Capt. James Spence ( 1839-1822) Carthage, Jasper, Missouri


This photo was from James Spence's obituary in the Carthage Press. The obituary was dated March 13, 1922

This photo was from James Spence’s obituary in the Carthage Press. The obituary was dated March 13, 1922





Had Been Ill Several Weeks–Was Prominent Citizen, Soldier, Business Man and Official

Capt. James Spence, a resident of Jasper county for 56 years, died at his home, 1529 South Garrison avenue, on Sunday afternoon at 3:45 o’clock after an illness of several weeks due to ailments incident to old age. Had he lived until March 14 he would have been 83 years old.

Captain Spence was a leading Carthage citizen, had served as county treasurer, city treasurer, member of the city council and member of the school board, serving four years as secretary of the latter body. He had been a merchant here, and for many years up to the time of his last illness was engaged in the insurance business and was publisher of the Record Reporter, a daily journal for businessmen and investors.

Captain Spence was a man of sterling integrity and stood very high in the community where he had so long lived, not only because of his character but because of his capabilities as a citizen and the fine qualities which brought him a very large number of warm friendships.

The funeral will be held from the home tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock, the 83rd anniversary of his birth. Because of the fact, as he himself expressed it, that he had had his flowers in life, and so abundantly during his last illness, friends are asked to omit flowers for the funeral service.

The Rev. Dr. J. D. McCaughtry, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, of which the deceased was a number, will have charge of the service.

Grew Up in Illinois

James Spence was born in Adams county, Illinois, March 14, 1839 and was the sixth of ten children. His father was John Spence, of Davidson county, North Carolina who emigrated to Illinois about 1826.

James Spence was reared on a farm and attended the common schools of the neighborhood during the winter months. In 1858 he attended McKendree college at Lebanon, Illinois, and spent part of the following year in teaching. The following two years he attended Quincy college under the presidency of Prof. J. F. Jaques, who afterward was colonel of the famous “Preacher’s Regiment,” the 73rd Illinois infantry in the civil war and who gained some notoriety as one of the peace committee who ineffectually interviewed Jefferson Davis on the subject of bringing about peace between the north and south. He became of age in 1860 and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln for president in November of that year.

He enlisted as a private in Company L, 2nd Illinois cavalry, July 15, 1861, at Quincy, Illinois, being one of four brothers to enlist, and served in that capacity for two years and ten months. His first experience in battle was at Belmont, Mo., November 7 1861 under General Grant, General Logan and some other officers who afterwards gained distinction during the war. In the spring of 1862 he participated in the capture of New Madrid, Mo., and from there went to Island No. 10 on the Mississippi river, spending the remainder of the year in scouting duty between that point and Memphis, Tenn.

On account of serious disability he was sent to a government hospital at Paducah, Ky., in the early part of 1864. In the month of May of that year General Forest made a raid and attacked a small fortification called Ford Holt. The fort was garrisoned by about three hundred colored soldiers belonging to the 8th U.S. heavy artillery which was being organized there at that time. Many of the hospital convalescents, of which Mr. Spence was one, hastened to the fort and assisted in its defense, as a result of which Forest was defeated with considerable loss and ingloriously retreated from the scene of action.

Took a Lieutenancy

Observing the bravery displayed by the colored troops and the demand at the time for officers to lead them, the subject of this sketch accepted the appointment of second lieutenant and soon thereafter entered on duty with the regiment. The organization did garrison duty till the spring of 1865 when it was ordered to Richmond, Va., to participate in the siege of that city. Being delayed somewhat in securing transportation the regiment was sailing up the Ohio river when the news came that Lincoln was assassinated. Richmond in the mean time having fallen, the regiment moved on to Washington, which they reached the second day after Lincoln’s assassination, and was detained there for several days during the excitement of that terrible occasion. From Washington they were ordered to City Point, Va., and after a brief stay there, were put aboard transports. After a tedious voyage of about thirty days they reached the coast of Texas as a part of the 25th army corps, all on account of the trouble brewing at that time over the action of France in placing Maximillan on the throne as emperor of Mexico.

Much of the time of Lieutenant Spence was spent, after he was commissioned with this regiment, in staff duty of different kinds. His last service was that of quarter master in charge of a large amount of government property used in rebuilding and equipping a military railroad from Victoria, Texas, to Indianola on the gulf. The regiment was mustered out of service in March, 1866, but Lieutenant Spence was detained nearly a month longer to turn over the property in his charge and make settlement with the government. His service covered a continuous period of more than four years and eight months.

Almost immediately after his discharge Captain Spence came to Jasper County, Missouri, reaching here about the first of May, 1866. He has resided ever since, most of the time in the city of Carthage.

Captain Spence was married on November 11, 1868, to Miss Mary Elizabeth Hood, who died many years ago. To them two children were born, Mrs. Inez Ornduff, now deceased, and Mrs. Nelle Royse, wife of O. D. Royse, of Joplin. Captain Spence’s second married was to Miss Emma Corwin, who survives him. To them one child was born, Walter Spence, who died as the result of an electrical accident in this city many years. ago.[1]


“Who was James Spence?” I asked my grandfather, after finding the James Spence obituary in my grandparents’ trunk.

“Oh, he was my dad’s cousin!” Grandpa told me.

“Well, where did the Spences come from?” I asked.

“They came from Kentucky.”

It was the summer of 1958, and I had been spending a week with my grandparents–William Franklin Spence (1884-1973) and Oda Elizabeth Hopper Spence (1894-1981). Having acquired an early interest in genealogy, I had already asked them for names and dates of people, but my grandfather’s Kentucky response later sent me on a year-long goose chase into the state looking for ancestors there. I did not begin an active search until the early 1990s. It was only after finding a Missouri Census record, indicating my second great-grandfather was born in Tennessee and not in Kentucky, that I was finally off in the right direction. However, the James Spence connection left me puzzled. Who was he?

I actually forgot about this obituary for a long time.  I was looking inside my grandmother’s trunk–something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. And after digging down a distance, I found it between several items. Well, since I wasn’t supposed to be looking inside the trunk let alone digging around inside it, I didn’t want to ask whether I could borrow it. So I decided to take it home, hand copy it (this was long before copy machines) and then return the original to the trunk. That didn’t happen. I don’t remember where I put the obituary after returning home, but years later, I found it loose inside a scrapbook.

“I still have this?”

By then I was married and living in another state. My grandparents had long departed–so had their trunk. I have no idea what happened to the trunk or to the contents inside it.

Who knows? By “borrowing” the clipping, I may have saved “history.”

I then transferred the clipping to my dresser drawer, and it stayed in that drawer for a long time. When I rediscovered it in that drawer much later, I decided to get serious about genealogy. What follows is the rest of my discovery.

* * *

Searching for James Spence’s ancestry and his connection with my Spence line has been a particular challenge. Although a prominent figure in Jasper County, Missouri for many years, few researchers have been interested in James. What is more disappointing is that few researchers have been interested in his father John. Some have attempted to identify a wife for him, a location or locations where he lived and the names of his children. Some of those attempts led me down an unfruitful path. More often or not, this was the wrong John Spence. Some researchers had him living in Tennessee prior to his removal to Illinois, where some of his children were born. Other researchers identified him as a John Spence who died in Allamakee, Iowa in the late 1800s. While this information looked enticing, I noticed that James Spence’s obituary made no mention of Iowa or of Tennessee at all. According to the obituary, John Spence was from Davidson County, North Carolina and moved his family to Illinois. After several starts and stops, I was finally forced to delete everything I had entered on my charts and start all over again. In the late 1990s, I spent two summers reading old microfilm of the Carthage Press in our local library and saved all notices pertaining to Capt. James Spence. No, the microfilm wasn’t buried inside a trunk. I obtained it through inter-library loan. So armed with a notebook full of Jasper County data obtained from that microfilm and with the obituary from 1922, I began a new search.

John Spence was a son of Robert Spence (1767-1825) and Lovey Sexton (1773-1851). John’s wife’s name was Elizabeth, but her maiden name is unknown.  Robert Spence was  a son of James Spence (1730-1804) of Randolph County, North Carolina, and Lucy Upton (1734-1788). James Spence was a son of James Spence (1702-1753) and Elizabeth Greaves (Graves) (1707-1755), a brother of William Edward Spence (1722-1785), and an uncle of Elisha Spence (1776-1835) [For the previous article written on James Spence of Randolph County, click HERE.] The Spence families  initially settled in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, having arrived there from Maryland in the late 1600s/early 1700s.


Robert Spence (1767-1825)

On December 3, 1798, Robert Spence married Lovey Sexton (1773-1857), the daughter of Willis Sexton, in Pasquotank County. Their children have been identified from Robert’s will:

  1. Alston Spence (1799-1836)
  2. Joseph Spence (1801-1876)
  3. Jeremiah Spence (b. 1803)
  4. Willis Spence (b. 1805-1875)
  5. Robert Spence (1807-1843)
  6. John Spence (1808-1866)
  7. Daniel Spence (b. 1809-1882)
  8. Mark Spence (b. 1812-1860)
  9. Thornton Spence (b. 1814-1880) [2]

Robert Spence’s father, James Spence (1730-1804)—Executor of William Spence’s estate—left Pasquotank County and resettled in Randolph County, which had been carved from Guilford County in 1779 [3] This James Spence raised Elisha Spence (1776-1835), a son of William Spence. Elisha was my fourth great-grandfather. He appears to have left Pasquotank in 1785 or 1786 (after William’s death)—so his new location would have been in Randolph County.

[Note: Robert Spence died in Davidson County, North Carolina in 1825. Davidson was carved from Rowan in 1820 [4]—so in all likelihood the family first settled first in Randolph and later moved out to Rowan or to Davidson. A number of researchers list Davidson County as the birth location for his sons, but since all of them were born prior to 1820, Davidson County would not have existed.]

