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Shearers of upstate New York


William Shearer and Letitia Langdon were married in May 1773 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Fishkill, Dutchess Co., NY. They soon moved to Saratoga County, NY, where William enlisted as a soldier in the Revolutionary War in January 1776. He served one year under Capt. James Rosecrans and Col. James Clinton.

My list of the children of William Shearer and Letitia Langdon:

I have further details on the descendants of Thomas, which is my line. Most of them lived for the next generation in Essex County, where Thomas eventually settled, at Crown Point. Father William joined him late in life and died there on March 5, 1847. His tombstone gives his birth date as May 1, 1752. William is buried in the cemetery of the Congretational Church at Crown Point Center. Thomas is buried in Fairview Cemetery, also in Crown Point.

The Legend of Towalty Shearer

For over a century descendants of William Shearer have been looking for proof of his ancestry. In the "Thomas" line, there was a family tradition that the line was "Dutch" and that his father was called "Towalty" or "Towaltz" and was a friend of the Indians. Who knows how much truth there is in this colorful idea regarding the Indians; but as to the name "Towalty," which initially sounded strange to my ears, I can now recognize it as a cognate of the German for David: Theobald, sometimes written as Tebald, Tewald, or Dewald. This came about when I stumbled across a reference to Johannes Theobald Scherer, a Palatine immigrant to New York. The tradition of being "Dutch" may derive from the common confusion of "Dutch" for "Deutsch", i.e. German.

Now the immigrant Johannes Theobald is certainly not William's father, but he may be his grandfather. Henry Z. Jones' book The Palatine Families of New York, discusses this family on p. 854-857. Johannes's children are given, including a David. Of him, Jones writes: "He was known as Theobald also, as was his father." Could this be our legendary "Towalty?" Unfortunately, Jones doesn't have details on David's children except a daughter born in 1746. At the end of the section is the instruction: "The N.Y. City Luth. Chbk. should be checked 1750-1776 for additional 3rd generation ch. in this family."

Thus far, no documentation identifying a William born in 1752 has turned up to link him to this or any other family, though claims have been made for an English-originating family in Saratoga County, in which William's father would be James. But again, no documentation proves this, and it's clear that William's first documented residence was in Dutchess County, not Saratoga. So for the time being, my hypothesis stands that William is of the Palatine family aforementioned, probably the son of David.

Maybe someday an obscure Dutch or German record of his baptism will emerge from the forgotten files of some church; until then, this is all we have to go on. --KR, Apr. 3, 2000

Scherer/Shearer records in old Dutchess County

Support for my hypothesis that William was a child of the Palatine family may be found in the numerous references to the surname, in all of its various spellings, in 18th century Dutchess County. In particular, the immigrant Johannis Theobald and his son David are both found in the same general area where William is found in 1773-1777.

Dutchess County, New York, tax lists, 1718-1787 / by Clifford M. Buck

History of Putnam County / by William J. Blake, pub. 1849.
In a chapter on the Revolutionary Pledge, signers in Beekman's Patent, Dutchess Co., July 1775, included Peter Shear, William Shear, and Lewis Shear. Those who refused to sign: Johannes Shear.

Index to names in Ancient Documents of Dutchess County, NY (LDS Film 931627)

Doc. 505: "Ye October Court of Common Pleas in the 20th year of King George III: Jacobus Westfall complains against David Shearer ... [asking] that he render unto him 18 pounds ... which he to him oweth..." As evidence the attorney for Westfall presented a document which read: "Know all men by these presents that we Peter Shearer farmer and David Shearer, cordwyndor, both of Poughquak in the co. of Dutchess ... are holden and formly bound and obligated unto Jacobus Westfall of the same place farmer in the sum of 18 pounds ... to be paid to the said Jacobus Westfall or his certain attorneys ... sealed the 28th of July, 1746."
An accompanying file sheet calls the case "Jacobus Westfall Decd. v. David Shearer in debt, filed March 26, 1747."

Doc. 528: A bail bond by David Shearer and Lawrence DeLong for 36 pounds, signed 22 Oct. 1746, ensuring that "David Shearrer shall personally appear before his sacred majesty's judges and justices at the next court of common pleas, there to answer Jacobus Westfall of a plea that he render unto him 18 pounds ... which he ... unjustly detaineth." [Next court was 22 Oct. 1746, probably the date of the above court.]

Life and family of Thomas Shearer

The following text is from George Harrison Shearer's notes on the family:

Thomas Shearer was born September 17, 1786, in the town of Stillwater, New York, and lived near Saratoga Lake until about 15 years old. He was then bound out to a man by the name of Smith, in the village of Stillwater, and remained with him until 21 years of age. (1786 plus 15, 1801, plus 6, 1807.) From there he moved to Luzerne, and built or bought a blacksmith shop and plied the trade he had learned. The shop burned down, and he built another one from timber whic, standing in the morning, was cut down, hewed, worked, framed, and raised the same day. It was about 22 x 36 feet in size.

