JAMES M. GEAR. In looking, through any city, there is one thing that the beholder cannot help noticing and that is the large quantities of brick that are used in its construction and it stands to reason that if such a beholder were asked his opinion on the subject as to what formed the most important factor in its growth he would reply at once, "brick." This material plays a very important part in the building up of any city and therefore the brickyards and companies of any city must be considered as among its chiefest industries. In Springfield the firm of Gear, Lloyd & Co., brick manufacturers, stands at the head. Ephraim Gear, the grandfather of James M. Gear, was of Scotch-Irish descent and a resident of Wilmington, Del., for many years. He died in Philadelphia, where he and his wife are buried. They were the parents of four children: John, Washington, Joseph and Mary. John Morton Gear, the oldest child, was born in Wilmington, August 22, 1824, and was given a common school education in his youth. When young he learned the brick mason's trade, and after his removal to St. Louis in 1848 at the age of twenty-one years, he engaged in contracting and there erected some of the older buildings, among which was Ashbrook's Packing House. In 1852 be went to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama and was a gold minor in that region for about four years. At the end of that time he returned to St. Louis and shortly after to Waterloo, Ill., where be became a brick building contractor. In April, 1869, he came to Springfield and in the fall of the same year settled here with his family and at once began a contracting business which be followed for many years, becoming the most prominent brick contractor of Springfield. He built the Metropolitan Hotel, the Cotton Factory, Woolen Factory, Fairbank's Hall, Drury College and nine of the buildings on the west side of the public square, also the annex to the courthouse and many of the smaller business houses and residences. Socially he was both a Mason and an Odd Follow, and became a Knight Templar in the first mentioned organization. Politically he was a stanch Democrat throughout life and held the position of Justice of the Peace for one year, but resigned the office on account of ill health. He and his wife were members of the Southern Methodist Church, They were married June 10, 1849, her maiden name being Munn, a daughter of James and Eliza (Bates) Munn, the former of whom was born in Ohio, of Scotch parents and became a resident of St. Louis. He followed the occupations of farming and hotel keeping and in the latter part of his life was a member of the police force of St. Louis, and also held the office of Justice of the Peace for some time. He died in Henry County, Mo. To Mr. and Mrs. Gear five children were born: James M., Washington J., Sarah V., Addie M. and Joseph C. Mr. Gear was an honorable, intelligent and hard-working man and accumulated a comfortable property. He was respected by all and had few, if any, enemies. James M. Gear, his son, was born at Waterloo, Monroe County, Ill., April 11, 1857, and received a good common school education. He learned the trade of a brick mason and was engaged in contracting with his father until the latter retired from business, after which he engaged in the business in company with the present firm and they have long had all the work they can properly attend to. They built the church of the Immaculate Conception in 1887, the South Christian Church, the Second Congregational Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the First and Second Ward school houses, the Lincoln and Douglas school houses, the brick work of the new High School building and the Gulf Railroad shops, the Old Coon Tobacco works, Silby's warehouse, five stories high, the Godfrey and Russell block on Boonville Street, the Silby & Reinhardt building on Water Street, the Ellenburg block on the corner of Walnut and Campbell Streets, the Headly block on Boonville Street and many other business buildings. They are men thoroughly posted in their line work and can at all times be trusted to put up a substantial and symmetrical building in a short space of time and at reasonable figures. Socially Mr. Gear is a member of the Knights of Honor, and politically is a Democrat. Although a young man he is the senior member of his firm and stands deservedly high for reliability and skillful workmanship. This firm is also engaged in the manufacture of brick and have the only steam brick plant in Springfield. This plant has a capacity of 3,000,000 brick per year and can turn out more when run at its full capacity. Mr. Gear is a young man of high character, excellent business ability and his integrity is unimpeachable.
Springfield-Greene County Library