The saga of the Fears family begins with James W. Fears Sr. and his wife Rebecca Hulda Dungey. James was born a free man of color on November 3, 1795 in Prince Edward County, VA. A marriage bond in the sum of $150 dollars was paid by James Fears and Theodore Carter on December 28, 1822 for the marriage of James to Ms. Dungey. James married Rebecca H. Dungey, a native of Cumberland County who was born around 1800. The couple were married in Prince Edward County, VA. Shortly after the birth of their first child in 1824, the couple relocated to Charlotte County, VA. where five other children were born. Miss Dungey was also a free woman of color. Proof of James & Rebecca's freedom was documented from the Book of Registers of Free Negroes and Mulattoes, which was filed in the Clerk's Office of Charlotte County, VA.
Marriage bonds primarily existed from the 1700's - the mid 1850's in Virginia. They include no personal information at all except the names of the couple. Bonds served as proof that there was no lawful cause to prevent a marriage from being performed. Lawful reasons for a marriage not to be valid included underage, betrothed to someone else, and already being married. Marriage bonds were later replaced by "sworn statements" during the ceremony.
For a person of color to be born free during slavery, the father had to be a free person as well. Indians were not included on early censuses. In cases where slaves escaped, living amongst an Indian tribe guaranteed a person his/her freedom. White man's law was not enforced on Indian territory, because of government treaties signed by the president. Although Indians had slaves, slaves were permitted to marry whomever they chose and were granted freedom after so many years. The Indian method of slavery was more like servitude.
It is speculated that James was the son of Pleasant or Absolum Phears, a white man. Rebecca is thought to be the daughter of a William Dungey...a free man of color.
During this time period, the occupation of being a blacksmith was a very respectable job. According to the 1850 census of Charlotte County, VA., James was listed as the head of household with his occupation being that of a blacksmith. Information found on many censuses include surname, head of house, spouse, children, ages of those listed in household, marital status, race, birthplace, birthplace of parents, literacy, owned or rented property, and occupation. The Fears family consisted of James Sr., wife Rebecca, and the following children: Mary Jane (Childress- she was married to Henry), John (also listed as a blacksmith), Joseph (blacksmith occupation, married Jane Winslow), Susan Elizabeth(married Barzillai Trail), and Nancy Catharine(married Allen Brown). Listed in another household was a son named James W. Fears and his wife Serena Catherine (St.John). The family of James and Serena had begun with their son Henry Brooks Fears.
The Fears family relocated to Henry County, IN., where James Fears Sr. died on February 1, 1854 at the age of 59. Mr. Fears was buried in the Clear Springs Cemetery located in Greensboro, IN. Clear Springs Cemetery is a Quaker cemetery. The state of Indiana in the mid and late 1800's was heavily populated with Quakers. Quakers were opposed to slavery. An exact date of death nor a place of burial has been found for Mrs. Rebecca Fears who was 76 years when she died. Mrs. Rebecca Fears was listed as the head of house on the 1860 census of Henry County, IN. At the time of the 1860 census she was 56 years old.
In 1850, on the censuses, you could be "W" (i.e. light skinned of typical English, Scots, etc. origin), and if you weren't a slave, you went in the "Free Colored" column. Beginning in 1850, the categories were changed slightly. In 1850 you could be "W" (White), "B" (Black, but not a slave), or "M" (Mulatto). If you didn't fit "W" or "B", then you went in the "M" category.
By definition, "Mulatto" means someone of mixed race, one parent being black, the other white, or a descendant of such a couple. Various laws were enacted (differed from state to state) saying just how much black blood you could have to be considered Mulatto, or if you only had a certain amount (i.e. 1/16th) you were "White". Not everyone listed as "Free Colored" or "Mulatto's were actually of black origin. There were some whites and blacks that intermarried with Indians, and their offspring were often listed in those categories.
To date no pictures exist showing James sr. and Rebecca. The 1850 census of Charlotte County, VA. describes James as being a mulatto and Rebecca as a black woman. The census for the state of Indiana describes Rebecca and children as all being mulatto. While in an 1885 census of Nebraska, both are listed as being white. A picture of James Fears jr. shows him being very fair skinned. light enough to pass for being Caucasian. A picture of John, a brother to James jr. shows a darker skinned man. The Register for free people of color also describes James sr. as being 'bright' and his wife as being 'mulatto'. Their children (Mary Jane, John F., and son James) ranged from bright complexion to mulatto.
Early census takers did not always record accurate information. Many census takers often marked what they thought they saw. Such is the case with John Wesley Fears. On one census conducted in Nebraska in the late 1880's, he was marked with a "W" for being white, or so he appeared that way to the census taker. Nor were all census recorders literate. Surnames were often spelled like they sounded. The name "Fears" has been spelled "Ferse", "Feers".
Stepping into the future traces the lives of the children of James and Rebecca. The oldest child born to this couple was a daughter named Mary Jane. Mary Jane was born in 1824 while the couple still resided in Prince Edward County, VA. On July 1, 1850, Mary Jane Fears wed Henry Childress in Charlotte County, Va. The couple along with Mary's parents relocated to the state of Indiana around 1853. There were three children born to Mary and Henry, Eliza, Betty and Price. Information regarding the children was taken from the 1860 census of Henry County, Indiana. No other information is known about what happened to this family. It is assumed they died prior to 1860 because their children were living with other family members.
Next in line is John Henry Fears. John was born in 1826 in Charlotte County, VA. In June of 1857, John married Minerva Keen. Minerva was the daughter of Robert & Clarissa (Humphrey) Keen. According to an 1870 census of Henry town-ship in Indiana, John earned his living as a blacksmith. By 1880, in Harrison, John had turned to farming. John and Minerva had a good size family with a total of ten children. The children born to this union were Francis, Andrew, Robert, J. Henry, William, Matthew, Ezekiel & Eliza (twins), Sarah and Jacob. John H. Fears died January 18, 1901, burial place still unknown, as with his wife Minerva.