A summary of the Last Will and Testament of Robert Spence follows:

1:39 Robert Spence. 24 Aug 1825; Prob. Sept. 1825

I have given to my son Joseph Spence to the amount of $40.00. And to my son Willis Spence I give one bay colt at $30.00 and I give him 410.00 in something else. All my sons to be made equal with them when they come of age or marry, that is my sons–Jeremiah Spence, Robert Spence, Daniel Spence, John Spence, Mark Spence and Thornton Spence. My son Alston Spence to have but 50 cents of my property. My wife, Lovey Spence, all my property, real and personal, during her life or widowhood to be used to support and raise my small children and to give them moderate learning. Further at the death of marriage of my wife, all shall be sold and equally divided among my children (after having) been made equal with Joseph Spence and Willis Spence–that is Jeremiah Spence, Willis Spence, Robert Spence, John Spence, Daniel Spence, Mark Spence and Thornton Spence. Executor: William Hannah. Wit: Henry Stewart, Joseph Spence, Alphasmy Reley.[5]

At this point, I do not know why Robert “disinherited” his oldest son Alston. According to the will summary, Alston was not to receive more than fifty cents of Robert’s total estate. Perhaps he had already given a large share to his son Alston, or he may have been displeased with him. Alston died eleven years after his father.


John Spence (1808-1866)

Census records indicate that John Spence was born about 1808 in North Carolina and that he probably died shortly after 1866 (the date of the last IRS Assessment record bearing his name). Unlike a number of members of the Pasquotank, North Carolina Spence families who relocated to Tennessee and Kentucky, John Spence and several of his brothers relocated to Illinois, taking their mother with them. Lovey Sexton Spence died in Adams County, Illinois in 1857. The name of John’s first wife—the mother of all of his children—is unknown, although the name “Elizabeth” has been suggested. They were married about 1829 in Davidson County, North Carolina. The Spences had the following children:

  1. William A. Spence (b. 1830, North Carolina)
  2. Martha Spence (b. 1832, North Carolina)
  3. Daniel Spence (b. 1833, North Carolina)
  4. Obediah Spence (b. 1836, Illinois)
  5. Willis Spence (b. 1837, Illinois)
  6. Capt. James Spence (1839-1922, Illinois)
  7. Ann Spence (b. 1840, Illinois)
  8. Sarah Spence (b. 1842, Illinois)
  9. John Fletcher Spence (b. 1843, Illinois)
  10. Thomas Spence (b. 1845, Illinois) [6]

John’s first wife died about 1847. His second wife was Elizabeth J. Gibson, whom he married in Adams County, Illinois April 6, 1848. Her year of birth is estimated as 1807, and she may have died shortly after 1860. Since several of John’s sons relocated to Jasper County, Missouri about 1866, that was probably the year of John’s death.


Capt. James Spence (1839-1922)

When the Civil War Broke out, James Spence and four of his brothers signed up and served in the Union Army. According to his obituary:

He enlisted as a private in Company L, 2nd Illinois cavalry, July 15, 1861, at Quincy, Illinois, being one of four brothers to enlist, and served in that capacity for two years and ten months. His first experience in battle was at Belmont, Mo., November 7 1861 under General Grant, General Logan and some other officers who afterwards gained distinction during the war. In the spring of 1862 he participated in the capture of New Madrid, Mo., and from there went to Island No. 10 on the Mississippi river, spending the remainder of the year in scouting duty between that point and Memphis, Tenn.

On account of serious disability he was sent to a government hospital at Paducah, Ky., in the early part of 1864. In the month of May of that year General Forest made a raid and attacked a small fortification called Ford Holt. The fort was garrisoned by about three hundred colored soldiers belonging to the 8th U.S. heavy artillery which was being organized there at that time. Many of the hospital convalescents, of which Mr. Spence was one, hastened to the fort and assisted in its defense, as a result of which Forest was defeated with considerable loss and ingloriously retreated from the scene of action.[7]

By the end of the war, James Spence received the rank of Captain and was thereafter referred to as Captain Spence. He and his brothers appear to have returned to Adams County, Illinois and remained there until after their father died in 1866. Capt. James Spence and at least two of his brothers, Fletcher and Thomas, relocated to Jasper County, Missouri, which was then described as a “Mecca” in the wake of huge lead mining operations that brought prosperity to the region. I do not know how acquainted they were with their distant cousins who lived in the area. Samuel and Daniel Spence, sons of Elisha Spence, were dead. Milly Catherine Spence Jones still resided in the area. Some cousins had left the region, either for Kansas or Texas or other parts of the West and South. And there were a few cousins who may not have been too inclined to welcome a Yankee distant relative from Illinois. On the other hand, two uncles had already settled in Missouri: Willis Spence, settled in Greene County, Missouri and Joseph Spence relocated to Independence, Clay County, Missouri

Feelings remained high in the area immediately after the war and in 1866 through the end of the century, Jasper County became the domain of Republican rule and strong Pro-Union Support. Such feeling stands out strongly in an 1891 account from The Carthage Press:

The Dalton boys, the most daring outlaws in Oklahoma, suspected of the Santa Fe Express robery [sic] last night were deputy United States Marshals under President Cleveland. They came from Missouri and were considered good Missouri Democrats. [Topeka Capital]

Now come on; It is bad enough at this time to have our courts conducted by a Democratic Judge fail to convict ex-Treasurer Noland without charging the crimes committed in Oklahoma upon her noble Democratic sons. Missouri can stand most anything but we would like to draw a line somewhere. [8]

When Capt. James Spence arrived in Jasper County, he was immediately liked because those in power approved of his credentials. He was a Union officer during the Civil War. He was a Republican. He became an active member of the Grand Old Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) As his obituary notes:

Captain Spence was a leading Carthage citizen, had served as county treasurer, city treasurer, member of the city council and member of the school board, serving four years as secretary of the latter body. He had been a merchant here, and for many years up to the time of his last illness was engaged in the insurance business and was publisher of the Record Reporter, a daily journal for businessmen and investors.

Captain Spence was a man of sterling integrity and stood very high in the community where he had so long lived, not only because of his character but because of his capabilities as a citizen and the fine qualities which brought him a very large number of warm friendships. [9]

Capt. Spence’s brother Thomas last appears on the 1870 Jasper County Census. He may have returned to Illinois or relocated elsewhere, or he may have died. I could find no record for him after that year. His other brother Fletcher (John Fletcher Spence) was in the area earlier and then removed to Florida. An item from the December 17, 1885 issue of The Carthage Press notes:

Fletcher Spence, brother of Capt. Spence, recently left the sunny regions of Florida for western Illinois. He was raised in Illinois and had lived some time in this state previous to going to Florida. The reason he left Florida was that he had been having the shakes. [10]

Fletcher probably died in Illinois. I could find no further record for him.

One of the earliest memories of Capt. Spence in Jasper County is told by Judge Wesley Ralston in The Carthage Press:

Capt. Spence and I joined farms. Each had a three-rail fence around our residences. We tried to practice economy in those days. The captain employed an old tailor by the name of Brown living in our neighborhood to make him a suit of Kentucky jeans and as soon as I saw him with the suit on, I resolved to have one too. The tailor was a man of very close habits and made my suit correspondingly close, and you ought to have seen me when I made my debut. I made a spectacle [11]

Life in Carthage was good for Capt. James Spence, as is evidenced by the following newspaper account:

Captain James Spence and family went to the country yesterday and visited with Mr. James Ralston and family, partaking bountifully of the good things from their well-spread table. They also viewed the new house Mr. Ralston has almost completed and pronounced it a good home in every particular. [12]

On November 11, 1868, Capt. Spence married Mary Elizabeth Hood (1849-1880) in Carthage, Missouri. Betsy Hood was the daughter of Norris C. Hood, Sr. (1811-1870) and Melinda Bond (1812-1862). They had two daughters.

  1. Inez Spence (1871-1897)
  2. Nelle Spence (1875-1942).

Betsy died in 1880, and Capt. Spence’s second wife was Emma C. Corwine (1861-1930), daughter of George Corwine (1817-1898) and Lydia McCollister (b. 1828), whom he married October 30, 1880 in Carthage. They had one child:

  1. Walter Spence (1884-1899).

From the early 1880s through the late 1890s, The Carthage Press noted a series of events taking place in the James Spence household. The first was a surprise birthday party for the Captain in 1886:

Capt. Spence was the victim of a genuine “surprise” last night by the sudden and unceremonious appearance of a host of his friends, intent upon celebrating the birthday anniversary of the Captain, who had scarcely realized that another year was added to his terrestrial sojourn. An enjoyable evening was passed and now the Captain realizes that there is one woman at least, can keep a secret as it is evident his wife was in this scheme that was to him such a perfect surprise. [13]

In 1892, Capt. Spence accepted a new position in Carthage:

Capt. James Spence has accepted a position as clerk in Walter Wells grocery store and will begin his new duties tomorrow. Capt. Spence is an experienced salesman and Mr. Wells is said to be congratulated on the acquisition to his force.[14]

In 1896, James Spence’s daughter, Nell (from his first marriage) became engaged to Orville D. Royse:

  1. D. Royse left last night for St. Louis and will on Wednesday evening be united in marriage to Miss Nell Spence. The happy couple will arrive in Carthage on Thursday morning and will go to housekeeping in a cottage on South Garrison Avenue. Miss Spence is a well known and popular Carthage girl who has held for several months an important position as a stenographer in St. Louis. Mr. Royse is a rising young attorney and has hosts of friends. The congratulation of all their friends is extended. [15]

Then came a time of testing for Capt. James Spence and his wife Emma when their 15-year old son was suddenly killed in an electrical accident.



