John (b.2-7-1760–d.9-29-1849) and Huldah (née Johnson, b.6-28-1762–d.8-29-1832) Spencer
John, a fifth generation Spencer in the East Greenwich, Rhode Island, married Huldah Johnson. With his marriage to Huldah, the Johnson ancestry, as well as the Goff ancestry, came into the Spencer line. According the Vital Record of Rhode Island 1636-1850, Huldah Johnson and John Spencer, both of Coventry, were married by Eld. Nathan Hill on March 8, 1784. Daughters of the American Revolution records show the marriage was in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
John, the second son of William and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer, was a minuteman in the American Revolution.
According the Vital Record of Rhode Island 1636-1850, Huldah and John had seven children, Mary (b.7-23-1785), Capt. John (b.6-1-1787), William (b.1-25-1790), Hezekiah (b.1-27-1792), Elizabeth (b.8-11-1794), Richard Anthony(“Deacon”,5-11-1798) and Oliver Cromwell (b.9-14-1800). [Author’s note: The fact that their last child was named Oliver Cromwell Spencer lets the Spencer and/or Johnson descendants know something of the political persuasion of their ancestors who left England in the 1600s. Descendants in America today do not share this same sentiment, especially since Princess Diana, the people’s princess, was a Spencer! and Audrey Mae thought Princess Diana (née Spencer) resembles her youngest daughter].
Vital Records of Rhode Island. 1636-1850, East Greenwich-Births and Deaths section, John and Huldah’s children, bottom of page 153 and top of page 154:
Audrey Mae, Edith Anna and John Edward (“Ed”) descend from John and Huldah’s son, Richard.
John and Huldah’s sixth son, Oliver Cromwell Spencer, Richard’s younger brother
When Middle Road came through, John discontinued the use of “over back” cemetery (aka Straight Cemetery) where John’s parents and older brother and oldest sister are buried. John, then, moved the house down by Middle Road and began the use of the Spencer family cemetery (aka E.G.No.9) down by Middle Road. Audrey Mae’s oral tradition statement was “When Middle Road came through, John moved the house and the cemetery down by Middle Road” but that oral tradition sentence was confusing. The ancestors didn’t actually move a cemetery; they discontinued the use of one cemetery and began another cemetery down by Middle Road. Even though the Spencers discontinued the use of the the Over back Cemetery, the ancestors still thought of both cemeteries as being their family cemeteries. Therefore, John passed on to his children who passed on to their children…to not forget the cemetery “over back” where his parents and older brother and oldest sister are buried.
John and Huldah, their children and the following five generations would now be buried in the new cemetery, the Spencer family cemetery on Middle Road. John and Huldah are the first of Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”), and Edith Anna’s direct ancestors to be buried in the Spencer family cemetery on the south side of Middle Road, just west of Partridge Run in East Greenwich, R.I. Huldah’s and John’s first son “Captain” John’s gravestone is Gravestone Number Four in the Spencer Family Cemetery. Huldah’s and John’s fourth son “Deacon” Richard Anthony’s gravestone is Gravestone Number Six in Audrey Mae’s gravestone numbering system. Gravestone Number Seven is the gravestone of (“Deacon”) Richard Anthony’s first son, Richard Anthony. (Authors note: Father and son have the same name.) Gravestone Number Fifteen is the gravestone of Huldah’s and John’s third son, Hezekiah.
No. 1 Huldah Johnson
According to Audrey Mae’s artistic map diagram, Huldah’s gravestone is Gravestone Number One in the Spencer family cemetery and John Spencer is next to her in Gravestone Number Two. Huldah (née Johnson) and John Spencer are Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s great, great, great (3 times) grandparents.
Using her Smith-Corona typewriter in the 1980s, Audrey Mae typed the following mini-biography of Huldah:
Huldah (née Johnson) Spencer was the first of Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Uncle Ed’s”) and Edith Anna’s direct ancestors to be buried in the Spencer family cemetery (E. Greenwich No. 9).
Audrey Mae, Edith Anna and John Edward (“Uncle Ed”) descend from Huldah’s and John’s fourth son, Richard Anthony’s (“Deacon”).