The children of John H. and Minerva married into the Bailey, Hoosier, Theruman, and Ross families of Indiana. Out of these ten children, Ezekiel seems to have done a good job of making sure the family didn't die out, his children numbered twelve. The following surnames are included in this family: Boatright, Coatie, Pickle, Bell, Hoosier, Johnson, Williams, and Alexander to name a few. The majority of these families still reside in and around Newcastle, Indiana. The South Mound Cemetery in Newcastle, IN. is resting place to many of the descendants of John and Minerva Fears. The church in Newcastle that the majority of family attended were members of the Wiley Methodist Church which still exist.
James William Fears jr. is the third offspring of James and Rebecca. James was born March 24, 1828 in Charlotte County, VA. On December 18,1847, James married Serena Catherine St.John. The couple was married by an Episcopalian clergy named Rev. Harrison in Charlotte County, VA. Serena was born June 4, 1826 in Lynchburg,VA. Shortly after their marriage and birth of their first child Henry Brooks Fears, they settled in Henry County, Indiana. The rest of their children were born in Newcastle, Indiana.
On September 24, 1864, James jr. enlisted from Richmond, IN. to serve in the Civil War. At the time of enlistment, James was a young man of 36 years of age. James began as a Private in the 14th Infantry volunteer Co. H. A short time after enlisting, James's left leg was nearly cut off by an axe in the Fall of 1864. Military records describe James as being 5 feet 9 inches. James jr. was honorably discharged on September 29, 1865 from Knoxville, TN. After the discharge, the family resided in Greensboro for a considerable amount of time.
Following the occupation as a soldier, he was a farmer and a mail carrier in the state of Nebraska. However, before reaching Nebraska, the Fears family resided in Kansas. This Kansas residency was mentioned in the obituary of Arena. James's first stop once in Nebraska occurred in Lincoln in 1872. As a result of James's service in the war, he was able to obtain land under the Homestead Act of June 1872. This Act was a common variation of the Homestead Law, which granted Union soldiers the privilege of deducting their time of service for the five-year residency requirement. The soldier if discharged due to any wounds or disability connected with the war could deduct the whole period of his enlistment rather than the time actually served.
Before staying put too long in one place, James settled in Marquette and then Aurora where he purchased some land on October 26, 1878. He stayed until 1884, at which time his Timber Claim was cancelled by reason of relinquishment. By 1885, James and Arina had relocated to Merrick County, Lone Tree Precinct.
The following children were born to James jr. and Serena (a.k.a 'Rena' and 'Arina');
Henry Brooks Fears
John Wesley Fears
Melvina Elizabeth (Ellis)
Joseph Nelson Fears
Charles K. Fears
Hannah Jane Josephine (Johnson)
This family crossed the plains in covered wagons and settled in Nebraska. Like many pioneers from this time period, families lived in dugouts until their home(s) were built. Materials used to build the homes often came from the natural resources that surrounded them such as wood from the covered wagon, and wood from the trees. Windows were a luxury item that many pioneers had to save for. Modern conveniences such as indoor toilets did not exist either. In place of the modern day toilets were outhouses and dirt floors were the norm. Pioneers had to deal with prairie fires, locusts and bad weather, which may not seem like a lot by today's methods of convenience. To stay warm in the winter, wood was chopped. Coal was also used to heat the home. As a farmer, James and family lived off the land. This means that not only did he sell the crops that he harvested, but fed his family from the crops as well. Never far from James jr. were his adult children who assisted with the farming. The 1880 census of Hamilton County shows James's son John & family living nearby, both of them listed as farmers.
The 1900 census of Custer County lists James as being a widower, which gives weight to the speculation that James and Arina were separated. James died July 7,1906 at the Soldier's and Sailors Home in Burkett (Hall County) at the age of 78. He is buried in the Grand Island City Cemetery in the G.A.R. section. Serena died at the home of her daughter Hannah Johnson on December 30, 1912 at the age of 86. All eight of Serena's children were present when she passed.
Fourth in the birthing arena was Joseph Fears, making his appearance in 1831 from Charlotte County, VA. The only information found on this particular person is that he married Jane Winslow. Joseph Fears and Jane Winslow were married on March 4, 1858 in Henry County, IN. This couple had at least two children. The 1860 census names the two children as Charles and Jestina. Joseph and Jane were also caring for Joseph's niece Eliza Childress. Nothing is known about what happened to the parents (Mary Jane and Henry Childress) of Eliza. While Eliza resided with her uncle and aunt, her two siblings lived with their grandmother Rebecca in 1860.
Susan Elizabeth Fears was next to be born. Susan made her entrance on September 5, 1834. At the age of 29, Susan married Barzillai Trail, a mason and a painter by trade. They were married December 17, 1863 in Henry County, IN. Susan and Barzillai added three children to their union. The Trail family can be found on the 1870 census of Henry County, IN. residing in the town of Greensboro. The names of the children are Geneva, Leora and Julietta.
Susan's lineage died out with the death of Leora in 1950. Geneva and Julietta died early in life, while Leora never married nor had any children. Barzillai died in 1917 and Susan departed life on September 6, 1905 at the age of 71 in Shirley, Indiana. She is buried in the Trails Grove Cemetery, which is on the grounds of Tuskegee University in Alabama. This transaction with Tuskegee came about due to Leora's will. Leora donated a huge sum of money to the University as well the family cemetery.
A baby girl named Nancy Catharine Fears was born in 1837. Nancy married Allen Brown on September 22, 1864 in Henry County, Indiana. Allen Brown was also born a free man of color. His parents were natives of North Carolina.
This concludes one generation of free African American Fears during the history of slavery in the United States. The role of many women including African American wives was centered around the home. Being a housewife was not a demeaning nor an easy task to do. A housewife was a occupation that carried pride and respect. As you continue to read, you will notice the bios on the men are often longer than the ladies. The housewife role continued well into the 1970's.
As with any crisis such as war, or death of a spouse, women have no problem with the added responsibility of keeping the family together. Many African American women didn't wait for a crisis to occur before they worked outside of the home. Working outside the home was something they had been doing before and since slavery times. A good example of this can be seen within the marriage of Gertrude and Dan Gates. Although they had no children, they both were employed outside of the home, and they both took care of home. Another earlier example can be seen with Hannah & Louis Johnson. "Lou" Johnson primarily farmed, his wife did a little of everything from being a midwife, to being a practical nurse during times of war.
