The Parentage of Elisha Spence

I know I said we’d talk about the Bowdens next, but, first, I have a correction to make.  Elisha Spence was, most likely, not the son of Isaac and Elisabeth.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he was the son of John and Rhoda.  My reasons for this are, mostly, circumstantial.  My main piece of evidence comes from a couple of land patents (emphases are mine).

  1. John Spence
    Cumberland County
    Book 91, page 62
    Grant Numbers: 1265

    Know ye that We have granted unto John Spence one hundred and sixty acres of land in Cumberland County on Hector’s creek Joining Atkins’s and Anderson’s lines; Beginning at a small Spanish oak Atkins’s corner in Anderson’s line then as Anderson’s line East thirty chain to a red oak by the side of the Creek, then North twelve chain and fifty links to a white oak by the side of the creek, then East eighteen chain and fifty links to a stake and pine then North twenty five chain and sixty six links to a stake and black jack, then West forty eight chain and fifty links to the Beginning. Dated the 17th Day of October 1796.

  2. Elisha Spence
    Cumberland County
    Book 134, page 256
    Grant Number: 2433

    Know ye that we have granted unto Elisha Spence twenty acres of land in Cumberland County, Joining his own, James Atkins, and other lines on or near the pond Branch; Beginning at a post oak one of his own corners of the land his father let him have and runs East twenty seven chains with his own line to a sassafras in the Vaugn line then south seven chains to a pine James Atkins corner then as his line West twenty seven chains to a sassafras by a Branch then North seven chains to the Beginning.

    Entered 3rd February 1819. To Hold to the said Elisha Spence Heirs and assigns forever. Dated 13th of March 1821

Of course, they could be talking about two different Atkinses.  🙂

Next are a couple of marriage bonds:

  • John Prince and John Spence paid bond in Cumberland County for John Prince to marry Nancy Spence August 23, 1815
  • Daniel Prince and Elisha Spence paid bond in Cumberland County for Daniel Prince to marry Medeia (I don’t know if that’s supposed to be Medea or Madeira) Spence September 23, 1819

I know Nancy Prince was their daughter because of this letter in John’s estate file:

N. Carolina Cumberland County
To the Court of pleas and quarter
sessions March Term 1830

This is to certify that I Rhoday Spence Relict of the late John Spence Senr Decd of the county afforesaid do hereby relinquish my right of administration on my Intestate husbands Estate, to my Daughter Nancy Prince or to any other person she may see proper to annominate for it is necessary that some person should be appointed and I am not able to attend to the business myself it therefore is my request that she may be appointed or some other person that she may recommend to the court and no other person.  Given under my hand this 27th Day first day of March 1830.

Rhoday Spence (her mark)

Test:  Montillian Sexton
Nancy Prince

I’ve read that Rhoda’s first name was actually Rebeckah and that she was the daughter of Hardy Dean of Wake County, but that is impossible.  Rebeckah Dean was unmarried as of 1827, according to her father’s estate papers.  Within that folder, there is a letter, dated January 29, 1827, from Aulsey Dean, in Tennessee, to Hardy Dean, Jr., which says

…give my compliments to sister Rebeccah and allso brother Josiah and his family and Theophilus and fammily, Claton Leyland [not sure about that last name, it was hard to make out] fammily and also Berry King and his familly…

These are his siblings and their families.  Notice there is no “and family” for Rebeckah, and no husband named.  If she was the wife of John Spence, it would have said something like “give compliments to John Spence and family.”

The children I currently have for John and Rhoda are:

  • Mary “Polly” Spence married John Taylor December 7, 1813, John Spence bondsman
  • Nancy Spence married John Prince August 23, 1815, John Spence, bondsman
  • Elisha Spence married Nancy Wood, Jr. November 25, 1823
  • Medeia Spence married Daniel Prince September 23, 1819, Elisha Spence, bondsman
  • Sarah Spence married Thomas Spence January 17, 1820, Samuel Atkins, bondsman (uncertain)
  • James Spence married Nancy Pate January 1, 1825, Elisha Spence, bondsman
  • William Spence (uncertain, John Spence estate sale)
  • Delilah Spence (uncertain, John Spence estate sale)

I’m sure there were others. Besides Rhoda, there were seven other females in that house in 1810.  Of males, there was a boy under 10, most likely William, and John.  Talk about being outnumbered.  If Rhoda was the Rhody Spence in Sampson County in 1800, then the boys would be Elisha and James and the girl, probably, Nancy.  I don’t know where James and Elisha were in 1810.  They may have been bound out as apprentices, which would, perhaps, explain why their wives were from Johnston County.

Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ <10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Sampson County – 1800
Rhody Spence 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Cumberland County – 1810
John Spence 1 0 0 0 1 2 3 2 1 0

Dolly Bowden

Dolly may have been a nickname.  It just sounds like it should be.  I’ve read that Dolly can be used as a nickname for Dorothy.  At the time she married James Bourden/Bowden, her surname was Southerland, but that may or may not have been her maiden name.  There are indications that she may, originally, have been a Spence.  Or her mother was.  Or her mother-in-law, because I have no idea who James’s mother was.  Why am I so certain somebody in this family was a Spence?  Because of this entry in the Spence Family Bible:

Bethsay Ann BOURDEN the darter of Jonas? BOURDEN and wife Dolly BOURDEN was born the 15 day of February 1830.
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN dec’d the 26 day of March 1835.

Why would little Betsy Ann be recorded in the Spence Family Bible unless one of her parents, or grandparents, was a Spence?

Before I go any further, you’ll want to open that link in a new window, because I’m going to refer to that bible record frequently in this post.  There will be lots of speculation with theories, hypotheses, and possibilities galore.  I’m going to focus on Dolly and/or her mother being the Spence, but, keep in mind that, as I said before, it could just as easily have been James’s mother who was the Spence.  If anyone has any information that would back any of this up, or prove me horribly wrong, please share!

I hinted in my post Hiram Wright and the Bowden Sisters that certain questions were raised in my mind by the genealogy Some Early Families of Eastern North Carolina.  I discussed one of those questions in that post, whether James and Dolly were the parents of Mitchell Bowden.  The answer, in my humble opinion, being an emphatic no.  The dates just don’t work.  A second question pertains to the parentage of Dolly herself.  It says Dolly was the daughter of Isaac Spence and Mary Elizabeth Bowden, daughter of Samuel Bowden.  I’ve seen no actual evidence that her name was Mary, the marriage bond just says Elisabeth, and I’m not so sure Samuel was her father.  Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden married in Duplin County April 27, 1789, as per this post.  I know most genealogies have the date of their marriage being in 1769, but the William Dickson argument utilized in that post is compelling. And, let’s face it, 1789 makes Dolly Spence a more likely probability.

The above genealogy also says Timothy W. Spence, born June 4, 1771, was the son of Isaac and Elisabeth Bowden Spence, which is, clearly, incorrect.  No, this is not wishful thinking on my part due to the whole 1769 vs. 1789 thing.  The bible record clearly states that he was the son of Timothy and Elizabeth Spence.  This older Timothy is quite likely the Timothy Spence on the 1767 Tax List for New Hanover County.  There’s a John Spence on that list, as well, though I don’t know if they’re brothers or father and son or something else entirely.  Just so you know, if John turns out to be the son in this possible father/son relationship, it will render the rest of this post moot.

I’m wondering if Timothy W. Spence and Isaac Spence were brothers, both sons of Timothy and Elizabeth?  And maybe we could add the John Spence of the 1790s Cumberland County land patents to the mix.  We could also, still hypothetically speaking, add to this list of possible children the Sarah Spence who married Beesly Maning June 10, 1793 in Duplin County with Elisha Gibbs as bondsman.

So, the children of Timothy Spence, Sr., and Elizabeth, his wife were:

  • John Spence (b. 1768, d. 1830) married Rhoda (as per his estate)
  • Isaac Spence (b. 1769) married Elisabeth Bowden (b. 1773)
  • Timothy W. Spence (b. June 4, 1771, d. May 3, 1853) married Martha “Patsy” (d. December 14, 1858)
  • Sarah Spence (b. 1777) married Beesly Maning

The dates for Timothy and Patsy come from the bible record, and John’s death date from his estate file, the others are calculated from a marriage age of 20 for the men and 16 for the women.  And does anyone have information about Beesly Maning?  All I have is this marriage bond.

Now let’s say, for supposition’s sake, that Timothy and Elizabeth married just before John’s birth, that is in 1767, and, further, that she was 13 when they wed.  That would mean she was born in 1754.  Dolly was born in about 1785, give or take a year or two.  In 1785, Elizabeth would have been 31 and, barring tragedy, still able to bear children and would  have been even if she’d married at 16 instead of 13.  Or, she and Timothy could have had a daughter born in 1772, who would have been 13 in 1785 and who was Dolly’s mother, Mrs. Southerland.  These calculations would work even if the hypothetical Mrs. Southerland was a year or two older than Isaac instead of younger.

