Family Bean Counting

Well, actually the family name started out in Switzerland as Biehn.

According to Ezra E. Eby’s A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and Other Townships of the County, published in 1895, the name change occurred likely sometime in the 1870’s when John Bean, the adopted son of Daniel Biehn (Bean), changed the spelling of his surname to the more anglicized version for reasons not fully explained although there is some suggestion that John’s marriage to Susannah Biehn, an daughter of Daniel, may have caused a family rift that caused John to desire a way to distinguish himself from the family.

Eby’s biography of the family indicates that John Biehn was born in Switzerland in 1737 and immigrated to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. in 1742. John eventually married Barbara Fried, a native of Montgomery County, and they moved along with their adult children to Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada in 1800 where they purchased and settled on a large tract of land immediately south of present day Kitchener, Ontario and immediately west of present day Cambridge, Ontario.

John’s grandson, Daniel was born in this area around 1832. He married Mary Ann Shantz in January 1856. Together, they adopted a son John, and had three daughters. Mary Ann died following the birth of her third daughter, Emeline, in 1861. The following year, Daniel married Margaret Wagner (nee Hailer), the widow of Rev. Jacob Wagner, my wife Ellen’s second great grandfather. Over the following fourteen years, Margaret and Daniel brought six additional children into the world. Daniel left farming following his marriage to Margaret and taught school in small communities across southwestern Ontario such as New Dundee, Freeport, Dashwood and Bright. In 1876, Daniel returned to farming near Mildmay in Bruce County, Ontario. It was here that he passed away on March 15, 1885.

Ellen’s second great grandmother, Margaret, returned to then Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario following her second husband’s death. It was in Kitchener, where a major street is named in her honour, that the city paid tribute to Margaret on her death in 1918.

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