Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
Vaughn Historical CemeterySpencers of East Greenwich, RI
12 June 2002

Heather: What are some of the poems that you love?

Audrey: Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. I could recite that poem for seven minutes. “The stag at eve had drunk his fill, Where danced the moon on Monan’s rill,…” Also, I love Robert Burns’ Tam 0′ Shanter “When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors neebors meet,…”. I love Keats’ poems also. Sappho was a great poet who lived on an island and used a canoe to get around. Sappho could say more with fewer words than anyone else! I think Emily Dickinson came next.

19 June 2002

Heather: What were you told about your grandfather, John Johnson Spencer, who was a prisoner of war?

John Johnson Spencer

Audrey: John Johnson Spencer was a union soldier. He was captured and was at Libby Prison* where he had to eat raw pork and he had an upset stomach for the rest of his life.

*Libby Prison was in Richmond, Virginia. John Johnson was a prisoner taken in action at Middlebury, Virginia and held at Libby Prison in Richmond and also at Belle Isle Civil War Prison west of Richmond.
Before the prisoner exchange program ended between the North and the South,  Abraham Lincoln’s parole program released John Johnson Spencer from the Confederate prison.
19 June 2002

Heather: How did you know so much about your ancestors?

Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer


Audrey: Aunt Mandy, Deacon Richard Anthony’s daughter, told and wrote down much of the Spencer family history. She put a date on every paper. I remember my grandfather, John Johnson Spencer living in our household when I was a child.

The house on Spencer’s Corner (the corner of Division Street and Crompton Road in East Greenwich, Rhode Island) descended to Deacon Richard (Richard Anthony “Deacon”) and then to his descendants. This house on Spencer’s Corner was where John Johnson and Anna Maria* Spencer’s three sons – William J.B.** Spencer, Alfred Ernest Spencer and Richard Augustus Spencer- were born.

William J.B. Spencer (Audrey’s father) was sent as a young boy to live and work the farm with his great-uncle Gus (William Augustus Spencer) at the Spencer Homestead on Middle Road. Uncle Gus had no sons, so William J.B. Spencer was to inherit that homestead on Uncle Gus’s death. Uncle Gus died when Aunt Edith (Edith Anna Spencer, Audrey’s older sister) was two years old. Uncle Gus was a mean man; Violet’s grandmother hated him so. Violet’s mother married John Jason Jolly who was William J.B. Spencer’s favorite great-uncle; John Jolly (Jason) Spencer was a perfect man.

*Anna Maria was Audrey Mae’s paternal grandmother.  The name Maria was pronounced Mar-eye-ah at that time in history. Audrey would spell her grandmother’s name as Anna Mirah (aka Myriah) because that was how it was pronounced and actually written in some legal documents.  Audrey was surprised to find out later in life that her grandmother’s name was actually Anna Maria.
**The initials J.B. in William J.B. Spencer stands for Joseph Briggs, the second husband of William J.B.’s maternal grandmother, Ann Almy (née Tarbox) Spencer.  Joseph Briggs gave $50.00 to his stepdaughter Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) to name her son after him.
4 July 2002

Heather: Tell me again about my great-grandmother, Anna Maria [Anna Maria Spencer] and my great-grandfather, John Johnson Spencer.

Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) Spencer


Audrey: Richard Spencer, (Audrey’s paternal great,great-grandfather) and Roby (née Tarbox) had seven children. Their youngest child was Esther Amanda (née Spencer) Briggs (aka Aunt Mandy) and their oldest child was Richard Anthony*.  Richard Anthony died at age 27 when his child, Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) was only a year old.  The Spencers raised Anna Maria so she grew up with Esther Amanda as they were only eight years apart. They grew up like sisters.
*There are two Richard Anthony Spencers so the father was always referred to as Deacon Richard and his son was always called Richard Anthony.  This website distinguishes between the two by Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer  as the father and Richard Anthony Spencer as the son.
17 July 2002

Heather: When I come home, I can take you to see the Over-back Cemetery during the week when the children who live in the house in front of the cemetery are in school.

