Spencer Spears



(The following is transcribed from “A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Merced, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa, California”, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1892)


Spencer King Spears, one of the substantial farmers of Merced County, was born in St. Lawrence County, New York, January 17, 1829, a son of Ira and Phoebe (Tyler) Spears; the mother was a relative of President Tyler.  The parents removed with children to Canada in 1832 and located at Prescott, where the father had a large foundry; he placed the machinery of the steamer Carolina.  His death occurred in Orleans County, New York, in 1857.


Along with that great army of gold-seekers, Mr. Spears came to California in 1849, making the journey via Cape Horn, aboard the Mary Waterman.  He left New Orleans in September, 1849, and landed in San Francisco March 14, 1850.  At New Orleans he was second clerk of the Belle Key, a Mississippi river steamer, and he was also in the employ of Hussey, Bond & Co., ship chandlers; it was this firm that put him in charge of the cargo of the Mary Waterman at a salary of $25 a month while on the voyage, and $250 a month while unloading at San Francisco.  From July 15, 1850, to 1853, he was engaged in mining.  He then erected a sawmill on Sutter creek, which he operated three years; this was not a profitable investment, ending disastrously to Mr. Spears; he went to San Francisco, and thence to Merced County, where he purchased a ranch near Merced Falls, from William Nelson; in 1857 be bought 180 acres where he now lives; this land is well improved, and he has been very successful in the raising of livestock, especially sheep.


Mr. Spears was married January 11, 1853, to Martha Wigginton, a native of Kentucky, and they are the parents of the following named children: Peter, Minnie, the wife of John Ellert; Mary, deceased in September, 1888, wife of Enoch Ackers; and Frank, who was killed by a mule team at the age of seven years.  The mother of this family died in 1883, and in 1884 Mr. Spears married Miriam Stribbling, a native of California.  Their children are: Edna, Leonard and Miemary.  Mr. Spears was elected Road Master in 1890, a position he still holds and fills with great efficiency.