Saturday, July 4, 2015

Andrew F. Spence

I've blogged about the Spence connection before. But where the father of Sulmena Frances Spence Nace came from has been a family mystery for decades. It's documented that Andrew F. Spence married Mary Lucy Goff, daughter of Archibald Goff, on Dec. 19, 1849. She was about  sixteen. During the course of their marriage, they had ten children. Here's the list from the family Bible:

  • John Henry Spence Born De  24 1850
  • Edward [Lott?] Spence Born Feb 10 1853
  • William [G?] Spence Born Feb  3 1855
  • Mary [?]Spence Born De 5 1859
  • Alexzander [?] A. Spence Born June 8 1863
  • Selmenia F. Spence Born De 14 1864
  • Daniel [might be David?] M. Spence Born June 12 1867
  • Lucie Jane Spence Born De 9 1869
  • Walter F. Spence Born July 9 1875
  • one infant Boy Born Apr 11 1858

The Spences were said to be from the Big Island area of Bedford County, and indeed, many are still there. But Andrew Francis Spence didn't seem to connect to them. Why not?

On September 7, 1860, 33-year-old Andrew, 27-year-old Lucy, their sons John H (age 9), Edward J (age 6), and William A (age 3), and their 4-month-old daughter Mary C.S. were living in the northern district (Lone Pine Post Office) of Bedford County. John was attending school. Also in their household was 30-year-old Mary Sweeney, whose vocation was "serving." Was she employed by the Spences, or was she somehow kin? 

A close look at the 1860 census reveals that Andrew was a stone mason who was born in New York and that his personal estate was worth $200.

Perhaps, being born in New York, he wasn't close kin to the Spences who were already  in Virginia. 

Andrew served in Company C of the 58th Virginia Infantry in the Confederate army—the Big Island Greys (Chilton's/Arthur's Company) of Bedford County. The ten companies in the 58th were from Amherst, Franklin, Patrick, and Rockbridge Counties. The regiment was with General Jubal Early to defend Lynchburg in mid-June 1864. Andrew must have gotten leave a few times, since Alexander was born in 1863 and Frances in 1864.

In the August 18, 1870, census for the Liberty Post Office area of Charlemont in the Northwest section of Bedford County, the family had increased. Now 4-year-old "Sylwina" (who'd later be known as Frances), 2-year-old Daniel, and baby Lucy had joined the family. John, who'd likely started his own family, was no longer living with his parents. What became of Alexander? He likely died young.

By June 2, 1880,  Andrew and Lucy, along with their 15-year-old daughter Frances had moved to Buchanan in Botetourt County. Son William—now married to a Mary (who is 3 years older than he) and  has three sons (Alonzo-4, Jessie-2, and baby Ira)—either lives with his parents or lives next door. William has apparently followed his father into the stone mason business. But what became of little Daniel and Lucy and Walter and the unnamed baby? Had the Spence family lost four young children in a 10-year period? Five in a 15-year-period? At any rate, half their children didn't survive until adulthood.

Living in Buchanan, Frances was now in a good position to meet William Robert Nace. They were married on December 28, 1882.

Census records aren't available for 1890, so tracing the Spence family isn't easy. Andrew and Lucy don't appear on the 1900 census. However, their son does—a 45-year-old William  Spence and his 48-year old wife Mary are living in Forest in Bedford County. He now is a farmer and owns his land. They have four children at home: Maud, Walter, Bell, and Edgar. 

Also, in 1900, a 47-year-old stone mason named Lott Spence lives at Charlemont in Bedford County with his 42-year-old wife Mollie T, and son and daughter. His brother-in-law, Robert Goff, lives with them. Could Lott be Edward Lott, born in 1853? It seems likely. And there's another Goff connection.

So, part of the Spence mystery  is solved. But there are still some unanswered questions.

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