Biography of

Brown Buren Beard


Born 25 Jun 1883, Winterburn
Died 06 Apr 1969
Married Nellie Blanche Gum, Greenbank, Pocahontas, WV, 27 Sep 1905

Brown Buren Beard was born at Winterburn June 26, 1883.  he had hazel eyes, stood six-foot one-inch tall and weighted 160 to 180 pounds.  he was married September 27, 1905, near Green Bank to Nellie Blanche Gum, who was born near Green Bank February 3, 1884.  he died of heart trouble on Easter Sunday April 6, 1969, and his wife died at Marlinton March 27, 1978.  Brown and Blanche had two children, Virginia Raine born November 29, 1906 , east of Traveler's Repose, died of spinal meningitis July 31, 1907.  Jessie Brown was born May 6, 1915, at Bartow.  She was married November 29, 1941 to William Willard Powell, and they have three children; Susan Elizabeth, Jane Beard, and Ann Brown.  Brown Buren Beard served as Pocahontas County Deputy Assessor for Green Bank District from 1916 until 1920, and as Sheriff from 1920 until 1924.  he became a member of the County Court

Children Born
Virginia Raine Beard 29 Nov 1906
Jessie Brown Beard 06 May 1915


Picture on Left c. 1895 - Sitting - Lena Brown-Bright, Clyde Sutton, Claud Sutton, Lawrence Conrad, Fred Conrad, Clifford Arbogast, Crowley, Claud Ruckman, Vernie Brown, George Gum, Wash Arbogast, Hoxie Pugh, Charlie (George?) Brown, Odie Wooddell, Harden Sutton, Artie Arbogast.  Standing L-R: Lella Orndorff-Ervin, Elsie Ralston, Blanche Gum-Beard, Bessie Brown, Arch Pugh, Earl Sutton, Wallace Sutton, Carl Arbogast, Willie Arbogast, Henry Brown, Clarence (Wade?) Gum, Walter Brown, Will Pugh.

Mr. & Mrs. John Yeager.  He was son of Jacob Yeager.  She was Margaret Arbogast, daughter of Benjamin Arbogast.  Maternal Grandmother of Brown Buren Beard.   Must be about 1850.

L-R Hardin Sutton, Sherman Sutton, Brown Beard, Joe Woodell, Joe Gum.  About 1903.  Source: Mrs. William Powell.

Surveying Crew - Surveying land in the Bartow Area. Standing left-right Cecil Hines, B. Williams, ?, Mack Gilmore, ? Arbogast, Dennis Williams, Brown Beard, Bert Houchin



Obituary - Mrs. Brown Beard - Mrs. Nellie Blanche Gum Beard, 94, of Bartow, widow of Brown B. Beard, died Monday March 27, 1978, in Pocahontas Memorial Hospital.  Born February 3, 1894 at Green Bank, she was the daughter of Robert Noah and Barbara Ann Riley Gum.  Mrs. Beard was a lifelong member of the Pocahontas County and a member of the Bartow United Methodist Church since 1912.  She is survived by one daughter, Jennie Beard Powell, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.   Services will be held Thursday at 2 pm in the Wallace and Wallace Funeral Home Chapel by the Rev. David Rittenhouse with burial in the Arbovale Cemetery.
Brown Buren Beard
Nellie Blanche Gum Beard

When Papa was born on the upper Greenbrier on June 26, 1883, his uncle Brown Yeager asked my grandmother to name the baby after him. Also, his uncle Adam Martin Van Buren Arbogast made the same request. So the eighth child of Eveline Yeager and Josiah Osborne Beard was christened, Brown Buren.

One of 13 children, Brown Buren was born in a log house, the old Yokum house that stood in a field near the Winterburn church. At the time of his birth, the post office for the area was Traveler’s Repose and his cousin Peter Dilley was postmaster. When he was a small boy the family moved to Green Bank near Bruffey School. Shortly thereafter, his father purchased the Jacob Gum farm on the plateau that later became the site of NRAO.

His eight years of elementary education were at Mosley Falt and Bruffey, one-room schools near Green Bank. Although he wanted to go to college and study law, instead he helped his father farm and work in the lumber woods at Yeahoo and Cheat Mt. until 1905, at which time he sold his inherited land to his brother and built his first house at the newly founded town of Dunlevie.

