Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Frederick W. Spencer Papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Frederick W. Spencer Papers,
Creator: Spencer, Frederick W.
Inclusive dates: 1931, 1970, and undated
Extent: 2 cubic feet (in 5 box)
Papers consist mostly of business correspondence related to the oil drilling business in mid-Michigan, as well as related plat books, forms, genealogical materials, and miscellaneous.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:


Access Restrictions:

Frederick W. Spencer Papers are open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Frederick W. Spencer Papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is by size, then alphabetical and chronological.



Frederick William “Will” Spencer was born on June 30, 1882, the eldest child of three born to Frederick and Emma Jane Spencer. Frederick the father had emigrated from England to the United States in 1870. He met and married Emma in Sterling, Illinois, in 1881. Will’s two younger siblings were Charles A., born in 1883, and Emma L., born in 1887.

The children attended school and helped their father grow and peddle vegetables after school. In 1897 the family began to garden on a larger scale with a five acre farm and eventually the brothers expanded their farming operation, renting an additional 300 farm acres.

In 1907 Will and Charles had a double wedding at Dixon Brethren Church on December 8th. Will married Leona Kindig and Fred married Myrtle. After the wedding, Will developed a Holstein herd and earned more than $30,000. Will and Leona then moved to Michigan and bought some farms. One of these was a 180 acre farm located half-a-mile west of Shepherd, Michigan, called Maple Grove Seed Farm. Fred and Myrtle also moved to Michigan: they purchased a 100 acre farm three miles north of Shepherd in 1910. From at least 1934 to 1938, Will functioned as an oil drilling agent for Phillips Drilling Company of Butler, Pennsylvania. Multiple mid-Michigan counties were explored for oil and gas including Clare, Clinton, Isabella, Gladwin, Gratiot, Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Missaukee, Montcalm, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw counties.

Leona and Will had one daughter, Hazel, who married Russell Kelley and had three children: Bill, the donor of this collection, David, and Nancy. Will and Leona both died in 1947. Myrtle died in 1966. In 1967 Charles married Daisy Methner of Colman, Michigan, where he resided in his old age. Charles and Lila both were alive in 1970. (This information is from Memories of the Spencer’s 100 Years in U.S.A, 1970, by Charles Spencer, a copy of which is found in the collection.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists mostly of business correspondence to/from Will Spencer, 1934-1938 (1.5 cubic ft. in Boxes 1-3). Will signed his letters as F.W. Spencer. The correspondence is in alphabetical order by surname or company name. Most of the correspondence is from Will to people who owned property in mid-Michigan inquiring if they would like to lease their land for gas/oil drilling to Phillips Drilling Company of Butler, Pennsylvania. Some of the correspondence is between Will and county officers about land that might be purchased for taxes, inquiries re: ownership of certain property, and requests to the Department of Natural Resources for plat maps. There are also some bills and receipts for maps or mapping. There are also occasionally requests to Spencer for some of his farm products. There is no personal correspondence in the collection.

Plat books in which specific properties are marked are found in Box 4 (.5 cubic ft.). Also in this box is a publication on Fringe Wells of the Crystal-New Haven Files and the Beaverton Area, 1936, by C. Roe.

Box 5 is miscellaneous materials and blank forms related top Michigan oil exploration and leasing. Of note are lists of properties owned by Native Americans in Denver and Isabella townships, Isabella County, which were available for oil or gas leases, 1934, 1936.

A family genealogy by Charles Spencer is found in the first folder of Box 1, Memories of the Spencer’s 100 Years in U.S.A, 1970.

Subject Terms

    • Spencer, Frederick W.
    • Phillips Drilling Company (Butler, Penn.)
    • Oil and gas leases--Michigan--Isabella County.
    • Farmers--Michigan--Isabella County.
    • Farmers--Michigan--Shepherd.
    • Indians of North American--Michigan--Isabella County.
    • Shepherd (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Frederick W. Spencer Papers. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Miscellaneous, 1841, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Spencer, Charles A., Memories of the Spencers' 100 Years in the U.S. A., 1970
    Box   1 F   3
    Spencer, Correspondence, A, 1935-1938
    Box   1 F   4
    Spencer, Correspondence, B, 1935-1936
    Box   1 F   5
    Spencer, Correspondence, B, 1936-1938
    Box   1 F   6
    Spencer, Correspondence, C, 1935-1936
    Box   1 F   7
    Spencer, Correspondence, C, 1936-1938
    Box   1 F   8
    Spencer, Correspondence, D, 1935-1938
    Box   1 F   9
    Spencer, Correspondence, E-F, 1934-1938
    Box   2 F   1
    Spencer, Correspondence, G, 1934-1938
    Box   2 F   2
    Spencer, Correspondence, H-J, 1935-1936
    Box   2 F   3
    Spencer, Correspondence, H-J, 1936-1938
    Box   2 F   4
    Spencer, Correspondence, K-L, 1934-1937
    Box   2 F   5
    Spencer, Correspondence, M, 1935-1936
    Box   2 F   6
    Spencer, Correspondence, M, 1936-1938
    Box   2 F   7
    Spencer, Correspondence, N-O, 1935-1938
    Box   2 F   8
    Spencer, Correspondence, P, 1935-1936
    Box   3 F   1
    Spencer, Correspondence, P, 1936-1938
    Box   3 F   2
    Spencer, Correspondence, R, no Q, 1934-1938
    Box   3 F   3
    Spencer, Correspondence, S, 1934-1936
    Box   3 F   4
    Spencer, Correspondence, S, 1936-1938
    Box   3 F   5
    Spencer, Correspondence, T-V, 1934-1938
    Box   3 F   6
    Spencer, Correspondence, W, 1935-1938
    Box   3 F   7
    Spencer, Correspondence, X-Z, 1935-1938
    Box   4 F   1
    Fringe Wells of the Crystal-New Haven Fields and the Beaverton Area, by C. Roe, 1936
    Box   4 F   2
    Plat Book, Clinton County, Michigan (damaged), undated
    Box   4 F   3
    Plat Book, Ionia County, Michigan (2 volumes), undated
    Box   4 F   4
    Plat Book, Kent County, Michigan, undated
    Box   4 F   5
    Plat Book, Mecosta County, Michigan (2 volumes), undated
    Box   4 F   6
    Plat Book, Missaukee County, Michigan, undated
    Box   4 F   7
    Plat Book, Newaygo County, Michigan, undated
    Box   4 F   8
    Plat Book, Ogemaw County, Michigan, undated
    Box   4 F   9
    Plat Book, Saginaw County, Michigan (damaged), undated
    Box   4 F   10
    Plat Book, Shiawassee County, Michigan, undated
    Box   4 F   11
    Plat Book, Washtenaw County, Michigan, undated
    Box   5 F   1
    Legal-size, Miscellaneous Michigan Oil Materials, 1937
    Box   5 F   2
    Legal-size, Native American Oil Leases and Gas Mining Notices, 1934, 1936
    Box   5 F   3
    Legal-size, Spencer, Oil and Gas Leases, 1931, undated