Friday, January 9, 2015

Len Spencer's odd connections

I'm sure that all of you will know who these two significant people are, in case you can't pull out the names at the moment, the top one is the United States' 20th president James A. Garfield, and the lower is the great nurse, and early suffragette Clara Barton. You may be wondering why I have these two prominent historical figures pictured here, and why that is, is because I will speak of the connections that the prominent Spencer family had to these two greats. 
Len Spencer came from the most interesting---and complicated background of all the earliest recording artists. It's a fact. He grew up in a family of intellect, earnestness, and very strong women. His mother was an early domineering woman who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, even if it meant being shunned by everyone in the city of Washington. And his aunts and uncles were young in the civil war era, also with women who became professors of law(can you believe that!).
Len's mother even addressed the republican national convention in June of 1871 with this statement:
 "the right to use the ballot inheres in the citizens of the United States."
She was referring to the fact that she had tried to send in her vote for the next election, and failed due to the law at the time, furious, she stated this, saying the truth, and that there was not a reason why women shouldn't be able to cast their votes. After she led this movement(which some 75 women were involved in) she became the operator of the red cross in the city of Washington from 1877 to 1882, thus, the strong connection to Clara Barton, which I'm sure Len met her when a teenager, and possibly some times after that. Len also named his youngest girl(born in 1902) after Clara Barton.

    Len's middle name is Garfield for a reason.

    When James Garfield was the governor of Ohio, he became well acquainted with the old Ohio family which was the Spencer's. And after Henry(Len's father) and Sara first child was born in 1867, Garfield was rumored to have become Len's godfather. So in this somewhat odd connection, Garfield must have held the baby Leonard and coddled him at some early point(CRAZY thought huh!).
Quite a while ago, I drew this picture to illustrate the idea on paper:

Len's uncles were all Civil war veterans who survived well into his rather short lifetime, so it must have been interesting for him when he was in his youth, because Len may have been somewhat "rebellious" teenager, if you ask me, as he went into a completely different field that not a single member of his family was in at the time of his upbringing, and even prior to his birth. I'm sure that his parents thought his unusual talent(for the family anyway...) was great, as they let him try his hand at performing and singing when he was young, and he must have found that idea much better than becoming a college principal, or a law professor(though, he DID have the mindset and looks for it...). 
Even if he did try that out as a student teacher in his late teen's and early twenties, he must have found that unenjoyable for him, even as he was a young married man at the time. I do think it's interesting that he became a student teacher at such a young age, then again, he must have been very bright as a child, as that seemed to have run in the family. Len must have been very complicated as a youth, as on one end you have his refined and intelligence, and on the other you have his rather sinful and somewhat rebellious means. He must have realized he was meant to be a progressive at a young age, and the inventive and curiosity hit him early when the phonograph came on the scene fully in 1886, he wanted to find a new thing to excel at(as I'm sure he got bored with certain things quickly when he was a younger man), and this "thing" was the Phonograph! Officially adding a venture that had never before seen in the Great Spencer clan! 

I hope you all enjoyed this great history!

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