By Jared L. Olar
October 2007-April 2013
The English surname of "Spencer" derives from the Latin word dispensator, which means a storekeeper or shopkeeper. In medieval times, a feudal lord would employ a dispensator to have charge of his possessions and to oversee distribution and sale of supplies to the serfs, peasants, and tenant farmers who worked his land. In essence, a dispensator was something like a steward. This Latin term gave rise to the occupational family names of "Dispenser," "Spencer," "Spenser," "Spence," "Spens," "Spender," etc. Since there must have been thousands of dispensatori, there are naturally a large number of unrelated Spencer families. Even though he was the servant of a feudal lord or a king, a dispensator often himself would be of noble or knightly rank. The two best known medieval English families bearing a form of this surname were the Dispensers, Earls of Winchester, and the Spencers of Althorp, Northamptonshire, ancestors of the present Earls Spencer, who were the family of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, formerly known as Lady Diana Spencer. The Earls Spencer are also closely related to the Spencer-Churchill family, which includes the famous British Prime Minister Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill. During the Renaissance, an unscrupulous herald manufactured a spurious genealogy tracing the Spencers of Althorp back to the Dispensers of Winchester, but that fictitious genealogy was long ago debunked -- there is no proof nor any reason to believe that the Spencers of Althorp had anything to do with the old Earls of Winchester.
In the United States, a very large number of Spencers are descendants of "the Four Spencer Brothers" -- William Spencer (1601-1640), Thomas Spencer (1607–1687), Michael Spencer (1611–1653), and GERARD SPENCER (1614–1685), sons of Gerard Spencer and Alice Whitbred. The Four Spencer Brothers belonged to a family that came from Stotfold in Bedfordshire, England. The brothers left England in the 1600s and settled in New England. Our own Spencer family is descended from Gerard, youngest of the Four Spencer Brothers. Donald Lines Jacobus wrote the landmark study on this family, "The Four Spencer Brothers -- Their Ancestors and Descendants," (The American Genealogist, 27:79-87, April 1951). A subsequent study on our Spencers was prepared by George E. McCracken, entitled "Spencers in Wyoming Valley 1772-1830" (The American Genealogist 43:139-145, July 1967). The family history of our Spencers is also presented on the late George R. Spencer's genealogical website and the Long Island Surnames website. Christopher Kile's database also includes the genealogy of our Spencers, though with various omissions and errors.
1. Ensign GERARD SPENCER ("Jarrad," "Jared"), born in 1614 in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, England; baptised 25 April 1614 at St. Mary's in Stotfold; died 23 June 1685 in Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut. Ensign Gerard Spencer was one of the "Four Spencer Brothers" who came to New England in the early 1600s and are ancestors of a great many of the Spencer families of the United States.
Gerard SPENCER, ENS. and Hannah Joannis HILLS were married on 17 Dec 1636 in Lynn, Essex Co., MA. Hannah Joannis HILLS was born in 1618 in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, England. She died on 22 Oct 1692 in Haddam, Middlesex Co., CT. It appears she died before her husband made his will in 1683, and perhaps much earlier. Source: Mrs Flora Clark's Manuscript "Gerard-1, Thomas-2 SFA
Gerard SPENCER, ENS. and Rebecca (Porter) CLARK were married. Rebecca (Porter) CLARK was christened on 16 Sep 1630 in Folstod, England. She died on 9 Jan 1683. She was the widow of John Clark.
He was named a freeman in Lynn, MA March 9, 1637. He was granted the use and operation of the ferry service, Lynn, MA Mar 1639. He was elected to Haddam CT about 1660 when his son John is named a proprietor of Haddam. Haddam CT land deed from Stephen Backus to Daniel Brainerd, "given by Stephen Backus with my Sarah of Norwich, CT to Daniel Brainerd of Haddam, once acre that fell to us by portion of the estate of our father, Gerard Spencer. He was named freeman of CT, and elected to Ensign of militia circa 1672. He was elected to Representative to Ct General Court circa 1674-1675. From Virkus, Vol 1, The abridged compendium of American Genealogy pg 991, Came from England with his brother William, and Rev. Thomas Hooker, to Newton, MA, 1633; a founder of Hartford, CT. 1636; ensign Train band, Lynn, MA, 1656, and rep. Gen. Ct ., 1674, served in King Philip's War. From NE Marriages prior to 1700; Torrey (?) m: 1st HANNAH ca 1637. m: 2nd wife Rebecca (Porter) Clark, widow of John aft 1677, resided Haddam, CT. Source: From a letter by Jack T. Spencer (address, etc, elsewhere) states the Gerard did not go to Hartford until many years after he settled at Lynn. He did not go to Hartford with THOMAS, for that matter neither did WILLIAM. (He is correcting a statement in a article entitled BUTLER-SPENCER CONNECTION, which appeared on page 1, vol 17 Feb 1993) In Love's History of Hartford, THOMAS was at Hartford early in 1637 and WILLIAM in 1638. The latter date agrees with the General Court Records where WILLIAM does not appear as Secretary subsequent to 1638. He also states that GERARD does not appear in the Hartford land records until 1661 and then only for a brief period (until 1663). During this short interval he was awaiting approval for a charter at Haddam. Source: From Colonial Families of the United States. Emigrated to America, 1638, from Stotfold, England; settled in Cambridge, MA; removed to Hartford, CT. Was Captain of train band and served as member of the General Court of Ct, 1674, '74, '79, '79', '80, '83. Served in King Philip's War. He was the son of Gerard, b. 1576, who was son of Michael, who was the son of John, d. 1558, who was descended from the Spencers of Southmylls (established by investigations of Rev. John Holding, M.A. Canterbury, Vicar of Stotfold), who were descend from Robert De Le Spencer, Steward to William the Conqueror, 1066. Source: From "Early Settlers of New York State" by Janet Wethy Foley, V1 and V2, orignally published serially: vol 1 1934 - vol 9 1942. Available thru Genealogy Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD Gerard came in 1632 with Rev. Thomas Hooker, and was one of the first settlers of Haddam, CT. Some of the information on Gerard's children taken from: Mrs Louise M. Birnbaumer 33 West Calvert St. Lincoln, NB SLC LDS Film #0496485 Oct 1969 Source: NEHGR Oct 1941, #95, pp: 350-351 Baptized at St. Mary's Parish, Stotfold, co. Bedford, Eng., 25 April 1614, immigrated to New England in 1630, lived at Cambriddge until 1637, moved to Lynn, thence to Hartford in 1660, and finally settled in 1662 at Haddam, where he died between 17 Sept 1683, the date of his will, and 1685, the year of its proving, an ensign in the Lynn militia in 1636, a freeman in 1637, a deputy from Haddam in the General Court from 1674 to 1680. Source: A Spencer Genealogy. The Descent from Gerard of Haddam, Conn. Harold L. Spencer, 1977, FHL 929.273 sp332, pp 18-19, 26-27, 37-38, 113-114. Will dated 17 September 1683, proved 3 September 1685. Gerard settled in Lynn, Mass., later came to Hartford and thence to Haddam, Conn. There are several good accounts of him and his family in print, but some of them omit the daughter Sarah, proved by an undated deed in Haddam Deeds (1:49) given by "Steuen Bacas with my weif Sarah of Norwich" to Danial Brainerd of Haddam of one acre "that fell us by portionof the estat of our father Garrard Spencer. The second marriage is suggested for Gerard because there was, by elimination, no other adult Spencer in CT of proper age to be thw widow Clark's husband(and unencumbered with a wife know to be living)except his brother Thomas, who was an older man and resident at a greater distance from Saybrook. Nevertheless, she may have been a third wife of Sergt. Thomas Spencer. All that the records disclose is that she died under the name of Spencer, and the loss of the early New London probate records where her estate was settled may leave it forever a matter of conjecture who her Spencer husband was. Gerard's will does not even name all his children, and lack of reference to a wife may be explained in either of two ways. A second wife may have been provided for by prenuptial agreement, or such a marriage may have occurred after the will was made. Since the publication of Goodwin's Genealogical Notes in 1856, the early wife of Gerard who was the mother of his children has always been named as Hannah. The present compiler follows these authorities, though confessing that he has not seen an original or quoted contemporary record so naming her. Still, such a record may exist. The birth dates as signed to the children below are mostly guesses. Gerard was at Cambridge, MS in 1631 where he owned land on the south side of the river. Soon after 1631 hemoved to Lynn, MS where, in 1635, he was a journeyman; he was granted the ferry in 1638-1640 by a General Court in Boston. He was appointed administrator of his brother Micahels estate in 1653; was chosen Ensign in the Train Band, 1656, and in 1659 was on the Grand Jury. At this time Gerard and his son John were amoung the 28 purchasers of land which eventually became Haddam, CT, on the CT River. Our Spencer heritage in America could be considered to have it's origin here in this small village where Gerard raised his family, and lived out his life, and left many descendants of whom some yet remain in the Haddam area.
