The following teaser is from an article posted in the July 4, 2012 edition of theeagle.com:
FREEPORT, Maine — He’s arguably Maine’s best-known native son, right up there with Civil War general Joshua Chamberlain, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and horror writer Stephen King. To his customers, he was simply known as “L.L.”
But as outdoors outfitter L.L. Bean celebrates its 100th anniversary, it’s still not 100 percent clear what the famous founder’s initials stood for. Was it Leon Leonwood Bean, as the company claimed for decades, or was it Leon Linwood Bean, as his grandson suggests?
The answer appears to be both.
Leon Gorman, L.L.’s grandson, said he was told that his grandfather was born Leon Linwood Bean and that it somehow morphed into Leon Leonwood Bean.
“There was some incident that happened years ago. I can’t remember what it was. They misspelled Leon’s name from Linwood to Leonwood,” Gorman, the company’s chairman, said. “L.L. was so taken by the new version of his middle name that he adopted it.”
His grave marker sheds no light on his middle-name preference; it says simply, “Leon L. Bean.” There’s no birth certificate, either.
In his autobiography, L.L. Bean talked about having a birth certificate, but no one knows where it is. Kim Sparks, town manager in Greenwood, where Bean was born, said a birth certificate can’t be located. And the state archives don’t have a copy, either.