From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Sears, George

(born: 1847  -  died: 1907) 

The following information comes from "Historic Joplin: George Sears, first Negro in Murphysburg, is dead." George Sears is still recognized as the first African American in Murphysburg, MO. Sears is said to have been born in Louisville, KY, in 1847. He was a young man when he came to Joplin and worked as a miner. When he no longer worked in the mines, George Sears was employed as a janitor at the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a member of the Baptist Church. He also belonged to the Knights of Pythias and was a Mason. He attended and gave speeches at Republican Conventions, and was known as a good barbeque cook. According to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, George Sears, a lead miner, was the husband of Martha (b. 1856) and the father of Emma (b. 1872), Lucy (b. 1874), and Ralph Sears (b. 1880). His wife Martha was born in Tennessee, their daughter Emma in Kansas, and the other two children in Missouri. The family lived on Kentucky Avenue. According to the Joplin website, George Sears married again in 1885 and had a third daughter. George Sears was active in the community and helped organize the 1891 Emancipation Day Celebration [source: "A Grand Day!," The Southern Argus, 09/10/1891, p. 1, column 3]. Sears was the president of Officers of the Day and co-chairman of the Soliciting Committee. George S. Sears is listed in the city directory as a colored janitor who lived at 112 Pearl Street in Joplin, MO [source: p. 381 of Hoye's Joplin and {Carthage, Carterville, Webb City, Jasper Co.} Directory, 1905-1906]. He is also listed in the 1902 directory. George Sears died February 8, 1907 in Joplin, MO [source: "Mr. George Sears of Joplin, MO...," St. Louis Palladium, 03/23/1907, p. 4].

Kentucky County & Region

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Southern argus (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Hoye's Joplin and {Carthage, Carterville, Webb City, Jasper Co.} directory, 1905-1906
NKAA Source: St. Louis palladium (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Sears, George,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-01-22 21:12:44