Willism F. Mears, my great great grandfather, grew up in Guilford County, North Carolina where he was born. We know from the 1850 census and other records tht he could read and write though his wife couldn't. Some have speculated that his middle name may be 'Franklin' but to this date I have found nothing fo prove this. We are lucky that most records do show the middle initial "F" as when he live din Warren-Cannon Co., TN, there were several Williams.
We don't know exactly when William came to Warren Co., TN but he does appear on 1830 Warren Co., TN census.and 1836-1839 Cannon Co., TN Tax List. It is believed that William F. was married about 1825-1826 in or around Warren Co., TN to Frances Elizabeth Young, the d/o Henry Young and Elizabeth 'Betsey' Kedey. (Be sure and visit my Young site by clicking on the banner - below)
We do know that Henry Young was in Warren Co., TN as early as 1812 where he appears on a tax list and is also on 1820 and 1830 Warren Co., TN census. Henry Young's will dated Sept 7, 1830 Warren Co., TN does mention daughter, Elizabeth MEARS.
On the 1840 Cannon Co., TN census, we get to meet some of the neighbors of William F. These included George W. MEARS (his brother), Martin St. John, Anderson Burnett, Archibald Stone, Willis Gann, George St. John, James S. James, Beverly Willard, Clorrissa James, Robert S. James, Samuel F. Lemay, B. H. F. Phillips, Thomas Cooper, and Gabriel Hume. Would love to hear from anyone researching any of these families!
At this time, I'm not sure what made William decide to pick up his family and move to Arkansas sometime between Aug 1853 when his youngest daughter is born in Cannon Co. TN and 1854 where he appears on Marion Co., AR Tax Records - (1 NE 1/4 SE 1/4)80 acres, $600. We do know that William's daughter, Martha Ann Mears who had married John Henry Doshier had migrated earlier, about 1850 to the area that William would move his family a few years later. Also, Julia Ann (Young) Doshier, a sister to William's wife, had also moved to Arkansas. So when the Mears family arrived in Arkansas, they did have relatives who have paved the way and friends from back home in Middle Tennessee.
William settled his family what is today known as Pine Hollow, formerly known as Mears Hollow, about a mile east of a point where Blue John Creek flows into Clabber Creek - a few miles east of Yellville near the Cowan Barrens area. On 1860 census he appears in Union Township of Marion Co., AR. We do know that Marion Co., AR was a favorite place for settlers of Cannon Co., TN. Within 10 years after William migrated, we would see another group of Mears (Cindy's line) who would also settle in the area - coming also from Warren - Cannon Co., TN. While in Arkansas, we would see several 'connections and interminglings' between the two groups of Meras. I'll try to point some of the 'common connections' out as we proceed with the descendants.
This move would result in a family division that would later be even more intensified within 7-8 years when the civil war would break out. At the time of the move, the 5th child, Sarah Jane 'Sally' had already married in 1851 to George W. Bucy. She would remain in Tennessee with her family. It is now known whether the son, Benjamin, ever went to Arkansas as little as been discovered about him. If he did, it was very briefly as he did live his life in Tennessee. Tradition says that he married a Miss Preston, possibly a cousin as his father had a sister, Mary who had married William Preston. As for Thomas Jefferson Mears, another son, he was 21 at the time of the move and did come briefly, though reluctantly, to Arkansas with his parents and siblings. However, after only a couple of months, Thomas returned to Tennessee where he married his love, Elizabeth Alexander in Dec 1854.
I have to feel for Elizabeth, William's wife, to now have 3 children back in TN and most of her own family. Here she was in very unsettled land with a young baby and several other small children. Now to make matters worse, the civil war erupts and this area of Arkansas and southern Missouri was not one of the best places to live. Here she slowly watched her 3 sons leave to fight in the Confederacy - with one not even being 16 at the time. Now if this isn't enough to break a mother's heart, she also knows that she has 2 sons back in TN fighting for the Union. So she has 5 sons fighting in this terrible war and on OPPOSITE sides!
This family is known to have named their children after famous men. Even today, one will still see names such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland and Robert Lee very prominent. The Mears family of which I descend have always been very patriotic and we can find descendants fighting in every war.