The first mention of Gerrard is in the Cambridge Town records "in the prime of Sept. 1634, Lots granted one west side River-Gerrad Spencer 4 ackrs." He removed to Lynn, MA with his brother Michael in 1638 and operated the local ferry. In 1661 he was one of the 28 purchasers of the town of Haddam. He was commissioned an Ensigh for the town of Haddam on Sept 14, 1675.
Colonial Records of CT, list a "Ensigne Jarrad Spencer" as a freeman. "This entry was made at a Court session held in Hartford, June 26, 1672.
At page 260-61 of the Colonial Records of CT., vol 2, Ens. Gerrard Spencer is listed as a deputy at a "General Court by Speciall Order of the Gouernor, " which met on July 9, 1675.
Gerrard's will follows:
"The last Will of Ensign Jarrad Spencer of Haddam: I give unto my son William the Land which I bought of Steven Luxford's Estate. How I come by it the Court Record will show. I give unto my son William 1-3 part of 48 acres lying by that wch was commonly called Welles his Brook. I give unto my son my mow Dwelling house with the Lott that was the Houselott, with an Additon lying by the side of it, granted by the Committe. I give unto my daughter Rebeckah that Houselott I bought of Thomas Smith. Likewise I give nto my daughter Rebeckas 1-3 part of the Lott by Welles his Brook. I give unto my son Thomas 40 acres on Matchamodus Side. I give unto my son Thomas his son, Jarrad spencder by name, my Rapier. I give unto my son Timothy Spencer the remainder of that 6 score acre lott wheroff his 2 brothers had their shares. The other 6 score thereof I dispose of as followeth: To Grace Spencer, the daughter of my son John Spencer, 40 acres; to Alice Brooks, the daugher of my daughter Brooks, 40 acres; to Grace Spencer, the daughter of my son Samuel Spencer, I give the 40 acres. I give unto Jarred Cone, the son of my daughter Cone, my Carbine. A pewter Flagon and Urim Basin I give to the Church of Haddam, if there be one within five years. It is my Will tht my son John Spencer his Children and my son-in-law Daniel Cone his Children have an equal proportion of my Estate with my other Children. It is my Will that however my Estate falls out for portions to my Children, that my daughter Ruth Clarke's portion shall be 15 pounds, which was my Covenant with her father at her marriage, which 15 pounds she hath received some part thereof, as my Books will testify; & to son Joseph Clarke I give him 40 acres of land at Matchemodus. It is the humble request of Jarrad Spencer that the honoured Major John Talcott and Capt. John Allyn would be pleased to oversee that this Will. I appoint my two sons Daniel Brainard and William Spencer Adms. to the Estate."
1. Emigrant Ancestor; 1631; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA. 2. Lawsuit; 7 Mar 1660/61; Hartford, Hartford Co., CT 45. Quarter Court, March 7 1660/61: Simon Lobdell Plt cont: Jared & Hannah Spencer in an action of ye case shee for refuseing to marry with him according to promis and Jared for breach of promis to ye balue of 150£ damadg. [p 232] The Magistrates and Jury in Simon Lobdels case doe returne this as a special Verdict. That ye find not any possitiue engagemt broken by her respecting coniugal relation or absolutely binding her to consummate such a relation: Neuertheles we find vpon Evidenc that Simon hath susteined much damadge by their occasion And therfore doe find it iust and meet that all expences that he hath bin at in referenc to these proceedings ec Jared shal repay to the said Simon and to returne any Goods or money receaued by Jared or any of his family from ye said Simon. And futher that the said Simon shal haue paid vnto him as recompense for his damadge Ten pounds wthin ye space of six months.  Mrch: 14. 60 The Genll Court doth further act in reference to ye Just expenses mentioned in ye special verdict that Jared Spencer shal pay to Simon Lobdel fiue pounds besides the 10£ forementioned in ye verdict all wch Sum of ffifteen pounds shal be paid in wheat and pease or other estate Equivalent therto: Fiue pounds to be paid by the 10th of Aprill the other Ten pounds according as is specified in ye special verdict and this is to be a final issue of yt case. 3. Lands Recorded - Granted; 1 Sep 1634; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA 13. Lots granted on the weft fide of the River:- Garrard Spencer - 4 Ackrs 4. Oath of Freemanship/Allegiance; 9 Mar 1636/37; Massachusetts Bay Colony, MA 46. 5. Mention in Will, Inv. or Prob.; 17 Mar 1644/45; London, Eng 3. Received Legacy in the will of his uncle, Richard Spencer, of London, England. The legacy may never have been collected despite hiring a London lawyer to do so, as Daniel Spencer, a cousin, charged with the estate appears to have refused to make dispursement to the agents of his American cousins.
Gerrard came to America with the first Winthrop Fleet in 1630. He was under the leadership of John Winthrop who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Cambridge. The first mention of Gerrard is in the Cambridge Town records "in the prime of September 1634, Lots granted one west side River - Gerrad Spencer 4 ackrs." He moved to Lynn, MA with his brother Michael in 1638 and ran the ferry there. The ferry ran from Needham's Landing in Lynn to Biards Landing in Saugas. In 1661 he was one of the 28 purchasers of the town of Haddam. He was commissioned an Ensign for the town of Haddam on September 14, 1675. A pewter flagon and Urim Basin are in the glass case in the rear of the church sancturary at Haddam.
Colonial Records of Connecticut, Volume 2, published 1852, states on p. 182 that "Ensigne Jarrad Spencer is propownded for a freeman." This entry was made at a Court session held at Hartford, June 26, 1672. This session was presided over by Governor John Winthrop, and a footnote indicates that this session was hastily called in response to a letter from the King of England that he had declared war against the States General. The King's letter advised the Colonies to make "speedy and effectual provision for their defence against the Dutch." Exactly what is meant by the entry regarding Ensign Spencer is unclear.
At page 260-61 of the Colonial Records of Connecticut, Volume 2, Ens. Gerrard Spencer is listed as a deputy at a "Generall Court by Speciall Order of the Gouernor," which met on July 9, 1675. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Indian War which broke out in Plymouth Colony and the danger it presented to the eastern towns in Connecticut. ("The Court being mett, they were acquainted wth the occasion of theire meeting, which was the present trouble of the Indians now risen against the English, spoyleing and destroying of them by fire and sword . . .")
In Early Connecticut Probate Records, Volume IV - Hartford District, 1677 - 1687, published 1984, p. 363-64, the Will of Ensign Jarrad Spencer is transcribed. The Will was dated September 17, 1683 and was taken on June 29, 1685. The will is as follows:
"The last Will of Ensign Jarrad Spencer of Haddam: I give unto my son William the Land which I bought of Steven Luxford's Estate. How I come by it the Court Record will show. I give unto my son William 1-3 part of 48 acres lying by that wch was commonly called Welles his Brook. I give to my son Nathaniel my now Dwelling house with the Lott that was the Houselott, with an Addition lying by the side of it, granted by the Committe. I give unto my daughter Rebeckah that Houselott I bought of Thomas Smith. Likewise I give unto my daugthter Rebeckas 1-3 part of the Lott by Welles his Brook. I give unto my son Thomas 40 acres on Matchamodus Side. I give unto my son Thomas his son, Jarrad spencer by name, my Rapier. I give unto my son Timothy Spencer the remainder of that 6 score acre lott wherof his 2 brothers had their shares. The other 6 score thereof I dispose of as followeth: To Grace Spencer, the daughter of my son John Spencer, 40 acres; to Alice Brooks, the daughter of my daughter Brooks, 40 acres; to Grace Spencer, the daughter of my son Samuel Spencer, I give the other 40 acres. I give unto Jarred Cone, the son of my daughter Cone, my Carbine. A pewter Flagon and Urim Basin I give to the Church at Haddam, if there be one within five years. It is my Will that my son John Spencer his Children and my son-in-law Daniel Cone his Children have an equal proportion of my Estate with my other Children. It is my Will that however my Estate falls out for portions to my Children, that my daughter Ruth Clarke's portion shall be 15 pounds, which was my Covenant with her father at her marriage, which 15 pounds she hath received some part thereof, as my Books will testify; & to son Joseph Clarke I give him 40 acres of land at Matchemodus. It is the humble request of Jarrad Spencer that the honoured Major John Talcott and Capt. John Allyn would be pleased to oversee that his Will. I appoint my two sons Daniel Brainard and William Spencer Adms. to the Estate." Witness: John James, JARRAD SPENCER Joseph Arnold Court Record, Page 111-3 September 1685: Adms. to Daniel Braynard and William Spencer, with the Will annexed.
