Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
Vaughn Historical CemeterySpencers of East Greenwich, RI
Colonial Ancestors
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.
10 July 2002

Heather: Tell me more about your grandfather, John Johnson Spencer.

Pvt. John Johnson Spencer, Co. H, 1 Reg’t R.I. Cavalry

Audrey: John Johnson Spencer, my grandfather, died in our house in Coventry. He was sick all his life because of his treatment when he was a prisoner of war. I was 12 years old when my father sold the farm and we moved to the Coventry house. My grandmother, Anna Maria died much earlier than John Johnson Spencer. Aunt Mandy died in 1927, I think.

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

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

23 October 2002

Heather: What do you remember about Anna Maria’s mother?

Audrey: Anna Maria’s mother, Ann Almy Tarbox Spencer, was kind of a nut, a high flyer. She was always going places and gallivanting around. When Richard Anthony Spencer, Anna Maria’s father died at age twenty-seven years, Richard Anthony’s sister Audra took care of Anna Maria (pronounced Anna Mar-eye-ah). Richard Anthony’s sister, our Aunt Mandy, and Anna Maria were good friends as there was only eight years difference in their age.
23 October 2002

Heather: How is it that Anna Mirah* has Anna Maria written on her tombstone and in John Johnson Spencer’s Civil War pension plan, her name is also spelled with a “Y” as Anna Myriah?

Anna Maria Spencer

Audrey: I never remember seeing it with a Y! All I ever heard was Anna Mirah. The writing on stones was not professional. I don’t ever remember seeing a “y”, I was 1-1/2 years old when she died. I walked around the casket. I couldn’t see in but I walked around it.

*Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) was Audrey Mae’s paternal grandmother. Audrey always referred to her grandmother as Anna Mirah (aka Myriah).  An outside explanation of Maria being pronounced as Mar-eye-ah is in a book, “Play It As It Lays” by Joan Didion.
23 October 2002

Heather: Who became “little sick gramma”? Was it Anna Mirah or her mother, Ann Almy Tarbox?

Audrey: Oh, I can’t remember now, but it is all written down somewhere.

17 January 2004

Heather: How were the MacDonalds and the Spencers the same?

Audrey: The MacDonalds were tall and broad and the Spencers were tall and thin. Ern (Alfred Ernest Spencer) was the tallest of the three Spencer brothers. Most of the MacDonald were heavy. Joseph’s great, great grandfather was an average small man. 5′ 4″. He was the ancestor that first got here from Prince Edwards Island or Nova Scotia, I can not remember exactly which. Grandma’s brother, Ebenezer Vaughn, or Uncle Eben as we called him, had to wear boots. Gramma’s younger brother was odd. He always sat in a rocking chair. He got old, but stayed little. Gramma grew up in the Vaughn Homestead which (later became) the Rocky Hill Country Fairground.

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