and began drawing his pension. Also at this time, he appears to have visited in Adair County, Kentucky, and executed a land deal with one of his sons in law, Hugh S. Beard, who was also his nephew. Hugh S., the son of Samuel's brother Hugh Beard, had married Samuel's daughter Margaret Beard in 1808 in Adair County. This land transfer would, fifteen years later, generate one of the most important documents to our family, when the son of Hugh S. Beard, John A. Beard, would begin proceedings to clear the title to this land in order to mortgage or sell it. Every heir of Samuel Beard was listed in the court proceedings, and if the heir was deceased, their heirs were listed. Samuel was listed on the court papers, filed in Adair County in 1834, as "of Henderson County, Tennessee". A member of our family discovered this document in 2009, for which we are forever grateful. See an extraction of the court papers and a complete listing of the children of Samuel and Rebecca here.
We do not know when Rebecca Beard died. She seems to be alive on the 1830 census with Samuel. Samuel died between 1835 and 1836 "while on a visit to his son's home" in Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee, the neighboring county to Henderson County. He was said to have died of a heart problem. Samuel and Rebecca are no doubt buried in Henderson County, Tennessee, but their graves are as yet unfound and unmarked. Samuel is included on many lists of the Revolutionary War veterans who lived in Tennessee.
The children of Samuel and Rebecca Beard were: