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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM SPAHR has been a well-known citizen of Carlisle all his life, and he has been prominently identified with the social and church life of the community as well as its business interests.

John Spahr, grandfather of William, was born March 17, 1782, and died in Carlisle Nov. 19, 1844. He was a hatter by trade. He married Elizabeth Wickart, who was born Oct. 12, 1783, and died Jan. 19, 1858. Their children were as follows: John, the father of William; William, a brickmaker, who died in Carlisle; Peter, who was engaged in brickmaking in Carlisle all his life, and died there; and Eliza, who married James Liggett and was the grandmother of Clarence Liggett, of Carlisle.

John Spahr, father of William, was born Nov. 3, 1807, in Carlisle. He learned the hatter’s trade under his father, but did not follow it long, in early manhood commencing to work at filing under John Proctor, who was a well-known figure in the industrial world of Carlisle in the early day; he made bits when they were made and filed and plated by hand, silver money being melted to get material for the plating. Mr. Spahr remained with Mr. Proctor for a number of years, and was ever noted for his industry and thrift. For many years he was high constable in Carlisle, and he was active in church work as a member of the Lutheran Church, in which he served as deacon. He was sexton for many years. After erecting the family home on North East street, in Carlisle, he took up gardening, which he followed for the remainder of his days, dying Dec. 11, 1876. On April 3, 1828, Mr. Spahr married Elizabeth Stum, who was born March 3, 1811, and died April 8, 1875. Her parents came to this country from Germany and died in Carlisle. To Mr. and Mrs. Spahr were born children as follows: (1) Lizzie, born Oct. 8, 1829, married John Egolf in 1850, and died in Carlisle. (2) John, born April 15, 1832, married Mary Black, April 13, 1856, and died in Carlisle, July 30, 1900. (3) William is mentioned below. (4) Catherine, born March 17, 1835, died in 1836. (5) Mary H. born May 29, 1837, married Cyrus D. Arnold, Oct. 10, 1858, and is now a widow, living in Philadelphia. (6) Peter P., born May 5, 1839, was twice married, first on March 4, 1862, to Annie Ward, and on Dec. 19, 1872, to Emma Swigert, who survives him. (7) Sarah, born Dec. 21, 1840, married Samuel Minnich, and died in June, 1903, in Carlisle. (8) Barbara E., born March 17, 1843, died March 16, 1845. (9) Margaret J., born Dec. 21, 1844. died May 17, 1853. (10) George R., born Oct. 1, 1846, died May 10, 1853. (11) Julia Ann died in infancy.

William Spahr was born June 24, 1834, in Carlisle, in a house which stood on the lot next to what afterward became the family homestead, in North East street. His first literary instruction was received in the school at the corner of Bedford and Louther streets, under Mary Richter, and he was subsequently a pupil of Miss String, Mr. Gould, Gilbert Searight, Mr. Tripner and Dr. Neidig, under whom he closed his school life. As his help was needed at home he attended only during the winter after he was old enough to be of practical use. During the summer season he was employed in the brickyard, beginning that work at the age of fourteen, at $4 per month and board. His first work was what was called “off bearing,” that is, taking away, and in time he acquired a thorough knowledge of all the details of the business, working for many years for his uncle Peter. In those days the work was all done by hand. Finally our subject, with his brothers John and Peter, formed the firm of Spahr Bros., brick manufacturers, and after the death of Peter, in 1891, the other two brothers continued the business until 1897, when the firm went out of business. Peter Spahr was a member of the borough council of Carlisle for twelve years. William Spahr was engaged in the actual work of brickmaking from his fourteenth year until 1891, with the exception of an interval of three years during which he was in the confectionery business with John H. Rheem; he was a molder from his twenty-first year. Since the plant was closed down Mr. Spahr has practically lived retired, though for the past year and a half he has run a tea wagon. During his active business life he enjoyed high standing along his associates and enjoyed a wide acquaintance along business men in and around Carlisle.

All the Spahr familv are musically inclined and gifted, and William Spahr and all his brothers and sisters are singers, well known in that connection throughout this section. As was common during those days, he had no money of his own until after he attained his majority, his father settling his wages up to the close of his twenty-first year. After that he immediately commenced to save, and before long had enough to buy a small melodeon from Samuel Gould, which had been the property of the old-time music teacher, Mr. Skiles. Mr. Spahr paid $27 for this instrument, and afterward sold it to be used as the old “barracks” singing class for $50. From early manhood he sang in the choir of the Lutheran Church, until John Rheem, the leader, went west, after which Mr. Spahr took charge of the choir for sixteen years, Also leading the singing in the Sunday-school. For many years he gave his services now and then to the Mission Church. He remained with the Lutheran choir until seventeen years ago. For many years Mr. Spahr was the leader of the old original Carlisle Band, in which he played first E flat cornet. After its reorganization it was led by Louis C. Faber. When he left that band he became cornetist in Widner’s Orchestra, with which he played for some years. His interest in musical matters has never waned, and although he is not now as active in musical circles as he used to be he still has the same love for such things. As may be inferred from the above, Mr. Spahr’s religious connection is with the Lutheran Church. In politics he has been a lifelong Democrat.

On Dec. 23, 1860, Mr. Spahr was married, by Rev. J. Fry, of the Lutheran Church to Miss Annie C. Ritter, who was born in Carlisle, daughter of Henry S. and Mary (Wunderlich) Ritter. Her father, who died in 1888 in Carlisle, was a well-known merchant tailor of the town. The young couple commenced married life in a small house on North East street, where they lived only a short time, however, after which they moved to the present residence, which Mr. Spahr rented for fifteen years from John Underwood, who was teller at the Carlisle Bank for many years. Mr. Spahr eventually bought the place from Mr. Underwood. Here Mrs. Spahr passed away Nov. 15, 1878, in her forty-first year. She had graduated from the Carlisle high school in the class of 1856, being under the tuition there of Mrs. Annie Underwood, and was well known in Carlisle for her many endearing and ennobling traits of character. Her kind heart and devotion to her family and friends made her beloved by all who knew her, and she was sincerely mourned by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. She was a working member of the Lutheran Church, sang in the choir from girlhood until her death, and for many years taught in the Sunday-school. She and her husband became acquainted as members of the same church choir. Mr. and Mrs. Spahr became the parents of four children: Bella Arnold married A. R. Read, of Falling Springs, Perry county, and they have had two children, Anna Elizabeth and Harriet Spahr. Harry Ritter, who resides in Carlisle, married Harriet Leffler. Charles William, of Carlisle, has been a clerk in the Bixler hardware store for twenty-two years; he married Belle Harris, and they have one child, Charles William, Jr. Jennie M is deceased. Mr. Spahr is a Democrat in political belief and has served six years on the borough council.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

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