Gerard SPENCER, ENS. and Hannah Joannis HILLS had the following children:
-- JOHN SPENCER, born 17 Aug. 1638, md. Rebecca Hayward (Howard). -- MEHITABLE SPENCER, born circa 1638, md. Daniel Cone (Mackhoe). -- HANNAH SPENCER, born 1641, married Deacon Daniel Brainerd. -- MARAH ALICE SPENCER, born 1641, married Thomas Brooks. -- SAMUEL GERRARD SPENCER, born 27 Sept. 1644, married twice. -- ELIZABETH SPENCER, born circa 1646, married Joseph Stannard. -- THOMAS SPENCER SR., born 1650, married twice. -- TIMOTHY SPENCER, born 1652, married Sarah Clark. -- RUTH SPENCER, born circa 1654, married Joseph Clark. -- NATHANIEL SPENCER, born 21 Dec. 1658, married Lydia Bailey. 2. WILLIAM SPENCER, born circa 1656. -- REBECCA SPENCER, born 1660, married twice.
2. WILLIAM SPENCER, son of Gerald and Hannah Spencer, born circa 1656 in East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut; died ante 6 Feb. 1730/31 in East Haddam, Connecticut; buried in Riverview Cemetery, East Haddam, Connecticut. This William is NOT the William Spencer who married Sarah Ackley. William married circa 1680 in Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, to MARGARET BATES, born 17 June 1664 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, Massachusetts; baptised 20 June 1664, died 3 Oct. 1736 in Kinderhook, New York; buried in Riverview Cemetery, East Haddam, Connecticut; daughter of James and Hannah (Withington) Bates. William and Margaret had eight sons and two daughters:
3. JOSEPH SPENCER, born 23 March 1680. -- ELIZABETH SPENCER, born 5 Sept. 1685, baptised 6 June 1686. -- HEZEKIAH SPENCER, baptised 10 Aug. 1690. -- JAMES SPENCER, born 24 Feb. 1691, married twice. -- MICAJAH SPENCER, born 15 June 1693, married Sarah Booge. -- MARGARET SPENCER, born 5 Sept. 1695, baptised 1 Oct. 1699. -- HEZEKIAH SPENCER, born 6 April 1697. -- WILLIAM SPENCER, born 16 Sept. 1699, married Lydia (?). -- JONATHAN SPENCER, born 22 Sept. 1702. -- ICHABOD SPENCER, born 19 May 1704.
3. JOSEPH SPENCER, son of William and Margaret Spencer, born 23 March 1680/1 in Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut; died 19 Dec. 1714 in Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut. Joseph was baptised on 3 Sept. 1682 in Middletown, Connecticut. About 1705 to 1710, Joseph married HANNAH CRANE, born 24 Nov. 1702, died 20 Feb. 1780 in Wethersfield, Hartford County, Connecticut. After Joseph's death, Hannah married secondly on 20 Sept. 1717 in East Haddam, Connecticut, to Richard Purple. The following children of Joseph and Hannah are known:
-- ELIZABETH SPENCER, born 10 Aug. 1711. 4. JOSEPH SPENCER, born 6 Jan. 1712/13.
4. JOSEPH SPENCER, son of Joseph and Hannah Spencer, born 6 Jan. 1712/13 in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut; died 31 March 1747 in Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut. On 24 June 1736 in Haddam, Joseph married RACHEL HUNGERFORD, born 12 Oct. 1722, daughter of Green and Jemima (Richardson) Hungerford. After Joseph's death, Ruth married secondly in 1754 to Freedom Chamberlin. Joseph and Ruth had three daughters and three sons:
-- RACHEL SPENCER, born 28 Jan. 1737, married Matthew Hungerford. 5. JOSEPH SPENCER, born 11 May 1739. -- SARAH SPENCER, born 11 Jan. 1740/41, married Ezekiel Crocker. -- HANNAH SPENCER, born 26 March 1743, married Joseph Byington. -- Deacon ISAAC SPENCER, born 10 Jan. 1745, died 25 Jan. 1818. -- Lt. ICHABOD SPENCER, born 22 Aug. 1747, married twice.
5. JOSEPH SPENCER, son of Joseph and Rachel Spencer, born 11 May 1739 in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut; died between 1824 and 1830 in Onandaga, Onandaga County, New York. On 12 Oct. 1758 in Farmington, Joseph married MARY JEROME, born circa 1739 in Farmington, died between 1824 and 1830 in Onandaga, New York, daughter of Zerubbabel and Phebe (Cook) Jerome. Joseph and Mary had four sons and two daughters:
-- MAMRE SPENCER, born 29 Oct. 1759, married twice. 6. DANIEL SPENCER, born 1 April 1761. -- ELAM SPENCER, born 7 July 1764, married Hannah Deming. -- MILES SPENCER, born circa 1768, married twice. -- JOSEPH D. SPENCER, born circa 1778, married Clarissa Johnson. -- POLLY SPENCER, born 23 Jan. 1783, died 28 Nov. 1832.
6. DANIEL SPENCER, a Revolutionary War veteran, son of Joseph and Mary Spencer, born 1 April 1761 in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut; died circa 1853-56 in Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Daniel farmed for several years in Kingston Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and afterwards in Dallas, where he died at either the age of 92 or 95. He was one of the very first settlers of Dallas, well before Dallas Township was created out of territory originally within Kingston Township. Two brief biographical sketches of Daniel Spencer and a few other passing references to him are included in the History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, 1893, edited by H.C. Bradsby. It should be noted, however, that in one passage Bradsby seems to have erroneously misread Daniel's name as "David," evidently reading the "n" as a "v" and running the "e" and "l" together to produce a "d" (unless "David" was Daniel's middle name by which he was sometimes known). Bradsby's sketches were based on information supplied by Daniel's children and grandchildren. Bradsby's history tells of the family of Ziba Spencer, son of Orin Spencer, who in turn was the son of
"David, (sic) who came to this county about 1775, locating at Forty Fort; he served three years in the Revolutionary army as a valiant soldier, defending his rights as a free-born man. He participated in the defense of the fort at the time of the Wyoming Massacre, and caused several Indians to 'bite the dust.' He is said to have been the owner of several hundred acres of land in the Wyoming Valley, which he disposed of for a trifle, not knowing its value at that time. He afterward moved to Dallas, and subsequently bought a farm in Kingston township, where he lived for a number of years. He died in Dallas at the age of ninety-five years, having reared a family of five children, all of whom grew to maturity."
Bradsby's history also includes the biographies of two Spencer brothers, William and Ambrose, who were grandsons of Daniel Spencer. According to his biography, William Spencer was
"a son of Daniel and Susan (Amey) Spencer, the former of whom was born in Connecticut, and who removed to this county in its early settlement. He [i.e., William's father Daniel] located in Kingston township, on a farm, where he passed the remainder of his lifetime. The grandfather [i.e., Daniel Spencer] served in the Revolution, in the defense of that liberty which the true patriot loves better than life itself. He lived to be ninety-two years of age. His family consisted of four children."
Although William Spencer's biography does not name his grandfather, "the grandfather" is obviously the same "David Spencer" (sic -- Daniel Spencer), Revolutionary War veteran, mentioned in the 1893 History as the grandfather of Ziba Spencer and the father of Orin Spencer. Different members of the Spencer family apparently had uncertain recollections of their grandfather: some said he died at age 92, others at age 95; some said he had five children, others said he had four.
The family traditions quoted above indicate that Daniel Spencer was forced to flee the Wyoming Valley at the fall of Forty Fort in July of 1778. During the Revolutionary War, Daniel served as a private in Capt. Peter Curtiss' Company, Col. Roger Enos' Connecticut Regiment (Selected Final Pension Payment Vouchers 1818-1864: Pennsylvania, Kathryn McPherson Gunning, vol. 1, page 529). "He served in the Rev. in 1778, as a substitute for his father; in Nov. 1779, substitute for Hiram Brooke; in 1780 for Cyrus Gaylord (Unplaced and Shoemaker Spencers, 1987, page 42). It is unknown when Daniel Spencer returned to Luzerne County after the end of the Revolutionary War, but it was probably in the 1790s, around which time many of his fellow Connecticut settlers of Luzerne County are known to have returned to the Wyoming Valley. Daniel was living in Luzerne County in 1794, when he rendered service to his country with the Luzerne Volunteers during the suppression of the Whisky Rebellion, as we see in Bradsby's 1893 History of Luzerne County, page 169 (emphasis added):
"After all mild and dissuasive measures had failed, in 1794, Washington being president, it was resolved to raise and equip an army for the purpose of quelling the insurrection. A force of 15,000 men was assembled, of regulars and volunteers, from the States of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. Gov. Lee, of Virginia, had the chief command. Mifflin was governor of this State, and one of the commanders. All the governors and commanders were ordered to meet in Pittsburg, to hear complaints and take testimony, as the malcontents should be arrested and brought before them. Among the first to tender their services to the government were the Luzerne volunteers, Capt. Samuel Bowman; attached to a battalion of light infantry, under Maj. George Fisher. Capt. Bowman marched out September 1, 1794, reaching where is now Pittsburg, with fifty men. The Captain was an old officer of the army of the Revolution; brave and experienced, and in his company were some of his old soldiers. The following is the muster-roll:
"Captain, Samuel Bowman; lieutenant, Ebenezer Parrish; ensign, Arnold Colt; sergeants, John Alden, Daniel Spencer, John Freeman; corporals, Archibald White, Oliver Parrish, Robert Lewis, Thompson Holliday; fifer, Peter Yarrington; drummer, John Wright; privates, Samuel Young, Solomon Daniels, John Cochran, Elihu Parrish, James Sitey, Thomas P. Miller, Peter Grubb, Arthur McGill, James Johnston, Joseph Headsdale, Daniel Alden, Simon Stevens, Warham Strong, David Landon, Gideon Underwood, Jeremiah Decker, James Robb, Sale Roberts, Partial Roberts, Rufus Drake, Benjamin Owens, John Earl, Charles Bowes, Curtis Grubb, Thomas Jeayne, Joseph Grimes, Jesse Tompkins, William Harris, Jesse Coleman, John Talliday and Cofrin Boldwell.
