From the files of Stephen M. Lawson

Thomas Sears and Elizabeth

Henry Sears and Elizabeth

John Joseph Sears and Elizabeth Kerby

Chesly Sears and Elizabeth C. McClanahan

Malinda Margrett Sears and Scott Cyrus Freeman

Lucy Jane Freeman and James Martin Lawson

Donald VanHoosier Lawson and Iva Melvina Freeman

Stephen Martin Lawson

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Thomas and Elizabeth Sears

There is some indication that this SEARS line may be connected to either the Richard SAYRES or the Thomas SAYRES settlers of New England. It is possible that the following may be a brother of Thomas SEARS of Orange Co., NC.

Henry SEARS - Will dated Nov. 8, 1768, and proved at May 1774 Court, Orange Co., NC, names wife Rose, and children John, Edward, Harry, Sally, Nancy and Barbry. A number of property transactions are recorded in Orange Co., NC for these names, including the name of Rosey SEARS. A Rosey SEARS is listed in the 1790 Census of Orange Co., NC. With six children living in 1768 and Rosey still living in 1790, the birth of Henry and Rose can be estimated at about the 1720s and their marriage about the 1740s.

Thomas SEARS - b. about 1720; d. after Jun. 1788, probably in Orange Co., NC. His will was dated Jul. 1, 1788, Orange Co., NC, and names his wife and seven children, and suggests that he was a planter of some means. Married about 1740, Elizabeth, and resided in King and Queen Co., VA. The family apparently moved to Orange Co., NC, probably after all the children were born.

Elizabeth - Elizabeth lived her latter years with son William.

Children of Thomas and Elizabeth Sears

  1. Thomas - b. about 1741, King and Queen Co., VA probably; d. about 1825, Allen Co., KY. From the book Kentucky: A History of the State, 3rd Edition, by Battle, Perrin and Kniffin (1886) it appears probable that he was the father of Samuel SEARS who "was born June 4, 1814, in King & Queen County, Virginia, and in 1815 removed with his parents to the northern part of Allen County, Kentucky.... His [Samuel's] father Thomas SEARS, a native of Virginia, served the entire period of the Revolutionary war, was an extensive farmer, owned many slaves and died about 1825, at the age of eighty four years. He was married five times and reared children by three of his wives.... Samuel SEARS' mother was Frances SEARS (no blood relation), who died in 1833, at the age of fifty years." Children of Thomas: Henry; Thomas; William; Walker; Elizabeth 'Betey' married Mr. SEARS; Mariah married Mr. PULLIAM; Frances married Mr. CUSHENBERRY; John; Richard; Robert; Nancy married Mr. CUSHENBERRY; Samuel married first Maria T. STARK, and second Harriet (STARK) STONE; Albert; Mary A. married Mr. LYNN; Amanda married Mr. PATTEN; and Joseph M.
  2. Elizabeth - Unmarried in 1788. and possibly never married.
  3. John - b. about 1750, King and Queen Co., VA; d. in 1831, Mt. Airy, Randolph Co., MO; bur. Hurt Burying Ground. A Revolutionary War soldier, he settled in Orange Co., NC about 1788, near Bowling Green, KY about 1810, and in Randolph Co., MO in 1820. Married Matilda HOBSON (b. 1760; d. before husband, Randolph Co., MO) in NC in Sep. or Oct. 1787. Children: Deacon Hardy married first Mary 'Polly' SEARS, and second Dicey RIGSBY; Ivison married Sarah RYALS; Rev. Henry married Priscilla PRATHER; Elder William married first to Sophia KIRBY, second Sarah Alice KERBY, and third Drusilla (RATLIFF) FAULKNER, widow of John; Mary married Thomas HENDRICKS; Candace died unmarried; and other daughters.
  4. Joseph - b. 1750-1760, King and Queen Co., VA; d. about 1820, KY (either Allen or Warren Co.). A Rev. soldier and a Baptist minister. Either he or a nephew was probably the Joseph SEARS who married Elizabeth SEARLES.
  5. Mary - Over age 21 in 1788. Married Mr. SEARLES. Though the will of Mary's father is difficult to read and/or interpret on this matter, it appears that Mary's husband died before July 1788, and that Mary had had at least two children.
  6. Henry - b. 1760-1770, King and Queen Co., VA; d. 1850, Randolph Co., MO.
  7. William - b. after 1767. Described in his father's will as under age 21 in 1788. William remained in NC on the family estate, and cared for his mother.

