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Tag Archives: Sanpete County Utah

Oscar Olsen and the Spencer Sisters

Lovina Arsula Spencer – was one of my great grand aunts of the Spencer line – and one of the daughters of Richard Henry Spencer and Lucy Lodica Elmer who was born in Payson, Utah County, Utah on 25 Aug 1879. While still an infant, Lovina’s father relocated the family to Sanpete County where she spent the remainder of her childhood.

Lovina Arsula Spencer Olsen - from the collection of Blaine Spencer

On 15 Mar 1899, at the age of 20 years, Lovina married Oscar Eli Olsen in Mount Pleasant, Sanpete County, Utah. Oscar, the son of Swedish immigrants, was born to James (or Jons) Peter Olsen and Margaret Christina Caroline Miller on 17 Aug 1873 in Utah. He was also the older brother of Henry Peter Olsen who married Lovina’s older sister, Lucy Ann Spencer.

Oscar Eli Olsen

To complicate the marriage triangle a little further – Oscar had previously been married to Lovina’s half-sister Martha Jane Spencer (1870-1895), the daughter of Jerusha Elmer and Richard Henry Spencer. I know – it’s hard to keep up with these large extended Mormon families! 

Martha Jane Spencer

Lovina and Oscar spent the first twenty or so years raising their family in Sanpete County, Utah. The census records are confusing to interpret, but it is believed that Lovina may have helped raised her husband’s son Earl (from his first marriage); Lovina and Oscar appear to have had at least four children of their own: Vernon born in 1901; Alvin Leo born in 1904; William O. born in 1907 and Dean born in 1911. (The records conflict as to whether Dean is a male or a female.) The family owned a home, which was free and clear of a mortgage by 1910. Oscar always lists himself as “farmer” in the census records.

When Oscar filled out his World War I Draft Registration Card on 12 Sept 1918 the family was still living in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.  Oscar stated that he was 45 years old and confirmed his birthdate of 17 Aug 1873; he lists himself as a self-employed farmer; his wife “Levina Olsen” is next of kin.  Oscar goes on to describe himself as being of medium height, stout, blue eyes and light hair.  Under disabilities, he states that he has an “ulcer of the stomach.” 

By the time that the 1930 census was taken in April of that year, the Olsen family had relocated to Northwest Jerome, Jerome County, Idaho. Oscar is 56 years old and Lovina is 50. They own their own home, but no occupation is listed for either of them. Three of their adult children are still in the home with them: Alvin L., 25, farmer; William O., 22, mechanic; and Deane McK, 19, salesman at grocery store. Vernon cannot be found in this census period. 

Idaho Map highlighting Jerome County

By all accounts, Lovina and Oscar lived out their lives in Jerome, Idaho. Nothing is known to me after the 1930 census. Lovina lived a long life – dying at the age of 101 – on 4 Jan 1981. According to the Social Security Death Index, Lovina’s last place of residence was Jerome, Jerome County, Idaho. She was returned home to Mount Pleasant in Sanpete County, Utah, where she was laid to rest two days later on 6 Jan 1981. Her husband Oscar Olsen, who died many years before her in 1933, is buried at Mount Pleasant with her.

I know virtually nothing about the Olsen children. I would love to hear from any of you that are researching this particular branch of the family.  After I finished writing the synopsis for Lovina and Oscar – I was thinking to myself, “well how boring is this?” “I have nothing but names and dates.” “Who wants to read this?” Nonetheless, every life and family matters, and I am hopeful that sometime in the future a family member may stumble upon this post and learn new things about their Olsen ancestors.

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Spencer

 

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A Man and His Wives

 



 

In one of my recent posts I discussed “Women in Mormonism“ – let’s talk about the men today. It is a well known fact that the Mormon sect practiced polygamy. This concept fascinates me and revolts me all at the same time.

My gg-grandfather, John Henry Spencer, was converted to Mormonism while still a child in England. He came to America with his family onboard the passenger ship Sheffield in 1841. Once the family made land fall at the port of New Orleans, they journeyed up the Mississippi River and joined the “Saints” at the “Kanesville Branch,” now known as Council Bluffs, Iowa. The family was living in Kanesville when Richard Spencer, my ggg-grandfather, and John Henry’s father, was killed on 22 Aug 1851 in some sort of an accident involving a horse – the details of which are unknown to me.