Audrey Mae printed a connecting “M” to the left of the Huldah and John’s mini-biography to show that both husband and wife are buried in the Spencer family historical cemetery. See below:
The typed number 2 to the left of John’s name and number 1 to the left of Huldah’s name above denotes his gravestone numbering using Audrey’s gravestone numbering system in her Spencer Family Cemetery on Middle Road. John is a fifth-generation Spencer in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The number 5 that Audrey Mae hand wrote above John’s name denotes he is a fifth-generation Spencer in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
No. 2 John Spencer
Audrey Mae always referred to this John as “Revolutionary War John Spencer” to distinguish him from the many other John Spencers both before and after him. At that time in history it was traditional to name the son after his father or grandfather. Consequently, there are many John Spencers in Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) and Edith Anna’s ancestry.
Military emblem and flag are placed in back of gravestone No. 2. (See below) Photographs taken in 2012 of the front (see above photo) and the back (see below photo) of the gravestone show the dates and the lettering on the stone are hardly visible. This is owing to the fact that these stones have been standing in the rugged outdoor New England weather for over one-hundred and sixty-some years. (Photography is by Stephanie Pilkauskas Photography of Rhode Island.)
According to Esther Amanda (née Spencer) Briggs, the Spencer historian, this John was called “red headed John” to distinguish him from other John Spencers. Oral tradition has it that John had “red hair and black eyes and no one dared to stand up to him”. “Aunt Mandy’s” writing about her grandpa:
(Author’s note: Spencers descendants are not sure whether John had red hair or whether Aunt Mandy’s prose was an expression to say John face turned red [or he got hot blooded] when he was angered. The truth is not important but it is humorous to realize how oral tradition carried down through history can easily be misinterpreted.) Above comment is from Aunt Mandy’s notebook that has been passed down to one of the Spencer descendants.
According to oral tradition as told by Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald, John’s father, William, and John’s older brother, Richard, stayed home to tend the farm while John, the second son, went to fight in the American Revolution. John was “engaged for fifteen months from December 16th, 1776, to March 16, 1778”. When his father, William, and older brother, Richard, died of small pox in October of 1777, John mother, Mary (née Manchester), buried her husband and son on the west end of the Henry Straight family cemetery that was located on the Spencer land at that time.
John, the surviving son, was needed at home to run the farm. Mary (née Manchester) Spencer, John’s mother, then wrote to George Washington asking for her son to come home to tend the farm as she was left alone with her daughters. Washington refused to release John from his obligation saying he was needed in the War. Realizing she could not tend the farm alone, she sold twenty acres of land to pay for a substitute to take her son’s place for six months in the American Revolution. Samuel Davis, John’s substitute, went off to war in John’s place. However, Samuel Davis was never heard from again, and it was presumed that Samuel was killed in one of the first if not his first battle. Because of this confusion, John, along with one of the Vaughns, stayed in the area of Carr’s Pond until the mix-up was cleared up. By then, John was ill from his ordeal, but he lived until he was 89 years old!
Newspaper article re John Spencer, Private in the American Revolutionary War. Date of newspaper and name of newspaper cut off of article. Esther Amanda (née Spencer) Briggs who gave information for the article died in 1929. Esther was the oldest resident in Coventry, Rhode Island when she died.
John Spencer’s Military Service and Federal Pension Records retrieved from the National Archives
Two photos of John’s gravestone taken around 2002, ten years before the above gravestone photos. All gravestones faced west with inscription on the front side facing west. The western most row of gravestones were only a couple feet or less from the west wall that they faced. Today (2013) there are driveways and homes to the west of this west wall.
For more information on the Spencer Historical Cemetery on Middle Road in the northwestern area of East Greenwich, see spencerhistoricalcemetery.org by clicking on the web site name on the top of each page in this web site. For more information on the “over back” cemetery off Partridge Run in the northwestern area of East Greenwich, click on Henry Straight/William Spencer Family Cemetery on the top of any page in this web site.
Many years after the war, John’s fourth son, Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer, increased the acreage of the Spencer farm. This increase included the land that was sold for his father’s substitute in the American Revolution. According to J.R. Cole’s Biographical Sketches of East Greenwich the land had been “reduced in its dimensions by the sale of twenty acres with which a substitute was secured for revolutionary service”.
“Spencer descendants, if you have any additional information on John and Huldah (née Johnson) Spencer, please add a comment to this web site and the web site editor will add this to the site. Thanks!”