William F. Mears was a very well-respected man in Marion County. He operated a gin on the White River. When I visited the area several times in late 1960's, most knew who he was - even though he had died a 100 years earlier. They called him 'Old Man Mears' and would say that he was the head of the Mears living in that vicinity. However, later on, I would discover that there was indeed another group of Mears living in the vicinity who had also come from Middle Tennessee. I can vividly remember some of the most wonderful people that I ever met while researching William's descendants. They treated you like family, from the beginning. Many even gave me old letters, pictures, Bible records, marriage records, etc. Remember I was only about 17 at the time. Many of these grandchildren of William and Elizabeth, were getting up in age and up until now no one had visited them and showed an interest in preserving the family history. So I was LUCKY in more ways than one - but most of all to get to know these truly caring people who I can proudly say are family!
One of the ones that I remember the most is Geneva Williams, who by the way I just found again. We worked for years on the Mears Genealogy and quickly became friends and even sharing letters into the mid 1970's after I had come to Canada. Then in 1979-1982, I was lucky enough to get to know Clifton Mears, s/o Mark Mears. Both Geneva and Clifton made booklets which can still pop up in my research. I have copies of both and helped both in this endeavor! Geneva compiled a booklet in Feb 1981 called The Family Genealogy of William Franklin Mears and Frances Elizabeth (Young) Mears and Many of Their Descendants. More on Clifton's booklet can be found below. Most of all we had fun and got to know each other!
I cannot describe the endeavor to locate the grave of William F. Mears, our ancestor, better than his grandson, Colonel Clifton L. Mears, s/o Mark Mears, did in a letter written to me on December 28, 1980. He would later compile a booklet in 1981 - called Genealogy and Some Information Pertaining to William F. Mears and Certain of His Descendants. Many of the grave pictures found on this page are a result of his efforts and were sent to me by him. Clifton died in 1994, but did live long enough to see his dream of preserving the grave accomplished! The following is some of his story."In the spring of 1978 I learned of the existance of the grave of my grandfather, William F. Mears, in a remote wooded area of the Ozark mountains in Marion County, Arkansas. He had been buried in a lone grave on his old homestead in Mears Hollow (now called Pine Hollow).
In October of 1978, I drove from my house in Arizona to find and photograph the grave. With the assistance of Willie W. Mears . . . we located the area and with the help of James Cecil Mears . . . and the use of his four-wheel drive vehicle, we were able to reach the gravesite. . . .
We found the grave to be covered by a stone slab supported by a wall of rock about a foot high and all in an excellent state of preservation. There was no evidence that it had ever been disturbed, although there was a crack running diagonally across the stone slab, (perhaps caused by freezing and thawing or other effects of the weather.)
Left: Grave of William F. Mears in old homestead in Mears Hollow, Marion Co., AR.
Right: Grave is in center of picture showing remote and densely wooded area.
Taken Oct 1980 by Maurice Tudor
The area around the grave was heavily wooded with small trees and a lot of underbrush. My cousins, . . . and myself decided we would attempt to find the owner of the land and, if possible, acquire a small area around the grave that could be fenced with a high cyclone fence to insure the protectin of the grave in future years. . . .
In October of 1980, we finally contacted the absentee owner of the land and he came to Yellville to meet with us reguarding the matter. He didn't know of the existance of the grave in his land but was very considerate of the idea of preserving the grave because of its historical significance. He indicated he would be glad to co-operate with us and would provide and appropriate tract of land at a reasonable price. . . .
We all seemed to agree that the grave itself should not be touched but left in its natural state. However, we though . . ., if funds permitted, to place a granite shaft or monument inside the fenced enclosure that would permanently record the name, dates, etc.
Although my primary interest has been the acquisition and preservation of my grandfather's gravesite, I have also become somewhat intersted in the genealogy of the Mears clan. I find that others have done considerable works in that respect, particularly Cora Ann (Jobe) Desjardins (a great granddaughter of George Washington Mears), and Geneva (Harris) Williams (a great granddaughter of Malvina Mears Harris).