Being a pioneer wife was no easy task at all. It required a lot of patience, creativity, and physical endurance. Being able to sew /knit was a helpful skill to have. Unlike today when an article of clothing is tore or damaged, we can easily discard it and buy something else that same day. We don't have to wait weeks or months before replacing things. In the 1800's, cars, microwaves, computers, telephones, atm's, weren't around to make live more comfortable. A trip to the nearest town often mean't shopping for the entire month, if not half the year. There was also not a lot of protection from dealing with mothernature. Bug spray, and mousetraps took awhile to come into existence. Being a pioneer housewife as was the case of Serena Fears, and Emma Fears often did not make one look like they belonged on the cover of Vogue magazine. So often when you see a picture of a pioneer family, rarely are they smiling.
The following pages are focused on the children of James jr. and Serena Fears. First in line is a son named Henry Brooks Fears. Henry was born around 1849 in Charlotte County, Virginia. He relocated with his family to the state of Indiana and on October 6, 1869, Henry married Almira Theruman. This couple is also found on the 1880 Ohio census. In Ohio, Henry's occupation is listed as being a farmer. The exact location of his residency in Ohio was Warren County, Clear Creek Town. Nothing else is known about him except he was still alive at the time of his mother's death in 1912.
John Wesley Fears is second in line. John was born March 22, 1851 in New Castle, Indiana. At the age of 25, John married a lady by the name of Mary White. The ceremony was performed on January 5, 1876. Word of mouth has it that Ida was mixed with Indian, in particular Chickasaw. Being able to prove it, proof of this information has not been found. From this union four children were born. The name of the firstborn was Ida, second born was Bertha, a third child born was a boy and the last child the sex & name is unknown. Out of the four children born to John and Mary, only Ida grew to maturity and had children of her own.
Sometime between 1880 and September 1882, Mary died. Not long after her death, John remarried. His second marriage was to Emma Jane Ridgeley, a native of Michigan who was born September 5, 1868 to Richard & Elizabeth (Jones) Ridgeley. Emma was a mixture of Irish, Cherokee, and French. This marriage occurred on September 28, 1882 in Aurora, Nebraska. To this union a total of 12 children were born. The names of the children are as follows; Bertrand James Fears, Myrtle Luella (Patterson-Trice), Elizabeth Jane (Gunn), Rosa Edabelle (Burden), Rennia Fears, Gertrude Mary Catharine (Gates), Alda Josephine (Gunn), Pearl Daisy, Georgia Ann (Bowen), Neatie, Louvie, and Charlie. From these 12 children, only 3 produced living descendants into the present.
John and Emma spent most of their life on farms in Marquette, Deloit, Ewing, Beloit, and Aurora, Nebraska. By the year 1900, the Fears family had moved into the city of Grand Island, which held industry jobs, better education and a definite social life. John went to work in the factory and Emma had the awesome of being a devoted housewife. On July 27, 1927, John died at home while sitting on the sofa. His death certificate listed heart trouble and dropsy as being the cause. Much later, his widow Emma followed him on January 31, 1946. Both John and Emma died at the home of their daughter Gertrude Gates. Emma died in her bedroom. The last of Emma & John's children to depart was the baby girl Alda Josephine Gunn.
Arriving next is Melvina Elizabeth Fears. Melvina was born October 10, 1855 in Newcastle, Indiana. To family she was affectionately called "Lizzie". Lizzie was married to Edmund Ellis on July 25, 1874 in Newcastle, Indiana. Mr. Ellis made a good living with the professional of being a plasterer. In addition to being a plasterer, Edmund also farmed. The Ellis family lived in Aurora and Norfolk, Nebraska until 1900 after which they relocated to Omaha.
Although not as large as her brother John, "Lizzie" also had a large family. The names of the children born to the Ellis's are: Alice, Ada, Blanche, Arina, Myrtle, Maude, Iro, Viola, Arthur, and Truman. In the Prospect Hill Cemetery, at least 2 family members are buried there. Those two are a 7 month old baby of Blanche Ellis and daughter Arina. Lizzie died of pneumonia on December 24, 1928 in Omaha, NE. At the time of her death, Lizzie was 73 years old.
James W. Fears was commonly known as "Jim". He was born in the year 1854. Jim never married nor had children. He resided in Hastings, Nebraska. Unlike many African Americans of his day, Jim could read and write. According to the city directory in Hastings, his occupation ranged from a bill posterer to a day laborer. A few of the billboard posters that you see around Hastings, Nebraska today are the work of Jim Fears. James died on April 9, 1931 at the age of 77. He was found on the floor, paralyzed on one side. Cause of death was listed as Apoplexy.
Perhaps names that began with the letter "J" was the theme in this family, because Joseph Nelson Fears was next. Joe was born March 24, 1860 in Newcastle, Indiana. Not much is known about him except he was a teamster and a brick laborer. For most of his life, Joe resided in Omaha, Nebraska. He died December 20, 1927 of a brain tumor. Joe was 67 years old at the time of his death.
Charles K. Fears is the baby boy of the clan. He was born May 1, 1862 in Newcastle, Indiana. According to a 1900 census of Douglass County, Omaha, Nebraska, Charles was married and had a daughter named Mina. His wife Dora E. was from Denmark. His daughter Mina was born in July of 1887 in Nebraska. After the divorce of Charles & Dora, nothing is known of what became of Mina. Charles was a truck driver which often had him on the road more than at home. Charles also owned his home and was literate. Charles died April 26, 1937 at the age of 74.
Hannah Jane Josephine Fears seems to have been the business person of the family. Her name appears as an informant on many of the death certificates, as well being in charge of funeral arrangements. Hannah was born December 16,1864 in Newcastle, Indiana.
Hannah married Louis London Johnson in a double wedding ceremony with the groom's sister Sarah Johnson marrying Ben Graham. This wedding took place on August 9, 1883 in Central City, Nebraska. Mrs. Johnson was a highly respected midwife and practical nurse. While they resided in Central City, the Johnson family farmed close by the Boyds (Hannah's sister) in 1885. To the union of Hannah & Louis (commonly called "Lou"), four children were born: Rena Catharine, Eva Belle, William Claude, and Dora.
