52 Ancestors: #13 Marble W. Bean – a terrible name and a tragic death

Marble Bean is not one of my direct ancestors – he’s my 1st cousin 4x removed. But I came across his name when I was researching his mother, who is a sister of one of my direct ancestors, and was intrigued by the name. Did these people really name their child Marble Bean – I’m immediately imagining a bean made out of marble, and today, I’m pretty sure this would end in merciless teasing on the playground for the poor boy. I can only hope that his middle initial W didn’t stand for White – I haven’t been able to find his middle name yet. Anyways, as I dug around a little bit to find out more about this boy with a strange name, I uncovered a tragic ending to his much-too-short life.

Despite his unfortunate name, Marble Bean’s life seems to have started out well enough – he was born in 1870 in Licking County, Ohio, the oldest (and only?) child of Dr. Homer Bean and Lucretia Jane (Bailey) Bean. On 9 Jan 1895, he married Bertha Carnes, and they soon had two children – Homer Bean, b. 22 Nov 1895, and Iris Martha Bean, b. 30 Aug 1898.

At this point in his life, Marble was working as a brakeman on the B & O Railroad (1) – by all accounts an exciting but extremely dangerous job.

Iron wheels, located atop cars, were connected to a manual braking system by a long metal rod. The brakemen, usually two to a train, would ride on top of the car. On a whistle signal from the engineer, the brakemen, one at the front of the train and one at the rear of the train, would begin turning the iron wheels to engage the braskes. When one car was completed, the brakeman would jump the thirty inches or so to the next car and repeat the operation to apply the brakes on that car. The brakemen would work towards each other until all cars had their brakes applied…In good weather, the brakemen enjoyed riding on top of the cars and viewing the scenery. However, they had to ride up there in all kinds of weather – in rain, sleet, snow and ice, as well as good weather. Jumping from one car to the next at night or in freezing weather could be very dangerous, not to mention the fact that the cars were rocking from side to side. 
                   “Railroad Job descriptions“, NEGenWebProject

This job, in addition to a number of other dangerous jobs on trains, resulted in the number of employees killed or injured over the eight years prior to 1893 being equal to the number of people employed by the railroad in a single year (2). However, at this point in history, there was no need for railroads to even be using this dangerous type of brake – in 1868, George Westinghouse had invented a safer “straight air brake” that the engineer could apply himself to all of the cars from the locomotive, and in 1873, Westinghouse introduced an even safer automatic air brake (3).

In 1893, Congress passed the Safety Appliance Act which required that by 1 Jan 1898 (later pushed to 1 Aug 1900 as a result of lobbying by railroads) all trains have air brake systems equipped on enough cars that the engineer could control the speed without needing brakemen to use hand brakes (3).

If B&O had installed these safer brakes on all of its cars by the original deadline, there would have been no need for brakemen in 1899. Marble would have been out of a job, but his life would probably not have been cut so short. 

Unfortunately, B&O had apparently not installed air brakes on all of their trains since Marble was working as a brakeman in early 1899. Then, around 4am on February 13, 1899, Marble was working on the second section of train 97 when he hit his head on the roof of a tunnel near Bellaire, which knocked him off the train. He died later that morning, leaving a young widow and two young children.

Newark Daily Advocate articles

Newark Daily Advocate articles about Marble W. Bean’s death



(1) “Railroad Notes”. 4 Jan 1899. Newark Daily Advocate. Newark, Ohio. 
(“Baltimore and Ohio brakemen…M.W. Bean…have been reported on the sick list.”)

(2) “Railroad Safety Appliance Standards, Miscellaneous Revisions; A Proposed Rule by the Federal Railroad Administration on 07/02/2010″. Federal Register, The Daily Journal of the United States Government. 

(3) Hutchinson, August. 9 Jul 2012. “A Dangerous Ride – Installment One”. From the B&O Railroad Museum. 

52 Ancestors: #12 Daniel Halstead

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a potential breakthrough on the parents of my 4x great grandma, Mary Jane Halstead. I’ve found good evidence that her parents are Daniel and Olive Halstead who lived in Brutus, Cayuga County, New York at the time of the 1855 New York census. At the end of that post, my plan was to:

  1. Do more research on all of the Halsteads in this 1855 NY census record – parents Daniel and Olive Halstead, four sisters (Harriet, Catherine, Eliza, and Emila) and H.A. Fuller (who I believe to be Mary Jane’s daughter Harriet and who is listed as Daniel and Olive Halstead’s granddaughter).
  2. Try to find Olive Fuller and David Halstead after Mary Jane’s death around 1851 and before Olive’s marriage in 1866.
  3. Find an exact death date for Alva Fuller, Mary Jane’s husband.
  4. Find death records/burial information for Mary Jane and Alva.

