COLBERT COUNTY, ALABAMA
(1833 - 1898)
Originally contributed in 1999
and updated 29 Feb 2004
by Ed Vengrouskie
From historical records, it is known that Thomas Spencer was born in Tennessee in the year 1833. Some time between 1840 and 1850, Thomas Spencer and George Spencer (possibly his brother) appeared living with A. E. Spencer, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Becky at Point Smith, Alabama. Thomas Spencer's occupation listed at the time of the 1850 census was laborer.
The 1855 census of Franklin County listed Thomas Spencer over age 21, and a female in his household over age 21. From other information it was confirmed that Thomas Spencer was married in 1853.
By 1860, Thomas Spencer was living in Chickasaw (named changed from Point Smith), his occupation was listed as farmer, he was married to Mary Elizabeth (married in 1853) and had one son William Sylvester Spencer (born in 1856) and one daughter Elizabeth Fannie Spencer (born 1858).
From the 1870 state census, we find Thomas Spencer still living in Chickasaw, his occupation was still farmer, but his family had grown significantly. He was still married to Mary Elizabeth whose age was 33, William Sylvester Spencer (son) age 14, Elizabeth Fannie Spencer (daughter) age 11, Mary Spencer (daughter) age 9, Ella Spencer (daughter) age 6, and Sarah Spencer (daughter) age 3.
Even though there was a Yellow Fever epidemic which ravaged the North Alabama area from 1878-1879, no immediate Thomas Spencer family member was affected.
By 1880, there were some changes to the Thomas Spencer family. There was one addition to the family, Julia Spencer (daughter) age 7, and Mary Spencer (daughter) left the house hold and married a Wallis. So at the time of the 1880 state census, the Thomas Spencer house hold consisted of one son William Sylvester Spencer and four daughters; Elizabeth Fannie, Ella; Sarah, and Julia.
On February 18, 1882, Mary Elizabeth Spencer, wife of Thomas Spencer died and was buried in the Riverton Cemetery.
Around 1885, Thomas Spencer was granted a charter from Colbert and Lauderdale counties to operate a ferry across the Tennessee River from Chickasaw to Waterloo, Alabama. The Spencer Ferry Operation was a prosperous business and by 1890 (the boom days of Riverton), Thomas Spencer built, owned, and operated the handsome Spencer Hotel, the largest hotel in Riverton. According to historical records, on March 20, 1897, the Tennessee River reached the highest mark in history.
The Thomas Spencer House received extensive water damage and lost 250 bushels of corn. Only six days later, on the night of March 26, 1897, The Spencer Hotel caught fire and was damaged extensively. It was later discovered that the fire was started by hot cinder chips from the smoke stakes in Sheffield 15 miles up river.
Some time between 1882 and 1898 Thomas Spencer married Ruth Davis.
On May 23, 1898 Thomas Spencer wrote his last Will and Testament. On July 29, 1898 Thomas Spencer passed away and was put to rest in the Riverton Cemetery next to his first wife Mary Elizabeth Spencer.
By 1900, Ruth Davis Spencer (age 51) had remained in Riverton, Alabama, living in the Thomas Spencer house. Elizabeth Fannie Wallis (age 44), oldest daughter of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Spencer, was also living in the household, along with Thomas Davis (age 14), grandson of Ruth Davis Spencer.
On May 25, 1902 Ruth Davis Spencer was married to Mat Lambert in Tuscumbia, Alabama.