He married in 1812, Sally Aldrich. He prospered in business and built a nice house for his home, going to Vermont to get white marble for the jams and hearth. He got into debt about this time and lost everything. He mortgaged everything he had, and though at this time one could be imprisoned for debt, he arranged with his creditors to repay, went to work again to pay up, which he did in about sixteen years. The causes of his failure were: (1) The burning of his shop, all of his tools and a new wagon just finished; (2) the burning of a mill which he and another man had hired and were running on shares; and (3) he had just made a whole set of mill irons for a man who failed immediately afterward, and thus he lost the whole price of the irons. All of these were heavy losses, and his beautiful home had to go. He, however, built another home, though it was less pretentious than the first.

He lived in Luzerne about 23 years, and from there moved to Paradox in 1830, residing there six years. (1807 plus 23, 1830; 1830 plus 6, 1836). In Paradox he engaged in the lumber business, bought 160 acres of timber-land, bought a mill and house, then purchased 160 acres more in Black Brook. Later he bought the timber standing on another large tract for $1,000, sending his son, (B.A. Shearer) and another man to Albany to secure same ahead of another party who was seeking it, which he did by a very small margin of time. On this venture he cleared about $1,000.

From Paradox he moved to Crown Point Center, in 1836. At this time he was worth about $5,250, which sum had neither increased nor diminished materially at the time of his death, which occurred in Crown Point, May 23, 1866.

The home secured at Crown Point Center still stands (August, 1904), at the corner of the main street and short street leading south across the bridge to the old carriage shop, still standing, in which carriage shop, B. A. Shearer, his sons, E. W. Shearer and George W. Shearer, son-in-law W. H. Crossman, and others, manufactured wagons, carriages and sleighs for several years. In the home here referred to there lived and died William Shearer, father of Thomas Shearer; Thomas Shearer and his wife; Thomas Shearer's daughters Matilda, Mary A., and Phebe B. (Taylor). In August, 1904, it was occupied by Robert M. Taylor, husband of Phebe B. Shearer.

Thomas Shearer's business life at Crown Point Center was spent at his former occupations of lumbering, blacksmithing, and operating a saw-mill, he owning at the same time a small farm in Hebron.

Thomas Shearer and Sally Aldrich had eight children:

  1. Jarvis Aldrich Shearer was born Nov. 29th, 1813; died March 31, 1814.
  2. Benoni Aldrich Shearer, was born March 30th, 1815, in Luzerne, N.Y. Died July 28th, 1899, in Mineville, N.Y. More below.
  3. Pamelia Shearer was born Oct. 8th, 1817, in Luzerne, N.Y., died April 16th, 1904, in Crown Point Center. Married Daniel W. Bascom, Aug. 28th, 1836. Daniel W. Bascom was born Oct. 16th, 1807, died Feb. 2nd, 1873, in Crown Point Center, N.Y.
  4. Matilda Shearer was born April 22d, 1820, in Luzerne, N.Y., died Feb. 6th, 1901, Crown Point Center, never married.
  5. Mary Arabella Shearer was born Feb. 11th, 1824, in Luzerne, N.Y., died March 9th, 1897 in Crown Point Center, never married.
  6. Sally Jane Shearer was born May 25th, 1826, in Luzerne, N.Y., died Sept. 28th, 1827, in Luzerne.
  7. Sally Alvira Shearer was born July 2nd, 1828, in Luzerne, N.Y., died Sept. 18th, 1883, in Crown Point, N.Y. Married Hull Crossman Moss, April 5th, 1846. Hull C. Moss was born July 1st, 1823, died in Crown Point, N.Y., Feb. 5, 1893. They had six children: Doras L. Moss (who went to Fargo, North Dakota); Helen (Mrs. A.L. Farnsworth, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1891); Juda; Byron; Thomas; and Augusta.
  8. Phebe Banker Shearer was born Sept. 29th, 1830, in Luzerne, N.Y., died June 7th, 1904, in Crown Point Center, N.Y. Married the Rev. Robert M. Taylor of Troy Conference, N.Y., June 28th, 1868. Rev. Robert M. Taylor was born March 22nd, 1816; died Feb. 21st, 1812, in Crown Point, N.Y.

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The family of Benoni Aldrich Shearer

