Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating the Fourth of July exploring our family connection to the Star-Spangled Banner

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Graves of Dr. William and Sarah Beanes

My niece and her fiance are visiting us for the week so we decided to celebrate Independence Day with a family road trip to find the grave of Dr. William Beanes. He is a very distant ancestor who played a role in the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." His story was one of my very first blog entries back in 2010.

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Although our family connection to Dr. Beanes is distant, it's still a fun way to explore and learn more about our national anthem. Our connection is through the Marbury family in my maternal line:
  • My mother was Shirley Lovelace Williams
  • Her mother was Virginia Brantley Lovelace (1917 - 2007)
  • Her mother was Allie Marbury Brantley (1898 - 1995)
  • Her father was Hardy Joyner Marbury (1872 - 1932)
  • His father was Benjamin Franklin Marbury (1849 - 1884) 
  • His father was Robert Green Marbury (1809 - 1904)
  • His father was John Marbury (1783 - after 1850)
  • His father was Leonard Marbury (1759 - 1839)
  • His father was Francis Marbury (around 1730 - around 1800)
  • His father was Leonard Marbury, Sr. (1708 - 1794)
  • His father was Frances Marbury (around 1663 - 1734)
Two of Frances Marbury's sons were Leonard Marbury, Sr. (my eighth great grandfather) and Luke Marbury, Sr. (my eighth great uncle), who was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War.

Leonard and Luke Marbury are said to have been first cousins of Dr. William Beanes (January 24/25, 1749 - ) and his sister, Elizabeth Beanes (although I have not yet found proof they were cousins).

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The Beanes and Marbury families were very close and Luke Marbury eventually married Elizabeth Beanes.

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Small cemetery containing the graves of
Dr. William and Sarah Beanes

Luke Marbury commanded the Lower Battilion of Prince George County's Militia during the Revolutionary War and he and Dr. Beanes fought together. They both engaged with the Maryland troops at The Battle of Long Island and were among the few soldiers from Maryland who survived. They escaped by “swimming across the sound of Long Island.” 
The Patriotic Marylander, 15.

Dr. William Beanes performed the duties of a physician during the Revolutionary War and was married to Sarah Hawkins Hanson (August 12, 1750 - August 15, 1822). She also has an interesting connection to American History as she was the niece of John Hanson who became the president of the First Continental Congress of the newly-formed United States.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British army passed through Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the town in which Dr. Beanes was living. The officers used his home as their headquarters because it was "the best in the village." According to "The Bowies and Their Kindred," the officers described Dr. Beanes as "a man of polished manners and high literary attainments."

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Headstones of Dr. William and Sarah Beanes

After burning the United States Capitol, the British soldiers who were passing back through Upper Marboro heard that Dr. Beanes had led a militia that captured some of the British soldiers who had been looting. They beat him, took him prisoner, and held him on one of their ships.

Because he was held in such high esteem in the community, a group which included Frances Scott Key was sent to negotiate his release.  The British were about to attack Fort McHenry when the group reached the ship and, although the British agreed to release Dr. Beanes, no one was allowed to leave until after the battle ended. It came to be known as The Battle of Baltimore

The rest of the story is well known – how in the dawn’s early light, Key, discovering the American flag still floating over the fort was inspired to write what has become our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."

Star-Spangled Banner performed by The Isaacs

As William L. Marbury wrote in an article titled "The Seizure and Imprisonment of Dr. Beanes" in the Patriotic Marylander in 1914:

"If Dr. William Beanes, of Upper Marlboro, in Prince George's County, had not been a rather choleric old gentleman, and at the same time a man who by reason of his character and high attainments commanded in a remarkable degree the admiration and affection of his fellow-citizens, the great war song of the Repoblic, the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' would never have been written."
The Patriotic Marylander, 13.

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Historic markers mounted to the columns at the cemetery.

Finding the cemetery was a little difficult because we weren't sure specifically where it was located. If you decide to check it out, I can now help you. Head to Upper Marlboro and go to the corner of Elm and Water Streets. It sits next to an old abandoned house on which Dr. Beanes' house was originally located.

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Map of Upper Marlboro and the location
of the grave of Dr. William Beanes

Upper Marlboro is a historic town which makes for a very fun visit, especially if you are interested in the Revolutionary War period. 

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Prince George's County Court House

It's the seat of Prince George's County and was first settled around 1695. In addition to the graves of Dr. Beanes and his his wife, you can also explore other historic sites like Darnall's Chance.

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School House Pond, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

You'll also want to be sure to save time to explore School House Pond which is right behind the cemetery. This 12-acre man-made pond includes a boardwalk that's nearly a mile long and is filled with all sorts of wildlife.

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Olde Towne Inn, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

For the ultimate Marlboro experience, be sure to stop by the Olde Towne Inn. We just stumbled upon it and happened to be hungry so we went in for lunch. This is one time when taking a chance paid off. In addition to great food (be sure to order the Maryland crab cakes), the restaurant itself is also a historic site which was recently profiled in "The Washington Post." 

Our little Independence Day road trip paid off big. We found our family connection to the national anthem, hiked along a nature trail, discovered a good restaurant, a spent some family time together; a great day of celebrating our nation's freedom.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific lines, like the Marbury family, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.

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