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Notes on James Spence


From "History of Fayette County, Iowa" (1910)

JAMES SPENCE

          The gentleman of whom the biographer writes in this connection is American by adoption, being a native of county Down, Ireland where he first saw the light of day on November 5. 1862. His parents, John and Mary C. (Stephenson) Spence, were also born in that country, as were their ancestors for many generations, both branches of the family being well known throughout their native county and highly esteemed for sterling qualities of manhood and womanhood. John and Mary Spence had seven children, whose names are as follows: Eliza, Bell, Jane, James, Anna Maggie and Mary, the subject being the on1y one to come to the United States.
          James Spence enjoyed the advantages of a common school education and spent his early life at the place of his birth. He remained at the parental home until twenty-five years of age, but in the meantime, April 9, 1881, was united in marriage with Ruth Marshall, daughter of William and Ruth (Shephard) Marshall, an estimable and intelligent young lady who has co-operated with him in his labors and sympathized in all of his aspirations, from that time to the present. Satisfied that America abounded in better opportunities and advantages for a young man than his own country, Mr. Spence, in 1884, bid farewell to the house of his childhood and youth and, turning his back on the beautiful and romantic Emerald Isle, set sail on September 25th of that year and in due time arrived at his destination in the New World. Making his way west, he located at Oelwein, Iowa where during the two years ensuing he worked for a Mr. Harrison. Later he was employed for a similar period at farm labor in Jefferson township, at the expiration of which time he rented the John Irvin place and continued to cultivate the same until 1904, when he purchased the farm where he now lives, consisting of one hundred and twenty acres of fine land in one of the most productive agricultural districts of the county.
          Since moving to this place Mr. Spence has made a number of improvements and added much to its appearance and value. He is an industrious man, a careful, methodical worker and by judicious management has placed his family in comfortable circumstances and earned for himself an honorable reputation as an enterprising tiller of the soil and praiseworthy citizen. Like the majority of his neighbors, he devotes his attention to general agriculture and stock-raising, in addition to which he also conducts a dairy, which has proven quite profitable. In his political affiliation he is a Republican and as such works for the interest of his party, keeping well informed on the questions and issues before the people and fully abreast of the times concerning matters of general import.
          Mr. Spence possesses sound intelligence and, although a hard worker, finds time for the improvement of his mind and is one of the best posted men in the community, being a reader, a thinker, a close observer and widely informed on many subjects. He is held in high esteem by those with whom he mingles and wherever known his sterling qualities of head and heart, together with his desire to treat everybody fairly and honorably, have won for him many warm personal friends. In his religious faith he subscribes to the Presbyterian creed and, with his wife, holds membership with the church at Oelwein, both being interested in all lines of good work under the auspices of the society and ready at all times to lend their assistance and influence to further any laudable enterprise for the moral improvement of the community, They are the parents of four children, viz: Minnie, wife of Ray Sackville, of Jefferson township; William Henry, who married Eva Irvin and lives in Oran township; Anna E. and Thomas Ray, both of whom are members of the home circle.
          Although of foreign birth and retaining fond recollections of the beautiful and romantic isle where he spent his childhood and youth, Mr. Spence is a loyal American citizen, has great respect for the free institutions of his adopted country and profound admiration for the flag under which he lives.
          James Marshall, a brother of Mrs. Spence came to the United States a number of years ago and is now a resident of Denver, Colorado. He is a brick mason and has done much at his trade in the above city and elsewhere.


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