William Spears (27th USCT)

William Spears was born around 1835 in Charlottesville, Virginia. When he was 12 years old, he moved to Ohio with his uncle Barnett Spears, and he married Elizabeth Powell in Frankfort, Ohio, on September 15, 1853. Spears worked as a laborer during the antebellum era. He enlisted in the Union army on August 10, 1864, in Cambridge, Ohio, for a period of one year. He mustered in as a private in Company A in the 27th USCT Infantry Regiment soon afterwards. His enlistment records describe him as 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a black complexion. The regiment took part in the Siege of Petersburg, including the Battle of the Crater. It also helped capture Fort Fisher and Wilmington, North Carolina, and spent time occupying Raleigh. The men were present at the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston in April 1865. Spears mustered out on September 9, 1865, and returned to Ohio.

Spears separated from Elizabeth, and in 1866, he began living with Hannah M. Ford. They had five children together: Agusta, born around 1867; Clarkson, born around 1872; Sarah (Sadie), born April 11, 1875; Hattie, born around 1876; and Emma, born July 13, 1878. Spears worked as a laborer after the war, and he drowned in a creek near his home on February 13, 1879. He was buried in the Cambridge City Cemetery. Hannah filed for a widow's pension in 1890, but the army rejected her application in 1903. The Special Examiner explained that, since Spears never formally divorced Elizabeth, Hannah was not his legal wife and therefore did not qualify for a pension. Hannah remained in Cambridge until her death on October 27, 1916.


Testimony of Hannah Spears

Special Examiner's Report, William Spears Pension

Name:Spears, William
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
27th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored TroopsA
Branch of service:Army
Enlistment1864-08-10Columbus, OHaccepted29Free
Muster In1864-08-10Columbus, OH
Muster Out1865-09-09New Bern, NCMustered Out
Residence at enlistment:Ohio
Rank In:Private
Rank Out:Private
Highest rank achieved:Private
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Spears, Williamnoneapplication-invalid
Spears, Williamnoneapplication-minor
Spears, Williamnoneapplication-parent
Spears, WilliamSpears, Hannah M.433979application-widow
Birth date:1835
Birth date certainty:About
Birth place:Charlottesville, VA
Death date:1879-02-13
Death place:Cambridge, OH
Causes of death:drowning
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Spears, Williamguardian ofSpears, Florence May
Spears, Williamguardian ofSpears, Harry
Spears, Williamparent ofSpears, Emma
Spears, Williamparent ofSpears, Sarah
Spears, Williamparent ofSpears, Clarkson
Spears, Williamparent ofSpears, Agusta
Spears, Williamparent ofSpears, Hattie
Spears, Hannah M.wife ofSpears, William
Spears, Elizabethwife ofSpears, William

Compiled Service Records for William Spears, RG94, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; Pension Records for William Spears, RG15, NARA, Washington, D.C.; United States Federal Census Records, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1910; Elizabeth Powell in the Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993; Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1861-1904 for William Speers; Florence May Anderson in the Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, accessed through Ancestry.com; "William Spears," FindAGrave.com (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/174668064); "Hannah M. Ford Spears," FindAGrave.com (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/33115903/hannah-m-speer).