The Over-back Cemetery (AKA Straight Family Cemetery, No.10, E.G. No.510, StraightSpencer Historical Cemetery, E.G. No. 84) Plat 15-D Town of East Greenwich

Audrey: I’ll be always here!  This hearing aid makes my ear itch!!

Why did they take our No. 10 from us?

(Heather:  Mother, I’m doing historical research to prove that the Over-back Cemetery is the original No.10 just as the Spencer Cemetery is the original and current No.9.)

(Explanation: East Greenwich Historical Cemetery No.9, called the Spencer Family Cemetery, is located on the south side of Middle Road, 141 feet to the west of Partridge Run. The Over-back Cemetery is located 1,380 feet to the south of East Greenwich Historical Cemetery No.9 and east of the adjoining stone wall. 
Four Spencers are buried in the Over-back [aka Henry Straight Family Cemetery] and, therefore, the cemetery is also called the StraightSpencer Cemetery.)

2002 photo of fieldstones, possibly Spencer fieldstones, located on the east side of stone wall and on the west end of the Straight-Spencer historical cemetery

24 July 2002

Heather: How are you feeling?

Audrey: Gotten kind of old. My arms and hand ache, but I sleep pretty good. I can still read. I love Emily Dickinson’s work. Aunt Alice (Alice Firby Rhodes), she didn’t like Emily Dickinson’s work; she thought there was too much death and sadness in her writing.

30 July 2002

Heather: Well, how are you today?

Audrey: Chris and Barbara from California were here. They also had Stephanie, their daughter, who has been in Liverpool, England. We had a nice visit!  I’m sleeping more than ever. I feel very good. Everything is going along good, no bad spells. Crystal takes care of the quads *once a week. Ernie, he is a worker. There is also the cat and the dog, Buddy. He is so cute. Crystal, she makes sure I have everything I need. I sleep a lot. I lay down more.

* The four babies, Taylor, Loren, Madison and Jordan, were born to Janet Gauvin Messier’s son and daughter in law.  Crystal, as part of her Church’s mission, helps the mother every Wednesday morning.  The quads are now three years old; all healthy, beautiful children. Crystal has become attached to the children and they to her.  Janet was Heather’s good friend in junior high school.  Janet and her brother and sister are the owners of Alpine Nursing Home in Coventry.
17 August 2002

Heather: (Visiting Audrey at Alpine) Hello, Mother, I am here in Rhode Island to visit you for the week end. How are you doing during your one week stay at Alpine Nursing Home?

Audrey: Where are you from now?

17 August 2002

Heather: Goodness, so many changes in your life. Now you are at Alpine for a one week respite. I am visiting you here, but I am still living in California.

August: I’m tired. I’ve lived a long time. I’m ready to go.

18 October 2002

Heather: What do you remember about your grandparents?

Audrey: My father’s mother, Anna Maria (pronounced Anna Mar-eye-ah), came to stay with us. I was quite little and they talked about her all the time. I was little but I know what was said. Grandmother died and the coffin was in the front room. I was quite little and couldn’t see up in the casket. I knew it was my grandmother. I was big enough to understand.

My mother’s father,  Charles Vaughn*, was tall and always wore dark boots. His brother Christopher was tall and thin also. They are buried at the Vaughn Historical Cemetery in the Fairground by Barton’s Corners. The Vaughn homestead was there where the Fairground used to be. They had a blacksmith shop on our land. I could always hear banging from the shop. It must have been my grandfather Vaughn. When my mother’s mother died, I remember going over to her house and the casket or bed was behind the door. I never remember seeing my great-grandmother.

*Charles and Lydia Edith Vaughn’s, Audrey’s maternal grandparents’, homestead is by the 95 Freeway and Route 2 and Division Road.

Charles Vaughn



The Vaughn Homestead – Lydia Edith and Charles Vaughn, Martha, Susan, MaryJane, Walter, Ebin