Spearman Family

The Spearman Family was a family of African-American athletes from Clark County, Arkansas.


The Spearmans of Clark County, Arkansas were descendants of Sam Spearman Sr. (about 1833-1921), a black farmer who was born a slave in South Carolina.1 He was married to Lucretia "Creasy" Burton (about 1845-unknown), the daughter of fellow slaves Iverson (about 1810-unknown) and Martha Burton (about 1825-unknown).2 Iverson Spearman (about 1863-1938), a son, was born to Sam and Creasy around the Confederate years of 1862/1863. The family likely belonged to one of the large plantations owned by the prominent, white Spearman family of Newberry County, SC.3 After emancipation, the Spearmans continued to work as farm laborers in the Newberry area before moving westward to the small community of Dobyville in Clark County, AR. The Spearmans took on a small farm there, and in 1885, Iverson Spearman was married to Fannie Phifer (about 1866-1932). She was the daughter of Robert (about 1835-unknown) and Emily Phifer (about 1839-Unknown) and granddaughter of Caesar Phifer (about 1810-unknown), each of whom had been brought to Clark County by their white slave owners from South Carolina/North Carolina years earlier.4 Together, Iverson and Fannie had fourteen children, seven boys and seven girls. By 1900, the family lived on a small one-horse farm in South Fork township in Clark County.5 Iverson and Fannie remained in the area until their deaths.

First Generation

Top, left to right: Charles Spearman, Codie Spearman and Willie Spearman. Bottom: Hayse Spearman, Henry Spearman and Clyde Spearman.
Top, left to right: Charles Spearman, Codie Spearman and Willie Spearman. Bottom: Hayse Spearman, Henry Spearman and Clyde Spearman.

Among the fourteen children born to Iverson and Fannie Spearman were Charles, Codie, Willie, Hayse, Henry and Clyde Spearman.6 The six brothers each played at various levels of professional Negro baseball during a period of more than three decades spanning about 1911-1946.

Charles Spearman Sr.11/3/1891 in Arkadelphia, AR 2/28/1963 in Washington D.C.
Codie Spearman1/3/1896 in Arkadelphia, AR1/1965 in Seattle, WA
Willie Spearman12/31/1899 in Arkadelphia, AR 12/29/1937 in St. Louis, MO
Hayse Spearman7/8/1908 in Arkadelphia, AR10/28/1952 in Pasco, WA
Henry Spearman11/16/1909 in Arkadelphia, AR
Clyde Spearman7/23/1911 in Arkadelphia, AR2/13/1955 in New York, NY

Second Generation

Charles Spearman Jr.
Charles Spearman Jr.
Brothers Frederick Spearman and Charles Spearman Jr., the sons of Charles Spearman Sr., played with Little Rock's semipro Dubisson Tigers in the early 1930s. In 1936, Frederick briefly played with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League. Meanwhile, Charles Jr. became a standout football player at LeMoyne College in Memphis, TN, and later coached football and baseball at Arkansas AM&N in Pine Bluff, AR.

Leslie "Pete" Spearman was the son of Henry Spearman and was an all Big-8 Conference basketball player at Arkansas Baptist College

Charles Spearman Jr.1/14/1914 in Arkadelphia, AR9/8/2000 in Pine Bluff, AR
Fred Spearman1/18/1917 in Arkadelphia, AR 11/10/2010 in Jamaica, Queens, NY
Leslie Jerome "Pete" Spearman3/17/1930 in Arkadelphia, AR3/27/2004 in Los Angeles, LA


Henderson "Scooter" Nevels was the son of Hattie Mae Spearman, sister of Charles, Codie, Willie, Hayse, Henry and Clyde. According to his obituary, he may have played with the Memphis Red Sox.7

Brothers Sam "Boom Boom" Wheeler and Leon Wheeler were the nephews of Charles Spearman Sr.'s wife Beulah (nee Catledge) Spearman and the cousins of Charles Spearman Jr. and Frederick Spearman. Sam played Negro baseball in the late 1940s, but remains best known for his successful career playing basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters during the 1950s. Leon also played Negro baseball in the late 1940s and was also a star athlete at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO.

Henderson Nevels3/11/1934 in Arkadelphia, AR12/3/2012
Leon Wheeler7/2/1928 in Little Rock, ARFeb. 1977
Sam Wheeler11/15/1923 in Little Rock, AR4/17/1989 in St. Louis, MO

Not Related

Negro League pitcher Alvin Spearman (1926-2016) was not an immediate relative, despite the fact that his parents were natives of Arkansas. However, his ancestors trace back to the same white Spearman family of Newberry, SC, so a distant relationship is possible.8
2 Martha Burton was living with the Sam and Lucretia Spearman in the 1880 Census. She appears in the 1870 Census as the wife of Iverson Burton. The name connection between Iverson Burton and Sam and Creasy's son Iverson Spearman helps establish the relationship.
3 According the 1860 Slave Schedule, there were about 150 slaves owned by several members of the white Spearman family of Newberry, South Carolina. Sam and Creasy may have belonged to John Roberson Spearman, who owned about 40 slaves in 1860. This is surmised by the close proximity Sam and Creasy Spearman and Confederate Col. John Roberson Spearman in the 1870 U.S. Census.
4 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census. Robert and Emily's eldest daughter, Ella, was born in Arkansas in about 1859, suggesting that the family had been there prior to emancipation.
5 Clark County Tax Records, 1899-1901
6 A seventh Spearman brother, Fares, has no known connection to baseball.
7 Sentinel-Record (Hot Springs, AR), 12/7/2012
8 Alvin Spearman appears to have been related to Francis Graves Spearman, brother of John Roberson Spearman, a possible owner of Sam and Creasy Spearman.