Peter Ellis Bean was born in Tennessee in 1783, the son of William Bean and Elizabeth Blair. At seventeen years of age he traveled to Natchez, Mississippi, and joined Philip Nolan, pioneer explorer and Indian trader, during Nolan's fourth and final expedition to Spanish Texas. At a mustang corral near the Brazos River, Philip Nolan was shot and killed by Spanish troops. The other members of the expedition, including Bean, surrendered and were eventually taken to Chihuahua, where they were held in prison a before being allowed liberty of the town. Bean went into business as a hatter and prospered. After five years he and a number of companions attempted to escape. Their plan was foiled and Bean was sent to Acapulco where he remained in prison until November 1811. Bean joined and fought under General Morelos for the revolutionary cause in Mexico. In 1814 Bean was sent to New Orleans to get aid for Mexico. Here he met up with the pirate Jean Lafitte, and together they offered their services to General Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Their valiant conduct during the battle resulted in a pardon for Lafitte, while Bean obtained promises of help for the revolutionary struggle. He returned to Mexico for a short time before conducting a Mexican ambassador and Morelos's son, Juan Almonte, to New Orleans. By the time Bean got back to mexico, Morelos had beencaptured and executed; the revolution was in a desperate condition. he married a young Mexican lady, Senorita Magdalena Falfan de los Godos, intending to bring her with him to the United States. But Bean was captured by the Royalists and imprisioned at Veracruz, where he managed to make his escape to New Orleans sometime in 1816 in a manner that went unrecorded in his Memoir published by Yoakum in 1855.
Little is known of Bean's life until he returned to Texas in 1823. He stayed in the Neutral Ground for a while and worked on his Memoir before deciding to visit his Tennessee relatives in 1817. While in Sparta County he married the daughter of Isaac Midkiff in 1818, either thinking his Mexican wife was dead or not telling eighteen-year-old Candace Midkiff about her. They moved to southwestern Arkansas, where a son (Isaac Bean) was born in 1821. hearing of Mexican independence, Bean decided to bring his family to Nacogdoches and seek recognition for his revolutionary services. He settled on Mound Prairie, which was near the Neches River on the Old San Antonio Road. In 1825 Bean went to Mexico City. There he received a commission as a Colonel in the Mexican army and an appointment as Agent to the Cherokees and other immigrant tribes in East Texas. He applied for colonization rights to the border reserve along the Sabine River, but Mexico gave it to Lorenzo de Zavala in 1829. While in Mexico Bean renewed his relations with his first wife, Senora Magdalena Falfan de los Godos but kept his home with his second wife in Texas, Candace Midkiff, with whom he eventually had three children. He was instrumental in defusing the Fredonian Rebellion in 1826 and settled down to discharge his duties as Indian agent. Bean briefly commanded Fort Teran in 1831 and helped overthrow the centralist commandant at Nacogdoches in 1832, whereupon Bean became the interim military head of affairs in East Texas.
Although his sympathies were probably with the Texas Revolution, he took no active part and offered to place himself under arrest when fighting began. He was granted parole, but because Bean was still an officer in the Mexican army with great influence over the Indians, General Houston ordered him detained in April 1836. After Texas won it independence at the Battle of San Jacinto, Bean continued to live around Nacogdoches until 1843, when he returned to his first wife in Jalapa. He died at her estate in 1847 at age sixty-four. Candace Midkiff, the mother of his children, died the following year and is buried in the Roark Cemetery at Linwood. Although uneducated, Peter Ellis Bean was a natural leader, bold, courageous, resourceful and able to accomplish whatever task was set before him. He accumulated considerable property in East Texas and was well thought of by his neighbors and old fellow Texans.
(Crocket, Rev. George L ."Peter Ellis Bean." ca. 1925, Peter Ellis Bean Collection. East Texas Research Center, Ralph W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University.)
(Jackson, Jack. "Peter Ellis Bean," 2003, Peter Ellis Bean control file, East Texas Research Center, Ralph W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University.)
Scope and Contents: Original documents, photocopies, typescripts, and newspaper clippings relating to Bean's life and activities. Included in the collection is an agreement to use a Salt Lick in 1835 and an 1835 bond for debts owed.