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1848 Whitton, England-1915 Iowa, USA
Emigrated 1870


Daniel was the second son of Thomas Spilman and his wife Harriet Aitken.  He was born November 24, 1848 in Whitton, England in what is known as the White House.

 John Wesley, founder of the Methodist religion, is rumored to have once spoke on the green in front of this house.  Though that may have only been rumor, there had indeed been a Methodist prayer chapel built to the back left of the building (now gone). Wesley was from Epworth, England which was not far from Whitton. Photo taken 5/2002 LMD.

(photo 1979 LMD)
As the family became larger the family moved to a very nice house known as the Grove in Whitton. (photo 1979 LMD)  Tom Smith writes,
 "Grove Farm, Whitton. Probably the first Spilmans to live here were Thomas and Harriet and they are thought to have moved from The White House in 1853 to accommodate their growing family which eventually numbered ten children. The house was eventually sold in 1977 following the death of Thomas Levick Spilman, Thomas' grandson."

Thomas and Harriet rented a large tract of land from Mr. Goulton Constable which totaled about 330 acres.  Daniel knew farming but there was no way of taking over the farm from his parents.  The land was owned by Mr. Goulton Constable and so could only passed on to one of the children to continue to rent for farming.  That child was to be the oldest son, John Spilman.  As the second son, Daniel was looking for other opportunities for himself. He became interested in going to America to farm with the intent of earning enough money to return to England to buy his own farm.  (noted in his letters).

The Spilman's  farm in Whitton overlooked the Humber River and Whitton Church.  Below are some views from the farm taken in May 2002 (left) and in February 1979 (Right).  The Whitton Church tower in the background of the right picture.

Below is a map of the Lincolnshire area east of Manchester, England.  The first Spilman Ancestor we are able to identify lived in Harlow, Essex, England in the late 1500's.  In 1660 Captain Thomas Spilman came to Alkborough from Harlow, England.  He and his brother Edward moved to Alkborough after the English Civil War.  For more information see the web page of Tom Smith.

Briefly, Captain Thomas Smith and his brother Edward, leased Walcot estate in Alkborough for 15 years. Thomas also farmed at Winteringham.  The family stayed in this general area through the birth of Daniel Spilman in 1848 and still into the year 2002.  The villages and parishes of Whitton, Alkborough, Winteringham, Winterton, Burton Upon Stather have all seen Spilman families.  The Whitton Grove Farm that Dan lived on bordered the Humber River (Map).

As previously noted, Epworth was not far from Whitton and was the home of John Wesley and the Methodist religion.  The Methodist religion was very strong in this area of Lincolnshire when Dan was here.  According to Tom Smith, the Spilman family allowed a Methodist Chapel to be built on to the White house where Daniel was born.  No doubt Daniel grew up learning the teachings of John Wesley.   John Wesley had come to the Alkborough Churchyard to give a sermon to a group of people.  Perhaps there were Spilman families was among them.


Alkborough Church.  John Wesley gave a sermon
on the lawn here on June 24 1743
 Photo  2002 LMD

 Walcot in Alkborough, home of Capt. Thomas Spilman   in 1660.  Dan's GGGrandfather.    
Photo taken 1981 LMD

In addition to farming, Thomas and Harriet Spilman owned the boat shown below.  The Sloop "Walcot" was built when Dan was 6 years old.  Dan no doubt traveled on this boat along the Humber River.  Tom Smith said that Dan's father was, "supposed to have sent him to work on a farm on the North side of the river (maybe with one of his cousins around Goole who were doing well ) but he soon came back as he didn't like some aspect of the job and this is supposed to be one of the reasons he decided to go and see what the New World had to offer.  If he did not like it over there ...well, he could always come back....."
 In the first letter we have from Daniel Spilman to his brother Tom, he refers to being in Ferriby - perhaps he worked in North Ferriby during this time.  In this letter, Daniel says to Tom, "When I was at Ferriby you said you thought I could not earn my meat and clothes and as much pocket money as I was getting with working. "  He goes on to talk about how well he is doing in Calamus, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin as if to say he is making out much better than he expected.

From the web site of Tom Smith he writes,
"1854  When Whitton was a Port.  The Sloop 'Walcot' at Whitton Pier Built in 1854 by John Wray, (1796-1884)  Shipbuilder of Burton Stather for 380.  Length of Keel 54'  6", breadth of beam 14'  9", height 6' 6" from bottom of keel to top of skin.  Photo - Collection of TMS"

Daniel's Grandfather, John Spilman 1776-Dec. 20, 1850, was listed as a miller on his death certificate.  Daniel's father, Thomas Spilman, also operated the Whitton Mill.  This photo was copied from Nigel and Wendy Spilman in Whitton 5/2002.  Neither the date of the photo, nor the people in the photo have been identified.  Tom Smith has another copy of this same photo on his web page and he notes:

"Whitton's windmill stood in Mill Close a 1.84 acre field now part of Mill Field , just to the south west of the village. It was a four sail tower mill with a circular brick body and a timber cap, which contained the windshaft. This meant that only the cap had to turn to face the wind.  When it was demolished the mill stones were taken and used as the centrepieces of raised garden beds at Grove Farm.
In the 1950s the remains of the mill's foundations were still to be seen, but even these have now been removed and a slight mound in the field is all that remains of the site."

The image we get of Daniel Spilman is that he was born the second son into a family that owned a boat,  ran a mill, and farmed approximately 330 acres of land.  Daniel appears to be of the Methodist religion.  Knowing that he would not be taking over the family farm, Daniel looked into other options.  He worked for a while on the North Side of the Humber River and apparently it was there that he decided he might try going to the "New World" - America to see what he could do there.  In the letters he writes back to his family in England he says that he intended to make enough money farming in America so that he could buy himself a farm in England and return to his home Country.  Instead he ended up staying in Clear Lake, Iowa, USA and having 9 children.  Dan's nephew John Ellerker Spilman would also venture out into the new world in the Country of Canada in 1928. 

Daniel left for America in 1870 at the age of 22.  We have yet to find the ship he sailed on, and his port of entry.  We know that his family in England remained very important to him.  He wrote letters home and even kept in touch with his 12 year old sister Mary Spilman.  In fact, Daniel had a Grandchild named after his sister Mary and the two of them used to write each other and exchange photographs in the early part of the 1900's.  Daniel had written a number of letters to his brother Thomas Spilman between the dates of 1870 - 1877.  These letters were kept and passed down from Thomas to his son Tom, to his daughter Kathleen Ann Aitken Spilman (Mrs. Alan Wood).  These letters help us understand a bit more about Daniel and his life in America.

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Daniel Spilman 1848-1915 - Life in England before going to the United States.
-Birth Certificate,   Sloop Walcot, Whitton Windmill, Map of North Lincolnshire to America 1870.
Letters from America back to England
-Dan's marriage to Thea Anderson and his farm in Clear Lake, IA
  Marriage Certificate, 1912 plat map, Photo of Thea, Thea's death certificate
-Dan and Thea Spilman's children  photos 1893, 1898, 1961





Daniel , Jr.




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