Our documented trail of the Lower Eastern Shore Spencers begins with siblings Benjamin C. Spencer (B 1788 D 1876), John Spencer (B 3-30-1783 D 7-22-1860), William Spencer, Sophia Spencer Ellis and a sister who married Charles Tarr.(1) Benjamin and John Spencer are shown to be living in Somerset and Worcester by the Census of 1800 through 1870 and much information is available about their families.
The Family of Benjamin C. Spencer
Benjamin C. Spencer (B 1788 D 1876) was married to Mary Taylor (B 1795) October 25, 1819.(2) From the Somerset County Census of 1850(3) they are living in the Dublin District.
House Hold #966 Benjamin Spencer 62 years old farmer Mary Spencer 56 years old Sarah Spencer 25 years old (Sally?) Matilda Spencer 23 years old Samuel Spencer 18 years old Benjamin Spencer 17 years old William Spencer 15 years old James Spencer 10 years old Rosey Spencer 14 years old Henrietta Spencer 12 years old
The Dublin District of Somerset County was adjacent to the Pocomoke River (the dividing line between the Counties) and directly across the river from Pocomoke City (then called Newtown). The 1877 Atlas of Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties, Maryland shows the Estate of B. Spencer just north of Pocomoke City (Newtown) and west of Costons Station. The Somerset County Census of 1860(4) finds the family of Benjamin Spencer again in the Dublin District.
Benjamin Spencer 72 year old male , Mary Spencer 65 year old female, born MD Sally E. Spencer 35 year old female, born MD Benjamin Spencer 27 year old male , born MD William Spencer 24 year old male , born MD Roseanna H. Spencer 22 year old female, born MD Henrietta F. Spencer 21 year old female, born MD James T. Spencer 20 year old male , born MD
The 1870 census of Worcester County shows that the family has moved to the town of Snow Hill, about twelve miles up the Pocomoke River from Pocomoke City (Newtown). Benjamin Spencer's family inherited most of the estate of his brother John Spencer and the family moved from Somerset County sometime in the 1860's. There were several Spencers families in District 2 at the time of the 1870 Census.
HH 131 Benjamin Spencer 82 gentleman $3,000 Sallie 25 Rosetta 20 Henrietta 18
HH 266 James Spencer 30 farmer John Denston 27 farmer
HH 471 Benjamin Spencer 37 Henrietta 25 Priscilla 26 Ella 4 f Ellen 1 f
HH 331 Wheatley Barnes 51 Elizabeth 63 Jennie 18 Mabel Spencer 7
A daughter who was not listed in the 1860 Somerset County census was Matilda Spencer. Matilda appears in the Worcester County Census of 1860 living in the Snow Hill District with John Spencer, her uncle. A very good assumption is that since he was very old and his immediate family was deceased, she moved in to take care of him some time in 1850.
Matilda Spencer's will filed in the Somerset county courthouse September 8, 1860(5). Apparently she died shortly after her uncle John Spencer. Her will was written with the flair of the time. Some extracts are as follows:
"In the name of God Almighty, I, Matilda Spencer of Somerset county in the state of Maryland being of sick and weak in body, of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding; considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof......"
"To my brother James T. Spencer ....farm near Snow Hill known as Howard farm".
"I bequeath to my brother Benjamin Spencer, my negro woman Emmaline and her baby Sarah Margaret to him..."
To sister Henrietta Spencer "...my negro girl called Julian...".
Matilda Spencer left to the Methodist-Episcopal church in Snow Hill the amount of $100, "...to support the gospel of said church...". She also left another $100 to the Presbyterian church of Snow Hill to do the same. The remainder of Matilda Spencers estate was split one third each between the sisters Sally Elizabeth Spencer, Rosetta Harriett Spencer and Henrietta Frances Spencer.
Rosetta H. Spencer (B 6/23/1846 D 11/6/1885) is buried in Salem Methodist Church Cemetery, Clarke Ave., in Pocomoke City, Maryland. Worcester County Court records list the will of Rosa H. Spencer filed 11/9/1885, bond filed 11/14/1885 and administrator was her brother Benjamin Spencer. Rosetta's name is sometimes found also as Rosey and Rosa. Some extracts follow.
"In the name of God Amen, I, Rosa H. Spencer of Worcester County and being sick and weak in body but of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof...
