A HISTORY OF THE LOUIS ANDREW SPENCER AND ELMER H. SPENCER FAMILIES
Typescript, 1972--Author Unknown
Louis Andrew Spencer was born in 1853, near Wheeling, West Virginia, the son of Thomas G. Spencer and Mary Jane Harris Spencer. His wife was Lovina Jane Adams, born in 1859 in Logan County, Illinois, the daughter of Elisha H. Adams and Eliza Jane Clayton Adams. They moved from Logan County and settled near the town of Pleasanton, Kansas, where they lived for several years and where five of their sons were born, namely: Orren Grafton, Elmer Henry, William Andrew, Earnest Ira, and Louis Robert. Later they moved to Salida, Colorado, where son Albert Clyde Spencer was born in the year 1890.
The Cherokee Strip of the Oklahoma Indian Territory was opened to settlers in 1889, and Spencer staked a claim there at that time. In 1893 Louis Andrew Spencer, his wife, and their six sons loaded their belongings into a covered wagon and headed for Oklahoma. They took a couple of cows and some horses with them. When they finally reached their destination, about the first thing that they did was to build a sod house, which consisted of only one large room with a dirt floor. There were several double-deck bunks along the wall. Water had to be hauled in barrels from the nearest stream, which was several miles away, until a well could be dug. They tried farming, but with so little rainfall, it was difficult to make things grow. The well was nearly completed when a horse fell into it and broke his neck; of course the well was ruined. Due to drought and many other hardships, they gave up the Oklahoma land venture as a bad investment and sold out. Elmer Spencer used to tell of the times when his dad and mother would travel the long distance into town for "rations" and leave all six of the boys at home. They would tell the boys of all the things they were forbidden to do while they were gone, but he said they always found something mischievous to do that their parents had failed to mention.
In 1897, Louis Andrew Spencer bought a small spring wagon, hitched his last two horses to it, and with his four oldest sons, Orrie, Elmer, William, and Earnie, they headed for "Sun Station," Texas, which is about a mile north of Nederland, Texas, on the Kansas City Southern Railroad. Spencer's half-brothers, known as the "Littell Brothers," were running a brick yard at present-day Sun. Mrs. Spencer and the two youngest sons, Louis and Clyde, went to Caldwell, Kansas, where they remained until Mr. Spencer sent for them, and then the family moved to Nederland, Texas, in 1897. They worked and operated one of Mid-Jefferson County's earliest industries and places of business, which was a brick kiln. Bricks were made by hand and baked in a crude kiln, fired by wood. Bricks made by the Spencers were used in the foundation and chimneys of the thirty-three room, three-story Orange hotel. Their bricks were also used in the casing for the water well that was used by the hotel. The copies of the old Port Arthur "Herald" also noted that bricks made in Nederland were also used in a number of early Port Arthur brick buildings, and that the quality of the bricks was as good as many imported bricks. It is likewise believed that Spencer bricks were used in building the Windsor Hotel at Sabine Pass and in the building of a Spanish-American War fort there in 1898.
The Orange Hotel housed the early Nederland settlers, most of whom were Dutch immigrants, until they could get their own homes built. When the Spencer family came to Nederland in 1897, Nederland consisted of a depot and an ambitious set of blue prints. Beaumont then had one paved street, and Port Arthur had a population of 500 persons. There was only one house in a twenty-mile stretch between the two towns. A gulf hurricane had just destroyed Sabine Pass in October, 1886, and in September, 1897, another hurricane damaged the town again and killed ten people in Port Arthur, as well as destroyed the K. C. S. depot there. Work on dredging a ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico to Port Arthur was underway, and plans were being made to move the railroad's port inland.
About 1900, Louis A. Spencer built the old Spencer home, a two-story house, which was at 207 Twelfth Street, midway between Atlanta and Boston Avenues. Probably the last family to live in that house before it was torn down in 1972 was the R. X. Cook family. Mr. Spencer worked at various jobs until he and his wife took over management of the Orange Hotel about 1900.
