Hannah Freeman Bean
Limited quantities! Please limit four packets per customer so more can enjoy and preserve this important bean.
Hannah Freeman (1730-1802) was a Lenni-Lenape woman who made baskets, worked seasonally in agriculture, traditional healing, and childcare, and travelled the Brandywine River Valley by foot where she lived primarily among European settlers. She was known as Indian Hannah and then after her death as the “last Delaware Indian of Chester County, Pennsylvania”. While most of her tribe fled westward, her family stayed behind, and into her old age she was a daily reminder to the Quakers who occupied her ancestral lands that the land was not truly theirs. William Penn promised that as long as Lenape people lived by the Brandywine River, he would not claim their land. Despite this, colonists divided the land and "pitied" Hannah, providing for her until her death.
This seed, known more widely as Indian Hannah Bean, was grown and preserved by H. Ralph Weaver (1896-1956), who received them from the Webb family of Northbrook in Chester County. Weaver's grandson, William Woys Weaver, has preserved this variety (along with thousands of culturally important heirlooms) and he explains that the Webbs 'owned' the land on which Freeman spent the final days of her life.
This bean has long pods that can be eaten young and tender as a snap bean and beautiful patterned seeds that can be cooked in the shelly or dry stages. It thrives growing next to our Sehsapsing Delaware Blue Flint Corn and climbs it as if enthusiastically greeting an old friend.
If you are Lenape and would like to grow these and other Lenape varieties, please send me a message. I would be grateful to send some back to you.
Days to maturity: 80
Seeds per pack: 40
Planting / harvesting notes
Plant in warm soil at least a couple weeks after the last danger of frost has passed. Sow directly in the ground at a depth of one inch, spaced every few inches in rows 12 inches apart. Thin to one plant every six inches.
Seed keeping notes
Beans are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of P. vulgaris by at least 25 feet (we do 75 feet to be sure) to avoid unwanted cross-pollination from flying insects. For seed saving, harvest the beans when their shells have become dried and crispy on the plants. Lay out the pods in a dry, sunny place to dry down further. Shell the beans and lay out the seeds in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight for at least another few days to a week before storing for next year.
Becker, Marshall J. “Legends about Hannah Freeman (‘Indian Hannah’): Squaring the Written Accounts with the Oral Traditions.” Keystone Folklore 4, no. 2 (1992): 1–14. Website.
Marsh, Dawn G. A Lenape among the Quakers: The Life of Hannah Freeman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014. Website.
Weaver, William Woys. Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener's Guide to Planting, Seed Saving, and Cultural History. New Edition. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press, 2018. Author website.