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Thomas Beard, one of the first US Marines

Fort Pitt

Page 877
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1.      THOMAS BEARD married NANCY Bet. 1773 – 1776..  

In Genealogy of the Burgess family Franklin Smith Farquhar states: “My Grandfather was Charles Burgess; his father was Franklin Burgess, son of Basil. My grandmother was Nancy Beard; her father was John Beard; son of Thomas Beard. I know little of the Beard family. They all passed away long before my time, except my grandmother. Legend has it that Thomas Beard came with his family from Westmoreland Co. Pa., to Freeport (now Fayette City) Pa. , where he became the first general merchant. The county records show that he was in business there in 1828.  How long he continued thus I have been unable to learn.  From the general history of Fayette County, Pa. by Franklin Ellis, published in 1882, I quote the following :

           " “Thomas Beard (an Irish refugee) one of the pioneer traders, kept a dry goods store on Second Street, near Union , (closest to J. C. King’s furniture shop).-----""

           " “William E. Fraser ) says that in 1827 Cookstown had three stores, of which the principal one was kept by Thomas Beard near the corner of Second and Union Streets.  ""


I hereby submit some additional data on the Beard family, Where I got the record I do not know, but I think it came from an old bible in possession of my aunt, Mrs. Sarah Ursula Krepps, wife of David Krepps, of Allenport, Pa. and a sister of my mother It follows;   John Beard, son of Thomas and Nancy Beard was born November 20, 1776. Ursula Burgess, wofe of John Beard, was born June 21, 1778. John Beard and Ursula Burgess were married May 12, 1803. To them were born four Children all of whom grew to maturity. Cynthia Born Oct. 3, 1808, Benjamin born Dec. 6, 1810, Lucy born Feb. 3, 1813 and Nancy born Apr. 20 1815."


In The Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania Thomas Beard appears in Derry, Westmoreland County, PA as one of its first settlers.  This part of PA was known as Indian country at that time. Records DO seem to support Thomas’ having been in Westmoreland very early and then had left by 1783.   In 1773 Derry was part of Armstrong, which at that time was part of Bedford.  It later became Derry in Westmoreland County.


The following Breads are found in the TRANSCRIPT OF TAXABLES IN THE COUNTY OF BEDFORD (Westmoreland today)  FOR THE YEAR 1773.  Whether there is any connection to Thomas is not known. 

Beard, James, 30 


Thomas Beard, 15 .0

Charles Beard, 15



Moses Beard, 7 .6


In 1777 Thomas was a sergeant in the Virginia 13th Regiment and volunteered to serve on the Rattletrap, a war ship, making an expedition to New Orleans.  The men on this mission were the first US Marines. He was discharged in June, 1779.  He had volunteered at Fort Pitt.  This unit was also known as the West Augusta Volunteers and was comprised of men from today's Westmoreland County.  The muster rolls were found in the Pennsylvania Archives.

Thomas and son, John Beard, lived in Mason, County Kentucky in the 1800 census.  Thomas may have stayed in that area for a while after he was discharged.  Exactly where he was and what he was doing in not known.  It is possible that he was the first general merchant in Fayette City but unlikely that he still was actively running the store in 1828 as he would have been quite elderly.

These 1826 records could apply to our Thomas:  "I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my much loved friends and acquaintance Hugh C. Ford, William D. Mullen & Thomas Baird all of Cookstown Fayette County Penna ……..Robert Colemary Esqr., as Mr. William Donaldson decd has made use of my name as one of Exetors without my knowledge I would wish this to be filed as a resignation as it is unpossible in my presant situation to act June 15th 1826, Hugh C Ford I therefore do resign all claim to act as one of the Executors of the estate of the late William Donaldson  Cookstown Fayette County 14th June 1826.         Thomas Baird"


2.  JOHN BAIRD (THOMAS1 BEARD) was born 1776, and died Bet. 1830 - 1840 in Fayette County, PA.  He married URSULA BURGESS 1803 in Prob. near Ripley, OH, daughter of BASIL BURGESS and ANNA SMITH.  She was born 1778 in prob Queen Caroline Parish, Anne Arundel, MD, and died Aft. 1840 in Fayette County, PA.


It is not known how John arrived in Brown County, OH.  Many young men migrated from MD and PA in the 1790's to Kentucky--some ended up settling across the Ohio River near Ripley, OH.  It is not known if John came by himself or with family. Although it seems likely that he came with either his father or brother, Thomas.


Speaking of Union Township, OH of which Ripley was a village, the historian says:  Other early settlers included Col James Poage, Archibald Tweed, Alexander Jolly, William Campbell, William Humphries, Peter Shaw, Christian Wiles, John Redman, John Forsythe, Dr. Alexander Campbell, Thomas Dickens, John Laughlin, JOHN BAIRD, Nathaniel Collins, Andrew Carr and William Colter.


The family appears in Rostraver, Westmoreland County, PA, a short distance from Perryopolis, in 1830.  This is also a very short distance from Fayette City were it was thought by the family that Thomas started a general store. 


Ursula and John were probably married by her cousin and sister Lucy's husband, Charles Burgess Smith.  He was a Baptist minister in Franklin. OH--coming through KY from MD about 1800.


Ursula appears with her mother in Washington, Fayette County, PA 1790 census but is not there in 1800.  It seems likely that she went at some time prior to 1800 to KY to be with her brother, Walter Smith Burgess, who settled in Mason County about 1795 or to be with Lucy in what was to become Brown County, OH.


There is a woman 60-70 years of age living with John and Cynthia Detwiler in 1840.  It is probably Ursula.  We know from Cynthia's obituary that Ursula was ill with consumption for a long time before she died.


4.  CYNTHIA BAIRD (JOHN3, THOMAS2 BEARD, JAMES1) was born 1808 in Near Ripley, OH, and died 1877 in Bonaparte, IA.  She married JOHN DETWILER 1831 in Perryopolis, PA, son of HENRY DETWILER and MARY MAGDALENA.  He was born Abt. 1805 in Strasburg, PA, and died 1884 in Bonaparte, IA.

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