Walter Spence Electrocuted Last Night


The Body Received Electricity for ten Minutes Before the Wire Could be Cut–Nonen Hurry Had a Close Call–Sarcoxie Man Shocked

Walter Spence, a bright and promising boy, the only son of Capt. and Mrs. James Spence, lies cold in death, the result of a terrible accident which occurred in this city a few minutes before 8 o’clock last night.

The young man was coming west on Fourth street and as he passed the Commercial hotel reached up and took hold of a dead telephone wire which had come loose and had been wrapped around the east post of the hotel porch. It was an innocent looking wire, but was in contact with a live electric wire somewhere in its course, and the dampness of the weather favored the transition of the current to the dead wire with unusual force. The moment the boy touched the wire he was thrown violently to the pavement, the wire still grasped in his hand with convulsive force. He lay there fully ten minutes, receiving the entire force of the current before the wire could be cut and the current thus shut off. The first force of this electricity undoubtedly instantly killed him. His only visible injury was on his right hand, where he grasped the wire, the ends of the fingers being burned to the bone and the bones even being charred.

The circumstances leading up to the accident were these. For some time Walter had been in charge of the night service of the Missouri & Kansas Telephone Company office in this city. Early yesterday evening it was noticed that their system of wires were somewhere in contact with some powerful electric light or power current, as several of the number drops kept falling without being rung up and part of the switch board was burned out. While the cause and remedy for this was being sought out. Deputy Williams came up to the office with a message that their telephone at the jail needed attention as the bell was ringing ….

Walter went promptly to the jail and remedied the trouble by cutting out that telephone. He started back at once to the office believing that other telephones were likely the cause and would need immediate attention. Accompanying the young man was Earl Laubach, son of Councilman F. G. Laubach of East Third Street, who was a chum of Walter–spending a part of the evening with him. Earl says that on their return, as they approached the Commercial hotel, Walter said, “Here’s something loose. I will see what’s the matter with it,” or words to that effect. These were the last words he uttered. As he said them, he stepped to the outer edge of the walk and reached up and grasped the wire, which was wrapped loosely around the post of the hotel porch. As he did so he received the full force of the current as mentioned above, and fell headlong to the pavement, his head and shoulder lying out in the gutter. The deadly wire was not only clinched tightly in his right hand but part of it lay across his body, the electricity…and lighting up the surrounding area wherever it touched him…

His companion, Earl Laubach, called loudly for help, and the first to reach him were Willis Wallingford and Earl Curry, who was across the street in the H C Grieps bicycle shop. Charles Howell of 845 East Street, who works at the Excelsior Laundry and was standing at the Opera House corner also reached him about the same time. Neither of the four boys could do a thing, however. They dared not touch the body as they were inexperienced in electrical matters.

Body Taken Home

Walter Spence was born in Carthage and was 15 years old on September 30 last. He had been attending the night telephone services since last July. He was a bright member of the sophomore class in the high school and was a very capable and energetic boy, much liked by all who knew him.

Besides his father and mother, there survives him a half sister, Mrs. O. D. Royse of Joplin. She was notified late last night and arrived here this morning.[16]

Walter Spence’s funeral was held November 2, 1899, per the following account in The Carthage Press:

The funeral of Walter Spence occurred this afternoon at 2:00 at the family home on Central Avenue and was tended by a large concourse of people. The house was filled to capacity and many stood on the porch and yard.

The floral offerings were the most profuse and elaborate which have been seen in Carthage in many a day. They completely covered the casket and made a dense bank in front and beside it.

A lyre of chrysanthemums and lilies was sent by the pupils of the high school; a floral piece of two hears was sent by a group of pupils from the central school, a large and beautiful design “gates afar” was sent by the brothers and a sister of Mrs. Spence. , a cluster of roses was sent by the matrimonial club, of which Mrs. Royse is a member, a pillow of roses, ??? a harp and a number of other ??? set pieces was sent by individuals besides numerous less pretentious floral offerings.

Rev. A. J. Wagner delivered a most appropriate and touching funeral discourse in which he referred feelingly to the peculiar sadness of bereavement and spoke words of comfort to the sorrowing parents, relatives and friends. His eulogy of the departed boy was fitting and appropriate and found a ready echo in the hearts of the listeners, among nearly all of whom Walter Spence was well known and well liked. The pastors words deeply touched all present and there was hardly a dry eye within the sound of his voice.

The active pallbearers were Prof. Gray. Prof. Howland, Lewis Manley, George Webster, Harry Alexander and R. J. Wright. The honorary pall bearers were Charlie Bartlett, Earl Laubach, Claude Murdock and George Friend.

Music for the occasion was furnished by a choir comprising of Mrs. Maud Murdock and George Radcliff and Messrs Euclid Woodmansee and Frank Wells. A long line of carriages followed the remains to Park Cemetery where the internment took place.[17]

Capt. James Spence and his family are buried in Park Cemetery in Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri. His daughter, Inez, died in 1897, probably in childbirth. She married Samuel Wilson Ornduff on May 6, 1896 in Carthage and died in December, 1897. Nelle Spence married Orville D. Royse in St. Louis and lived until 1942. After the death of his first wife, Capt Spence and Inez moved lived with the Thomas Garland family, where they appear on the 1880 Jasper County Census and where he is listed as a grocerer and widowed. Nelle lived with the Ralston family. Capt. Spence’s children were reunited with him after his marriage to Emma Corwine.

The uncles of Capt James Spence spread out all over the country:

  • Alston Spence died in Pasquotank, North Carolina in 1836.
  • Joseph Spence died in Independence, Clay County, Missouri in 1876.
  • Jeremiah Spence died in Walton, Florida in 1850.
  • Willis Spence died in Greene County, Missouri in 1875.
  • Robert Spence remained in Davidson, North Carolina and died there in 1843.
  • John Spence (Capt. James Spence’s father) died in Adams County, Illinois in 1866.
  • Daniel Spence died in Randolph County, North Carolina in 1882.
  • Mark Spence died after 1860 in Adams County, Illinois
  • Thornton Spence last appeared in North Carolina in 1860. By 1867, he was in Butte County, California, where he remained through 1879. He is last found in Illinois on the  1880 Census, where he is listed as a mechanic.

In addition:

  • Norris C. Hood, the first father-in-law of Capt. James Spence, was a brother of Joel and David K. Hood, who resided in Jasper County. Norris C. Hood was the sheriff who rescued the Jasper County treasury from the bushwhackers during the Civil War. Joel Hood (my 3rd great-grandfather) relocated to Benton County, Arkansas. David K. Hood spent the rest of his life on his farm in Jasper County.


There is a sequel to this story that happened within the last five years. I wrote the initial draft of this story over five years ago for my original website: Historical Footprints 2010. This sequel happened since then.

My mother passed away in 2003. After her passing, all of her picture albums were sent to me. I was teaching at the time and didn’t have time to go through all of that stuff until after my retirement in 2009. Around 2012 or 2013,I was going through an album that belonged to my Grandmother Spence, and I found a folded piece of paper at the front of the album.

“What’s this?” I wondered.

After unfolding it, I received a wonderful surprise: a handwritten history called The Sterns Family History–my grandmother’s mother’s family history. It was compiled in 1976. Finding information on the Sterns family has really been a problem for me. This history gave me a start, and I have been able to develop it from there. I do not know who compiled it.

No doubt, Grandma kept that history inside her trunk. In 1976, she was still living in her little house in Marion, Iowa, and the trunk was kept down in the basement. I know she went into senior living around 1980. Her house was sold, and the contents were either sold or distributed among other relatives. I don’t know what happened to the trunk. I think my mother’s sister took it, but she didn’t want all the stuff inside it. She probably found the history and gave it to my mother.

“Here–put this in her picture album.”

Mom put it inside the album. Grandma passed away in 1981. And that Sterns family history was not rediscovered and incorporated into my family tree until around 2012 or 2013.

Another item rescued from the trunk!


[1] James Spence Obituary, The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, March 13, 1922.

[2] Henry Reeves and Mary J Davis Shoaf, Compilers. Davidson County, North Carolina Will Summaries, Vol. 1. Publisher: Mrs. Mary Jo Davis Shoaf, Lexington, North Carolina, 1979.

[3] “List of Counties in North Carolina” from the Wikipedia Website:

[4] List of Counties in North Carolina” from the Wikipedia Website:

[5] Henry Reeves and Mary J Davis Shoaf, Compilers. Davidson County, North Carolina Will Summaries, Vol. 1. Publisher: Mrs. Mary Jo Davis Shoaf, Lexington, North Carolina, 1979.

[6] 1850 and 1860 Census Records, John Spence Family, Adams County, Illinois. Available at

[7] James Spence Obituary, The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, March 13, 1922.

[8] The Carthage Press, May 21, 1891

[9] James Spence Obituary, The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, March 13, 1922.

[10] Local News, The Carthage Press, December 17, 1885

[11] Old Reminiscences of Carthage. The Carthage Press, January 16, 1902.

[12] Local News, The Carthage Press, April 15, 1885.

[13] Local News, The Carthage Press, March 18, 1886.

[14] Local News, The Carthage Press, January 26, 1892.

[15] The Carthage Press, May 7, 1896.

[16] Instantly Killed. The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, October 26, 1899.

[17] The Funeral of Walter Spence. The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, November 2, 1899.


The Country of Six Bulls: Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence (1833-1931)–Part Two


Lazarus and Adeline Spence Grave, Moss Springs, Cemetery. Photo Taken May 2002

Lazarus and Adeline Spence Grave, Moss Springs, Cemetery, Jasper County, Missouri. Photo Taken May 2002

Cornelius O’Bryan (1696-1751), Augusta Co., Virginia

Daniel Bryant (1803-1858) and Lucy Key (1810-1903), the parents of Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence, were born in Franklin County, Virginia. Tracing Daniel Bryant’s family has been a challenge because of the constant change in the spelling of the name. I originally thought he was part of the large Huguenot family of Bryants from Buckingham and Cumberland Counties, Virginia, many of whom eventually settled in Kentucky. But the name was originally “O’Bryan”–later “Bryant”–and Daniel’s ancestors were Scotch-Irish, who intermarried with the O’Brians/O’Briants.

