Isaac Beard (1792/3 – c1834)

Isaac was the oldest child of Jacob Beard and Mary Stockslager, apparently born in late 1792 or early 1793 no more than a year or so after his parents married in April 1792.

Moves to Kentucky

When he was still quite a young man Isaac apparently left home to follow his uncles Joseph Reese and Isaac Reese to Kentucky.   Joseph Reece had married in Jefferson County, Kentucky in 1808 and was enumerated there in the 1810 census with a household that apparently included his younger brother Isaac Reece as well as his nephew Isaac Beard.1  (The 1810 census for Shenandoah County, Virginia shows his father Jacob Beard with one male aged 16-26 in the household, but that may have been Isaac’s younger brother Jacob Beard Jr.)

His Army service: militia then regular army

Isaac was definitely in Kentucky by 18 September 1812, when he enlisted in a volunteer mounted militia company of th efor six weeks of service.2  He enlisted when the company of Kentucky Mounted Militia was formed under Captain John Williams and Lt. Colonel Young Ewing and was promoted to corporal on 7 October.  He was discharged on 30 October with most of the rest of the company.  The members of this company were predominantly residents of the south-central counties on the Tennessee border, but a number of them were from Warren County where Joseph Reese was living at the time.

Two years later he enlisted in the regular army.  According to his service records he joined the regular army at Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky on 29 October 1814 for a six-month term.  The enlistment record described him as 21 years of age, standing 5′ 5″ with black hair, blue eyes, and a dark complexion.3  It also lists his occupation as a hatter and his birthplace as Virginia.  The limited army records that survive show him listed on the duty rosters of the 7th U.S. Infantry.  His file contains a document showing that he was discharged on 14 April 1815 at Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  The 7th US Infantry, one of two regiments raised from Kentucky, has a famous history in the War of 1812.  Within two months of Isaac’s enlistment, the regiment was skirmishing at New Orleans and participated in the famous battle against the British there on 24 December.  Isaac’s discharge, however, says that he “served out the full period of his enlistment without joining any regiment or corps.”  The discharge paper repeats the same physical description and occupation. In each case his name was rendered as Isaac Beard.

Isaac’s reasons for leaving home to journey to Kentucky are a mystery, but it seems clear that he associated there with his uncle Joseph Reese.  An 1854 letter (see letters pages) written by his sister-in-law Mary Ferguson says that Isaac learned his trade as a hatter from his uncle Joseph Reese.   Since Isaac was described as a hatter when he enlisted in the army in 1814, and we know Joseph Reese had moved to Kentucky by 1810, first to Jefferson County then Warren County, it is likely that Isaac Beard left home as a teenager to accompany his uncle on his journey west.  [See the separate page for a more detailed discussion of this connection.]  Within a few years of his discharge from the army Isaac would move again, this time a few miles  southwest over the Tennessee border.

Bounty Land Warrant for War of 1812 Service

Isaac received a bounty land warrant for 160 acres on 31 December 1816 for his regular army service.4 He was described as a single man in this record.  On 16 January 1819, as a resident of Robertson County, Tennessee, he appointed George W. Lillars, a Congressman from neighboring Montgomery County, and William G. Blount, the then Governor of Tennessee, as his attorneys to procure a land grant on this warrant.5  He signed his name to this document as “Isaac Beard”.   A 160-acre quarter section was granted in Linn County, Missouri on 16 Feb 1819.6 On 6 June 1819 Isaac wrote to George Lillars asking “…to have my grant issued for land lying in Illinois or Missouri Territory which ever you should think advisable”, apparently not yet aware that the land had already been granted.7

Isaac promptly sold that land.  The deed records of Linn County, Missouri no longer exist prior to 1836, but Isaac Beard acknowledged the sale in the Robinson County court.  On 14 February 1820 he acknowledged a sale to John B, Persise of “160 acres in the Missouri Territory.”8

Isaac moves to Tennessee and goes Into business with John Ferguson

Isaac was in Robinson County, Tennessee just south of the Kentucky border, by 14 May 1817 when he served on juries in Springfield.9  Court records spell his name both as Baird and Beard.

While living in Robertson County, Tennessee Isaac Beard associated with another former soldier and hatter named John W. Ferguson whose sister he married.  On 2 September 1817, Isaac Beard and John W. Ferguson jointly bought 36 and 2/3 acres on the Red River and 17 1/3 acres on “both sides of the road… leading to Nashville” in Robertson County from Joseph P. Gunter.10  Both parcels were located near the town of Springfield, about ten miles south of the Kentucky border.  The partners evidently established a hattery on the property.11 However, they kept the land only three years.  Beard and Ferguson sold the land on 4 September 1820 to a neighbor named James Appleton.12 While Ferguson already owned several town lots in Springfield, on which he lived thereafter, Isaac Beard does not appear again in Robertson County deed records, other than witnessing a deed a few months earlier in April 1820.13

He is in the 1820 census of Robertson County, age 26-45, with a female (presumably his wife) aged 16-26 and one female under 10.  After the 1820 census and the sale of his land, there are no further references to Isaac, his wife, or the daughter in Robertson County records.   He had a son, George Washington Baird, born in Springfield on 16 December 1821 according to a record in a family Bible. 14

The son George Washington Baird changed his name from Beard to Baird after leaving Tennessee, so that is how I will refer to him here.

