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CHARLES HENRY SPEAR, Town Clerk of Berkeley, was born in Sonora, Tuolumne county, June 1, 1862, a son of Frederick Augustus and Elizabeth Hatch (Burnham) Spear, both natives of Boston and there married in 1848.  The father came to California around Cape Horn, arriving in San Francisco in the spring of 1850.  Having learned the drug business in Boston and been there engaged in it some years, he brought out a stock of goods in that line with which he started a store in Sacramento.  In 1852 he moved to Sonora and continued in the same line with Dr. William A. Bruner as partner, under the style of Bruner & Spear.  In 1855 he went back to Boston, remaining a year or more, and on his return, accompanied by his wife and two children, settled again in Sonora in 1857, where he carried on the drug business until 1864.  He then received the appointment of druggist to the State Insane Asylum in Stockton under Dr. G. A. Shurtleff, retaining that position until 1873.  He revisited Boston with his wife and youngest child, remaining about three years, when he returned to this coast and settled in Oakland.  In 1880 he opened a drug store in this city, but moved to Berkeley in 1882, where he continued in the same line until his death in 1885.  He was somewhat prominent in pioneer times in Sonora, being City Clerk, deputy Sheriff and deputy Recorder, and was a member of the San Joaquin Valley Society of California Pioneers.  Grandfather Henry Spear, a native of Boston and for many years engaged in the printing business in that city, died at about the age of fifty-six.  Grandmother Harriet (Clark) Spear, also a native of Boston, lived to the age of eighty.  Grandfather Burnham, a native of Vermont and for many years a merchant in Boston, lived to an advanced age, but his wife (nee Hatch) died of apoplexy in middle life.  Mrs. Elizabeth H. B. Spear, the mother of the subject of this sketch, born about 1830, is living in Berkeley (1890) the mother of five children: Frederick F., deceased in Berkeley, unmarried, at the age of thirty-six; Ella Margaret Brown, by marriage Mrs. George Bartles of Berkeley; Libbie Florence, now Mrs. John Rooney of Oakland; Charles H., the subject of this sketch, and Belle Harriet, living at her home in Berkeley.

      Charles H. Spear was educated in the schools of Stockton until 1876, when on the removal of the family to Oakland, he went to work in San Francisco as messenger for the Western Union Telegraph Company, and some two years later as collector for the Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machine Company with whom he remained nearly three years.  In 1881 he worked for L. M. McKenney, & Co., directory publishers, and in 1882 went to Sacramento, where he spent nearly two years as bookkeeper for the H. T. Holmes Lime Co.  He was Assistant Postmaster of West Berkeley in 1884, and Postmaster in 1885, conducting also a drug, book and stationery store.  In 1885, in partnership with John Rooney, under the style of Rooney & Spear, he also carried on a general store.  In 1887 he bought out his partner, and in 1888 sold out all his trading interests.  Meanwhile he had been elected Town Clerk, in 1886, entering on the discharge of his official duties in May of that year; and he has been re-elected to that office every year since.

      Charles H. Spear was married in Berkeley April 14, 1887, to Miss Matille Rose Guenette, born in West Berkeley in 1869, a daughter of Peter and Eugenie Guenette, both natives of France.  The father, a pioneer blacksmith of this section, died several years ago; the mother, born in 1843, is still living.  Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Spear have two children: Florence Dell, born in 1888; Frederick Augustus, born December, 1889.  Mr. Spear is a member of Oakland Parlor, No. 50, N. S. G. W. and of Ocean View Lodge, A. O. F.




Transcribed by Donna L. Becker.

Source: “The Bay of San Francisco,” Vol. 2, Pages 661-662, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2006 Donna L. Becker.




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