Sunday, September 18, 2016

My ancestor, James Franklin Spencer

I wrote about Cornelius Spencer, my great great grandfather (here), and then his son George Washington Spencer (here). Next I want to move on to James Cornelius Spencer, my great grandfather, who was born in 1866 in Knottsville, Kentucky.

James was the third child of George and Sarah. He was only 11 years old when his father died in a tree-felling accident on the farm. James marries Mary Addie Winfree sometime around 1886 or so (probably). Their first child is born in 1887. James and Mary Addie would have nine children together, born between 1887 and 1908. For the record, the children were Claude, Gracie, Leora, Mary Olga, Bessie, Jesse, Charlie, James Franklin, and Martha.

At this point the family is still on the farm in Pellville, just east of Knottsville. Although the 1890 census seems unavailable, we do know from local directories that James continued in Pellville at least until 1897. James is listed there in land owner lists. James has 30 acres, and his older brother William has 80. Two years later, in the next edition, James is not listed. And the next year, in 1900, the census does not list James at all, while the rest of his family, Marry Addie and the children, are living with Mary's parents in neighboring Ohio County, in the town of Fordsville.

So there is a mystery here. Where was James in 1900? By 1910 he is back with his family in Fordsville, but why was he not with them in 1900?

I'll probably never know the answer to that. But here is another curiosity about James C. It occurs in the 1920 census. In any census sheet the head of household is listed first, and all other household members are designated by their relation to the head. So, the husband/father is generally listed first, as head. Then the wife is listed, then the sons and daughters are listed from oldest to youngest.

But in the 1920 census the son, 16 year old James Franklin (my grandfather), is listed as the head of the household, and next James C. is listed ("father") and then Mary Addie ("mother"). The normal arrangement would be James C., head, then Marry Addie, wife, and James F., son.

So why is the 16 year old son listed as the "head" of the household, a household in which his father still resides? I will also note that in this same census James Franklin's occupation is farm foreman, and James C's occupation is "cropper."

In any case, the next thing we know of James Cornelius Spencer is his death at the age of 62, in 1928. He died at the Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky. The cause of death seems to have been chronic diarrhea. He is buried in the Baskett Cemetery, in Henderson, Kentucky, along with many of his children.

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