"...to my sister Henrietta Spencer I give and bequeath my interest in the home and lot where I live in the town of Pocomoke city. To my sisters Esther Milbourne and Pricilla [sic] Bonneville, I bequeath each $100, To Eva Stevenson, daughter of Clarence and Reese [or Rose?] Stevenson, I give $50. To my brother Benjamin Spencer, one hundred dollars, to my brother James Spencer two hundred and fifty dollars. To my sister Sallie Spencer, I give and bequeath the residue of my estate. I also desire to appoint my brother Benjamin Spencer Executor of my last Will in testimony ......fourth day of November 1885."
Sallie Spencer (B 1825 D 1905) was the oldest of the children of Benjamin Spencer that have been found so far. Her will is filed in the Worcester County Court House, September 9, 1905 and administrator was her brother Benjamin Spencer(6). Some extracts follow.
"I Sallie Spencer of Worcester county...to Florence Milbourne, $100, to Mary E. Grice[?] $100, to William Francis Bratten $100, to Rose Stevenson $200, to William Bonneville $100, to Dellia Williams $50, to Matilda Richardson $50.
The residue of my estate both personal and real I give and bequeath one half to my brother Benjamin Spencer the other half to be equally divided among the children o my deceased brother James Spencer, viz, Charles Spencer, Walter Spencer, George P. Spencer, Dolly Spencer and Winnie L. Spencer.
Lastly I appoint my brother Benjamin Spencer to the sole exec....
witness.....F. H. Dryden, T. F. Bonneville, James P. Blaine."
William Spencer (B 1835 D 1864) has his will in Somerset County Court records(7). His brother Benjamin Spencer was administrator. William had received two negro slaves, Charles and Eliza from his uncle John Spencers estate. They were valued at $1050.00 and were subtracted from the value in his account. Since the Emancipation Proclamation had be signed in 1862 the slaves probably could not be legal property. There is no information on his marital status.
James T. Spencer (B 1840) died some between 1886 and 1905. His children were Charles Spencer, Walter Spencer, George P. Spencer, Dolly Spencer, and Winnie L. Spencer.
Samuel Spencer (B 1832) is elusive.
The son, Benjamin Spencer (B 12/25/1832 D 5/23/1908), is buried in the Methodist-Episcopal Church Cemetery in Snow Hill along with his wife Henrietta S. Barnes (B 3/30/1846 D 7/11/1886). From marriage records they were married August 20, 1861(8). Henrietta S. Barnes was the daughter of Wheatley and Elizabeth Barnes. The 1870 Census shows a Spencer child, Mabel Spencer age 7, living with in their household. Why and Who did this child belong to?
The obituary of Benjamin Spencer, the son, appeared in the Snow Hill Democratic Messenger on May 30, 1908. It stated that he was the "last of a family of fourteen". There were two other sisters not shown in the family at the time of County Census Records.
Priscilla Spencer (B 1825 D 1901) was another daughter of Benjamin and Mary Spencer. Priscilla married James Bonneville October 26, 1847(9) and was living in his household at the time of the 1860 census. They had at least nine children.
Esther Milbourne was mentioned in the will of Rosetta Spencer as a sister. There was no record of her in the Spencer families in the Census. She may have been an older child who was married before the 1850 census.
Of the "family of fourteen" described in the younger Benjamin Spencer's obituary only ten children are found at this time.
The Family of John Spencer
John Spencer was very wealthy compared to others listed in the census. His grave stone in the Methodist Episcopal cemetery in Snow Hill shows that he must have died just after the census was done in 1860. Tombstone inscriptions read as follows:
John Spencer born 3-30-1783 died 7-22-1860 Sarah Spencer consort of John died 2-23-1858 in 51st year Mary Elizabeth d/o John & Sarah b. 3-4-1838 d.10-28-1856 Margaret A. M. d/o John & Sarah b. 12-6-1843 d. 1-7-1860 Wm. Henry s/o John & Sarah b .10-1-1840 d. 1-29-1858
John Spencer's family is shown in the Worcester County Census of 1850, 2nd District.
John Spencer 66 farmer Sarah Spencer 47 Mary Spencer 12 William Spencer 9 Margaret Spencer 6
In the 1860 Census all of John Spencer's family has predeceased him. He is living in Snow Hill along with his niece, Matilda Spencer.