That next year, in 1852, John Spencer, along with his mother Mary and siblings, set out for Utah. They traveled (along with 200 other people) with the Third Company under Captain Thomas C. D. Howell. They left Kanesville, Iowa on 7 Jun 1852 and arrived in Salt Lake City on 27 Sept 1852. The next month in October of 1852 the family relocated to Payson, Utah.

It was in Payson that John met and married Jerushia Kibbe Elmer on 4 July 1858 (sealed for time and eternity). They became the parents of 14 children.

On that very same day, John’s brother, Richard Spencer married Lucy Lodica Elmer, Jerushia’s niece. Sadly, Richard Spencer died shortly after he married Lucy Lodica Elmer. The family story that has been passed down indicates that Richard Spencer and his wife Lucy Lodica attended a dance soon after their marriage, and being over heated and perspiring, he left the hall and laid down on a pile of wood to cool off – where he contracted a “lung fever.” It has been claimed that on his death bed he asked John to marry his widow and raise a family “for him.” Accordingly, about two years after Richard’s death, John Henry Spencer married Lucy Lodica Elmer on 7 Oct 1860 (for time only). (In a nutshell – the marriage with Jerushia is for “time and eternity” and the marriage with Lucy is “only for this lifetime.”) To this union ten children were born.

It has been said that the John Henry Spencer family home in Payson was made of adobe and logs and consisted of two large rooms with each wife being allotted a room. According to family oral history: “The ‘Indians‘ always came on baking day and they were given fresh baked bread. Both of John Spencer’s wives cooked large banquets for the settlers and the Indians alike. His wives and small children helped him a great deal in “Indian affairs.“ John’s first wife, Jerushia, was a nurse and midwife; many a night she was called to go out alone in the pitch black dark to answer a neighbor’s call. She had to travel over a bridge which she dreaded to cross and to her wonder it was her husband’s other wife, Lucy Lodica who carried the light. She helped the Indian squaws sew and care for their sick. While residing in Payson, John Henry Spencer owned property on both sides of Utah Avenue. Both wives helped in clearing away debris and rocks by carrying them in their aprons. Then they planted the orchard and garden for the family.”

Along with many of the other Mormon men, John Henry Spencer was prosecuted later in life for practicing polygamy (unlawful cohabitation and adultery).

Cause No. 672: UNLAWFUL COHABITATION: COMPLAINT – Offense: Unlawful Cohabitation; Complaint filed July 21, 1888; Warrant issued: July 21, 1888; “…on oath complains that John Spencer of Indianola in the County of Sanpete and Territory of Utah…..did then and there unlawfully live and cohabit with more than one woman to wit with Mrs. John Spencer and Jane Doe Spencer whereas name is otherwise unknown to complainant against the peace and dignity of the United States of America, and contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided. Wherefore complainant prays that a warrant may issue for the arrest of said John Spencer and that he be dealt with according to law.”
Cause No. 833: ADULTRY:  “….being then and thus a married man and having a lawful wife alive did commit this offense of adultery by having carnal knowledge of the body of one Lodica Spencer ….” 

He gave bail to await the Grand Jury action. His plural wife, Lodica, also gave bond to appear as a witness. The trial transcript reads: “Bishop John Spencer of Thistle married his second wife in the fall of 1860, had been taking care of his family since. He had lived with the Indians for the last twelve years and was a poor man. His youngest child was four weeks old and they have very little means. The court asked the defendant if he had taught the Indians anything about polygamy and he said, “No”. He was sentenced to a term of four months in prison.

During that time his family suffered; however, was able to sustain themselves through the coldest winter they had experienced.

 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Elmer, Spencer

 

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Lucy Ann Spencer – A Life Cut Short

My great grand aunt, Lucy Ann Spencer, did not live a long life. She was one of the daughters born to John Henry Spencer and Lucy Lodica Elmer in Payson, Utah on 23 October 1875. Lucy can be found in only one census record, and that being the 1880 census when she is only 5 years old. She is with her parents John and Lucy Spencer living in Thistle, Sanpete County, Utah. Also in the home is John’s “other” wife Jerusha (remember polygamy among the Mormons). Between the two women there are 11 children in the home ranging in age from 9 months to 17 years.

