91st PA: John Spear (or Spare)

John Spear (or Spare)

Before the war

He was born on 25 July 1823, to Nathan Spare and Ann Johnson, in Upper Providence, [Montgomery County], Pennsylvania. [sources: date: 4 (38 in 1861), 7, 8, 10 (26 in 1850), 13 (37 in 1860). place: 4, 10, 37]

He married Matilda Bitting on 22 December 1847. They had five children: [sources: 1, 7, 8, 12]

In 1850, he was living in Perkiomen Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He was living with his wife Matilda and daughter Wilhelmina. He was a day laborer. [source: 10]

Matilda Spare died on 14 or 15 July 1859. [source: 7, 12]

In 1860, he was living in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He was a mason. He was living with William and Mary Spear (and others). His children were apparently not living with him. [source: 13]

On 24 July 1860, he married Elizabeth B Shade, in Trappe, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. They were married by Reverend Albert B Shenkle, at St Luke's German Reformed Church. They had no children. [source: 7, 12]

When he enlisted, he was a stonemason. [source: 4]

Description

When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 5-1/2 inches tall, and had a dark complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair. [source: 4]

During the war

He enlisted and was mustered into service on 22 October 1861. He was enlisted for three years, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Captain Keyser. He was a private in company G. [sources: 1, 4, 12, 18-19]

He fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. [source: 5]

He died of apoplexy, in camp near Beverly Ford, Virginia, at about 12.15 PM on 8 August 1863. He had not been well for several weeks, apparently because of fatigue from the marches since the Battle of Gettysburg. He was eating dinner beside his tent, fell over, and died in about five minutes. He was initially buried 'in the corner of the woods at the junction of two roads[,] one leading to [Beverly's] Ford and the other to Rappahannock Station. He was apparently later buried at the National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, block 2 section E row 10 grave 80. He was a private, in company G. Captain Eli Sellers said that he would send his pocket book and pass book to his family, rather than sending them to Washington, to be sure that his family would receive them. [sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 17, 18-19]

After the war

When John died, his children were living with different people Wilamina was living with her uncle, a Mr Valentine, in Philadelphia; Henry was living with Evan Lewis, in Limerick Township, Montgomery County; Mary Elizabeth was living with John Supplee in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County; Ann Matilda was living with her uncle Stroud Spear, in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County; and Gertrude was living with a Mrs Morgan in Philadelphia. [source: 12]

On 9 September 1863, his widow, Elizabeth B Spear, applied successfully for a pension. He application was accepted on 11 January 1865, retroactive to 8 August 1863. She initially received $8 per month. [sources: 6, 9, 12]

In 1870, his widow, Elizabeth P Spare, was living in Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She owned $2,000 in real estate, and $200 in personal property. [source: 14]

In 1880, his widow, Elizabeth Spear, was living in ward 1, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She was living with Frederick and Sarah Spear. [source: 15]

On 1 October 1881, his widow, Elizabeth Spear, applied for an increase in pension because of his children. As far as I call tell from her pension certificate file, she did not receive the increase. [source: 12]

In 1890, his widow, Elizabeth B Spear, was living in ward 8, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. [source: 16]

His widow, Elizabeth B Spear, died in the mid-1890's, presumably shortly after she last was paid her pension, through 4 November 1893. [source: 12]

In August 1911, Spear's grandson, William B Northam, of Chester, Pennsylvania, sent a letter to the Pension Office, asking in what regiment John Spear had served. After he explained his interest, the Pension Office gave him the information. [source: 12]

Sources

1 Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster) (John Spear)

2 consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 10 August 1863 (John Spear)

3 company G, register of deaths (John Spear)

4 company G, descriptive roll, #70 (John Speer [sic])

5 Pennsylvania Memorial, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (John Spear)

6 pension index, by name (John Spear)

7 'John Spare', on Arlington Cemetery site (viewed April 2007) (John Spare, aka John Spear)

8 'Scott/Cauffman family database', a gedcom available on RootsWeb WorldConnect, contact Wendy Scott (viewed April 2007) [other gedcoms are also available] (John Spare)

9 pension index, by regiment, 91st PA Infantry, company G (John Spear)

10 1850 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Perkiomen Township, microfilm series M432, film 799, page 46 (John Spare)

11 letter, Eli G Sellers to Elizabeth B Spear, August 1863

12 widow's pension certificate file, National Archives and Records Administration, record group 15, certificate WC 38,707 (Elizabeth B Shade, widow of John Spear)

13 1860 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Upper Providence Township, microfilm series M653, film 1145, page 549 = 121 handwritten (John Spear)