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Henry and Elizabeth Sears

Henry SEARS - b. 1760-1770, King and Queen Co., VA; d. 1850, Randolph Co., MO. Son of Thomas SEARS and Elizabeth. Henry had been sheriff of Orange Co., NC, possibly was in prison in Warren Co., KY, and possibly remarried after moving to Randolph Co., MO about 1827-1830. One unverified source reports that Henry married second in Randolph Co., MO Martha Patsy FULLERTON. Married first about 1795, probably in Orange Co., NC.

Elizabeth CHANDLER? - Believed to be first wife of Henry, and the mother of his children. Probably surnamed CHANDLER and related to the CHANDLERs of Caswell Co., NC. Her surname is unproved, but note that son Wiley SEARS named one of his sons John Chandler SEARS. A marriage bond is recorded in Orange Co., NC on 29 Nov 1793 between Henry SEARS and Elizabeth CHANDLER, with bondsman Stephen FOREST and witness A. B. BRUCE. However, there appears to have been at least one other Henry SEARS of about the same age living in the area at the time, namely Harry or Henry SEARS, Jr. Henry SEARS, whose will was dated 8 Nov 1768 and proved May 1774 in Orange Co., NC, names wife Rose, son Harry, and other children.

Children of Henry and Elizabeth Sears

  1. Thomas - d. before 1850, Macon Co., MO. Married first Marjorie CRAWFORD, and last Martha 'Patsy' FALLINGTON (b. 1796, NC). The 1850 census of Randolph Co., MO, Dwelling and Family 24, lists Martha SEARS, age 34, John CASH, age 21, and Elizabeth A. CASH, age 17. Child of first marriage: Sarah Jane married Lewis PENN. Child of second marriage: Elizabeth A. married John CASH.
  2. John Joseph - b. 1798, Orange Co., NC; d. Jul. 1866, near Gifford, Macon Co., MO.
  3. Wiley - b. 1800, NC. Refer to note below. A minister, he married Elizabeth GROSS (b. 1810, KY). Children: Levi married Rebecca ASH; John Chandler Sears married Nancy TURNER; Alfred; Pettis; Perry; Jane; Elizabeth; and Sarah.
  4. Mary - b. Mar. 14, 1803, probably in NC; d. Feb. 13, 1859, Putnam, MO. Married John 'Jackie' RYALS, Sr. (b. May 13, 1803, NC; d. Oct. 10, 1884, Putnam, MO). John married second Sep. 15, 1863, Sarah POWELL and had four more children. Children of Mary and John: William married first Lucinda SEARS (daughter of Wiley and Nancy (RYALS) SEARS), second Martha J. SEARS (daughter of Dea. Hardy and Dicey (RIGSBY) SEARS), and third Lucinda W. (SIMPSON) PAYNE; Elizabeth married George NEWMAN; Martha married first Mr. HOLMAN, and second Dr. Joseph Wayland WORTHINGTON; Susan married first Solomon S. P. KERBY, and second John CARPENTER; John married Miriam MANNON; Nancy married Peter Crockett BERRY; Wiley married first Louisa Jane NEWMAN, second Sarah Jane HOLMAN, and third Prudia DOTSON; Margaret married Johnson STERRITT; Mary A. married Alex FRANCIS; Sarah married John James CAPPS; Solomon married Mary MARING; and Frances Ann married John R. ALLEN.

