I am looking into "Mitchell Family Beans," purplish beans pinto like with brown spots (see below). These have been passed down a couple generations in a Mitchell family of Idaho (formerly Missouri). I was once told a Mitchell ancestor brought these to the US through Ellis Island, most likely from Ireland, hidden in the lining of their coat. A great story! But since these Mitchell's were in Kentucky and Virginia before 1800, they did not come through Ellis Island (which saw its first immigrant 1 Jan 1892). So I am wondering about the rest of the story.
Would have been hidden? When were food restrictions first placed on immigrants to the US?
Obviously the lining of the coat part could be true even if the beans were not hidden. For example, they could accidentally have been there from having beans in a pocket some time earlier. But would an immigrant pre-1800 be hiding beans?