Orson Spencer

Photo added by Leena Rogers

Orson Spencer

West Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 15 Oct 1855 (aged 53)
Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Memorial ID 21075999 · View Source
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ORSON SPENCER 1802 - 1855

Orson Spencer (March 14, 1802 - October 15, 1855) was born in West Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. He was the son of Daniel and Chloe Wilson Spencer.

As a boy Orson Spencer suffered from delicate health but was fortunately endowed with a brilliant mind. Realizing Orson's potential as a scholar, his older brother, Daniel, financed his advanced education. At the age of fifteen Orson entered Lenox Academy near his home. In 1819 he entered Union College at Schenectady, New York.

Spencer excelled as a scholar, and graduated with honors and an A.B. degree from Union College in 1824. He then attended the Theological College at Hamilton, New York, where in 1829 he was valedictorian of his graduating class.

Orson Spencer chose a career as minister in the Baptist church. In 1830 he married Catherine Cannon Curtis and they became the parents of eight children.

Children: Catharine Read Spencer, Ellen Curtis Spencer, Aurelia Read Spencer, Catherine Curtis Spencer, Howard Orson Spencer, George Boardman Spencer, Lucy Curtis Spencer, Chloe Spencer

From 1829 to 1841 Spencer served as pastor of the Third Baptist Church in Saybrook (Deep River), Connecticut, the Second Baptist Church in Danbury, Connecticut, and the Baptist Church in Middlefield, Massachusetts.

In 1840, Orson Spencer's brother Daniel introduced him to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Spencer resigned his position as a Baptist minister and was baptized into the LDS faith in the spring of 1841. Soon after Spencer moved with his family to Nauvoo, Illinois, to be with the Latter-day Saints.

An outstanding theologian and writer, Spencer appointed by the Prophet Joseph Smith to head the newly created University of Nauvoo. Spencer also served as alderman, and briefly as mayor of Nauvoo after the death of Joseph Smith in 1845.

Spencer's famous responses to the Reverend William Crowell about his conversion and the Mormon faith were published as "Spencer's Letters" and for many years were used as missionary tracts by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Spencer's Letters" was among the items placed in the capstone of the Salt Lake Temple.

From 1847 until 1849, Spencer served as President of the British Mission. While in England, Spencer served as editor and writer of The Millenial Star.

In 1849, Spencer was the president and captain of one of the five Mormon pioneer companies headed for Utah which consisted of about 100 wagons. When the Deseret News began publication in Salt Lake City in 1850, Spencer served as assistant editor under Willard Richards.

Orson Spencer was named the first Chancellor of The University of Deseret, chartered 28 February 1850, a position he held until his death. The institution later became known as the University of Utah where a portrait is displayed in Spencer's honor.

After the organization in 1850 of the Utah Territory, Spencer sat as member of the council in the first session of the Territorial Legislature convened in September 1851.

In 1852, Spencer was called by Brigham Young to serve as a missionary in Prussia, Germany, followed in 1853 by a brief mission in England. In 1855 he was called as a missionary to Cincinnati, Ohio. He then served as editor for the St. Louis Luminary, a paper published by the Latter-day Saints at St. Louis. Missouri.

In the fall of 1855 Elder Erastus Snow called Spencer to serve a mission to the Cherokee nation, but while there he contracted typhoid fever. After a short illness Spencer died in St. Louis, Missouri on October 15, 1855.

"His remains were temporarily buried at St. Louis, but in the summer of 1856 they were taken up and sent home; the final interment being in the Salt Lake City Cemetery." (Orson F. Whitney).

A red granite monument at the Salt Lake City Cemetery commemorates the three Spencer brothers, Orson, Daniel and Hyrum.

Orson Spencer's daughter, Aurelia Read Spencer Rogers, in 1878 founded the Primary Association, the official world-wide organization for Latter-day Saint children. Another daughter, Ellen Curtis Spencer Clawson, was called in 1879 to be President of all the Primaries in the Salt Lake Stake.

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  • Created by: Leena Rogers
  • Added: 22 Aug 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21075999
  • Sandra Smith (Barton) Gwilliam
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Orson Spencer (14 Mar 1802–15 Oct 1855), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21075999, citing Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Leena Rogers (contributor 46579230) .