Lucy Ann Spencer Olsen – from the collection of Blaine Spencer

On October 30, 1895, at the age of 20 years, Lucy married Henry Peter Olsen in Mount Pleasant, Sanpete County, Utah. Henry, born 5 Feb 1876 in Sanpete County was the son of Danish and Swedish immigrants, James Peter Olsen and Margaret Christina Carolina Miller.  

Henry Peter Olsen - from the collection of Blaine Spencer

Lucy’s story is a tragic one. She gave birth to six children – three boys and three girls. None of her boys survived their infancy. The following children were born to Lucy and Henry: John Henry in 1896; Lucy Pearl Lena (1897-1990); James Edgar in 1900; Mary Alice (1902-1991); Annie Ethel (1905-1921); and George Elmer in 1908. The last boy, George Elmer was born 20 Aug 1908. His mother, Lucy Ann Spencer Olsen, at the age of 32, died five days later on 25 Aug 1908. Baby George died the next month on 13 Sept 1908.

Lucy’s husband, Henry Peter Olsen, eventually married again. On 16 Feb. 1910 he married Edna Shepherd. Edna was born 20 Sept 1889 in Lake Shore, Utah County, Utah, one of the daughters of Moses Andrew Shepherd and Rachael Ann Brady.

Edna Shepherd Olsen

Henry and Edna had five known children: Hannah Levender Olsen born 1910; Joseph Peter born 1912; Cleo born 1915; Rex T. born 1918; and Helen Esther born 1919. And again tragedy would strike this family. Barely three months after the birth of their last child, Helen Esther, Edna Shepherd Olsen died at the age of 30 on 22 Feb 1920.

Such heartache cannot be fathomed.

Henry Peter Olsen did remarry; however, I know nothing about his third wife other than her name: Eliza Jane Neilson. It is believed that this couple did not have children.

Henry died of heart trouble at the age of 67 on 5 April 1943. He is laid to rest in the Mount Pleasant City Cemetery with his first two wives, Lucy and Edna, and several of his children.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2011 in Spencer

 

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Lydia Alveretta Spencer

Lydia Alveretta Spencer was the fifth child born to John Henry Spencer and Lucy Lodica Elmer, and she was my great grand aunt.  Lydia was born in Payson, Utah on 21 May 1873.  Sometime around the time that Lydia turned four years old, the family relocated to Sanpete County, where she spent her childhood.  On 1 Jan 1899, at the age of 25, Lydia married John Wesley Tidwell. 

Lydia Alveretta Spencer Tidwell - from the collection of Blaine Spencer

 John Tidwell was born 22 January 1861 in Pleasant Grove, Utah County, Utah to William Nelson Tidwell and Mary Elizabeth Reynolds.  John had previously been married to Mary Rosetta Gardner, another of my great grand aunts from the Gardner family line, who died in 1892. 

John Wesley Tidwell - from the collection of Blaine Spencer

By the time the 1900 census had been enumerated, both of Lydia’s parents were dead.  She was with her husband in Sanpete County, and their first daughter Bertha had been born.  Her younger brother Elmer Bert Spencer is living with the family.  Lydia’s father’s “other” wife, Jerusia Spencer is living nearby with her minor children. 

 When we find Lydia and John in the 1910 census, we see that they have relocated their family to Marysville, Freemont County, Idaho.  Lydia tells the enumerator that she has given birth five times and that three of the children are living: 

1.   Bertha Tidwell (1900-1989 – married Howard Lawson White Craven);
2.   Teresa (1906 – ?);
3.   Lydia Lodica (1909-1998 – did not marry);
4.   Thomas Elmer Tidwell was born 1903 in Utah and died 1909 in Idaho; and
5.   Vera Tidwell was born 16 Jan 1908 in Idaho and died that same day; and

By 1920 the couple has added another daughter, Effie (1911 – ?). 

Lydia and John owned their own farm – and we can always find John Tidwell listed as “farmer” on the census records.   

