Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
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Posts Tagged William J.B.Spencer

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.
29 January 2003

Heather: What is the difference in the amount of snow today versus when you were a child on the farm over 80 years ago.

William J.B. Spencer and Audrey Mae Spencer

Audrey: The weather is really changing. Winters were much worse then. As a little child, I always walked to the barn and the snow was up to my waist. The snow was up to the windows, all winter, the snow kept getting bigger and bigger. I would wait for spring and the green grass. Haven’t seen one of those storms since I grew up. There used to be banging outside, wind blowing snow into the house, big waves of snow come slamming at the house. Can’t ever remember snow going over the door. We always got out to shovel. Now (2003) there is just enough snow to cover the ground.

My mother’s bedroom went out to a deck of wood platform. There were a couple of steps. House settled there. Front went out to the road. My mother’s room faced the barn. There was a rock fence… The path to the barn was quite a ways, fifteen to twenty feet from the house. We had around ten cows. My brother, Eddy (John Edward Spencer), hitched up a horse and took a can of milk to a man in Crompton. This man, Mr. Louis, sold milk.

Audrey’ s father, William J.B. Spencer

Every summer a family came to Daisy Farm from Auburn or Providence. The family had two or three teens and that family came daily and bought a quart of milk. I’ve lived and seen everything change. I know it! Everything changed in my time. Oh, I got a whole batch of books that Crystal gave me!

19 February 2003

Heather: Hello, Mother, I hear you have a lot of snow in New England!

MaryJane Vaughn Spencer and William J.B. Spencer at their home at 742 Washington Street, Coventry, Rhode Island

John Edward Spencer

Audrey: Yes, this is the first snow like this since I was a little child. It’s the first bad snow storm since I’ve grown up. The snow is twelve inches high next to the wall, but the streets are all right. Ernie shoveled by the door and Buddy went out and got stuck—he hopped and wiggled a little. (Laughter)

When we lived on the farm, we had to shovel a path to the outhouse. When we moved to Anthony (742 Washington St. in Coventry), we had a bathroom in the house! I was twelve years old and I moved from the country to the town! The Anthony house had one acre of land, I think. We had a garage, a barn, a hen yard and little building and shops. Spencer was a baby then and I can remember uncle Ed come down and took a bath and steam would come out of the bathroom.

Mother, she never would run down anybody. Mother was a very peaceful person. She, unfortunately, let everybody run all over her. She was a quiet woman, never opened her mouth. She liked to be called MaryJane, not Mary or Jane. She was a sweet, gentle person who was friends with all ladies around, even Annie Mertz and Lizzie.

Now Father was quiet but stern. Nobody got away with anything. He led a quiet life. He joined the Sons of Veterans and was busy doing things with Freddie Arnold. I never heard him holler at anybody. He had a nice quiet life. Once a week he played cards. He would milk the cow every day and a Mr. Smith came daily to get a quart of milk. They would talk for about an hour.

As for me, when I was a child, I would sit there and draw from the funnies in the newspaper. I drew Lillie the toiler*. She was so pretty.

Audrey: When are you coming out here again?

(Heather: I plan to be in R.I., for your birthday, March 19th.)

* (Crystal’s explanation of Tillie the Toiler: Tilly the Toiler is the name of the lady that Mom designed outfits for. She  found Tilly in a magazine or newspaper.  It may have been an advertisement for ladies clothes or a cartoon. I’m not aware of any paper or magazine around in 1924 to validate where Tilly the Toiler came from.)

20 July 2003

Heather: Good, I’ll call every Saturday morning as I do not work on Saturdays and we can talk until your hand gets tired. I used to enjoy hearing Grampa(William J.B. Spencer) talk about the olden days. Tell me something about your childhood.

MaryJane Vaughn Spencer

Audrey: My mother (MaryJane [née Vaughn] Spencer) always drank tea. We always had tea. There was a white dish with a handle always sitting on top of the stove with the tea. It was not a teapot. It always had tea in it, however. I never knew what coffee was until I was married. Dad’s folks drank coffee. I liked coffee. I thought it was good.

Mother had an old wooden box that played the records—the round plate record. She would put the needle on the record. The handle had a needle on the edge. Mother played the song “Yama Yama Man” and it scared me to death. I was a quiet kid. I never talked with anybody, not even to Aunt Mandy.

10 January 2004

Heather: What do you remember about your family house on 742 Washington Street in Coventry?

Spencer, Dawn, Douglas, Heather, Deardra and Vaughn MacDonald

Audrey: The front door was never used. It was just to look at. It was beautiful. I can always see that front door of that big house. That door was beautiful. Grampa (William J.B. Spencer) sold the homestead in East Greenwich and we bought the house in Coventry with the money.

I lived there since I was twelve years old until I married and we moved to a small house. We went back to live at 742 Washington Street until we bought the house on East Greenwich Avenue in West Warwick. You (Heather) were nine months old when we moved.

I got by. I had the children there. I was making up things all the time. We would go out and play and pick daisies. The field was full of daisies. But I enjoyed you kids. It was all I needed—my seven masterpieces as I call you.

3 April 2004

Heather: Did you help your parents when they worked on the farm?


William J.B. Spencer with the horses, carriage, and plow with Audrey Mae Spencer behind the plow



Audrey: I would follow Grandpa (William J.B. Spencer) along in the furrow (dirt flapped over) after the horse carriage plow. I was so small that I could follow (walk) in the furrow. I could only follow in the furrow at the beginning because after that, the harrow, an iron piece of rake that scrapes the dirt into little pieces (was used). (After the harrow was used) if I stepped on the dirt, I would sink in four to five inches, so I didn’t walk in it.

(There were many steps to prepare the land.) The land was then smoothed (smoothed it over) and then Grandpa would pull along a little feeder and the seeds would bury themselves. Grandpa would go over the rows with a board to flatten out the land. Going over the land a couple more times to sprinkle dirt over the rows as well as the rain and the sunshine in a few weeks, (resulting with) little green things would come up and then long stalks of corn.

I waited and knew when the (ear of) corn would be yellow and I would pull out the biggest (ear of) corn and sneak and hide and eat it (uncooked) because I loved corn. Grandma (MaryJane [née Vaughn] Spencer) wanted me to wait for it (ear of corn) to be bigger, because (by picking it early)I was wasting one-half of it. I loved corn!

24 April 2004

Heather: What did Grandma (MaryJane Vaughn Spencer) and Grandpa (William J.B. Spencer) think of Ed leaving school?

Audrey: Oh, they didn’t think about education the way we think today. They thought about getting a job and making money. Working was more important and making money.

24 April 2004

Heather: Didn’t you live with your mother and father when you were first married?

Audrey Mae MacDonald and sister Edith Anna Evarone in Hawthorne, California


Audrey: Spencer was a little boy in the playyard in Grandma’s kitchen in front of the stove. Ed would come home and eat and then get in the playyard with Spencer. Ed would fall asleep and Spen would crawl all over him. Spencer was the first grandson there as Aunt Edith’s children were all raised in California.