I’ve been fairly successful with the first goal, completely unsuccessful with #2 & #4, and haven’t been able to make any progress on #3 (last time I had narrowed it down to sometime between 1867 and 1870).  I’m spoiled in that most of my ancestors have lived in Ohio or West Virginia for the last 150-200 years, and both states have a lot records available freely/on ancestry.com from pretty early on. Unfortunately, it seems like New York did not regularly keep birth/marriage/death records until closer to 1900, and even those that exist are mostly not indexed and/or easily available (especially for a poor grad student). So I have to be a little more creative in finding the information I’m looking for, I guess! So in today’s post, I’ll write about the information I’ve found about Daniel and Olive Halstead, who are potentially Mary Jane’s parents. After examining all this evidence, I still think that I have found Mary Jane’s parents, but unfortunately, I still don’t have any records showing it for certain. Census information At the end of the last post about Mary Jane, I had just found Daniel’s family in the 1855 New York census, shown again here. In that census recorc, Daniel and Olive were found with four daughters (Harriet, Catherine, Eliza, and Emila) and a granddaughter H.A. Fuller. Since then, I’ve found a lot more information on this family. 1855 NY census Halsteds I’ve found these census records, with the following household members listed each year:

  • 1850 US Census (Brutus, Cayuga County, New York): Daniel Halsted (55, farmer), Olive Halstead (51), Harriet Halstead (29), Caroline Halstead (26), Martha Halstead (17), William Halstead (12), Eliza Halstead (10), Emily Halstead (5), Jacob Hizer (17, farmer), Alvah K Halstead (20, farmer)
  • 1860 US Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): Daniel Halsey (64, farmer), Olive Halsey (60), Harriett Halsey (40, tailoress), William Halsey (23, farmer), Emma Halsey (15), William Johnson (18, labourer)
  • 1870 US Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): Daniel Halsted (73, gate keeper), Olive Halstead (70), William W Halstead (33, Salesman?), Cilia Halstead (26, Bording), Florence L Halstead (8), Frank Halstead (5), Carrie Halstead (10/12)
  • 1875 New York State Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): William W Halstead (38, farm labour), Celia F Halstead (30), Florence L Halstead (13), Frank E Halstead (10), Carie C Halstead (2), Daniel Halstead, (77, widowed); Daniel listed as being born in Saratoga County, others all in Cayuga County
  • 1880 US Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): William Halstead (42, farm labor), Celia Halstead (36), Florence Halstead (18, teaching school), Frank Halstead (15), Carrie Halstead (11), Ollie Halstead (7), Daniel Halstead (85, boarding)

These census records give the following information for Daniel:

  • Two more children: Martha and William (as well as William’s wife and children)
  • Another possible relative: Alvah K Halstead, living with Daniel’s family in 1850 – is this another son or a more distant relation?
  • A birthdate: between 1795 and 1798
  • A birth location: Saratoga County, New York
  • A probable range for his wife Olive’s death date: between 1870 and 1875 (she appeared in the 1870 US census but not the 1875 NY census)
  • A probable range for his own death date: between 1880 and 1900 (Daniel appeared in the 1880 US census but not the 1900 US census)

For the most part, none of these records indicate whether or not this is indeed Mary Jane’s family. However, there is a Harriet Halstead, whom I think could be Mary Jane’s sister, listed as living with both Mary Jane’s family and their parents in 1850. It’s not unheard of for a person to be listed in more than one place for a given census year, but it’s something to take note of and examine carefully. Unfortunately, since there are no death or marriage records (at least not that I currently have access to) from New York at that time, it’s hard to keep track of women from one census to the next if they’re not living with a known male relative. So did the Harriet Halstead that was living with Mary Jane’s family die or get married between 1850 and 1855, or are the Harriets listed in these two different households in 1850 really the same person, the one who continues to appear with father Daniel Halstead in 1855 and 1860? This question may never be answered satisfactorily, but for now, my best evidence  points to these two Harriets in the 1850 census being the same person. Besides these census records, I found burial information for Daniel and his wife Olive and some church records on the Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project website – they’ve got some great records there. Church Records I found several church records for Daniel Halsted from the Sennett Baptist Church. These showed Daniel, his wife Olive, and their daughter Harriett being “received by letter” at the Sennett Baptist Church in May 1868 (1), which fits with their census records which show that in 1850 they lived in Brutus but by 1860 they had moved to Sennett. Then Daniel and Olive were dismissed by letter in December 1865 and then again received by letter again on 9 May 1868 (2). A church record lists Daniel’s wife Olive as dying on 30 Nov 1870 (2), which also fits with her census records – she last appeared in the 1870 US census. The last church record for Daniel is a record of his death on 1 Mar 1885 at 90 years old (3). Burial Records I found these records for (I believe) Daniel and Olive in the Old Sennett Cemetery (4). The date of Olive’s death in pretty close to the church record for her death, both being at the very end of November in either 1870 or 1871. The writing on the gravestone is not very legible in the image, and without having seen the original cemetery records or church records, it’s quite possible that one of these dates is either wrongly transcribed in these online records and/or that one is the actual death date and the other is the date of the funeral/burial. It seems pretty clear to me that the Olive Flynn and Olive Halsted listed below are the same person – they have the exact same information in the cemetery record, and what are the chances that two women named Olive were born AND died on the same day, both married men named Daniel, and were both buried in the same cemetery? Plus Olive Flynn’s gravestone appears to be next to Daniel Halsted’s, and in the photos, their gravestones appear to have been made to match. So, these burial records don’t give much information about Daniel, but they do potentially give some more information about his wife Olive’s date of death and maiden name (or possibly a middle name or married name from a previous marriage).