At the time of her passing, Hannah was survived by her husband , two daughters (Rena Palmer & Eva Blair), and son "Will". Also mentioned are two grandchildren: Willis Palmer & Maxine Lewis, and great grandson David Sneed. Hannah died April 22, 1944. Mr. Johnson died shortly on May 5, 1945 in Grand Island, Nebraska.
The baby of the family was Isabelle who was born August 14, 1867 in Newcastle, Indiana. Isabelle married Peter Simon Boyd on December 25, 1883 in Central City, Nebraska. This couple had a big family, which consisted of eight children. Their names being Charlie, Jessie, Maurice, Nora Jane, Bertha, Melissa Leora, Raymond and Lester.
After the death of Peter in 1927, Isabelle (a.k.a Belle) moved to St. Paul, MN. In Minnesota, she resided with her daughter Leora Blair until her death on August 21, 1939. Many of her descendants can be found in Minnesota, Colorado, Ohio, and California. Her descendants include the Boyds, Jones, Keaton, Blair, Lewis, Sneed, Briley to name a few.
Something that may be of interest, is that while many of the people in the family have started out with brown eyes, as they have aged, their eyes turned blue. Having blue eyes is usually a trait associated with white people, not people of color. Another page of history has been made, and we are another step closer to the present.
The rest of this book will focus on the descendants of John Wesley Fears. This is a complete listing of the children of J. W. Fears.
Ida Fears (Benjamin Jackson)
Bertrand James Fears (Rachel Ella Thomas)
Myrtle Luella Fears (John Patterson, Isaac Trice)
Elizabeth Jane Fears (Amos Harris, Reed Gunn)
Rosa Edabelle Fears (William Burden)
Rennia Fears (Edna Johnson)
Gertrude Mary Catharine Fears (Daniel Ray Gates)
Georgia Ann Fears (Jack Bowen)
Alda Josephine Fears (Madison Gunn)
Pearl Daisy Fears
* The names in parenthesis are spouses.
Miss Ida Fears is the oldest child resulting from the first marriage of John W. Fears and Mary. Ida was born September 16, 1877 in the state of Indiana. Ida came to Nebraska with her parents at the age of nine residing in Hamilton, Holt, Wheeler, and later Merrick County in Nebraska. Ida was united in marriage to Benjamin Jackson on April 17, 1893 in Orchard, Nebraska.
Mr. Jackson was born around 1856 in Bonswell, S.C. (usually celebrated his birthday on January 24) and escaped slavery after viewing his mother being sold on the auction block. Ben left behind a brother. His parents were Samuel and Amanda. Amanda worked in the kitchen.
After running away, Ben was befriended by a white man named Jack. He later became known as Jack's son, Jackson. According to military records, Ben served in the Indian Wars enlisting from Charleston, S.C. in 1881 at the age of 23. Ben's occupation at the time of enlistment was a laborer. He was described as being 5 feet 7 inches tall, dark skinned. Served in the 9th Calvary, Company "M". Ben was discharged August 23, 1886 from Ft. Washakie, Wyoming. According to a daughter of his (Nancy "Nan") his original surname was either Simms or Simpson.
Ida and Ben Jackson had a large family, 13 to be exact. Appearing in birth order are:
Edna E. Jackson (Bruce Benton Johnson)
Irene Katherine Jackson (William Harris, Joe James)
Amanda Jackson (William Lacey)
Joseph Nelson Jackson (Bessie Mae Seals)
Sylvester Kearney Jackson (Sadie Josephine Smith)
Rose Maude Jackson (Harold Hunter, Wilford Beasley)
Myrtle Grace Elizabeth Jackson (Moten Beliford)
Levi John Jackson (Murldine Camper)
Laverne Jackson (Glenn Dale Bowen, Herbert Harrell)
Nancy Victoria Jackson (Herman Ray)
Golda Caytella Jackson
Benjamin Jackson jr.
Ida Fears Jackson died July 16, 1933 in Central City, Nebraska. Mrs. Jackson had been ill for six years prior to her death. Her death certificate listed the cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage. Ben Jackson died April 2, 1945 in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Veteran's Home.
Bertrand James Fears is the first born from the second marriage of John Wesley Fears. His mother was Emma Jane Ridgeley. This Mr. Fears was commonly referred to as "Bert" by family members. Bert was born February 27, 1883 in Hamilton County, Nebraska. On September 14,1914, Bert married Rachel Ella Thomas in Lincoln, Nebraska. Rachel was born April 10,1893 to George & Margaret Thomas.
To this union were born a total of seven children. Only four of the seven grew into adulthood, they were:
Arthur (Mary Lou Harris)
Pauline (Steven C. Locke)
Bertrand James (Mary ?)
Marjorie (Roy Lattimore)
Bert was a Teamster and coal hauler. Bert died August 12, 1943 of heart failure. He was 60 years old. Bert's wife, Rachel died October 21, 1939. Surnames descendants include; Vaughn, Marion, Fears, Lincoln, Locke, Lattimore
Myrtle Luella Fears came along next on July 8, 1884 from Marquette, Nebraska. Myrtle was a laundress, cook and housewife. She was also a lady that didn't remain single for too long. On November 20, 1902, Myrtle at the age of 18 married Ambrose Young. The name of her second husband is unknown. Finally with her marriage on February 11, 1915 to John Patterson (born in 1882, commonly known as "Doc Patterson" because he took care of horses and was employed at the Bradstreet, which later became the Third City Livestock.) children were born. John Patterson was the son of Robert Patterson and Laura Snelson. During this marriage the couple owned their home and had a total of six children. The children were:
Leroy Frank Patterson
Ethel Dolly Patterson (Bonnie Cloud, Leslie Barnum)
Elvina Edabelle Patterson (Aaron Lewis)
Donald Dolphus Patterson (Caroline Pearl Kito)
Eldon Edward Patterson (Lorraine McWilliams)
Wilda Emma Patterson
After John Patterson died of tuberculosis at the age of 44 on July 25, 1925. Myrtle married Isaac Trice who became a good stepfather to all six of her children. This family farmed near Alda, NE. Mr. Trice died in 1929. Myrtle was 79 years of age at the time of her death on August 7, 1963. She was preceded in death by a daughter in 1950. Surname descendants include; Patterson, Lewis, Mitchell, Kelly, Weston, Garza, Pina, Toliver, Cloud, Ronquillo, Rollerson, Walker, Carriger,
Elizabeth Jane Fears was born June 17, 1886 in Deloit, Nebraska. Her first husband was a cowboy named Amos Harris (often called Nigger Amos). They were married in 1908 in Ericson, NE. Amos Harris died three years later on February 23, 1911 at the age of 55.