14 1870 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Norristown, subdivision 267 (Lower Ward), microfilm series M593, film 1378, page 78 verso = 156 handwritten (Elizabeth P Spare)

15 1880 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Norristown Borough, ward 1, supervisor's district 4, enumeration district 47, page 399 = 48 D handwritten (Elizabeth Spear)

16 1890 US census, veterans' schedule, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Norristown, ward 8 (image 46 of 59 on Ancestry), supervisor's district 3, enumeration district 226, page 1 (Elizabeth B widow of John Spear)

17 Find a Grave, memorial 45,306,745, created by Pat Callahn, 10 December 2009, accessed 1 November 2011 [identification is confirmed by reference to his service] (John Spear)

18 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (John Spear)

19 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (John Speer)

Sources checked unsuccessfully

1900 US census
HeritageQuest, FamilySearch indices (accessed 1 November 2011)
1910 US census
HeritageQuest, FamilySearch indices (accessed 1 November 2011)
(The Elizabeth Spare, 84, living in the Montgomery County Almshouse in Upper Providence Township is the wrong age, and the widow's pension certificate file makes clear John's widow died in the 1890's (see supervisor's district 3, enumeration district 159, microfilm series T624, film 1380, page 31 = 12 A handwritten, line 6)
1920 US census
HeritageQuest, FamilySearch indices (accessed 1 November 2011)
1930 US census
FamilySearch index (accessed 1 November 2011)

