John O’Rear, the Common Man?

The reader will note the popularity of the given name John in our family. John is, of course, a great popular hero from the New Testament. The first of the name in America may have been John O’Rear, certainly his son was named John, and he had only two sons, John and Daniel. Of these two each had, among others, a son John and so it goes down through all of the early generations.

Many years ago in my travels I visited Celsus Orear (Grandson of Robert O’Rear, founder of Orearville) in St. Louis, Missouri, who was kind enough to furnish me with some information about the O’Rears of Orearville, where he was raised. When I introduced myself he asked who my father was. Being in my youth I proudly said that he wa John O’Rear, thinking that everyone must know of my father. Celsus laughed and said that there were a hundred John O’Rears. Having collected information about the family for some time since then, I believe that Celsus was wrong. There must be nearer two hundred John O’Rears.

This, of course, increases the difficulty of the task of the genealogist in tracing down the connecting lines. The O’Rears were at one time numerous in Jasper, Alabama and Sam O’Rear of Moreauville La. who was raised in Jasper, told me the following story of how they kept the John O’Rears there separated: "We had to give them nicknames and we had Big John, Little John, Lazy John, Rich John, Poor John, Honest John, Lying John, Flying John and Printer John." Sam had interesting stories about how they had earned these nicknames.

In any event, its bearers have made the name John O’Rear a most honorable one.