Based on tradition, comments of oldest members of the family in past years, and the many members of the family whom your author has known, the following personality sketch is offered. it is surprising how may of these characteristics have come down through all of the various branches and are discernible today.
In physiognomy the early generations were generally a sandy or fair haired people, most of the men having red beards, with fair ruddy complexions and clear, deep bright blue eyes, referred to in our branch as the O’Rear blue eyes. They had strong, rather aquiline features. Extant descriptions of the O’Rears in the Civil War picture men of about average height for that time. Most of the men today are rather large. The men in our branch were often physically very strong.
In personality the O’Rears were generally quiet, orderly, industrious, thrifty and enterprising. Humility has never been a problem in the family, in fact the O’Rears are not very humble people. Celsus Orear in describing the Orears Orearville, Missouri said that they considered themselves to be aristocratic gentlemen. Not being a boastful people it is doubtful if many of the O’rears claim this, however if accused of it none would deny it either.
It was often said about a generation back that no O’Rear had ever been executed for crime, and that there were no known criminals in the family.
The O’Rears have been a very opinionated and independent people (Stubborn?) sometimes perhaps carried too far. (See sketch No. 34)
In occupation they were generally tillers of the soil, and owners of the soil they tilled. Many are yet of that calling. Many were physicians, some preachers, some lawyers and some engineers. Many were teachers. In fact, the O’Rears have always been known as well educated. Practically all were literate, even in the days when illiteracy was the rule in the pioneer areas in which they lived. Your author, in researching the old census records has noted only one member of the family listed as "cannot read and write" in the census of 1850 which first recorded this information.
The O’Rears were a gracious people and "to the manner born". This may be due in part to their Virginia heritage, which is best described by a traveller in Virginia, John Davis, in 1801 who recorded:
"--- in the piazza of Mr. Thornton’s tavern I found a party of gentlemen from the neighboring plantations carousing over a bowl of toddy and smoking segars. No people could exceed these men in politeness. On my ascending the steps to the piazza every countenance seemed to say, This man has a double claim on our attention, for he is a stranger in the place. In a moment there was room made for me to sit down, a new bowl was called for and every one who addressed me did it with a smile of conciliation. Bur no man asked me where I had come from or whither I was going. A gentleman is in every country the same, and if good breeding consists in sentiment, it was to be found in the circle I had got into. The higher Virginians seem to venerate themselves as men; and I am persuaded that there was not one in company who would feel embarassed at being admitted to the presence and conversation of the greatest Monarch on earth."
The O’Rears do not quit. This is graphically illustrated by the fact that of the many members of the family who served in the Confederate Army, only one was a deserter, all the rest serving through to the end. They surrendered with the armies of Lee, Johnson, and Kirby-Smith, continuing to serve their cause when all hope of success had disappeared.
The family were universally patriotic. From the Indian wars through Viet-Nam, the family has made its contribution to the armed services, rather larger in percentage of members of the family eligible.
A disinterested description of the family in the Revolutionary War period survives in the application of Joseph Bobo, a neighbor in the Revolution. He states:
"That Mr. Daniel O’Rear by whom he expects to prove the service herein before mentioned is now a very old man and brother to Major Enoch O’Rear of the last war, also of Prince William and now in his 84th year, both of whom are men of the highest respectability and standing in society."