Isaac marries John Ferguson’s sister

It is clear from later records that Isaac Beard’s wife was a sister of John W. Ferguson, and that she was deceased by 1830 at the latest.  It is also clear that the infant female in the 1820 census household also did not survive.  George W. Baird was raised by his Ferguson grandmother and two maiden aunts, his mother’s sisters.  The Ferguson family maintained a single household in Springfield and George appears to be a member of it in both the 1830 and 1840 censuses, with no sign of his mother or of the young female.   When his maternal grandmother Elizabeth Ferguson died intestate in 1845, George W. Baird was appointed administrator of her estate.15  The final settlement of the estate, recorded in August 1849, shows that George W. Baird received a share equal to that of the Ferguson children.16 Clearly, he was the only heir of his mother.  As additional proof, George W. Baird is called a nephew of Elizabeth Ferguson’s children Mary and Polly Ferguson in numerous court documents17, as well as in several letters.  When Mary Ferguson died unmarried, her estate was subject to a suit by her siblings, with George W. Baird the only heir of his mother to the estate.  We have no clue to her given name or how or when she died.

It seems likely that Isaac Beard and his son lived with the Fergusons after his wife’s death.  The Ferguson family maintained a single household, headed by John W. Ferguson, which included his widowed mother and unmarried sisters as well as two other males.  His 1830 household, which appears to include George Baird, also includes a male aged 30-40 who was probably Isaac Beard.   Indeed, we know from a June 1829 Shenandoah County court document that Isaac Beard was residing in Tennessee at that time.18

Isaac dies mysteriously

We know that Isaac was alive in 1833, though he apparently died not long afterward.  Isaac Beard’s grandmother, Esther Reese, had left a will in 1818 leaving her property to her children, one of whom was her daughter Mary Beard, Isaac’s mother.  A settlement record of the Esther Reese estate mentions a letter from Isaac Beard dated 13 November 1829 “on estate business”.19

A few years later the administrator of Esther Reese’s estate, Martin Zea, attempted to settle the estate but couldn’t locate Isaac Beard to finish the job.  He paid Esther’s other heirs, including four of the five children of Esther’s deceased daughter Mary Beard, but had difficulty locating the fifth child, Isaac, to whom $191.63 was owed.   In order to find him, Zea filed a chancery suit against Isaac Beard in Shenandoah County on 11 March 1833, declaring that “…he has not heard of said Isaac Beard for many years, nor does he know where he is living, nor indeed whether he is alive.  When last heard from he resided in the State of Tennessee.”20  The court subpoenaed Isaac Beard, publishing the order in newspapers.

Isaac somehow learned of the suit and traveled to Shenandoah County in the fall of 1833.   On 13 November 1833, Isaac Beard of the State of Tennessee, describing himself as “one of the heirs of Mary Beard, deceased, and also one of the grandchildren of Esther Reese, deceased” sold his interest in Esther Reese’s land to Joseph Stover.21  He signed that document as “Isaac Beard” and personally appeared in the Shenandoah court the same day to prove the deed.22  A week later on 22 November 1833 he acknowledged to the chancery court his receipt of $191.63 from Martin Zea as his share of the Esther Reese estate, again signing as “Isaac Beard”.23

That is the last record found of Isaac Beard.  We don’t know if he perished on his way back to Tennessee, went elsewhere, or died after returning to Tennessee.  I suspect that he died shortly after his trip to Virginia, as I infer from the letter mentioned below that George W. Baird knew little or nothing of his father.

There is no will or inventory record recorded in Robertson County during the years 1834-1840.

The 1854 letter from Mary Ferguson to George W. Baird

Additional proof that this Isaac Beard was the same person as Jacob Beard’s son, as well as the link to his own son, comes from a letter written by Mary Ferguson back in Tennessee to her nephew George Washington Baird of Texas on 3 December 1854:24

…And now I will give you all the information about your Farther’s family that I can.  Your Farther’s name was Isaac and come from Strasburg, Shenandoah Cty, Va.  I do not know what your grandfarthers name was.  I think that your grandmothers name was Mary.  Your farther had two brothers one was named Jacob he come here to this country in 1819 and died in Reynoldsburgh and he had a brother Joseph that remained in Va. and had two sisters and one of them was named Mary and I cannot remember the others name.  Your grandmother had two brothers by the name of Reece one was named Joseph.  Your farther learned his trade from him. I do not know the others name.  Your grandmother had an uncle that lived and died near Port Royal his name was Jacob Fettner25 and this about all the information that I can give you it has been so long ago that I forgot about it nearly.