The O’Brian/O’Bryan surname was first found in County Clare, where Cornelius O’Bryan was born in before 1697. He relocated to Augusta County, Virginia, which is today Rockingham, where he died in 1751. A copy of his will follows:

Be it Remembered the thirtieth day of March in the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty one I Cornelius O’Bryan of Augusta in the Colony of Virginia yeoman being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God therefore calling to mind the mortallity of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to dye do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament that is to say principally And first of all I give and recommend my soul into the Hands that gave it and for My body I recommend it to the Earth to be Buried in a Christain like and decent manner at the discretion of My Executors and as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form – Imprimis it is my will and I do Order that in the first place all my juste Debts and Funeral Charges be paid and satisfied – Item I give and bequeath unto Rebecca my Dearly beloved wife one hundred Acres of Land during her natural life or she Continues My widow but after her Death or Mariage the said one hundred acres of Land to go unto my Son John Bryen his heirs And assigns forever likewise the old white horse and brown horse and a roan cow and a brown cow of the heifer that come of her and six sheep her choice of the stock together with all my household good during her Natural life And if she marries or when dys to go unto my son John likewise, — Item I give and bequeath unto my son Cornelius O’Bryen a roan mare, — Item I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas’s Eldest son Benjamin a roan yearling colt which came of the mare that I gave unto Cornelius my son, — Item the Rest of my stock Excepting the swine to be Equally Divided amongst the Remainder of my Children These I give and bequeath unto my son John O’Bryan all the remainder of my Estate Both real and personal unto him his heirs And assigns forever, Item I do constitute and ordain my well beloved wife Rebecca and my son John O’Bryen my only and sole Executors of this My Last Will and Testament and I do hereby utterly disalow revoke and disannul all and every other former Testaments Wills Legacies and Executors by me in any ways before this time Named willed and bequeathed Ratifying and Confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament In witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and seal the day and year above written [1].

In his will, Cornelius identifies his wife as Rebecca, and his sons as John, Cornelius Jr., and Thomas. John, who must have been his eldest son, became the executor of his estate along with his mother. He mentions a grandson named Benjamin, who was the eldest son of Thomas. Cornelius signed his will March 30, 1751 and the will was recorded May 28, 1751, indicating that he had died during that period of time. John O’Briant posted his bond as executor November 26, 1751[2]. John Bryant’s name earlier appears on the Augusta County Records where he was appointed as appraiser in another estate on May 10,1749 [3].

Subsequently, the Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800 indicate a land transaction involving the O’Bryan sons:

Name: Cornelius O’Bryan  Date: 10 Jul 1762  Location: Augusta Co., VA  Property: 150 acres on Linvel’s Creek, beginning at kern of stones; cor. John O’Bryan; cor. Cornelius O’Bryan, on the side of the Bald Hill, Watering Spring Run  Remarks: Grantors are surviving joint tenants of Cornelius, John, and Cornelius O’Bryan, Jr. 20. Part of 500 acres conveyed by Hite & Co. to Cornelius, John and Cornelius, Jr., 24 Jun 1744. Delivered to Thomas O’Bryan, Jul 1766.  Description: Grantor  Book Date: 10-458 [4].

I believe that one of these sons-Cornelius, Jr., John, or Thomas-had a son named John Bryant who relocated to Pittsylvania County-today, Franklin Co., Virginia-where he married a daughter of Dennis O’Briant.


Dennis O’Briant (1725-aft 1793), John Bryant (ca. 1760-aft. 1812) and Daniel Prillaman (1758-1854)

Dennis O’Briant was an early settler on Nicholas Creek in Pittsylvania County, having arrived before 1767 and having acquired his property of 286 acres on July 14, 1769. (Note: In 1776, this land would be situated in Henry County and in 1786, the land would lie in Franklin County, owing to the creation of new counties during that period of time. His wife’s name is unknown. Two of Dennis O’Briant’s children have been identified: a daughter named Ann (1758-1850) who married Daniel Prillaman (1758-1854) and a son named Dennis O’Briant, Jr. (b. 1769; d. before 1802). There are additional O’Briant names in the area, but with no proven connection to Dennis, Sr.

The son of Jacob Prillaman (1721-1796) and Priscilla Walburga Helm (1723-1799) Daniel Prillaman married Ann O’Briant in 1777. The Prillamans had the following children:

Jacob Prillaman (1778-1858) Dennis Prillaman (1780-1840) John Prillaman (1782-1853) Elizabeth Prillaman (1788-1812) Judith Prillaman (b. 1790) Daniel Prillaman (1799-1844) Susan Prillaman (1794-1899) Ann Prillaman (1799-1892) Ruth Prillaman (1802-1896) [5].

The Prillamans named their children after relatives from both sides of the family. Jacob and Dennis were named for the grandfathers, and Dennis was named for his uncle as well. John was named for John Bryant, indicating that John was already living in the area and had already married an O’Briant. [John had acquired land adjoining Dennis O’Briant in Henry County on Nicholas Creek June 1, 1782, so he may have married Dennis’s daughter by then.] Daniel and Ann were named for the Prillamans. Ruth was named for Dennis O’Briant. Jr.’s wife-she would later become John Bryant’s second wife. (More on this later). Elizabeth was named for Daniel Prillaman’s sister. That leaves Judith and Susan, and they may have represented the grandmothers. Daniel Prillaman had three sisters named Elizabeth, Barbara and Anna.  [Note: I believe that John Bryant’s first wife’s name was Elizabeth, so Elizabeth Prillaman would have been named for Elizabeth O’Briant Bryant and for Elizabeth Prillaman, Daniel Prillaman’s sister.]

The following is a Public Member Story about Daniel Prillaman at

Daniel Prillaman came to Virginia with his father Jacob. On 19 Jan 1778 Daniel Prillaman, together with Dennis O’Briant & John Bryant, “refuseth to take & subscribe the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia” (Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, Vol. 9 pg 14). This refusal may have been because of his religious convictions, or because of a stronger allegiance to Germany & England. In the first list of tithes taken in Henry County in 1782, Daniel Prillaman’s name appears, with those of his father & two brothers, & he was listed as a resident of that county until 1786, when he & his family appear in Franklin County, which had been cut off from Henry the preceding year.

On 17 June 1783, Daniel had received a grant of 285 acres in Henry County, on Nicholas Creek adjoining Dennis O’Briant (Commonwealth Grants & Patents, Book H, pg 243). Nine years later, on 10 July 1792, he acquired the plantation of his father-in-law, Dennis O’Briant, by a deed of gift, consisting of 286 acres on Nicholas Creek, which was then in Franklin County (Franklin County Deeds, Book 2, pg 414). This land had been granted to Dennis O’Briant in 1769, & later became the property of Daniel’s son, David Prillaman.

Daniel Prillaman acquired other land in the Nicholas Creek section in 1802 & 1803. He bought from Robert Stockton, for $43, a tract of 33 acres on 10 Sept 1802, on Nicholas Creek. On 3 Dec 1803, he bought 33 acres from Spencer James & Nathaniel Dixon, which was also on Nicholas Creek.

The old home of Daniel Prillaman burned in 1911, at which time the family Bible was also destroyed; the house was rebuilt, using the original chimneys. The family cemetary where Daniel & Ann are buried is on the property. Daniel Prillaman lived in the Brown Hill section, while his brothers remained in Blackwater; possibly Daniel moved because of his marriage to Ann O’Briant, whose father was an early settler on Nicholas Creek. One family tradition relates that Daniel had a powder mill near the original family home, & that one day the mill blew up, & Daniel immediately removed to Brown Hill, leaving his brothers behind.

From 1799 on, Daniel Prillaman’s name appears in the Court Order Books of Franklin County. In 1799 he was appointed to supervise the surveys for roads, & was appointed an Overseer of the Poor, as his father had been. He served on juries & transferred lands through the court. At the time of his death in 1854, he was still living on Nicholas Creek. One descendant tells of a slave who was present at the estate sale in 1854, who remembers Daniel’s son Dennis repeating, “I’ll tell you one thing — I want Daddy’s buck (spotted) horse!”

Daniel’s will is dated 1845, probated 1854, & names his wife Ann & ten children [6].

The refusal of Dennis O’Briant, John Bryant, and Dennis Prillaman to take an oath of allegiance probably stemmed from their religious beliefs rather than any strong feeling of loyalty to England. The O’Briants, Bryants and Prillamans were staunch conservatives and were all members of the Baptist Church. The Baptist Church to which they belonged severed ties with the main Baptist Church in 1814 over the issue of the Foreign Mission Board. They became known as Primitive Baptists. [The Freedom Baptist Church at Moss Springs in Jasper Co., Missouri was a Primitive Baptist Church. When the Spence family resided in Perry Co., Tennessee, they attended a Primitive Baptist Church. So it is not surprising that the O’Briants, Bryants and Prillamans attended the same type of church.] defines the Primitive Baptists as follows:

Primitive Baptists are a group of Baptists that have an historical connection to the missionary/anti-missionary controversy that divided Baptists of America in the early part of the 19th century. Those currently denominated Primitive Baptists consist of descendants of churches and ministers that opposed the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions (org. 1814), as well as other innovations such as seminaries and temperance societies. Early leaders include Joshua Lawrence, John Leland, Daniel Parker, and John Taylor. Other names by which Primitive Baptists are known are Predestinarian Baptists, Old School Baptists, Regular Baptists, Particular Baptists and Hardshells. The word “Primitive” is sometimes taken by outsiders to mean “backward”, but in context of this division among Baptists, it means “original”. These churches attempt to retain and/or restore primitive (or original) patterns of church life, such as unsalaried ministers, a cappella singing and feet washing [7].

