El Dorado County
FRANCIS NEWTON SPENCER
This gentleman is one of the well and favorably known old timers of Placerville. He came to the town in 1852 and has since been one of her highly respected public men. Mr. Spencer is a native of Missouri, born January 18, 1840, and is a son of Lorenzo Spencer, one of California’s pioneers. Lorenzo Spencer was born in 1812 in New Hampshire, whence at an early day he went to Ohio, where he subsequently married Miss Fannie Maria Rudd, of that state. They removed to Missouri, later to Iowa, and from the latter state to California, crossing the plains in 1852, with oxen, bringing with them their family of four children, three of whom are now living, namely: Francis N. and Edwin, both residents of Placerville; and Mary, now Mrs. Francis McCormick. The father, a blacksmith and carriage-maker, worked at his trade successfully for a number of years, but later turned his attention to fruit-growing, planting fifty-five acres to fruit. He was one of the first to show that the soil in this locality was adapted for fruit production. Both he and his wife departed this life some years ago, his death occurring in February, 1889, at the age of seventy-seven years; hers in 1887, at the age of sixty-eight. Both were consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and stood high in the esteem of the people among whom they lived. At one time he had the honor of serving as alderman of his town. He was not, however, what might be called a public man; he was retiring in disposition and gave his time and attention chiefly to his own private affairs.
Francis N. Spencer was twelve years old when he arrived at Placerville. He was educated in the public schools of this town, and like many others at that early day, was for a number of years engaged in freighting from Sacramento to Nevada City. His freighting outfit consisted of twelve horses and two wagons. As showing the profit there was in the business at that time, we state that Mr. Spencer received as high as one thousand and fifty dollars for a single load of freight! After freighting and teaming for several years Mr. Spencer was elected to the office of road overseer, an office which he filled seven years, during that time doing much to bring about a better condition of the roads. After this he was elected coroner and public administrator, which offices he filled eight consecutive years, having been three times re-elected. The next public office filled by him was that of assessor of El Dorado County, and in this place he served two terms of four years each. Since 1889 he has not been in public life, but has been practically retired, devoting his time to the raising of fruits and vegetables.
Mr. Spencer has been a Republican since he voted for President Lincoln. During the exciting times of the Civil War he was a staunch Union man, and was a member of the Home Guards, an organization for the purpose of keeping California in the Union and to keep the secession element from law-breaking. Fraternally he has affiliated with the Odd Fellows for thirty-three years, and has passed all the chairs in both branches of the order; also he has passed the chairs in the Knights of Pythias lodge and is a member of the Order of Chosen Friends. Ever interested in educational matters, he has given his support for the betterment of schools and served eight years as a school trustee.
Mr. Spencer was happily married in 1876 to Miss Mary N. Palmer, a native of the state of Tennessee, and they have six children, as follows: Francis Lorenzo, Elsie, now Mrs. Robert Crocker, George Francis, May, Francis Newton, Jr., and Mabel.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.