Elisha Spence (1776-1835): Part Two–Elisha Bell Spence (1818-1840): A “Short” Story

Marshall County, Tennessee Courthouse from the Wikipedia Common Files: "Marshall County Tennessee Courthouse" by Ichabod - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marshall_County_Tennessee_Courthouse.jpg#/media/File:Marshall_County_Tennessee_Courthouse.jpg

–Marshall County, Tennessee Courthouse from the Wikipedia Common Files: “Marshall County Tennessee Courthouse” by Ichabod – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marshall_County_Tennessee_Courthouse.jpg#/media/File:Marshall_County_Tennessee_Courthouse.jpg

Elisha Bell Spence was the youngest son of Elisha Spence (1776-1835) and Jane Bell (1795-1842). He was born in Davidson County, Tennessee in 1818, and his death has been a big question mark.  For a long time I thought he was the Elisha B. Spence(r) (1818-1851) I discovered years ago in the Bedford County, Tennessee Records(1). After acquiring the book this week and discovering that the Elisha B. Spence(r) listed there was actually born in 1838–three years after Elisha Sr.’s death–I unhappily put the book aside.  Also, that man’s last name was Spencer and not Spence.

So much for that!

Back at the drawing board once again!

I decided to start with what I could prove and go from there. And I seem to have traveled In a circle!

Elisha Bell Spence was born about 1818 in Davidson County, Tennessee. He was one of two males under ten in the Elisha Spence household in Davidson County on the 1820 Census:

Name Elisha Spence
Home in 1820 (City, County, State) Davidson, Tennessee
Enumeration Date August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10 2  Joseph/Elisha B.
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15 1
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10 2
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15 2
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25 1
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture 2
Free White Persons – Under 16 7
Free White Persons – Over 25 2
Total Free White Persons 10
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other 10                            (2)

He next appears on the 1830 Census for Davidson County, Tennessee in the Elisha Spence household as the male aged 10 through 14:

Name Elisha Spense
Home in 1830 (City, County, State) Davidson, Tennessee
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14 1  Elisha B.
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19 1
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14 1
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19 1
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59 1
Free White Persons – Under 20 4
Total Free White Persons 6
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored) 6                             (3)

The last census record for Elisha B. is the 1840 Census for Marshall County, Tennessee in the Jane Spence household. He is her only child living at home, and he appears to be married:

Name Jane Spence
Home in 1840 (City, County, State) Marshall, Tennessee
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14 1
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19 1
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29 1 Elisha B.
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14 1
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19 1  Elisha B.’s Wife??
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49 1  Jane Spence
Persons Employed in Agriculture 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write 2
Free White Persons – Under 20 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49 2
Total Free White Persons 6
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves 6                          (4)

I have no idea who the other three people are. Elisha was Jane Spence’s youngest child. She may have taken in some orphans, or they may have been her daughter-in-law’s relatives. To date, I have found no marriage record for Elisha B.

According to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website, Marshall County suffered two courthouse fires: one in 1872 and the other in 1927(5), so that is no doubt the reason. Elisha B. probably married in 1840 just prior to the census. That image is undated, so I cannot approximate a date of marriage.

And this is where the evidence ends.

Some people think Elisha B. died in 1863 during the Civil War. So, I spent the morning searching through Civil War service records.  I found an E. B. Spence in Mississippi who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, but he was born in 1810 in North Carolina. To make a long story short,  I could find no record supporting military service for Elisha B. Spence during the Civil War. I think some people have confused  Elisha B. with Elisha H. Spence–his cousin–who is discussed in the previous article (Part One). That Elisha did serve in the Confederate Army, did survive the war, moved to Arkansas and received a pension. The other Elisha–another cousin– will be discussed in Part Three, and that Elisha did not survive the war.

My belief is that both Elisha B. and his wife died either late 1840 or early 1841. Jane Spence died in 1842, so I think Elisha B. and his wife died before then.

Given the fact that two major fires destroyed the courthouse in 1872 and again in 1927, we will probably never know.

 

This series concludes with Part Three: Amos B. Spence (1800-bef 1850) and Mary Elizabeth Spence (1805-1872)

References

(1) Helen Marsh and Timothy Marsh. Bedford County, Tennessee Cemetery Records.  Southern Historical Press (January 12, 1998).

(2) 1820 Census, Davidson County, Tennessee for Elisha Spence. Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Oct 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com

(3) 1830 Census, Davidson County, Tennessee for Elisha Spence. Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Oct 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com

(4) 1840 Census, Marshall County, Tennessee for Jane Spence. Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Oct 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com

(5) “Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee: Marshall County.” From the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee. Tennessee Secretary of State’s Website. Date Accessed: 8 Oct 2015. Available online at http://tn.gov/tsla/history/county/lost.htm

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