"The gathered 15,000 troops spread terror among the "Tom the Tinker," as the whisky boys were called, and a general surrender soon followed, and "Johnny came marching home." In suppressing this rebellion no precious Luzerne blood was spilled, but it was quite evident to the "rebels" that "Barkis is willin'" so far as the people of the county were concerned. From beginning to end the campaign lasted three months."
Our Daniel Spencer must be the "Daniel Spencer" who appears among the signatories of the Petition of the Connecticut Settlers to the Connecticut General Assembly, dated 13 Sept. 1796. The petition was signed by a large number of the settlers and inhabitants of Luzerne County, and "Daniel Spencer" is the only individual of the name of Spencer among all the signers. He also appears in that year among the list of Luzerne County "taxables" -- that is, landowners -- who resided in Kingston Township (History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, H.C. Bradsby, 1893, vol. 1, p.595). However, Daniel's son Daniel Jr. is said to have been born in Connecticut in 1795, while his son Orin is said to have been born in 1801 in Connecticut. Furthermore, Daniel Spencer's final pension payment voucher for his Revolutionary War service, dated April 1843, says he had been living in Luzerne County for 40 years, and prior to that had been living in Connecticut, which would mean he came to Luzerne County in 1803. It is probable that Daniel and his family removed back and forth between Pennsylvania and Connecticut during those years. To muddy the waters further, note what the abstract of Daniel's pension file says about his movements and migrations:
"Daniel, CT Line, S3961, sol was b 1 Apr 1870 at Farmington CT & he lived there at enl & after the Rev he lived in CT for 2 yrs then moved to MA for 1 yr then moved to NY for 5 yrs then returned to CT for 38 yrs then moved to Luzerne CO PA where he appl 5 Sep 1832 having lived there since 1826, sol'd bro Elam Spencer aged 68 made aff'dt in Luzerne Co PA & stated his bro Daniel Spencer had also srv as a sub for their father Joseph Spencer" (Abstracts of Rev. War Pension Files, page 3264)
A few of Daniel Spencer's land sale transactions during the 1790s are mentioned in George E. McCracken's report, "Spencers in Wyoming Valley 1772-1830" (The American Genealogist 43:139-145, July 1967). It could be that one or more of these transactions had something to do with that abovementioned family tradition that Daniel had once owned "several hundred acres of land in the Wyoming Valley, which he disposed of for a trifle, not knowing its value at that time." Be that as it may, McCracken says --
"Residing in Kingston Township, he bought land in Plymouth from William Dunmead of Kingston on 11 Sep 1793, acknowledged 16 Sep 1793, recorded 4 March 1794 [Deeds 2:522]. He sold land in Plymouth to John Joseph of Plymouth, on 28 Jan 1797, acknowledged same date, recorded 8 Nov 1797 [5:153], and again on 1 Nov 1797 sold land in Plymouth to Sale Roberts of Kingston, acknowledged 1 Nov 1797, recorded 7 Nov 1797 [5:152], after which the records are silent."
Daniel Spencer is likely to be the "Daniel Spencer" mentioned in Luzerne County newspapers in 1803 as a land claim attorney. The same early newspapers have several references to a farmer of Kingston Township named "Daniel Spencer," who must be our Daniel Spencer. The newspapers show just a single reference to a "David Spencer" of Kingston Township, probably another misreading of the name "Daniel." In the 23 July 1824 edition of The Susquehanna Democrat, "David Spencer" appears among the local residents of Luzerne County in the "List of Letters Remaining in the Post Office at Kingston, July 1st." Taken together, all of these references support the abovequoted family tradition that Daniel was a farmer in Kingston Township, Luzerne County, during those years. In the U.S. Censuses of 1810, 1820, and 1830, Daniel Spencer appears as a resident of Kingston Township. In the 1840 U.S. Census, he appears as a resident of Dallas, Luzerne County.
In addition to the "Daniel Spencer" and "David Spencer" newspaper references, from 1811 to 1820 early Luzerne County newspapers ran four separate advertisements that refer to a "Daniel D. Spencer," a farmer of Kingston and Providence Townships who is listed as a Luzerne County resident in the 1820 and 1830 U.S. Censuses. However, he is a different person from our ancestor Daniel Spencer and should not be confused with him. In the 1820 U.S. Census, Daniel D. Spencer was a resident of Providence, Luzerne County, and in the 1830 U.S. Census he was a resident of Blakely, Luzerne County -- but, as mentioned above, during those years our Daniel Spencer was recorded in the U.S. Census as living in Kingston Township, and therefore could not be the same as the Daniel D. Spencer of Providence and Blakely.
Judging from the Spencer family traditions recorded in the 1893 History of Luzerne County, along with other historical notices, it would appear that Daniel Spencer was one of the very earliest settlers in what would later become Dallas Township, Luzerne County. An account of the formation and early settlers of the township is recorded in the History of Luzerne County, vol. 1, pp.542-3, which says that Dallas Township --
"Was formed in 1817 of territory taken from Kingston township, and embraces a portion of one of the 'certified townships.' Stewart Pearce says that Ephraim McCoy, a Revolutionary soldier, built the first log cabin in 1797 near the site of old McClellandsville (Dallas borough). Some unknown party had years before built a small floorless cabin near the same spot, it is supposed for the purpose of camping and hunting, but it had long been deserted before McCoy came. William Briggs was the next settler. The next settlers in the order of coming as is supposed were Daniel Spencer, John Wort and John Kelley (Revolutionary soldiers), and Elam Spencer, J. Mears, John Honeywell, Sr., and Jr., William Honeywell, Isaac Montague and two Ayers brothers. William Honeywell came in 1808 and purchased 500 acres of land and built a log house and the next year a frame addition—the first frame in the township."
The land that William Honeywell had purchased had formerly belonged to Daniel Spencer. Another account of the early settlement of what would become Dallas Township is recorded on page 39 of William Penn Ryman's The Early Settlement of Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, written in 1885-1886 and published in 1901. Ryman's book includes the 1885 reminiscences of Abram Honeywell, son of William Honeywell. Abram Honeywell recalled that his father had settled on and built a house within "the upper end of lot one certified Bedford," and that --
"There were only four or five houses within the territory of present Dallas township at that time. Ephraim McCoy lived there then on the lower side of the present road, about half way between the Goss or corner school-house and Raub's hotel. There was also a man by the name of Vanscoy living back of us somewhere, about where Ferdinand Ferrell lives. Elam and Daniel Spencer each had a little log house down along the creek in a direct line between our house and the present village of Dallas."
Like his brother Daniel, Elam Spencer was a Revolutionary War veteran (a fact of which Bradsby evidently was unaware: as shown above, Bradsby identified the early Dallas Township settlers Daniel Spencer, John Wort, and John Kelley as Revolutionary War soldiers, but not Elam). Elam served as a private in Capt. Tuttle's Company, Col. Timothy Pickering's Regiment, according to his final pension voucher, dated 23 Sept. 1840. Daniel and Elam are listed together as residents of Dallas Township in the Luzerne County census of Revolutionary War and military pensioners that was taken on 1 June 1840. They had both successfully petitioned for war pensions in 1838 under an act of Congress passed that year to provide for aging Revolutionary War veterans. At the time of the 1840 census, Daniel was 79 years old and was living with a certain JOHN WALDON (a shoemaker of Dallas Township; perhaps he was a son-in-law of Daniel's?), while Elam was 76 years old and was living with Simeon Spencer (probably Elam's son).