Almost a year later, Elizabeth married Reed Gunn (born February 22, 1882). The two of them had two sons. The names of the sons were: Warren Theodore Gunn (Thelma Jane Harris) and John Delmar Gunn.
"Lizzie" as she was commonly referred to was employed for many years at the Lutheran Hospital and Dreisbach Restaurant in Grand Island, NE. Reed Gunn died of the combined results of asthma and a bad cold. He was 48 years old. Reed died at the Grand Island National Bank where he had been employed as a janitor. As with other members of the family, Lizzie also was of the Methodist denomination. Elizabeth died October 9, 1971 in Grand Island, NE. She was 85. This lineage died with the death of Lizzie's son John Delmar Gunn in 1981.
Rosa Edabelle Fears was born August 27, 1888 in Ewing, NE. On May 10, 1916, she married William Burden (born 11/6/1885 in Saline County, NE. This couple had no children. Rose as she was known by, died in Denver, Colorado on May 4, 1932 at the age of 43. Her husband died June 12, 1978 in Lincoln, NE.
Rennia (a French name) Fears was born August 23, 1893. On February 3, 1916, he married Edna Johnson (her being 21 and him being 22 years of age). Edna was the daughter of Alfred Johnson and the former Ann Hammond). Two children were born to this marriage ; Vivian Desmona Fears and Lawrence Fears.
Unfortunately, this young man ended his own life by hanging himself from a rafter in the garage of the home he shared with his mother. He was 43 at the time of his death. The body of Renne was discovered by his brother Bert. The night before his body was found, the two brothers had talked, and Rennia (Renny) threatened to take his own life. The threat went unheeded. Renny was preceded in death by his wife eleven years prior to his own death. His father, five sisters and three brothers also preceded him in death. Surviving him were his mother, children, one brother and five sisters.
Miss Gertrude Mary Catherine Fears was born March 27, 1898 in Deloit, NE. Was it by coincidence that Gertrude's middle names are from her father's first wife, and paternal grandmother's middle name? Gertrude married Daniel Ray Gates on October 24, 1918 in Hastings, NE. Outside of one miscarriage, the couple had no children.
Dan & Gertrude were both employed by the Jack Donald family in Grand Island. Dan was employed as a chauffer and Gertrude as a nurse & cook. Gertrude was far from being a person that allowed injustice and prejudice to rule her life. On December 24, 1928, a district court jury ruled in Mrs. Gates favor against Hostetler Amusement Company. Mrs. Gates was awarded the sum of $200.50. The initial suit was filed on April 30, 1923. Mrs. Gates was a very fair skinned lady that could of passed for white. All her other siblings were of the light skinned complexion as well, but all of them, including herself married dark skinned African Americans.
Although, the Gates had no children of their own, they often entertained families in their home, families with children. Gertrude took great pride in knowing her roots, always wanting the younger generation to take an interest in their ancestors. Gertrude died August 5, 1976 at her home at the age of 78. Daniel Gates died February 28, 1987 in Idaho.
Georgia Ann Fears was born February 22, 1907. Although she was married to Jack Bowen for a period, the couple had no children and divorced. At a time when it was more feasible to be in the "closet", Georgia was open about her change to lesbianism. She was not afraid to be herself on any level of life. People often spoke highly of her driving ability and her honesty. Georgia was employed as a laundress at a hospital in Grand Island. At the time of her death, she was 48 years of age. She died March 28, 1955.
Emma Fears gave birth to Alda Josephine Fears on March 2, 1901. Alda was educated in the public schools just as her other siblings were. After completion of her education, Alda was employed in private homes. She married Madison Gunn, a brother to Reed Gunn (who was married to her sister Lizzie Gunn). Matt as he was called, married Alda in Hastings, NE. in 1920. Mr. Gunn died in 1941 from an accidental hanging. The couple had no children. Mrs. Gunn was employed by the Darling & Dr. Arrasmith families until her retirement in 1971.
Although Alda was short is stature, she possessed a heart of gold. She was often surrounded by children who loved to brush & comb her long auburn colored hair. Mrs. Gunn died June 3, 1986 at the age of 85.
Pearl Daisy Fears was not quite 2 years old when she died of pneumonia on June 6, 1906. She was born June 23, 1904.
Neatie Fears was born February 17, 1896...nothing else except her name being wrote in a photo album book owned by Mrs. Alda Gunn exist.
Charles Fears was born March 9, 1897 and Louvia Fears was born November 9, 1890. Couldn't find a date of death for either of them.
This chapter contains the grandchildren of John Wesley Fears from the oldest to the youngest of all his children. Of course all the grandchildren of John Wesley Fears are first cousins.
Edna E. Jackson was born July 1, 1894 in Bartlett, NE. to none other than Ida & Ben Jackson. She grew up and attended public school in Central City, NE. Edna married Bruce Benton Johnson (who was born 2/3/1888 in Merrick County, NE.). Bruce was the son of Samuel Johnson and Ellen Edwards, both natives of Tennessee. The marriage of Edna & Bruce took place on August 12, 1914 in Central City, NE.
Bruce was employed as a plumber at McIlnays in Central City. Edna took care of home and their daughter Josephine. The cause of Bruce having a wooden leg is not known at this time, but it apparently didn't detour him from living life to the fullest.
