Tag Archives: Benjamin Spear

What Happened to the Family of Benjamin Spear & Naomi Crabtree, 1800s, KY?

Benjamin Spear (1784-1870+) lived a long life, born in Surry County, North Carolina, but settled in Cumberland County, Kentucky before 1810. Wife Naomi Crabtree, born c1783, died sometime between 1840 and 1850, but Benjamin never remarried.

He and Naomi have at least eight children attributed to them in online trees, and Benjamin himself appears with three wives (two at the same time living in two different states), but the census evidence from 1820-1840, points to only three children surviving to adulthood.

First, let’s do away with two unproven children. There is a realistic looking Jane Spear, reportedly born 31 March 1816 in Cumberland County, Kentucky to Benjamin and Naomi. No a shred of documentation has been found pertaining to this child and, if she ever actually existed, she had died before the 1820 census.

Second, there is a purported son, Abraham Spear, born 2 December 1817, also attributed to Benjamin and Naomi. The 1820 census supports the possibility of Abraham’s existence because there are two male children at home, under 10 years of age.

In terms of females at home, notice that there is one female 26-44, who would be Naomi, and one female under 10, who is their daughter Elizabeth Gwinn Spear.

Benjamin lived with daughter Elizabeth and her husband, James Dulworth, in 1850, so I am quite confident that she is the child in the home in 1820.

Now let’s see what the 1830 census tells us:

We now have Benjamin, as head of household, aged 40-49, one female (Naomi), aged 30-39, one male aged 15-19 (son Mathias would have been 19 years old), one female aged 15-19, who would be Elizabeth) and one female aged 5-9, who would be daughter Naomi.

Back to possible son, Abraham! If there was an Abraham, this boy apparently died before 1830. He would have only been about 13 years old, so not married or out living on his own.

There is an Abraham Spear, born 1817, who married Elizabeth Odle, c1850, who lived in Cumberland County. I think this Abraham has been attributed to Benjamin because his father-in-law was Abraham Crabtree. However, the 1820 census of Cumberland County includes three other Spear families only one door away from Benjamin.

Notice that the Spear living closest to Benjamin was an Abraham Spear with one male under the age of 10 in 1820! Abraham born in 1817 may well be the son of that man.

In any case, by 1830, Benjamin and Naomi had only three children at home, one son and two daughters.

In 1840, Benjamin and Naomi are at home with just one female, aged 15-19 years and that would be their daughter Naomi, born in 1821.

Therefore, although their family is quite small by the standards of the day, it is unknown how many children they might have had who died as young children in between the census years. The second male child at home in 1820 almost surely also died young.

A previous posted extensively covered the family of James Dulworth and Elizabeth Gwinn Spear, so the upcoming posts will cover the families of Matthias Crabtree Spear and his little sister, Naomi Manervia Spear.