My Spencer Ancestry

UPDATE: I have been researching my mysterious Spencer line for some 20 years. I always wondered about my mother and grand aunt's contention of Walter A. Spencer's "problem" with his supposed father, whom they identified as Alonzo Spencer. One error I found is that some Ancestry members saw a marriage ledger entry for Walter and Lodema Olive Beach in 1892 listing a Nancy Lockwood as Walter's mother. That version of her in some Ancestry trees is wrong. While we are certain who Walter's mother was (not Nancy), it's clear that the Nancy in other trees was married to only 2 men - Lyman Perkins in 1850 and Ford Keeler in 1899. NOBODY NAMED SPENCER.

"We" denotes a small group of cousins and half cousins who want to unravel the mystery that was Robert B. Spencer and his life. We are certain he was born in Canada in 1836 to Samuel Spencer and Elizabeth Ward. He first appears in US records as marrying Hannah Griffiths in 1857. His parents also immigrated to the USA. If you are related to Robert B. Spencer and would like to join our email-based group, please contact me.


My maternal grandmother, Evelyn Spencer O'Brien (photo #1), was the 3rd child and first daughter of great-grandparents Walter Alonzo Spencer and Lodema Olive Beach. When my mother Marjorie O'Brien Ward, daughter of Evelyn And Frank Richard O'Brien, started working on her ancestry, she told me that her great-grandfather's father was named Alonzo and that he was an abusive alcoholic. She stated that her grandfather wanted nothing to do with him, turning him away when he tried to visit him and his family. She also stated he was in the lumber business in Saginaw County in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but had no specific dates.

She did get the lumberman/lumberjack part correct, but her great grandfather's name was Robert Spencer. The name Robert appears in several places, including the 1870 US Census for Bay County, MI, and an Oakland County MI marriage ledger of Walter A Spencer and Lodema Olive Beach listing his name plus someone named Nancy Lockwood. Nancy may be a second wife. The name Charles is listed on Walter A's death certificate as his father. The informant was his eldest son, Burrell Beach Spencer. There must have been some sort of sour reationship between Walter and his father, which probably lead to my mother and aunt's "abusive alcoholic" story. There is no information anywhere supporting the existence of anyone named Charles or Charlie in the immediate family, so that fact only adds to the mystery that is Robert Spencer's life.

UPDATE on 12/12/19: New information from 2 DNA-matched cousins and other information found on Ancestry is adding new branches to the maternal side of my tree. Ancestry's ThruLines has suggested 3 generations of male ancestors of Robert Spencer from DNA matches and one of the new-found cousins has information on 3 more generations beyond that. No longer does the Spencer "brick wall" resemble the former Berlin Wall.

An incomplete list of my ancestors through 9 generations.

Related information

  • A biography written by my grand aunt, Lorena Spencer Huntoon Lindahl, and more pix.
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  • Research into Robert Spencer, father of great grandfather Walter Alonzo Spencer.

    The last 3 images can be viewed at full resolution by clicking on "Link" in the caption.

    Spencer Family Photo Album
    Photograph of Evelyn (Evolyn) Spencer O'Brien.
    1 - Evelyn Spencer O'Brien.
    Photograph of Walter Alonzo Spencer.
    2 - Walter Alonzo Spencer.
    Photograph of Walter A and Lodema Olive Beach Spencer.
    3 - Newlyweds Walter A and Lodema Olive Beach Spencer.
    Photograph of Lodema Olive Beach Spencer and her children.
    4 - L to R - Lodema holding Lorena, Burrell Beach, Frank Gales and Evelyn, dated 1912.
    Photograph of Walter A. Spencer.
    5 - A young Walter Spencer.
    Photograph of Burrell B. Spencer.
    6 - Burrell Beach Spencer in WW1 uniform.

    More Spencers
    Photograph of Spencer kids in the 1950s.
    7 - Frank Gales, Evelyn (O'Brien), Burrell Beach and Lorena Spencer (Huntoon), 1950s.
    Photograph of Lorena Spencer and Marjorie O'Brien.
    8 - Lorena Spencer (Huntoon) holding Marjorie O'Brien (Ward) in about April, 1923.
    Photograph of 12 Spencers.
    9 - Twelve Spencers in 1934.
    Evelyn Spencer O'Brien obit.
    10 - Obit of Evelyn Spencer O'Brien.Link
    Robert Spencer 1870 Census.
    11- Robert Spencer & family, 1870 census - Definitely RELATED. Link
    Photograph of Lodema Olive Beach Spencer.
    5 - Lodema Olive Beach Spencer. Link