Thursday, December 11, 2014

#52Ancestors (49) Brick Wall Alert! Asa Spencer of Vermont

Asa SPENCER is a the father of Wright SPENCER of my last post. He is also my most distant SPENCER to date, and by definition, my brick wall.

He's probably more of a brick wall that I created, due to lack of time, travel budget, and familiarity with possible New England records in which to search.

The basics:

  • born about 1783 in Rhode Island
  • married Sarah CALKINS about 1807 in Vermont
  • died 4 Mar 1859 in New York

Once I located his son Wright and analyzed the families and records regarding the Town of Sheldon and Varysburg, Wyoming, New York, I found Asa SPENCER - pretty much in the graveyard. He is buried with his wife Sarah CALKINS in Varysburg Cemetery:

He died in 1859. On the 1850 census he was listed as being born in Rhode Island. His children were pretty consistent in naming Rhode Island as their father's birthplace on later censuses, but sometimes they said Vermont. Still a good clue!

Asa appeared on the 1830 and 1840 censuses in Town of Sheldon. Tracing him backwards and knowing that my ancestor Wright was born in Shaftsbury, Bennington, Vermont, I found Asa there in 1810 and 1820.

After that, it gets foggy. Asa and Sarah's first known child was born in 1808. So their marriage was likely around 1805-1807. And Sarah's family came from up the road in Arlington, Bennington, Vermont. There are several SPENCER's in both Arlington and Shaftsbury, but from my (mostly) online wandering, I cannot locate an appropriate family.

In 1800, Asa would have only been about 17 or 18, not married and very unlikely a head of household.

Some of the other resources I have checked are Arnold's Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 and writing to the Bennington Museum. Nuttin'.

I do have this though:

I can console myself knowing what my ancestor born in 1783 looks like even if I don't know his family!

Any ideas on searching in 1800ish Vermont? Or migration patterns from Rhode Island to Vermont? Or are you my SPENCER cousin? Let me know!

© 2014 Sally Knudsen


  1. Have you checked the US Census mortality Schedules?

  2. Sally,
    This gives me more info than Twitter allows. I'll keep poking around.


  3. Sally,
    I found this today.


    Rhode Island Genealogical Register Vol 20 1996
    Nellie M.C. Beaman, Editor
    Published by The Rhode Island Families Association in 1999.
    (AFGS Ref 063)

    "They Left Rhode Island" Part 60
    Persons born in Rhode Island listed in the 1850 U.S. Census of Town of Sheldon, Wyoming County, New York.
    By Dorothy Chapman Saunders, Ph. D.

    Page 163
    215/215 Spencer, Waltesman H. 68 M No Occ Given en/w Charles B. Dunbar 42 M Peddler NY.

    Page 164
    251/251 Spencer, Asa 69 M [children NY & VT]

  4. Sally,

    I found your site today while investigating the possibility of my family connection to Asa Spencer and Sarah Calkins.

    My mother's maiden name is Spencer. She and all our Spencer generations through Lucius Spencer lived in Genesee Co NY since at least 1830 when Lucius is seen first (recently married) in 1830 Census. We've been at a "brick wall" since I began research in 1992.
    Recently I discovered Asa Spencer who lived in Sheldon Wyoming Co (originally Genesee Co) NY. Since this family was so close to Batavia I did more checking.
    1820 Census cites an extra (older) son of Asa about the correct age. Of course by 1830 Lucius was married living in Batavia.
    My sister and I are planning to go to Wyoming County to check on legal documents to see if we can uncover a connection. We live in Broome Co NY, so it's an easy task as soon as weather allows.
    We do know that one son of Lucius went to MI for a few years. When his first wife passed, he returned to Genesee Co where he remarried and lived the rest of his life.

    If you would like to contact me: