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James Sears

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James Sears Biography

Biography Compiled by: Alta A. Hoyt, a granddaughter-in-law
Date: Unknown
Source: This handwritten biography was found in with other material collected by Ruth Ketteringham.
Transcribed by: Sandra Wanicki Rozhon, 2009

James Sears was born in Connecticut, April 1, 1795 and came to Cleveland with his parents in 1822 and settled on Superior Lane near Public Square where his father opened a general store.

Catherine Phelps was born Feb. 7, 1807. The first home she remembered was in Mentor, O. Before she was eight years old her mother had died and her father together with a sister and brother, were doing their own housekeeping. The Father was taken seriously ill and the nearest physican, Dr. David Long, known as Cleveland’s first physician, was summoned and answered the call. He traveled horseback from Cleveland to Mentor but was too late to be of any service. Mr. Phelps died and Dr. Long, who had taken a fancy to the curly-haired, blue-eyed Catherine said he felt it was his duty to care for her and he brought her in his arms and a-horseback, back to his home in Cleveland, where she lived until her marriage.

ObituaryKroehle, Ella (Sears) (Maternal granddaughter of Deacon James Sears)1963NOTE: Obituary erroneously states that Deacon Sears is her paternal grandfather.  It should say maternal. Her father was Charles D. Prouty.
Kroehle, Ella (Sears) (Maternal granddaughter of Deacon James Sears)1963
NOTE: Obituary erroneously states that Deacon Sears is her paternal grandfather. It should say maternal. Her father was Charles D. Prouty.

James Sears, soon after arriving here met Catherine Phelps at a dance held in Carter’s Hotel which stood on the corner of Superior Ave. where the Rockefeller Bldg. now stands. It must have been an intense courtship for they were married Aug. 23, 1823, on a Sunday afternoon. She was sixteen and he was twenty-eight. He was a victim of that early settlers’ malady – fever and ague – I think we call it malaria now and all morning had to have the attention of Dr. Long to brace him up for the occasion and at that was an hour late for the ceremony. However, they were married and lived on Superior St. near the Square until 1834, when they bought a farm of 100 A.[cres] on Newburg St. now Denison Ave. and extending from about W60th to W70th St. and bordering both sides of the road. Big Creek was the southern boundary. They bought the land from the Government and paid $1.25 per A.[cre] for it and moved there into a log house as soon as one could be built. At that time there were only ten families south of Walworth Run and Newburg St. was an improved corduroy road!

Grandfather turned his attention to stock-raising and occasionally he would have a calf, or a lamb, or a pig, carried off either by a wolf or a bear and grandmother often told us it was no uncommon sight to see and hear bears and wolves parading and howling up and down the bank of Big Creek by moonlight. They built a big, strong, log barn where they cared for the stock at night, otherwise they wouldn’t have had anything left by morning. The ten-room up-to-date farmhouse was built in 1847 and stood on the south side of Denison Ave. exactly in 65th St. formerly Gordon Ave.

About twenty-five years ago it was destroyed by fire, owing to a defective flue.

There were ten children born of this union – nine girls and one boy who was known to everybody, far and wide as either Uncle Sam or ‘Sam Sears’.About ten years before grandfather passed on, he lost his eyesight but he retained his hopeful, happy disposition to the end, which came July 9, 1881, at the age of 86.

Soon after arriving here in 1834 he and Mrs. Sears united with the then Presbyterian Union. Later it became known as The First Congregational Church of Brooklyn and he as Deacon Sears. Finally the Church had grown and prospered so that a lot was purchased on Archwood Ave. and a brick church was erected and dedicated in 1879. While the church was building many of Deacon Sears’ friends thought it would be a fine idea to have a facsimile of his head carved in sandstone and placed in the masonry over the entrance of his beloved church. When the church was rebuilt in 1929 the sculpture was placed over the east entrance of the church and there it is looking benignly down on the ‘passing crowd’ without one of his descendants to salute him as they have all drifted to various parts of the world or joined ‘The Choir Invisible’. I never saw Deacon Sears myself but have been told many times that the sculpture is a very good likeness of him. The church is now known as The Archwood Avenue Congregational Church.

Grandmother lived until Dec. 31, 1897 thus passing out with the year and lacking 38 days of the 91 year milestone and it was remarkable how she remembered to the end the scenes of her childhood.

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