The Spencer family                              


pencers have lived in this country since the Great Migration in the 1630s. One branch settled in East Haddam, Conn., during the 17th century and it was their descendant James Spencer who moved from there to Columbia County, N.Y. in another great migration of people out of New England moving west after the Revolution.

Unfortunately there's no room to tell much here about this first generation; except James and his wife Anna were the parents of 12 children, several of whom had a great deal of influence over the history of Penn Yan. James died in 1805 at the age of 70, and Anna in 1806, aged 64.

  • David Spencer, the eldest, never came to this region.
  • Truman Spencer was a soldier of the Revolution at the age of 17; he married Lois Patteson and in 1788, when he was 24 years old and she only 19, they set out for the Genesee Country. They came, like a number of settlers, up from the south along Sullivan's trail, only the third family to settle in the town of Benton.
  • James Spencer Jr. married Lizzie Philips and died without issue in 1801. He was the first supervisor of the town of Jerusalem, in 1797; the town then included all of present Milo, Benton, Torrey and Jerusalem.
  • Elijah Spencer arrived with his parents and the rest of his brothers and sisters in 1791, when he was 15. He married in 1808 to Sarah Beaumont and lived the rest of his life on their farm in Benton. He was town supervisor a number of terms between 1810 and 1818. In the latter year he was chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors; a year later he represented the county in the Assembly in Albany, and went to Congress in 1821. His district was the entire state west of Seneca Lake with the exception of Steuben County. He died in 1852, age 76; his wife in 1856 at the age of 70.
  • Martin Spencer married Sybil Richmond in Columbia County, having come with his parents, stayed a few years and then gone back east to live.
  • Abner married Hannah Macomber and moved early away from Benton.
  • Simeon Spencer married Martha, daughter of Elijah Townsend, and lived on the farm with his father. He died within a few months after his marriage and left a posthumous daughter.
  • Justus P. Spencer was born in 1774, and married Ruth Pritchard at the age of 23. She was a member of the Universal Friends, and aged 36 at their marriage. She bore two daughters, and taught in the old schoolhouse in Penn Yan for many years. She died in 1816. Her husband remarried, to the widow Betsy Crawford and they moved to Michigan, where he died in 1850, age 74.
  • Rhoda Spencer married Roswell Woodworth and lived in Columbia County.
  • Anna Spencer married Nathaniel Frisbie and lived in Benton. Their children all went to Michigan.
  • Angelina died unmarried in 1801.
  • Lovina married Luman Phelps. They have their own separate page.


The Spencers were associated with:


  341 Main Street
 337 Main Street
  332 Main Street