No doubt Dennis O’Briant, John Bryant, and Daniel Prillaman were initially reluctant to take an oath of allegiance because they thought their only loyalty should be to God and not to man. But as the Revolutionary War progressed, the Baptists in Virginia sought to disengage the power of the Anglican Church in the state. According to an article titled “Baptists in the United States”:

There was a sharp [difference] between the austerity of the plain-living Baptists and the opulence of the Anglican planters, who controlled local government. Baptist church discipline, mistaken by the gentry for radicalism, served to ameliorate disorder. The struggle for religious toleration erupted and was played out during the American Revolution, as the Baptists worked to disestablish the Anglican church. Beeman (1978) explores the conflict in one Virginia locality, showing that as population became more dense, the county court and the Anglican Church were able to increase their authority. The Baptists protested vigorously; the resulting social disorder resulted chiefly from the ruling gentry’s disregard of public need. The vitality of the religious opposition made the conflict between ‘evangelical’ and ‘gentry’ styles a bitter one. Kroll-Smith (1984) suggests the strength of the evangelical movement’s organization determined its ability to mobilize power outside the conventional authority structure [8].

In addition to the Baptist resistance to continued Anglican control, there was another factor in the Piedmont area of Virginia and North Carolina that may have changed the minds of Dennis O’Briant, John Bryant and Dennis Prillaman. That factor came in the form of a Tory by the name of David Fanning and in other men like him!

David Fanning was to the American Revolution what William Clarke Quantrill became to the Civil War almost a century later. Born in 1755 to David Fanning in Amelia Co., Virginia, David Fanning was orphaned before he was even born when his father drowned in the Deep River. He eventually moved to North Carolina, where he remained staunchly loyalist in his views. In writing the Biographical History of North Carolina, Ashe had this to say about Fanning:

“David Fanning, one of the most extraordinary men evolved by the Revolutionary War was born bout the year 1756….Gov. Swain…in tracing his career stated that he was born in that part of Johnston County which has since been embraced in Wake, and that he was apprenticed to a Mr. Bryan, from whom he ran away when about sixteen years of age….He was untaught and unlettered, and he had the scald head, that became so offensive that he did not eat at the table with the family; and in subsequent life he wore a silk cap so that his most intimate friends never saw his head naked. (1906. Ashe, Samuel. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. V, p.90.)

“…His remorseless rapine and murderous execution were without a parallel. Besides individual hangings and minor encounters, he had participated in thirty-six bloody engagements; and the plantations he had ravaged and despoiled, leaving ruin and suffering in his path, were innumerable. The General Assembly extended amnesty and pardon to all Tories with the exception of three, and Fanning was among those proscribed. His crimes and butcheries were beyond forgiveness.(1906. Ashe, Samuel. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. V. p.97.)

“In September 1784, he located near St. John’s, New Brunswick, and later resided at Digby, Nova Scotia where he died in 1825.” (1906. Ashe, Samuel. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. V. p.97.)

“During the Revolutionary War, and for several years thereafter, the middle and western counties of North Carolina were infested by lawless bands of Tories and ruffians, who, led by desperate men like David Fanning, pillaged the country, and often slew unprotected persons without mercy. (1917. Ashe, Samuel et al in “Jacob Long,” Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. VIII, p.287.) [9].

The History of Henry Co., Virginia indicates that during the Revolutionary War, Dennis O’Briant furnished “300 pounds of nett beef” for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War”[10].

The records are silent about the marriage of John Bryant with [Elizabeth??] O’Briant. However, I have developed a scenario after piecing available records together. Daniel Prillaman married Ann O’Briant in 1777. I believe John Bryant married [Elizabeth??] O’Briant between 1780 and 1785. [Elizabeth??] may have died in childbirth, and I think that she was dead by 1792. On July 10, 1792, Dennis O’Briant, Sr. signed over his plantation to his son-in-law Daniel Prillaman as a deed of gift. John did not remarry until 1802. I could not find any records of surviving children for John and his first wife. Dennis O’Briant, Jr. hadn’t married as yet. And Dennis O’Briant, Sr. appears to have died in early 1793 without a will [11].

Another Bryant appears in Henry County about this period of time: James Bryant, b. before 1765. This James Bryant may have been a younger brother of John Bryant, and decided to join him in Henry County. James Bryant married Sallie Brummett (b. 1768) on July 7, 1788 in Franklin Co., Virginia. She was the daughter of James and Agnes Brummett of Franklin County. The James Bryants moved to Knox Co., Kentucky, where they appear on the tax lists for 1803-1810, as well as on the 1810 Census. They next appear on the 1820 and 1830 Census for Monroe Co., Indiana. The names of their children are not known [12]. A Lewis Bryant also appears in Franklin Co., Virginia Court Records in 1786-1787, both as a jury member and as a participant in some of the actions. He may have been another of John’s brothers and seems to have moved to Bertie Co., North Carolina. According to Bertie, NC Vital Statistics 1700s-1920, Lewis Bryant was born between 1765 and 1784 and he died after 1808 [13].

Dennis O’Briant, Jr., son of Dennis O’Briant, Sr., married Ruth Manier/Maynor in Franklin Co., Virginia September 5, 1792. She was the daughter of Richard Tucker Manier/Maynor and Ann Wright. Richard Manier posted the surety bond [14]. Some records at indicate that Ruth was born about 1770 in Baltimore, Maryland, and that her family came from there. Dennis and Ruth had two children: Nancy M. O’Briant (m. Levi Martin on February 8, 1808, Franklin Co., Virginia-Daniel Prillaman posted bond) [15] and Richard O’Briant (1795-1850) [16].

Richard Briant married Annie Young Nov. 2, 1815 in Franklin Co., Virginia. James Young posted bond for the marriage. [17] Richard and Anne remained in Franklin County. They had thirteen children:

John Tucker Briant/Bryant, b. Feb. 11, 1827

Mary Briant/Bryant, b. June 14, 1823

Virginia “Janny” Bryant, b. Oct. 26, 1839

Oney Bryant, b. April 16, 1818; d. Feb. 28, 1908

James Madison Bryant, b. Aug. 25, 1847

Elizabeth Bryant, b. Feb. 14, 1825; d. April 22, 1900

Sarah “Sally” Bryant, b. May 13, 1831; d. Dec. 3, 1915 David Bryant, b. Sept. 12, 1828; d. Nov. 11, 1864 (Danville, Virginia)

Eliza Ann Bryant, b. July 9, 1833; d. June 7, 1889 (Huntington, Cobell WV)

Nancy Bryant, b. Feb. 13, 1820; d. March 5, 1913, Carroll Co., VA

Dennis (Briant) Bryant, b. Sept. 7 1816

Charity Elizabeth Bryant, b. Nov. 15, 1836; d. June 7, 1913

Jacob Bryant, b. May 1, 1821; d. Oct. 30, 1916 [18].

Richard Bryant died in 1850/1853 in Franklin Co., Virginia. Some records indicate that he was a doctor.

Dennis O’Briant, Jr. died in late 1801 or in early-to-mid 1802. And on September 6, 1802, John Bryant married Ruth Maynor O’Briant in Franklin Co. Virginia [19]. John and Ruth Maynor Bryant became the parents of Daniel Bryant, father of Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence.

Daniel Bryant was born in 1803 to John and Ruth Bryant in Franklin Co., Virginia. His brother David Bryant was born in 1812. John and Ruth Bryant appear as the parents of Nancy Maynor O’Briant on the 1808 Franklin County Marriage Record, but Nancy was really the child of Dennis and Ruth Maynor O’Briant, as was Richard. John and Ruth may have had additional children, but apparently they did not survive.

The records grow silent after 1812 on John and Ruth Bryant. Apparently they remained in Franklin County, but Daniel Prilliman seems to take on the leadership role in the family. John and Ruth may have died by 1815/1820. I cannot find anything more about John and there is no record of Ruth’s remarriage. If their parents had died, Daniel and David would have moved in with other family members. In all likelihood, they lived with the Prillimans until they were old enough to go out on their own. Then the Key and Spencer families moved to Franklin County-an event that would shape the rest of their lives.

Of all these families, the Key family has been the easiest to trace. Lucy Key was born in 1810 to William Wesley Key (1783-abt. 1860) and Susanna Akers (1777-1819) in Franklin Co., Virginia. The Keys originated in Albemarle Co., Virginia. William Wesley Key (who generally used his middle name) married Susanna Akers in Franklin Co. September 3, 1804. His parents were William Key (1751-1808) and Rachel Hansbrough (1760-1807) [20].

On November 17, 1829, Daniel Bryant married Lucy Key in Franklin Co., Virginia. The surety’s name was John Spencer [21]. Two years previously, John Spencer married Rachael Key on November 20, 1827 in Franklin Co., Virginia. The surety was Wesley Key(s) [22]. Then on October 27, 1834, David Bryant married Rachael Spencer in Franklin Co., Virginia. The surety was Wesley Key [23]. Daniel and David Bryant were brothers. Lucy and Rachael Key were sisters. Wesley Key was their father. Rachael Spencer was John Spencer’s daughter from his first marriage. John Spencer’s father was Sharp Spencer (1770-1834). John (b. ca. 1788) was the half-brother of William Spencer (1817-1888)-who would later relocate with the Bryants to Jasper Co., Missouri and who was one of the defendants in the 1880 grand jury investigation in the John Bass Jones murder case!

Sharp Spencer died in Putnam Co. Indiana December 12, 1834 [24]. On September 7, 1835, William Spencer married Jane Angel in Putnam Co., Indiana [25]. [The Franklin Co., Virginia marriage records show a number of Angel and Truelove marriages, so members of Jane’s family must have settled in Franklin.]

The Bryants remained in Franklin County. Daniel and Lucy’s son, John A. Bryant, was born 1830 in Franklin County [26]. I do not have an exact day or month for him. Daniel and Lucy did not keep written records since they could not read or write, as indicated on later census records. The family may have moved to Cumberland Co., Virginia as Adeline Elizabeth Bryant was born there May 27, 1833 [27].

Five years later, the Bryants elected to follow the Spencers to Clinton Tp., Putnam Co., Indiana, where they all appear on the 1840 census record:

Daniel Bryant-Clinton, Putnam—1 m 10-14; 1 m 30-39; 1 m 50-59; 1 f 10-14; 1 f 20-29; Total: 5 David Bryant—-Clinton, Putnam-1 m -5; 1 m 15-19; 1 f 20-29; Total: 3 William Spencer-Clinton, Putnam-1 m -5; 1 m 15-19; 1 f -5; 1 f 20-29; Total: 5 [28].

I don’t know what happened to John Spencer and Rachel Key. They may have moved to Kentucky, or they may have relocated to Ohio. A number of Key family members settled near Dayton.

Lucy’s father, William Wesley Key, a widower by 1830 since his wife died in 1819, lived with the Daniel Bryant family in Putnam County. On the 1900 census record for the Lazarus Spence family in Newton Co., Missouri, Lucy Key Bryant indicated that she had given birth to three children and by 1900, only one of those children survived [29].

In 1843, the Bryants and the Spencers relocated to Jasper County, Missouri and settled near Sarcoxie. David Bryant and his family also accompanied them there. Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence’s story is detailed in the first part of this article, so I won’t repeat it here. At the age of 15, she married Lazarus Spence, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Inman Spence, December 23, 1848 in Jasper County. The 1850 Census for Jasper County shows the following:

Daniel Bryant, age 47, farmer, b. Virginia (unable to read or write) Lucy Bryant, age 40, b. Virginia (unable to read or write) John A. Bryant, age 20, b. Virginia Wesley Key, age 73, b. Virginia (listed as “insane.”) Lazarus Spence, age 24, b. Tennessee Adeline Spence, age 17, b. Virginia.

David Bryant, age 38, b. Virginia (unable to read or write) Rachel Bryant, age 42, b. Virginia (unable to read or write)

William Spencer, age 28, b. Kentucky (unable to read or write) Jane Spencer, age 32, b. Kentucky (unable to read or write) James H. Spencer, age 14, b. Indiana Mary C. Spencer, age 12, b. Indiana Dorcas Spencer, age 10, b. Indiana John A. or H. Spencer, age 9, b. Indiana Minerva J. Spencer, age 6, b. Missouri William D. Spencer, age 4, b. Missouri Milly E. Spencer, age 1, b. Missouri [30].

On September 15, 1858, Daniel Bryant died. He is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. Lucy Key Bryant then lived with the Lazarus Spence family, and she appears on the 1860 Jasper County Census with them. By 1860, Wesley Key had died and in all probability, he is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. (A discussion of the 1860 Jasper County Census for the William Spencer family is in Part 2 of the Who Killed John Bass Jones? article at this website.) John A. Bryant and David Bryant both appear on the 1860 Census for Jackson Tp., Jasper County, Missouri as follows:

John A. Bryant, age 31, Wagonmaker, b. Virginia

Nancy E. Bryant, age 26, b. Tennessee

Lucy A. Bryant, age 4, b. Missouri

Daniel Bryant, age 3, b. Missouri

Arabella Bryant, age 1, b. Missouri

David Bryant, age 48, b. Virginia

Rachel Bryant, age 50, b. Virginia

Sarah B. Bryant, age 18, b. Indiana [31].

John A. Bryant married Nancy E. Martin in Jasper Co., Missouri September 26, 1852 [32]. She was the daughter of Brice Martin and Nancy Burrus, who were early settlers in Jasper County. Brice Martin was born in 1810 and died in Jasper County in 1846. Nancy Martin Bryant died in Kansas in 1875. The children of John A. Bryant and Nancy Martin were:

Lucy A. Bryant, b. 1854, Jasper Co., Missouri

Daniel Boone Bryant, b. 1856, Jasper Co., Missouri

Arabella Bryant, b. 1860, Jasper Co., Missouri

Frances A. Bryant, b. 1861

William Edward Bryant, b. 1864

John A. Bryant, b. 1867

Charles Bryant, b. 1869

His second wife, Mary Amelia Denniston, was born in 1844. They had a daughter named Mable A. Bryant, who was born in 1875 [33].

Like the Lazarus Spence family, the John A. Bryant, David Bryant, and William Spencer families fled Missouri during the Civil War and relocated to Kansas. William Spencer appears on the Tax records for 1865 in Mound City, Kansas [34].  John A. Bryant appears on the Tax records for Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas. I imagine Lucy Key Bryant went to Kansas with the John A. Bryant family since Lazarus and Adeline had to “get out of Dodge fast!” John Bryant did not return to Missouri, but remained at Fort Scott, Kansas. He appears on the tax records in Fort Scott for 1865, and he is also on the Census records for 1870 and 1880 [35]. He died in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas about 1887 or 1888. I don’t have the exact date of his death.

David Bryant also left Missouri for Kansas and did not return there. He appears on the 1865 Tax Records for Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas with the Samuel and Sarah Spence family of Jasper County. (Samuel was a son of Daniel Spence and Mary Polly Pewitt.) Samuel’s brother, Joel and wife Martha are also residing there [36]. (The Spences returned to Jasper County after the war.) David Bryant last appears on the 1870 Census for Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas with his wife Rachel [37]. I have no date of death for him, but he would have died before 1880.

William Spencer returned from Mound City, Kansas after the war and settled on his place in Jasper County. A full account of William Spencer is detailed in Part 2 of the Who Shot John Bass Jones? article at this website. I do have additional information concerning his children by his first wife Jane Angel, and will incorporate that information here:

James Harvey Spencer–b. Aug. 9, 1832, Putnam Co., Indiana; d. 1921, Jasper Co., Missouri; buried in Moss Springs; m. (1) Elizabeth Casebolt, Sept. 9, 1858, Jasper Co., Missouri; (2) Elizabeth Jones, Jasper Co., Missouri.

Mary Catherine Spencer-b. abt. 1838, Putnam Co., Indiana; d. July 2, 1912. No additional information.

Dorcus Spencer-b. July 9, 1839, Putnam Co., Indiana; d. March 29, 1918, Sarcoxie, Jasper, Mo (senility); buried in the Dudman Cemetery March 30, 1918; m. Alonzo Decalvis Deming Feb. 25, 1865.

John M. Spencer-b. 1841, probably Indiana. No additional information.

Minerva J. Spencer-b. March 31, 1844, Jasper Co., Missouri; m. Henry C. Shively, Jan. 1, 1874.

William D. Spencer-b. 1846, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. aft. 1870, Jasper Co., Missouri. No additional information.

Millie Emaline Spencer-b. 1848, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. September 2, 1916, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri (cancer of the face); buried September 3, 1916, Moss Springs Cemetery. [Note: This daughter appears to never have married. In 1880, she took care of William Spencer’s twin daughters by Elizabeth Ady, as well as his three year-old son William Hayes Spencer-also by Elizabeth.]

Clemantine Spencer-b. 1851, Jasper Co., Missouri. No additional information.

Ananias Spencer-b. 1856, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. Oct. 30, 1936, Jasper Co., Missouri. Buried November

1936. (Location unknown)[38].

(I have no additional information on William Hayes Spencer, b. 1877, Jasper Co., Missouri to William Spencer and Elizabeth Ady. He may have died young. The twin daughters born to William and Elizabeth in May 1880 also disappear from the record.)

After returning to Jasper County from Kansas, Lazarus and Adeline Bryant Spence spent the rest of their days in Jasper County. Their names appeared in The Carthage Press from time to time, such as the following in the issue dated July 14, 1887:

A Relic Returned

During the rebellion, when General Marshall was taken prisoner, his saddle was purchased for $10 by Lazarus Spence of Union Tp, who has kept it in a good state of preservation, except natural wear and tear. Tuesday, the saddle was purchased by our townsman, James Rainwater, who fully boxed it and sent it to John S. Marshall, present Governor of Missouri. He will doubtless prize the same as a relic of the late war [39].

In her 1921 interview in Part 1 of this article, Adeline Spence mentioned two orphaned children she and her husband had taken under their care. Lazarus and Adeline never had children of their own. The 1870 Census for the Lazarus Spence family identifies the names of the orphaned children Lazarus and Adeline raised:

Lazarus Spence, age 46, b. Tennessee

Adeline E. Spence, age 37, b. Virginia

Jesse J. Vermillion, age 16, b. Arkansas

Mary E. Vermillion, age 12, b. Missouri

Martha J. Vermillion, age 9, b. Missouri

Lucy Bryant, age 60, b. Virginia

William Key, age 56, b. Virginia

Susan Key, age 50, b. Indiana [40].

William Key was a younger brother of Lucy Key Bryant and Susan Key was his wife. The two orphaned children who were taken in by the Spences were Mary and Martha Vermillion. Jesse Vermillion, their brother, lived with the Hagerty family in Kansas but by 1870, he moved in with the Spences, no doubt to learn the trade of a blacksmith from Lazarus Spence. They were the children of Hiram F. Vermillion (1820-1860) and Octavia B. Boren (1835-1860) [41].