HH #88 real est. pers. property John Spencer 78 farmer $34,000 $12,000 Matilda 26 domestic
The Maryland Mortality Schedules show the demise of John's daughter, Margaret Spencer. She died in Worcester county in January of 1860 from consumption. She was 17 years old.
John Spencer's will and bond filed 7/24/1860 in Worcester County. Executors were Jno. R. Franklin and Wm. Bratten. Interesting parts are extracted.
"In the name of God Amen, I John Spencer of Worcester county in the state of Maryland ....
"First I give and devise to my nephew Benjamin Spencer son of my brother Benjamin, the Hutchinson farm, which I purchased of Joseph Hutchinson...
"Second, I give and devise to my nephew William Spencer son of my brother Benjamin, my swamp [?] farm which I purchased of Dr. Thomas R. Spence ...
"Third. I give and devise to my nephew James Spencer, son of my brother Benjamin Spencer , the farm near Snow Hill on which I reside, consisting of all of the land which I purchased of William C. Mumford and the Rev. Youngham Smith...
"Fourth. I give and devise to my nephew John Ellis the farm on the western side of Pocomoke river known as the Martin Farm which I purchased of Walter P. Snow and Ephriam K. Wilson trustees to the estate of Lemuel R. Smith, deceased,...the line between the said farm and the Hayward Place which I have hereinafter devised to my niece Matilda Spencer as the same was claimed by the said Samuel R. Smith and as it is now designated by a line of marked trees.
"Fifth. I give and devise to my niece Matilda Spencer daughter of my brother Benjamin the farm which I purchased of Robert Selby know as the Hayward place ...
"Sixth. I devise the farm which I purchased of the Hon. Ara Spence as he sold by my executor......divided between the following children of my brother Benjamin...William, Benjamin, James, Matilda, Sally, Rosetta and Henrietta Spencer share and share alike.
"Seventh. I give and bequeath to my nephew William Tarr son of Charles two hundred dollars.
"Eighth. I give and bequeath to Frances Webb daughter of Charles Tarr $200.
"Ninth. I give and bequeath to Allen D. Spencer, son of my Brother William $500.
"Tenth. I give and bequeath to Maria Bratten wife of Noah Bratten, Frances Bonnewell wife of James Bonnewell to Ester Miller, Rosetta Spencer and Henrietta Spencer all the children of my brother Benjamin each the sum of two hundred dollars.
"Eleventh. I give and bequeath to Sally Spencer daughter of by brother Benjamin $200.
"Twelfth. I give and bequeath to Matilda Spencer daughter of my brother Benjamin $200
"Thirteenth. I give to my sister Sophia Ellis $200.
"Fourteenth. I give to my brother Benjamin Spencer my horse and carriage.
"Fifteenth. I give and bequeath to my nephew Benjamin Spencer son of my brother Benjamin, my negros Stephen and Bob.
"Sixteenth. I give to William Spencer son of my brother Benjamin my negroes Charles and Eliza.
"Seventeenth. I give to James Spencer son of my brother Benjamin my negroes George and Hester.
"Eighteenth. The residue of my negroes I give and bequeath to my four nieces Matilda, Sally, Rosetta and Henrietta Spencer the daughters of my brother Benjamin to be divided as nearly equally between them as may be by William Bratten and John R. Franklin who are empowered to choose a third in case they disagree."
(1)Relations verified by the Will of John Spencer, Worcester County, Maryland, liber T.T. No. 8 p.300.
(2)Somerset County, Maryland Marriage Records compiled by Ruth Dryden.
(3)Somerset County Maryland Census 1850 compiled by Ruth Dryden.
(4)Somerset County Maryland Census 1860 compiled by Ruth Dryden.
(5)Will of Matilda Spencer, Somerset County Will liber S.C.L. #5 p.40.
(6)Will of Sallie Spencer, Worcester County Will liber T.D.P. #12 p. 295.
(7)Will of William Spencer, Somerset County Will liber S.C.L. #9 p. 51-52
(8)Worcester County Marriage Records compiled by Ruth Dryden.
(9)Somerset County, Maryland Marriage Records compiled by Ruth Dryden.
Compiled by the great great grandson of Priscilla Spencer Bonneville, great grandson of Margaret Matilda Bonneville Richardson ,George E. Richardson III Member #851, Spencer Historical and Genealogy Society, Inc