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King Spear

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King Spear

King Spear was Esther Ann Spear’s father.  In 1790, King was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts but he married a Canadian girl, Elizabeth Haley of Maitland, Canada.  They first lived on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River in Augusta Township, Grenville County, Ontario.  Five children later, they moved across the river to Morristown, St. Lawrence County, New York.  Their remaining four children were born on the New York side including Ester Ann, who was their youngest.  Later, they moved from their upper New York State home, through Ohio, and then on to Wisconsin by covered wagon, carrying all that they could take with them packed up in their old trunks in the wagon.  They settled in Racine, Wisconsin about 1845 or 1846 which was prior to Wisconsin’s statehood in 1848.  They were true pioneers in this untamed land.  The Spear children’s heritage was a strange mixture from both sides of the Revolutionary War.  King’s father fought for The Colonies while Elizabeth’s father was a British Redcoat and her grandfather was a German Hessian soldier who fought for both the British and General Washington’s army. 

A portrait of King Spear.  It hung in Esther Ann (Spear) Aldrich’s home in De Pere, Wisconsin for many years.  When Esther’s granddaughter, Alma, once remarked to her that he looked so stern and strict, she answered that he was strict but he was a good man and a good father to his family.

The gravestone of King and Elizabeth (Haley) Spear in Greenwood Cemetery, De Pere, Wisconsin.  “King Spear, Born July 24, 1790, Died Feb. 11, 1870.  Elizabeth Spear, Born July 15, 1795, Died Apr. 29, 1857.”  Their son, Samuel Spear, is also buried with them.  He was born January 24, 1825 and died March 4, 1860.

Note that the stone says “Jan.”, not July, as the family Bible account gives.  That family Bible was burned years ago in a house fire, so it cannot be checked to see if it was miscopied or not.

The Feeding Hills Congregational Church of Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

The Feeding Hills Congregational Church, located at 21 North Westfield Street in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, was founded in 1762.  The birth and christening records of King Spear were recorded as July 24, 1790 in the records of this church where his parents, Joshua and Asenath (Winchell) Spear, were members.  They apparently christened him with the unusual name of “King” in honor of his maternal grandmother, Asenath (King) Winchell and her King heritage.  The King family descends from an old colonial line that traces its heritage back to William Brewster and the Mayflower.  Although his birth was recorded in the records of the Town of West Springfield, Massachusetts, he was actually born in the Feeding Hills section of Agawam, Massachusetts, now the City of Agawam (which was set aside from West Springfield on May 17, 1855).  The area was named Feeding Hills because the Agawam Indians drove their cattle across the river to feed on the hills.

The pen-and-ink drawing and the photo above show the original section of this church on the left and the newer “L” wing on the right.  This addition to the building was built in 1958 under the supervision of Verne R. Spear, Chairman of the Building Committee of the Feeding Hills congregation.  The building materials were furnished by the Spear Lumber Company, West Suffield, Connecticut.  A small conference room on the second floor is named “Spear Room”.  We are indebted to Verne R. Spear for these pictures and the historical background.  Verne, who still lives in this area, is a descendant of Moses Spear, King Spear’s grandfather.  Thank you, Verne.

The Parentage of King Spear of West Springfield, MA

King’s birth was found in the published Vital Records of West Springfield, Massachusetts to the year 1850.  In this record his mother’s maiden name was not recorded.  Thanks to the persistence of Verne R. Spear, author of the excellent Spear genealogy, The Descendants of George Spear, 1642 - 1988, it was proven in a land record that she was Asenath (Winchell) Shattuck, daughter of Elder Jacob and Asenath (King) Winchell.  She was married to Thomas Shattuck before her marriage to Joshua Spear.  There were three children born to Joshua and Asenath Spear: Elihu, Asenath and King.  This marriage did not last and Joshua then married (2nd) Miriam (Leonard) Miller (a divorcee) and Asenath married (3rd) Cyrus Alexander Starkweather as his second wife.  King Spear was probably raised by Elder Jacob and Asenath (King) Winchell, his maternal grandparents.  JGK