While Leon Bean may have been entering a successful phase of his life, there seemed to be another compartment of this man’s existence that wasn’t faring quite so well.
You may remember I’ve mentioned that Leon and his wife, Ella, were the proud parents of twin boys. While I’ve spent quite a bit of time describing twin William Samuel’s successes in life—particularly in the business realm through ventures like his DeSoto dealership in the east Bay community of Alameda—I haven’t said much about twin Samuel William.
There’s a reason for this: Sam was both blind and deaf.
Sam, of course, has his own story, which I am still in the process of researching. It’s a story that deserves attention, not only for the challenges he faced, but for the accomplishments he achieved.
Like any family, the Bean family has passed down their own share of “myths” about family episodes for which descendants don’t quite seem to have a satisfactory explanation.
When it comes to the reason for Sam’s injury that precipitated the loss of both his eyesight and hearing, I’ve heard two conflicting reports. One was that Sam was in a baseball game and caught an errant fly ball—in his eye. The other story was not quite as innocent, but much more believable: that Sam caught the short end of a rock fight.
Now that I’ve been fortunate enough to find some decent online resources for old Bay Area newspapers, I thought I’d take a look at what could be found to straighten out the family myth about Sam.
Thankfully, it didn’t take much searching to uncover one story about an injury Sam sustained. It was, however, neither ball game nor rock fight that was being reported.
Horrifyingly, it involved a gunshot wound.
A point-blank statement was printed in the San Jose Mercury News on page three of the September 21 issue of 1906—the same year Leon was so busy with an onslaught of building contracts:
Accidentally Shot.—Samuel Bean, the 10-year-old son of Contractor L. S. Bean, living on Addison avenue near Webster street, in Palo Alto was wounded in the abdomen by the accidental discharge of a 22-caliber revolver while out shooting blackbirds Wednesday evening. Fortunately the bullet did not penetrate the abdominal cavity, and the lad will probably recover in a week or ten days.