Bio- Pen Pictures

who resides on the Alameda near Fremont Street, San Jose, was born  in Monterey, California, in 1861. He received his education at Santa Clara College, where his two brothers also attended. In 1886 he was married to Miss Hattie Foley, a native of Baltimore, Maryland.  They have one child, David J. Spence, Jr. He is a
descendant, through his grandparents on one side, from an old Scottish family, one of whose members, David Spence, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, came to California early in the present century and became prominently identified with its early history, and on the other from the best Spanish blood in California, his grandmother being the daughter of the commandant of the Mexican forces in California, and the niece of their Governor. His grandfather was Alcalde of Monterey when the American forces took possession of California, and died there in 1875, leaving a large estate to be divided between his four grandchildren. Mr. Spence's father was born in Monterey, and died there in 1868. David J. Spence, and also each of his brothers, have built elegant homes adjoining each other on the Alameda near Fremont Street. They have each about 3,000 acres of land near Monterey, land of fine quality and well adapted to either farming or fruit-raising. This is mostly rented to the people who are cultivating it. An extended history of the family is contained in the biographical sketches of
Rudolph  [see below] and Albert Spence in this volume.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.

Pg. 505-506


 Bio-Pen Pictures

            Rudolph B. Spence, land owner and agriculturist in Monterey County, was born in Monterey, California, in 1857.  He attended school in Monterey up to the age of thirteen years, when he commenced a course in the Santa Clara College, remaining there till nineteen years of age.  At that time he became engaged in the office of his uncle, Mr. M. Malarin, President of the Safe Deposit Bank of Santa Clara, where he remained one year, when he left to take charge of the estate left by his father and grandfather, which he managed until all the members of the family became of age.  He now attends to his own and his sister’s (Miss Arcadia Spence) interest.

            He was married in January, 1886, to Miss Mamie Sullivan, a native of California, who was born in San Francisco in 1862.  Her parents were John and Ada E. (Kenna) Sullivan Her father, one of the pioneers of 1844, came to California with the Murphy party in that year, he having known that family in Canada, and later in Missouri.  Mr. Sullivan was successively a storekeeper, real-estate owner, and capitalist, having been the founder and president of the Hibernia Bank of San Francisco.  He was a man of upright character and well known for his abundant charities.  He died in 1882, at the age of 58 years.  One of his sons is the Hon. Frank J. Sullivan, member of Congress from the Fifth Congressional District.  Mrs. Ada E. Sullivan was a native of Brandon, Mississippi, arriving in California with her parents during the ‘50’s.  Her father, Capt. Ramsbottom Kenna, was at one time the owner of a line of packets running between Charleston and other Southern ports on the Atlantic Coast.  He died soon after arriving in California.  Mr. Spence’s parents were David S. and Refugio (Malarin) Spence.  His grandfather was David Spence, a native of Scotland and member of a prominent old Scottish family; who, after being in business in Callao, Peru, for two years, came to California in 1824 and settled in Monterey, where he lived for over fifty years, engaged in buying and selling the products of the country and shipping them to Europe.  He was appointed Alcalde of Monterey by Governor Arguello, whose niece, Adelaida Estrada, daughter of Mariano Estrada, the commander of the Mexican forces in California, he married in 1829.  There was born to this union one child, David Steward Spence, the father of the subject of this sketch.  David S. was married in 1856 to Miss Malarin, and to them were born six children, two of whom, Ellen and Amelia, died in early childhood.  The four living children are:  Rudolph B., Albert Alexander, David J., and Arcadia J.  The grandfather of these children died in 1875, aged 77 years, and for more than fifty years was a prominent citizen of Monterey County.  He left a large estate, of which he bequeathed liberally to various churches and charitable institutions, and to several friends and relatives, besides leaving and ample fortune to his grandchildren.  Mr. Rudolph Spence is engaged in stock-raising to a certain extent, but the most of his lands are rented.  He has 3,000 acres in Monterey County, of which about two-thirds is farming land and the remainder adapted to fruit and stock-raising.  Mr. Spence has a magnificent residence on the Alameda near Fremont Avenue, between San Jose and Santa Clara, each of his brothers having also handsome homes adjoining him.

            Bancroft, in his “History of the Pacific States,” volume 19, page 526, says:  “Among new-comers the most prominent was David Spence, the Scotchman, who arrived on the Pizarro to take charge of the meat-packing establishment of Begg & Co., and who became a leading and wealthy citizen.”  In the fifth volume of the “Pioneers’ Register and Index” the following account appears:  “David Spence arrived in 1824, a native of Scotland, who had lived a few years at Lima and came to California in the Pizarro to superintend the meat-packing establishment of Begg & Co., at Monterey.”

            In 1827 he started in business for himself, and was prosperous from the beginning, being cautious, close, and energetic.  His name often appears in the record of each year.  In 1829 he married Adelaida, daughter of Mariano Estrada, taking an active part in the protection of Monterey during the Solis revolt.  He was naturalized in 1830.  In 1834-39 he was grantee of Encinal y Buena Esperanza Rancho, of which he was claimant and permanent owner.  In 1835 he was appointed Alcalde.  In 1836 he was a member of the Deputacion, and in this and the following year was secretly a supporter of Alvarado’s government, choosing not to act openly as a member of the Congress, yet exerting quietly much influence in municipal and legislative matters.  He was elected juez de paz in 1839 and 1840, furnishing information to Laplace, giving Sutter a letter of introduction, and doubtless favoring the exile Graham and his vagabonds.  In 1843-45 he was a member of the Junta Department; in 1845, in command of the foreign guard to protect Monterey during the Micheltoreno troubles, being also appointed Prefect by Governor Pico, but apparently declining the office.  In 1846, though popularly believed to have intrigued for an English Protectorate, he was regarded by Larkin as friendly to the United States; was a member of the Council after the change of flag, and of the Legislative Council in 1847.  He subsequently served as Prefect in 1849-50, and as County Supervisor in 1858-60.  About 1848 he gave up his mercantile enterprises and devoted himself chiefly to the care of his estate and the raising of live-stock.  In 1873 he furnished some brief historical notes, and died in 1875, at the age of seventy-seven years.  Don David had an excellent reputation among the pioneers of California, few exerting so wide and extensive an influence.  While not exactly popular, by reason of his conservatism, obstinate as any of his race, and making enemies as well as friends, he yet merited and received the respect of all classes.  His wife survived him but a month, and his only son, David, born in 1830 and educated in Honolulu, died in 1868, leaving three sons and a daughter, who inherited their grandfather’s estate.  He was the first Alcalde to keep a record of the dividing and ownership of lots in Monterey when it was changed from a presidio to a pueblo.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Pg. 373-374

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy



SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight