This page explores some Beard family legends, and what we know.

1. There were nine Beard brothers that came from England to West Virginia, they were given a land grant by King George.  Five of the brothers stayed in West Virginia, and four brothers moved out west and were never heard from again.

One reference as to who came with Thomas Beard is found in the book "History of Pocahontas County West Virginia", published in 1981 (Birthplace of Rivers), published by the Pocahontas County Historical Society, Inc in Marlinton, WV.  This reference says that "Thomas Beard, the ancestor of that name in Augusta, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas Counties, and his brother Edwin came from Scotland with the Scotch-Irish.   Edwin went to Georgia while Thomas settled in Augusta County near what is now the New Hope vicinity.".   There does not seem to be any other reference, and indeed there is confusion over whether Thomas was married to Jean McNutt, or Elizabeth, or Margaret, or what children he had exactly, or whether there might have been two Thomas Beard's living in Augusta County at the same time.

A Thomas did settle in that area (Augusta County, VA., south of present day Staunton) as confirmed by the land deed record:

Compiled by Norma Jennings1997-1998
265 19 Nov. 1747 (432) L27 Current money Virginia, George Brackenridge to Thomas Beard, 309 1/2 acres in Beverly Manor; corner to James Lynn :& John Tate; corner to David Steel. Teste: James FULTON, Samuel Wilson, Samuel Steel. Acknowledged by George, 18 Nov. 1747 and Ann rel, dower.

and this site has been located on the land maps of the time.

There are other Beards who settled in that area around the same time.   Some were from Germany, but there were others that were Scotch-Irish.  One of these has been sited previously:


Another Beard which settled close by in Brunswick/Lunenberg/Bedford county of Virginia is John Beard (c1700-1780) and his wife Elizabeth, who appeared there in the 1720's.   What is now Bedford County was adjacent to Augusta County.  John first patented land in Lunenberg Co. in 1743.  John and Elizabeth had 5-7 children: Agnes m. Wm Rutherford; Adam; Rachel m Edward Phair; Elizabeth m Archibald Campbell; Hanna m. Wm Rutherford.  Other possible daughters are Alice m Henry Brown; and Ann m Robert Russell.  John Beard died in 1780 in Bedford County, VA and his wife Elizabeth died post 1788 in what is now Campbell County, VA. Their son Adam lived and died in Bedford county.   His son Adam moved to what is now Mason County, WV circa 1838.  (information regarding John Beard and his descendents provided by Mike Beard).

There is a lot of similarity between John Beard's children, Edward's children, and the Thomas Beard children's names.  Was Edward here really Edwin Beard that was mentioned in the Price historical sketches (as moved to Georgia)?  He was 16 years younger than Thomas.  Was he related?  The author of this site wonders the same.  Note that Thomas Beard had a father, a son, and a brother named John.

The reference to the King George II Land Grant I believe is related to the Beverly Manor area where Thomas Beard bought the original 309 acres of land.   Beverly Manor is an area around Augusta County.   The author of Edwin Beards web site says:

In 1732 and later, the Scotch-Irish who came to America via Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were not welcomed by the original Pennsylvania settlers who did not take too kindly to this new group of foreigners which included mostly Germans and the Scotch-Irish.  For this reason, many moved to the rugged prairie land in the Beverly Manor area with the Scotch-Irish settling what is presently known as the Virginia county of Augusta.  These strong people tamed this barren land (note that the land was not forested as a result of the native Indians routinely burning the land to hunt buffalo) into farm land, built churches, schools and fought in the American Revolution against the King of England.

On Feb. 27th, 1749, William Beverly of Plainfield, Essex County, Va. the owner of Beverly Manor a tract of 120,000 acres surrounding Staunton, Va. , conveyed to Thomas Peerie, of the County of Augusta, Planter, a tract of 375 acres in the County of Augusta, Shenadore, part of the tract called and known as "Beverly Manor."  This land was joined on the east by a tract conveyed on the same date by said Beverly to James Peery.  It was bounded on the North by lands of Robert Young, on the northwest by William McClintock and on the south by John Campbell.  On this same date, Beverly conveyed lands to George Peery and Thomas Kirkpatrick, and on the 26th of the same month, conveyed lands to William McClintock.

The following information from the web site details the opening of the Beverly Manor to immigrants:

The opening of William Beverly's Manor on the headwaters of the Shenandoah River under the patent issued by Gov. William Gooch (himself Scots/Irish) on 6 September, 1736, and the information that Benjamin Borden had received a patent to a tract of land in Frederick County, on the Shenandoah issued 3 October, 1734, which was to be known as “Borden's Manor” (or Borden's Tract) beckoned to the Scots/Irish settlers who had grown discontented with things in Pennsylvania. The Penn Proprietress had decided that some present occupants of lands in Lancaster County could be “retire” to new lands, farther west, to make way for the survey of a manor in the Lancaster area. This coupled with the Dutch Quaker neighbors policy of refusal to condone any means of self-defense against the Indians made the Scots/Irish settlers ready to answer the call to the Valley of Virginia. Quite often a member of the family came up the valley, located a tract, engaged it, and returned to Pennsylvania for the other members of his family and his kin. Then they, and others, who were impressed with the report of the new lands, would form a caravan heading for the Virginia frontier.  This is probably exactly what occurred with some of these early pioneer McDowells.

So in some respect, the Beard's settling on land which was originally granted by King George II was true in that they settled on Beverly Manor.  There is also some reference but nothing definitive that Thomas Beard first owned land in Borden's grant (which is south of the Beverly Grant).   Thomas's son John went over the mountains to Renick's Valley and settled in West Virginia; which is who many of the Beards in the Hillsboro, Marlinton, Beard, in Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties were descended from.

We do find that the story of nine brothers coming over is not supported by any historical references, including Wills, ship's manifests, or land transactions at the time.  This observation made by Mike Beard and I would support his conclusion that this is "wishful thinking" attitude of making all of the Beard families connect.

[Update - 18 October 2007] Additional information has come to light with regards to the immigration of Thomas Beard, reference book by Pauline Beard Cooney / Austin, TX / 1979.   Pauline relates the immigration of the family of John Beard, Thomas Beard's father, around 1720; first to NewCastle, PA and then to Lancaster, PA area.  Thomas then went to settle in the Augusta County area in 1747.

Beard Road Near Staunton, VA

The family of John Beard including five sons (Robert, John, William, James, and Thomas) as well as a daughter Hannah.  John Beard immigrated from Strabane, County Tyrone; in Ireland, to America.   John's grandfather, also named John Beard, settled in Strabane with James Hamilton; Earl of Abercorn, at the Plantation of Ulster.  Both John, Sr., and his son James, were "smiths" and had considerable holdings in that area.

The account of Pauline Beard Cooney is derived from previous information published by Fermine Baird Catchings, in her book "Baird and Beard Families".   Pauline's account has been challenged by others in the Beard/Bard/Baird lines, so the actual history remains unclear.

It will be interesting to follow the research of this new information, and to trace the relationship of the Virginia and West Virginia Beards through Thomas Beard and his brothers.  Perhaps there is some truth to the Legend after all!


2. The Beards were related to the famous author, Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck was born in Hillsboro, WV, her maiden name being Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker. Her father was a Presbyterian missionaries who were based in China.   Her parents were at home in West Virginia at the time that Pearl was born, but returned shortly after her birth to Zhenjiang, China (in 1892) where Pearl married John Lassing Buck (whom she eventually divorced).

According to a reference in my mother (Shirley Beard Fairchild's) scrapbook, Pearl Buck's father was one of four brothers, all Presbyterian ministers.  Her uncle, David, officiated at the wedding of a Beard family, this may have been Josiah Paul Beard or Julian Lynn Beard, I am not sure.  Also according to that reference, the Beards always felt very close to the Sydenstricker family for that reason.

I have looked up Pearl Sydenstricker, and her father Absalom Sydenstricker (b 1852) was indeed one of four brothers, including David Spottswood, John Marion, Christopher, Absalom, and Franklin Pierce.  Her father also had two sisters, Mary Catherine and Rebecca E.  So David indeed existed and was born 1835 in Lewistown, Spottsylvania, WV. The time when he was born would suggest he performed marriages as early as 1862, and to the very early 1900's.

With the dates given when he would have conducted marriages, it is likely he officiated at Josiah Paul Beard / Nancy Grace Kinnison (1901) when David was 66.  David died in 1911, so it is not possible that he officiated at Julian Lynn Beard (or one of his siblings), that would have been around 1922

David Spottswood Syndenstricker certainly officiated over various Beard funerals, including Mattie Beard, wife of Joseph Beard.   He also officiated at the wedding of Fannie Cameron Beard and Richard Valentine in October 1878, at the Oak Grove Presbyterian church.

[10 Dec 2006] An additional note is that Mary Agnus Beard married Alvin Clark; and their daughter Mary Blanche Clark married Thomas A. Sydenstricker.   Thomas was certainly related to David Spottswood Syndenstricker, so there appears to be a closer relationship than just "friends of the family...".

[05 May 2007] According to my visit to Pocahontas County, David was a very strong Pastor of the Oak Grove Church for many years.  Oak Grove Presbyterian was a "missionary" church, and founded several outbound chapels (such as the Beard Chapel in Beard, WV; about 8 miles away from Hillsboro).   It is believed that this missionary zeal is what inspired Pearl Syndenstricker's mother and father to go to China as missionaries, on which experience Pearl wrote the famous book, The Good Earth.   Given the fact that the Beard's lived right next to the Oak Grove Church and were so involved in that Church (Richard Beard built the Beard Chapel) it is almost certain they were close neighbors of the Sydenstrickers.