Elmer Henry Spencer, the next-to-oldest son, lived in Nederland with his family most of his life from the time he came to Texas in 1897. He did live in Beaumont for a few years, while he worked for the Kansas City Southern Railroad. His wife, the former Edith Cooke, was a teacher in the area's first school, which Elmer Spencer helped to establish. He also helped to establish the first Methodist church, and likewise he watched the Texaco asphalt plant and docks at Port Neches go up over his favorite swimming hole in the Neches River there. He built one of the first large two-story homes in Nederland, which still stands in the 200 block of Fifteenth Street.
Many of the early roads of the area and in Nederland townsite were graded by Elmer Spencer while he worked for Conrad Wagner, who was a road contractor as well as rice farmer. Elmer Spencer also told of the 1915 hurricane, at which time a large oil tank broke loose from a Gulf Refining tank farm and floated to Nederland as a result of high water that came into the edge of town. The tank was grounded in the vicinity of what is now Highway 365 and Memorial Highway (69). He also liked to talk of the famous Lucas gusher that blew in at Spindletop on January 10, 1901. He recalled the terrible odor of methane gas and the high-pitched hissing sound that was carried to Nederland by a northwest wind. The Dutch settlers did not know what was happening until some one came from Beaumont and explained that it was the gas from the well, escaping at extreme high pressure, that they were smelling. Later, Elmer worked for the Texaco asphalt plant in Port Neches for thirty years prior to his retirement in 1946. He saw many changes during his lifetime in the Mid-county area.
Louis Andrew Spencer and his wife, Lovina Jane, moved to California after all their sons were grown, and Mr. Spencer died there. Later his widow married a Mr. Getty. She lived a number of years after that and lost most of her eyesight prior to her death in California.
Orren Grafton Spencer served three enlistments in the U. S. Army, tha last served as a Captain in World War I. Between enlistments, he married Rosa Nelson, a Nederland girl. They were the parents of two children, Evelyn and Orrie, Jr., both of whom later married and lived in California. Later Orren Spencer married Esta ------- and spent his last years living at Death Valley, California, which he dearly loved and where he also died and is buried.
The third brother, William Andrew Spencer, left Nederland also and moved to Colorado, where he met and married Bessie Littell in 1907. Two daughters were born to that marriage, Ardith and Eddith, both of whom later lived in California. William Spencer died at age thirty-three, the result of an injury. His widow, Bessie, died several years later.
The fourth son, Earnest Ira Spencer married Eva ------. They were parents of two sons, Lee and Orville, and all were living in California with their families as of 1972. Earnest and Eva lived in Texas for a number of years, in both Houston and Nederland, where Ernie was involved in sales work for an oil company. Earnest and his wife later moved to "Leisure World," a retirement community at Seal Beach, California.
Louis Robert Spencer, the fifth son, married Pat Freeman of Nederland in 1907. The couple had two children, Leon and Bette. Leon died, but his widow was still living in Houston as of 1972. Bette married, reared a family, and lives in Houston. Louis Spencer spent the remainder of his life in Texas. After leaving Nederland, he was employed by the Sante Fe Railroad. Later he went to Houston, where he raised his family, and was employed by the International Derrick and Equipment Company, first as a salesman and later as District Manager. He died several years ago, leaving his widow in Houston.
Albert Clyde Spencer, the youngest of the six Spencer brothers, left Nederland when he was about seventeen years of age. He worked in Louisiana where he was employed by the Lyon Cypress Lumber Company. In 1914, he too went to California, where he followed the lumber business for several years. In 1917 he married Madge Waite of Los Angeles. One child, a daughter Jeanne, was born of that marriage. Madge died in 1942. In 1947 Clyde married Elizabeth Johnson of Seal Beach, California. They lived out their lives in Seal Beach, along with Clyde's daughter, Jeanne, and her family.
After Elmer Henry Spencer's marriage to Edith Cooke on April 14, 1904, the couple resided at their home on Fifteenth Street until Mrs. Spencer's death on March 21, 1949. They were very active in the building of Nederland's first public school and in the organization and activities of the earliest Methodist congregation. After his first wife's death, Elmer H. Spencer married Mrs. Oma Ellis of Nederland and resided at 203 Fourteenth Street until his death on August 21, 1963. He and his former wife Edith are buried at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches.
