Biography of Peter K. Slear

Peter K. Slear, born January 28, 1838, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was a distinguished farmer in Yankton County, South Dakota. Descended from German immigrants, the Slear family has a long history of military service, participating in every American war from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War. Slear served as a sergeant in the Civil War. In 1870, he married Mary J. Babb and they had seven children, four surviving into adulthood. In 1869, Slear homesteaded in Yankton County, where he focused on farming. Known for his integrity and community involvement, he was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and served on the school board.

Peter K. Slear.—This well-known and highly esteemed farmer of Yankton County was born on the 28th of January, 1838, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and is a worthy representative of an old and honored family of that state. The family is of German origin and the name has been variously spelled Schleer, Schlier, Schlear, Sleer, Slear, and Slier. Their patriotism is attested by the fact that they have been represented in every war in which this country has taken part from the Revolution down to the Spanish-American War, one of the family being now with the United States regulars in the Philippines. Soon after the Revolutionary War, Charles Slear came to this country from the Fatherland and first settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania, but later removed to Union County, that state. He married Mary Hummel, and the children born to them were Charles, Kate, Jacob, John, George, Hannah, Samuel, and Daniel.

George Slear, of this family, was the grandfather of the subject. He was born March 17, 1783, and died March 1, 1875. He was a farmer of prominence and filled various public positions. His home was first in Dry Valley and later in Buffalo Valley, Union County, Pennsylvania. His first wife was Hannah Kaufman, by whom he had four children: Daniel, Esther, Peter, and Margaret. For his second wife, he married Sophia Miller and to them were born three children: Charles, George, and William, while his third wife was Elizabeth Barklow, by whom he had four children: Elizabeth, Hannah, Catharine, and James.

Daniel Slear, the oldest child of the first marriage, was the father of the subject. He first married Elizabeth Killenberger, by whom he had six children, and three of the number are still living, namely: Peter K., of this review; John Adam, who married Fannie Hittle and lives in Lanark, Illinois; and Mary, wife of Beniville Mench, of Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania. For his second wife, the father married Catherine Longacre.

Peter K. Slear was quite small when his mother died and he was then bound out to a farmer, for whom he worked for his board and clothes until eighteen years of age. At the beginning of the Civil War, he offered his services to the country, enlisting in Company C, Third Volunteer Regiment of Pennsylvania Militia, and he remained at the front until peace was declared, being honorably discharged January 20, 1866, after the surrender of Lee at Appomattox. He was then holding the rank of sergeant.

Returning to his home in Pennsylvania, Mr. Slear continued a resident in that state until after his marriage in 1870 to Miss Mary J. Babb, of Stephenson County, Illinois, a daughter of Reuben and Eliza (Stall) Babb. Her father was born and reared in Pennsylvania and had a family of eight children, three of whom are still living. Mrs. Slear’s brother Eaton is now a resident of Wauconda, Illinois, and Solomon lives in Springfield. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Slear, but three are now deceased. Those living are Reuben William, who married Hattie M. Selley and has three children, Lonson Peter, Edna M., and Reuben William, and Marietta E., Virginia J., and Bernice C.

In 1869, Mr. Slear came to Yankton County, South Dakota, and secured the homestead on which he has since resided, his time and attention being devoted to its cultivation and improvement. He is an honored member of Phil Kearney Post, Grand Army of the Republic, of Yankton, and is a man who commands the respect and confidence of all with whom he comes in contact, either in business or social life. He has led a very temperate life and has no bad habits, has never played cards, and is very domestic in his tastes, being devoted to home and family. He has served as treasurer and director of the school board but has never sought official honors and is independent in politics, voting for the best men regardless of party ties.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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