The name and identity of Daniel Spencer's wife is uncertain, but she could have been surnamed KINGSLEY. Only two of Daniel's five (or four?) children have been identified, Daniel and Orin. In the Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Nicholas Hess, Pioneer Immigrant, 1912, by Asher L. Hess, pages 82 and 84, there are references to "Daniel Spencer, farmer, of Dallas, Luzerne County, Pa., born November 4, 1795; died January 27, 1878," and, "Orin Spencer, farmer, a brother of Daniel Spencer, also of Dallas, Luzerne Co., Pa.," who married Anna ("Nancy") Amey, a younger sister of Daniel's wife Susanna (see No. 7 below). Orin's older brother Daniel married Susanna Amey, born 28 Sept. 1796 in Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsyvania, died 23 July 1856, the eldest child of George Amey and Mary Magdalene Hess. Daniel and his wife Susanna, who had five sons and three daughters, briefly occupied the homestead of Susanna's father after his death. Daniel and Susanna were buried in Wardan Cemetery (Worden Cemetery) in Dallas, where many other members of our Spencer family also are buried. Orin and Nancy, however, settled in Carverton, Luzerne County, and are buried in the cemetery of Carverton Methodist Church along with Nancy's parents.
The children of Daniel Spencer are:
-- DANIEL SPENCER, born 4 Nov. 1795, married Susanna Amey. 7. ORIN SPENCER, born 11 Sept. 1801. -- (DAU.) SPENCER, married Joseph Montagne -- (NN) SPENCER ?? (NN) SPENCER
7. ORIN SPENCER, son of Daniel Spencer, born 11 Sept. 1801 in Windham, Connecticut; died 21 June 1872 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, probably in or near Carverton; buried in Carverton Cemetery, Carverton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. According to old Spencer family tradition, earlier in his life Orin lived in New York State before coming to Luzerne County and settling in Kingston Township. Around 1820 he married ANNA AMEY ("Nancy"), born 11 Oct. 1801 in Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, died 1 April 1871 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, probably in Carverton, daughter of George and Mary Magdalena (Hess) Amey. The 1912 Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Nicholas Hess, Pioneer Immigrant, page 84, says Nancy was born in Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. However, other sources say Nancy was born in Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, whereas in the 1860 U.S. Census, Nancy is said to be from New Jersey, and in the 1880 U.S. Census, Orin's son George said his mother was born in New Jersey.
Two brief biographical sketches of Orin Spencer are included in the History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, 1893, edited by H.C. Bradsby. The sketches were based on information supplied by Orin's children and grandchildren. In one place, Bradsby's history provides a biography of Simeon S. Spencer, son of Horace Spencer, who in turn was the son of
"Orin, who was one of the first pioneers of the county, coming from New York State, and locating in Kingston township. He was a hard-working, honest, industrious and upright man, and a consistent Christian. He died in the year 1879, having reared twelve children, all of whom came to maturity."
Note that this brief sketch gives an incorrect year for Orin's death -- According to the 1912 Hess Genealogy, Orin died 21 June 1872, not 1879. Bradsby's history provides additional details about Orin's life in a biography of Ziba Spencer, who was
"a son of Orin and Ann (Amy) Spencer, the former born in Connecticut, the latter in Easton, Northampton Co., Pa. . . . Orin, the father of [Z. Spencer], began life in Kingston township on the farm purchased by his father after he moved out of the Valley. This farm consisted of fifty acres of fertile land. Orin was a hard-working, honest and industrious man, whose life, like that of other farmers, was uneventful. In religion he was a consistent member of the M. E. Church. Politically he was a Democrat. He reared a family of twelve children, all of whom came to maturity, and eight of whom are now living."
The 1912 Hess Genealogy, pages 84-85, lists all 12 of the children of Orin and Nancy, as well as dates of birth and death, and names of spouses and children. That list is corroborated by U.S. census records. In the 1850 U.S. Census (dated 6 Aug. 1850), "Orrin Spencer," age 48, a farmer of Kingston Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, appears with his wife "Ann Spencer," age 48, and their children, "David Spencer, age 16, a laborer, "Samuel Spencer," age 14, "Isaac Spencer," age 12, "Weslley Spencer" (sic - "Charles Wesley Spencer"), age 8, "Elizabeth Spencer," age 5, and "Maryette Spencer," age 3. In the 1860 U.S. Census (dated 16 Aug. 1860), "Orren Spencer," age 58 (said to be born in Connecticut), a farmer of P.O. Carverton, Kingston Township, Luzerne County, appears with his wife "Ann," age 58 (said to be born in New Jersey), and their children, "Isaac," age 22, "Wesly" (sic - "Charles Wesley Spencer"), age 18, "Genett" (sic - "Jeanette," which was her middle name), age 15, and "Margaret" (sic - "Mariette"), age 13. All of Orin and Nancy's children had grown and moved out by the time of the 1870 U.S. Census. In that census (dated 4 July 1870), "Orin Spencer," age 68, said to be born in Connecticut, a farmer of Kingston Township, Luzerne County, appears with his wife "Anna," age 68, said to be born in Pennsylvania.
According to the 1912 Hess Genealogy, Nancy died 1 April 1871, while Orin survived another year, dying 21 June 1872. They are buried together in Carverton Methodist Church Cemetery, Carverton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where Nancy's parents reportedly are also buried.
This is the gravestone of Orin Spencer (1801-1872) in Carverton Methodist Church Cemetery, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The photo was taken about 1987 and was provided by Orin's descendant Brent Smith of Georgia.
The 12 children of Orin and Nancy were:
-- GEORGE A. SPENCER, born 23 Jan. 1821, married Harriet Dunham. -- HORACE SPENCER, born 13 May 1823, married Hannah Rogers (Rodgers). -- MARIA SPENCER, born 29 Sept. 1825, married Richard Ryman. -- ZIBA SPENCER, born 28 Jan. 1828, married Sarah C. Kunkle. -- MARY SPENCER, born 12 March 1829, died 8 Feb. 1846, never married. 8. JOHN WASHINGTON SPENCER, born 16 April 1832. -- DAVID ANDREW SPENCER, born 18 March 1834, died 1917, married twice, or perhaps three times. -- SAMUEL SPENCER, born 10 March 1835, married Elizabeth Hoover. -- ISAAC SPENCER, born 1 June 1837, died 7 Dec. 1865, never married. -- CHARLES WESLEY SPENCER, born 7 April 1841, married Sarah Hoover. -- ELIZABETH JEANETTE SPENCER, born 7 Dec. 1845, twice married. -- MARIETTE SPENCER, born 2 May 1848, married Almon Hoover.
8. JOHN WASHINGTON SPENCER, one of the 12 children of Orin and Ann Spencer, born 16 April 1832 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; died 6 Aug. 1909 in Dallas, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; buried 8 Aug. 1909 in Worden Cemetery, Dallas. The 1912 Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Nicholas Hess, Pioneer Immigrant, page 84, misstates the year of John's birth as "April 16, 1831," but the old Spencer Family Bible clearly shows John's date of birth as "April 16th. 1832," and his gravestone also says "1832." In the 1850 U.S. Census, "John Spencer," age 18, and his older brother "Horace Spencer," age 27, are listed as laborers on the farm of their brother-in-law Richard Ryman in Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
On 22 Oct. 1857 at the residence of Squire Woodhouse in Wyoming, Luzerne County, John married IRENE M. HALL, born 14 Feb. 1840, died 5 Feb. 1905, daughter of Miles and Elvira Hall. Squire Woodhouse solemnized their nuptials, which were witnessed by Harriet Montanye and Samuel Spencer. Samuel was John's younger brother, while Harriet was a close friend of John and Irene who seems to have been one of John's cousins. Harriet is almost certainly the Harriet Montanye who was born in 1841 in Luzerne County, younger sister of Washington Montanye. Harriet and Washington were children of William Montanye (or Montayne), who was born 23 June 1802 in Kingston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and died 2 Aug. 1854 in Carverton, Luzerne County. William's wife, who was the mother of Washington and Harriet, was Elizabeth Spencer, born circa 1807-10 in Pennsylvania, died 28 Feb. 1888, buried in Harding Cemetery, Exeter, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth was a daughter of ELAM SPENCER, younger brother of John's grandfather Daniel Spencer (No. 6 above) -- thus, her daughter Harriet was a second cousin of John W. Spencer. John and Irene evidently had great affection for Harriet and her family, as shown by the fact that John and Irene named their first child after her, and then, after little Harriet's death, named their very next child after Harriet's older brother, Washington Montayne/Montanye.
This is the map of Dallas Township from the 1873 Atlas Map of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The farm of "J.W. Spencer" is shown just to the west of the center of the township, across the road from the West Dallas School. Other Spencer farms owned by brothers and cousins of John Washington Spencer are also shown in this map.
John and Irene had four sons and three daughters, and their names and dates of birth and death are all recorded in John and Irene's old Family Bible. John and his family lived on a farm in Dallas Township that had a coal mine on it, and royalties and mineral rights from that mine provided them a decent income until the mine closed toward the end of the 1800s. In the 1860 U.S. Census, "John W. Spencer," age 27, appears as a farmer of Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a neighbor of his brothers George and Horace. The 1860 U.S. Census shows John with a wife "Jane" (sic -- should be "Irene"), age 20, and a daughter "Harriet," age 11 months. According to the old Spencer Family Bible, Harriet died in Sept. 1861 at age 2, and thus does not appear among John and Irene's children in the 1870 U.S. Census.
