Charles Thompson Spears (August 20, 1804 — 1871)

Melisa Ann Boucher (August 4, 1835 — After 1880)

In 1803, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, the third United States president of the United States was serving his first year. It was a very successful year, culminating in his engineering of the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the young United States. The very next year, on August 20, 1804, and in Jefferson’s home state, Charles Thompson Spears was born.

He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Dalton. Elizabeth was born on 1811 in Allen County, Kentucky to parents who had both been born in Virginia, and had moved to Allen County sometime before Elizabeth was born. We do not know for sure when Thompson moved to Allen County, but it is likely that is where he met and married Elizabeth. That is also where most, if not all of their children were born.

Thompson and Elizabeth had ten children, Sarah A. Spears, born in 1830, William R. Spears, born in 1832, Daniel W. Spears, born in 1837; Emily Francis Spears, born in 1837; Martha B. Spears, born in 1838; David R. Spears, born 1839; Elizabeth P. Spears, born in 1841; Isom Spears, born in 1845; James A. Spears, born in 1847; and Susan Caroline Spears, born in 1950.

Elizabeth died on February 20, 1852, when she was forty or forty-one and when her youngest child was just two.

Thompson was left a forty-eight years old widower, with ten children, ranging in age from two to twenty-two. Would anyone be surprised, then, that he quickly remarried?


Well, he did.

He married Melisa Ann Boucher on August 23, 1854, in Allen County. Melisa was born on August 4, 1835, and had just turned nineteen (three years younger than his oldest child) when she took on not only a new role as a wife to a fifty-year old man, but also as stepmother to eight children seventeen year old or younger.

You would think that would be enough responsibility for the young wife, but she and Thompson would five children of their own. The first of these was Mary A. Spears, who was born on March 28, 1851, just eight months after their marriage. Mary was followed by Charles Joseph Spears in 1855, Edward Franklin (Ned) Spears in 1857, Nancy C. Spears in 1860 and Lydia A. Virginia Spears in 1862.

Thompson was a farmer. According to the 1850 United States Census for Allen County, he could neither read nor write. Thompson was a farmer. According to the 1850 United States Census for Allen County, he could neither read nor write.[1]

Real estate records showed that Thompson received a land grant of 25 acres on Ruff Creek. The survey was done on December 8, 1846. Though we cannot be sure it is the same land, the 1850 United States Census showed him owning property valued at $500. The 1860 United States Census showed land valued at $1,200 and personal property valued at $800. When he died, his will listed several parcels of real estate including “all the land I own on Waters of Rough Creek,” as well as “my Howell Tract” and “141 acres on Waters of Snake Creek.”[2]

Thompson died on July 4, 1871 in Allen County, Kentucky, leaving behind his 38-year old widow. A copy of his will is recorded in the Allen County, Kentucky records. It was written on January 4, 1871 and recorded (after his death) on July 10, 1871. It says as follows:

It is my will and desire that my wife, Malissa A. Spears and my children by her to witt: Charles J., Edward T., Nancy C., and Lydia A.V. Spears and any other child she may hereafter bear being the fruits of my intermarriage with her shall have jointly and severally the remainder of my personal estate and chattels ........ property to be theirs forever. Also the tract of land on which I now lie and known as my Howell Tract, 141 acres on Waters of Snake Creek, to be theirs jointly during the lifetime of my wife for their mutual benefit and support and at her death, said land shall belong to such of my said children as may be living and the bodily heirs of any that have died, if there should be any such, to be theirs forever.

It is my will and desire that my seven children by my first marriage that may be living at my decease and the children of such as are now dead or may hereafter die to wit: David R., Daniel W., Martha B. Dalton, Emily F. Mitchell, James A. Spears, Susan C. Matthews and two children of William R. Spears, deceased shall have the use and benefit or rent and profits of all land I own on Waters of Rough Creek where I formerly lived near Rough Creek Baptist Church containing 140 acres and during the lifetime of the remaining son of ........ now living children and at the death of all ........ children said land shall descend to their children if they have any, otherwise to the children of their brothers and sisters of the whole blood except the share of my unfortunate son David R. Spears (being 1/7 part of land) at his decease it shall be sold to any of my children who will give the most for it and procure for my son a decent burial and place a head and footstone at his grave as decent as are placed at the head and foot of his brother William R. Spears deceased.

It is to be expressly understood by my devise of the land mentioned above my children or grandchildren cannot sell their interest in said land to a stranger during the lifetime of one or more of my children. I appoint my friend Peter executor.

Witt: John H. Collins and William Mansfield.

The reference to David being Thompson’s “unfortunate son” is understandable when measured against a note in the 1860 United States Census that David, then twenty-one, was “idiotic.” Though we would use different language today, that notation makes it obvious that David suffered some sort of serious mental difficulties.

The 1860 census[3] for Allen County shows his family unit as follows:

Thompson Spears 55 M Farming   1200    800 VA
Malissie Spears 25 F --- --- --- KY
David Spears 21 M Spinning --- --- "
Francis Spears 16 F --- --- --- "
Jas. Spears 12 M --- --- --- "
Caroline Spears 10 F --- --- --- "
Joseph Spears   4 M --- --- --- "
Edward Spears   2 M --- --- --- "
Amos Nagines 19 M Farming --- --- "


Thompson Spears 55 M Farming 1200 800 VA
Malissie Spears 25 F --- --- --- KY
David Spears 21 M Spinning --- --- "
Francis Spears 16 F --- --- --- "
Jas. Spears 12 M --- --- --- "
Caroline Spears 10 F --- --- --- "
Joseph Spears 4 M --- --- --- "
Edward Spears 2 M --- --- --- "
Amos Nagines 19 M Farming --- --- "

Nannie Maude Spears reported to Brian Reeves in July 1975 that Thompson Spears' first wife was named Elizabeth. She added that Thompson Spears (or perhaps his father) came from Holland. She said he drove a carriage with two white horses; that is how he attracted his second wife.

There is a notation in a public record Allen County, Kentucky that Thompson Spears, 60, was a widower born in Virginia and then living in Allen County.

For a while, he lived in Sumner County, Tennessee. Another Spears, W.W. Spears was there at the same time and also later lived in Allen County, Kentucky. According to him, his grandmother, Ree Spears, said her grandfather W.W. Spears came from Palmyra, Fluvanna, Virginia.

The 1840 United States Census[4] for Allen County showed Thompson Spears as the head of a household including:

One male and three females under 5
One male between 5 and 10
One male and two females between 10 and 15
One male and one female between 20 and 30
One male and one female between 30 and 40

The 1880 census[5] for Allen County shows Maliesa(sic) Spears as a 45-year old widow, whose occupation was listed as "keeping house." She and her parents were shown as having been born in Kentucky. The next family unit consisted of 24-year old Joseph Spears and his family.[5]