Quick aside, I’ve read in various genealogies that Martha “Patsy” Spence’s maiden name was Futch, though with no actual proof, and that she was the daughter of Onesimus Futch.  Looking at the dates involved, I think granddaughter would be more likely.  Onesimus and his son, John, appear on the 1762 tax list in New Hanover County (see here for that and other tax lists for that county).  To be considered taxable, John had to have been at least 16 in 1762 which means he was born no later than 1747.  I don’t know where the 1766 date in so many genealogies comes from.  Martha was born sometime in the 1770s. Onesimus was the son of Martin Futch and Isabella Lawson Chilly.  Isabella was the daughter of John Lawson and Hannah Smith and widow of John Chilly and Martin the son of Jacob and Margaretha Fuch who were among the Palatines that came to the New Bern area with Baron von Graffenreid.  See this post:  Martin and Isabella Futch N. C.  This Onesimus Futch, there were at least five in the eighteenth century alone that I know about just glancing through some of the available data, never lived anywhere but North Carolina.  He was born in Craven County, probably in the part that is now Jones, and died in New Hanover County in 1781 (his estate file).  His wife’s name was Mary, she may or may not have been a Blunt.  It is interesting to note that Onesimus Futch entered a patent (it was never recorded) for 200 acres on the north side of Goshen Swamp, Duplin County, April 18, 1767.  John Futch was issued a patent, same county, for 100 acres on Farris’s Branch, not sure where that was, May 17, 1754.

Back to the bible record for a moment.  I found these entries especially interesting:

Isaac SPENCE, Junr, died the 21st day of October 1820, age twenty-six and four
months and twenty days old.
Timothy SPENCE, Junr. Died the 17th day of September the year 1818, age 21
years and 13 days old.
Samuel SPENCE died the 16th of November 1819, age 23 years 10 months old.
Elibeth SPENCE the wife of Isaac SPENCE dec’d the 24th day of May 1821.

and, further down,

Isaac SPENCE, Sr. died the 19 day of April 1848.

The question, here, is which Isaac Spence was “Elibeth” married to?  Was she the wife of Isaac, Jr. or was she the wife of Isaac, Sr., and, thus, Elisabeth Bowden?  The Isaac, Junr was, obviously, the son of Timothy and Martha, their children are the main focus of this bible record, born May 1, 1794.  Or so I thought until I did the math, with the help of this age calculator.  Their Isaac would have been 26 years, 5 months, and twenty days old on October 21, 1820.  So, either someone miscalculated his age at death, or this isn’t their Isaac, but someone else.  Plus, their Timothy was only 9 in 1818, and they had no son named Samuel. Were Samuel (b. Jan 16, 1796), Timothy, Junr. (b. Sep 4, 1797) and, Isaac, Junr. (b. June 1, 1794, exactly one month after his cousin of the same name) the sons of Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden?

Ergo, the children of Isaac Spence, Sr., and Elisabeth Bowden, for now, are:

  • Isaac Spence, Jr. (b. June 1, 1794, d. October 21, 1820)
  • Samuel Spence (b. Jan 16, 1796, d. Nov 16, 1819)
  • Timothy Spence (b. Sep 4, 1797, d. Sep 17, 1818)

Now to tackle another puzzle:  Who, exactly, was Elizabeth, wife of John Prowse, Schoolmaster, and what relation was she, if any, to Isaac Spence?  There’s a whole conversation about this on the message boards, mostly about whether or not Elizabeth Prowse was Elisabeth Bowden.  See, John Prowse wrote his will January 16, 1791 and it was probated in July.  After what I’ve come to think of as the preamble, it says:

…the Residue and Remainder of my Estate both real and personal 2 lend to my beloved wife Elizabeth Prowse during her natural life or widowhood, and at her decease or future marriage then 2 give and bequeath the whole to my son Thomas Prowse to him and his heirs and assigns forever.  And further to constitute and appoint my trusty friend Samuel Bowden and my son in law Isaac Spence to execute this my will and testament…

