D. S. MEARS, a worthy citizen and substantial farmer of Yates Township, is finely located on section 20, where he owns and operates a beautiful farm, and has built up for himself an enviable reputation as an honest man and a good citizen. Mr. Mears is a native of Scotland, born on the 3d of March, 1834, and the son of John and Mary (Dunn) Mears, who were natives of the same country as their son. In 1849 the parents and six children emigrated from their native land, and after a very tedious voyage in a sailing vessel landed at New York City, and soon afterward made their way to Syracuse, that State, near which city they settled. There the parents passed the remainder of their days; their six children James, William, Thomas, D. S., Mary and Margaret are all living, some in the East and some in the West.
The subject of this history was but a boy of fifteen years when he arrived with his parents' family in the United States. The latter were in very straightened circumstances, it having taken all their money to pay the expense of crossing the briny deep." It was thus necessary that each member of the family should take care of himself as far as possible. Under these circumstances our subject bound himself out to a farmer, who gave him his board and clothes. He served this man faithfully for eighteen months, during which time he received harsh treatment, and finally ran away, starting westward, and not knowing where he was to land.
He finally found himself in the city of Buffalo, where he took passage on a boat for Cleveland, Ohio, and in the latter State soon became employed as a farm hand, in the harvest fields of Northern Ohio, receiving as compensation fifteen cents per day. From there he drifted into Indiana, where he worked by the month for farmers at $13 and $14 until 1855. In that State he was so greatly afflicted with fever and ague that his physician advised him to change his location, which he did effectually, making his way to New Orleans, La., where he passed the winter of 1855-56. He then took passage up the Mississippi River to Alton, Ill., whence he proceeded by rail to Chicago, and found work there in a brickyard. Early in July of the latter year he met a Will County farmer, who had gone into the city to celebrate the National holiday, and as the farmer wanted to hire a hand, our subject accompanied him to his home near Joliet, and worked for him until the winter of 1858.
During the latter year our subject came to McLean County, and after working one season near Bloomington, entered the employ of Nathaniel Sutherland, an extensive farmer near Towanda, with whom he remained three years. In the fall of 1861 he decided that henceforth in life he would be his own employer. He accordingly rented land near Chenoa, which he operated until 1865, then purchased the northwest quarter of section 20, which forms his present farm. When he purchased this land it was raw prairie and rather wet. He has now brought the whole to a fine and fertile condition, having put in 750 rods of tile draining, which has changed the low wet portions into productive fields. In due time he erected a good set of farm buildings, and now has one of the most attractive and valuable homesteads in Yates Township. He makes a specialty of grain raising.
Mr. Mears was married in 1862, to Miss Anna M. Witherow, a native of Pennsylvania, born April 29, 1839, and they have become the parents of eight children Mary J., James, Walker, Joseph, Scott, Flora, Cora, and Robert, deceased. Our subject and his family are among the most highly esteemed residents of their community, and the family mansion is the home of hospitality and good cheer. As a citizen Mr. Mears is one of that class possessing the peculiar characteristics of his Scottish ancestry, and his word is as good as his bond. Socially he is a Royal Arch Mason, being a member of Chenoa Blue Lodge No. 292, and Chenoa Chapter No. 143. Politically he casts his vote in support of the principles of the Democratic party.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 675. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.