A Guide to the Spear Family Papers, 1839-1997
Born in Chautauqua County, New York, on 1816 July 1, Dr. David Osborn Spear was oldest son of the twelve children born to John (1788-1886) and Polly Osborn (1796-1840) Spear. David married Margaret Conner on 1840 August 15 in Kosciusko County, Indiana, and they had seven children: John, Harriet (who married Vincent Gray), Louisa, Jane, Charles, George, and Sonora (who married William Collins). The family moved to Michigan and Iowa and by 1860 resided in Texas. David Spear was among the first doctors sent by the government to treat Indians. He was also one of the founders of Weatherford, Texas; helped lay out the town square; and was the first County Recorder. His oldest son, John Nelson Spear, was a Texas Ranger on the mission that rescued Cynthia Ann Parker from the Comanches. David Osborn Spear died at Fort McKavett, Texas, on 1874 March 14.
John Nelson Spear, a younger brother of David Osborn Spear, was born on 1818 August 6. According to a letter he wrote to David, John arrived in California on 1849 October 15. He eventually settled in San Francisco, where he worked in an undertaker’s casket shop. John Nelson Spear committed suicide on 1856 December 16 after a bout of depression.
Moses Spear, another son of John and Polly Spear, was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, on 1834 May 4. He married Cicely Ellen Ashworth on 1865 January 29; the couple had nine children. Moses Spear and his family lived in Ravenwood, Nodaway County, Missouri, on land originally pre-empted by his father. Moses Spear died in Ravenwood on 1923 July 6.
Hannah Ely Spear, John and Polly Spear’s eighth child, was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, on 1829 July 23. She lived with her parents and brother Moses in Ravenwood, Missouri. Hannah took on the responsibility of caring for her father after her mother’s death in 1840 and remained in Ravenwood until her father’s death in 1886. At that time she moved to live with her brother Willis and his family, first in Wyoming and later in Montana, where she died on 1905 December 14 at the age of seventy-seven.
Willis Bradford Spear, Hannah Spear’s older brother, was born in Chautauqua County, New York, on 1824 January 12, shortly before his family moved to Ohio. The Spear family later relocated to Indiana, and Willis left for Iowa around the age of nineteen. From there he went to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he hired on as a quartermaster with the U.S. Army. Willis fought in the Mexican War and was severely wounded. In 1849, he trekked to San Antonio, Texas, and joined a group heading to California. He reached San Francisco in 1849 November and bought the first lot on what would be called Spear Street. Willis married Jane Ferguson Wood at Niles, Michigan, on 1853 October 18. They eventually had eight children: Ocianna, Mary Catherine (who married Paul J. McCormick, the “Grand Old Man of Montana”), John F., Charles Richard Ely, Willis Moses, Emily Leroy, Hullett William, and Annie. Willis and his family moved to Iowa; then to Nodaway County, Missouri, where his siblings and father were living; and then to Atchison County, Missouri. Later, Willis and his family resided in Montana and Wyoming, where he died at the age of eighty-eight on 1912 October 8.
Spear Family Papers, 1839-1997, Col 10231, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
The collection contains correspondence, legal documents, financial records, family records, printed material, genealogical material, and photographs produced and gathered by several members of the Spear family. The bulk of the papers consists of letters dating from 1843-1954. Most of the early letters were received by David O. Spear while living in Michigan, Iowa, and Texas. Many of these were written by his brother, John N. Spear, including some sent from California during the gold rush era. Others were sent by Moses Spear and Hannah E. Spear and concern family matters and business. Other correspondents include Willis Spear, William Connor, and Vincent Gray. Most letters dating from the 1880s and 1890s are directed to Will and Nora Spear Collins, from E. M. Collins and other family members. Later letters primarily concern genealogical research. Most other documents are miscellaneous in nature. A few letters and documents concern David O. Spear's position as a registrar of residents in Palo Pinto County in the Reconstruction period.
No restrictions. The collection is open for research.
Please be advised that the library does not hold the copyright to most of the material in its archival collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure those rights when needed. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish. The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright, literary property rights, and libel.
[Identification of item], Spear Family Papers, 1839-1997, Col 10231, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
Gift of Joyce E. Moore, 1998 June and 2000 July.
Processed by Warren Stricker, 1998 July.
Additional processing by Warren Stricker, 2000 July.
Finding aid edited and encoded by Tom D'Amore, 2011 July.
Detailed Description of the Collection