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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILMER M. BEAN, instructor in music in the public schools of Norristown and prominent in church choir work, is the son of Edwin A., and Elizabeth (Hood) Bean. He was born in Norristown, April 23, 1859. He received his early education in Mrs. Jane Craig’s private school, in the old Central Presbyterian church on Main street. Later he entered Oak Street public school, from which he graduated in June, 1874, at the age of fifteen years. In September of that year he entered the office of the Norristown Herald, and learned the trade of a printer, working at that place about six years when he went to Philadelphia, where he found employment for some time in the job printing department of Lehman & Bolton’s lithographing establishment, on Library street. He left there to become a partner in a job printing enterprise with Theodore Knabb, also of Norristown. After several years in business, he withdrew from the firm and in a clerical capacity entered the printing house of George S. Harris & Sons, at Fourth and Vine streets, afterwards at 816 Arch street, Philadelphia. A change in the management of the house caused a change in his position, which he shortly afterwards resigned. For some time thereafter Mr. Bean filled various positions as printer, proof-reader and foreman in several Philadelphia printing houses. He finally settled in the work of a compositor, and for ten years held that position on the old North American, located at Seventh and Chestnut streets, Philadelphia. He takes pride in referring to this, as it was the best position he ever held in the printing business.

From boyhood Mr. Bean had always manifested a decided aptitude for music. When an apprentice at the Herald office he studied music with Professor Thomas H. Ervin, the blind organist of Olivet Presbyterian church, Philadelphia. Afterwards he displayed remarkable skill on the cornet, on which he learned to play without a teacher, performing on that instrument for several years in the Norristown Band and Philharmonic Orchestra. He is one of three surviving members of the last named organization, the others being W. S. Gourley and Charles Kirk, Jr., now residents of Philadelphia. It has often been remarked that few could produce better tones from the cornet than he, and he still delights to play on the favorite instrument of his boyhood days.

It was while he was engaged as a printer on the North American that a vacancy occurred in the leadership of the choir of the First Baptist church of Norristown. Some of his friends in the church suggested him for the position. He was elected in 1889, and this was the beginning of his musical career in church work. By thorough study in the new field, he made a reputation for excellent music for the church, and gathered about him one of the best volunteer choir organizations that Norristown has ever had. His care and precision and the keen judgment he displayed in the selection of anthems placed him in the front rank of choir leaders. While holding this position he was selected from a number of applicants for the percentorship at the Tabernacle Prebyterian Sunday-school, at Thirty-seventh and Chestnut streets, Philadelphia, which he still holds.

After directing the music in the Baptist church for nearly eight years Mr. Bean was unanimously chosen choir master by the vestry of St. John’s Episcopal church, Norristown, which position he has filled most acceptably to vestry and congregation ever since. In 1892 he withdrew from the printing business to take charge of the music in the public schools of Norristown, and from that time has devoted himself entirely to his adopted profession, proving a most faithful and efficient teacher. From the beginning Mr. Bean has had a successful musical career, as may be attested by his many private pupils and public positions. For three years he was the principal instructor of the Philadelphia Choral Union’s sight-reading classes, but the press of other duties and the severe strain obliged him to discontinue that work. In 1903 he was elected supervisor of music in the public schools of Bridgeport.

Mr. Bean has spent fifteen years of active effort in church choir work and has seldom or never been absent from rehearsals or service. He has written some very good music, principally hymn tunes, which have attained prominence and popularity. On the training of the boy voice and indeed on all matters pertaining to voice culture, Mr. Bean is an authority, as his vested choir of men and boys at St. John’s church fully attests. As a vocalist Mr. Bean has a fine resonant baritone voice.

In religious faith Mr. Bean is an Episcopalian, being a member of St. John’s church. He married Miss Kate Jamison, daughter of Robert Jamison, of Norristown. They have two daughters, Edith Marion and Bessie Lane Bean, the latter a gifted musician and organist of the First Presbyterian church of Conshohocken. Miss Bean also attained distinction for her literary work as a member of the graduating class of 1903 of the Norristown high school, she having been awarded the alumni prize of ten dollars in gold for the best essay in the use of standard English. Her subject was the Power of Shakespeare in the Development of Character. In the same year she was also awarded the prize of ten dollars offered by the Historical Society of Montgomery County for the best essay on the subject of Valley Forge.

