Spencer Historians: E.A.B., V.Kettelle & AMS

(1835-1928) Esther Amanda (née Spencer) Brigg’s (aka E.A.B.’s) Biography:

Esther (aka Ester) Amanda (née Spencer) Briggs (1835-1928) was also referenced as E.A.B in her note taking. She was affectionately called “Aunt Mandy”.  She was the daughter of Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) and Roby (née Tarbox) Spencer. Therefore, she was William J. B. Spencer’s great-aunt and Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s ( “Ed’s”) and Edith Anna’s great, great-aunt.

Richard and Roby had eight children, Richard Anthony (b.9-1-1817), Audra Eleanor (b.5-16-1819), John J. (b.10-1837 died when small), Esther Amanda (b.6-17-1828 died 7-25-1833), Joseph Jason (b. 8-27-1821), William Augustus (b. 4-21-1824), Huldah Evaline (b.3-8-1833) and Esther Amanda (b.1-21-1835). Sadly, Richard Anthony’s (“Deacon”) and Roby’s second daughter, the first Esther Amanda Spencer, died as a child, so when the next baby girl was born, she was named Esther Amanda after her deceased older sister. The first Esther Amanda was born in 1928 and died in 1833.  The second Esther Amanda, who became the Spencer historian, was born in 1835 and died in 1928.

Esther Amanda was married to a Job Briggs. Web site author does not believe they had any children. Audrey Mae’s second daughter states that aunt Mandy’s East Greenwich house was on the north side of Division Street and west of South County Trail.  When Aunt Mandy died in her 95th year, she was the oldest resident in Coventry, Rhode Island.  At the end of her life, she had been living with the family of her great nephew, William J.B.Spencer and wife, Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer in Coventry.  Her funeral was held at their home.

“Aunt Mandy”carried on the Spencer legacy as genealogist with her numerous notepad writings.  Since paper was very valuable and nothing was ever thrown away or wasted*, almost every inch of the paper was used, often writing up and down around the edges and filling in any blank spaces.     * an old Yankee saying “Use it up, wear it out or do without”.


Esther Amanda (née Spencer) Briggs’s notebook, page 149, John and Susannah’s land granted to them in 1677

Following is the comment from Aunt Mandy about her grandfather, John Spencer. Such comments are commonplace in Aunt Mandy’s notebook that has been passed down to one of Audrey Mae’s daughters.  Aunt Mandy was the granddaughter of John (Gravestone No.2) and Huldah (Gravestone No.1) Spencer who are buried in the Spencer family cemetery (E.G. No. 9). Aunt Mandy descends from John’s and Huldah’s fourth son, Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) and his wife Roby.  She often just used her initials E.A.B. in her genealogical writing. “Aunt Mandy’s” writing about her grandpa:


E.A.B. apparently found some discrepancy in the news about John Spencer, one of the founders of East Greenwich, and she wanted to make it right.  JOHN SPENCER WAS THE FIRST TOWN CLERK IN EAST GREENWICH, RHODE ISLAND.


At age 92, Esther Amanda Brigg’s statements to the newspapers about her great, great, great, great, grandparents, John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer


Unknown source-Newspaper article, Church or Grange publication of E.A.B.’s Obituary

According to the following obituary Esther Amanda died in 1929, but other sources give 1928 as her year of death.


William J.B. and Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer’s great granddaughter, Luane gave the following information about Esther Amanda’s burial place   “…from what I remember grampa had said Esther Amanda was with her husband, Job Briggs, and they are in East Greenwich historical cemetery No. 42… its the Cornell Briggs Lot.”


Esther Amanda Briggs’s newspaper obituary–1928


Esther Amanda Briggs’s newspaper obituary–1928


         HISTORICAL CEMETERY #: EG042     CORNELL-BRIGGS LOT                      EAST GREENWICH   

           Location: 15 ft east of FOX RUN / SIGNAL RIDGE

            50 burials with 32    inscriptions from 1817 to 1941

            100ft x 50  ft in good condition enclosed with a stone wall; sign in 

            good condition

            NOTE: Next to #10 Fox Run Rd.                                                                                       

            James Arnold visited this lot 28 Apr 1892, On land of Job Briggs, 

            a distance south of the road, lot walled and yard in fine order.                                                                                       

            This cemetery has been recorded and checked.

So, apparently, E.A.B. is not buried in the Spencer family cemetery (E.G. No.9).   Web site author knew that Audrey Mae thought the world of Esther Amanda (née Spencer) Briggs.  Aunt Mandy died when Audrey Mae was around sixteen.  Because of Audrey Mae’s affection for her aunt Mandy,  web site author added this Spencer historian page for E.A.B. as she did much of the genealogical work for the Spencer family descendants. Audrey Mae always referred to Esther Amanda, Richard’s (“Deacon’s”) and Roby’s last child, as Aunt Mandy. Aunt Mandy was the Spencer who carried the Spencer genealogy to the future generations.  Much of  aunt Mandy’s written work has been saved and used today in Spencer genealogical research.


(1905-2004) Violet Ketelle’s Biography:

Violet Kettelle (2-22-1905–6-4-2004) followed Esther Amanda as the next Spencer historian. She was the first woman to enter Pembroke College in Rhode Island. Violet (aka Violette) taught school in Vermont for most of her long Career. She was a highly accomplished and successful woman in the fields of education and counseling in the public school districts for many years. Her long career began in East Greenwich, but most of her work was in Vermont.  Her retirement was from Montpelier, Vermont. (glossary of audreymaespencer.com)


Violet Kettelle, Spencer historian, born 2-22-1905 and died 6-4-2004, cousin to Audrey Mae, Edith Anna and John Edward

Violet’s family home was on north side of Middle Road, to the east of the Spencer family cemetery. On retirement, she returned to her family farmhouse on Middle Road and spent many productive years.  She told this author that on her retirement she redecorated and updated the family home.  However, she said that to her amazement she was living so long that the house was needing more updates; but she was content as it was.  Audrey Mae and her daughters and, also, Edith Anna on visiting from California, would often visit Violet during her long career in Vermont, as well as in her retirement in her family home in East Greenwich.


Violet E. Kettelle’s obituary


Violet Kettelle’s obituary – website-category-death


(1912-2007) Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s Contribution to the Spencer Genealogy:

Audrey Mae (3-19-1912 – 3-17-2007), the last child of William J.B. and Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer, inherited the multiple papers and books of the Spencer history in colonial America.  She did much research and writing and corresponded with not only the Spencers, but also the Vaughns and the Mattesons.  She added much to our understanding of our Spencer, Vaughn, Matteson and Greene genealogy.  She was active in her local chapter of the  Daughters of the American Revolution and participated in many programs to increase historical awareness of Rhode Island’s colonial times.  She passed on the many historical papers and booklets as well as the interest and pride in our history to her children who cherish these colonial and historical papers, as well as her oral tradition. Because of Audrey Mae’s wish to keep her heritage alive and to make the Spencer papers available to all, these web sites are developed.

Audrey Mae and Violet Kettelle, distant cousins, often worked together as Violet had much knowledge of many East Greenwich families.


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