Jacob Lear was born on September 14, 1840, in Antrim Township, Pennsylvania. He was the son of James and Eliza Anderson Lear, both of who were also born in Pennsylvania. According to family records, James Lear died c. 1845, when Jacob was about five years of age. I have not yet been able to find a census record in Antrim or Greencastle for Jacob Lear in 1850 or 1860. On the 1870 Antrim census, Jacob’s mother, Eliza was living in his household.
Jacob learned his trade in the machine shops of J. B. Crowell, Greencastle’s first and largest “industrial” employer, which made modern, labor-saving farm equipment. Jacob was almost 22 when he enlisted, as a private, in Co. K, 126th PA Volunteer Infantry on August 7, 1862. He fought with his comrades, boyhood friends from Greencastle and Antrim Township in the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Jacob was discharged on May 20, 1863 with his regiment. When registration for the draft was initiated in 1863, he was 23 years of age.
Within nine months of his discharge, he again enlisted, as a private, on February 24, 1864, when the 21st Cavalry regiment was reorganized near Chambersburg, PA. Jacob was enlisted for three years in Co. M, 21st PA Cavalry, also recognized as the 182nd PA Regiment. In May 1864, the cavalry regiment was sent to Washington City, where it was dismounted and the men were equipped as infantrymen. The 21st Cavalry/182nd PA Infantry was transported to the front line at Cold Harbor, VA, where it was attached to the Army Corp of the Army of the Potomac, until October 1864. Colonel Sweitzer commanded the PA 62nd and182nd Regiments and Massachusetts’ 22nd and 23rd Regiments.
Although his rank was private, Jacob was one of two regimental blacksmiths. He was not the farrier, who shoed horses. The Battle of Cold Harbor raged from June 1 – 12. Jacob was wounded on June 3. According to Ted Alexander in When War Passed This Way, page 300, a rifle ball entered Jacob’s left leg, and shattered the bone. Lear was sent home until he recovered. Six months later Jacob rejoined the 182nd. His return was near Christmas and on December 14, 1864, he and Christian Hager visited Sgt. Jacob Finfrock, of the 209th PAV, also of Antrim Township. Finfrock made note of their visit in his daily journal. On October 5, 1864, the 21st PA Cavalry/182nd was remounted at City Point, VA and was attached to the Cavalry Corp of the Army of the Potomac until late April 1865. In 1865, the 21st Cavalry participated in the Appomattox Campaign and was present at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, and witnessed Lee’s surrender. In late April, the 21st was sent to Lynchburg, VA and was attached to the Dept. of Virginia. Lear was discharged on July 8, 1865, along with the rest of the regiment.
Jacob returned to Shady Grove, PA where continued as a journeyman in the blacksmith trade for about a year. In 1867, he bought out the blacksmith business in which he had worked in Shady Grove. The following year, he married Mary Lohr on February 11, 1868. She was the daughter of Andrew and Margaret Ann Smith Lohr. .
In 1870, Jacob and Mary had a 1 year old son, named George (b. January 31, 1869). Jacob’s real estate was valued at $1,200 and his personal property was listed as $1,500. Eliza, his mother, was a member of the household. On December 26, 1872, Jacob filed for his military pension and was listed as an invalid.
Ten years later, on June 10, 1880, Jacob and Mary had three sons, George Brinton (11), John Kennedy was 9 (b. January 1, 1870). Michael Lohman, 6, was born August 3, 1873. Jacob’s mother was still living with them. Joseph Miller, laborer, was also included in the Lear household. Although at the age of 11, George was classified as a laborer, he and his two brothers had attended school, during that census year.
Jacob and Mary’s third son Michael died at age 8 or 9 in 1881. That same year Jacob and Mary’s fourth child, their only daughter, Jessie Snively was born on July 14, 1881.
Two months before the 1900 US Census was conducted in Antrim Township, John Kennedy Lear died on March 18, 1890, at the age of 19 years, 9 months old. According to the U. S. Census of June 15, 1900, Jacob and Mary had been married for 32 years. The census record corroborates the family records that only two of their four children survived – George, 31, a school teacher, and Jessie, 18. Jacob was still listed as a blacksmith and he owned his farm, free and clear of a mortgage.
The 1910 census spelled Jacob’s last name Lehr. By 1910, his occupation was listed as a farmer, with no specialty, such as fruit orchards. Jacob and Mary’s daughter Jessie was 29 and was still living with her aging parents, aged 69 and 67. Jessie had no occupation listed.
Jacob’s civic duty included three years as an Antrim Township School District director. The Lears belonged to the Lutheran Church in Waynesboro, PA. Jacob Lear died of a stroke on January 16, 1918, aged 77 years, 4 months, and 2 days. He had been under the care of Dr. Aaron B. Grove, of Shady Grove. David Martin, undertaker in Greencastle, took care of the burial. Jacob was buried on January 19, 1918, in Section D, Lot 38, in the Cedar Hill Cemetery. As his widow, Mary filed for his pension benefits on February 25, 1918.
In 2013 when Jacob’s Soldier’s Story was first written, it was a mystery why Jessie, George, and Mary all died within 2 ½ months of each other, because the year 1921 was the healthiest year since the 1918 and 1919 Spanish Influenza outbreak, which killed millions of people worldwide. Since 2013, Pennsylvania death certificates have been made available to the public and the mystery has been solved.
In the fall of 1921, Jessie died of a stroke on September 2, 1921, aged 40 years, 1 month, and 19 days. Her brother George provided the information for the death certificate. On October 23, 1921, George Brinton Lear, a salesman, also died of a stroke at the age of 52 years, 8 months, and 23 days. He had been under the care of Dr. Abraham Barr Snively, Waynesboro, since July. Andrew J. Lohr, Mary’s younger brother, provided the death certificate information.
Mary, Jacob’s wife, died of heart disease on December 22, 1921, at the age of 79 years, 5 months, and 18 days. She had been under the care of Dr. Grove since April 1921. Mary outlived Jacob, by almost four years, and all four of her children. Mary’s brother Andrew provided the information for her death certificate.
George and Jessie never married. Therefore, Jacob and Mary had no descendants, other than their children. Jessie, George, and Mary are all buried in the family lot in Section D, Lot 38, Cedar Hill Cemetery, alongside Jacob Lear.
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