Elisha Spence (1776-1835)–Part One: Setting the Stage

Scene from Perry County, Tennessee--Photo taken May 2005

Scene from Perry County, Tennessee–Photo taken May 2005

So–just who was Elisha Spence?”

This question has plagued me more than once over the years. Elisha Spence was my fourth great-grandfather!

A younger son of William and Judah Spence, Elisha became inflicted with wandering–a condition I commonly label “The Itchy Foot Syndrome”. I have yet to discover his middle name. Elisha may well have been his second name. If so, his first name is unknown. He also appears to have used a nickname Li or Lisha on numerous occasions, depending upon the user. His parents both named him for Elisha McBride (the Spence family) and Elisha Hunter (the Perry/Hunter Family). If so, his full name may have been Elisha McBride Spence or Elisha Hunter Spence. Because Judah’s mother was a Hunter, I tend to favor the second suggestion.

Born in Pasquotank, North Carolina in approximately 1776, Elisha Spence was nine years old when his father died. His mother married William’s brother, David Spence, shortly thereafter. David’s property joined William’s, and so the two families were closely aligned. David had two sons by his first wife: Lewis Spence (1775-1811) and John David Spence (1776-1830)–both of whom would later appear on early Tennessee records with Elisha.(1) After David and Judah’s marriage in 1785, Elisha acquired two additional brothers, both of whom would also relocate to Davidson County, Tennessee: David Spence (1786-1814) and William Spence (1787-1873).(2)

For the next five years, the blended families resided in what was then called Camden County, North Carolina. Another brother, James Spence (1730-1804), was the sole executor of William’s estate but by 1787 after William’s estate settled and closed, James and his family moved to Randolph County, North Carolina.(3) Elisha may have traveled back and forth between Camden County and Randolph, spending time with both families. One of James Spence’s sons, Robert Spence (1767-1825) and Elisha became close friends. A century later, one of Robert’s lines would reconnect with several of Elisha’s lines in Missouri.

Yes, Elisha Spence was a wanderer!

David Spence last appears on the 1790 Census for Camden County, North Carolina.(4) He died sometime between that census record and the end of the year. In 1790 or 1791, Judah remarried again, this time to David Jones (1735-1795)–a son of Capt. Nehemiah Jones (1718-1775), grandson of John Jones (1675-1723), and great-grandson of John Jones (1650-1708). And this is where the Jones story takes an interesting twist beginning with the great-grandfather.

John Jones was born in Wales in 1650, and he died in Pasquotank, North Carolina before January 20, 1708. As noted in a previous article concerning the Jones connection with the Spence line, John had two marriages. His first wife’s name is unknown, but they had a son: Evan Jones (1670-1709). John’s first wife died in childbirth and between 1673 and 1675, John married Elizabeth. Their son, John, was born in 1675 in Albemarle, Virginia. Their other two sons were Isaac Jones (1684-1734) and James Jones (1685-1734). John, b. 1675, was the father of Nehemiah and grandfather of David. The target of interest here is Evan Jones (1670-1709), who arrived in Virginia in 1692.(5) Evan and Nehemiah were half-brothers.

In 1696, Evan married Margaret Sharpe (1670-1747) in Virginia. They had at least one son: James Jones, who was born May 2, 1698 in King George, Virginia. Evan appears to have traveled back and forth between Virginia and England, so he may have been in the merchant business. He died in April 1709 in Stafford County, Virginia. The records become clearer about his son James.

James was born in 1724 in Albemarle, Virginia. He married Frances Mason (1727-1790) on January 8, 1747 in Overwharton Parish, Albemarle, Virginia.(6) Their children were:

1. Jane Jones (1740-1834)
2. Mason Jones (1748-1820)
3. Hannah Jones, b. 1750
4. John Jones (1750-1841)–he would later settle in Giles County, Tennessee
5. Samuel Jones, b. 1752
6. William Jones, b. 1756
7. Mary Jones, b. 1758
8. Sarah Jones b. 1760
9. DANIEL JONES (1767-1815)

Daniel Jones is important to the narrative here. His son, Lewis Jones (1795-1849) would later marry Elisha Spence’s daughter, Milly Catherine Spence (1802-1875) in Davidson County, Tennessee. And there is another important connection here. Nehemiah Jones’s wife died in childbirth with David Jones (1735-1795)–Judah Perry Spence’s third husband. Nehemiah may have remarried shortly after his wife’s death, and David lived with him at least until 1747 and after his cousin James Jones’ marriage to Frances Mason. David returned to Pasquotank later and served in his father’s militia company, but he retained a close bond with the James Jones children. In later years, he was able to return the favor.