Being in my seventies, I am beginning to realize that I may not be able to carry the genealogy project as far as I had hoped. . . I am afraid I will have to leave to the younger generations the completion of further branches of the family tree. I do have the list of my father's children, also those of Uncle Bluford and, through the works of Cora Ann Jobe those of Uncle Wash. . .
I will continue to concern myself with the gravesite project and will be happy to collect only further genealogical information that comes my way, consolidate it with whatever I now have and make it available to anyone that desires it.
I am deeply grateful to all those that have helped so far and will continue to be for all future assistance. In appreciation, I hope I can leave something that will be of some satisfaction to all those who are interested.
Signed C. L. Mears"
I, Cora Ann Jobe Desjardins Brown, could not agree more with what Clifton wrote and greatly appreciate what he and the others did to preserve William's gravesite.
In the booklet by Clifton Mears, Brenda Mears writes:"The following inscription, in capital letters, dim but still legible, had been chiseled in the stone slab cover:
WM F MEARS DEPARTED
THE 13 OF APRIL 1870
AGE 69 YEARS
Elizabeth would continue to live 19 years after her husband died in April 1870. On the 1880 census, we find her at age 75, a widow, living with her son, William Bluford Mears in Bearden Township of Marion Co., AR.
Elizabeth is a woman whose struggles I really feel, a real pioneer, and one that you just have to admire.
She died May 15, 1899 and is buried in the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, not too far off State Highway No. 14, southeast of Yellville, Arkansas.
Below, we have 2 different pictures of the original stone. The black and white one was take about 1970 while the color one was taken in 2003. As you can see, someone, or else weathering, has made William's middle initial a "B" from an "F" - what it should be.
Next to the older stone, we have a newer stone that was erected with her complete name and dates.
Caroline (Mears) Gilliam
-- (1827 Warren Co., TN - 1915 Marion Co.,AR)
Martha Ann (Mears) Doshier-- (1828 Warren Co., TN - 1894 Marion Co., AR)
Benjamin Franklin Mears-- (1830 Warren Co., TN - ?)
Thomas Jefferson 'Jeffery' Mears
-- (1832 Warren Co., TN - 1922 Cannon Co., TN)
Sarah Jane 'Sally' (Mears) Bucy Richards
-- (1834 Warren Co., TN - 1922 TN)
Louisa Erva 'Lizzie' (Mears) Cowan
-- (1837 Warren Co.,TN - 1917 Marion Co, AR)
Lucinda M. (Mears) McCabe
-- (1839 Cannon Co., TN - 1915)
Marquis Lafayette 'Mark' Mears
-- (1841 Cannon Co., TN - 1916 Marion Co., AR)
William Bluford 'Willie' Mears
-- (1843 Cannon Co., TN - 1932 Marion Co., AR)
George Washington Mears
--(1845 Cannon Co., TN - 1934 Wilbarger Co., TX)
*This is MY Great Grandfather
Malvina A. (Mears) Harris
-- (1847 Cannon Co,TN - aft 1900 AR)
Mary Ann (Mears) Faulkenberry
--(1849 Cannon Co., TN - 1939 Atoka Co., OK)
Margaret M. (Mears) McCabe
-- (1851 Cannon Co, TN - 1941 Marion Co., AR)
Julia Ann (Mears) Williams
-- (1853 Cannon Co., TN - 1921 Marion Co., AR
Here I'm going to include records for William F. Mears and Elizabeth Young only. Please see William's individual children from links above or continue on to page 5, Children of William F. Mears, - link at bottom.
- Page from Bible - sent to me 1970 from Bea Wey who was 78 at time
This research is a compibined effort of many descendants, so let me first say THANKS TO ALL who contributed any information on William F. Mears or his descendants! Do have to give special thanks though to Zada Sharp, Geneva Williams and Col. Clifton Mears, who like myself struggled for years to find the truth and to PRESERVE it for future generations. Under each child, I'll try to mention some of my cousins who I had the wonderful pleasure to meet and get to know - plus will give brief exerpts from some of their stories about their own ancestor, one of the children of William F. Mears.
Must also thank Cindy Mears, who I just recently met through the internet. Though she descends from the 'other' Mears family that we are trying to discover the connection to this one, she has gone out of her way to send me many official records that she has collected through her years of research - including actual copies of deeds, census, tax records, etc.
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