Note: Apparently there are two men by the name of Wiley SEARS in Randolph Co., MO in the early 1800s. The Wiley who married Elizabeth GROSS is placed as a son of Henry SEARS due to the name of his second son being John Chandler SEARS. The Wiley who married Nancy RYALS is listed as son of Dea. Hardy SEARS in the BEALMER BULLETIN of July 27, 1971, with the information on his family being: Wiley - d. about 1848, Randolph Co., MO. Wiley married Nancy RYALS. His will was dated Nov. 17, 1846, and admitted to probate Mar. 27, 1848, being witnessed by William FORT and Ivison SEARS. Children: Lucinda married her second cousin William RYALS, son of John and Mary (SEARS) RYALS; Lewallen; Juliann; Green W.; Silas Watson married Samantha GRIFFEN; and Lorenzo.

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John Joseph and Elizabeth (Kerby) Sears

John Joseph SEARS - b. 1798, Orange Co., NC; d. Jul. 1866, near Gifford, Macon Co., MO. Probable son of Henry SEARS and Elizabeth. One unverified family source gives John Joseph's birth as Mar. 11, 1800, NC, and his death as Jul. 13, 1866, near Newburg, Macon Co., MO. Joseph settled on a farm north of Fayette, Richmond Township, Howard Co., MO in 1821. That part of Howard County where John settled became successively Chariton (1820), Randolph (1829) and Macon (1837) County - so it is likely that the county name given for a particular event may be mis-stated. In 1832, John was in Randolph (later Macon) Co., MO, settling on the NE 1/4 of Section 14 of Easley Township, about 1 1/2 miles southeast of the current town of South Gifford and 3 1/2 miles north of Mercyville, but with a Post Office Address of Newburg, Richland Township. John's family is found in the 1850 census of Macon Co., MO, living near his son Chesly. The minutes of a meeting held in Randolph Co., MO were published in The Randolph Citizen on Jun. 28, 1855, indicating that John SEARS, with seven others, was appointed a delegate to the Pro-slavery Convention to be held at Lexington, MO on Jul. 12, 1855. Though the record available is difficult to read, he is also found in the 1860 census of Macon Co., MO. Married Jun. 17, 1821, Howard Co., MO, by Charles MERRYMAN.

Elizabeth KERBY - b. 1804, Warren Co., KY; d. Jul. 1888, near Gifford, Macon Co., MO. After the death of Elizabeth's sister Araminta (KERBY) McDAVITT in 1858, Ara's widower Leo sent the younger children to live with "Aunt Betsy and Uncle John" for a short time. Daughter of Asa KERBY and Martha Elizabeth HIGHSMITH.