After the death of Bruce on July 21, 1953, Edna resided in Grand Island, NE. with her daughter Josephine and her husband David Sanders. Edna was a member of the Church of God in Christ. Edna suffered a circulatory attack while at home. She died August 13, 1965 at the age of 71. With the death of her daughter Josephine Sanders, this lineage was discontinued. Edna and Bruce are both buried in Central City, NE.
Irene Katherine Jackson was born February 9, 1896 in Antelope County, NE. Irene married William (Bill) Harris in 1914 in Boone, Iowa. They lived in Iowa prior to moving to Central City. In 1926, they moved to Grand Island, NE. Four children were born to Irene and Bill Harris. Their names were: Thelma Jane Harris (Warren Theodore Gunn) Virgil Harris (Ellen Buccannon), Katherine Harris (Paul Ford, Robert Bryant), Mary Lou Harris (Arthur Fears, Lawrence Stewart). She also had one son named Henry Wilson. Henry died while on active duty at a young age.
After the death of William Harris, Irene married Joe James on September 28, 1945 in Aurora, NE. They made their home in Grand Island, NE. Mrs. James had been employed at the Yancey Hotel and the Ordinance Plant. She was an active member of the Church of God in Christ as well as a Eastern Star Mother.
Irene died October 22, 1972 at her home in Grand Island. She is buried in Grand Island. Surnames of her descendants include; Harris, Marion, Paulling, Vaughn, Jackson, Summers, and Avent to name a few.
Amanda Jackson was born July 21, 1897 in Wheeler County, Nebraska. She was married to William Lacey, a native of Kansas City, Missouri on September 23, 1915. Five children were born to this union. The names of the children are; Helen (Mr. Britt), Edna Mae (Sullivan Watson), Inez Pauline (A.James Shearron, Mr. Inman),Wilma (John Galbreath), and Mary Alice (Mr. Wright)
Amanda was a member of the Church of Nazerene. After the early death of her mother Ida Jackson, Amanda mothered three of her siblings. Mrs. Lacey died in the ambulance while enroute to the University Hospital in Omaha, NE. She was 42 years old.
Mrs. Lacey's descendants include the surnames of Moore, Watson, Wright, Holiday, Merriweather, Jackson, Galbreath, Horn, James
Joseph Nelson Jackson was born February 15, 1899 in Deloit, Nebraska to Ida & Ben Jackson. Joe was married on November 13, 1942 to Bessie Mae Seals a native of Kansas City, MO.
Joe was employed at Diamond Eng. Company in Grand Island plus he was a carpenter. Bessie died September 15, 1951in Kansas City and Joe died December 8, 1946 in Grand Island, NE. The couple had no children. Mr. Joe Jackson was a member of the Jehovah Witness church.
Sylvester Kearney Jackson sr. is next in line. Sylvester was born May 20, 1900 in Central City, Nebraska. He married Sadie Josephine Smith (born June 28, 1905) on November 26, 1924 in Central City.
Sadie & Sylvester had the following children; Sylvester jr. (Zenobia Conrad), Robert Calvin, Betty Lorraine (Cecil Cole), Donald (Marcella, aka Sudie), Jeannette Mae (Ira Hawkins). Other children Sylvester had were Donald Dean Vance and Beverley Joan Cloud, these two children happened after the death of his wife Sadie. While every family appears to have a black sheep of the bunch, Sylvester seems to be the chosen black sheep of the Jackson family. Sadie died of Septicemia, which is blood poisoning by absorption of putrid matter on December 5, 1935.
Sylvester sr. died November 15, 1964 in Omaha, Nebraska at the age of 64. The surnames of some of his descendants include Jackson, Wilson, Hopkins, Cole, Coleman, Cloud, Vance, Ronquillo, Johnson, Brooks
Samuel Jackson was obviously named after his paternal grandfather. He was born December 6, 1902 in Wheeler County, NE. Unfortunately, Samuel had a short life, he was 17 at the time of his death.
Rose Maude Jackson was born July 12, 1904. She was married to Harold Hunter, they produced two children- James Hunter, and Mary Louise Hunter (James). She later married Wilford Beasley and had one child by him. His name was Johnny Beasley. Rose died May 13, 1947 on the operating table from a blood clot. Surnames of her descendants include Hunter, Beasley, James, Hall, McGhee,
Myrtle Grace Elizabeth Jackson was born January 8, 1906. It is highly possible that she as well as her sister Rose were named two of their maternal aunts (Myrtle Fears, Rosa Fears). Myrtle was married to Moten Beliford. They had a total of three children, Moten jr., Ida Corene, and Chester. Myrtle died December 27, 1953. To this current date, her descendants include her daughter Ida and her two grandchildren Cynthia Belford & Michael Lloyd Washington. Moten jr. had no children.
Levi John Jackson is next, being born April 15, 1909 in Wheeler County, NE. Levi married Ms. Murldine Camper on Dec.6, 1943 in Mankato, Ks. The couple had no children. Levi was employed at an Asphalt Plant in Grand Island and retired from the Goodwill. Due to hopping trains, Levi lost both of his legs. He often enjoyed cutting hair, visiting family & friends. Levi loved music and played the guitar. Levi died June 11, 1998.
LaVerne Jackson graced the earth with her presence on August 17, 1914. She was married to Glenn Dale Bowen, who she had two children with. LaVerne later married Herbert Harrell. Mrs. Harrell died December 9, 1980 in Denver, CO. and is buried in the Fairmount Cemetery. Her two children are Glenn Bowen jr. and Roberta Gray. Surname descendants are: Bowen, Groce, and Gray.
Nancy Victoria Jackson was born August 18, 1912. She was married to Herman Ray. The couple literally made their home in Markham, Illinois. Nancy and Herman were the parents of five children. The children were Phyllis, Herman Jr., Theodore, Ida, and Renee. Ida & Renee died early.
Golda Caytella Jackson was born June 20, 1916 in Central City, NE. At the age of 20, Golda died of a brain tumor.
Ben Jackson jr. was an infant death.
Arthur Wesley Fears greeted the earth on May 25, 1914 in Grand Island, NE. to Bert & Rachel Fears. He was educated in the public schools. Arthur married Mary Lou Harris, a second cousin of his. The couple had two children, Shirley and Betty.
