Saturday, March 28, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ MEARS of Essex, Massachusetts


Alexander Mears, my 5th great grandfather, was born about 1750 in England and it seems that he came to Massachusetts as a very young man.  His arrival coincides with the beginning rumbles of the Revolutionary War.  He married Martha Poland in 1773 in Wenham, Massachusetts and settled in what is now the town of Essex, but at that time was the Chebacco Parish of Ipswich.

In the autobiography of David Otis Mears it states “The tradition is that he was the son of a wealthy London merchant.  His mother died when he was young and he left home and came to this country; he found his way to Essex, then Ipswich, where he married and settled down.  He had been well educated, but little more is known of him.  On the death of his father, he was notified to return to London for his share of his father's estate but, his wife objecting, he never returned.  His son, David Mears, was born in Essex, in 1808, and in 1840 married Abigail Burnham.  Of this union, David Otis Mears, born in 1842, was eldest son."

It is interesting to note that Alexander Mears, born in London, joined the patriots in the Revolutionary War.  He was a private in Captain William Pearson’s Company between 1 June 1776 and 31 August 1776, stationed for 25 days in Gloucester to defend the seacoast, and again from 1 September 1776 and 18 November 1776 in Gloucester.

Three of Alexander Mears’s sons (William, Daniel and Henry) married three of the daughters of Ralph Butler and Esther Burnham (Lucy, Hepsibeth and Abigail).  I descend from Samuel (1798 – 1879), my 4th great grandfather, who married Lydia Burnham in 1823. Samuel was a cordwainer (shoe maker).

My 3rd great grandfather, Samuel Mears (1823 – 1904) was also a cordwainer.  He enlisted in the Civil War at age 42 as a private in Company A, of the 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  He was discharged for disabilities (dysentery) to the Veteran Reserve Corps.  Samuel Mears was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Lodge in Beverly, Massachusetts  - the John H. Chipman Post #89.  His son Henry Mears (1845 – 1866) was also a private in the 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery.  His adopted son, John Harrison Knowlton (1848 – 1896) served as a private in the Civil War and his enlistment lists him as age 18, but he was closer to 16 years old.  Samuel Mears’s obituary in the Essex Echo newspaper, 22 January 1904:

Mr. Samuel Mears, a native and until recently with a few years a life long resident of Essex Falls and a veteran of the war of the rebellion, died at the home of his son, Henry C. at 8 Boyce Court, Lynn, Wednesday, Jan. 13th after a long illness, at the age of 80 years and 15 days.  He leaves an aged widow, three sons, Henry C of Lynn, Israel G. of Wenham, S. Alonzo who lives at the homestead, and two daughters, Mrs. J. G. Allen and Mrs. Charles Kinsman, two sisters, Mrs. Martha Hovell and Mrs. George H. Story, about 20 grandchildren and a large circle of other relatives.  Funeral services were held at the Congregational Church of this town Saturday afternoon.  A delegation of the J. H. Chipman, Jr. post, GAR of Beverly, of which the deceased was a member was present and performed their burial service.  A large number of friends and relatives was in attendence.

For further information on the MEARS family:

David Otis Mears, D. D.: An Autobiography, 1842 – 1898, by David Otis Mears, Hannah Amelia Noyes Davidson, Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1920 (available to read online at Google Book Search)

My MEARS genealogy:

Generation 1:  Alexander Mears, born about 1750 probably in London, England, died 3 April 1824 in Essex, Massachusetts; married on 22 April 1773 in Wenham to Martha Poland, daughter of Daniel Poland and Sarah Bishop.  She was born 4 August 1754 in Ipswich, and died 17 February 1843 in Essex.  Twelve children.

Generation 2: Samuel Mears, born about 1798 in Essex, died 28 August 1879; married on 29 March 1823 in Essex to Lydia W. Burnham, daughter of Asa Burnham and Polly Bray.  She was born on 19 September 1802 in Essex, and died 5 September 1864 in Essex.  Nine children.

Generation 3:  Samuel Mears, born 29 December 1823 in Essex, died 13 January 1904 in Lynn, Massachusetts; married first on 20 April 1844 in Essex to Sarah Ann Burnham, daughter of Henry Burnham and Sally Poland.  She was born on 23 October 1821 and died 23 January 1848 in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Five children.  Samuel Mears married second on 26 December 1848 in Wenham to Lydia Gray, widow of Joseph Augustus Burnham, daughter of Israel Gray and Lydia G. Lacy.  She was born February 1823 in Andover, Massachusetts and died 21 December 1914 in Lynn.  Four children.

Generation 4: Sarah Burnham Mears, daughter of Samuel Mears and Sarah Ann Burnham, was born on 30 November 1844 in Essex, died 4 March 1913 in Essex; married on 23 May 1863 in Essex to Joseph Gilman Allen, the son of Joseph Allen and Orpha Andrews.  He was born on 22 May 1830 in Essex and died 9 April 1908 in Essex.  Ten children.

Generation 5: Joseph Elmer Allen married Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 6: Stanley Elmer Allen married Gertrude Matilda Allen (my grandparents)

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. We find William Tozer and Adeline Mears living on Elm St. in Ipswich in the mid-1840's. Susan Story Tozer, daughter of William S. and Adaline Mears Tozer, died Dec. 17, 1890, aged 48 years and is buried in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich.

    1. Adaline Mears is the granddaughter of Alexander Mears. Her parents were John Mears and Susanna Story. She would be my 1st cousin 5 generations removed.