Biography - Henry R. Spencer

HENRY R. SPENCER is a native of Addison county, Vermont, and was born on the 8th of May, 1833. He was a son of Stephen and Catherine Spencer. Stephen Spencer was born at Bennington, Vt., of English parentage, and was educated in the schools of his native state. In 1829 he was married to Miss Catherine Walker, daughter of Johnson Walker, an old resident of the state of Vermont. Mr. Spencer and wife had five children, only two of whom are now living. In the fall of 1833 he left the lovely scenes of his childhood for the Great West, and after loading his family in a wagon, with some others, started for Illinois, where they arrived on the 28th October, 1833. He immediately after settled in township 10, range 13, Greene county, at the base of the bluffs on the Illinois river bottom. The following year he built a good, commodious brick house, which at that time was the finest and best house in the county. Mr. Spencer was in rather comfortable circumstances when he came to Illinois, and he purchased a fine tract of land. He was among that hardy class of New Englanders who inherit purity of principles, energy, and economy, and was a fair example of the Yankee character, possessing these qualities in a high degree. He had what could be classed, for that day, a liberal education, and was a man who, by his careful reading, kept well posted on the current topics of the day. At the time of his settling on the Illinois bottom there was no system of education, and to obviate that difficulty, for the benefit of his own and others' children of the neighborhood, he built a brick school house at his own expense. He was a man of great kindness of heart, and his liberality was felt far beyond the limits of his own family. In the case above referred to, he was planting the seeds of education which should be developed in future generations, and spread their influence far and wide. Who can tell what results have grown out of the building of that brick school house, and those destined yet to grow out of it in time to come, long after the hand which reared it was mouldered to dust and the present generation shall have passed away? He evinced the purest patriotism in the war of 1812 by promptly enrolling himself among the defenders of our imperiled liberty, and took part in the contest of Plattsburg. Mr. Spencer was generally of delicate health. Their only daughter is the wife of Vilroy Robbly, residing within a short distance of the old homestead. Mr. Spencer died at his residence on the 26th of November, 1846. Mrs. S. is still living, at the advanced age of seventy-three years, and residing with her son.

The subject of this memoir received his early education in the common schools of Greene county. While yet a very young lad, he took an active interest in farming. At about the age of twenty-three he was married to Miss Laura A. Smead, by whom he had four children, one of whom is deceased – three sons yet living. It was not to be his privilege to live long with the partner of his early youth, for the withering stroke of death fell upon that household, so peaceful and happy, and took away his beloved wife on the 12th of December, 1863. On the 9th November, 1865, he was married to Miss Etta Woodcock, daughter of Edmund and Susan Woodcock, formerly from Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, and it was there that Mrs. Spencer was born, February 21, 1839. They have had three children, and fortunately, all are living. After his marriage, Mr. Spencer's father deeded him a portion of the home place, which enabled him to succeed quite well in the commencement of life, and now he ranks among the large and successful farmers of that portion of Greene county. He has a farm of upward of twelve hundred acres, which, for grazing purposes and the growth of wheat, corn, and greaa, can hardly be surpassed by any lands in the state. Mr. Spencer has always lived the quiet and industrious life of a farmer, never aspiring to any other position than that of a neat and excellent agriculturist, which, by his long training and adaptation, he thoroughly understands. He knows how to manage the affairs of a farm to secure the greatest amount of profits. In politics, as becomes a true son of the "Green Mountain State," he was first a whig, and then a republican, imbibing these great principles as naturally as the free air he breathed in childhood among his native hills. His first vote was cast for Gen. Fremont, in the contest of 1856, and he has voted at each succeeding presidential election.

Extracted 07 Sep 2018 by Norma Hass from Atlas Map of Greene County Illinois, 1873, page 51.

Templates in Time