Children of John Joseph and Elizabeth Sears

  1. Margaret - b. Apr. 14, 1822, Macon Co., MO; d. Mar. 19, 1891, LaPlata, Macon Co., MO. Married Jul. 11, 1846, Macon Co., MO, Edmund GATES (d. 1866).
  2. Chesly - b. Nov. 11, 1824, poss. Howard Co., MO; d. Nov. 15, 1902, Nevada, Vernon Co., MO.
  3. Samuel A. - b. Dec. 15, 1826, MO; d. before 1866. Married Mar. 9, 1848, Macon Co., MO, Cynthia SEARS (b. 1827, MO). Daughter: Sarah E.
  4. Sarah Matilda - b. Jan. 21, 1829. Sarah married.
  5. Joseph Presley - b. Mar. 17, 1831, Fayette, Howard Co., MO; d. 1882. It is reported that Joseph enlisted Dec. 9, 1861 at Osage River as a Pvt. in Co. B, 5th Regt, Missouri Infantry, CSA, and that he served with the Missouri State Guards, Co. D, 4th Regt, 3rd Div. and was engaged at Lexington, Elk Horn, Farmington, Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Vicksburg. Joseph was left as a nurse at Vicksburg to the wounded on the battlefield, and was captured Jul. 4, 1863. He took the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.A. on Jul. 5, 1863 at Vicksburg and went home somewhat later. Married Mar. 20, 1859, Macon Co., MO, Mary Catherine BANNING. They lived near Newberg, Macon Co., MO, in the NE corner of Sec. 23 of Easley Township about 2 1/2 miles directly north of Old Mercyville, Macon Co., MO.Children:  Minnie Davis married Abraham ENYART; Lillie married first George Washington (or Charlie) MEEKS, and second Cal ROSENCRANTZ; Ishmail Herming (or Ishel Hurshell) married Alice Cora 'Allie' RICKER; Emery; and Alonzo.
  6. John W. - b. Aug. 4, 1833, Macon Co., MO; d. before 1866. Married May 14, 1854, Mary SHOEMAKER. Three children.
  7. Nathaniel M. - b. Oct. 17, 1836, Macon Co., MO; d. before 1866. Married but had no heirs.
  8. James Milton - b. Oct. 25, 1839, Macon Co., MO; d. Aug. 12, 1910, La Plata, MO; d. Aug. 12, 1910, Macon Co., MO; bur. LaPlata, MO cemetery. Married 1st, Rebecca BANNING; 2nd, Martha E. RICE SMILEY. Children of James and Rebecca: Connie N.; Leoma; Perry W.; and Commodore.
  9. Francis Marion - b. Jul. 25, 1845, Easley Township, Macon Co., MO; d. Sep. 7, 1918, Macon Co., MO; bur. Helton Cemetery. A biographical sketch concerning Francis was published in the General History of Macon County, Missouri (Henry Talor & Co., Chicago: 1910), in which he names his parents as John Joseph and Elizabeth (KERBY) SEARS, with only James M. and Francis Marion then surviving of their ten children. Francis married first Apr. 2, 1865, Macon Co., MO, Catherine RILEY (b. May 14, 1840; d. Sep. 7, 1908), daughter of James Thomas RILEY and Susan SMOOTH. Francis, then known as May SEARS, married second Sarah M. 'Sallie' NICHOLS (b. Feb. 9, 1858; d. 1937), daughter of Samuel NICHOLS and Elizabeth SAPP. Sallie was the widow of both John S. RILEY and Jesse T. CLAYPOOL, with her first husband being the brother of Francis' first wife, Catherine RILEY. Children of Francis and Catherine SEARS: Louetta married James William RATLIFF; James Alfred married first Harriet Arbida HAYDEN, second Elnora CRAIL, and third Fannie PARSONS; William Clarence married Rebecca Jane  BAILEY; three sons died in infancy; and two daughters died in infancy.
  10. Newton P. SEARS - b. Nov. 27, 1849; d. before 1866. Married, but had no heirs.

General History of Macon County, Missouri (Chicago: 1910), pp. 333-335
Francis Marion Sears, one of the veteran merchants of Macon County and high on the list of the leading citizens of Ethel and White townships, is the son of very early pioneers in this part of the state, and lived himself, in his boyhood and youth, amid the scenes, dangers, hardships and arduous struggles of frontier life. He was born in Easely township, Macon county, on July 25, 1845, and is a son of John Joseph and Elizabeth (Kirby) Sears, the former a native of Kentucky; born in 1800, and the latter of the same state. The father came to Missouri and Macon county in 1821. He took up a tract of wild land and did well his part in redeeming the region from the wilderness, ridding it of its savbage denizens of forest and plain, man and beast, reducing it to productiveness, and founding upon it the forms, governing powers and restraining influences of civilization. He helped to sow in it the seeds of progress, improvement and development, and start it in the career which has resulted in its present high state of cultivation and mercantile and commercial greatness.

John Joseph Sears and his wife were the parents of ten children, only two of whom ae now living, James M., of La Plata, and Francis M., of Ethel. The father died in 1866 and the mother in 1888. But in their long career of usefulness in this region they put forces in motion which have resulted in great good to it and proven to be forceful factors in all that has occurred in it since they laid down their trust. Here is one instance, at least, in which the good done by faithful workers lives after them and not "interred with their bones."

Their son, Francis, enjoyed very meager and irregular opportunities for scholastic training. The schools of his boyhood and youth in this locality were few and it was far between them. And those which were in operation lasted only during the winter months and were primitive and limited in the scope of thier instructions. But such as they were, Mr. Sears attended them as much and as regularly as he could, and made the most of the advantages they fave him. After leaving school he remained at home and assisted his father in the work on the farm for a number of years, and then began farming on his own account. He continued his connection with this occupation until 1898, when he engaged in the furniture trade, with which he has ever since been actively and extensively connected.

