Abram Shear was born in 1841 in Michigan, the son of John B. (born 1797 in New York, died 1883 in Michigan) and Catharine Clark (born 1804 in New York, died 1878 in Michigan).
John B. and Catharine moved from New York to Michigan sometime between 1831 and 1834. By 1850 Abram was living with his family in Eagle, Clinton County where his father worked as a farmer. In 1860 he was still living with his family in Eagle, Clinton County.
Abram was 20 years old and probably still living with his family in Clinton County when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company G on May 10, 1861, at about the same time John H. Shear enlisted in Company F.
According to Frank Siverd of Company G, at about 9:00 a.m., on Friday, September 27, 1861, Corporal Allen Shattuck, and Privates Shear and Amsey C. Johnson, “ventured beyond the lines, and incautiously leaving cover and appearing in an open lot, they were sighted by a rebel rifleman and Johnson became his victim. He was shot with a minie ball, in the right leg, about half way between the knee and ankle. The ball struck the inner angle of the tibia, and completely shattered both bones. Several pieces of bone come entirely out and lay in his stocking. Shattuck and Shear carried him to our lines and a Surgeon was immediately sent for.” By mid-December Abram was reported to be working as a teamster.
Abram was court-martialed on March 13, 1862, at “Johnson's House,” opposite General Heintzelman's headquarters near Fort Lyon, Virginia, as a result of charges drawn up by Captain Robert Jefferds of Company G. He was charged, first, with “Conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline,” in that he “did take, and carry to his quarters, one pair of drawers, said drawers being the lawful property of Private Webster Kniffin of company A” on February 8, 1862. Second, that he violated the 46th Article of War, in that he “being duly posted as a sentinel around the camp of the 3d Regt. without leave and before he was regularly relieved, quit his post remaining absent a considerable length of time,” also on February 8, 1862. He pled guilty to the first charge and not guilty to the second.
The members of the court martial were: Colonel H. C. Staples, Third Maine; Lieutenant Colonel R. H. Richardson, Twenty-sixth New York; Major W. H. Baird, Thirty-eighth New York; Major Louis Dillman, Second Michigan; Major Byron R. Pierce, Third Michigan; Major E. R. Walker, Fourth Maine; Captain G. A. Blackwell, Twenty-sixth New York; Captain John McCooney, Thirty-eighth New York; Captain James R. O. Beirne, Thirty-seventh New York; Captain S. A. Judd, Third Michigan; Captain H. W. Trowbridge, Fifth Michigan; First Lieutenant H.S. Strait, Fortieth New York; First Lieutenant S. A. Craig, One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania; and Lieutenant C. B. Haskell, Judge Advocate, Third Maine.
Following pleas, Corporal Joseph A. Shuler of Company C, Third Michigan, was called and sworn as a witness on part of the prosecution.
Question by the Judge Advocate: What is your position in the military service of the [U.S.] and how long have you held it?
Answer :I am a corporal in co. C 3rd [MVI] and have held that position some four or five months.
Question: Do you know the prisoner?
Answer: I do not know his name, but he belongs to Co. G of our Regiment.
Question: Did you see the prisoner on guard in your Regiment?
Answer: I have seen him on guard, and the last time I saw him on guard was about the 7th or 8th of February last.
Question: Do you know whether he was regularly mounted as one of the camp guard at the time mentioned?
Answer: I was one of the guard that day, but cannot tell whether the prisoner was regularly mounted or not. I know that he was posted as one of the sentinels around our camp, ‘Camp Michigan’.
Question: Do you know of his having left his post at any time after he was regularly posted as a sentinel without being relieved or by proper authority or without permission?
Answer: I do not know of his leaving. I was Corporal of the relief of which the prisoner was a member. I did not make the rounds after I went round with the relief.
Question: Where was the prisoner posted on that night?
Answer: I do not know the number of the post, but he was on the outside post around the camp.
Private George Prescott of Company A , Third Michigan, another witness on part of the prosecution, was called and sworn.
Question: Do you know of his being posted as a sentinel around the camp of your Regiment, on or about the 8th of February, 1862?
Answer: I do not know of his being on guard that day.
As the defense had no witnesses to produce the Court was cleared for deliberation. Abram was convicted of the first charge and acquitted of the second. He was sentenced to be dismissed from the service of the United States in April, and to be confined in the penitentiary at Washington, DC for one year.
Following his release from prison Abram very likely returned to Michigan where he quite probably reentered the service in Company M, Tenth Michigan cavalry on September 24, 1863, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Eagle, Clinton County, and was mustered October 2. He was reported on recruiting service in Michigan from March of 1864 through November, and allegedly deserted on December 7, 1864, in Michigan, although the muster-out record for the company states that he deserted on November 22, 1863, in Grand Rapids, soon after his muster into the Regiment.
There is no further record, and no pension seems to be available.
It seems fairly certain that Abram returned to Michigan after the war. He married New York native Jennie (probably Effie J., b. 1848) and they had at least two children: Fred J. (b. 1867) and John H. (b. 1869).
By 1870 Abram was a farmer living with his wife and two children next door to his parents in Eagle, Clinton County. By 1880 John B. was a widower living with his daughter Mary A. and son-in-law David Ward, in Eagle, Clinton County. That same year there was a divorced woman named Jennie Shear (born about 1847 in New York) who was working as a miliner and boarding with the Shaw family in Leslie, Ingham County; there is no further record of the two sons although it appears that John. H. (age 11) was working as a a servant for and living with the Israel Cheesman family in Maple Grove, Barry County.
It appears that Jennie (Effie J.) remarried to Valorus Squiers and by 1900 they were living in Atwood, Logan County Colorado; also living with them were his three children (born in Michigan) as well as Effie’s two sons Fred J. and John H. Shear who were working as farmers with their stepfather.