The son of William Vermillion (b. 1809), Hiram F. Vermillion was born in Tennessee in 1820. He married Octavia B. Boren in Franklin Co., Arkansas on August 1, 1850 [42]. The Vermillions appear on the 1850 Census for Mulberry Tp., Franklin Co., Arkansas [43].

They had the following children:

Jesse John Vermillion, Sr., b. 1853, Arkansas.

James Boren Vermillion, b. 1855, Arkansas

Mary Elizabeth Vermillion, b. 1858, Missouri

Martha J. Vermillion, b. 1860, Missouri [44].

The name of Hiram Vermillion’s mother is not known, but he had a number of sisters and brothers: H. W. Vermillion, b. 1825; Rachael Vermillion, b. 1826; Martha Jane Vermillion, b. 1828; Edward R. B. Vermillion, b. 1832 [45].

Rachael Vermillion married Jonathan Sherman Scripps Hagerty (b. 1824, Old Miller Arkansas) on January 16, 1851 in Franklin Co., Arkansas. By 1860s, the Swaggertys had moved to Mound City, Linn Co., Kansas, where they remained [46]. Rachel died in January 7, 1885, and Jonathan married Sarah Elizabeth Marrs October 25, 1888 in Blue Mound, Linn Co., Kansas. Jonathan died October 18, 1899 in Blue Mound, Kansas [47].

By the late 1850s, a number of families began moving from Arkansas to Kansas, and the route took them to Jasper Co., Missouri. Pioneers often left part of their families in Jasper County while they went on to prepare a place for them to live in Kansas. Such was the case of Hiram W. Vermillion. A number of Hiram’s family members had already relocated to Kansas and had settled in Bourbon County near Fort Scott. Hiram’s brother William appears on the Kansas Election List for the 6th District of Kansas in 1854 [48]. In 1855, William Vermillion appears on the Territorial Census Records for the 6th District [49]. In all likelihood, Hiram moved his family to Jasper County about 1854 or 1855, and then went to Kansas to join his brother.  He returned to Jasper County periodically to see his family.

A fever struck Bourbon County in 1860. It may have been typhoid, cholera, or dysentery, but it claimed the lives of a number of people living in the area. Lydia J. Vermillion, age 37, a housewife, probably the housewife of William Vermillion, died of the fever there in March of that year [50].

On October 1, 1860, Octavia B. Boren Vermillion died in childbirth with her daughter, Martha J., in Jasper County, Missouri. Subsequently, Hiram Vermillion died October 9, 1860 in Jasper County, Missouri[52]. They left the four children: Jesse, James, Mary and Martha. The two boys went to live with their aunt and uncle, Jonathan and Rachel Hagerty in Linn Co., Kansas, [53] while the two girls went to live with Lazarus and Adeline Spence in Jasper County, Missouri [54]. Lazarus and Adeline adopted the girls between 1860 and 1861. The girls’ stories follow:

Mary Elizabeth Vermillion Spence was born March 3, 1858 in Jasper County, Missouri. On June 4, 1877, she married John Adam Shafer (1852-1926) in Newton County, Missouri. Their children were: (a) Charles Edmund Shafer (1877-1926); (b) Fred Austin Shafer (1881-1929); (c) John Lionel Shafer (1885-1953); (d) Earl Silas Shafer (1888-1940); (e) Harry Elbert Shafer (1890-1956). Mary died December 25, 1926 in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. She is buried in the Forest Park Cemetery.

Martha Jane Vermillion Spence was born October 1, 1860 in Jasper County, Missouri. On April 23, 1876, she married William Hastings Defries (1855-1938) in Newton County, Missouri. Their children were: (a) Magdalene Defries (b. 1877); (b) William Lazarus Defries (1879-1937); (c) Annie Adeline “Addie” Defries (1882-1968); (d) Jesse James Defries (1885-1960); (e) Ernest Todd Defries (1889-1967); (f) Crystal Audrey Defries (1900-1985).  Martha died in 1915 in Oklahoma and is buried in Bixby.

Information on the two brothers follows:

Jesse John Vermillion lived with the Swagertys in Kansas and then with Lazarus and Adeline Spence in Missouri. He was born in Arkansas in 1853. His wife was Percilla “Ella” C. Clary (1858-1900). Their children were: (a) Mary Ellen “Ella” Vermillion (1880-1975); (b) Jesse John Vermillion, Jr. (1885-1963). Jesse died before 1900 in Kansas.

James Boren Vermillion also lived with the Swagertys in Kansas. He was born in Arkansas in 1855, although his death record says 1857. He never married.  James died July 3, 1930 in Sacramento, California.

Lazarus Spence died November 15, 1902 in Jasper County, Missouri. He is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence lived to the age of 98 and died January 6, 1931 in Jasper County, Missouri. She is buried beside her husband in the Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper County, Missouri.



[1] Cornelius O’Bryan Will, Augusta Co., VA Will Book 1, Page 330.

[2] “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County” by Lyman Chalkley. WB1-394

[3] “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County” by Lyman Chalkley, WB1-130

[4] “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County” by Lyman Chalkley. Book 10-458

[5] Ancestors of Michael Lee Smith. Available at

[6] Daniel Perillaman Public Member Story, Ancestry. com. Available at

[7] Primitive Baptist Definition. Available at

[8] “Baptists in the United States.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Available at

[9] “David Fanning,” Western North Carolina Available at

[10] “History of Henry County, Virginia” p. 321. Available at

[11] Prillaman-Armstrong Family Tree: Alice Virginia Prillaman. Private Member Tree. Available at

[12] Everson, Jr. Family Tree. Available at

[13] Bertie County, North Carolina Vital Statistics about Lewis Bryant, Available at

[14] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 171. Available at

[15] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 150. Available at

[16) Maynor Family Tree. Available at

[17] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858. N.p. Available at

[18] Ancestral File Record: Richard Briant/Bryant. Available at

[19] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 122. Available at

[20] Key and Allied Families, Mrs. Julian C. Lane. [Database online]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Available at

[21] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 48. Available at

[22] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 48. Available at

[23] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 50. Available at

[24] Riddle Family Tree. Available at

[25] Riddle Family Tree, Available at

[26] Williams Family Tree/Noah Martin, Available at

[27] Ancestors of Rhonda Etter, Available at

[28] 1840 Census, Clinton Tp., Putnam Co., Indiana. Available at

[29] 1900 Census, Marion Tp., Newton Co., Missouri. Available at

[30] 1850 Census, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri. Available at

[31] 1860 Census, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri. Available at

[32] Bill & Suzy Family Trees. Available at

[33] Williams Family Tree/Noah Martin. Available at; Bill & Suzy Family Trees. Available at

[34] 1865 Mound City, Kansas Tax Records. Available at

[35] 1870 and 1880 Census, Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas. Available at

[36] 1865 Tax Records, Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas. Available at

[37] 1870 Census, Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas. Available at

[38] Cloe Family Tree. Available at

[39] “A Relic Returned”, The Carthage Press, July 14, 1887. Available on microfilm: Jasper County Public Library, Carthage, Missouri.

[40] 1870 Census, Jasper County, Missouri. Available at

[41] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[42] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[43] 1850 Census, Mulberry Tp., Franklin Co., Arkansas. Available at

[44] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[45] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[46] 1860 Census, Mound City, Kansas, Available at

[47] Pool-Swagerty-Landrum-Shockley Family Tree. Available at

[48] 1854 Kansas Election List, 6th District: William Vermillion. Available at

[49] 1855 Kansas Territorial Census, 6th District: William Vermillion. Available at

[50] U. S. Federal Mortality Schedules Index, 1860, Bourbon Co., Kansas: Lydia J. Vermillion. Available at

[51] 1860 Census, Raysville, Bourbon Co., Kansas. Available at

[52] Pool-Swagerty-Landrum-Shockley Family Tree. Available at

[53] 1870 Census, Linn Co., Kansas, John Swagerty Family. Available at

[54] 1870 Census, Jasper Co., Missouri, Lazarus Spence Family. Available at






The Country of Six Bulls: Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence (1833-1931)—Part 1

Taken at Fort Garland, Colorado, April 25, 2015

Pioneer Sculpture. Photo taken at Fort Garland, Colorado, April 25, 2015


“The Country of the Six Bulls.-The earliest name known to have been affixed to this region, was that of the “Country of the Six Bulls.” All the earliest settlers knew it by that title. The origin of the name is somewhat involved in mystery. It might naturally be supposed that it originated with the Indians, and the tradition has been handed down that the Indians, at an early period, killed somewhere in this region six lusty buffalo bulls, remarkable for their strength and fierceness, and from this circumstance the scene of their valorous exploit was ever afterward known as the Country of the Six Bulls. It has been justly remarked, however, that this explanation would seem more plausible if we had the name in the Indian language instead of such plain and unmistakable Saxon(1).”


“BACKGROUND HISTORY OF Missouri, previously the 6 Bulls Indian Confederation. 1541 AD 6 Bulls was by treaty placed under the Sovereign of Spain by Desoto. By 1800 AD, 6 Bulls Sovereignship was force ceded to France. Then 1802/3 – 6 Bulls Sovereignship was ceded to the USA for consideration of 15 million dollars. 1802/3 AD to 1812 AD, – 6 Bulls under the sovereign of the USA. 1804 it was divided and organized into “Orleans Territory” and the remainder was “Louisiana regions” annexed to Illinois District annexed to Indiana Territory, (the Louisiana regions embraced what is today’s Dallas County, Mo), during this time, in 1808, the Osage sold and ceded 6 Bulls, to her sovereign the USA. But with in a year, the Indians of 6 Bulls, tried to overturn this treaty, and when unsuccessful, declared a war that lasted to 1828(2).”



