Saturday, December 1, 2012

George Speirs

George Speirs

George Speirs, son of William Speirs and Agnes Thomson, and grandfather of William Asa Speirs, was the fifth child of the family, and was born Jan. 6, 1827, in Tarbolton, Scotland.  His birth came also from the struggling, hardworking, honest class of the Scots who gloried in the battle for existence but also knew of its sternness.  George shouldered his part of the family responsibility as he passed from babyhood into childhood and boyhood.  He was twelve before he wore his first shoes.  School was meager, but his thirst for knowledge brought him to the mastery of the field of mathematics and astronomy.
Four children were born to Brother and Sister George Speirs while they still resided in Scotland:   William, John, Janet and Agnes.  John died at birth.  The other three came to New York with their parents in 1856, where they resided until 1860, where two other sons, George and Thomas were born.  George, however, died in New York before the family left for Utah.

While in New York, Brother George Speirs associated himself with the many saints who, like himself, had exhausted their means and found it necessary to seek temporary employment and it was here that a lasting friendship grew up between Brother Speirs and the late President George Q. Cannon.  George Speirs was employed in a New York store during his four years residence there, which gave him a foundation for the pioneer mercantile business which he established here. (Tooele)
In the spring of 1860, the Speirs family crossed the plains in the company of Capt. Jesse Murphy, residing in the 11th ward in Salt Lake City until the spring of 1861, when they come to Tooele, which has become the permanent family home.
Shortly after his arrival in Tooele, Brother Speirs set up a loom for the weaving of cloth and for a number of years the product of his hands supplied much of the local piece good needs.
He also engaged in farming, with the principle products being sugar beets, sugar cane and flax.  The two former items he used for the making of molasses, and flax straw for weaving and the seed for medicinal purposes.  Flaxseed meal was a choice item in the pioneer home for poultices.
When these products started to be shipped in from other places in commercial quantities, Brother Speirs turned his attention to truck gardening, and horticulture, producing all varieties of fruit trees, locust trees (many of which are still giving shade in this city), gooseberries, currants, with a specialty of pie plant (rhubarb) and asparagus was grown on five acres, just west of the new International Addition.  This was sold to the residents of Stockton, Ophir, and Bingham—the two former places being covered by himself in a truck wagon.

Brother George Speirs was the first Tooele City Sexton and dug the first grave in the Tooele Cemetery.  He also served as watermaster for a number of years, and was a member of the city council at the time when the fight was being staged for a culinary water system in Tooele.  Farmers objected to allotting water for a city system.  Brother Speirs was a constant supporter of the water system and his wishes finally prevailed.
In 1880 Brother Speirs established a store in the log building owned by Hugh S. Gowan, which has since been moved to the Court House Lot as a Daughters of the Pioneers Relic Hall.

Carrying on here for a time he bought the property now occupied by the Speirs store, from Rebecca Holt.  Slater and Herman had previously run a store in the building.  Prosperity attended him during his 26 years in the mercantile business and he retired in 1906 with an enviable record of honesty, turning the establishment over to his son, Matthew Speirs, who continues to operate it under the same standards of integrity.

Brother George Speirs loaned to James Dunn, the $10.00 down payment for the purchase of the Tooele Transcript, which also marked the permanent establishment of this institution.
Growing in faith as the years increased, Brother Speirs was given the crowning approval of his life in being appointed a Patriarch in the Tooele Stake, and gave eighty-three blessings, the last of which were four days prior to his death, which occurred Dec. 18, 1919 at the age of 93 years.
Previously he was a leading figure in the Seventy Quorum and became president of the High Priests’ Quorum.  His testimony was unfaltering throughout his life.
Brother and Sister Speirs were sealed in the old Salt Lake Endowment House in 1861, shortly after their arrival in Utah.  Sister Speirs, besides being an outstanding mother and wife, was devoted to the church, and filled offices consisting of counselor in the ward Relief Society during the presidency of Jeanette DeLaMare, and at the release of Sister DeLaMare become its president and held the office for many years.
Brother and Sister Speirs were the parents of eleven children, and at their death, had a posterity of 51 grandchildren and 60 great grandchildren.  Sister Speirs died Oct. 26, 1919 at the age of 92.  This grand couple lived together as man and wife for 71 years and died within six weeks of each other.

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