One of the witnesses is Timothy Spence.  The sticking point is the term “son-in-law.”  At this point in time, it could have it’s modern meaning, but it could also refer to a stepson.  So which was Isaac Spence to John Prowse?  If son-in-law, then what happened to Elisabeth Bowden Spence?  And if Elizabeth Prowse was Elisabeth Bowden Spence, making Isaac John’s stepson, then the only way this makes any sense is if the 1769 marriage date is correct instead of 1789, the Isaac Spence in the will being the son of Elisabeth and the senior Isaac.  That’s the gist of the controversy.  However, using my theory, as yet unproven, then Elizabeth Prowse was the widow of Timothy Spence, Sr., when she married John Prowse and was, thus, Isaac’s mother.  And, within the bounds of that hypothesis, Thomas Prowse would have to been her stepson, there being no indication that he is underage (under 21) in this will and, thus, was born in or before 1770.

The only other information I’ve been able to find on John Prowse is a deed in which he buys 100 acres from Hardy Reeves for 50 pounds on August 27, 1785.  He is on no tax list I can find for Duplin or Sampson County, nor can I find him on the 1790 census.

Isaac is the only Spence to appear on the 1784-1786 State Census + Goshen Swamp Project of 1785 in Duplin County.  I suspect he’s just on the Goshen Project list not the census because there are not numbers beside his name.

Looking at Isaac’s little family in 1790, it appears he and Elisabeth may have had twins.  One boy, I’ve been debating with myself whether or not this is Elisha Spence, and one girl.

Heads of Households Free White Males Free White
Other Free Slaves
16+ <16
Isaac Spence 1 1 2 0 0
Timothy Spence 2 1 3 0 0

The household of Timothy Spence could be interpreted in many ways.  I don’t know if he and Patsy were married yet, and, if they were, the bible record lists no children born prior to 1792. Timothy would have been 19 in 1790.  The other man could be his stepfather, John Prowse, and Thomas could be the boy under 16.  Yes, I know, I’m reaching.  I just got finished saying that Thomas Prowse was, probably, of or over 21 in 1791.  That sound you just heard was my exasperated huff.  The females could be Elizabeth Prowse, Dolly Spence/Southerland, and either Patsy Spence or ? Spence Southerland, widow.

In 1800, Isaac and Elisabeth have three boys under 10, Isaac, Samuel, and Timothy as well as the tweenaged “Elisha” and two daughters. I wonder who the other male is?  Could it be Thomas Prowse?  This genealogy mentions Thomas selling 100 acres in Duplin County in October 1804, so he was alive and in Duplin County. I don’t know if their theory about this Thomas being their Thomas of Kentucky is correct.  The older girl is probably “Elisha”‘s twin, not Dolly.  I don’t know where she is at this point.  If she was the sister of Isaac and Timothy instead of the niece, being about 15, she’s probably married to Mr. Southerland.  Whichever one he was.  And, looking at Timothy’s household, it appears that Elizabeth Spence Prowse had passed.  I think that the Rhody Spence in Sampson County, Fayetteville Township, may have been John’s wife, but I’m not sure.  It’s just herself, two sons, and a daughter.

Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ <10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Duplin County
Isaac Spence 3 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0
Timothy Spence 3 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 1 0
Sampson County
Rhody Spence  1  1  0  0 0  1  0 0 1  0

Isaac Spence appears on the 1806 tax list, but he’s the only Spence to do so.

Now, 1810 is the first census in which I’ve found John. I know he was in Cumberland County before this due to several land patents in the 1790s and early 1800s, but I can’t find him in either prior census. Notice that he is of or over 45, whereas Isaac and Timothy are aged 26 to 44 (41 and 39, respectively).  It leaves the option open that this John could be the John on the 1767 tax list in New Hanover County and, thus, their uncle instead of their brother.  If he was 16 in 1767, and thus born in 1751, then he’d be 58 in 1810 and 78 when he died in 1830.

By this time, Dolly had married James Bourden, January 12, 1804.  They have two young daughters and a third girl who may be Dolly’s daughter from her marriage to Mr. Southerland.  If not, then I have no idea who this girl could be.

Heads of
Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ 0-9 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Duplin County
Isaac Spence 3 1 1 1 0 2 1 0 1 0
Timothy Spence 4 2 0 1 0 2 3 0 1 0
James Bourden 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 0
Cumberland County
John Spence 1 0 0 0 1 2 3 2 1 0

And this is where we’ll leave them for a bit, before the move to Cumberland. Next post we’ll talk about James Bourden and his family. After that, we’ll hook back up with the Spences.