abstract of widow's pension certificate file

[widow's pension certificate file, National Archives and Records Administration, record group 15, certificate WC 38,707, Elizabeth B Shade, widow of John Spear]
[abstracted from 47 pages on Fold3, October 2011]
14 July 1859
first wife Matilda Spear died
five minor children in 1863: Wilamina Spear (born 3 Nov 1849, baptized 8 Sep 1850, Trappe); Henry Spare (born 1 Dec 1851, baptized 14 Feb 1853); Mary Elizabeth Spare (born 24 Dec 1853, baptized 24 Dec 1854, at Trappe); Ann Matilda Spare (born 30 Aug 1856); Gertrude Spear (born 30 June 1859) (pp.3-4 (from family bible), 12 [dated 9 Feb 86])
24 July 1860
married Elizabeth Shade (both of Upper Providence Montgomery County PA), by Rev Albert B Shenkle, at St Luke's German Reformed Church, Trappe, Montgomery County, PA (pp.3, 7, 28)
22 Oct 1861
John Spear enrolled at Philadelphia in co. G 91st PA (p.11)
8 Dec 1861
mustered in co G at Philadelphia PA (p.11)
8 Aug 1863
died in Camp near Beverly Ford, Virginia, of apoplexy (p.3, 11)
not well for 2 to 3 weeks. on sick list from overfatigue on march from Gettysburg and Beverly Ford. 'eating his dinner when he fell over in a fit of apoplexy and died in about five minutes' [captain certified]
9 Sep 1863
Elizabeth B Spear applied for a pension, application 32,586
52 years old, resident of Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania, post office Evansburg, Montgomery County (p.3, 5)
dated 5 Sep 1863
Philip Mack and Catharine Johnson (residents of Upper Providence Twp, Montgomery County, PA) swore to her identity (p.3)
at John's death his children lived as follows: Wilamina lived with her uncle Mr Valentine in Philadelphia; Henry lived with Evan Lewis in Limerick Twp Montgomery County; Mary Elizabeth lived with John Supplee in Upper Providence Twp Montgomery County, Ann Matilda lived with her uncle Stroud Spear in Upper Providence Twp Montgomery County, and Gertrude Spear lived with Mrs Morgan in Philadelphia [p.5]
William Rossiter (Norristown PA) attorney (p.9)
11 Sep 1863
Pension Office referred claim to Adjutant General for evidence (p.18)
4 July 1864
Philip Wack MD swore that he had been the family physician of John Spear for nine years before his enlistment, and that John Spear was healthy, and had not had 'attacks of appoplexy [sic] or any other chronic disease', and that his 'correct name was John Spear' (p.24)
3 Dec 1864
Captain Eli G Sellers certified that John Spear was a member of co. G 91st PA, and died 'in a fit of appoplexy [sic] At Camp near Beverly Ford Va' on 8 August 1863, and he had been on the sick list 'for some time from overfatigue on the march from Gettysburg Pa to Beverly Ford Va. And that he was a man of Steady and Sober habits' [p.26]
received 8 Dec 1864 by Pension Office [p.27]
11 Jan 1865
pension application accepted. $8 per month retroactive to 8 Aug 1863 (p.17)
certificate dated 20 January 1865. sent to Wm Rossiter, Norristown PA (p.17)
2 Apr [?] 1866
Pension Office sent circular 9 to agent [p.19]
16 June [1866?]
the Pension Office sent a letter to the agent asking for 'proof of habits and constitution of soldiers [sic] health' [p.19]
8 July [1866?]
the Pension Office sent a letter to the agent, contents unspecified [p.19]
8 September [1866?]
the Pension Office sent a letter to the agent, contents unspecified [p.19]
26 September [1866?]
Wm B Shupe and [cut off name] swore that John Spear had had good habits and was healthy prior to his enlistment [p.22]
1 Oct 1881
Elizabeth Spear applied for an increase in pension on account of children [p.28]
names and birthdates of children as above (p.28)
witnesses: John Espenship and Elizabeth A Fry (residents of Norristown Montgomery County PA (p.28)
her post office address: Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania [p.28]
the summary does not mention any approvals of the increase (p.31)
attorney: George E Lemour [?], Washington DC, fee of $10 [p.31]
12 Dec 1881
pension office sent "to Fitzgerald" about "births + care + custody" (of John Spears' children, presumably) (p.17)
1 Aug 1883
Pension Office reported no action since 12 Dec 81 (p.17)
attorney: NW Fitzgerald + Co, Washington DC (p.17)
15 Jan 1886
the Pension Office requested information about payment on Spear's pension, because of his widow's application for increase due to children; the pension agent replied that she had been paid through 4 September 1885 without increase (p.38)
9 Feb 1886
Elizabeth B Spear affirmed the birthdates of the children, and that she was still a widow (p.11)
repeated 19 Feb 1886, with Priscilla Baker and Henry S Longaker (p.12)
15 Feb 1886
Pension Office reported letter of 11 Jan 1886 returned to claimant, with notice that her statement alone isn't adequate evidence (p.17)
11 Mar 1886
letter dated 10 Mar 1886, to Pension Commissioner (p.36)
Henry S Longaker notes that the physician is dead, and no other records than the family bible are known (p.36)
11 Mar 1886
Pension Office received declaration from Elizabeth, supported by Henry S Longaker and Priscilla Baker, that she had not remarried (pp.20-21)
25 Mar 1888
the attorney and client were [required] to state under oath when + by whom the entries in the family Bible were made and if any one is now living who was with her at the [illegible] of any of the births' (p.17)
31 March 1897
Elizabeth B Spear dropped from pension rolls, because of "sec. 4719" (p.15)
last paid at $12 per month through 4 November 1893 (p.15)
17 Aug 1911
the Pension Office received a letter from William B Northam, attorney, Chester, PA, postmarked 14 Aug 1911 (p.35)
the letter requested the regiment in which Spear had served (p.44)
18 August 1911
Pension Office required W D Northam to state why he wanted information (pp.17, 46)
22 August 1911
Northam answered that he was Spear's grandson, son of John's daughter Mary Elizabeth (Spare) Northam, and wanted to know in what regiment Spear had served (p.42)
'The family now universally spell the name Spare' (p.42)
no one was alive to claim a pension; Elizabeth B Spear died in the early nineties (p.42)
received by Pension Office 23 Aug 11
25 August 1911
the Pension Office replied to Northam that John Spear served in company G, 91st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (p.43)

death notification letter

[letter, Eli G Sellers to Elizabeth B Spear, August 1863]
[transcribed from widow's pension certificate file, images 40-41 on Fold3, 30 October 2011]


Camp near Beverley's Ford Va Aug [illegible] 63

Mrs Spear

Madam It is with regret that I have to write these few lines to let you know about your husband. On the 8th inst at about 1/4 past 12 oclock he was sitting beside his tent eating his dinner when he fell over in a fit of appoplexey [sic] and died in about five minutes. knowing that it would be impossible to send him home at this season of the year I had him buried as best the accomodations [sic] afforded us here would allow, in the corner of the woods at the junction of two Roads one leading to the above named Ford and the other to Rappahannock Station. The grave is marked with his full name and Company and Regiment. and could be easily found. I sent for his nephew whose Division had passed us in the morning but they had gone so far they they [sic] could not be found. He had some small articles in his pockets such as a pocket book and pass book all of which I will sent to you as soon as we get near the Rail Road and settled in a camp. it is my duty to send these things to Washington but knowing that the Relatives and friends like to take care of these things and they are of no value to any one else and perhaps never would reach you if I sent them to Washington I will send them the first opportunity I will send you the proper papers so that you can have them filled up and receive the pay that is due him. John had not been very well for two or three weeks but we thought it came from the long marches and that with a little rest he would recruit up [sic] again. myself and the company sympathise with you in your loss as John was liked by all the members of the company. with these few lines I must close and remain yours most respectfully

