Wilson Spencer, 1835-1926


Wilson Spencer was born in Herkimer County, New York, on October 25, 1835. He was the second of three sons of Richard and Polly (Smith) Spencer. Richard and Polly had both been born and raised in Herkimer County and married there on September 13, 1832.

In about 1837, Richard and Polly Spencer and their first two sons moved from New York to Crawford County, Pennsylvania with much of the extended Spencer family, including Richard’s father, John Spencer. Their third son was born in Crawford County in 1838 and Richard died there in 1839, leaving a widow and three young sons. When Polly remarried to Gilbert Allen a few years later, the boys were parceled out to various relatives, as was the common practice in those days.

Thus, in 1850, young Wilson Spencer was living with his paternal grandfather, John Spencer, in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. In 1853, John Spencer sold his land there and moved to Iowa. In the 1856 Iowa state census, John Spencer was enumerated with his youngest son, W. B. Spencer and family, in Union Prairie, Allamakee County, Iowa. Enumerated right after them in the census were Jacob and Mary (Ward) Goodykoontz and their large family, including daughter Caroline. Even though our subject, Wilson Spencer, was not listed in the Iowa census of 1856, he soon made his way to Iowa along with his grandfather and uncle.

On January 24, 1858, Wilson Spencer married Caroline Beaver Goodykoontz in Union Prairie, Allamakee County, Iowa. The newlyweds soon moved north to Rice County, Minnesota, and became early settlers there along with his uncle, W. B. Spencer and family the patriarch, John Spencer. The first few of Wilson and Caroline’s children were born in Rice County, and Wilson registered for the draft there in June 1863.

In March, 1864, Caroline’s mother, Mary (Ward) Goodykoontz died in Waukon, Iowa. Shortly after that, Wilson and Caroline and family returned to Allamakee County, where the rest of their children were born between 1866 and 1880. Wilson ran a grocery store in Waukon.

Wilson and Caroline (Goodykoontz) Spencer had the following children :

Alvah Jacob Spencer (1858-1934), married Adeline Lowrey

Flora Elnora Spencer (1860-1941), married Alonzo J. Barkley

Ernest Richard Spencer (1861-1949), married Nellie B. Godard

Willis Elmer Spencer (1866-1932), married Ada Ruth Baumgardner

Carrie Belle Spencer (1870-1919), married Stillman Otto Lewis

Carlton Thomas Spencer (1873-1878)

Ruth Emma Spencer (1880-1887)

In 1884, Wilson and Caroline Spencer went to Nebraska and homesteaded in Keya Paha County near Norden for four or five years. Their two youngest daughters, Belle and Ruth Emma were with them. Little Ruth died there on the claim within a couple years and Belle began teaching at the young age of fourteen. One of the places she taught was at Johnstown in Brown County, Nebraska.

Family lore says Wilson and Caroline Spencer were not very successful at farming, so in about 1890 they moved to Ainsworth, Nebraska, to run a grocery store, located on the east side of Main Street just north of the commercial bank. They lived in a house near the railroad on the west end of town.

After the turn of the century, Wilson Spencer went to southern California to visit his older brother, John C. Spencer, writing home about the potential for real estate men in the area. When Caroline died of cancer in 1906, Wilson sold everything and moved to California, to invest in real estate in the Los Angeles area. He married a second time to Leah (Campbell) Slater on 25 Aug 1907. She died on May 28, 1916 in Los Angeles where they were living. Wilson continued to live in southern California, and died in Long Beach on February 22, 1926.

Wilson Spencer, 1835-1926

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