The 1870 U.S. Census shows "John Spencer," age 38, a farmer in Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, with his wife "Irene," age 30, and four children, "Ziba P.," age 9, "Washington M.," age 6, "Lillie M.," age 3, and "Horace," age 10 months. The 1880 U.S. Census shows "John W. Spencer," age 48, a farmer in Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, with his wife "Irene M.," age 40, and five children, "Washington M.," age 16, "Lillie M.," age 12, "Horace J.," age 10, "Rosa A.," age 7, and "Louis E." (sic - "Lewis"), age 4. By 1880, the eldest son Ziba (a.k.a. William Penn) was no longer living at home. It also should be noted that the Spencer Family Bible spells the name of the youngest child "Lewis," although John's obituary and the U.S. census spell his name "Louis."
Shown at left is the house that John W. Spencer built on his farm about 1875. At right is a vintage photograph of the old one-room schoolhouse that formerly stood across the road from the Spencer farm in Dallas, Pennsylvania. The school was built probably in the mid-1800s and was still in use as late as the 1930s, but had been razed prior to the 1950s. Generations of Spencers attended school there, including Horace Greeley Spencer's daughter Mabel Spencer Whitesell, who went to school there in the early 1900s.
Both photographs were provided by Mabel's grandson Brent Smith of Georgia.
Brent Smith of Georgia, a descendant of John and Irene's son Horace, relates a family tradition that John and Irene moved to California for a short time, probably during the 1890s, but decided to return to Luzerne County. The 1900 U.S. Census shows "John W. Spencer" and his wife "Irene Spencer," age 60, as residents of Dallas Township. Irene does not appear in the 1910 U.S. Census, having died in 1905, but John survived until 1909, dying at the age of 77 of blood poisoning.
The published obituary of John W. Spencer reads as follows:
"John W. Spencer dies of Blood Poisoning, Aged 77 years
"At the advanced age of 77 years, John W. Spencer, an old esteemed resident of West Dallas, died yesterday after lingering illness of blood poisoning. The following children survive: William Penn, Bedford, Ia., W.M., Mrs E.B. Worthington, Dorranceton, Rose and Louis at home. Rev. Ben Jones of Idetown will conduct funeral tomorrow at 2:30 at the residence and interment will be in Worden Cemetery, Dallas. The four sons of the deceased will act as pall bearers."
Although the obituary mentions "the four sons of the deceased," it lists only three of John's four sons, skipping over Horace for some reason (no doubt a simple typographical error). Worden Cemetery, where John was buried, is properly called "Wardan Cemetery." It is named because it began as the burial ground for the Worden family, cousins of the Spencers -- Daniel Spencer's brother Elam had a daughter HANNAH M. SPENCER (1811-1853) who married ABRAHAM WORDEN (1804-1847) and had five sons and four daughters. Hannah and Abraham, along with many of their children and descendants as well as many of our Spencer ancestors and relatives, are interred in Wardan Cemetery.
These are the gravestones of John W. Spencer (1832-1909) and his wife Irene M. Spencer (1840-1905) in Wardan Cemetery, Dallas, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The photos were taken about 1987 and were provided by John and Irene's descendant Brent Smith of Georgia.
The seven children of John and Irene Spencer were:
-- HARRIET E. SPENCER, born 14 Aug. 1859, died Sept. 1861. 9. WILLIAM PENN SPENCER ("Ziba P."), born 17 Aug. 1861. -- WASHINGTON MONTAYNE SPENCER, born 18 Oct. 1863, married Persis Hilbert -- LILLIE M. SPENCER, born 24 June 1867, 3 Jan. 1951, married E.B. Worthington -- HORACE GREELEY SPENCER ("Horace J."), born 9 Sept. 1869, died 28 Jan. 1960, md. Miranda D. Rogers. -- ROSE A. SPENCER, born 16 June 1872, died 21 Nov. 1948, married Carl Anderson. -- LEWIS E. SPENCER, born 24 Nov. 1876, died 30 July 1960.
9. WILLIAM PENN SPENCER ("Ziba P."), son of John and Irene Spencer, born 17 Aug. 1861 in Dallas, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; died 8 May 1934 in Taylor County, Iowa; buried in Hopkins Cemetery, Hopkins, Nodaway County, Iowa. Also known as W. Penn Spencer and Penn Spencer, he first appears in the 1870 U.S. Census with the name "Ziba P. Spencer." Assuming the census is correct about his name, presumably he was named after his father's older brother Ziba, and perhaps later his family changed his name to William Penn, or he chose to have his name changed later. Be that as it may, in the old Spencer Family Bible's entry on his birth, he is called "Penn K. Spencer" (the middle initial is uncertain, but appears to be a cursive "K."), while in the Family Bible's entry on his death he is called "Wm. Penn Spencer." Fascinatingly, the old Spencer Family Bible also shows a contradiction regarding the middle initial or middle name of Penn's younger brother Horace. The Bible's entry on Horace's birth clearly shows "Horace J. Spencer" (agreeing with the 1880 U.S. Census), but the Bible's entry on his death calls him "Horace Greeley Spencer."
Penn moved to Iowa in 1889, but returned to Dallas, Pennsylvania, two years later so he could marry. On 26 March 1891 in Dallas, Penn married EVA UNDERWOOD, born 4 July 1866 in Center Moreland, Pennsylvania, died 22 March 1943 in Taylor County, Iowa, daughter of Emanuel Lewis and Harriet Underwood. They then returned together to Iowa, settling in Taylor County, where their first child, ANDREW PAUL SPENCER ("Paul"), was born 26 Jan. 1892. Paul's obituary mentions a period of about a year when he lived in Pennsylvania as an infant, so Penn and Eva must have returned to Pennsylvania in 1892 before settling down in Taylor County, Iowa, where they remained for the rest of their lives. (Did they return to Pennsylvania to help tend the Spencer farm in Dallas Township while Penn's parents were living in California?) Penn's uncle David Andrew Spencer, known as Uncle Andy, also settled in Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa -- Penn and Eva apparently named their first child after him.
In Iowa, at first Penn worked as a carpenter, then acquired a farm in Polk and Ross Townships in the general vicinity of Bedford, Iowa. Penn and Eva had four sons and one daughter -- the daughter and one of the sons were fraternal twins. The U.S. Census returns for 26 June 1900 show "William P. Spencer," age 38, a farmer, and "Eva Spencer," age 33, residents of Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with their children "Paul Spencer," age 8, "Lelund Spencer," age 6, "Lela Spencer," age 6, and "Fred Spencer," age 3. The census says William and Eva had been married for nine years. Also living with them at that time was Eva's father "Louis Underwood," age 66, a landlord.
A genealogical account of our Spencers was published in the 1981 History of Taylor County, Iowa, written by the people of Taylor County and compiled by the Taylor County Historical Society, Bedford, Iowa. The following is on page 382, along with a small old black-and-white photo of William Penn Spencer and his wife Eva and three of their little children:
"William Penn Spencer, the son of John and Irene Spencer, was born August 17, 1861 at Dallas, Pennsylvania and passed away May 8, 1934. His wife, Eva Underwood Spencer, was born July 4, 1866 at Dallas, (sic) Pennsylvania and passed away March, 1943. They were married March 26, 1891 at Dallas, Pennsylvania. Penn came to Iowa in 1889, then returned to Dallas where they were married, and then returned to Iowa to live the rest of their lives. They bought a farm in Taylor County, Polk and Ross Townships after he had done carpenter work building barns, houses, and other buildings. He had to clear all the land he bought so he could farm it. Also, he had to build himself a house and barns. They lived on the same farm for 38 years or more before he passed away. They did all their farming with horses as no one had tractors then. They had five children, four boys and one daughter: Paul, Lee and Lela (twins); Freddie, who burnt to death while his father was burning corn stalks when 3 1/2 years old; and Howard. All the family is gone now except the daughter, Mrs. Lela Spencer Blake, who is in the Bethesda Nursing home at Clarinda as of December, 1980. Penn's family (mother, father, two sisters, and three brothers) lived on a ranch which had a coal mine on it, and all lived off the royalties of the mine until it closed in the late 1800's. Eve, Penn's wife, used to raise lots of chickens and churned lots of butter to sell. She and her children would drive ten miles to Bedford every week or so to sell the eggs and butter for 10 cents a dozen and maybe 10 cents a pound for butter. They drove a team of horses to a wagon to deliver the produce. Penn was a Mason of Siam Lodge and both were Eastern Star members for many years. Their farm is now owned by the Paul Brummett family. Submitted by Helen Spencer, as told to her"
As mentioned in the above genealogical sketch, on 16 Oct. 1900 Penn and his family suffered the heart-breaking loss of little Freddie, then the youngest child in the family. Freddie's death was reported (with a few slight errors) on page 4 of the Thursday, 18 Oct. 1900 Bedford Free Press as follows:
"Tuesday morning the little four year old son of Pen Spencer, living seven miles southeast of Bedford, while playing around a brush fire made by his grandfather, was burned to death. When found, the little fellow was dead. The funeral was held yesterday. This was indeed a sad occurrence for the loving parents."
