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Biography of Arthur B. SPENCER


This biography was submitted by Valerie Crook, E-mail address: <[email protected]>

The submitter does not have a connection to the subject of this sketch.

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 303-304

ARTHUR B. SPENCER went into a coal mine at the age of fourteen. He had an ambition for something better than the routine of a miner's life, and in the intervals of his toil he studied the science and technic of the coal mining industry, testing each fresh instalment of theory in the practical environment of his work. For a number of years he has been one of the responsible executives of the coal business in West Virginia, and at present is superintendent of the Gage Coal & Coke Company at Junior, Barbour County.

Spencer is one of the older family names in the history of West Virginia. The family was first established in Monongalia County, where Arthur B. Spencer's grandfather, Caleb D. Spencer, was born. His grandfather moved to Newburg in the Scotch Hill locality about 1860, and was engaged in farming until the beginning of the Civil war, when he moved to Taylor County, to a new home nine
miles east of Grafton. He was one of the very successful men in that agricultural community. He was a Union soldier, was twice wounded in battle, and was rated as one of the expert rifle shots in his company. He had several furloughs, and it is believed that he furloughed at the end of his three years and veteranized for the duration of the war. He was a private soldier, and after the final surrender he returned to the farm and lived at his place near Thornton until 1900. Thereafter he lived a retired life in Kingwood, where he died in October, 1915, at the age of seventy-seven. Caleb D. Spencer was a republican, and believed in doing a citizen's duty without taking the honors of responsibilities of politics. He was the most consistent and active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church from boyhood. Caleb Dorsey Spencer, known among his friends as "Doe," married Jane Lewis, of Brandonville, Preston County, daughter of John Lewis. She was a woman of unusual ability and character. She was one of the first women to engage in school work at a time when school teachers were usually men. Her husband at the time of their marriage was unable to write his name, and she taught him writing so that he was able to correspond with her while he was in the army. She was an ideal companion for her husband in every other way, and was deeply concerned in the spiritual welfare of her children. This good woman died in 1900, at the age of sixty-seven. Her memory is particularly cherished by her grandson, Arthur Spencer, who lived with her several years and benefited from her instruction on literary subjects as well as morals.

The children of Caleb D. Spencer and wife were three in number: Thomas Bay; Christian Wilbur, who was killed at the explosion in the Newburg shaft in 1886; and John Lewis, general superintendent of the Twin City Traction lines at St. Paul, Minnesota.

Thomas Bay Spencer was born July 7, 1861, was educated in the common schools and entered the mining industry as a mule driver on Scotch Hill. He married while there, and a few years later went to Fayette County, Pennsylvania, where he followed coal mining three years, and on returning to his native state resumed mining in the Fairmont District. In 1892 he went to Glendale, Marshall County, for two years was fire boss of the Glendale shaft, and in 1894 returned to Fairmont and for two years was assistant foreman with the Newburg Oil, Coal and Coke Company. About that time he gave up mining to engage in farming on his father's old place in Taylor County. In 1897 he became a miner for the Davis Coal and Coke Company at West Virginia Junction, and in 1899 went to Preston County and was mine foreman of the Irona Coal Company, was made superintendent of that company in 1901, and later became general superintendent of the company's Irona and Atlantic Mines. This service he left in 1911, and for one year was at Masontown in the employ. of the Elkins Coal and Coke Company, and since then has been a resident of Wellsburg, where he is still at work in the service of the Eagle Glass and Manufacturing Company. Among other experiences he was for eighteen months in charge of the pay roll of the Gage Coal and Coke Company, of which his son is superintendent.

Thomas B. Spencer has been a republican worker in the various communities where he lived and was a member of the Preston County Committee at one time. He has proved himself a friend of education, and has tried to secure better advantages for his own children and children of the same age than he had himself when a boy. By correspondent courses he fitted himself for the duties of foreman and mine superintendent. He has long been an enthusiastic worker in Sunday school organizations, and has organized a number of Sunday schools. He is a past noble grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, past chancellor of the Knights of Pythias and a Master Mason.

