The Bethel Journals

Eva Bean

People in Bethel’s History

January 22, 2010



Eva Marion Bean (1895-1969) was the fourth historian to chronicle and publish Bethel, Maine’s story.  She followed Dr. Nathaniel T. True, William B. Lapham and Leonard Bond Chapman.  However, her presentation of historical material added the use of maps and related external events  ( Dates and Events). Her written work, maps and dates tied  events together for the reader.  The absence of maps had been a weakness of her predecessors’ works. 

In 1959 Eva Bean finished her main work, East Bethel Road.  She said that she worked over five years to prepare the book as an effort to raise money for repair and maintenance of the Bartlett Cemetery in East Bethel.  What she didn’t say is that she had a tremendous amount of “stuff” to get off her chest.  She had been mentally and physically collecting facts and anecdotes practically all of her life.  Her persistence in collecting family history: names, relationships, dates and places of birth and marriages is what makes her work so valuable to those decades later who are pursing their family’s genealogical facts.  

Eva Bean’s driving interest in recording local history, her connections with Gould Academy Alumni, her friendship with  people that made up Bethel’s history, Rosalind Rowe Chapman for instance, turned from talk to action.  They wanted to organize and preserve the intrinsic value gained from  researching, writing and publishing the stories of  families, industry, farming, logging, storekeeping, government and events.  Consequently, by 1966 her circle of friends was ready to formalize a historical society for Bethel.  Read more about the Bethel Historical Society’s founding.

As an example for others, Eva had written that “the East Bethel Road is intended to present a sort of subsequent chapter to the facts of Bethel History which was published in 1892 (The History of Bethel, Maine by  William B. Lapham).  She intended to continue new research not just repeat what others had done.

 Eva Marion Bean was born on July 11, 1895 to Eugene S. Bean and his second wife, Ella Brown. Eva was presumably born at the homestead farm in East Bethel. 



Google Earth Image of the East Bethel and East Bethel Road


From the East Bethel Road—Eva’s family

 Her grandfather was Francis Cushman Bean. In Eva’s eyes he had distinguished himself by using his oxen to haul stone slabs from Milton to Bethel Village for Gould Academy’s new (1881) school building’s foundation.  Francis had married Catherine Wardwell of Blue Hill.  Catherine smoked a pipe and once almost caused a house fire when a hot coal from her pipe landed on the floor unnoticed near the front door.  (To follow events, the Bean Farm is assigned #41 in the book and its location is shown on above map. Olson farm is 37; Bartlett Cemetery is 38.)

Francis C. and Catherine had eight children, the first was Edgar born in 1844 and the last was Florus born in 1866. Eva’s father Eugene S. Bean was born in 1850 and he lived until 1913.

Eugene and his second wife, Ella Brown, from Harmony, had two children.  Eva born in 1895 had a brother, Francis Albion, born in 1897. 

Francis A.’s career involved graduating from Gould Academy in 1915 and attending the University of Maine before he served an Army enlistment during World War I.  After his enlistment was up, he operated a dairy business from his farm on the Gore Road in Woodstock then became an insurance agent. He married Florence Chapman; the couple had two children, nephews of Eva:  Bryant Chapman Bean , born in 1920, and Francis Howard Bean, born in 1927.

The two nephews:  The elder one, Bryant Chapman Bean married Kathleen Davis who was born in Perham, Maine. They raised five children.  Bryant and Kathleen pursed teaching careers.  Bryant graduated from Gould Academy in 1938, from the University of Maine in 1942 and received a Masters in Education from Harvard in 1951. In 1959 he was teaching at Ricker College in Houlton.  Kathleen was also a teacher in Houlton; she had graduated from the University of Maine in 1942, the same year as her husband.

The second nephew, Francis Howard Bean graduated from Gould Academy in 1946 and from the University of Maine in 1950.  In 1959 was a high school principal.  Both nephews are now (2009) deceased.


Eva Marion Bean’s career was in nursing first; then she devoted over 35 years to local history.

The only information about herself that Eva revealed in East Bethel Road was that she graduated with an A.B. degree from Colby College in 1917 and she was graduated a Registered Nurse from the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in New York in 1922.  She had graduated from Gould Academy in 1913. 

From a paper written by Stanley Howe, Bethel Historical Society, in 2009,  Eva’s professional career proves that she was a very capable, remarkable woman, considering her rural background.  (But then, her nephews did very well also.) With Europe recovering from World War I, Eva went to Paris, France and taught nursing. Returning to Maine, she held the position of supervisor of nurses at Maine General Hospital in Portland (in 1951 Maine Medical Center was created from a merger of three Portland hospitals). She left Portland for Akron, Ohio to become a private nurse and governess for the J.M. Andrews family. Andrews owned Quaker Oats Company. 

In 1934, Eva Bean was forced to retire due to increasing disability from arthritis. Her retirement years were devoted to historical research and serving as secretary of the Gould Academy Alumni Association.  This combination of interests led her to write an unpublished history of Gould Academy. 

In the 1950’s Eva was working on her Gould history, writing in longhand despite her badly arthritic, twisted hands and fingers.  Pauline Philbrick Davis and Barbara Hulbert Lapham  typed Eva’s handwritten material for her.  The school history Eva compiled included many pictures of the Gould Academy owned houses circa 1955, faculty information and so on. Eva’s history is secured in the academy’s archives on the third floor of Hanscom Hall.  Her work is carefully guarded by the Head of School’s Administrative Assistant, in 2009, Natalie Berry.  

Eva lived only a short distance from the academy and the Bethel Library—her home was a comfortable room in Susie Edwards (widow of Fred Edwards) house on Main Street opposite the post office.  She died in her sleep on October 18, 1969.  According to her will, her ashes were scattered over the grounds of the Bartlett Cemetery—less than a mile from her birthplace.



Eva Bean and Leon Linwood (L.L.) Bean—Maine’s Best Known Bean


Page 189, East Bethel Road: “Leon Linwood Bean, son of Benjamin Warren (Bean) and Sarah Swett Bean, was born in Bethel close to the village of Milton.” In 1979, I had a chance to meet and talk with Leon Gorman, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of L.L. Bean, Inc.  Leon Gorman is a grandson of L.L. Bean.  I told him that when the subject of where was L.L. Bean actually born comes up in Bethel conversation there is sometimes doubt about the place he was born.  Mr. Gorman said, “He was born in Bethel all right, Eva Bean said so!”

In the Bethel Citizen’s 1967 Annual Review, it was reported that the Bethel Historical Society had 77 members.


Sources for this profile of Eva Bean are: (1) East Bethel Road; (2) Stanley Howe, Bethel Historical Society; (3) Polly Davis about Eva’s work at Gould Academy.   The photograph of Eva Bean was taken from her picture in East Bethel Road.