On September 27, 1905, he married Nellie Blanche Gum, the youngest daughter of Barbara Ann Riley and Robert Noah Gum at their home near Green Bank at eight o’clock in the morning. Papa had stayed up all night before his wedding chopping corn. He felt he could not leave his father in harvest season with work undone. The newlyweds went by horse and buggy to Harrisonburg, VA for a two week honeymoon.

Having a team of horses and a lot of physical strength – he was over 6 feet tall, 180 pounds and 22 years old – he began as a drayman in Dunlevie. Shortly he was hired by the Company to work in the store and post office and operate the supply cars to the lumber camps.

After 6 years in Dunlevie, he sold his house and lot and purchased in 1912, Traveler’s Repose, the property of his pioneer ancestor, John Yeager. Her he lived, farmed, saw milled, retail merchandized, and poll ticketed the remainder of his life.

Beginning in 1916, he served Pocahontas County as deputy assessor, sheriff, and then for 26 years as member and of times president of the County Court. He was sheriff during the prohibition, and enjoyed chasing bootleggers as much as he did foxes. He was a trustee of Bartow School. He gave generously of his time and money to any worth while project. He worked diligently on many community projects among them the restoration of the CCC camp and the addition to Bartow church. There, at Camp Thornwood, a building bears his name.

As a child, Papa and I were inseparable. I never let him out of my sight. When I bothered him too much he put my hands behind me and hand cuffed them, but I still tagged along after him. He was a hard taskmaster. I couldn’t quite a job assigned to me because I was tired, I stayed until I was finished. Often my chore was to hitch 300 hay shocks in a day.

Since Papa was for so many years in public office, there was a never ending stream of people to our house seeking his advice and help. He made himself available no matter what time of day or night or the inconvenience. Once in a blinding snow storm he brought two persons from the Sinks and five men from a plane that was down in our meadow to our house and kept them for five days and refused to accept pay. Always I have thought of him as a man who lived in a house by the side of a road and truly a friend of man.

I asked some older neighbors what they thought of my father. One said “His word was as good as his bond”. Another said he was the hardest worker he had ever known. Yet another said “He was like a father to me”. All said he was honest and a true lover of people, an Abou Ben Adhem. He died Easter Sunday, April 6, 1969 and is buried in Arbovale on the plateau where he lived and grew to manhood.

My mother was a lifelong pillar of the Bartow Methodist church where she was organist, teacher of teen age girls, and later the adults. She was born February 3, 1884 at the old Hartman-Bruffey house in Hevener’s mill near Green Bank. Only two years old when her mother died, she developed early in life strong character traits that carried her through, as she used to say “thick and thin”. No matter what travail or adversity came her way, her philosophy was “This too will pass away”. She was industrious, neat, patient, and devout. She was a true homebody. Any time she spent outside her home was at church with the young people of the community. She loved to go “bell-snickling”. No one ever suspected who she was.

Mamma adored her three grandchildren and had unlimited patience with them. She was a strong healthy person who rarely experienced physical pain. Except for a broken hip at 94 and a hospital contracted staff infection, she undoubtedly would have been a centenarian. She died March 27, 1978 and is buried in the Beard plot in Arbovale.

My cousin, Randolph Bledsoe, lived with us for many years. We were thereafter like brother and sister. There was no child life for me, because some of my 50 first cousins where frequently visiting with us. In the lot beside our house we played croquet everyday the weather permitted. Papa was always the winner. At night there was a game of flinch, authors, or carom with both of my parents playing.

When I left for school in 1932 my folks were lonely and again Traveler’s Repose became an Inn, sleeping 16 persons. It was operated as a tourist home until 1962. Many of the guests became life long friends and come even now to visit.

Papa and Mamma had two children; Virginia Raine born Nov 29, 1906; died Aug 1, 1907; Jessie Browne, born May 6 1915. The three grandchildren are Susan Elizabeth Powell Leister (10-5-46) of Chicago, IL; Jane Beard Powell Nettles (9-6-49) of Charlestown, WV; and Jessica Anne Brown Powell Cheatham (7-21-52) of San Diego, CA.
The Pocahontas Times - Nov 1962

Among the very early pioneers of Greenbrier County was John Beard and his wife, Jennett Wallace.  John was a captain in the Revolutionary War and two of his sons served as officers in the War of 1812.  There were eleven children born to this union.  In John's will dated May 11, 1808 he left to his youngest son Josiah Beard the Locust Creek Plantation and Mills.  Josiah Beard was born in 1792, and when he became of age he located on the land left to him by his father.   He married Rachel Cameron Poage, and they, in turn were the parents of eleven children.  One of these children was Wallace Warwick Beard, the father of William Warwick Beard, who unveiled the portrait of his grandfather in the courthouse at Marlinton on November 14.  In March, 1821, the Virginia legislature passed a resolution to form a new county which was given the name of Pocahontas.  Josiah Beard was appointed as the first county clerk, with Thomas Beard, his brother, as one of the bondsmen.   The first court was held on March 5, 1822, at the residence of John Bradshaw in Huntersville, Virginia, now West Virginia.