Adeline Elizabeth Bryant was born May 27, 1833 in Cumberland County, Virginia to Daniel Bryant (1803-1858) and Lucy Key (1810-1903). She died January 6 1931 in Diamond, Newton County, Missouri.  She married my third great-uncle, Lazarus Spence (1825- 1902), in December 1848 in Jasper Co,.Missouri. The Bryants had relocated from Putnam Co., Indiana in 1843 and settled in the “Country of Six Bulls.” The Bryants were among the early pioneers in the Jasper/Newton County area.

I first encountered Adeline in Summer 1955 while spending a week with my grandparents in Marion, Iowa. Typical of many summers in Iowa, it was too hot to move. So my grandmother, Oda Elizabeth Hopper Spence (1894-1981), began looking around for quiet activities to keep me occupied.

“Would you like to read something?” she asked. “I have it up in my trunk.”

I followed her upstairs to the huge trunk sitting on the floor of her closet. I watched as she raised the lid and moved a few papers. Then she pulled out an old newspaper clipping.

“You can sit at the dining room table and copy it if you like,” she told me.

“Who was Adeline Spence?” I asked after sitting down at the table.

“She was married to Daddy’s great uncle!” she told me.

(She always referred to my Grandfather Spence as Daddy!)

I spent an hour hand-copying that news story in ink. When I returned home, I put it inside a notebook and forgot about it for a long time. Years later when Howard, Brian and Debbie and I were “snowed-in” for a month in Missouri, I discovered that old notebook at the bottom of a box. Then I typed the  handwritten story and put it inside another notebook for safe-keeping.

This news story and another clipping became the foundation for my Spence research years later.

The following is Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence’s story taken from The Carthage Press, Jasper Co., Missouri September 7, 1922.(3)

* * *


She Came Here in 1843

Among the persons who can be considered “old settlers” in real earnest is Mrs. Adeline Spence who lives on the Carthage-Neosho road a short distance south of the Jasper-Newton county line.

“I was born in Virginia in 1833,” Mrs. Spence remarked a few days ago in answer to enquiries, “and when I was five years old my parents moved to Indiana. After living in Indiana five years, my father Daniel Bryant, decided to come to Missouri and so we did, I being ten years old at the time, this being in 1843. There were many oxen in those days but my father always drove horses and it was in a spring hack, known as a carry-all that we came, driving by way of St. Louis and then down. Missouri did not look very good to me during that trip but when we arrived in Jasper County it was more pleasant and my father rented a farm on Jenkins Creek about two and a half miles southeast of where the Old Settlers Picnic Grounds now are. The place, now known as the Paxton Place was owned by a man named Moore, who lived in Little Rock, Ark, and there was already a house and some improvements on the ground. Here we went to farming and lived about six years. The country was new then but there were a good many people here before we came, some of them having been here long enough to have bearing orchards. Samuel Spence then owned about 300 acres of ground including what is now the Old Settler picnic grounds and Daniel Spence owned what later became the Moss farm just east of it.


Wild Game of Pioneer Days

“The country was full of game in those days and the ground being new produced all kinds of crops abundantly. People were sociable, anxious to do right and to extend a helping hand to their neighbors and despite the fact that people worked hard in that early day I believe that they were much happier than people are at present. My brother and I used to trap quail and prairie chicken of which there was a great number. We made slatted traps something like a chicken coop, placed corn inside and then would get long straps and round up quail. The birds would run from us and we would herd them toward the trap and eventually a number of them would be enticed in by the corn. Then we had them. Prairie chickens were also often caught in our traps, but these were enticed in by the corn; we could not drive them like we could the quail.

“Deer was plentiful and venison, prepared just like we prepare beef these days, was common. Venison was very good but personally I always thought that beef was a more palatable meat. My brother, John A. Bryant, who was quite small, was fond of hunting and soon after we came managed to trade for an old heavy-barreled, flint-lock rifle. There really was not much more than the barrel and lock to the gun when he got it as the stock was all worn out and broken. Carthage had not been founded yet and he took the gun to Sarcoxie and gave someone there a dried venison ham to fit a new stock to it. Soon after he came back with his new gun he killed a deer and then he was extremely proud. Deer skins brought a fair price even then but later it became much better.


Bees–and Indians

“Everybody had bees in those days and honey was on almost every table every meal. There were many wild bees but people soon began to capture the wild swarms and they quickly became tame. The ordinary form of bee gum was a hollow tree sawed into short sections. These sections were set on end and the bees took to them readily which was not surprising inasmuch as these resembled the natural bee trees that they would have chosen. In getting out the honey we blew smoke in the top of the section of hollow log. This forced the bees to go down and we would dip the top of the honey. Then we forced in more smoke and made the bees go still lower. Then we dug out another part of it, and so on.

“On two occasions Indians came to the house. The first time about a dozen Osage–all men–camped on Jenkins creek a short distance north of our house and all came down to the dwelling frightening all of us children, and I expect my mother also, very much. If they had guns or bows and arrows they left them at the camp before they came to see us but all of them had big knives which they displayed freely. My father had a grindstone just outside the door and all of them sharpened their knives on this. They came in the house and looked around curiously, but hardly said a word. Finally they went away without having bothered us at all other than giving us a scare. They were of course friendly Indians and were acting only in the natural Indian manner. Another band called on us later but we knew how to take them and they did not worry us.

“In 1848, two days before Christmas I was married to Lazarus Spence, I being at that time fifteen years old, and we moved over on Jones Creek east of where Haggard’s store now stands. We lived here peaceably enough until the war broke out, my husband farming and also doing some blacksmith work.

Early Days of the War

“We were union sympathizers when the war came up and I well remember the sensation that was caused in this section when Colonel Sigel and his union soldiers marched down in this section to Neosho. The news that the Yankees had come spread like wildfire all over the country and all the union men were delighted and anxious to see them. My husband, my brother and a number of others hauled a load of corn apiece to Neosho to give to Sigel, thus incidentally getting a chance to get a look at the soldiers. This was not an unnatural thing to do but it caused every one that did it to be a marked man and made life in the community thereafter unsafe for them. After Sigel marched north, fought the southerners at Carthage and went back east again this section was full of soldiers of the Missouri state guard. They were at our house frequently and bought food stuffs and required my husband to shoe horses for them. They always paid for this work and for whatever they took but they paid in confederate currency which was not worth the paper it was printed on and did not do us any good.


Visited by Guerillas

“After those soldiers had gone we had frequent visits from bushwhackers. At first these were all right, treating us courteously, paying in confederate money for the things they took. Soon they became worse and life became unsafe for the people of union sympathy. My husband had a good rifle but for fear that someone would take it from him he kept it hid most of the time out in the grass. One day three heavily armed men rode by our house, out into our lot, caught three horses and made off with them, coming riding calmly by the house again leading the animals. Mr. Spence was furious and it was with difficulty that I prevented him from rushing out for his rifle but if he had done so he would have been killed and he eventually let them go unhindered. They went down to the house of Miles Stacey, a tenant of ours and a southern sympathizer and there changed saddles to our horses and rode away, leading the mounts on which they had come.

“After this my husband kept his rifle in the house. Upstairs the wall inside the house did not reach quite to the ceiling. He kept a piece of string tied to his rifle and kept it hung between the inner and outer wall on a nail down in the exterior surface of the inner wall. No one knew of this place except the family and Miles Stacey but Stacey frequently borrowed the gun and when through with it brought it back and replaced it. One day a dozen or so bushwhackers who were said to live near Granby came to our house. Mr. Spence, knowing he would probably be killed if they found him, was hiding out and I was there alone when they came. They pushed in the door but would not say anything to me but went upstairs and soon came down again, carrying a number of blankets and my husband’s rifle. He was so fond of this gun that I knew he would feel its loss keenly and I grabbed hold of it and tried to jerk it out of the bushwhacker’s hands. He jerked it away from me and all went outside. They took three more horses out of the lot, this being all we had except one unbroken two-year-old that was out in the brush and started off. Miles Stacey came out and argued with them, asking that we be left one horse so they finally brought back one of the three. We always thought that Miles Stacey had told where the rifle was hidden but we were glad that he saved at least one horse for us.

Flight to Kansas

“The situation seemed to be getting worse instead of better and on December 23, 1861 we loaded out possessions on a wagon, hitched up the horse the bushwhackers had left us and the hitherto unbroken colt and started out for Fort Scott. My husband was sick with the measles and so were the two orphan children that we had taken in charge but rather than risk death any longer where we were we started, Mr. Spence, sick as he was sitting in front of the wagon with his feet hanging out and the two children rolling on couches that we had made behind for them. On Christmas day we were in Dry Wood in Barton county and on account of the three sick we stopped here for two days, then went on to Fort Scott and stayed in that vicinity during the war. Joshua Stacey, a brother of Miles but a union man and another neighbor named Waggoner, went to Fort Scott with us and enlisted in the army as soon as they arrived there.

“As soon as the war was over we returned from Kansas and went back on our old farm. I was afraid to come back on account of the bushwhackers that I feared would still be here but all were gone and we lived on in peace. Some years after the war we moved to a farm just south of the Newton county line. I have thus been in the same immediate neighborhood for 79 years save for the period I was in Kansas during the war.”

This story is continued in Part 2



(1) HISTORY OF JASPER COUNTY, MISSOURI–1876 Atlas Pages 2-3. Copied from: Greene County Archives Bulletin Number Forty-three; Heritage County Atlas Reprints Volume 6 An Illustrated Historical Atlas Map of Jasper County, Mo. Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., 1876

(2) Jo Harris Fischer, “Dallas County, Missouri: Background History of Missouri.” Copyright: 2001. Missouri Website. Date Accessed: 13 Oct 2015. Available online at

(3) “She Came Here in 1843: Mrs. Adeline Spence Talks of Early Days: Gives Interesting recital of Conditions and Events Preceding the War and In 1861.” The Carthage Press: Old Settlers Edition. September 7, 1922.