OSBORNE J. SPENCER
Osborne J. Spencer, who resides at Iowa Hill, Placer County, is a representative of that great band of emigrants who came to California in 1852. An almost countless throng proceeded across the plains or came by steamer. He was born in the city of Cork, Ireland, on the 11th of June, 1829, his parents being Edward and Margaret (Osborne) Spencer. They were married in their native country and in 1844 immigrated to the United States, bringing with them their five children. They settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the father, who had been a substantial farmer of the Emerald isle, brought with him a snug sum of money which he deposited in a Cincinnati bank. That institution failed, however, and he accordingly lost his money. In 1858 he returned with his wife to Ireland, where they had property interests, and he died in the land of his nativity in 1863 at the age of sixty-three years. Her death occurred in Cincinnati, when she was about the same age.
Mr. Spencer of this review was educated in his native land and was a dealer in flour and grain. He also engaged in farming on the Emerald isle prior to his immigration to the United States. His brother, Edward George Spencer, had gone to California in 1850, and acting on his advice the subject of this review made his way to New Orleans and said thence for the Golden state, making the journey by way of the Nicaragua route to San Francisco, where he arrived in July. The voyage was accomplished in safety, but before reaching their destination all the passengers onboard were put on short allowance for food and water. At Corn Island they went ashore to get water and Mr. Spencer and other purchased a boat, which they located with fruit, oranges and pineapples, selling the same on the brig. They then came up the Nagora River on their own boat and opposite Lake Nicaragua took another sailing vessel for San Francisco.
On the 14th of July, 1850, Mr. Spencer went to Grass Valley, Nevada County, where he met his brother. He engaged in mining at Pike Valley in connection with William Watts, and after mining for a year secured a situation in a saw-mill, receiving in compensation for his services his board and one hundred dollars per month. Afterward he and his brother built a saw-mill two and a half miles from Iowa Hill, equipping it with steam power and a circular saw, and in the operation of this enterprise made considerable money. They were paid fifty-five dollars for each hundred feet of rough lumber. They began the operation of the mill in 1854 and continued to conduct it successfully for a quarter of a century. They also purchased a mill three miles from Sunny South and the brother assumed the management of their first mill, while Mr. Spencer of this review took charge of the new one, having since continued as its proprietor and manager. It has a capacity of twelve thousand feet and he is engaged in the manufacture of mining and building lumber. In the enterprise he is associated with a partner, and they also own a planing-mill making all kinds of dressed lumber. They have five hundred acres of timber land. Our subject has also been quite actively interested in farming and is one of the pioneer agriculturists and fruit growers of his part of the county. In the early days he planted a field of potatoes, which grew nicely and sold for seven cents per pound. Thus encouraged he has continued his farming operations, and he now has a fine orchard of fruit trees planted by his own hands. In this way he has shown the adaptation of the soil in the county for the production of fruit and other products and thus demonstrated the cultivable condition of the land. His efforts have induced many others to follow in his footsteps in this regard.
Mr. Spencer is also interested in mining operations and is the owner of the Jupiter Canyon mine and various mining properties on the Forest Hill Divide. He has done much to develop the industrial resources of the state, and his efforts have not alone contributed to his own prosperity, but have been of much benefit to the community in which he has carried on his work.
In 1860 occurred the marriage of Mr. Spencer and Miss Elizabeth Fielding, who was born in Yorkshire, England, a daughter of Thomas Fielding, a respected California pioneer. Seven children have graced their union and the family circle yet remains unbroken by death. The record is as follows: G. W., a resident of San Francisco; Ida, the wife of Richard Wood; William Osborne, who is living in Colfax, California; Mary, wife of William Healey, of San Francisco; Varion, who is with his father in the mill; John Fielding, a resident of Sacramento; and Meta, who completes the family. Mr. Spencer owns a good residence near the mill and there he and his wife spent forty-three years of their married life and all their children were there born. At present, however, they reside at Iowa Hill, where they have a comfortable and commodious home. Mr. Spencer gave his political support to Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and has since continued faithful in the ranks of the Republican Party. He was chosen to fill the important position of county supervisor, and while acting in that capacity did all in his power to promote the interests of his county. He has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for the past thirty-five years and has filled all the chairs several times in his lodge, having been one of the faithful representatives of the order through more than two decades. In all life’s relations he has been true to the trusts reposed in him and he and his wife and family enjoy the high regard of all with whom they have been associated. In his business affairs he has met with gratifying success and today he is accounted one of the substantial citizens of Placer County, the characteristics of his life being such as may profitably followed by all who desire to advance along lines of honor and usefulness. In the history of this section of the state no one is more deserving of mention than Osborne John Spencer.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.