Three Historic Spencer “Homesteads” in East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Ninteenth and Twentieth Century

(Edith Anna’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) and
Audrey Mae’s father, William J.B. Spencer’s ancestry)


2006 map: Spencer land at “Spencer’s Corner” on Division Road and, also, Spencer land on south side of Middle Road at Partridge Run, East Greenwich, R.I., USA


2006 map: John and Susannah Spencer’s land on Kenyon Avenue, between First Street and Division Road, East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Spencer Homestead in the northeastern area of East Greenwich:

  • Land of John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer, granted land in “His Majesty’s Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” in 1677
  • John and Susannah, Founders and Early Settlers of East Greenwich
  • John Spencer was the first named of forty persons who received a grant of acres of land as written in the Act for the Incorporation of East Greenwich in 1677
  • Land farmed by Spencers two-hundred and forty-five (245) years
  • House at current day 289 Kenyon Avenue according to Martha McPartland’s book The History of East Greenwich published in 1960
  • Sunset Rock on northwest corner of Kenyon & First Avenues is the southern boundary of the Spencer land
  • Land sold by the heirs of Judith (née Spencer) Payne (1809-1893) to James P. Riley in 1911

Spencer Homestead in the northwestern area of East Greenwich on Middle Road:

  • Land Purchased by John and Susannah’s great-grandson, William, and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer 4-16-1750
  • Spencer homestead located on the south side of Middle Road and east of the west stone wall of the Partridge Run subdivision area
  • Two East Greenwich historical cemeteries, “over back” cemetery (aka The Straight Cemetery, The Straight/Spencer Cemetery) & Spencer family cemetery are located on this Spencer homestead
  • Land farmed by Spencers for one-hundred and seventy-two (172) years
  • House at current day 2266 Middle Road according to oral tradition and Audrey Mae’s and her youngest daughter’s conversations about Audrey Mae’s childhood home

Twenty-first century Photo of Henry Straight/William Spencer home moved down to 2266 Middle Road when Middle Road came through. In the late 1920s the house was “remodeled so much inside and out that it does not resemble the old Spencer homestead”.

William Joseph Briggs (aka J.B.) Spencer’s home from age twelve. He lived with the family of his great-uncle, William Augustus (“Gus”). He worked the land with his uncle, and, thereby, inherited the land on the death of William Augustus.

Land Sold by William J.B. and Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer to Thomas O’Neal (aka O’Neil, O’ Neill) in 1922.  Thomas O’Neal lived there a few years and died.  His nephew inherited the farm.


2006 Map: Spencer land area at “Spencer’s Corner” on Division Road and Spencer land area on south side of Middle Road


William J.B.’s childhood years at Spencer’s Corner and, later, his teenage and early adult years at the Spencer homestead with the family of his great-uncle William Augustus (“Gus”) on Middle Road

Spencer Homestead on Division Road at Spencer’s Corner:

  • Web site author does not know when this property became Spencer property. Since the Rhode Island mapbook (© 2006) has the Spencer’s Corner descriptive name written on the map, the naming of the corner was at an early time in East Greenwich history.
  • House and barn are located–the barn is in great need of repair–at the Northeast Corner of Division Street where Shippeetown & Crompton Roads meet.  Web site author is unsure whether the land on the northwest corner and the southeast was also Spencer land. More research is needed.
  • According to Audrey Mae’s oral tradition, Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer inherited the land.

Twenty-first century Photo of Spencer’s Corner, Division Street, East Greenwich, Rhode Island

  • This house was Anna Maria’s (pronounced Anna Mar-eye-ah’s) and John Johnson Spencer’s residence @ 1870,  and this is where they raised their three sons, Richard Augustus (“Rich”), William Joseph Briggs (aka J.B.), and Alfred Ernest (“Ern”).
  • Spencer’s Corner was William Joseph Briggs (aka J.B.) Spencer’s childhood home until he turned twelve. At age twelve, he was sent to live and work with his great-uncle William Augustus (“Gus”) and, thereby, inherit the Spencer land that Gus had inherited on Middle Road.
  • William J.B.’s older brother, Richard Augustus, inherited the northeast land, including the house and  barn, at Spencer’s Corner, Division Street and Crompton Road.  William J.B. Spencer’s younger brother, Alfred Ernest, was in possession of the land on the southwest of Spencer’s corner when William J.B.’s grandchildren knew “Uncle Ern” in the 1940s and 1950s.  In the 1940s the southwest corner land included a saw mill shed to saw the fire wood. There was also a hand cranked gas pump, on the southeast corner of Division and Shippeetown.  Web site author does not know If the land on the northwest corner and southeast corner was or is Spencer land.  More research is needed. Today (2013) this land is still wooded area.
  • The three daughters of Richard Augustus (1873-1949) and Lottie Lees (Gadsby)(1878-1972) Spencer inherited his land.  They sold the farm. Web site author does not know when it was sold or to whom.
  • Audrey Mae’s oldest daughter’s recollections of Spencer’s Corner is as follows:  “Grampa, Uncle Rich, Uncle Ern each had large portions of land.  Many, many acres.  Grampa sold his land–when Mother was twelve years–and moved to Coventry because Gramma was not well and had to cook for all the hired hands on Farm.  Grampa, later, said he made a mistake by selling so soon.”  (Web author’s comment: Apparently, after he sold, the land greatly increased in value, but, even so, the land of the two historical cemeteries were not part of the sale. They remain forever as historical cemeteries in Rhode Island.  “Over back” Cemetery has a  ten-foot-wide easement to the cemetery entrance from Partridge Run.  The Spencer family cemetery entrance gate is on the south side of Middle Road. The descendants of the ancestors in the historical cemeteries in Rhode Island are the owners of that land. Audrey Mae’s daughter continues, “They each had a large portion around Spencer’s Corner.  Uncle Rich’s daughters sold his share.  Uncle Ern was given a large portion also.  Eddie Nestor and Margie, Ern’s daughter, had a small house across from Uncle Rich. I think their son and wife just sold land.”  (recollections as of April of 2013)
  • John Edward’s granddaughter’s recollections of Spencer’s Corner and Middle Road homestead: “I was with the understanding that Grampa Bill (aka Wm. J.B. Spencer) inherited the farm on Middle Road. He sold it to move to a village home here in Coventry because Gramma was sick.  This house had the modern convenience of a bathroom!  Uncle Rich inherited the farm on Spencer’s Corner.  Uncle Ern inherited the land on Division Road (across the street) where Aunt Margie lived.  That is where Grampa (aka Wm. J.B. Spencer) and uncle Ern (aka Alfred Ernest Spencer) had their potato field.  (Web author’s comment: I remember digging up potatoes-at least one time-with Grampa on the land across from the house on Spencer’s Corner.  I was quite young at the time and it was difficult as the instrument I was using kept piercing the potato. 🙁  I never heard Grampa be referred to as Grampa Bill.  I remember Gramma and others calling him “Will” and we just called him Grampa.)”
  • Audrey Mae’s oldest son’s recollection of Spencer’s Corner: Uncle Rich, the oldest brother, eventually owned the house and the barn and approximately 20-30 acres on that side of Division Road.  Ernest Alfred had land (don’t know how he got it) approx 40-50 acres on the other side of Division Road-corner of Division and Shippetown.  I know that Grampa, William J.B., was to inherit Uncle Gus’s place.”


Historians and Spencer descendants, if you have any additional information on the Spencer Homesteads, please add a comment to this to this web site and the web site editor will add this to the site.  Thanks!