E. G. Sellers capt
Co (G) 91st P.V.

1850 census

[1850 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Perkiomen Township, microfilm series M432, film 799, page 46]
line222324
Dwellings visited193  
Families visited215  
NameJohn SpareMatilda SpareWilamina Do
Age26266/12
SexMFF
Color   
Occupation of males over 15 yearsDay laborer  
Real estate owned   
BirthplaceDo [sc. Pennsylvania]DoDo
Married within year   
Attended school within year   
Over 20 & can't read/write   
Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.   

1860 census

[1860 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Upper Providence Township, microfilm series M653, film 1145, page 549 = 121 handwritten]
[identification is probable. His name, age, and occupation match the other evidence I have]
[Note that according to his widow's pension certificate file, his children were living with other people at his death in 1863; this seems to be true in 1860 also. For example, see Henry Spear 8 living with Evan Lewis in Limerick Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (microfilm series M653, film 1145, page 169 = 77 handwritten)]
line12345678910
Dwelling number797         
Family number889         
NameWilliam SpearMary "Matilda "Esther "Hannah "Emma "Wiliam [sic] "Jacob "NathanJohn
Age5047 2117157511337
SexMFFFFFMMMM
Color          
OccupationFarmer Seamstress      Mason
Value of real estate owned4,980         
Value of personal estate2,500         
Place of birthPenn"""""""""
Married within year          
Attended school within year     1 1  
Cannot read & write         
Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.          

1870 census

[1870 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Norristown, subdivision 267 (Lower Ward), microfilm series M593, film 1378, page 78 verso = 156 handwritten]
[identification is likely; she is the only candidate, and the pension certificate file has her living in Norristown in 1881]
line27
Dwelling-house number1222
Family number1233
NameSpare Elizabeth P
Age58
SexF
ColorW
OccupationKeeping House
Real estate value2000
Personal estate value200
BirthplacePenna
Father foreign born 
Mother foreign born 
Birth month if born within year 
Marriage month if married within year 
Attended school past year 
Can't read 
Can't write 
Deaf, dumb, blind, etc. 
Male US citizen at least 21 years old 
Male US citizen at least 21 years old who can't vote ... 

1880 census

[1880 US census, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Norristown Borough, ward 1, supervisor's district 4, enumeration district 47, page 399 = 48 D handwritten]
[identification is likely, since the pension certificate file makes clear she was living in Norristown by 1881]
line444546
street name   
house number609  
dwelling visit #475  
family visit #509  
nameSpear Frederick- Sarah- Elizabeth
colorWWW
sexMFF
age665963
month born if born in year   
relationship wifesister
single  1
married11 
widowed/divorced   
married during year   
occupationCarpenterKeeping house 
months unemployed   
currently ill?   
blind   
deaf/dumb   
idiotic   
insane   
disabled   
school this year   
can't read   
can't write   
birthplacePennaPennaPenna
father's birthplacePennaPaPa
mother's birthplacePennaPaPa

1890 census, veterans schedule

[1890 US census, veterans' schedule, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Norristown, ward 8 (image 46 of 59 on Ancestry), supervisor's district 3, enumeration district 226, page 1]
[identification is confirmed by reference to his service in the 91st]
[transcribed 1 November 2011]

[line] 7
[house] 16
[family] 16
[name] Elizabeth B. widow of John Spear
[rank] Private
[company] G
[unit] 91 Pa Vol
[enlistment date] 22 Oct 1861
[discharge date] 8 Aug 1863
[length of service] 1 year, 9 months, 16 days
[post office address] " " " " [sc. Norristown Montgomery Co Pa]
[disability incurred] [blank]
[remarks] [blank]

index to compiled service records

[index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania]
[transcribed 16 April 2015, from Fold3]


Spear, John
Co. G, 91 Pennsylvania Inf.
Pvt | Pvt
REFERENCE CARD.
Original filed under
Speer, John

GENERAL INDEX CARD.


[card 2, transcribed 16 Apr 15]

Speer, John
Co. G, 91 Pennsylvania Inf.
Pvt | Pvt

GENERAL INDEX CARD.

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revised 16 Apr 15
contact Harry Ide at hide1@unl.edu with comments or questions