It should be noted that the transcription of Freddie's death record in the Taylor County, Iowa Death Record, Book 1, Part 4 also has some errors. The transcribed record says Freddie Spencer was "male, white, 1yr, died 24 Jul 1894 Ross twp, born Iowa, buried Bedford Fairview cemetery." On the contrary, Freddie was 3 1/2 years old and wasn't even born until three years after the date in this transcription, and was buried in Hopkins Cemetery, Nodaway County, Missouri.
The U.S. Census returns for 12-13 May 1910 show "William P. Spencer," age 49, a farmer, residing in Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his wife "Elva U. Spencer" (sic), age 43, and children "Paul A. Spencer," age 18, a farm laborer, "Leland Spencer," age 16, a farm laborer, "Lela Spencer," age 16, and "John H. Spencer," age 5. Penn also appears in the U.S. Census returns of 28 April 1910, which show "William P. Spencer, age 50, as a married farmer in Polk Township, Taylor County, Iowa, but with no family members listed with him. Penn was double-counted in the 1910 census because his farm overlapped Ross and Polk townships. Five years later, on 14 Feb. 1915, William and Eva's daughter Lela married William Edward Blake, age 28. The following month, on 6 March 1915 in Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri, Lela's twin brother Leland, age 20, married Clara Faith Florea, age 15. The fathers of Leland and Clara had to give their consent to the marriage because Clara was still a minor. The U.S. Census returns of 8 Jan. 1920 show "William E. Blake," age 33, a farmer, living in Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his wife "Lelia Blake," age 25. The census returns on that date also show "William P. Spencer," age 58, a farmer, living in Ross Township, with his wife "Eva Spencer," age 53, and sons "Paul Spencer," age 27, farmhand, and "John H. Spencer," age 15.
The Iowa State Census returns of 1 Jan. 1925 show "Lee Spencer," age 30, a farmer, living in Clayton Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his wife "Clara F. Florie Spencer," age 25, and their daughters "Helen R. Spencer," age 9, and "Margret E. Spencer," less than a year old. In the 1925 Iowa State Census, Lee's father Penn appears as "W. P. Spencer," and he names his parents as "John W. Spencer" and "Irene Hall." Five years later, the U.S. Census returns of 4 April 1930 show "Lee Spencer," age 35, a farmer, living in Clayton Township with his wife "Faith C. Spencer," age 30, and their children "Helen Spencer," age 14, "Margaret Spencer," age 5, and "William P. Spencer," age 3. The U.S. Census returns of 7 April 1930 show Lee's younger brother "Howard Spencer," age 25, a farmer, living in Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his wife "Helen E. Spencer," age 21, and their children "Howard Jr. Spencer," age 2 years 3 months, and "Mary R. Spencer," age 1 year 1 month. The U.S. Census returns of 11 April 1930 also show the parents and brother of Lee and Howard, "William P. Spencer," age 68, a farmer, "Eva Spencer," age 63, and "Paul Spencer," age 38, a farmer. Finally, the U.S. Census returns of 21 April 1930 show "William E. Blake," age 43, a farmer, living in Jefferson Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his wife "Lela Blake," age 35, and their son "Robert L. Blake," age 7.
Penn died in 1934. Eva survived her husband Penn by about nine years, dying in 1943. Penn's obituary, which was published on page 8 of the 10 May 1934 edition of the Bedford Times-Press, is as follows:
"W. P. Spencer, Valley Resident Is Dead"
"W. P. Spencer, 72, died at his home in the Valley community southwest of Bedford Tuesday evening, having been in ill health for sometime. The funeral services were held at the home this afternoon conducted by Leslie R. Cobb. Burial was in the Hopkins cemetery. Spencer had resided in the Valley community for nearly forty years, coming there from his birthplace in Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, one daughter, Mrs. Lela Blake of Hopkins, and three sons, Paul Spencer and Howard Spencer of Hopkins and Leland Spencer of Conway."
As with the death record of Penn's son Freddie, it should again be noted that the transcription of Penn's death record in the Taylor County, Iowa Death Record, Book 1, Part 4, has some errors. The transcribed record says William Penn Spencer was "male, white, 77yr, farmer, died 20 Sep 1890 Lenox, married, born Penn, 39 yr resident of Iowa, buried Lenox." On the contrary, Penn was 72 years old, died in 1934, did not reside in Lenox, and was buried in Hopkins Cemetery, Nodaway County, Missouri.
This photograph shows the gravestone of Penn and Eva Spencer in Hopkins Cemetery, Hopkins, Nodaway County, Missouri.
The children of Penn and Eva Spencer were:
-- ANDREW PAUL SPENCER ("Paul"), born 26 Jan. 1892, died 9 Feb. 1958. -- LELAND SPENCER ("Lee"), born 11 April 1894, died 2 Nov. 1953, married Clara Faith Florea. -- LELA SPENCER, born 11 April 1894, died 15 Jan. 1983, married William Edward Blake. -- FREDERICK SPENCER ("Freddie"), born 9 Jan. 1897, died 16 Oct. 1900 10. JOHN HOWARD SPENCER ("Howard"), born 11 June 1904.
10. JOHN HOWARD SPENCER ("Howard"), son of W. Penn and Eva Spencer, born 11 June 1904 near Bedford, Taylor County, Iowa; committed suicide on 20 July 1948 at Climax, near Leadville, Lake County, Colorado; buried 23 July 1948 in Hopkins Cemetery, Hopkins, Nodaway County, Missouri. Born almost four years after the tragic death of his brother Freddie, Howard appears as "John H. Spencer," age 5, in the U.S. Census returns of 12-13 May 1910, which also show Howard's father "William P. Spencer," age 49, a farmer, residing in Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his Howard's mother "Elva U. Spencer" (sic), age 43, and Howard's siblings "Paul A. Spencer," age 18, a farm laborer, "Leland Spencer," age 16, a farm laborer, and "Lela Spencer," age 16.
Growing up in the area of Taylor County southwest of Bedford, Howard attended a rural public school in Ross Township. Coincidentally, there was another Howard Spencer living in Taylor County at the time who was the same age as John Howard Spencer. The 1915 Iowa State Census lists both Howard Spencers, both 10 years old, one of them ("our" Howard Spencer) living in Ross Township, the son of parents who were both born in Pennsylvania, and the other living in Blockton Township, the son of a father born in Illinois and of a mother born in Missouri. Thus, a "School Notes" announcement placed on the front page of the 8 Jan. 1914 Blockton News by schoolteacher Olive M. Dutton lists "Howard Spencer" among the students who were "neither absent nor tardy in the Primary room of the Blockton Public Schools during first semester" -- but that was the other Howard Spencer.
Five years later, the census returns of 8 Jan. 1920 show "William P. Spencer," age 58, a farmer, living in Ross Township, with his wife "Eva Spencer," age 53, and sons "Paul Spencer," age 27, farmhand, and "John H. Spencer," age 15. As noted above, by that time the twins Leland and Lela, siblings of Paul and Howard, were married and living in their own households. Around this time, Howard was a student at the high school in Hopkins, Missouri, just over the state line from the Spencer farm. Six years later, on 21 Sept. 1926 in Bedford, Iowa, Howard, age 21, married HELEN ELIZABETH SMITH, born 6 March 1908 in Taylor County, Iowa, died 26 April 2000 in Bedford, Iowa, daughter of Willard and Julia Smith. Howard and Helen had six sons and two daughters. Less than two years after their marriage, Howard and Helen had their first child, HOWARD JUNIOR SPENCER ("Junior"), born 17 Jan. 1928 in Polk Township, Taylor County, Iowa, died 9 June 1996 in at St. Francis Hospital, Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri. According to Junior's siblings and other kin, when Junior was born and his parents were asked what they were going to name him, Helen replied, "Well, I guess this is Howard Jr." The clerk then wrote down "Howard Junior Spencer" on his birth certificate, even though his parents meant, "We're naming him 'John Howard Spencer Jr.'"
Two years later, the U.S. Census returns of 7 April 1930 show "Howard Spencer," age 25, a farmer, living in Ross Township, Taylor County, Iowa, with his wife "Helen E. Spencer," age 21, and their children "Howard Jr. Spencer," age 2 years 3 months, and "Mary R. Spencer," age 1 year 1 month. By this time, the Great Depression was in full swing, and Howard and his family suffered hardships because, although Howard and Helen continued to have children, during those years Howard often had trouble finding employment, or finding steady employment. At one point, Howard even took out a want ad in the Taylor County Herald (8 Dec. 1932, page 8), that said, "WANTED: Work on farm; married. Write or see Howard Spencer, Route 5, Bedford. 2p." Apparently that want ad got results, because later the same month the Taylor County Herald (22 Dec. 1932, page 6) reported, "Howard Spencer and family have moved from Ray Dawson tenant house to the old Gamel place near Hopkins."
