|Spencer Family Plot|
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers Township
(Source: Photo Courtesy of Larry and Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesProjectWisconsin)
James E. Spencer, one of the prominent farmers of Kenosha County, residing on his farm in Section 8, was born in that county in what was then known as Pike Township, now Somers, Township, December 9, 1846, a son of Ambrose and Martha (Evans) Spencer.
The first of the Spencer family to locate in America was William Spencer, who came from England in 1631 and settled at Cambridge, Mass., although he evidently returned to England to marry his wife, Alice, in 1633. He was counted a prominent man at Cambridge in 1634-35 and afterward was one of the first settlers in Hartford, Conn. He had two brothers, Jared and Thomas, who came to America some years later than William, the first settler.
It only requires tracing to our subject's paternal great-grandfather to find a Revolutionary patriot in the person of Asa Spencer, who was in the fifth generation from the first William. It is proved by records that Asa Spencer served faithfully, and was a personal friend of Washington and also of Thomas Jefferson, and as he was a man of prominence we can easily believe that on many occasions he exchanged views on public questions with these great statesmen of our country's early days.
The paternal grandfather of Mr. Spencer was the well known Judge James B. Spencer, who was born in Salisbury, Conn., and moved in an early day to Fort Covington, Franklin Co., N.Y. He was one of the early settlers there, and for years a prominent man and political leader in the northern part of the State, holding many important offices, at one time being in the Custom House, as collector. He was a representative in the State and National Legislatures and was an eminent member of Bar and Bench. He served with distinction in the War of 1812. He was staunch Democrat. His death occurred in 1848, at the age of sixty-eight. He had three sons and one daughter.
The maternal grandfather of Mr. Spencer left a large family, eight sons and two daughters. He resided in Mississippi at the time of the birth of his daughter, Martha, the mother of Mr. Spencer.
Ambrose Spencer was born in New York and was an early settler in Kenosha County, coming here in 1842, and buying a farm of 160 acres in Section 8, Somers Township, where he reared his family. He died on this farm in 1886, aged sixty-eight years. He was a member of the M.E. Church. In his young manhood he was on a Government vessel, a man-of-war, in which he crossed the ocean a number of times. After the death of his first wife, in 1850, he married (second) Arvilla Woodward, a native of Vermont, who died in 1893. In religious belief she was a Methodist.
Two children were born to Ambrose and Martha Spencer: James E., of this sketch; and William H., of Seattle, Washington. The children of the second marriage were, Walter A., of Kenosha; Clark W. of Appleton, Wisconsin; Florence, wife of Lafayette Owen of Burlington, Wisconsin; and Watson B., of Racine.
James E. Spencer was reared on his father' farm in Somers Township, and obtained his early education in the district schools, later attending a seminary at Richmond, Michigan., and a commercial college at Racine. He lived at home until he reached his majority and then bough his present farm of eighty acres, which he has continued to improve until the present day.
Mr. Spencer was married September 24, 1872, to Miss Helen A. Clemons, daughter of Hosea Clemons, and they had three sons and one daughter: James C., Estella, Ambrose, and Edgar. James C., who is a carpenter in Kenosha, married Amelia Longmore; Estella died aged seventeen years, and Ambrose died aged two and a half years; Edgar lives at home. Mrs. Spencer died in 1895, aged forty-two years. She was a much beloved woman in her neighborhood and was a consistent member of the M.E. Church.
On October 27, 1898 Mr. Spencer was married (second) to Miss Mary L. Rhodes, daughter of Jonas W. and Caroline (Rutan) Rhodes, natives of Sussex County, N.J. The father came West in 1842 and the mother in 1843, in which year they were married at Vernon, New Jersey. They settled in what was then known as Pike township, now Somers Township, Kenosha County. The father followed farming and was also well known as a stock and wool buyer. He died in 1891, aged seventy years. His widow who still survives, is now eighty-five years of age. Of their eight children the survivors are: Anna, wife of Dr. F.H. Longley, of North Platte, Neb.; Mary L., wife of James E. Spencer; and Kitty Clyde, wife of Charles Mitchell, of Milwaukee.
William Jonas Rhodes, the paternal grandfather of Mrs. Spencer, was a native of New Jersey, and in early life was a blacksmith, later a farmer. He died in New Jersey when over seventy years of age. He married Anna Courter, and they had eleven children, the survivors being: Caroline, mother of Mrs. Spencer; Abraham, of Sussex County, N.J.; Elizabeth, widow of William Faber, of Unionville, N.Y.; Julia, Mrs. Ferguson, a widow, of Paterson, N.J.; Catherine, widow of Nicholas Faber, of Sussex County, N.J.; and Carlotte widow of John Moore, of Canadaigua, Michigan. The maternal great-grandfather, Abraham Rutan, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He married Rebecca Rutan. They were of Dutch extraction, their ancestors coming to America from Holland.
James E. Spencer is a Democrat, and he has served as Somers Town Clerk for the past nine years. He is president of the Farmers' Mutual Life Insurance Company, having been a Director for a long period. Both he and his wife are member of the M.E. Church. He belongs to the fraternal order of Woodmen.
(Source: Biographical Record of Prominent and Representative Men of Racine and Kenosha Counties, J.H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1906)
Mrs. Helen Clemons Spencer Obituary
"Mrs. Helen Spencer, aged 42 years, wife of James E. Spencer, died Monday at 5:30 p.m. at her home in the Town of Somers, of consumption, after an illness of over a year. The deceased was a daughter of the late Hosea Clemons, of Mt. Pleasant, and was born and grew to womanhood in this vicinity. She was a woman devoted to her house and family and to her bereaved husband and three children. She leaves besides four brothers and five sisters to mourn her untimely death. Deceased was a member of the Somers Methodist Church from which place the funeral will be held Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. A brief service will be held at the house at 10 o'clock and the interment will be in Oakwood Cemetery, at Somers.
(Source: Racine Journal June 13, 1895)
Spencer "In the News"
"W.A. Spencer, who for years has served in the capacity of butter maker at the creamery, has tendered his resignation. Mr. Spencer has given good satisfaction and we hope that his place will be filled by a person fully as competent."
(Source: Racine Journal Feb. 21, 1900)