Benjamin Well Spear (1822 – )

Dr. Benjamin Well Spear, a former prominent physician, and at this time a leading fruit grower and fruit dealer of Mahoning county, is a native of Pennsylvania, born in the town of Mt. Jackson, Beaver county, that state, on the 22nd day of December, 1822.

The father of Dr. Spear, Alexander Spear, was also a native of Pennsylvania, from which state he moved to Ohio in 1824, and settled at Austin Town, Mahoning county, where he lived until 1837, moving thence to Trumbull county, and later to Warren, in 1877. He died at the age of ninety-one years. He was a mechanic by occupation, and for a number of years exercised his skill in the construction of spinning wheels, by which the early settlers were enabled to spin the woolen and linen yarns which when woven by dames to looms, became the clothing, blankets, sheets, etc., of the early pioneers. In 1837 he went into the milling business. He is remembered as a man of local prominence, especially active in Christian work, having been a charter member of the Christian church, at Austin Town, and as a public spirited citizen, alive to all that benefited the community, he set a good example to all. His wife, whose maiden name was Rebecca Wells, was born in Pennsylvania, and died February 26, 1871, at the age of seventy-six years. These parents had six children, the subject of this sketch being the oldest of the family and one of five living at the present time.

When Dr. Spear was twenty years of age he began life for himself, working at various occupations, and in the meantime devoted himself to study in order to prepare himself for the medical profession for which he early manifested a decided taste. He taught school for some time and began his professional reading under the able instruction of Prof. William Payne, of Niles, Ohio, now of the city of Philadelphia. After pursuing his professional reading three years he engaged in the practice with his preceptor, and after remaining with him four years, entered the Cincinnati Eclectic college, in which he completed the prescribed course, graduating with the class of 1853. After leaving college he continued the practice for some time in Trumbull county, and later was located at North Jackson and Salem, his professional experience coming down to the year 1866, at which time on account of impaired health he was obliged to retire from the practice and engage in other pursuits. He moved to his present place in the above year, and began farming and fruit growing, in the latter of which he has since continued with much more than ordinary success, being now recognized as one of the largest fruit dealers in this part of Ohio. He is in fact entitled to the credit of being the pioneer fruit dealer of Mahoning county. His average shipments at this time amount to over 8,000 barrels a year, and is the source of great advantage to farmers and fruit growers in this part of the country, and the means of returning him a very handsome revenue. He built the first fruit house on the Ft. W. & P. railroad, between Canton, Ohio, and the Pennsylvania line, and from this small beginning has lived to see similar structures erected at nearly every station, and the business increased from a couple of hundred barrels shipment until now the average shipment on this section of the road amounts to over 100,000 barrels annually. It will thus be seen that the doctor has been largely instrumental in advancing the interests of this most important industry, and the part he has performed fairly entitles him to mention among the enterprising and progressive men of eastern Ohio. Dr. Spear was first married to Margaret Heaton, daughter of James Heaton, the builder and owner of the first iron furnace and manufacturer of the first wrought iron in northeastern Ohio, and founder of the town of Niles, which was laid out upon his land. To this union four children were born, all of whom died in infancy, and Mrs. Spear died nine years after her marriage. The doctor was again married January 17, 1856, to Elizabeth B., daughter of Amos and Eliza (Brown) Ware, of Mahoning county, to which union four children have been born, viz.: Horace W., their eldest child; Mary E. and Eliza R. (twins), and Arthur D. Horace married Miss Bell Stanley, of Salem, Ohio, and is a partner with his father in the fruit business. Mary E. is in Los Angeles, Cal., and is an artist whose reputation is much more than local. Eliza R. married Prof. M. J. Hole, son of Prof. I. P. Hole, and Arthur D. is a graduate of Lehigh university, Pennsylvania, and a well known electrician, having received letters patent for a valuable electrical appliance. Dr. and Mrs. Spear are members of the Christian church, and politically he wields an influence with the republican party.”

Source:  History of the Upper Ohio Valley, Vol. 2,  Gibbson Lamb Fuller, Brant and Fuller, Madison, Wisconsin, 1891, pages 198-200

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