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

Spears, Joshua, Sr.

(born: 1858) 

In July of 1934, Joshua Spears, Sr. retired from the Indianapolis Police Department after 51 years of service. He was the longest serving officer in the history of the department. Spears was born in Paris, KY, the son of Lucy Murray Spears and Sol Spears [source: Ohio Marriages Index, 1800-1858]. He joined the police force in 1883 and in 1925, Spears was promoted to the rank of sergeant and said to be one of the most efficient men on the police force. He was the first African American police officer to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, the promotion was made by Chief of Police, George V. Coffin. Joshua Spears, Sr., his wife Maria, and their son Joshua Jr. lived on Center Street. All were born in Kentucky [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. Maria died in 1912, she was born in Paris, KY, in April of 1852, and after moving to Indianapolis, she often entertained guests from her home town. October 18, 1915, Joshua Spears, Sr. married Viola Frances Jackson (b.1886) who was from Indianapolis, and in 1940, the couple lived at 468 Fall Creek Parkway Drive in Indianapolis [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. The marriage took place in Cincinnati, OH. The couple are last listed as Joshua and Viola Spearis* in Polk's Indianapolis (Marion County, IND.) City Directory, 1942, p.1242.

Three other Indianapolis patrolmen from Kentucky were Edward Harris (b.1851), Frank Hurt (b.1859), and Carter Temple (b.1842). Harris, from Louisville, KY, joined the force in 1874. Hurt joined the force in 1883. Temple, from Logan County, KY, joined the force in 1874.

For more see "Retired police officer, with longest service record, feted by citizens, officials," Indianapolis Recorder, 07/28/1934, p.1; see "Joshua Spears" near the end of the article "Indianapolis, Ind. home of race's pioneer manufacturers," Afro-American, 02/07/1925, p.13; "The sudden death of Mrs. Maria Spears...," Indianapolis Recorder, 03/23/1912, p.2; "Sergeant Joshua Spears," Indianapolis Recorder, 04/16/1938, p.2; "Patrolman Spears marries at Cincinnati," Indianapolis Recorder, 11/06/1915, p.6; and "Our Colored patrolmen," Freeman, 03/16/1889, p.5.

*In some sources the last name is spelled "Spearis," "Spearls," and "Spevis."

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Logan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Paris, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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“Spears, Joshua, Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-10-19 19:41:59