Elmer and Edith Spencer were the parents of four sons and a daughter. The oldest child, Asa Leroy Spencer, married the former Maudie B. Peveto Dubose, who at that time had one child, James J. Dubose, know now as James J. Spencer. James is married to the former Jimmie Bass of Port Neches. They have two daughters, Cheryl and Debbie, and they live in Nederland.
After their marriage, Asa and Maudie Spencer had four children. Asa Leroy Spencer, Jr. married Denise Ford of Nederland, and he and his family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Edith Lee Spencer married "Fleto" Broussard of Nederland. She and her children live in Houston. Kenneth Earl Spencer married Ruby Sheffield of Nederland. He and his family live in Pasadena, Texas. Joyce Ann Spencer married Donald W. Belt of Beaumont, and she and her family live in Silsbee, Texas.
Asa Leroy Spencer, Sr. died in Nederland in 1966 after working as a deputy sheriff of Jefferson County for thirty-five years. At the time of his death, he was Supervisor of county jail trustees of Jefferson County. His widow, Maudie B., remained in Nederland. Asa and Maudie Spencer built their home about where the Nederland Chamber of Commerce building is located in 1991. At that time, Boston deadended at Fifteenth Street, and the 1500 block of Boston, where they lived, was that offset street which was built to reach Nederland's early Interurban trolley depot. The Asa Spencer home was immediately in back of the Elmer Spencer home at 223 Fifteenth.
The second son, Earl Henry Spencer, married Lydia Janet Whitley of Oakdale, Louisiana, in 1933. They became the parents of four children. Gary Earl Spencer married Margaret Dean Jackson of Beaumont. They have two children, Cheryl and Steven, and reside in Paris, Texas. James Berthold Spencer married Barbara Jane Warfield of Woodville, Texas. They have two children, Melissa and James Edward, and live in Jasper, Texas. Sharon Jane Spencer married James A. Barclay of Dallas, Texas. They have one son, Bruce, and live in Desoto, Texas. Brenda Gail Spencer married Jim D. McCloud of Nederland. They have one son, Jerod, and reside in Nederland.
Earl Henry and Lydia Spencer lived in Nederland until they raised all their children and after Mr. Spencer's retirement. In former years, Earl was very active in city, school, scout, and church activities. Earl worked for several years as a machinist for Texaco asphalt plant in Port Neches. He later was business agent for the International Association of Machinists union for several years; and also worked during World War II in the shipyard in Orange. He is now retired from Neches Butane Products Company of Port Neches, where he worked for twenty-seven years. At the time of his retirement, he was Superintendent of Industrial Relations there. Earl and Lydia Spencer lived for many years in their home in the 1200 block of Avenue I. Later, they built a brick home at the intersection of Elgin and Eighteenth Street. They now reside in Jasper.
Glen Alford Spencer married Alice Bates McFadden of Alto, Texas, and they were parents of two children. Gerald Winston Spencer married Kathleen -------- of Dallas. They reside in Duncanville, Texas. Glen Daniel Spencer married Jill Day of Dallas. They had one son, Jason, and live in Lewisville, Texas. At first Glen Alford Spencer worked for Texaco in Port Neches and lived in Nederland until 1942, when he and his wife and Gerald moved to Dallas, where Glen Daniel was born. Glen Spencer was a laboratory technician for Mobil Oil Company in Dallas until his death in August, 1963. His widow, Alice, continued to reside in Dallas, and she was employed for many years by the Dallas School System.
Ethel Spencer married Emory W. Wilmore of Houston. They became the parents of four children, Carl, John, Virginia, and Elizabeth. Carl married Debbie -------, and they became the parents of three boys and live in Houston. John married Zillah Short of Houston, where they also live. As of 1972, Virginia and Elizabeth were still living at home with their parents.
The youngest, Harold Orren Spencer, married Betty Jo Risinger of Nederland, and they became parents of three children. As of 1972, two were college students, Carol at Texas A and M University and James at the University of Texas. Daughter Edith Ann was a student in the Sweeny schools. Harold has served as band director in the Sweeny school system for a long number of years, and his wife, Betty Jo, is head of the Secretarial Science Department of the same school system. They are also active in their church and in civic affairs of that community.
As of 1991, Elmer Henry and Edith Spencer are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by their three surviving children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a host of friends in Nederland, Texas.