BEAR CEMETERY


Submitted for publication here by Ramon (Ray) L. Bear, of Lake St. Louis, Missouri. Ray is a great grandson of Solomon Bear, and secretary of the Solomon Bear Family Reunion. Thank you, Ray.

    The Bear Cemetery was created by Solomon (better known as Sol) Bear in about 1864 on part of his farm. The first person in the cemetery was Lincoln Bear, the year old son of Sol and his first wife Sarah E. Walker Bear. The other people in the cemetery are close relatives of Sol except for Margaret Ann Armstrong who was a friend of the family.

This cemetery was recorded for the Ringgold County Historical Society in 1978 by Betty Ruby and Ruth Haley of Diagonal. They describe it as located SE1/4 SW1/4 Sec. 16, T69, R28, Monroe Township, Ringgold County, Iowa. Locally the cemetery is known as being a little southeast of Ellston, Iowa. It is even better known as being about a mile south of Oliver Cemetery along a dirt road to the start of gravel on the road and then a quarter mile east through the pasture.

 Those buried, or thought to be, in the Bear Cemetery are:
Name Born Died Notes
Sol Bear 8-16-1832 10-25-1913 Stone marker
Amanda Bear 9-19-1850 1-10-1922 Stone shared with Sol (Sol's 2nd wife)
Lincoln Bear 9-3-1863 10-9-1864 Stone marker (Sol's son with 1st wife)
George Bear 1869   No marker (Sol's son with 1st wife)
Margaret Ann Armstrong 8-1-1845 5-20-1881 Stone marker (friend of family)
Lewis Bear 3-6-1791 5-13-1872 No marker (Sol's father)
Anna Maria Bear 2-13-1815 1-11-1904 No marker (Sol's mother)
Adam Bear 3-22-1837 6-19-1864 No marker (Sol's brother, died in Civil War)
John Bear 10-16-1838 3-8-1880 No marker (Sol's brother, died due to Civil War induced health problems)


    Solomon Bear lived most of his adult life on the "Bear Home Place". He was a tall, powerfully built man, which helped him in his chosen profession of farming. For 55 years he farmed 180 acres by planting crops, raising livestock, and developing an orchard of more than 400 fruit trees.  He died at home with his wife and six children near him. He was buried with his last wife in the Bear Cemetery on the Home Place and on his granite tombstone is the name he was known by, Sol Bear.

    Sol was born August 16, 1832 and was the first of 14 children of Lewis Bear (or Bare, which may have been changed between 1838 and 1848 to Bear) and Anna Maria Kiefer Bear.
She was best known as Mary.

    Sol began life in Somerset County, Pennsylvania that is located in the southwest part of the state near the Allegheny Mountains. Lewis' ancestors around 1558 were Mennonites from Switzerland. Mary is believed to be of German ancestry.
(Many other settlers of this region were also of German ancestry and were called "Pennsylvania Dutch" when the people meant to say the German word deutsche. )

    When Sol was six years old, his parents moved to the adjoining county of Westmoreland where they farmed. The farm included very old cherry trees and a spring over which they built a springhouse.

    Lewis and Mary were natives of Somerset County with their parents being American born. Lewis was not only a farmer but also a carpenter and cooper: one who makes and repairs barrels or casks plus other usual woodwork. Lewis passed some of this knowledge on to Sol.

    Sol only had a few months of official schooling in Westmoreland County but he continued his cooper schooling at Cumberland, Pennsylvania. He worked in the sawmills and assisted in building the old plank road from Washington, DC to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

    When Sol was 22 years old, he went to Linn County, Iowa. That was the winter of 1854, just eight years after Iowa became a state.
He stayed 18 months before returning to Pennsylvania and later going to Wells County, Indiana, probably looking for land to settle. In the fall of 1857 he returned to Iowa with his parents and siblings.
From Cedar Rapids in Linn County Sol walked to Ringgold County to pick out his "school land" that could be bought the following year. He returned to Cedar Rapids for a few months of the winter and then, in February, once again walked to Ringgold County.

    That was three times he walked the 200 miles with each trip taking him about eight days. That was an average of 25 miles walking each day carrying his supplies. He was a strong, determined man in good health who was only 25 years old.

    In the spring of 1858 Sol started the Bear Home Place, which was in a primitive state but was good land with plenty of water. He bought 180 acres at $4.50 an acre with only $55 in his pockets and one suit of clothes. He had to borrow $30 from Jacob Smith to make the first payment and, while breaking out his farm, he lived at the home of Isaac Oliver. During that first half year he broke out and fenced part of the Home Place. In September he built a house and before long an orchard was started. Hogs and cattle were added and some of the choice bottom land lying on both sides of Lotts Creek was farmed.

    During the year 1860 or shortly before, Sol's parents, Lewis and Mary, plus brothers John and Samuel , in addition to sisters Betsy, Agnes and Mary, moved to the area.

    Brother Adam came later, joined the Union Army, fought in the Civil War with the Iowa 29th Infantry, was wounded, captured, and died at Camden Arkansas. He was buried in the Bear Cemetery but a marker has not yet been found.

    John also was in the Union Army serving in the Iowa Eighth Cavalry. He survived the war but eventually died of a war-related illness and was buried in the Bear Cemetery.

    Eventually, both of Sol's parents were buried in the Bear Cemetery.

    Sol's sister Mary Bear married Dr. F.S. Locke who delivered at least two of Sol's children. Agnes Nancy Bear married Henry Buckner and Betsy (Elizabeth) Bear married Jess Johnson, and all lived in the vicinity of the Bear Home Place. Samuel eventually went to California and was later joined by several of Sol's children and grandchildren.

It is now time to rejoin Sol.



    On December 5, 1860 Sol married Sarah E. Walker who was a native of Iowa. Her father was one of the pioneers of Iowa and helped survey the southern tier of counties including Ringgold County.

    Sol and Sarah had at least three children but Winfield was the only one to reach adulthood. He looked much like his father. Their first born, Lincoln died in 1864 and was the first to be interned in the Bear Cemetery.

    About a year after Sarah died in 1871, Sol married Amanda Elvina Duly who was living in Clarke County, which adjoins Ringgold County, Iowa. She was 21 and Sol was 39. Amanda was born in Harrison County, Missouri near the Iowa border while both of her parents were from Ohio.     (Many people comment that her facial features have the shape of a Native American, and this was passed on to many of her descendants.)     Sol and Amanda had daughters Dollie Ann, Nellie E., Mary M., and Elizabeth Agnes Bear. Their son and youngest child was William Franklin Bear.

    When Sol died at the age of 81 at the Home Place on Saturday, the 25th of October 1913, from a broken blood vessel in the lung, his children were all married   (most were living near the Home Place)   and were with him in his last days. He had been in a declining state for some time and the end was expected.

    Sol was a pioneer of the old type. He was plain, outspoken, genial, and hospitable in disposition. For years he was considered a leader in Monroe Township of Ringgold County, Iowa. He was a member of the Odd Fellows Order and, politically, was a Republican.

    As the local newspaper wrote in his obituary, "Sol Bear was always a welcome visitor at the Record-News office. He brought with him cheer and sunshine."

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