PHOEBE BLACKWELL (1799-1845), was born in Gloucestershire, England, and had emigrated with her family, as a child, to Pennsylvania. Phoebe's father was Enoch Blackwell (abt. 1763-1816), and her mother was Hannah Perrine (1762- ?). Her mother died in England, and apparently her father had remarried before bringing his family to America. He died in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania in 1816.
Not much is known of the Blackwell family, but some members of the family -- possibly distant cousins -- achieved a degree of fame. According to the World Book Encyclopedia,

"Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), was the first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. She helped break down prejudice against women in medicine. Blackwell graduated from medical school in 1849. In 1857 she and her sister Emily Blackwell, also a doctor, opened their own hospital in New York City. The hospital, called the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, primarily served the poor.
The sisters later expanded the hospital to include a medical school for women. Blackwell was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England (the same area of England which our Blackwell family came from), and came to New York with her family at the age of 11. In 1847, she began her medical studies at Geneva College in Geneva, N.Y., after 29 other medical schools had denied her admission because of her sex ... She encountered much prejudice as a woman physician ... Eventually, however, Blackwell earned the respect of the medical community and the public. She returned to England in 1869, where she spent the rest of her life working to open the medical profession to women. Blackwell wrote several books and lectured widely. She helped introduce the belief that sanitation and personal hygiene played major roles in the prevention of disease. In 1949, the American Medical Women's Association established the Elizabeth Blackwell medal to honor her achievements. The medal is awarded each year to a woman who has made important contributions in advancing the role of women in medicine."

It is not known how closely related these famous women were to our ancestor Phoebe Blackwell, but they were probably cousins to some degree, since the name Blackwell is not too common. The Blackwell family roots were in Gloucestershire, England. Phoebe's family had come to America when Phoebe was a child (in the early 1800's). Elizabeth and her parents didn't emigrate until 1832. This was after Phoebe was grown and married and had children of her own. Elizabeth was quite close to the age of Phoebe's daughter Lutitia.
Another famous Blackwell was Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921).

"Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the first ordained woman minister in the United States. She worked to promote civil rights for blacks and women's right to vote. Blackwell was born in Henrietta, N.Y., near Rochester. She finished her religious studies at Oberlin College in 1850. However, the college did not permit her to graduate because it opposed women's becoming ordained ministers. For the next three years, Blackwell lectured against slavery and in favor of women's rights and efforts to outlaw alcoholic beverages. She also preached at any church that accepted her. In 1853, Blackwell was ordained a minister of a Congregational church in Wayne County, New York. She resigned in 1854 because she considered many of the church's doctrines too strict. Blackwell then joined a Unitarian church, where she occasionally preached. Blackwell wrote many books, including The Sexes Throughout Nature (1875). In this book, she criticized the famous British scientist Charles R. Darwin, who had become known for his theory of evolution. Blackwell accused Darwin of using his theory to try to prove that women were inferior to men."


Joel Shearer and Phoebe Blackwell were married in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania around 1819, when he was 27 and she was 19 years old. Lutitia Shearer was the oldest of her parents' children, except for one older brother, John, who had died at the age of 20 months shortly after Lutitia was born.
There were twelve children in the family:

       John Shearer (1820-1822)
       Lutitia Shearer (1822-1903)
       Sarah Shearer (1823-1846)
       Mary Ann Shearer (1825-1893)
       Phebe Blackwell Shearer (1827-1898)
       Harriet Perrine Shearer (1828-1900)
       William Henry Shearer (1830-1853)
       Daniel Shearer (1832-1842)
       Thomas Jefferson Shearer (1834-abt.1860)
       George Washington Shearer (1836-1891)
       Maria Jane Shearer (1839-1860)
       James Alfred Shearer (1842-1898)


At the time the Shearers joined the LDS Church in 1830, their family consisted of Lutitia (8), Sarah (7), Mary Ann (5), Phebe (3), Harriet (2), and the baby, William (6 months).
In 1830, the year the Church was organized, the Shearer family heard of the "strange Mormon religion." When they went to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith, Lutitia's baby brother William was cutting teeth. He was feverish and cross, so Lutitia (who was then 8 years old), could not sit down and listen to the Prophet, as she had to stand or walk with the baby around the outside of the crowd, for it was an outside bowery. She could see the Prophet, but only caught a word now and then. Her parents joined the Church in November of 1830."
Since the children born between 1825 and 1832 were born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, it is supposed that the family was baptized there, and thus belonged to the branch Brigham Young visited while investigating the Church in 1831 or 1832. (Apparently around 1824 or 1825, the Shearers had moved from Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north to Bradford County, Pennsylvania). They lived there until after 1832, when they moved west to gather with the Saints. The Susquehanna River runs right through Bradford County; this county is along the boundary with the state of New York, and just west of Susquehanna County, where the translation of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the priesthood had taken place in 1829. Joseph Smith lived in Harmony, Pennsylvania from December 1827 to June 1829, about 60 miles east of where the Shearer family lived.
"They loved the Gospel, for it brought joy into their lives. Grandma would tell of how her father would read a chapter from the scriptures every morning, then the family would sing a hymn, as her mother was a very pretty singer. After this they would have their family prayer. They found time for such a wonderful devotion every day.
Apparently the Joel Shearer family settled in Pike County, Illinois when they were driven from Missouri along with the Saints in early 1839, and they stayed there instead of moving to Nauvoo, which was upriver about 60 miles to the north. Two more children, Maria Jane Shearer and her brother James Alfred Shearer were born in Pike County in May 1839 and March 1842.
Phoebe Blackwell Shearer died in 1845 in Pike County, Illinois.


Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra S. Bray