sidebar menu icon


SPENCE, JOSEPH (1826–1894). Joseph Spence, attorney and land commissioner, was born on December 3, 1826, in Philadelphia. Shortly afterwards his family moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Spence graduated from Tennessee Law School on March 1, 1853, and married Margaretta Deaderick Wendel the same day. They eventually had nine children. In the fall of 1859 the whole family and their slaves moved to Texas, and Spence rented a cotton plantation at Montopolis, near Austin. In spite of being a slaveowner, Spence, a Republican, was opposed to the Civil War. His uninvolvement in pre-war politics made him an acceptable participant in the Reconstruction government. In 1866 he served as chief clerk in the office of the Texas secretary of state. He was appointed land commissioner on August 27, 1867, and served a consistent, uneventful term until January 19, 1870. He was defeated in the general election, the first since the Civil War, and then went into the real estate business. He became receiver for the Austin Water Works and Electric Light and Power Company. He died on May 14, 1894, in Austin. See also GENERAL LAND OFFICE.

Austin Daily Statesman, May 16, 1894. Austin History Center Files. Garry Mauro, Land Commissioners of Texas (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1986).
William N. Todd IV and Gerald Knape

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, William N. Todd IV and Gerald Knape, "Spence, Joseph," accessed August 20, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.