Benoni Aldrich Shearer, born 30 March 1815 to Thomas and Sally (Aldrich) Shearer, married Eunice Boardman on Oct. 27, 1836, at Paradox, New York. She was born 1 June 1819 in Corinth, Saratoga Co., NY, the daughter of Ezra and Wealtha (Fenton) Boardman. She died 27 Sept. 1887 in Mineville, Essex Co., NY; he died 28 July 1899 at Mineville. Both are buried at Fairview Cemetery in Crown Point, near the grave of Thomas Shearer. Their children:
  1. William Shearer, b. 10 Dec. 1838, Crown Point Center, NY; died 18 Dec. 1838.
  2. Euretta Boardman Shearer, b. 31 Mar. 1840, Crown Point Center; married Samuel Byron Sprague, 23 Aug. 1864. S.B. Sprague, born 7 July 1838 in Crown Point, owned a general store at Moriah, Essex Co., NY, where they lived. They had one child, Wilbur B. Sprague. Euretta died 23 Jan. 1899; Samuel Sprague died 15 Jan. 1900.
  3. Ezra Warren Shearer, b. 7 Sept. 1841, in Crown Point Center; died 11 Dec. 1913, at Ketchums Corners, NY. More below. Saratoga Co., NY; Amanda Shearer died 24 Aug. 1922 in Waterville, Maine.
  4. Phebe Amanda Shearer, b. 22 Mar. 1843, Crown Point Center; did not marry; died 31 Mar. 1909 in New York City, NY.
  5. George Washington Shearer, b. 6 Aug. 1845, in Crown Point Center, NY. Married on 26 Sept. 1878 to Louisa Jane Titus, who was born 19 April 1854. They moved to Minnesota where she died at Fergus Falls. He m(2) her sister Ella Maria Titus (b. 1862 at Dickinson, NY) on 29 Jan. 1885. He died 19 Nov. 1891 in Harvey, Ill. Children:
    1. (By his first wife): Clara Louise Shearer, b. 27 Nov. 1881. When her father died, she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle, Euretta and Samuel Sprague, in Moriah, NY. When older, she returned to Minnesota, where she married Frank I. Rockwell, son of Calvin Albert Rockwell.
    2. (By his second wife):Clarence;
    3. Eunice Eusebia;
    4. Ina Amanda;
    5. George Washington Jr. (b. 1891, d. 1961)
  6. Mary Saphronia Shearer, b. 15 Apr. 1847, Crown Point Center. She married on 6 June 1848 at Crown Point Center to William Henry Crossman (b. 22 Apr. 1843, Crown Point, NY). She died 31 Oct. 1912 in Fair Haven, Vermont; he died 7 Mar. 1917, in Chicago, Ill. They had one adopted daughter, Minnie.
  7. Eunice Eusebia Shearer, b. 18 Feb. 1854, in Crown Point Center. She married the Rev. Eli Clark Farwell of Troy Conference, NY, at Mineville on 27 Aug. 1879. Rev. clark was born 22 Sept. 1849 in Crown Point, NY, and died 22 Feb. 1921, at Port Henry, NY. The had one adopted daughter, Bertha.

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Ezra Warren Shearer

Ezra Warren Shearer, b. 7 Sept. 1841, in Crown Point Center. He married Amanda Malvina Cummings on 18 Mar. 1863 at Crown Point Center. She was born 20 Aug. 1841 in the part of Crown Point that became known as Ironville. Ezra W. Shearer died 711 Dec. 1913, at Ketchums Corners, Saratoga Co., NY; Amanda Shearer died 24 Aug. 1922 in Waterville, Maine. Their children:

  1. Hattie Amelia, b. 30 June 1864, Crown Point Center, NY; died 10 Aug. 1944, Canandaigua, NY. She married Frederick Stiles Morrison at Moriah on 20 Aug. 1887. He was born 15 Feb. 1866 in Crown Point, NY; he died 29 June 1935 in Canandaigua, NY. The had one child, Lilah Beryl Morrison, b. 2 Mar. 1889, d. 13 Aug. 1889, Mineville, NY.
  2. Ulysses Clinton Shearer, b. 27 May 1865, Crown Point Center; died 3 Oct 1865.
  3. Nettie Cora Shearer, b. 14 Aug. 1867 at Crown Point Center; died 7 Aug. 1892 in Mineville, NY. She married Kark Hugo Hjalmar Hellberg on 15 Sept. 1890 at Mineville. He was born in Sweden. They had one child:
    1. Bernhardana Hellberg, b. 21 Aug. 1891 at Witherbee, NY. She was raised by her aunt and uncle, Hattie and Frederick Morrison, and went by the name of Bernhardana Hellberg Morrison. Bernhardana married Ralph Orcutt Stratton on 20 Aug. 1932 in Canandaigua, NY.
  4. George Harrison Shearer, b. 19 Aug. 1868 at Crown Point Center. He married Mary Adelaide Claus on 25 Sept. 1891 in Jersey City, New Jersey. They had four children:
    1. Albert Harrison Shearer, b. 12 July 1892 at Mineville, NY; d. 9 June 1919 at Albany, NY.
    2. Cora Adelaide Shearer, b. 28 July 1893 at Mineville; d. 22 May 1898 at Mineville.
    3. Hattie Anna Shearer, b. 24 July 1895 at Mineville; d. 30 Sept. 1903 at Brooklyn, NY.
    4. Althea Eudora Shearer, b. 11 July 1898 at Mineville; died at Saratoga Springs, NY.
  5. Claude Vivian Shearer, b. 14 Feb. 1874 at Crown Point Center; died 20 July 1940. He married, first, Sarah Elizabeth Mulholland, on 14 June 1896 in Bridport, Vermont. She was born 2 Feb. 1875, died Oct. 1925. He married, second, Ethel Mae Riddle, on 2nd April 1913, at Crown Point. She was born 8 Oct. 1878 in Mineville.
  6. William Shearer, b. 19 Aug. 1875 at Crown Point Center; died 19 Nov. 1875.
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