Nicholas Spare was born on December 12, 1836, in Cornwall, England, the son of William and Ann.
Nicholas immigrated to America between 1851 and 1855 and settled in western Michigan , perhaps as early as 1860 when he may have been working as a miner named “Nicholas Sparge” and living with another miner named William Goldsworthy in Rockland, Ontonagon County.
In any case, Nicholas was 24 years old, stood 5’5” with dark eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and possibly living in Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. He was listed as a Brigade butcher from July of 1862 through January of 1863, and with the Brigade commissary department in February, probably working as a butcher, and in fact he probably spent most if not all of his military service on detached service as a butcher in the Brigade commissary department. Nicholas was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.
It is not known if Nicholas was in fact in Detroit when he was mustered out or if returned to Michigan following his release from the army. In any case, he reentered the service on March 7, 1865, in Company B, Second United States cavalry at Camp Stoneman, Virginia, and was stationed at Elmira, New York from February 28, 1866, until he was mustered out on March 7, 1866, at Elmira. Shortly before he was mustered out, “While guarding the stables” Spare “was kicked by a horse on the shin bone, which has troubled him from that time to the present. The portion of the bone has had to be removed and the leg is in a terrible condition.” (His leg was eventually amputated in 1884.)
Nicholas remained in New York and worked as a laborer in Syracuse, living on Canal st. between Lock and Pearl.
He eventually returned to Michigan where he married Francis (“Fannie”) Maria Richardson (b. 1851) on August 25, 1869, in Rawsonville, Washtenaw County, and they had at least five children: William (b. 1872), Joseph (b. 1875), Mary Ann (b. 1878), Samuel (b. 1881 or 1882) and Nicholas (b. 1884 or 1885).
Soon after they were married they settled in New York where Nicholas worked for some years as a farmer in Syracuse. But they soon returned to Michigan, residing for a time in Wayne County, but eventually moving back to Hamburg by 1872, in Pinckney, Livingston County in 1875, in Putnam, Livingston County, in 1878 and in 1880, Hamburg in 1882 and Genoa and/or Pinckney in 1884 when his leg was amputated.
On August 29, 1891, Anna Shipe (or Shope) testified that she was present at the birth of the child Nicholas Spare, Jr. on March 19, 1884, and that his father was in the house at the time, sick in bed, and had his leg amputated two days later (March 21).
In 1880 Nicholas applied for and received a pension (no. 438259).
Nicholas Sr. was still living in Pinckney in 1885 when his former physician, Dr. H. F. Sigler wrote to the Commissioner of Pension, responding to an earlier inquiry from that office, regarding his treatment of Spare. “My treatment,” he wrote on August 27, “ceased . . . during the latter part of 1881. . . . His physical condition at that that time was bad -- not being able to perform manual labor to any extent. The left leg was affected -- the ulcer situated about at the middle third of [the] tibia.”
The pain and suffering from his wartime injury was apparently too much for Nicholas to bear, particularly following the amputation of his leg, and he committed suicide by taking poison on December 18, 1886, in Hamburg (or just north of Pettysville), Livingston County. According to the coroner’s inquest on December 20, 1886, “the said Nicholas Spare, came to his death, by taken [sic] paris green, administered by his own hand while recovering from a state of intoxication.” The Livingston Herald noted that Spare, who the paper claimed lived two miles north of Pettysville, “ended a protracted spree by taking Paris Green, last Thursday morning and died Friday evening. The funeral was held at the North Hamburg church and was attended by a large crowd of people. He leaves a wife and five children who only escaped the poison by Mrs. Spears [sic] happening to discover it in the dipper in the family water pail.”
And on December 23 the Livingston County Republican reported that Nicholas “came to Howell some ten days ago and displayed great propensities for stowing’ away ‘Good red liquor’. He ended the spree by going home last week and putting out for another shore VIA the Paris Green Route. He put potato-bug poison into the family water pail and drank heartily there from dying soon after. Fortunately his wife discovered the poison before any other member of the family drank from the pail.”
The funeral was held at the North Hamburg church and was attended by a large crowd of people. Nicholas was buried in North Hamburg cemetery.
Fanny received a widow’s pension no. 352,887, and was living in Marion (possibly Chubbs Corners), Livingston County in 1890. She remarried on September 24, 1891. In fact after Nicholas died she married three more times. She died in 1928 in Howell, Livingston County. An application (no. 694849) was filed on behalf of a minor child but the certificate was never granted.