Biography of Francis M. Spencer
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Francis M. Spencer. During more than a quarter century’s identification with the building and contracting business in Kansas, with headquarters at Topeka, Mr. Spencer has established a reputation for responsible financial management and systematic and accurate execution of every contract which he undertakes, even down to the last detail.
Few men in the business in the entire state can exhibit a finer record in buildings actually completed and now conspicuous in various cities as Mr. Spencer. While a complete list would be impossible, the more notable of his contracts are the following: Topeka Manual Training School, the Capper Building, the New England Building, the Young Men’s Christian Association Building, the Washburn College Observatory, the Washburn College Gymnasium, all of Topeka; the Santa Fe Railway Hospital at Mulvane, Kansas; the State Normal School Building at Emporia; the Central Park, Washington and Van Buren schools in Topeka; the Santa Fe Railway Motive Power Office Building at Topeka; St. Francis Hospital in Topeka, and has recently completed Ursuline Academy at Paola, Kansas, and the Kansas Masonic Grand Lodge Building of Topeka. His firm, F. M. Spencer & Son, contractors, is now engaged in erecting a Santa Fe depot and office building at Marceline, Missouri, and a union depot at Salina, Kansas.
Francis M. Spencer was born near Wilmington in Clinton County, Ohio, May 11, 1856, a son of John F. and Sarah (Shield) Spencer. His father was born in Clinton County, Ohio, April 14, 1828, was a farmer and moved to Kansas in 1873. In 1895 he retired from active work as a farmer, and his death occurred in Topeka, December 11, 1915. He was a republican, he and his wife were Methodists, and on December 4, 1863, he was initiated in Lodge No. 312, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Harveysburg, Ohio, and took his third degree there February 27, 1864. He was a loyal member of the order for more than half a century. His wife was born in Ohio February 19, 1823, and died in Kansas in 1893. Both belonged to pioneer Ohio families.
Reared on an Ohio farm until he was seventeen years of age Francis M. Spencer had a district school education, and when quite young began his apprenticeship at the carpenter’s trade, which he mastered thoroughly. His home has been at Topeka since March 16, 1883. He worked at his trade as a journeyman until 1888, and then engaged in the business of building contractor, with what conspicuous success has already been shown. For a number of years his offices were at 627 Kansas Avenue, but for the past six years have been at 215 Mulvane Building. Mr. Spencer also owns some land in Texas and other western states, and his long business career has brought him a thoroughly deserved prosperity.
He is a member of the Co-operative Club in Topeka, and is a prominent Mason. His affiliations are with Orient Lodge No. 51, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Topeka; Topeka Chapter No. 5 Royal Arch Masons; Topeka Commandery No. 5 Knights Templar; Topeka Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite; and Abdallah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth. For thirty-five years he has been identified with Odd Fellowship, and is a member of Lodge No. 40 at Topeka. He is a republican, and a member of the Central Congregational Church, in which his wife is a very active worker, having for many years taught a class of the Sunday school. She is a graduate of the Bible school under Mrs. Doctor Memminger.
For the past eighteen years Mr. Spencer and family have resided in their handsome home at 1352 Garfield Avenue. January 18, 1883, at Urbana, Ohio, he married Catherine M. Miller, who was born at Urbana, a daughter of Cornelius and Myra (Cunningham) Miller. Her father was a native of Maryland and her mother of Ohio. Mrs. Spencer is a member of the Federation of Women’s Clubs in Kansas. They are the parents of three children. Nora A. is the widow of H. L. Adams, who was an auditor for the Santa Fe Railway Company and died at Topeka in 1910. Earl M. was born in Topeka and is associated with his father in the firm of F. M. Spencer & Sons. George, born at Topeka, is also an employe of this firm. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer’s only grandchild is Margaret Spencer Adams, who was born October 19, 1907.