At the beginning of the Civil war he enlisted in the army and followed his convictions to the field of carnage, participating in the battle of Lexington and other engagements of greater or less importance. In politics he is a Democrat and always has been. He has served his party faithfully and it has recognized the value of his services, holding him in high esteen as a worker and finding in him capacity for the administration of official duties of delicacy and importance. He has been a justice of the peace for more than seven years and a member of the school board for more than three. In 1902 he was elected mayor of Ethel, and in that capacity he served the town well and wisely until 1906. He is a gentleman of lofty ideal and very progressive views, and he has applied his methods of thought and action to all his official duties and all his efforts for the improvement and progress of the community in which he lives. In fraternal life he is connected with the Order of Odd Fellows, and his lodge in the order highly appreciates his energetic and stimulating membership. The township and county have had the benefit of his breadth of view and his comprehensive enterprise in the promotion of all their designs for the advancement of the region and the enduring welfare of its people.

On April 2, 1865, Mr. Sears ws united in marriage with Miss Catherine Riley, a native of Macon county (who departed this life September 7, 1908), but a daughter of parents who came to this state from Kentucky, where their forefathers helped to redeem the wilds and lay the faoundation of civilized and cultivated life. Of the eight children born to Mr. and Mrs. Sears only three are living: Luetta, the wife of J. W. Ratliff, residing near Goldsberry, this county; James A. who lives at New Boston, Linn county, and William C. who is a resident of Ethel. During the last eleven years the father has been one of the leading merchants of Ethel, and throughout that period he has held the business name of the community up to a high standard of integrity and progressiveness, and has met all the requirements of his position as one of the prominent and representative merchants of the town in a masterly and commendable manner. Macon county has no better or more enterprising citizen, none whose influence and example have done it more good in general and special ways, and none whom the people more universally approve and esteem.

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Chesly and Elizabeth C. (McClanahan) Sears

Chesly SEARS - b. Nov. 11, 1824, poss. Howard Co., MO; d. Nov. 15, 1902, Nevada, Vernon Co., MO; bur. Deepwood Cemetery. Son of John Joseph SEARS and Elizabeth KERBY. Chesly's funeral was held at Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Sunday, Nov. 16, 1902, with Rev. H. L. WALKER officiating. At the time of the 1850 census of Macon Co., MO, the SEARS family lived at LaPlata, and moved to Scott County, IL by 1870. The name of C. SEARS appears on the list of 21 voters in the poll books for an election at LaPlata on Monday, May 7, 1860. In the 1870 census of Winchester, Scott Co., IL, Chesly is listed as a Farm laborer with a personal estate of $1000 and family of wife and 5 children. About 1872, they moved to Nevada, Vernon Co., MO. Chesly and Elizabeth celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1898 with their children and grandchildren. Guests included Mr. & Mrs. Thomas GILBERT, Mr. & Mrs. William SEARS, Mrs. C. GATES and son, and Willie Sears [Nevada Daily Mail]. Mrs. C. GATES may be Alice, daughter of Sarah Isabelle (SEARS) GILBERT. Chesly is found in the 1880 census of Vernon Co., MO, and in 1900 he resided in the First Ward, Center Township, Nevada. His address is given as 310 W. Allison, Nevada in the 1898 Vernon County Business Directory. Married Sep. 12, 1848, Macon Co., MO, by S. C. DAVIDSON.

Elizabeth C. McCLANAHAN - b. 1820, Cumberland, TN; d. Oct. 17, 1908, Nevada, Vernon Co., MO; bur. Deepwood Cemetery. Elizabeth, signing with an X, was a co-witness with her brother Enoch of a Bill of Sale for household goods and farm equipment sold by Samuel C. DAVIDSON in 1835 in Jefferson Co., MO. Her funeral was held at Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Sunday, Oct. 18, 1908, with Rev. H. S. McCORD officiating. The Vernon County Directories indicate she lived with her son Robert at 312 W. Allison, Nevada in 1903/4, and with her son William at 429 W. Cherry, Nevada in 1905. Daughter of William McCLANAHAN and Sarah COX.