Arthur enlisted in the military on March 1, 1941 from Ft. Leavenworth, Ks. While in the military, Arthur served as a painter. He served in Co. D Bn. Arthur was discharged from service in Camp Crowder, MO. On Oct. 25, 1945. Arthur was awarded the Kane Ribbon.
A physical description of Mr. Fears states that he was 5' 4", weighed 150 pounds. His occupations included painting, carpentry. Mr. Fears died Oct. 21, 1962 in Omaha, NE. Surnames include: Marion, Josetta, Paulling, Vaughn.
Pauline Viola Fears was born November 17,1917 in Grand Island, NE. Pauline married Steven Locke Sr. in 1933 in Grand Island. The couple had Steven Locke jr., and Betty Wheeler. Pauline died December 14, 1948 in Vancouver, WA. Surnames in this family include Lincoln, Locke, and Brown.
Bertrand James Fears jr. was born October 14, 1919 in Grand Island, Nebraska. He married a young lady from Hastings, NE. by the name of Mary. With this marriage, Bert acquired two stepchildren: Gregory and Cathy, as well adding two of his own Pamela and Michael Fears. Albert Fears died June 23, 1970 and is buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The children reside in Salina, Kansas.
Marjorie Elizabeth Fears was born July 8, 1921 in Grand Island, Nebraska. She was united in marriage to Roy Pierre Lattimore. The couple later moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1944. A total of five children were both to the couple. They are Roger Duayne, Rolland Pierre, Ronald Joseph, Roy Pierre jr. and Sharon Jean. Marjorie was a devoted foster mother to many children. She departed life on March 16, 1988 and is buried at the Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, IN. Mr. Lattimore departed life on October 25, 2000. Her oldest son Roger Duane died almost a year later on August 30, 2001.
Leroy Frank Patterson was the oldest son of Myrtle (Fears) & John Patterson. He was born October 20, 1914 in Grand Island, Nebraska. His uncle Reed Gunn was responsible for naming him.
After the early death of his father, Leroy was admitted on February 28, 1926 to the State Home for the Mentally Disabled. During that time period, many a child that today's society labels as "slow" were often committed to institutions. Leroy resided at the facility for a period of four years. Shortly after the marriage of his mother to Isaac Trice, Leroy was discharged on January 13, 1930 from the home. Back in the care of his mother, stepfather and siblings, Leroy was able to thrive normally.
Leroy's first long term job was with the sanitation company under the supervision of John Ellis. From that employment he went to Clarks Sanitation. He retired from Clarks around in the 1970's.
After the death of his mother in 1963, Leroy resided with his niece Beverley Cloud. Leroy enjoyed bike riding (every Sunday he would ride from Grand Island to Chapman, Central City and Alda, Nebraska). Neither of those places were within walking distance. He often would give his great niece and nephews rides in his Schwinn bicycle. Leroy also enjoyed pitching horseshoes, playing checkers and singing. He was a member of the Shiloh Church of God in Hastings, NE. with Rev. Earl Perkins as the pastor.
Leroy was very family oriented. He often went to visit his Aunt Lizzie, Gertrude and Alda. Leroy also socialized with his cousins Warren & Delmar Gunn, cousin in-law David Sanders that were close to his age.
Leroy never married, nor had any children of his own. However, he provided a positive male role model for Beverley's six children. Leroy died at the age of 84 on October 30, 1998 at a Grand Island nursing home.
Ethel Patterson was born February 23, 1917 in Grand Island, NE. Being the oldest daughter of Myrtle & John, she was often a bit rebellious. At a time when it was unladylike to smoke and wear pants, Ethel was doing both.
In every family, there are persons that cross the line and engage in things they shouldn't. Wherever there is one person misbehaving in a family, rest assured they are not alone. Which gives truth to old saying "It takes two to tangle." Apparently things truly fell to pieces after Sylvester Jackson sr. lost his wife Sadie. Sylvester, a first cousin to Ethel (Myrtle & Ida (Sylvester's mother) were sisters) impregnated her…thus producing a daughter named Beverley. Ethel did manage to move on with life. Ethel's relationship with Will Patrick caused some problems with his family. Before giving birth to Will's child, Ethel married Bonnie Theodore Cloud on May 28, 1942. Ethel's second daughter was born September 7 of that same year. Ethel named this child Rosemary. Bonnie adopted both girls, giving them the "Cloud" name. Bonnie & Ethel separated and were later divorced by November of 1960. During the separation Ethel gave birth to a son whom she named Leslie Barnum jr. in 1950. Leslie was eventfully placed for adoption. Two years later, Ethel and Leslie sr. were married on September 10th, 1952. This marriage proved to be invalid upon his death, due to the fact he was legally married elsewhere. Another son was also born to Ethel and placed for adoption. This son was biracial.
Ethel was doing more than engaging in bad relationships, she was employed at the Yancy Hotel (where she met Mr. Patrick), The Earthens and the private employment of Wm. Ehsam family. Prior to her passing, Ethel resided with her daughter Beverley & five children in Grand Island. She later went to live in Omaha at the Williams Care Manor near her daughter Rosemary. Ethel died May 10, 1992 at Saint Joseph Hospital in Omaha. She was 75 years old. Descendant surnames include Cloud, Ronquillo, and Carriger.
Elvina Edabelle Patterson greeted life August 7, 1918 in Grand Island, NE. She was educated in the Grand Island public school system like her older sister Ethel and other siblings. On October 29, 1937, Elvina married the love of her life Aaron Valentine Lewis. Aaron was a native of Stapleton, Nebraska. He was the son of George Franklin Lewis sr. & Laverna Armedia Marks. Elvina & Aaron eloped to Billings, Montana where they were married.
The Lewis family made their home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. They resided less than 10 minutes away from Elvina's brother Donald. Mr. Lewis was heavily involved in the construction work. Elvina was a devoted housewife and mother of nine living children. Although Elvina was a quiet softspoken person, she had no problem getting her point across. She possessed a dry sense of humor, and was always willing to help family members. Elvina's heart extended to the many foster children that resided in the Lewis home. Her first child, a son named Edward Duane died at 4 months old on November 13, 1942 in Grand Island.
