The Family of James Spencer
and Harriet Sitton


This page updated August 9, 2008.

James Spencer was the son of Wiley and Nancy Spencer. My best interpretation of census records (see family page for Wiley and Nancy for more information) leads me to believe that James was probably born in Edgefield District, South Carolina around 1823 and was his parents' only son to survive childhood.

Census records from 1830 and 1840 in Edgefield, South Carolina suggest that James was living at home with his parents at census time. Family tradition tells the story that James's extended Spencer family left Edgefield, South Carolina around 1832 and migrated to Alabama and Mississippi. James' parents stayed in Edgefield at least through 1840 and appear to have left a few years later for Alabama. I have begun to believe that James, several of his sisters and their families, and their mother Nancy (don't know about father Wiley) probably settled in the area of Pickens County, Alabama between 1845-1846.

According to census and pension application records, James married Harriet Sitton. Harriet was born in 1825 to John Sitton of Pendleton, South Carolina. It appears that James and Harriet married around 1849 because the 1850 census shows a son aged 1 in their household. This son's birthplace was listed as Tennessee. I don't know how to explain that.

In April 1849 and again in June 1849, James' grandfather Shepherd Spencer gave James a gift deed for a couple of negro slaves. These deeds were given in Pickens County, Alabama in April and June 1849 respectfully, and they were both received in Winston County, Mississippi on December 24, 1849. I have inferred from this that James and his family moved from Alabama in the summer or fall of 1849, arriving in Winston County by December of that year.

James, Harriet, and their 1-year-old son Shepherd are listed on the 1850 census of Winston County, Mississippi, just two houses down from James' sister Nancy Ann Terry. The 1853 state census of Winston County, Mississippi lists a J.H. Spencer as head of household containing 4 males and 1 female. If we assume that the female was Harriet and that two of the males would have likely been James and son Shepherd from the 1850 census, then there remains two other unnamed males. The 1860 census of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi lists a son John W. who was born in 1852 in Mississippi. This son would account for one of the two remaining males on the 1853 census, but I don't have any other information as to the identity of the fourth male. The 1860 Oktibbeha census also shows a daughter Susan who was born in 1855 in Mississippi. So it seems that James and Harriet Spencer had either three or four children: Shepherd, John W., Susan, and perhaps another son whose name is not known.

In 1853, James was listed on the state census of Winston County, Mississippi as J.H. Spencer. Also in 1853, he was listed as a debtor to the estate of Samuel P. Metts, also of Winston County, Mississippi. These are the last public records that mention James as being alive. I owe my thanks to fellow Whitten/Spencer researcher and descendant Janice Hunsaker, who uncovered some records that indicate that James died around 1856.** Janice found a roll of microfilm in the LDS Family History Catalog that contained guardianship records for James Wiley (also called John W.) and Susan, the minor heirs of James Spencer, deceased. These records were dated as early as October 1856 and span through 1860. The record from Octobter 1856 specified that Shackelford W. Cordin and Hariet O. Cordin were appointed guardian of "John W. Spencer and Susan P. Spencer minor heirs of James H. Spencer deceased under the age of fourteen years". Records from 1859 and 1860 showed that the Cordins (also spelled Cardine in other records) had trouble maintaining their security bond, and as a result, guardianship was transferred to W.F. Yeager by February 1860. John and Susan are listed on the 1860 Oktibbeha County, Mississippi census in the household of S.W. and Harriete Cardine. A few pages later, William F. Yeager is listed with his family, and a note at the bottom of the census page states, "W.F. Yeager, Guardian for minor heirs of James Spencer, decd". The 1860 census is the last record I have found for the Cordins (Cardines) or for the children John and Susan Spencer.

** UPDATE 8/08! Thanks to Cardin researcher Glenda Etress Blackerby, I learned that Harriet O. Cardin applied for a widow's pension based on Shackleford W. Cardin's service in the Mexica War. A full transcription of the information in her pension application file is available by visiting my page "The Widow's Pension Application for Harriet O. Spencer Cardin". It was from her widow's pension applicaton that I learned a lot of information about Harriet plus the date of James' death. James died on Christmas Day 1853.


James H. Spencer
Born: 1823 in South Carolina, probably Edgefield District
Married: About 1849, possibly in Alabama
Died: December 25, 1853 in probably Oktibbeha County or Winston County, Mississippi
Buried: Unknown
Father: Wiley G. Spencer
Mother: Nancy (maiden name unknown)

Harriet O. Sitton
Born: May 25, 1825 in probably Pendleton, South Carolina
Died: Aug 18, 1896 in probably Oktibbeha, Lowndes, or Noxubee County, Mississippi
Buried: Unknown
Father: John Sitton
Mother: Unknown

  1. Shepherd Spencer
    Born: 1849 in Unknown. Census records say Tennessee, but I believe Alabama would be more logical.
    Married: Unknown but probably not
    Died: After 1850 and perhaps between 1853-1860.
    Buried: Unknown

    I believe this child was one of the four males listed in the household on the 1853 state census of Winston County, Mississippi. But his absence from the 1860 census of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi leads me to believe that he may have died as a child.

  2. John W. Spencer
    Born: 1852 in Mississippi
    Married: Unknown
    Died: After 1860 in Unknown
    Buried: Unknown

  3. Susan Spencer
    Born: Probably 1854, likely between July - September, in Mississippi
    Married: Unknown
    Died: After 1860 in Unknown
    Buried: Unknown

    According to the 1860 census, Susan was 5 years old when the census was taken in July. If James died in late December 1853 as Harriet said on her pension application, then my theory is that Harriet may have been pregnant with Susan at the time of James' death. If that were true, Susan would have been born in 1854. Since she was still 5 in July of 1860, I have estimated her month of birth to be between July 1854 and September 1854 (if she were conceived in December 1853).

