Pioneers - W. J. Spencer

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Pioneers of Ellis County

W. J. Spencer


[Source: Memorial and Biographical History of Ellis County, Texas. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1892]

W. J. Spencer, one of the oldest and most prominent farmers and stock raisers of Ellis County, was born in 1833 in Tennessee, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Brooks) Spencer, natives of Indiana. Thomas Spencer was quite a prominent farmer in Tennessee, where he lived until his death ca 1871. His wife died in 1875 in Lawrence County, Tenn. They reared seven children: (Eleanor, mar. Solomon Brewer of Wayne County, Tennessee); A. J. (lived Lawrence County, Tenn.); Jane, (mar. W. F. Blassingam, - both decd); Elizabeth, (mar. John Howell - she decd); W. J., (more later); Thomas, (decd) and Henry (lives Waco, Tex.) Others died iinfancy.

When he was 20, w. J. Spencer came to Ellis County, Texas, arriving July 4 1854 with no money and no acquaintances. He worked on a farm until 1861, during which time he also married.

In 1862, he joined Company K, (commanded by Capt. Lee) Thirtieth Texas Cavalry, (Col. Gurley of Waco, commanding). He participated in the battles of Roseville, on Arkansas river in Arkansas, under Lieutenant Colonel Battle, now a judge at Waco, and at Poison Springs and Cabin creek, near the national line, where they captured a train of wagons. As the mules were fine and fat they were put in the artillery wagons of the Confederate forces, and the horses turned loose to follow. Mr. Spencer was also in several smaller engagements, and was finally discharged at Milligan, Texas.

After arriving home, in 1865, he engaged in farming and stock raising, on rented land a few years. In 1868, he purchased his first land, entirely unimproved, which he soon exchanged for horses, still renting until 1871 when he bought his present place, consisting of 165 acres of wid land. This he has improved and erected thereon a splendid residence, good outbuildings, etc. He has under cultivation at his home place eighty acres. Since then, he has purchased more, and now has an aggregate of 654 acres, of which 300 acres are in a state of fine cultivation. He turns his attention mostly to raising mules and trade in that line of stock, shipping annually a number of carloads and driving some occasionally to the South on the Brazos, and in Louisiana, but he sells most of the stock at home. From six to ten are foaled on his place each year, and he buys a number each fall, as they become old enough to be weaned. Five years ago he purchased fifty from one to four years old in Concho county, Texas. He holds such animals from two to five years before selling them. He also raises cattle and horses enough for his own use. Mr. Spencer has never sought office, but he has been School Commissioner for his district.

He has been twice married. For his first wife he married in 1860, Miss Mary E. White, sister of Rev. Robert White and daughter of Robert M. White. They had twelve children, of whom four died when very young. The names are: Jennie M., wife of Joseph W. Reaves of Concho county, Texas; William, of Wilbarger county; S. W., of Waxahachie; J. T. attending school at Tehuacana, Texas; Elizabeth, twin sister of J. T. Marietta, wife of Henry Tune; R. G., attending school at Tehuacana; and George, at home. Mrs. Spencer died in 1879, after having been a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for many years. In 1886, Mr. Spencer was united in marriage with Miss Annie Boyd, daughter of W. D. Boyd of Rusk, Texas. She was born in Tennessee, and died here in 1888, a member of the old school Presbyterian Church.


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