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Speer Ancestor Photographs
William Speer (1747-1830)

(Click here for a chart demonstrating the Speer Migration Patterns)

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How common is the surname "Speer?"  According to the 1990 U.S. census figures, "Speer" is the 2,292nd most popular name with approximately 12,500 U.S. citizens representing about .005% of the population.

Ancestral Lineage:  John William Speer (b. 1723) > William Speer, Sr. (b. abt. 1747) > William Speer, Jr. (b. 1788) > William Houston Speer (b. 1812) > Robert H. Speer (b. 1850) > Mary Francis Speer Childress (b. 1875) > John F. Childress (b. 1918) > JPC (b. 1945)

2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery 1 (com).jpg (58902 bytes)

Old Rocky River Presbyterian Cemetery
Calhoun Falls, South Carolina

One of our most notable family lines with respect to the "pioneer heritage" was the Speer family.  One of the best documented early Speer ancestor was William Speer, Sr. (1747-1830), who was born in Strebaul, County Antrim, Ireland.  William's father was John William Speer (1723-1771), also an Irishman by birth, but who died in Georgia prior to the Revolutionary War.  William, Sr. served several tours of duty in the War of Independence and his life is well documented by his son, William Speer, Jr. (1788-1877).  See the Childress/Mathis Family Tree on Roots Web for notes on William Speer, Jr. and further information.

William Speer, Jr. and his family lived for most of their lives around the Calhoun Falls, South Carolina area.  There are at least seven Speer interments in the "old" Rocky River Presbyterian Cemetery outside Calhoun Falls.  For anyone who really wants a scavenger hunt, one should try to find this "old" Rocky River Cemetery!  This cemetery, begun in the 1770's, was abandoned by the Rocky River Presbyterian Church when it moved to new quarters many decades ago.  As of April 2004, there has been a renewed effort to maintain it, as the fresh 6" diameter tree stumps will attest.

The above seven tombstones stand at the heads of the graves of William Speer, Sr. (b. 1747) and first wife Eleanor Norris (Little) Speer (b. 1749); William Speer, Jr. (b. 1788) and wife Mary Sue (Gill) Speer (b. 1793); William Jr.'s son Elijah Hunt Speer (b. 1828) and wife Sarah G. Speer (b. 1835); William Jr.'s son George Washington Speer (b. 1835).

2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery william speer sr (com).jpg (78212 bytes)    2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery eleanor speer (com).jpg (76128 bytes)    2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery william speer jr (com).jpg (75057 bytes)    2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery mary sue speer (com).jpg (69126 bytes)    2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery e.h. speer (com).jpg (67403 bytes)    2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery sarah g. speer (com).jpg (67108 bytes)    2004.04.07 rocky river cemetery g.w. speer (com).jpg (59819 bytes)

The connection from this earlier Speer family living in South Carolina to my contemporary family tree comes via South Carolina, then Alabama and lastly to Texas.  One of William Speer, Jr.'s sons, William Houston Speer (1812-1878) lived in Coosa County, Alabama.  One of his sons was Robert H. Speer (1850-1913), my great grandfather, who migrated from Alabama down to Texas before the turn of the century.  One of Robert's two daughters was my grandmother, Mary Frances "Fannie" Speer (1875-1957), who married William Thomas Childress (1874-1959).

The first photograph below is of Velda Speer (1908-1999), niece of Fannie (Speer) Childress, and Velda's husband, Calvin Johnson.  Velda and her Speer siblings Vorine (b. 1913) and Verlin (1909-1995) went to live with their uncle and aunt William T. Childress and wife Fannie Speer and their family after their father, James Manual Frazier Speer (1877-1922) died at his own hands in 1922.

The second photograph is of Verlin, Velda and their parents, James M. Speer and Emma (Putman) Speer (1874-1920).  The next photograph is of Emma Putman Speer, as identified and forwarded to this website by Vorine (Speer) Saxon, via her son Robert Paul Saxon.  The fourth photograph is of the same two children, Verlin and Velda, and their maternal grandparents, William Howard Putman (b. circa 1850) and wife Lucy Caroline Knight (unsure of birth date; likely 16 years senior to William Howard Putnam).

The last photograph in the following row is of the Saxon clan circa 1957, including as follows:  Martha Sue (1944-1997), Gay Nell (1942-1994), Earl Dean "Red" (1933-1986), Mattie Vorine (Speer) Saxon (b. 1913), Mary Neil (b. 1935), J.M. (b. 1932), Dreeben Case Saxon (1904-1960) and Robert Paul (b. 1955).

Speer Velda 1908 - 1999 & Calvin Johnson.jpg (34584 bytes)    Putnam, William Howard & wife Lucy Caroline Knight.jpg (59785 bytes)    Putman, Emma Speer wife of j.m.f. Speer from Paul Saxon.jpg (40098 bytes)    Speer, JM, Emma, Verlin & Velda-1912.jpg (38454 bytes)    saxon, martha sue, gay nell, earl dean red, vorine, mary neil, jm, dreeben, robert paul abt. 1957 in pasadena, tx.jpg (107357 bytes)

(Above two photos on right courtesy of Bob Saxon, a direct descendent of James Speer and wife Emma Putman)

Click here to go to the Childress/Mathis Family Tree data on Roots Web for notes on the above individuals.

For additions, corrections or comments, please send an e-mail to Patrick Childress