Sunday, August 23, 2009


I've been researching online books through heritagequest [remote access through my local library], and Google Books, city directories [most extracted from Ancestry years ago] burial records found for the Spence's of the 1st Presbyterian Church [via Maryland GenWeb], and obituaries via I've found a few things, although still no answer to who John Spence's parents were.

I've found the following:

  • John Spence and Teresa [or "Tracy"] Gartner were married in 1823, in Baltimore.
  • John Spence was Sexton of the 1st Presbyterian Church in Baltimore for the period 1826 to 1844, followed by his son George W. Spence, Oct. 1844 through 1873, then George's son John B. Spence June 1873 through at least 1913 [publish date of the book]: "...a rare instance of the same position being filled in succession by father, son and grandson, for over eighty years."(1)

The Rev. John C. Backus of the 1st Presbyterian Church was evidently considered an important and respected figure by the Spence family. He was elected Pastor of the Church in 1836 and served in that capacity until his death 48 years later [approximately 1884].
  • When John's daughter Elizabeth Jane Spence married William Anderson in 1851, Rev. Backus officiated at the marriage. [marriage record]
  • When John's grandson John Spence [son of George] was born in 1853, he was given the middle name Backus. [1st Presbyterian Church Sexton records/online book]
  • The youngest child of William and Elizabeth [Spence] Anderson was named John Backus Anderson [death certificate].
John Spence also had a son named John, b. about 1842. So far I've found no mention of his middle initial. However, son Thomas [b. 1837/38] did have the middle initial "B".

The obituary of Elizabeth [Spence] Anderson dated 1900 [found via] stated that she had been a lifelong member of the church. I imagine the examination of parish records for 1st Presbyterian Church would solve a number of questions about these families.

Burial records of the 1st Presbyterian Church for the Spence family, that I was able to find, include the following:

  • 1833 July 2 A child of Mr. John Spence, age 3 mos.
  • 1844 Oct. 27 John Spence, Sexton 1st Ch.
  • 1855 Dec. 13 Geo. Spence's child
  • 1860 Sept. Mr. G. Spences child
  • 1860 Nov. 3 Mrs. W.W. Spence (very suddenly)
  • 1863 March 24 Mrs. Mary S. Winkley (Elder Spence's mother in law)
  • 1864 Aug. 4 Miss Agnes Spence

I am fairly certain that only the dates through Sept 1860 pertain to my Spence family. Mrs. W.W. Spence was the wife of William Wallace Spence, who emigrated to the U.S. about 1834. His mother-in-law was Mary Winkley; and he did have a daughter named Agnes. William Wallace was also an Elder in the 1st Presbyterian Church from 1846.

The "child of Mr. John
Spence" who d. in 1833 would easily fit within the range of John's children, most of whom are not known!

The 1844 burial record of John
Spence, Sexton, was the first time I'd found a date of death for him, beside the estimate of 1842-1850 [his wife is widowed at the 1850 census]. [I've since applied to Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore for an interment list of his wife, Theresa Spence, who died 1875 and is, hopefully, buried with him - if Green Mount was in existence in 1844!]

The above dates of burial for 2 of George's children, 1855 and 1860, match the range of dates his children were born [1853-1872], and I've found an obituary for at least one online at - George W. Spence, who died at the age of 16 months Sept. 1860. be continued

(1) A Brief History of the First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, William M. Reynolds, Williams & Wilkins Co., Baltimore, 1913, pg. 64.

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