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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa


Tombstones were recently erected for Adam and John Bear at the Bear Cemetery, which is located a little southeast of the Oliver Cemetery in Ringgold County, Iowa. Adam was killed during the Civil War and John died a few years later from illnesses incurred during the Civil War. Both were brothers of Solomon Bear, a long time resident of Monroe Township in Ringgold County.

Solomon was the oldest of 14 children of Lewis and Mary Bear who raised their family in Pennsylvania. In 1858 Solomon bought 180 acres of good but undeveloped land along Lotts Creek located southwest of Beaconsfield and northwest of Kellerton. His aging parents, three brothers, and three sisters joined him in Ringgold County. A house, out buildings, and orchard were established. In about 1864 Solomon started the Bear Cemetery on his farm for his son Lincoln. Solomon passed away at the farm on 25 October 1913 after raising crops and livestock for 55 years and was buried at the Bear Cemetery.

John was the first of the Bear brothers to join the Union Army during the Civil War. He was a farmer standing 5 feet 10 inches tall, gray eyes, dark hair, and a fair complexion. John joined the Iowa Southern Border Brigade on 14 October 1862 and then transferred to the newly formed Iowa Eighth Cavalry on 17 August 1863. Later that year he was part of the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee during a winter that was unusually cold. He developed chronic bronchitis and a heart problem that hospitalized him, and eventually led to his death in Mount Ayr on 8 March 1880. John was buried at the Bear Cemetery.

Adam joined the Union Army on Christmas Day in 1863. He was a blacksmith standing 5 feet 7.5 inches tall, gray eyes, auburn hair, and a dark complexion. Adam’s Iowa Twenty Ninth Infantry was in a military campaign known as the Defense of the Red River with Shreveport as the objective. Adam was wounded on 2 April 1864 at Terre Noir Creek, Arkansas and was taken by the Confederate Army to their base at Camden, Arkansas. Adam’s wounds required the amputation of his right arm and he eventually died of those wounds on 19 June 1864. He was returned to Iowa and buried at the Bear Cemetery.

A few years ago Doc Bear, grandson of Solomon Bear, mentioned to his son Ray that the name of Adam Bear was on a plaque in the Mount Ayr Court House. The plaque was to commerate those from Ringgold County who lost their lives in the wars of our United States. After much searching by many, the relationship of Adam to the present day Bear family was found in addition to his burial in the Bear Cemetery. Then during a Solomon Bear Family Reunion (SBFR) at Ellston in June 2002 Angie Hynek and family summarized the extensive work the Pioneer Cemetery Commission and her son Joe plus David Weeda had done to improve the Bear Cemetery. That included a new fence, pedestrian gate with a metal “Bear” sign, location of possible additional graves, removal of low brush without disturbing the woodland plant floor, etc. At that time Angie, who is District 2 Commissioner for the Iowa Cemetery Commission, mentioned the possibility of obtaining free Civil War tombstones from the U.S. Government for both John and Adam. Ron Stacy, Solomon Bear’s great grandson, obtained the forms from Angie and contacted the government to find exactly what was needed for a favorable decision. The government indicated that a signed permission form to cross the farmland to access the Bear Cemetery was necessary, which was provided by Neil Morgan who owns the land surrounding the Bear Cemetery. The government also indicated that a monument company must sign a form as recipient of the two Civil War tombstones.

After the SBFR Bryce and Ted Bear, also a great grandson of Solomon, contacted Malcolm Eighmy of the Eighmy Monument Company at Mount Ayr to receive and set the stones for the two Civil War Veterans. Mr. Eighmy also agreed to provide a communal stone for seven additional members of the Bear family. Those members included the parents of Solomon Bear, his first wife, their son, two nieces, and a nephew.

Charles B. Adams of the Lenox Monument Service set the two Civil War stones and communal stone at the Bear Cemetery on 6 November 2004.

The purchase of the communal stone and setting of the three stones were paid from contributions at the SBFR and the Theola (Bear) Barbour Memorial Fund. Theola, a granddaughter of Solomon, was a long time resident of Ringgold County who passed away 15 October 2000.

The officers of the SBFR and the extended Bear family wish to thank the many Ringgold residents for their invaluable help. The many include the aforementioned plus: Betty Ruby, Ruth Haley, and Rick Wiley of Diagonal plus Raymond Banner of Mount Ayr for recording the cemetery. Raymond Banner and the Ringgold County Historical Society included the Bear Cemetery in their book titled “Cemetery Gravestone Recordings of Ringgold County, Iowa” published in 2003. The Historical Society, with special help from Betty Ruby, has provided significant information in our continuing search for Bear genealogy. We also wish to thank Rick and Sherry Wiley for coordinating the Ringgold County Website. It presents the genealogy, history, and current events of the county including names of those buried in the cemeteries with pictures of the tombstones.

The officers of the SBFR are: presidents, Bryce and Ted Bear of Ellston; vice presidents, Beverly and Charles Peterman of Nevada, MO; treasurers, Marilyn and Gary Bear of Diagonal; secretaries, Deloris and Ray Bear of Lake St. Louis, MO; and historians, Janet and Ron Stacy of Florissant, MO, Maxine Bear of St. Paul, MN, and Deloris and Ray Bear.

Contribution and photographs by Ramon (Ray) Bear, August of 2009

To submit your Ringgold County items,
contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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