Note about Harriet and Shackleford W. Cardin:
After James' death in 1853, Harriet remarried to Shackleford Cardin in Starkville, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi on May 29, 1856. According to the 1860 Oktibbeha census, Shackleford and Harriet had two children:

  1. Mary Cardin -- born 1857 in Mississippi
  2. David Cardin -- born December 1859 in Mississippi
Shackleford died during the Civil War in Richmond, Virginia on July 29, 1862 and was buried there in Hollywood Cemetery. Harriet did not remarry and was living in Crawfordville, Mississippi in Lowndes County (on the border of Noxubee County) at the time of her application in 1888. She died on August 18, 1896.


1830 Edgefield District, South Carolina Census, page 146:
Willey Spencer:

Census Data Calculated Birth Range Probable Family Member
1 male age under 5 (born 1826-1830) James (ca 1823)
1 male age 30-40 (born 1790-1800) Wiley (ca 1794)
1 female age under 5 (born 1826-1830) Hannah? (1828)
2 females age 5-10 (born 1820-1825) Mary (1819) and Caroline (1820)
1 female age 30-40 (born 1790-1800) Nancy (ca 1790)
1 female age 60-70 (born 1760-1770) Nancy's mother?
No slaves, total of 7 in household. If Lucinda were born in 1810, why is she not listed in the household?

1840 Edgefield District, South Carolina Census, page 99A:
Wylie Spencer:

Census Data Calculated Birth Range Probable Family Member
1 male age under 5 (born 1835-1840) Unknown child
1 male age 10-15 (born 1825-1830) Son from 1830 census, James (ca 1823)
1 male age 40-50 (born 1790-1800) Wiley (ca 1794)
1 female age 5-10 (born 1830-1835) Nancy Ann (1830)
2 females age 10-15 (born 1825-1830) Caroline (1820) and Hannah (1828)
1 female age 30-40 (born 1800-1810) Lucinda (1810)
1 female age 40-50 (born 1790-1800) Nancy (ca 1790)
4 Slaves: 3 males age under 10; 1 female age 10-24
Total of 11 in household [MKJ note: should be 12]; 2 employed in agriculture, 1 in manufacturing/trade.

1850 Winston County, Mississippi Census: Microfilm 432 Roll 382

Page Dwelling/Family      Family Listing
329B 195/197 Spencer, James H. -- age 27 (1823), male, mechanic, born S.C.
Spencer, Harriet -- age 17 (1833), female, born Miss.
Spencer, Shepherd -- age 1 (1849), male, born Tenn.
     Note: James and Nancy Terry were living in Dwelling/Family 193/195.

1853 Mississippi State Census, Index by R.V. Jackson:
Spencer, J.H. -- Winston -- page 20

1853 Winston County, Mississippi State Census:
J.H. Spencer -- 4 males, 1 female

1860 Oktibbeha County, Mississippi Census: Starkville Post Office, July 1860

Page Dwelling/Family      Family Listing
30 208/184 Cardine, S.W. -- age 28 (1832), born AL, house carpenter
Cardine, Harriete -- age 26 (1834), born SC
Cardine, Mary -- age 3 (1857), born MS
Cardine, David -- age 8/12 (Dec. 1859), born MS
Spencer, John -- age 8 (1852), born MS, attended school within the year
Spencer, Susan -- age 5 (1855), born MS
(Note: James Spencer died in 1853. His widow Harriet remarried to Shackleford W. Cardin in 1856.)
35 263/228 Yeager, William F. -- age 46 (1814), born KY, coach maker, real estate value = 3000, personal estate value = 4500
Yeager, Martha -- age 37 (1823), born SC
Children James, Sarah, John, Ella, Dona
(Note at bottom of census page: W.F. Yeager, Guardian for minor heirs of James Spencer, decd.)

Land and Property Deeds in Winston County, Mississippi

Winston County, Mississippi Probate Records 1851-1853

Land and Property Deeds in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi

Guardianship Records of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi

Source: The data below was shared with me by Janice Hunsaker. She transcribed the information from a difficult-to-read microfilm that she found at one of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Family History Centers. I do not know the number of the film. What is interesting is that the Oktibbeha County courthouse burned June 18, 1880. Almost all of the Chancery and Circuit Court records were lost except for the land deeds. Since probate and guardianship records are often kept in the Chancery Clerk office, I am curious how the LDS folks got access to the original records to film them. I would certainly like to view those films for myself!

Correspondence from Janice Hunsaker on May 3, 2000:
[begin quote]
The film showed up today and I looked at it. It's a hard reader. I transcribed the first and the last. And I will work on the others. In the one I read before, it states that the boy's name is James, but every one of these [films] call the boy John W. There are some words that I just couldn't make out what they were. He really starts with "matters" and Heirs is spelled "heers".

It seems they had trouble with their security bonds. On page 367, it mentions a former bond executed by C.I. Sullivan & John M. James and released. On page 382, they have a new bond with I.A. Elliott and H.I. Pearson as security in lieu of one with Wm M. Mathews & O.S.H. Daniel, and they are to be released. On page 459, I.A. Elliott asked to be released from bond. The bond is then taken to be W.G. Bullington and Allen Estes.
[end quote]



| The Widow's Pension Application for Harriet O. Spencer Cardin |
| Parents and Siblings of James Spencer | Main Whitten Page |

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