O'Rear, William

Born: 1795-12-24 Frederick County, Virginia

Died: 1876-04-28 Jacksonville, Illinois

Flourished: Morgan County, Illinois

Shortly after he was born, O'Rear's family moved from Virginia to Kentucky, where he was raised and obtained an education. O'Rear subsequently worked as a teacher in Kentucky and Missouri. In 1825, he married Maria T. Sawyer, with whom he had three children. Shortly after their marriage, O'Rear and his wife moved to Morgan County, Illinois, and settled in Jacksonville. Maria passed away in 1830. In 1832, O'Rear served as a private in a company of mounted volunteer militia in the Black Hawk War. After serving in the war, he was elected as sheriff of Morgan County in 1832, and was reelected in 1834. O'Rear, a Whig, was elected into the Illinois Senate for two consecutive terms, 1836 to 1838, and 1838 to 1840, representing Morgan County. O'Rear remarried in 1846, to Lena M. Eades. After the Whig party dissipated, O'Rear became a Republican. He was the president of the Jacksonville National Bank and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. O'Rear was also a patron and trustee of the Illinois Female College.

Gravestone, Diamond Grove Cemetery, Jacksonville, IL; History of Morgan County, Illinois: Its Past and Present (Chicago: Donnelley, Loyd, 1878), 509-510; Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, and William F. Short, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County (Chicago: Munsell, 1906), 2:905-06; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 205-06; Ellen M. Whitney, comp., The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: Illinois Volunteers, vol. 35 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1970), 1:366-67.