Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Deep Spear Roots In Ohio, May 10, 2017

We are links between the ages,
containing past and present expectations,
sacred memories and future promise.
~Edward Sellner

Greetings to all of you from San Diego! With Mother's Day this weekend, special birthdays on the horizon, and much more, it is a special time in the life of our family.

I have known about our important Davis roots in Indiana for many years, but only recently have I come to appreciate the equally important roots of Callie Spear Davis' family in Indiana. I have written recently about discovering how those Spear ancestors also migrated to Indiana from Eastern Ohio about the same time the Davises did, around 1850.

Early 19th Century Ohio Roots. I have also known for some years that our Davis ancestors in Ohio prior to 1850 were connected to the Restoration Movement, a religious revival which gave birth to the Churches of Christ as well as the Disciples of Christ. What I had not known till recently is that Callie Spear Davis' family was equally connected to the Restoration Movement in Ohio in the early 19th century when that movement was in its infancy.

Part of what lead me to this was some genealogical data my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard had given me years ago, long before she died in 1986. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with her, asking her for details of her ancestry, and for the wealth of information she provided me at that time. She also put me in touch with her nephew Ronald Davis (1931-1998), who was an impressive chronicler of our Davis/Spear family history.

One tidbit of information that Ronald shared with me concerned Andrew Spear (1806-1887), one of our Spear ancestors from Ohio who did NOT migrate to Indiana, as many of our other Spear ancestors did around 1850. Among those who DID migrate to Indiana were Andrew Spear's brothers Daniel, David, James, and Robert Spear.

Andrew Spear's father, James Spear (1768-1821) knew all about migration. He had come to America from County Armaugh, Ireland at about 20 years old, at the turn of the 19th century. Though he did not migrate to Indiana himself -- he only made it as far west as Ohio -- he may have encouraged his sons to venture on westward.

Church of Christ Cemetery, Ohio
Church of Christ Cemetery. Why his son Andrew Spear did not migrate to Indiana from Ohio, we may never know. Maybe he felt obligated to care for his family or tend to his farming. What we do know is that Andrew remained in Eastern Ohio for the rest of his life, and is buried there. Ronald Davis' family history says that Andrew Spear died in 1887 and is buried in Church of Christ Cemetery, Dalzell, Ohio.

That was the tidbit of information from Ronald Davis that caught my attention: Church of Christ Cemetery. Was this cemetery named after a Restoration Movement congregation of the 19th century? Does it indicate that some of our Spear ancestors were members there? It is hard to draw any firm conclusions at this point. 

A Distant Spear Relative. I recently corresponded with a distant Spear relative in Florida by the name of Bonnie Sprout. She, like me, is also a direct descendant of Irish immigrant James Spear and his wife Elizabeth McConnahaw Spear, whose son Andrew is buried in this Ohio cemetery. Bonnie gave me some details about the Church of Christ Cemetery. She said is located on the farm of some of her Sprout relatives from Lower Salem, Washington County, Ohio. She also connected me to the Find-A-Grave listing for the cemetery. That is where I found the two pictures of the cemetery included in this post. The first one shows a panoramic view of the cemetery while the second one shows the front of the church on the cemetery grounds, which has the name "Church of Christ" across it.

There is still much to be learned about the history of this Church and Cemetery which is tucked away in the rural hills of Eastern Ohio. But if nothing else this is one more indication that our family's deep Ohio roots -- in this case our Spear roots of 200 years ago -- are connected to the religious tradition with which many of us are affiliated.
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Steve Shepard

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