In politics Mr. Bean is an active Republican but he has never sought or held office except that of assessor in the first ward of Norristown. He is a member of Norris Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of Charity Lodge, No. 190, F. & A. M.; of Norristown Chapter, R. A. M., and of Hutchinson Commandery, No. 32, Knights Templar.

Edwin A. Bean (father) was born February 6, 1831, in Norriton township. In 1848, at the age of seventeen years, he entered the Clayton flour, grist and saw mill, on the township line between Lower Providence and Norriton, as an apprentice, and at the end of two years, left the establishment capable of doing full duty as a finished journeyman. In 1850 Mr. Bean came to Norristown and entered the employ of Bean & Morgan, in their sawmill and lumber yard, being engaged there one year, and then entering the planing mill of Bolton & Christman, where he remained until August 1, 1862. He then enrolled himself in the Company of Captain David B. Hartranft, Seventeenth Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry. On September 19, 1862, he was mustered into the United States service for three years, at Harrisburg.

On November 1, 1862, Mr. Bean was made quartermaster’s sergeant of the regiment and served in this capacity until May 1, 1864, when he was promoted to be quartermaster of the regiment, with the rank of first lieutenant, serving as such until the end of the war. He was mustered out of service on June 16, 1865, at Cloud’s Mills, Virginia. From the day of his enlistment until the expiration of his term of service at the close of the war, Quartermaster Bean was with his regiment in all its battles, raids and skirmishes, among them being the following: Chancellorsville, Beverly Ford, Aldis, Upperville, Goose Creek, Gettysburg, Williamsport, Funktown, Beaver Creek, Boonsboro, Falling Waters, Brandy Station, Racoon Ford, Barnett’s Ford, Martin’s Ford, Stevensburg, Brandy Station (second), Rappahannock Station, Oak Hill, Thoroughfare Gap, Liberty, Bealton Station, Rickeysville, Mine Run, Barnett’s Ford, Kilpatrick’s Raid to Richmond, Todd’s Tavern, Yellow Tavern, Meadow Bridge, Hanovertown, Hawes’ Shop, Old Church, Cold Harbor, Trevillian Station, White House, Jones’ Bridge, Darbytown, White Post, Cedarville, Berryville, Kearnsville, Leetown, Smithfield, Winchester, Luray, Tom’s Brook, Cedar Creek, Gordonsville, Sheridan’s raid to the James river canal and White House, Dinwiddie Courthouse, Five Forks, Scott’s Crossroads, Drummond’s Mills, Saylor’s Creek, Appomattox Station and Appomattox Courthouse.

The war ended, Mr. Bean returned home, and accepted a position in a planing mill in Philadelphia, owned by Rimby & Maderia, and also in the new mill built by the firm after being burned out. He became superintendent, having the planing and flooring work under his charge. About 1878 a new company was formed on the ruins of Rimby & Maderia, of which Mr. Bean became a member. After a short career, misfortune overtook the combination and the mill was sold to Mahlon Fulton, Mr. Bean remaining as manager until Mr. Fulton’s death, when the son of Mr. Fulton assumed the management and with him Mr. Bean continued until the year 1900, since which time he has lived retired in Norristown.

On January 27, 1856, Edwin A. Bean married Elizabeth, daughter of Simon and Magdalena (Gotwals) Hood. They have but one child, Wilmer M.

Edwin A. Bean is a member of Norris Lodge, No. 430, I. O. O. F.; also a member of the Masonic Fraternity; formerly of Hiram Lodge, No. 21, of Virginia, now of Charity Lodge, No. 190, of Norristown, also a life member of H. R. A. Chapter, No. 190, also of Norristown, Pennsylvania.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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