September 5, 2010

The Case of Harry

The Spencer side of life is so much more co-operative than my Raeburn’s. My husband’s ancestors are ‘on the grid’, easy to find... even when they are not. Case in point Harry Spencer, the brother of Paul’s 2nd great-grandfather.

How wonderful it is to have heirlooms. I don’t see many photos, jewelry, furniture or even family information passed down in our family, neither my mother or fathers side. My husband’s family is rich in history both oral and photos, and even some furniture. I have been lucky enough to become friends with a neighbor who is a Spencer. Through the years she has shared the family information and photos to copy that she has...which is an entire bedroom dedicated to family history! Two chest of drawers filled with old family photos and info. She even has a piece of furniture Paul’s great-grandfather made. Wow, I feel like a kid in toyland when I go to her house!
We talked about Harry, the brother she knew a little bit about, but he was hiding out there and waiting for someone to find him. She knew he married and had a daughter who was exposed to a disease and died young. She had some photos of Harry and his daughter. I picked up where she left off and I went investigating. Some information I found with old fashion leg work, but not everything, his elusive family was still missing. Never give up...a few years ago we were looking for a needle in a haystack. Today more internet information, and waaa laaa, There you are Harry-your marriage and your family!

The sons of John and Lucinda Spencer.

John and Lucinda Spencer lived in Brownville, Jefferson County New York in the early 1800's surrounded by a large family. The had five sons, their first child John died in infancy. One year later in 1836 Medad was born, he is Paul’s 2nd great-grandfather. Then Nelson in 1839, then I suspect John L Spencer was born to them in 1841 (more on that later). Last child born was Harry P. Spencer in 1842.

John the father died in 1844 and is buried in Sherwins Bay Cemetery in Pillar Point NY. I suspect Lucinda had a rough go of it with raising the boys. Much of the Spencer family was in the area and the older boys stayed with family members. When they were barely old enough they went sailing, it is said Nelson first sailed to foreign ports before sailing the Great Lakes. I suspect sailing was encouraged by their aunts husband, Captain George W. Brown, a captain who sailed the Great Lakes. Harry stayed with his mother Lucinda and at some point he too went sailing.

Harry sailed the Great Lakes for many years. His relatives, aunts and uncles and cousins, not to mention his brothers had migrated to the Saint Clair area of Michigan, some moved on to Nunica, Michigan. When he wasn’t sailing Harry made Nunica his home, where his brothers were.

He met and married Jane Mills from Chicago Illinois. They were married in Benton Harbor in Berrien County, Michigan on Lake Michigan-just about 60 miles north of Chicago in 1876. He later settled down in Chicago with Jane and young William Mills, perhaps Jane’s son from a previous marriage.

Jane and Harry’s daughter Lucinda was born on January 20, 1881 in Chicago, Illinois. She had become exposed to Diphtheria and was sick for a month before passing away on January 5, 1888, just weeks before her 7th birthday. Harry’s wife Jane died on January 31st in 1898 also in Chicago, of chronic Bronchitis with a contributing illness of Nephritis. Both Lucinda and Jane are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Chicago.

Harry left Chicago. He sailed again stopping to stay in St. Clair at his cousin Althea Brown Stone’s home, sometimes he was living in Nunica. In his later years he came back to the Coopersville/Nunica area. He died on June 4th, 1921 in the Ottawa County Infirmary at age 79. He left us yet another mystery to solve as he was buried next to his brother John, in the Coopersville Polkton Township Cemetery. This is a story that has recently come to light as John’s descendants wrote a tribute to him in the paper, mentioning Harry and their story of being orphaned. John was whisked away as a young child by his fathers brother, not knowing his own older brothers, only Harry the youngest. Medad and Nelson didn’t know him, why?...John was never mentioned in their memorials. One mystery solved, and now one to investigate.

Photos courtesy of Marilyn Spencer Empie. Click on photos for larger view.
Above photos are of Harry and Lucinda, his daughter. Check out the 'unknown' old dude to the left...Marilyn believes this is Harry...I am not sure, the forehead seems different, what do you think?

Harry's marriage record and Jane and Lucinda's death records were found on:
FamilySearchRecordSearch I first found Lucinda and Jane's death record information on:IllinoisStateArchives

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