Children of Chesly and Elizabeth Sears

  1. Sarah A. - b. Jan.-Mar. 1850. Listed as age 5.12 in 1850 Census, with data supposed to be as of June 1st, and obtained on Aug. 23, 1850. Perhaps died as an infant, as her next born sister was named Sarah.
  2. Sarah Isabelle b. about 1852, Macon Co., MO. Married Dec. 26, 1872, Vernon Co., MO, Thomas P. GILBERT (b. 1841, IL), a teacher. In the 1880 Census, the GILBERT family is listed between Isabelle's brother-in-law Scott C. FREEMAN, and her father Chesley SEARS. Children born by 1880: Alice and Paul.
  3. Malinda Margrett - b. Dec. 13, 1853, La Plata, Macon Co., MO; d. Jan. 31, 1948, Chouteau, Mayes Co., OK. Married Scott Cyrus FREEMAN.
  4. Laura F. SEARS - b. Dec 1854, Macon Co., MO. Married Aug. 22, 1872, Vernon Co., MO, Henry Hamilton HOWELL (b. Nov. 26, 1852, Howells Prairie, Cass Co., MO; d. Feb. 3, 1941, Nevada, Vernon Co., MO), son of Benjamin Franklin HOWELL (1814-1901) and Nancy J. HARNEY (1821-1862). Listed in the censuses as Henry, Hamilton and Hammy, his occupation is sheet metal worker in 1920 after being farmer in earlier censuses. Family sources indicate they had thirteen children, but both 1900 and 1910 census indicates Laura had 12 children. Mrs. Fanny HALL of Vernon County is named as a daughter in the obituary of Chesly FREEMAN, but it is probable the surname is an error and should be HOWELL (which might sound like HALL). Children of Laura and Henry HOWELL: a child died young; Bessie N.; Henry F. married Rosetta H. 'Rose'; Chesley F.; Larkin Callaway 'Calla' married Grace Estelle LENTS; Allena J.; a child died as infant; James W. 'Jim' married Ruth; Benjamin E.; Hamilton married Hallie H.; Laura P.; and Nora E.
  5. William M. - b. Feb. 11, 1857, Macon Co., MO; d. Nov. 5, 1925, Nevada, Vernon Co., MO. Married Dec. 3, 1879, Vernon Co., MO, Laura J. CONRAD (b. 1861; d. 1916), daughter of C.W. CONRAD of Greenfield, Dade Co., MO. Both William and Laura were buried in Newton Burial Park, Vernon Co., MO. William married a second time. In the 1870 census of Scott Co., IL, William is listed as a Farm laborer, though only age 13 and living at home. In the 1880 Census William was living with his parents, brother Robert, and Laura J. SEARS, age 18 and probably William's wife (though listed as daughter of Chesly). William was in the building trade, as a painter, carpenter, and planing mill operator. He served the town of Nevada as fire chief for over seven years, was a school director, and an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and later of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Listings in the 1898, 1903/4 and 1905 directories, and his 1925 obituary all give William and Laura's residence as 429 W. Cherry, Nevada, MO. They had two daughters: Willie, who was in the Nevada, MO graduating class of May 13, 1898 [Nevada Daily Mail], and married Guy SIMMONS; and Katherine SEARS, who lived at Hugo, OK in 1925.
  6. A son - b. Feb. 11, 1857, Macon Co., MO. A twin to William, he died in young.
  7. Robert C. - b. Feb. 11, 1860, Macon Co., MO; d. Feb. 15, 1913, Nevada, Vernon Co., MO; bur. Deepwood Cemetery. Robert was living with parents in 1880, and employed as a blacksmith. His wife is identified as Mary in the 1903/4 City Directory of Nevada, Vernon Co., MO. They lived at 312 W. Allison, with Robert's mother living with them. In 1905 he was a fireman living at 337 N. Ash. The 1910 census indicates that they were married in 1901, the second marriage for each.

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