William Alexander Spears

From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.

WILLIAM ALEXANDER SPEARS, one of the successful and highly respected farmers of Henderson County, who in this locality has spent his entire life, was born on the 22d of July, 1856, on section 8, township 9 north, range 4 west. On the father's side he comes of Scotch ancestry. His grandfather, Alexander Spears, was born in Paisley, Scotland. When a young man he bade adieu to friends and native land and crossed the broad Atlantic to America, where he spent his remaining days. The grandmother bore the maiden name of Margaret McHenry.

Alexander Spears, father of our subject, claimed Pennsylvania as the State of his nativity, for he was born in Beaver County, on the th of September, 1812. Having attained to years of maturity, he was united in marriage with Miss Mary McElroy, who was born in Beaver County, Pa., February 16, 1819, and was of Scotch-Irish descent. Mr. Spears, when a young man, learned the blacksmith's trade and followed that occupation during the greater part of his life. He was called to his final rest on the 11th of December, 1872, and Henderson County thus lost one of its early settlers. In his family were ten children, four sons and six daughters.

In the county of his nativity, W. A. Spears of this sketch spent the days of his boyhood and youth, his time being passed in the usual manner of farmer lads. He early became familiar with all the duties of farm work. His education was all acquired in the district schools of the neighborhood, with the exception of three months' study in a commercial college of Burlington, Iowa. On attaining his majority he embarked in farming for himself and has since followed that pursuit. He keeps his land under a high state of cultivation, and his farm is a well-improved place, neat and thrifty in appearance.

On the nth of March, 1880, Mr. Spears was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary Helen Marshall, who was born February 14, 1858, at the family homestead on section 22, township 9 north, range 5 west, of Henderson County. Her father, James Alexander Marshall, was born in the Fairfield District of South Carolina, and came to Illinois on the 3d of June, 1837. Her mother, who bore the maiden name of Jeanette Hoy Richey, was born in Lakeville, Washington County, N. Y., and was a daughter of Judge R. W. Richey. She came to Illinois on the 2d of November, 1840. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Spears, of whom three are yet living, namely: Jean Elizabeth, born October 2, 1886; Jessie McElroy, born January 1, 1890; and Lois Helen, born October 3, 1891. Jeanetta Mary, born August 5, 1882, died February 29, 1888.

In his political views, Mr. Spears is a Republican, and is a member of the United Presbyterian Church. His entire life has been passed in Henderson County, and an honorable, straightforward career has won for him the respect and confidence of all with whom he has been brought in contact, and gained for him many friends.