Relatives tell about Bosco Sears

I can still remember the way she said the name Bosco Sears and then shuddered.
I was visiting with Bernice Spires, in Bingham when her 90-year old brother, Wilbur Meyer, stopped for a visit. Uncle Wilbur had made the acquaintance of some long-lost Sears relatives in Bond County and had come to tell Grandma of his findings.
The talk continued on to other Sears’ relatives, and then she said the name as if dredged up from a long-distant memory – “Bosco Sears – ooh, I was afraid of him. He was mean.”
Wilbur added, “Bosco Sears was a highwayman, along with his brother.”
As Uncle Wilbur told it, the parents died when the boys were young and they were taken into the home of their grandparents, who pampered and petted them.
Bernice remembered Bosco as a tough guy in school who picked on the smaller and weaker kids. Later, he graduated to petty larceny and then to holding people up on the Bingham-to-Ramsey road.
As editor of “Fayette Facts,” the publication of the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society, my job is compiling enough genealogy and historical material to publish an 80-page book twice a year.
One of the regular columns in “Fayette Facts” is titled, “75 Years Ago, Obituaries and Death Notices” from the Ramsey News-Journal and Vandalia Union newspapers.
The headlines of the Vandalia Union, April 21, 1927, newspaper shouted, “ROSCOE SEARS, AGE 29, KILLED BY OFFICERS AS HE MADE DASH FOR LIBERTY. The career of Roscoe Sears, the principal in many escapades and many times arrested, is ended.”
I had found Grandma’s “Bosco Sears.”
The newspaper article reported that Sears was being taken to the county jail after a hearing at the courthouse on the charge of driving a car while intoxicated.
In 1927, the Fayette County Courthouse was in the Vandalia Statehouse. On the way to jail, Roscoe asked that he be permitted to inspect his car, which he had left in front of the Eakin Garage, which was located on Gallatin Street.
Returning to the jail, Sears made a break for liberty, running toward the overhead bridge on Fourth Street. Officer Jim Lawler ran after him, commanding him to halt while deputy sheriff Elvis Foster joined in the chase.
As Sears reached the footbridge, the officers fired several shots into the air, but Sears did not stop. Both officers fired as Sears continued to run up an alley, where he collapsed.
Lawler was the first to his side, and calling him Jim, Roscoe asked for a drink of water. Ten minutes before Dr. Mark Greer reached the scene, Sears died from a gunshot wound through his back that had entered his heart.
Roscoe Sears was the son of a former Vandalia police officer, Ben Sears, who died in 1910. A brother, Carter Sears, had served in Word War I and preceded him in death.
Uncle Wilber and John McDonough told a different story about Carter, that he was a highwayman, along with his brother. They went on to say that Carter was killed during a card game, but the common story was that he had died during the war.
Frederick Hanes’ 1922 book, “Fayette County in the World War,” provided a brief biographical sketch of Carter Harrison Sears. He was born in Bingham in 1895 and enlisted in service in the autumn of 1917. He was sent overseas in the spring of 1919 and was invalided home after being hit by shrapnel.
It was reported that he fell from his bed, striking a bath tub, which so affected the wound that it caused his death. The Vandalia paper told that he died overseas.
Roscoe and Carter were both left motherless in 1899. Their father then took his three little sons and daughter, and for a short time, they made their home with William and Nancy Sears, Roscoe’s grandparents. When their father died in 1910, Carter was 15 and Roscoe age 12.
The Vandalia Union told that “Roscoe’s waywardness had long been a source of grief to his relatives all of whom were good people. He had been arrested and in jail scores of times on various charges here, in East St. Louis and elsewhere.
“He escaped from jail here once and from the State Farm once. At the time of his death, he had three charges against him – one for vagrancy and two for drunken driving.”
Grandma Nancy Sears received an allotment from the government for Carter’s service, which upon her death in 1926, was divided among Carter’s brothers and sisters.
Both Carter and Roscoe are buried in Liberty Cemetery in Bingham, near the grandparents who loved them so much.

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