[31 July 2008] The following interesting article from the Greenbrier independent discusses Pearl S. Buck's parents leaving Pocahontas County for China --  Rev. Absalom Syndenstricker and family will leave this week for their work in China.   Our best wishes accompany them to that far distant land, where they have labored so arduously to clear away the darkness that shuts out the glorious light of the Gospel.

3. We are related to John Kellison, who played football with the Philadelphia Eagles

My mother remembers visiting John Kellison, whom she believes Paul Kellison Beard was named for; and whom she described was "7 feet tall...".  

John Snowden Kellison was 6'1" tall, and was born on Nov 3, 1886 in Buckeye, WV.  He appeared to play for the Philadelphia Eagles in the years 1920-1922.  He went to college at West Virginia Wesleyan.  A very interesting story regarding John Kellison, and how he played in secret for the Philadelphia Eagles, can be found at the web site: http://archive.profootballweekly.com/content/archives/features_1999/carroll_110199.asp.

According to Social Security Records, John died in May of 1971.

I have not been able to track down the exact genealogy of John Kellison.   Nancy Kellison was certainly Beulah Weiford Beard's mother, and it is probable we are related to John.

Note that Kellison was an "old family name" as my brother Paul Kellison Beard was named for him.  However in the genealogy, the real spelling of the family was "Callison" which seems to be used interchangeably with "Kellison".




A newspaper clipping states "Kellison, who still lives in his native Hillsboro, first played English Rugby in Pocahontas County and then football at West Virginia Weslyeyan -- eight years, four as a prep student and four as a collegian.   Long associated in coaching with Earle (Greasy) Neale, who is already a member of the W. Va. Hall of Fame, "Kelley" was long recognized as Neale's "right arm," in that he was so efficient as a line couch and so observing as a scout.  In 1913, he was named to the Washington and Jefferson all-opponent team in a season in which W&J had beaten Yale and Harvard.   He played three years with the Canton Bulldogs and one of his teammates was the immortal Jim Thorpe.   He served two years as an assistant coach at Wesleyan and then became head coach at Wheeling High.  He then moved to Marietta college for a year as an assistant, at W&J, under Neale, and helped mould the W&J Rose Bowl team of 1921.   Then came six years as line coach at Virginia under Neale and 10 years at Willam and Mary and 10 more as Neale's assistant coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, when they won four eastern conference and two national championships.  He later served two years as a talent scout for the Chicago Cardinals before retiring to his Hillsboro farm.


[Update 2 Dec 2006] John Snowden Kellison was the husband of Clarice Kinnison,

  Thomas Franklin Kinnison (married to Julia Hanna circa 1870 )

     son Colbert W. Kinnison (married to Bessie Myles Gillispie, circa 1920)

         daughter Clarice Kinnison - married John Snowden Kellison circa 1930

     daughter Nancy Grace Kinnison - married Josiah Paul Beard 1901

So John Snowden Kellison was the nephew of Nancy Grace Kinnison, my great grandmother.   My brother, Paul Kellison Beard, was named for the Kellisons (my mother remembering he was named for John S. Kellison, whom my parents knew and visited).

[Update July 7, 2008] My grandmother's scrapbook contains many pictures of the Kellisons, including the one above of Johnny and Fanny Kellison; and pictures of his sister Dove Kellison and other family members.  So the Weifords, Beards, and Kellisons were all close friends and relations.


4. Traditional Name of Julian Beard

My father (J. Ralph Beard) had always related a tradition where the oldest Beard son of each generation would be named Julian.  My father was not particularly fond of his first name, and went by his middle name "Ralph".  My father claimed he broke with this family tradition by naming his oldest son Brian (Brian Warren Beard), rather than "Julian".

Going back through the tree records, we find ..

  Julian Ralph Beard (oldest son)..

    Julian Lynn Beard (oldest son)..

       Richard McNeel Beard (oldest son)..

          William Thomas Beard (oldest son)..

             Samuel Beard (oldest son)..

so if this was a tradition, it did only go back one generation.

It should be noted, however, that there is a preponderance of Beard names that start with the letter J, including Julian, Josiah, James, John.   May of the J. Beard's went by their middle name (i.e. James Henry Moffet Beard as known as Moffet; Josiah Paul Beard was known by Paul, Josiah Jonas Beard believe went by Josiah however. (In fact, many people in this region historically used their middle, rather than first names).

[10 Dec 2006] While researching the "Kinnisons" we find that the mother of Nancy Grace Kinnison (my great grandmother) was Julia Ann Nana (Their son was Julian Lynn Beard, the first of the Beard's to be named - Julian).  In fact, she is referred to in the printed Obsequies for Mrs. Grace Kinnison Beard in 13 Nov 1966 as "Julian Nana Kinnison".  So my feeling is that Julian Lynn Beard (and subsequently my father; Julian Ralph Beard) was named actually for his grandmother (and g-grandmother); and Julian (based on Julia Ann) was really a woman's name.   So no wonder my father, Julian Ralph Beard, did not really like this name.