HON. H. H. SPENCER, farmer, P. O. Mound City, Burkville Precinct. In the annals sometimes of a county the important event in that history is the coming of a certain individual, because in that one life is more of importance to the growth, development and reputation of his adopted county than perhaps all the other men in it. The man of strong character, original mind, and great enterprise, and who can conceive and execute great designs in the development of the industries and the advancement of the entire community in which he lives, is a person of inestimable worth. He is one of the promoters of civilization — an architect who forms and creates the arts and sciences among the people, which advances man and surrounds him with the joys and comforts of civilized life. Among the rush of people to a new country such men are always the rare and few. But when an individual does come it never should be forgotten that his history is the true history of his county and people. To build up the arts and sciences, trade manufactures, agriculture and general industries among the people; to point the way to great commercial and manufacturing enterprises, and thereby cause school houses, churches, factories, farms, villages and towns to spring into existence, bringing with them the culture, comforts and splendid advantages of a ripened civilization, is to achieve victories surpassing those of war and empire, and whose cheering and benign influences endure and bless the people long after their originator has "joined the silent multitude" and is peacefully sleeping where "the dead and beautiful rest." Thus the world has the benefits of great individual worth, and the examples of lives whose good effects endure forever. It is our highest duty and privilege to cherish and perpetuate the good name and great life work of these true and peaceful benefactors of mankind, for the study and contemplation of the youths of the coming generations. The story of such lives — their humble beginnings slow toiling up the steep of life, and the blessings their enterprise and energy scattered along the pathway, and the final crown of success, will prove the most valuable lessons, and the most useful monitors that we can transmit to our children. And of all the people who have spent the active part of their lives here, we know of none whose history tells a better moral than of Hon. H. H. Spencer, whose name heads this sketch. He was born at Whitney Point, Broome Co., N. Y., on the 17th of November, 1832. He is the son of Jason G. Spencer, born about 1801, in New York, a mechanic by occupation, who is yet living. His father was Nehemiah Spencer, a native of New Hampshire, and of English descent. The mother of our subject was Polly Ticknor, a native of New York, where she died. She was the mother of eight children — Elias, Nehemiah, Angeline, Ruth A., Henry H. the subject of this sketch, Sarah, Laura (deceased), and Mary. Our subject spent his early life at home, assisting to till the soil of his father's farm, and receiving such an education as the common schools of his native county afforded. At fifteen years of age, he left his home and embarked on life’s rugged pathway as a hired hand in a mill at Olean, on the Allegheny River, where he remained till the summer of 1852, when he came West and located at Bloomington, Ill., and there worked in a saw mill. In 1855, he came to Ullin, Pulaski Co., Ill., where he worked in a mill until the spring of 1856, when he bought an interest in a saw mill at Ullin, which he removed after one year to a place three miles east of Villa Ridge, and operated the same until the spring of 1861, when he sold his interest, and built him a large and commodious residence on his farm, where he now resides. In 1862, he again embarked in the saw mill business, building a mill two miles northeast of Pulaski, on the Cache River, which he conducted successfully until 1872, when he sold it. Since then his time has been chiefly occupied in looking after his real estate interests. When he came to this county he had $20, but although poor in purse, he was rich in perseverance and experience, and possessed a strong will and great energy. He has now practically retired from active life, engaged in superintending his farms. He has over 2,000 acres of land in this county, the fruit of a successful business career. The people have shown the confidence put in him by electing him to different offices. In 1875, he was elected Sheriff of Pulaski County, and served two years. In the fall of 1878, he was elected Representative of the Fifty-first Senatorial District of Illinois, serving two years. He also filled many of the minor offices, too numerous to mention. In politics, Mr. Spencer has been identified with the Republican party, and his was one of the seven votes cast for Fremont in this county in the year 1856. Of late his sympathies are with the Free Trade movement. Mr. Spencer was joined in matrimony September 12, 1855, in Bloomington, Ill., to Miss Eleanor T. Gould, a native of Dexter, Me., born October 15, 1833. She is the mother of the following children — Frank, born June 19, 1856, he married Miss Abbie Ent, who has borne him one child — Frank; Edgar, born August 26, 1858; Ella, born September 19, 1860, the wife of John W. Titus, they have one child — Henry Titus; Flora, born April 8, 1862; Zena, born November 2, 1864; Louisa H., born March 20, 1869. Mrs. Eleanor T. Spencer died May 29, 1878.
Extracted 02 Nov 2014 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V - Biographical Sketches, pages 336-337.