The Lewis family were active members of the Cornerstone Pentecostal Church in Idaho Falls. Elvina enjoyed family…often returning to Nebraska to visit, cooking, and camping.
Elvina died at home 2 ½ months after her husband Aaron died. Aaron died of kidney failure on March 13, 1999 and Elvina died December 27, 2000. She was 82 years old. They are both buried at the Fielding Memorial Park Cemetery in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Prior to their passing, a son named John Mark Lewis preceded them in death. Surviving children include Aaron jr., Fredrick "Dean", Illa Mae (Mitchell), Margaret Ann (Kelly), Mary Lee (Hall), Bartholemew and Donna Ellen (Beck) Descendant surnames include Lewis, Mitchell, Kelly, Pina, Weston to name a few.
Donald Dolphus Patterson is the second born son of Myrtle & John Patterson. He was born September 10, 1919 in Grand Island, NE. He was also educated in the Grand Island public school system.
Donald was affectionately known as "Pat" or "Uncle Dot". Donald enlisted in WW 11 with Willard Baker, Ollie Locke also from Grand Island. Donald served at Fort Crook in Omaha, NE., Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Lawrence in Cheyenne, Wyoming, New Jersey, and in Europe (France, Germany, and Italy). Donald's rank while in the service was that of sergeant.
Prior to his marriage to a Native American lady named Caroline Pearl Kito in Salina, Kansas on July 13, 1946, Donald sired an offspring with an African American lady…they had a son named Victor. Caroline was called "Pearl" by family members. The married couple raised five children together in Idaho Falls, Idaho. These children are Donald Dwayne, Judy Kaye, Myrtle Luella (Swift), Norma Jean and Dennis Dale Patterson.
Donald was not an overly religious man, but he was a member at the Community Church of God in Christ. "Pat" was employed in the construction department. He enjoyed fishing, visiting, and going for drives. His memberships included Laborers International Union of North America, Vice president of Labors Local Union #155 and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Patterson family often returned to Nebraska to visit the family still there.
Pearl preceded her husband in death on May 26, 2002 in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Donald Patterson died April 26, 2003 in Pocatello, Idaho. Surnames from this family include Swift and Patterson. Both are buried at the Fielding Memorial Park Cemetery.
Eldon Edward Patterson is the baby boy of the Patterson clan. He was born January 8, 1920 in Grand Island, NE. Eldon was also educated in the public school system. At an early age, Eldon married Lorraine McWilliams on August 12, 1942. Being the young age he was, Eldon's mother signed her approval for the marriage to take place. A hobby that Eldon indulged in and was good at was boxing.
Not long after he was married, WW11 sent Eldon overseas. Unlike others, Eldon did not return the same way he left. While on active duty, Eldon became a prisoner of war. The emotional & physical scars proved to be permanent.
After the family petitioned for an honorable discharge, the honorable discharged was granted on December 8, 1946. Eldon was hospitalized in Hastings, Nebraska and later transferred to a Veteran Hospital in Fort Meade, South Dakota. Eldon never returned to live among his family and friends, he never knew the two daughters that he brought into this world.
Even though Eldon and Lorraine remained married until death, it was in name only. The two daughters that were born are Sandra Kaye and Margo. Sandra Kay (Walker) preceded her father in death in October of 1973. Eldon departed life June 15, 1997 in Fort Meade, South Dakota. Lorraine died March 26, 1999 in Omaha, NE. Eldon & Lorraine are buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska as is their daughter Sandra Kaye (Walker). Descendants are the Rollersons, Toliver, Walker and Billups
Last but not least of the Patterson clan is Wilda Emma Patterson. She was born July 14, 1921 in Grand Island. Wilda was educated in the Grand Island public school system. Wilda attended an A.M.E. church. She was employed as a laundress at the Saint Francis Hospital.
Wilda was killed in a car accident (which was questionable) with the Rev. Wm. A. Greene aged 54. Wilda was 29 when the car her and Rev. Greene were in was hit by a Union Pacific streamliner #112 train. She was not married, nor had any children. Wilda died May 31, 1950.
Warren Theodore Gunn was born to Elizabeth & Reed Gunn on July 14, 1917 in Grand Island, NE. Following his education in the public school system, Warren enlisted in WW11. His enlistment date was March of 1941. He served in the 92nd Calvary Division. His rank was that of 1st Sergeant. Warren was honorably discharged in 1945 from Fort Logan, Colorado.
Prior to being discharged, Warren married Thelma Jane Harris. Thelma was the daughter of Irene and William Harris. Warren and Irene were first cousins as well as in-laws. The couple married in 1942 in Junction City, Kansas. They made their home in Grand Island. Warren & Thelma had no children.
Warren was employed by the Union Pacific Railroad, Yancey Hotel, and the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant before he began his employment with the Island Supply Company. He was employed with the latter for 24 years. The Gunns were members of the Trinity United Methodist Church. Warren died at the age of 63 on October 23, 1980 in Grand Island. Following Warren's death, Thelma relocated to Omaha, NE. His wife Thelma died July 28, 1984. Thelma was 68 years old at the time her death.
John Delmar Gunn was born May 9, 1919 in Grand Island, NE. "Delmar" as he was frequently called by family members served in WW11 from 1941 to 1945. While on active duty, Delmar served as military police. He was employed at the Cornhusker Arm Plant in Grand Island. Due to alcoholism, his aunt Gertrude Gates had Delmar committed to a veteran facility in Des Moines, Iowa. John Delmar Gunn died September 19, 1981 at the age of 62. He never married nor had any children.
Vivian Desmona Fears was born to Rennia & Edna Fears. Next to nothing is known about her. She was shot & killed by her husband. Her husband's last name was Fuller. At the time of her death, she had resided in California. Desmona as she was called by the family had one child ; a daughter named Peggy. Her descendants reside in California and Arizona.
Lawrence Fears was the second child born to Rennia and Edna Fears. Nothing is known about him as well. He resided in California and is buried there. Lawrence was born November 24, 1917 in Grand Island, NE. Mr. Fears may have died July 15, 1990 in Los Angeles, California.
Submitted by: Eileen Cloud