Family Stories

Robert Thompson Bean – Montgomery County to Wichita, Kansas

Robert Thompson Bean, Wholesale Grocer, was born June 15, 1842, near Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County. He is the oldest son of James and Mary Bean. His father was a highly respected farmer of Montgomery County, and gave him every advantage of education, which was interrupted, however, by ill health and the breaking out of the Civil War. In 1862, he enlisted in Company I, Eighth Confederate Regiment of Kentucky Cavalry, under the command of Gen. John H. Morgan, and was in the famous Morgan raid through Indiana and Ohio; was captured at Salineville, Ohio, July 26, 1863, and, with others of his command, taken to Camp Douglas, near Chicago. While in prison, he wrote to his friends for money, and made several attempts to escape, by bribing the guard, and excavations under the prison wall; but all his attempts were unavailing, and, after a weary confinement of over a year, he was exchanged, and arrived in Virginia a few weeks before the final surrender of the Confederate forces. Being without money and clothes, and unable to reach home, he was solicited by Col. James Ward, of Smyth County, Virginia, to teach a school in his neighborhood, his patron loaning him a suit of clothes in which to make his first appearance as a pedagogue. He taught several months, at thirteen dollars per month; in the mean time, bought homespun linen, and made himself a suit of clothes, in which he returned home. After a few years he began business as a retail grocer, in Mt. Sterling, with a small capital, and, by bending his whole energy to his business, today stands among the first business men of his county, and controls one of the largest trades in that portion of the state. In 1874, he became a member of the Baptist Church, and lives a life of irreproachable Christian character. Mr. Bean was married November 21, 1872, to Miss Pauline, daughter of Dr. Thomas Summers, of Bath County, Kentucky.

from The Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky, J.M. Armstrong and Company, 1878, reproduced by Southern Historical Press, PO Box 1267, 375 West Broad Street, Greenville, SC 29601. I have their permission to use this information.

November 24, 1872, R. T. Bean and Miss Pauline Summers were married by J. Pike Powers, at T. H. Summers, witnesses Richard Reid and James Bean, Montgomery County.

Robert and Pauline moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1886. Since the above biography was written a few years earlier, there was, naturally, no mention of this move.

The Wichita Eagle, Wichita, Kansas

Friday, July 1, 1887

The partnership heretofore existing between J. T. Figg, J. N. Dooley and R. T. Bean is this day dissolved by mutual consent, J. T. Figg and J. N. Dooley retiring.

The business will be continued by R. T. Bean who will settle and collect all claims in which J. T. Figg & Co. are interested.

Wichita, Kansas, June 1st, 1887

Jno. T. Figg, R. T. Bean, J. N. Dooley

R. T. Bean was president of the Fourth National Bank, from The Wichita Eagle, October 6, 1889.

The Wichita Eagle

June 21, 1899

In an article about his son, Richard, who graduated from high school in 1899, it spoke of Richard’s call to duty for the Spanish-American War – similar to his father in the Civil War.  He was a member of the First Kentucky volunteers.  Further in the article it talks about his father, R. T. Bean, who was ‘formerly president of the Fourth National Bank of this city and now manager of the Wichita Live Stock Commission Company, Exchange Building at the Union stock yards.”  It also mentions Robert T. Bean’s Civil War service, ‘His father, Colonel R. T. Bean, served as a gallant and vigorous officer under the dashing General Morgan.’

As was the custom in many areas, survivors of the Civil War got together to tell their stories and reminisce about the old days.

The Wichita Eagle

November 19, 1911

South’s Vets Banqueted by J. N. Haymaker

Custom of Years Carried Out and Soldiers Under Stars and Bars Swap Stories of “Lost Cause”

Col. R. T. Bean was among those Confederate veterans who attended the above four course banquet.  Bean was toastmaster and ‘performed the functions of his office in his usual excellent manner.’  Col. Bean spoke of “My Recollections of the Battle of Hartsville, Tennessee, December, 1862.”  Many other veterans spoke of their remembrances during the war.  Judge J. N. Haymaker began the annual banquet four years ago.  This custom was especially prevalent throughout the south.

Pauline Summers Bean died March 10, 1912.

The Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas

Sunday, March 10, 1912

Mrs. R. T. Bean Dead

Mrs. R. T. Bean, 65 years of age, died this morning at 1:15 at the Wichita hospital. No arrangements for burial will be made until word is received from Mrs. Bean’s children in Topeka.

Mrs. Bean, who was 67 years of age, had been at the hospital for the last 30 days, suffering with cancer of the stomach. She had been a resident of Wichita since 1886, ,having come here from Mt. Sterling, Ky. Mr. and Mrs. Bean resided at 1419 Fairview Avenue.

Mrs. Bean is survived by her husband, Colonel Bean, well known in this city; one daughter, Miss Mary Bean, who is a teacher in Sayre College in Lexington, Ky., and two sons, Robert Bean, of Viesca, Mexico, and Richard Bean of Louisville, Ky.

The following is my favorite article written about Col. Bean. I feel his pain of leaving Kentucky country ham behind – one of the few things I’ve truly missed since moving to Michigan – other than bourbon chocolate cherries! I’ve asked in several grocery stores, but everyone gives me a blank look when I ask for country ham!

The Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas

Sunday, May 17, 1914

Colonel R. T. Bean has received from his old home at Mt. Sterling, Ky., a quantity of country ham smoked with hickory chips for use at the banquet [Civil War]. No other ham tastes so good as the hickory cured ham, and the members consider this a luxury.

The Mt. Sterling Advocate, Montgomery County, Kentucky

Tuesday, July 19, 1921

R. T. Bean Dies in Wichita, Kansas

Robert T. Bean, aged 78 years, a native of this county, and for many years a leading business man here, died suddenly in his apartment in Wichita, Kansas, on last Sunday morning about 2 o’clock from heart disease. Mr. Bean is survived by two sons, Richard M. Bean, president of the Louisville National Bank; Robert C. Bean, a prominent business man of Texas, and one daughter, Miss Mary C. Bean, teacher, of Lexington. He is also survived by three half brothers, of this county, W. E., Poyntz and Charles Bean. Burial was in Wichita cemetery on Monday.

Mr. Bean always acted according to his conviction and when the war of the states was inevitable he entered the Confederate army under General John Morgan, making an aggressive, brave soldier.

When here Mr. Bean was a member of the wholesale and retail grocery firm of Chiles, Bean & Co., and at one time this firm had a prosperous general mercantile business and a lime kiln at Cornwell and also had large land holdings in now the rich coal and oil districts of Eastern Kentucky. When Wichita was on an almost unparalleled boom some fifty and more years ago Mr. Bean closed his mercantile interest here and went to this western city and engaged in the real estate business. At one time had he cashed in he would have numbered among the millionaires, but like the many, while waiting for larger increases the boom exploded and from the heights he sank to the bottom, and the large accumulation of his younger days went with the wreck. His fortune of the past was never regained, but he continued active in business until the end came. The day prior to his demise he had written a business letter to Robert Trimble, Sr., in which he complained of the intense heat, saying, unless a change should come he could not survive the heat, and that very night the end did come. While Mr. Bean was always an active business man he was also a leader in church affairs. For years and until he made Wichita his home, he was a deacon and the treasurer of the Mt. Sterling Baptist church. A man of money, he always arranged for church obligations, and instead of seeing his church behind, he met her needs. His wife, who was Miss Pauline Summers, preceded him to the grave many years ago, and it is by her side he rests from his labors. Of him it can be truthfully said, he was an honest, patriotic Christian gentleman.

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