John W. Spencer

JOHN W. SPENCER, a well known citizen of Columbus, and an extensive coal operator in Cherokee County, has been identified with this section of country since 1869. He was born in 1840 in Washington County, Illinois, where his parents died.

Mr.Spencer is not the only member of his family to come to Kansas, a sister also finding a home here, and two brothers, C. A. and D. A., now being residents of Wichita.

The subject of this sketch was reared on his father's farm in Washington County, and first attended the local schools and later, Lebanon College, and the institution at Marshall, Illinois, again returning to Lebanon. While at this college, in December, 1863, he enlisted in the Union Army and served about 18 months, or until the close of the war, as a member of Company D, 13th Reg., Illinois Vol. Cav., his field activity being in Arkansas. Good fortune followed him, and he returned to Illinois without serious injury, at the close of his service. His location in Cherokee County was something in the nature of an accident, as he came here first only as a visitor to see his sister. He liked the country, saw what possibilities the fertile soil and rolling prairie offered to the farmer and stock-raiser, and decided to make a permanent home here. He located two miles north of Hallowell, taking up a claim and buying others, until he soon owned 1,000 acres in claims. This was all originally Indian land, held by the railroad companies.

Mr. Spencer developed 480 acres of this land and operated it extensively in farming and stock-raising for about 20 years. He sold it about four years ago to W. J. Moore, since which time he has given his attention exclusively to the coal business. He operates as the Columbus Coal Company, incorporated in 1881, which owns two of the mines in the Cherokee district, while he is privately interested in two additional mines. He has actively promoted three coal companies. Mr. Spencer has, at various times, owned lead and zinc interests, and is at present interested in silver and lead mines in Colorado.

In December, 1869, Mr. Spencer was married to Ambrosia E. Favor, who was born in McHenry County, Illinois, and came to Kansas in 1868. Her brother, P. M. Favor, who died some years ago, was then a merchant at Sherman City, and later, in partnership with Mr. Spencer, conducted a hardware store at Columbus. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer have two children,—Charles F. and Lyda Ambrosia. The former was born in December, 1872, in Cherokee County; he was reared at Columbus, attended the city schools, and then became clerk for the Columbus Coal Company, of which he is now superintendent. He is a very reliable young man, and formerly took charge, for a year, of the Fidelity Coal Company, at Fidelity. He then returned to take charge of the new shaft of the Columbus Coal Company. He married Clara Hughes, and they have two sons,—Harold Hughes and Kenneth Aldridge. Lyda Ambrosia Spencer was born July 8, 1884; she graduated from the Cherokee County High School in the spring of 1903, and is now attending the State University at Lawrence, Kansas.

Mrs. Spencer was born in McHenry County, Illinois, in 1841, and is a daughter of Jonathan and Mary M. (Pingry) Favor, who removed in 1854 to Vernon County, Wisconsin. Mrs. Spencer is a thoroughly educated lady, and prior to her marriage taught 23 terms of school in Wisconsin, two terms in Iowa, and one in Kansas. She was one of a family of five sons and six daughters.

In political views, Mr. Spencer is a Republican and Prohibitionist, and has served on the School Board and in the City Council. Mr. Spencer and his wife and family belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church. They have many pleasant social connections in Columbus, and are considered representatives of the best educated and most refined element of the city.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Lacey Garvin, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 11-21-96.


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Tom & Carolyn Ward
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