Written by Tom Bearie, a descendant, dated May 1, 1995
RICHARD BEAR (1813-1865?)
Richard ("Rich") Bear, the son of Henry Bare and Dorina Keezee, was born about 1813, in Floyd County, Kentucky. The assumption that he was later known by the nickname "Rich" is based on the fact that his name was so given to the census taker in 1860.
Around 1819, Richard's father obtained a land grant in Floyd County, for 50 acres on Big Blaine Creek; this area would be in what is now Lawrence County, and the Bare's may have lived there from the time of their arrival in Kentucky around 1810 or 1811.
Richard was the oldest of the ten children in this family who we know about, but there may have been three others who did not survive until 1850 (the first census which recorded all family names rather than just the head-of-household.)
Richard had at least 5 brothers and 4 sisters, but his extended family included not only his cousins on his father's side, but grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins on his mother's side. The Keezees and Bares had apparently gotten together prior to their arrival in Kentucky, and remained very close over the years.
In 1820 the family was living near Blaine in present-day Lawrence County, but in 1830 when Richard was 17, the family was listed as residing in West Liberty Township in present-day Morgan County. From there they moved to the Caney Creek area on the Little Sandy River in what is now Elliot County -- and despite the general dispersal of the clan following the war, there are still some Bear's living in that area today.
Richard and his wife, Martha Pritchett, were married in 1854 -- several months after the birth of their tenth child, Andrew Jackson Bear, and twenty-some years after the birth of their first child. Since both their family and their general society were quite religious, it's highly unlikely that they had not been previously married. Possible explanations would include pressure from the state or legal system if their records had been lost, or pressure from their church if their earlier marriage had been performed by a Justice of the Peace.
Their first child, Henry J. Bear, was born around 1833 or 1834, and by 1854 they had had seven sons and three daughters. An eleventh child, William, died as an infant in 1857.
Richard obtained a land grant for 100 acres on the Little Sandy River in 1835. The record of its sale in 1859 helps to generally locate this property, since instead of exclusively using trees or groups of trees to describe the boundaries, this deed also refers to the Newcombe Branch of the Little Sandy. (Although Carter County at that time, this area is now located in Elliot County.)
He listed himself as either a "Farmer" or "Farm-hand" on the census records, but it is also known that Richard and three of his brothers, (Elias,Reuben, and Ambrose) were in business together with their father. They owned and operated a saw mill and a grist mill,and also appear to have been involved in construction work and possibly in river shipping.
A fourth brother, Henry J. Bear, may have originally been involved in the business also, but he and his wife both died in the late 1850's, apparently in an epidemic. The fifth brother,Avery, made his living as a hunter.
This family business appears to have fallen apart at the outset of the Civil War, and by the time the war was over the family was left with no means to rebuild it.
Richard, according to the 1890 special census, joined the 188th Ohio Infantry Regiment along with his son John in 1865. They may have been recruited from their home in Kentucky, but it's also possible that they had already moved across the river to Ohio prior to enlistment.
The war was nearly over at that time, and the 188th was part of a peace-keeping occupation force in Tennessee--their specific assignment being to guard the Nashville-Chattanooga Railroad. Richard and John served about 8 months--from Feb 2 to Sep 21, 1865.
It has been reported that Richard died in the war, but this may not be true. The 188th Ohio Regiment suffered no battle casualites--though they did lose 45 enlisted men to disease. The entire unit was mustered out of service at Nashville on Sep 21, 1865.
(John Bear's military records are available, but so far Richard's have not been located. They may have been lost or misfiled, but the search for them continues.)
Richard died sometime prior to 1870, but neither the date nor the location nor the cause has yet been documented.
In 1870, his widow, Martha, and his youngest son, Andrew Jackson Bear, were living with Henry J. Bear (Richard's oldest son) and his family in Ironton, Ohio.
By 1880, Henry J. had moved out of Ironton, but Martha was still living there with another son, Richard, and his family.
Although the 1890 census records were destroyed by fire, a special census was taken to enumerate veterans and widows of veterans. This census shows Martha living in Kilgore, Kentucky, with the family of her son John -- who had been working in the mines at nearby Coalton. This record is the only documentation we currently have of Richard's military service; it is also the last record we have regarding Martha.
Neither the married names of their three daughters, nor the whereabouts of their other sons have been discovered yet, but approximately 500 descendants of Richard and Martha Bear have been identified. The book "Highlights of the Life of Henry Bare" by Eugene Bare, a great-grandson of John--lists about 420 of John's descendants who were known at the time of its publication in 1984.