In Preston County in December, 1882, Thomas B. Spencer married Isabel Henry, daughter of William and Helen (McFarland) Henry. Her father was a brother of Lawrence Henry, the pioneer coal operator of Preston County, operating the Newburg Oil, Coal and Coke Company. The Henry Brothers were natives of Scotland, and for many years lived around Scotch Hill, where they are still represented by their children. Isabel Henry was one of thirteen children, eleven of whom grew to mature years, and the other survivors are Mrs. Marion Ralston, Mrs. Agnes Swan, John F. Henry, Lawrence Henry, William Henry, Mrs. Mary A. Jennings and Frank Henry. Isabel Henry was born in December, 1861, and she is mother of the following children: Arthur B., subject of sketch; Christian Wilbur, of Junior; Helen M., wife of G. G. Garner, of Wellsburg; Jane Lewis, wife of Clarence Noah, of Wellsburg; and Jessie, wife of Campbell Hall, of Wellsburg.

Arthur Blaine Spencer made good use of his advantages in the public schools, though the greater part of his education has come since he left school and entered the practical business of life. In 1914 he received his diploma for completing the coal mining course in the International Correspondence School of Scranton, and he has taken several courses on mining engineering. When he went to work at the age of fourteen he was under his father, and his first important promotion came in 1906; when he was made foreman of the Irona Coal Company in Preston County. When his father was promoted to general superintendent the son succeeded him as mine superintendent there. He remained with that company from 1899 until 1907, when he left Irona and moved to Mount Clair, Harrison County, becoming fire boss for the Hutchinson Coal Company. A year later he was transferred to the Meadowbrook Mine of the same company as chief foreman, and after another year he returned to Masontown and was made superintendent of Mine No. 6 of the Elkins Coal and Coke Company. He was in that position eighteen months, and then became mine foreman for the Pittsvein Coal Company in Taylor County at Flemington. In November, 1915, Mr. Spencer came to Junior as superintendent for the Gage Coal and Coke Company, and since November, 1918, has been manager of the company's affairs in this locality.

Mr. Spencer has been under the sense of an obligation to do all he could to provide better educational facilities for the younger generation. He was instrumental in securing the public school for the Gage community where he lived for two years. Since coming to Junior he has built two homes in the little town, was elected a member of the Council in 1918, and in 1920 was elected mayor.

In polities he has been a republican since casting his first vote for William Howard Taft. Fraternally he is a member of both branches of the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, joined the Lodge of Masons at Bridgeport, took the Chapter degree at Philippi, the Scottish Rite Consistory work at Wheeling and is a member of Osiris Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Wheeling. He is a member of the United Brethren Church, is president of its Board of Trustees, and endeavors to carry a full share of the activities of church membership.

At Terra Alta, September 28, 1903, Mr. Spencer married Mary Belle Bowermaster. The minister performing the service was Rev. Mr. Jones. Mrs. Spencer was born at Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, in October, 1884, daughter of Even James and Hulda Adaline (Listen) Bowermaster. Her brothers and sisters are Marshall C.; Mrs. Cora Blanche Hawkins, who died at Kingwood; Ira Benjamin, of Kingwood; and John L., of Kingwood. Her father was a cabinet maker and carpenter in early life, later was in the undertaking and furniture business at Bruceton Mills, and about 1885 moved to Kingwood and was in the lumber business, later a hardware merchant, and subsequently developed a general mercantile enterprise there, with which he continued active until 1921, when he retired. He was one of the early members of the West Virginia Hardware Dealers Association. Even J. Bowermaster died March 2. 1922, and was buried on March 4th, his sixty-sixth birthday. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer became the parents of three children: Garold Ray, born November 7, 1904, and died December 7, 1904, Mildred Adeline and John Kenneth.

Some of Mr. Spencer's other activities in the Junior community should be noted. He was one of the promoters and first stockholders in the Merchants and Miners Bank of Junior, and has always felt a personal interest in its success. He organized and became the first president of the Mildred Coal Company, capitalized at $25,000.00, which developed and operated mines on the west side of the Tygart Valley River, near Junior. The Junior Concert Band was organized in March, 1921, and Mr. Spencer has regarded this as one of his hobbies and has been active in perfecting the organization of the body of musicians, which now has a membership of thirty, and is regarded as one of the best amateur bands in the state.


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