Transcribed by: Ellen Booth.Page 346
GEORGE C. SPEARS, who, in his business and official life has ever been found a man of honor, worthy the trust and confidence of those with whom he has been associated and who is now living a retired life in Tallula, was born in Green county, Kentucky, April 18, 1822, his parents being Jacob and Letitia (Ewing) Spears. The paternal grandfather, Jacob Spears, Sr,, was born in Virginia, February 7, 1757. His son, Jacob Spears, was born in Lincoln county, Kentucky, January 17, 1785, and was married in that county on the 26th of December, 1816, to Miss Letitia Ewing, who was born in Frankfort county, Kentucky, June 13, 1799, a daughter of Baker Ewing, who conducted the first land office at Frankfort. In the year 1844, Jacob Spears removed with his family to Missouri, purchasing land in Lafayette county, where he carried on agricultural pursuits for a number of years. He then retired to private life and spent a part of his time in the home of his son George C. and the remainder of the time with his other children in Missouri. Thus he lived for fifteen years, but died at the home of his son George, January 4, 1865. His wife, surviving him about ten years, died in Missouri, April 26, 1875. He was a Whig in his political views, but never held nor desired public office. His wife held membership in the Christian church. In their family were five children, all of whom reached mature years, but only two are now living, the sister being now the widow of Augustus Keller. She resides with her daughters in Kansas City, Missouri, and in Higginsville, Missouri.
George C. Spears began his education in a log schoolhouse, which stood in the midst of the forest in Green county. The teacher believed in the old adage, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," and there were no rules against corporal punishment in those days, Mr. Spears receiving his full share of such. His educational privileges were somewhat limited for in his youth he largely assisted his father in the operation of the home farm, remaining, upon the old homestead up to the time of his marriage, with the exception of the period which he spent in the army. He enlisted in Lafayette county, Missouri, June 6, 1846, as a member of the First Missouri Mounted Volunteers under Colonel A.W. Doniphon, one of the grandest men that ever crossed the plains. He was mustered in at Fort Leavenworth and with his command traveled across the plains to Santa Fe, New Mexico, whence the troops were ordered to Chihuahua, Mexico. A battle occurred at Sacramento and Mr. Spears afterward went with his regiment to join General Taylor's forces at Walnut Springs. He was later at Satila and participated in the battle of Buena Vista, after which the regiment was ordered home, proceeding to the banks of the Rio Grande river and thence by boat to New Orleans, where Mr. Spears was honorable discharged, June 26, 1848, arriving home on the 4th of July, after which he resumed work on his father's farm. He is now one of the five surviving members of his company which went to the front one hundred and fourteen strong and returned with ninety-two members. Four are now living in Missouri.
Mr. Spears continued to assist in the cultivation of the home farm up to the time of his marriage, which occurred December 20, 1849, in Clary's Grove, Menard county, Illinois, Miss Elizabeth F. Spears becoming his wife. She was born in Menard county two miles northeast of Tallula, January 31, 1834. Her father, George Spears, was born in Green county, Kentucky, March 19, 1805, within two miles of the home of our subject. He married Maria Blenkenship, who was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, December 15, 1802, their marriage being celebrated in Green county, Kentucky, August 19, 1824. They emigrated to Illinois before the lands were on market and settled upon the farm where occurred the birth of Mrs. Spears, wife of our subject. Her father was a very extensive landowner, having more than twenty-one hundred acres and he divided fifteen hundred acres among his children. Upon the homestead place he remained until his death and was then buried there, passing away August 22, 1892, while his wife's death occurred on the 23d of June, 1878. Mary Neeley, whose sketch is given on another page of this volume, was the grandmother of Mrs. George C. Spears, while Mrs. Spears' mother was a cousin of ex-Vice President Stephenson. Her father was a Whig in his political views and was a member of the Baptist church. Mrs. George C. Spears belonged to a family of five children, all of whom reached adult age, while three are yet living, her brother being John Q. Spears, who is represented elsewhere in this work, while her sister is Mrs. William T. Beekman, also mentioned in this volume.
Following his marriage George C. Spears began farming upon the land given him by his father-in-law-a tract of three hundred and twenty acres in Tallula township. He continued to reside there for some years and he followed farming until 1894, placing his farm under a very high state of cultivation and making many excellent improvements thereon. He was always progressive and practical in his methods and in his farming operations met with very gratifying success. At length when seventy-two years of age he determined to put aside further business cares and, retiring to private life, he established his home in Tallula, where he now resides. He sold his first property after improving it. He had made a part of the rails used in fencing and he added many modern equipments. After disposing of the property he bought one hundred acres elsewhere in Tallula township and he also has one hundred and eighty-four acres in an adjoining township, while his home in Tallula is a good residence property.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Spears have been born eight children, of whom six are living; William B., born September 17, 1850, married Emma N. Purkapile, and they reside upon a farm in Franklin county, Kansas. They have two sons, J. Glen, born January 24, 1882, and Richard D., born October 1, 1886. Maria L., born March 11, 1853, is the wife of C. W. Green of Homewood, Kansas, and they have three living children, John Q., Katie Y. and Beulah W., Mary A., born June 15, 1857, died May 27, 1859. R. Yates, born October 30, 1859 , married Mary V. Washburn, of Marshall, Missouri, and lives upon a farm in Tallula township. Henrietta C., born February 15, 1863, is the wife of Charles A. Reding who is now in the revenue office at Pekin, Illinois, and they have one son, Ralph S. John R., born February 17, 1865, died July 28, 1866. George W., born May 1, 1869, is now a practicing dentist of Petersburg and married Florence Wood. Pauline B., born October 30, 1870, is the wife of Evens J. Watkins, a farmer residing in Little Grove, Menard county, and they have one son Robert B.
In his political views Mr. Spears was originally a Whig, casting his first presidential vote for Henry Clay and since the organization of the Republican party he has been one of its stanch champions. He became a member of the Masonic fraternity in Petersburg about 1865 and belongs to Clinton lodge, No. 19, A.F. & A.M., and also to the Royal Arch chapter. For many years he has been a devoted and faithful member of the Baptist church and is now serving as one of the church trustees. He is a hale, hearty old gentleman, notwithstanding his eighty-two years, possesses a genial, jovial nature and has a remarkably fine voice. In years past his voice was most wonderfully distinct and clear and he could make himself heard for a distance of a quart3er of a mile. Mrs. Spears, too, has many attractive qualities, is a pleasing and entertaining lady of sunny disposition. She united with the Clary's Grove Baptist church when she was fifteen years old and has remained a faithful and earnest worker both in church and Sabbath-school, being a teacher for the past forty years. Their home is noted for its generous hospitality, and they are held in highest esteem by a host of warm friends throughout Menard count