As noted in the earlier article, David relocated to Chowan, North Carolina in 1758, where he appears on tax records.(7) That area became Gates County in 1779. His first wife was Sarah Ellegood (1737-1790), whom he married in Northampton County, Virginia August 24, 1758. Their children were:

1. Pheraba Jones (1763-1838)
2. James Jones (1769-1796)
3. Hezekiah Jones (1768-1827)
4. David Jones (1770-1806)

Daniel Jones was born in 1767 in North Carolina, only his father passed away in Virginia in 1771. David Jones and his wife Sarah Ellegood took young Daniel into their household. He was raised with their children.

By 1787, young Daniel married Sarah “Sallie” Bassett (1779-1837) in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their children were:

1. John Jones (1788-1817)–He would later become the administrator of the David Spence estate in Davidson County, Tennessee. David (1786-1814) was the son of David Spence (1735-1790) and Judah Perry Spence (1748-1795).
2. Lewis Jones (1795-1849)–He would later marry Milly Catherine Spence (1802-1875), a daughter of Elisha Spence.
3. Ollie Bassett Jones (1797-1873)
4. James B. Jones (1797-1870)
5. Nancy Jones (1801-1879)
6. Elizabeth Jones, b. 1808.

The Daniel Jones family remained in North Carolina until approximately 1800 when they moved to Davidson County, Tennessee. David Jones (1770-1806)–the son of David Jones, Sr. (1735-1795) and Judah Perry Spence (1748-1795)–and Jonathan Jones (1785-1847)–the son of Hezekiah Jones (1768-1827) and Nancy Ann Carter (1766-1848) and the grandson of David Jones, Sr. (1735-1795) and Sarah Ellegood (1737-1790)–joined the Daniel Jones family in Davidson County, Tennessee between 1800 and 1804.

While his close siblings remained in the Pasquotank/Camden area, Elisha Spence chose differently. He traveled between Pasquotank and Camden Counties (Spence, Greaves, and related families), Randolph County (the James Spence family), Guilford County (a large Bell family from whom his second wife descended), and Gates and Chowan Counties (the Perry, Hunter and Jones families). By 1795, he traveled to Greenville County, South Carolina, where he encountered the Spencer and Toney families, and where he met and married his first wife!

To Be Continued in Part Two


(1) Early Records of Davidson County, Tennessee, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 28 May 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(2) Early Records of Davidson County, Tennessee, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 28 May 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(3) Stuckey, Erma, Darnall, Spence, Steers, Spangler, Stuckey, Sill and brief accounts of families into which some members married Henry, Illinois: M & D Printing Company (1983).
(4) 1790 Census for Camden County, North Carolina about David Spence. Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 29 May 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(5) Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s to 1900s. Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 30 May 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(6) Virginia Marriages, 1660-1800, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 30 May 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(7) North Carolina Census and Tax Records about David Jones, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 30 May 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com

One thought on “Elisha Spence (1776-1835)–Part One: Setting the Stage

  1. Thank you for posting this information, but I have a question for you. I believe I have an Ollie (Olly) Spence (1808-1880) in my family tree. This person would have resided in Pasquotank/Camden area of NE North Carolina. I think they married an Ira Jones (1805-1851). Together they would have had a daughter named Emaline Jones (1825-1885) who married a Henry Whitehurst (1821-1893). I am having a difficult time finding proof. I only have the word of family members who are getting on in age. Could this Olly Spence be related or connected to anyone in your Spence line? Have I inadvertently included a person in my tree who does not belong? Do you have any advice you could share regarding my search?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s