FLYNN, Olive d. Nov. 27, 1871. Ae 72y, 6mo, 0da. Wife of Daniel Row 7 F1/F2 170
HALSTED, Daniel illegible Row 7 F1 173
HALSTED, Olive d. Nov. 27, 1871. Ae 72y, 6mo. Wife of Daniel Unable to locate grave. See list of unknowns.

 Two more records

I found a few more records that I believe belong to this Daniel Halsted, but there’s not enough information to be certain – 1820, 1830, and 1840 census records and an 1823 land assessment. The land assessment is for Springport, in Cayuga County. It lists a Daniel and James Halstead as owning land together.

The census record data is represented in the table below. Where a person is listed that I can’t account for with people I believe to be Daniel’s children, I put a letter with a question mark.

  Male Female
1840Springport under 5 10-14 40-49   under 5 5-9 15-19 20-20 40-49
William Alvah Daniel Eliza, A?, B? Martha Harriet, Catherine, C? Mary Jane Olive
1830 Springport under 5 15-19 20-29 30-39 under 5 5-9 10-14 30-39  
Alvah D? E? Daniel Catharine Harriet Mary Jane Olive
1820Scipio 16-25       under 10 16-25      
Daniel Mary Jane Olive

For the most part this seems to fit with my idea of this family, except that there are a few extra people that don’t seem to fit into the family. In the 1830 census, it seems reasonable to assume that the two unknown males are boarders or hired hands – they don’t appear in 1820 census and they’re old enough to be working and living on their own, apart from their own family. In the 1840 census, it’s a little less clear – there is one 15-19 year old female who not in the 1830 census, and two unknown girls under 5 years old. Is this a young, possibly widowed, housekeeper or relative and her two daughters? Or are the two young girls David and Olive’s daughters who died before 1850? It seems that they would be a little young to have been married by 1850. In the end, it seems like these records fit pretty well, and these census records show that there is a daughter that is the right age to be Mary Jane (she was born in 1818).

One other question this brings up: if this is Mary Jane’s family, where is her brother David? As you may remember from the last post about Mary Jane, the obituary for her daughter Olive said that when Mary Jane died around 1851, her daughter Olive went to live with her uncle David Halstead until she got married. In the table above, I assumed that the son born between 1825 and 1830 was Alvah Halstead who was in Daniel’s household in the 1850 census (but he was listed below the other children with another laborer, so it was unclear if he was really a son or just living with the family). But maybe Alvah wasn’t Daniel’s son, and the son in the 1820-1840 census records is David. Or maybe they’re the same person – a first and a middle name, or either the obituary or the 1850 census got the name wrong.


I’ve found a lot of information about Daniel’s life after marriage, but nothing about his life/family before marriage, although the James Halstead listed in the 1823 assessment could potentially be a brother or something. I haven’t looked into this any more though.

The question of whether or not Daniel is the father of my 4x great grandmother, Mary Jane Halstead, is still open, but for now, I think he is. Here’s a recap of the major evidence in favor of him being her father:

  • In the 1855 NY census, Daniel’s household includes a granddaughter, H.A. Fuller, who is the right age to be Mary Jane’s daughter Harriet A Fuller. This would be just a few years after Mary Jane’s death, and her husband Alva Fuller was not living with either of their daughters, so Harriet must have been living with someone else, probably another relative.
  • In Daniel’s 1820-1840 census records, a daughter is listed who is the right age to be Mary Jane – no other daughter this age appears in household in the 1850 census.

The biggest potential problem with this hypothesis is Mary Jane’s missing brother David who was listed in her daughter Olive’s obituary.

If you happen to have any more information about any of these people, especially anything that proves or disproves the relationship between Mary Jane and Daniel, please let me know!


(1) Baptist Church Members at Sennett 1867-1871, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.

(2) Baptist Church Members at Sennett 1863-1867, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.  

(3) Baptist Church Records at Sennett 1882-1887, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.

(4) Old Sennett Cemetery, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.