By the time the 1930 census rolls around – John Tidwell continues to have a house full of women!  The family is still present in Marysville, Idaho.  Lydia is 56 years old; John is 69.  They state that they own their own home worth $500 – and that it is not a farm.  John lists his occupation as farm laborer.  Also in the home are Bertha, age 30 and Teresa, age 25 – both state they are married – but no husbands are with them in the census.  Younger daughters Lydia Lodica,, 20 and Effie, 18 are also in the home. 

John Wesley Tidwell died seven years later at the age of 76.  He is laid to rest in the Pineview Cemetery in Ashton, Freemont County, Idaho. 

Lydia Alveretta Spencer Tidwell lived another 25 years.  She died at the age of 89 on 18 Dec. 1962 in Ashton, Freemont County, Idaho.   She is also laid to rest in Pineview Cemetery.

Lydia Alveretta Spencer Tidwell - Pineview Cemetery

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Spencer

 

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George Francis Spencer

George Francis Spencer was my great-grandfather – and one of the 12 children of John Henry Spencer and Lucy Lodica Elmer – born in Payson, Utah County, Utah Territory on 30 Jun 1870.  George’s father was a member of the Mormon sect.  Imagine how puzzled I was when I first started studying the census records of that time period….more wives and children and confusion than I could count.  It finally dawned on me – my great great grandfather was a polygamist!  Accordingly, in the childhood census records of George Francis Spencer, he is always present with his mother and father AND John Spencer’s first wife  Jerusha Kibbe Brunson Elmer and her 14 children, George’s half siblings.  Whew….Now that we’ve got that sorted out…let’s continue ! 

George Francis Spencer from the collection of Blaine Spencer

Sometime around the time George turned 7 years old, his large family relocated to Thistle/Indianola, Sanpete County, Utah.  This is where he met and married my great-grandmother, Sarah Elsie Gardner.  The Mormon records indicate that they married 22 Oct 1987 – when Sarah was only 15 years old.  However, the 1910 census indicates that they had been married only 10 years – putting the marriage closer to 1900.  Sarah was the daughter of Henry Erastus Stanley Gardner and Mary Rosetta Patterson. 

Sarah Elsie Gardner from the collection of Blaine Spencer

 George and Sarah had five children: 

Earl Francis in 1903; married Margaret “Mollie” Mack; died in Utah County, Utah in 1964;

Mary Lodica “Aunt Marie” in 1905; married first James Patrick Hyland and second Paul Allias; died 1999 in Salt Lake City;

Ernest Richard in 1907; married Mary “Honey” and Cleotha Peterson; died 1960 in Utah County, Utah (my father named after him);

Elmer Bert in 1908; married Peggy Marie Barnett; died in Kerrville, Kerr County, Texas in 1999; and

Pearl Eva in 1914 (my grandmother); married Jose Celestino Montoya; lost her life in a car accident at the age of 34 in 1949. 

It appears that the marriage of George and Elsie might have been a rocky one – on again and off again.  In the 1910 census they are together – in 1920 George is alone with the four older children and is indexed as divorced – Elsie is in another county with youngest daughter Pearl Eva and is living with another man (Carl Persow) – later she leaves Pearl with her father and goes to California where she died young in 1925.  It is assumed that George and Sarah were together until at least 1914, when my grandmother, Pearl Eva Spencer was born.  It is not known if the couple actually divorced or only separated.  Her headstone carries the “Spencer” name – and she is listed as “wife” of George Spencer on his death certificate.  The family story states that George Francis Spencer was a sheep herder – and that Elsie wanted a better life than that could afford her.  The 1910 census states that he was a laborer doing “odd jobs”; the 1920 census that he was a laborer working for the “steam railroad”; and the 1930 that he was a laborer working on a farm.

It appears that George Francis Spencer spent the remainder of his years in Indianola.  In his old age, George Francis Spencer, was wheelchair bound.  His death certificate states that he was “an invalid for 27 years prior to his death.”  He lived in the home of one of his sons – probably Earl Francis Spencer – and he had rooms at the back of that house.  He died in the Utah County Infirmary at Provo, Utah at the age of 73 on 22 Apr 1944.  He had been a resident at the Infirmary for ten months prior to his death.  

George Francis Spencer is laid to rest in Payson City Cemetery in Payson, Utah County, Utah. 

George Francis Spencer - Payson City Cemetery

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2011 in Spencer

 

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