This letter leaves us with no doubt that George W. Baird’s father Isaac Beard is the son of Jacob and Mary Beard of Shenandoah County.

Isaac Beard apparently died shortly after executing the 1833 documents in Virginia.   He does not seem to appear in any 1840 census, and there was no “extra” male in the Ferguson 1840 census household.   Indeed, he does not appear on the 1836 tax list of Robertson County, implying a death between late 1833 and 1836.   Mary Ferguson’s letter implies that she was aware of Isaac’s death but that it occurred “so long ago that I forgot about it nearly”.   We might also infer that she mentioned no date or place of death because both were known to George Baird.

The 1869 letter from William Seal to George W. Baird

Finally, we have a letter from William Seal, the former county clerk of Robertson County, to George Washington Baird dated 21 October 1869:26

…the tract of land that you spoke of that your father held in Missouri I have some recollection about and one thing I know that you are the only heir of your father Isaac Beard and unless any conveyance made be recorded in the County in Missouri where the land lies such conveyance is of no account if you can get hold of the old original grant…and have it recorded in the County where the land lies.  You will hold this land this is beyond doubt..

This letter suggests that Isaac Beard died in or near Springfield.  William Seal was living in Missouri in 1869, but he had been the Robertson County, Tennessee clerk from 1819 through 1839.  If Isaac died in the 1830s, that would explain why George wrote to Seal and why Seal seems to have such certain knowledge of Isaac Beard’s death.

The county court records of Roberson County should contain a record of Isaac’s death, but they are not complete and no record of his death was found.  The county court records after 1824 could not be found in a1982 visit.  The county historian told me that some court records for the 1830s existed as loose records but were not indexed.  They have not been searched.  The Circuit Court minutes for the period also exist, unindexed, and have also not been read.  I have read the deed, probate, and chancery court records.  The existing will books do not include an administration, inventory, or settlement record.  However, there are gaps in these records and some administrations were apparently recorded elsewhere and since lost.

Only one child

In summary, although there may have been a daughter who died in infancy, there was only one child of Isaac Beard and his Ferguson wife who lived to adulthood:

1.   George Washington Baird  (16 December 1821 – 12 Mar 1876)  See separate page.


  1. 1810 Jefferson County, Kentucky census, p543:  Joseph Reese 00120-20301.  I can’t explain the older females, but Joseph Reese had two daughters born before 1810.  The males could be, probably are, his brother Isaac Reese and Isaac Beard. []
  2. Kentucky Soldiers of the War of 1812, Minnie S. Wilder (1931), p257.   This is a republication of Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky:  Soldiers of the War of 1812 (1891). []
  3. “Record of Men Enlisted in the U. S. Army Prior to the Peace Establishment May 17, 1815”, photocopy of army records obtained from the National Archives. []
  4. Bounty Land Warrant # 7912, for 160 acres. []
  5. This letter from Isaac Beard is included in the warrant and grant file and part of the army records. []
  6. In southwest quarter of Section 17, Township 58 north, Range 20 west. This is in north-central Missouri just southeast of the city of Linneus. []
  7. This letter also included in the warrant and grant file. []
  8. Robinson County Minute Book 5, p435. []
  9. Robinson County Court Minute Book 4, p359 and p362. []
  10. Robertson County Deed Book N, p200 []
  11. Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee (originally published 1886, reprinted 1972 by Woodward & Stinson Printing Co.), p840, mentions that John W. Ferguson operated a hattery in Springfield. []
  12. Robertson County Deed Book Q, p20. []
  13. Robertson County Deed Book P, p400. []
  14. George W. Baird’s birth date is recorded in his daughter’s family Bible.  Photocopy 1972 courtesy of Robert E. Fowler of Houston, Texas who is descended from George’s daughter Mary Emma Brown, in whose family were kept a great many documents. []
  15. Robertson County Will Book 12, p507 []
  16. Robertson County Will Book 15, p233 []
  17. Robertson County Chancery Court Case #582 and Case #1269, for example. []
  18. Shenandoah County Chancery Court case, Index No. 1833-008.   Martin Zea sued the heirs of Daniel Stockslager over an unpaid debt.  Among the 90-odd pages of material in the file is a document dated 2 June 1829 listing the heirs of Esther Stockslager, one of whom was “Isaac Beard who resides in Tenessee”. []
  19. Shenandoah County Will Book R, p39. []
  20. Shenandoah County Chancery Court Case, Index no. 1833-021. []
  21. Shenandoah County Deed Book NN, p184 []
  22. Shenandoah County Deed Book NN, p184 []
  23. Chancery case file. []
  24. Letter courtesy of Robert E. Fowler of Houston, Texas. []
  25. This is apparently a reference to Jacob Feltner, the father of Daniel Stockslager’s wife Ann.  Jacob Feltner was born 7 December1779 and died 25 December 1840 according to his gravestone.  He moved into Sullivan County, Tennessee but died in Ohio. []
  26. Letter courtesy of Robert E. Fowler of Houston, Texas. []