Biography of Charles Danford Bean

Charles Danford Bean, attorney and counselor at law in Geneva, Ontario county, New York, is a member of a family that has been domiciled in New York state for several generations, and their history and that of the family seat is a more than usually interesting one.

Maple Hill, the homestead, derives its name from the thickly-wooded land upon which the house stands, and has many historic associations. The mansion was originally erected in 1834. and was at that time a twostory structure; successive owners added wings and rebuilt and remodeled the house, which has sheltered and extended hospitality to many distinguished guests, among them being: Gideon Lee, General John B. Murray, ex-Governor Myron H. Clark, George H. Stayner, of New York, and the Rev. Joseph W. Walker, of England. The eastern front of the grounds is laid out to form a monogram of the Greek letters, Phi Kappa Psi. The “Indian Oak,” a magnificent specimen of forest growth which received its name from the fact that it was formerly a favorite meeting place of the Indians, was blown down in 1876. The enormous trunk was removed and a granite rock placed on the site and this will be later replaced by an appropriate monument to Chief Red jacket and his contemporaries.

Another forest giant on this estate has a very curious origin and interesting historic association. At the present time (1910) it is with one exception the largest tree in the state of New York and it is more than a century old. Its history is as follows: During the early days of the settlement of Geneva, Ephraim Lee, a pioneer, traveled several times over the Albany and Buffalo turnpike, around the foot of Seneca Lake, westward through the village over what is now (1910) Hamilton street. One day he reached the shores of the lake and to lessen the fatigue of walking cut himself a cane. During the afternoon hours he reached a maple grove on the hill one mile west of the village, stuck his cane in the ground, lay down and fell asleep. Later he awoke and hastened on his way, forgetting the cane. He came to the same spot during his journeyings the following year and was amazed to find the cane he had carelessly placed in the ground had taken root and was covered with foliage. It continued to thrive and in later years when the grove was cut down this tree was spared because of its history. A former owner of Maple Hill had difficulties with the roadmaster in 1843, as the latter insisted that the tree be removed. The owner with practical ingenuity caused the tree to be driven full of spikes from the ground upward, thus rendering the application of an axe a matter of impossibility. Tree experts ascribe the wonderful growth, age and beauty of the tree to the presence of the iron, which exercises revivifying influences. An accurate measurement of the tree was taken in August, 1892, which gave the height as one hundred and twenty feet, the diameter of the foliage as one hundred and fifteen feet and the circumference of the trunk as twenty-four feet. The road on which it stands was originally an Indian trail, but was made a state road in 1994. It stands on the north side of the street near the intersection of Hamilton street with the old Pre-emption road ; the branches of the south half hang over the entire street, and several times its ample shade has been used by congregations for the holding of divine service. To the northwest is an ancient building of gray stone which is used as a museum of relics and a fraternity chapter hall. It has a mural tablet on the south wall. Many interesting relics are to be found here, among them being a collection of old furniture and a Masonic desk which was made in 1799, a tablet above it giving its history. The collection is known by the name of “The Museum of Classical Archaeology.” One of the most pleasing incidents in the history of this famous tree is the visit of General Lafayette. June 8, 1825. A letter of invitation had been sent to General Lafayette by the citizens’ committee of the village of Geneva and had been accepted. On the appointed day Captain Manning’s company of artillery, Captain Ruggle’s detachment of cavalry, Captain Van Auken’s company of riflemen and Ensign Brizee’s company of light infantry, together with a number of officers of neighboring regiments, all in full uniform, were stationed within a few feet of this tree in order to welcome the general. He came from Canandaigua in a carriage drawn by six grey horses, accompanied by his son and his secretary. When the carriage came in sight a signal gun was fired and the general was welcomed with all honors. From that memorable day this magnificent balsam poplar has been known as the “Lafayette Tree.”

Charles Bean, father of Charles D. Bean, was born in Holme, England, February 2, 1826, and was but ten years of age when his father decided to go to America with his family. They sailed from Hull for Quebec, Canada, on the ship “New Harmony,” Captain Cookman in command. The voyage was a calm one until they were within sight of the banks of Newfoundland, when a severe storm wrecked the vessel and the passengers and crew were in the gravest danger. They were at length taken to land from the dismantled hulk and finally reached Quebec. They remained there but a few days, embarking on a vessel on Lake Ontario which took them to Sodus, Wayne county, New York, where young Charles made his home for a period of eight years, taking his due part in all the labors, privations and trials of those early pioneer days. His father with other members of the family had gone on to Geneva, New York. Opportunities for obtaining a good school education were few and far between in those days, but Mr. Bean was intelligent and observant far beyond his years and having an earnest desire to acquire knowledge, he soon outstripped the teachers in the common or district school and when he went to Geneva in 1844, was able to take up his studies in the Geneva Academy with advantage. Five years later he entered the employ of Chauncey Ackley, who was engaged in the hardware business, remaining with him for a period of seven years. He then went to New York, where he was actively engaged in the wholesale dry goods business for almost a quarter of a century. He became associated with many well-known firms during this long’ period, among them being: Kirtland, North & Platt; Lawrence Brothers, who have since become eminent bankers; T. J. Roberts & Company; Buckley, Murphy & Cecil; and Buckley, Welling & Company, one of the members of this firm being Police Commissioner De Witt C. Wheeler, the noted United States Indian contractor.

