Biography of William Spencer
Erie County, PA Biographies

William Spencer, deceased, was for many years a dominant figure in connection with financial, business and civic affairs in Erie. He had the distinction of being president of the First National Bank from 1885 until his death in 1920, an office in which he succeeded his father, who was its first president. He was born in Erie on June 14, 1848, the son of Judah C. and Lavinia S. (Sanford) Spencer, both of whom were members of influential and honored pioneer families of Erie County.

Judah C. Spencer was born in Hadlyne, New London County, Conn., July 1, 1813, and was a son of William and Deborah (Selden) Spencer. He was reared in New England, where he continued to reside until 1829, when he came to Erie to attend the Erie Academy and to assume a clerical position in the land office conducted by his uncle, Judah Colt. As a resident of Erie Mr. Spencer took a loyal interest in all movements advanced for the upbuilding and civic prosperity of the city and he identified himself with many early industrial and commercial enterprises whose success was furthered by his wise counsel as well as by his capitalistic support. He was secretary and treasurer of the Erie & North East Railroad Company, until its consolidation with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad. In 1852 he engaged in the banking business in Erie as one of the two partners of Mr. Sanford & Company, bankers, and with this important line of enterprise he continued to be prominently identified during the remainder of his long and useful life. He was the founder of the First National Bank of Erie and became the first president of the institution, continuing in this office until his death in 1885.

In May, 1837, Judah C. Spencer was married to Miss Lavinia Stanley Sanford, a native of Erie, born Sept. 1, 1817. She died Sept. 29, 1886. They were the parents of the following children: William, the subject of this sketch; who was the youngest; Lavinia Deborah, the widow of Rt. Rev. J. F. Spaulding, Episcopal Bishop of Colorado, and she resides at Denver, Colo.; Miss Frances Laura, deceased; and Catherine, who died in 1897, was the wife of Rev. Robert S. Van Cleve, a clergyman of the Presbyterian Church and a resident of Erie.

William Spencer was reared in Erie and after completing a course at Erie Academy he was prepared for college at Princeton, N. J., and was graduated from Princeton University in 1870. After an extended European trip Mr. Spencer assumed a clerical position in the First National Bank of Erie. He was an executive officer of the institution for a number of years prior to the death of his honored father, whom he succeeded in the presidency. The First National Bank was organized in 1863 and until Mr. Spencer's death it had but two presidents, father and son. Mr. Spencer died Feb. 18, 1920.

On Jan. 22, 1880, Mr. Spencer was married at Philadelphia to Miss Mary Richards DuPuy, a native of Chicago, and a daughter of Charles Merideth and Ellen Maria (Reynolds) DuPuy, natives of Pennsylvania. Mr. DuPuy was born in 1823 and died in 1898. His wife was born in 1833 and died in 1898. To Mr. and Mrs. William Spencer were born six children, as follows: Mrs. Maud Corbett, lives at Steyning, England; Judah Colt Spencer, lives at Erie; Mrs. Eleanor Lavinia Beatty, lives at Hamburg, N. Y.; William Marvin, lives at Erie; Herbert Reynolds, lives at Erie; and Charles DuPuy, born in 1886, died in 1918.

In politics Mr. Spencer was identified with the Republican party. He was a member of the Park Presbyterian Church and served as an elder for many years.

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania
By: John Elmer Reed
Historical Publishing Company

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