A native of Montague county and a strong and able representative of the young attorneys at the bar, Mr. Speer was born October 12, 1873. His parents, D. and Sallie H. (Ellis) Speer, who reside in Alvord, Texas, settled at Montague, in Montague county, in 1872. The father taught school in this county for nine years, and while he was brought up on a farm in Smith county and obtained some knowledge of books there after the war and even after his marriage, he prepared himself for public school work and has followed it most efficiently and throughout from 1872 to the present. The Speer family was founded it most efficiently and thoroughly from 1872 to the present. The Speer family was founded in Smith county, Texas, in 1848, by John Speer, grandfather of our subject, and near Floresville was where he reared his family. He was from Shelby county, Tennessee, where his son, D. Speer, was born March 24, 1844.
D. Speer was a member of Company K, Tenth Texas Dismounted Cavalry, during the rebellion, and enlisted at Clarksville. He was in Ector’s Brigade, and first settled in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Later his regiment was transferred east of the Mississippi and he participated in battle at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and finally at Mobile, Alabama. He was on duty when Lee surrendered and when he returned home he first turned his attention to farming. He married in Smith county, in 1869, a lady whose parents died of yellow fever in Mobile, when she was five years old, and she was brought up by and accompanied her uncle, Joseph Swain, to Texas in 1865. The issue of this marriage includes: Judge Ocie Speer, of Fort Worth; associate justice of the Texas court of appeals, elected in November, 1902; Robert E., of the Speer Printing Company, of Fort Worth; John, of Bowie; Oran, of Alvord, Texas; Charles H., of the Fort Worth Printing Company; Lon A., a teacher at Fate, Texas; D. M., a student of medicine in Fort Worth; Bonnie M., of Alvord, and a teacher in the public schools, and Ivan R., who died in infancy.
The literary education of John Speer was obtained under the direction and supervision of his father. He finished a course in the high school in Merkel, Texas, at the age of nineteen years, and as a start in life became a clerk in a dry goods store in Ennis. After remaining there some four years he came to Bowie and took up the study of law with his brother, the Judge. He was admitted to practice before Judge D. E. Barrett, August 6, 1896, and formed a partnership with his brother under the firm name of Speer and Speer. His first case was one of assault charged against a party at Sunset and his second one was where, as deputy county attorney, he prosecuted while his brother defended. Civil practice has occupied him chiefly, and his time is spent in attending to the wants of a good clientage and in delving into his fine library of law books, as a student for the more complete preparation for his profession. He holds to Democratic principles, and naturally takes some notice of things political as they pass along. He is at this date chairman of the Democratic executive of his county.
December 26, 1899, Mr. Speer married in Bowie Miss May Allen, a daughter of A. J. Allen. Their only child is Ruth, born January 1, 1901.
John Speer, as a citizen, needs no defense. The pages of his life-book have been wide open through all the years that those who wished might read and nothing prejudicial to his character has been found therein. In his professional capacity he carefully guards his clients’ interests and whether he wins or loses in a lawsuit he has conscientiously done his whole duty in the case.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 208-209.