Mr. Bean has always been an indefatigable worker and in order to recuperate during these trying years he spent the summer months in Prattsburg, Steuben county, New York. This village is one of the finest of its size in the state, and his real estate interests there were extensive. His home, which was a large and commodious colonial mansion, was noted for its open-handed hospitality, and Mr. Bean took especial delight in country work of all kinds, it being his greatest pleasure to give his personal assistance in a part of the work. The greater part of the brick which has been used in the construction of the village house was made on the farm of Mr. Bean. When he decided to remove to Geneva he sold his house in Prattsburg. This was in 1894, and at that time he purchased the Maple Hill estate of which mention has been made above. In the course of time he has acquired extensive lumber holdings in the southern part of the state. He has always taken a lively interest in the public affairs of the community in which he lived and in 1876 was elected justice of the peace. In 1878 he was associated with a New York lawyer as an expert to hunt up evidence in an important patent suit pending in the United States court. They were successful in their quest and this led to a settlement of the case. Mr. Bean joined the Masonic fraternity more than twenty years ago and has served his lodge twice as master. At the dedication of the Masonic Temple in New York he was appointed one of the marshals by his friend Edward E. Thorne, grand master of the state. He was a charter member of Geneva Lodge and Encampment, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is a member of the board of trade, and of several other organizations, in all of which he takes an active interest.

Mr. Bean married, February 29. 1860, Cloa Maria, daughter of the late Samuel Danford, Esq., and they have one son, Charles Danford, see forward. He and his family went abroad in 1882 for four months. While in Europe he visited Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Tyng. April 7, 1876 (Easter), he and his family were confirmed in St. Johns Church, New York City, by Bishop Potter, through the ministrations of Rev. W. H. Cooke, president of the Oratorio Society of New York, who had been a friend for many years prior to his death.

Charles Danford, only child of Charles and Cloa Maria (Danford) Bean, was born in Marion, Wayne county, New York, 1861. His early years were spent in New York City, where he was a pupil at St. John’s Trinity Parish School and North Moore Grammar School; he also attended the Franklin Academy, of Prattsburg; and he received his preparatory education for college at the Union School, of Geneva. He then matriculated at Hobart College, from which he was graduated in a class of eighteen. He was one of three chosen by the faculty to speak twice at commencement. While attending college he was a member of the choir and several of the societies, and then accompanied his father on a pleasure trip to Europe. Upon his return to this country he took a post-graduate course at Hobart, and about the same time commenced the study of law under the preceptorship of his uncle Major Bean, and of Judge Folger. He became a member of the Hobart Cadets and commenced the study of military tactics under the auspices of a United States officer. He has been honored by a number of institutes of learning in recognition of his articles in various legal publications and his writings on the laws of fraternities and societies. Syracuse University conferred upon him the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy; Allegheny College, that of Master of Arts; and the Southern Normal University College of Law has honored him with the degree of Doctor of Laws. In 1887 he was elected justice of the peace for four years; in 1889 he was elected justice of sessions, and was reelected in 1890. For many years he has been known as “Judge.” He has served as a delegate to several county conventions and is chairman of the general executive committee of his law class. He is president of the Endymion Military Preparatory School Corporation, the object of which is to establish and permanently endow a military academy and boarding school which shall have especial advantages and facilities for the instruction of young men. His business, social, fraternal and club connections are varied and numerous. Among them may be mentioned : Membership in the Geneva Chamber of Commerce; the Geneva Bar Association; the Geneva Political Equality Club; the Masonic Temple Club; New York State Historical Association; Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Geneva Lodge, No. 1054, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Umarken Grotto, V. P. E. 1. For three years he served as secretary of the board of trustees of the New York Delta Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, of Geneva; is now (1910) an active member of the Phi Kappa Psi Syracuse Alumni Association; also of the Phi Kappa Psi Homestead Association and the Society of Wayne, of New York; he is ex-president of the Delphian Historical Society; was an active member of the Trinity Chapter of St. Andrew’s Brotherhood. which was afterward consolidated with the Trinity Boys’ Club; vice-president and president of the Young Men’s Christian Association Outing Club. For six years he served as a member of the reception committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association, during a part of this time was also a member of the athletic committee, and for five years was one of the judges at the annual field day. At the present time (1910) he is historian of the Delphian Historical Society, and treasurer of the Delta Sigma Fraternity. In 1893 he was elected to the office of junior warden of Ark Lodge, No. 33, Free and Accepted Masons. and was reelected to the office in the following year; he was elected master of Ark Lodge in 1895, and reelected in 1896; he is a member of Geneva Chapter, No. 36, Royal Arch Masons, and of Geneva Commandery, No. 29, Knights Templar. Mr. Bean is unmarried and devotes all his time that is not occupied with business matters to his societies and to literary work. He is a frequent contributor to the Legal Gazette and other legal publications, is the author of a history of Geneva, and valuable papers on college fraternity matters.



Milliken, Charles F. The History of Ontario County, New York, and Its People Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York. 1911.

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