Many years ago Mrs. Don (Wilma Beard) Harper, of Elkins, was asked if she had, or could locate, a picture of Josiah Beard to be used for the purpose it is being used.  About a year ago she obtained a daguerreotype of Josiah Beard from his grandson from which she had it copied and painted in oil by her husbands niece, Arlene Bailey Davis.  As her father, Josiah Osborne Beard, was a grand-nephew of Josiah Beard, the Clerk, and he was named for him, it was with pride and pleasure that she shred the honor seeing Josiah Beard's grandson, William Warwick Beard, unveil the painting, commemorating for Pocahontas County one of the historical events associated with the formation of the county.  Brown B. Beard, serving for a number of years as a member of this court, is also the son of Josiah Osborne Beard.  Both are direct descendents of Major Samuel Beard of Greenbrier County, mentioned above.


Pocahontas County

Town of Durbin

Mountainous on N.S. and W. narrow valleys N. and S. along Greenbrier River, which marks S. boundary;  fertile narrow valleys reaching back into the hills, area 5 sq. miles; population 1000.

Hills wooded, pine and maple, scrub oak numerous; pasture and sheep grazing, clear running brooks, trout plentiful.  (April, May and June).

Named for Charles Durbin, who originally owned all the land.  The town was incorporated 1905.

U.S. 250 enters N.W. at West Durbin crossing W. branch of Greenbrier, well designed bridge and approach view from Cheat Mt. above town.  Branch lines of the Chesapeake and Ohio and West Maryland R.R. parallels W. branch of Greenbrier River freight and passenger.  U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station Greenbrier District located in the center of the town.  All hunting and fishing information gratis.  Large graded school.  Me. Ep. and M.E. So. churches.  Pocahontas Tanning Co., (largest in the world).  Frank is the post office for Tanning Co.  Wilmoth and Durbin hotels.

Following U.S. 250 one mile from Durbin and Frank is the small town of Bartow.  Name for Gen. Bartow, a confederate general who was killed at the battle of Bull Run.  On December 12, 1861 the battle of Bartow was fought, this was a minor battle of the Civil War.

Here the road forks at the foot of Allegheny Mt. U.S. 250 crosses State 28.  (U.S. 250 is the old Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike, State 28 is the Old Green Bank Road).  Traveler's Repose, the home of B. B. Beard, located here, used to be a Tavern where the stage coaches changed horses.  Driving over 250, (a new hard surface road) is a beautiful mountainous drive for 17 miles to the Va. state line.

At the forks of the road, if one wishes you can follow the original Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike for nine miles.  The old road is still used as a mail route for Staunton to Durbin mail.  At top of the mountain is the old Dunkard Church, built in 1900.  One of the peculiarities of the church, is the pulpit is placed just inside the door and the congregation faces the entrance of the church.

Opposite the church is an old battlefield.  Here the Allegheny Mt. battle was fought Dec. 13, 1861.  The Confederates had a winter camp on top of the mountain for five months with Gen. W. W. Loring and Col. Edward Johnston in command.  You can see piles of stone placed at regular intervals which represent the chimneys of the log cabins, where the soldiers were quartered.  Trenches, fortifications and graves of the soldiers, which are just mounds,  no markers, can be seen.  The land is now used for pasture.

Coming back to the forks of the road State 28 follows the E. branch of the Greenbrier River.  Three miles from Traveler's Repose is a permanent C.C.C. Camp, Camp Thornwood.  (Camp No. F-6).  The young men in this camp assist in the care of Greenbrier Division of the Monongalia National Forest.  This is an example of a model camp.

Five miles from the camp is the Smoke Camp Tower, manned by Camp Thornwood.  The government road from camp to tower is called Long Run and Smoke Creek Roads.  Continuing on State 28 you drive through the National Forest to Pendleton County line.

Yula Durrett