The U.S. Census returns of 10 April 1940 show Howard and his family renting a farm in Polk Township, Taylor County, Iowa. The census lists "Howard Spencer," age 35, a farm laborer, as the head of household, with his wife "Helen E. Spencer," age 32, and their children "Howard J. Spencer," age 12, "Mary R. Spencer," age 11, "Ivan P. Spencer," age 9, "Raymond D. Spencer," age 8, "Clyde A. Spencer," age 6, "Donald G. Spencer," age 2, and an as yet unnamed infant son who was then less than a month old (i.e., their youngest son ROY ELDON SPENCER, born 31 March 1940). The 1940 U.S. Census shows that the nearest neighbors of Howard and his family were the Jacksons on one side and the Fergusons on another. The census indicates that Howard's difficulty in finding adequate employment to support his family had continued -- the census returns say Howard had worked only 26 weeks in 1939, earning only $150 (or perhaps $180 -- the numeral's shape is unusual and hard to interpret), and that he was working during the week of March 24-30, 1940, but also was looking for work that same week.
This photograph of the family of Howard and Helen Spencer was taken about 1941. From left to right, the children are Raymond, Roy, Clyde, Donnie, Rose, Ivan, and Junior.
About two years later, on 15 Aug. 1942, Howard and Helen had their youngest child, EVELYN JULIA SPENCER. The following year, in 1943, Howard and his family left the farm in Polk Township and moved to a house in Bedford. Around this time, Howard's efforts to provide for his family were dealt a serious set back when Howard's health took a turn for the worse. But also around this time, Howard got a job in Colorado while Helen and the children remained behind in Bedford. Howard lived and worked much of the year at mess halls in a mining town called Climax, near Leadville, Lake County, Colorado, and sent money back home to Iowa. Sometimes he would get some time off and would return to Bedford for short stretches of time. The following five-page letter written by Howard over the course of two days in early October 1944 helps to paint a picture of what his life was like during that time. He began to write the letter on Thursday, 5 Oct. 1944 (grammar, spelling, and punctuation are as written in the letter):
"Dear Helen & kiddies: Here it is almost payday tonite and tomorrow morn is it. I got up while ago and I am feeling fine but boy it is cool here. I had 3 blankets on me today then didn't get to hot, altho the window was open quite a ways. I went down after mail and the custodian has went to supper so I will wait till Morning. I am sending you the policy and you can read it over and be your own judge but I think I had better drop it. It is paid up to Nov 16th. then $6:50 more, altho it might come in pretty handy in case of accident Of course I've never been yet but you can't never tell in a place like this. So we will see in a little time. I have my receipt book because I have to send it when ever I send the money, and they send it back every time. Mabye I had better took the money and Sent it home. My pen is getting scratchy I guess. Well what did you & kids think of my room mate poet writer. I dont see much of him only on Friday nites and Sundays. Well I don't know for sure when No 6 is going to close its doors but it is coming fast. It all depends on the outside areas, they may close up pretty fast and of course the mess will leave out. They are starting to move out fast now, another week will make an awful difference. So I don't know but I would like to stay until No 6 closes its doors then I wan't to come toward home. I have no desire to go up to any other mess hall now. Altho 1, 2, & 4 will run for quite a while yet I think and it will be a long time before 1 closes. Mabye they wont give me a transfer when I get my stay out they will take me back here, we will wait and see. Well Helen I am not going to see the ocean with out you, so don't worry the minute I get released from here I am takin'g the nearest route home, and we will all see it some other time You can't tell when you are tied up with gov't. work. Of course the boys and Rose have plenty of time ahead of them to see things. I sure wish all of you could walk in this mess hall some meal time when its really busy. Oh Boy it would be funny. Believe me its a busy place for about an huor and a half. its getting time to clock in my card so will write more Frid. Good night and pleasant dreams.
"Here it is Good Friday again and I have been over after my check and sure am sleepy ready for bed. Well I sure dont think it will be too long before I see all of you. Some Say the 15th and others say last of month but I don't see how it can close the 15th by the amount of men they are feeding around 3000 or 3500 a day You know thats several men. Oh well I am going to stay or try to until No 6 closes then I am going to get that transfer to Bakers Field Calf. The Olympic's contract is running out and are putting us on to another Co, or about the same thing. We will think about it after I get home. Altho Ill try and have every thing settled before they ship us out. I have around 75 pills left but in case No 6 would stay open a week or 2 in Nov., it wouldn't hurt to send me some would it? They will send it back home if I am not here. Well all of you keep well and it can't be too long before we meet. So lots of kisses and good luck to all of us.
After about four years during which he was separated from his loved ones for the greater part of a year, Howard is believed to have grown despondent, until at last he hanged himself in his living quarters in Climax, Colorado. It reportedly was his roommate who found him. News of Howard's sorrowful death in Colorado was reported in a brief obituary on the front page of the Thursday, 22 July 1948 Bedford Times-Press:
"Spencer Rites To Be Friday"
"Howard Spencer, 44, died at Leadville, Colorado, Tuesday, July 20. The body arrived in Bedford Thursday evening and the funeral services will be held at the Wetmore Funeral Home at 2 o’clock Friday afternoon, conducted by Rev. George W. Swan. He is survived by his wife and several children, residents of Bedford."
A full obituary was published the following week, on the front page of the 29 July 1948 Bedford Times-Press:
"Howard Spencer Rites Held Friday"
"Funeral services for Howard Spencer, who died at Climax, Colorado, July 20, were held at the Wetmore Funeral Home Friday afternoon, conducted by Rev. George W. Swan. Burial was in the Hopkins cemetery. John Howard Spencer, youngest son of W. P. and Eva Spencer, was born June 11, 1904, in Taylor county, Iowa, being aged 44 years 1 month and 9 days at the time of his death. He was married to Helen Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Smith, on Sept. 21, 1926. To them were born eight children. Howard spent most of his life in Taylor county. He attended the rural school in Ross township and high school at Hopkins, Mo. He was a member of Plumb Lodge No. 285 A.F.&A.M. at Siam. He was preceded in death by his father, mother and one brother, Freddie. He is survived by his wife; six sons, Howard, Jr., Ivan, Raymond, Clyde, Donald and Roy; two daughters, Mary Rose, now Mrs. Darrell Salen, and Evelyn, all of the home. Also one grandson, Richard Salen; two brothers, Paul Spencer and Lee Spencer and one sister, Mrs. Lela Blake, all of Bedford."
Shown here are photographs of the side-by-side gravestones of John Howard Spencer and his wife Helen Elizabeth Smith Spencer in Hopkins Cemetery, Nodaway County, Missouri. The photos were taken in early July 2008.
Howard and Helen had six sons and two daughters:
-- HOWARD JUNIOR SPENCER, born 17 Jan. 1928, died 9 June 1996, married Ann Lantz. -- MARY ROSE SPENCER, born 27 March 1929, died 27 Dec. 2012, married twice. -- IVAN PAUL SPENCER, born 9 July 1930, died 19 May 1997, married Dolores Rose Allen. -- RAYMOND DUANE SPENCER, born 10 Aug. 1931, died 21 Feb. 2010, never married. -- CLYDE ALLEN SPENCER, born 3 Feb. 1934, died 21 Aug. 2008, married Joann Waugh. -- DONALD GALEN SPENCER, born 13 March 1938, died 16 March 1960, married Connie Lee Newbury. 11. ROY ELDON SPENCER, born 31 March 1940. -- EVELYN JULIA SPENCER, born 15 Aug. 1942, married twice.
11. ROY ELDON SPENCER, son of John Howard and Helen Spencer, born 31 March 1940 at home in Polk Township near Bedford, Taylor County, Iowa. On 22 May 1971 in Nevada, Iowa, Roy married CAROLYN JEAN RIGGS, daughter of Carl and Pauline Riggs, born 15 Jan. 1949 in Passavant Hospital, Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois. Roy owns and operates a window-washing business. Roy and Carolyn, who divorced in 2003, live in central Illinois. They have two daughters:
12. CHRISTINA CARLENE SPENCER, born 7 July 1972. -- GINA LOUISE SPENCER, born 1 May 1975, married Steve Zavala.
12. CHRISTINA CARLENE SPENCER, daughter of Roy and Carolyn Spencer, born at 2:26 p.m. 7 July 1972 at Northwest Hospital, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. At the time of her birth, Christina's parents resided at 2525 S.W. 80th St, Lot 91, No. 104, outside the city limits of Des Moines, Iowa. On 2 Jan. 1997 in Jerome, Illinois, Christina married JARED LINN OLAR, born 6 Feb. 1968 at Proctor Hospital, Peoria, Illinois, son of Joseph and Dolores Olar. Christina and Jared, who live in central Illinois, have had eight children, one deceased.
Spencer Genealogy Resources:
The Early Settlement of Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, 1901, by William Penn Ryman (1847-1899)