William Frederick, "Bill" Spell, Wife & Family
William Frederick Spell was 28 years old when he married Keziah Catherine, “Kid”, Speed, then 20 years old. They were married on January 4, 1866. One year later, on January 29, 1867, Kid’s parents, William and Keziah Duckworth Speed, deeded to her and Bill Spell, their entire estate of a two-storied log house, farm buildings, and 455 acres of land for $1 and to be cared for the remainder of their lives. Mr. Speed lived one and onehalf years and died at the age of 69. His wife, Keziah Duckworth Speed, lived for twenty more years and died at the age of 81. The Speeds are buried in the Leaf River Church Cemetery, Covington County, Mississippi.
Bill and Kid lived in the same two-storied house. Even though it had four bedrooms, it was soon overflowing. There were ten Spell children (eleven were born, but the second child had lived only four days). The 1870 Covington County census lists an 82 year old James McDonald living in the Spell household. His birth place is listed as Ireland and that he is a Pensioner. Family lore states Mr. McDonald was a chair maker, old, and homeless, and that Bill Spell just “took him in”. The 1880 census list 18 year old William Dave Darden living in the household and working as a servant. William Dave Darden later married John Spell’s daughter, Charity Ellen.
Fifteen people under one roof was reason for expansion. So a “Boy House” was built across the lane from the main house. The Boy House soon became a haven for the vivacious Spell boys and their “guests”.
The oldest Spell son, William Frederick Spell, was called “Fred”, which was usually pronounced “Fed”; Patrick Pulaski Spell was called “Pad”; Zabud Timothy Spell was called “Tim”; Benjamin Martin Spell was called “Mart”; Thomas Taylor Spell was called “Tom” or “Tommie”. The Spell girls were Joanna Letha Spell, Called “Joan”; Mary Rebecca Spell, called “Beck”; Mahala Jane Spell, called “Mahalie” or “Hake”; Catherine Elizabeth Spell, Called “Kate”; and Fannie Lou Mabel Spell, Called “Fannie”. Fannie later changed the spelling of her name to “Fannye Lou Maybelle”.
Bill Spell enjoyed singing. He taught singing schools in area schools and churches and led the singing for church services. Around the turn of the century, Bill Spell served as the Justice of the Peace for the Ocaha (Oakahay) Beat, which later became Beat 5, Covington County, Mississippi. His duties consisted mainly of witnessing land deeds and performing weddings.
He served as the local dentist. He had a set of dental tools, but limited his practice to pullings. His dental trade was passed down to his eldest son, Fred, who then did the teeth pulling.
When the Pearl Leaf Baptist Association was permanently organized, on November 10, 1884, at Salem Baptist Church, W. F. Spell acted as a teller to count the votes. Also at this meeting he gave the first Sunday School report, closing with these remarks: “..the most embarrassing feature found in connection with the Sunday School work was the need of bold, fearless, Christian teachers whose moral and Christian characters were above reproach. Teachers who, regardless of blame or praise, would seek to fashion young immortal souls after the image of Him who said, “Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” In 1886, he was elected as clerk of the Pearl Leaf Association.
W. F. Spell and Keziah Spell both joined Salem Baptist Church “by letter” in 1876. Their three oldest children made a profession of faith at Salem. Twenty year old Fred joined on Wednesday, July 26, 1887, During the “Protracted Meeting”, and was baptized in Roger’s Creek on Thursday.
Rebecca Spell, 15, was received for baptism on June 10, 1888, and was baptized on July 8, 1888. And “after the baptism of Sister Rebecca Spell, the congregation returned to the church and Bro. J. W. Walker preached an interesting sermon”. The Salem Church records were very faded in places, so Joan’s records were not found.
W. F. Spell served Salem Baptist Church as a delegate to the Association several times during the 1870’s and 1880’s. He was Moderator Pro-Tem during the absence of a pastor in 1880, and served as Church Clerk in 1886 and 1887. He served several times on appointed committees to “confer with Brethren or Sisters and cite them to attend conference, and give reasons for nonattendance, or unchristian conduct, or to give a satisfaction of reason for not paying their subscription or pledge to pay the pastor’s salary”.
On August 31, 1888, Bill, Kid, and their two oldest daughters, Joan and Rebecca, moved their membership to help establish, and become charter members of Union Baptist Church.
Bill Spell had been one of the initial group that met on July 22, 1888, to consider organizing Union Church. At this time, he was elected to the first building committee, and was elected as the church’s first clerk, a position he held until November, 1900.
On Tuesday, September 11, 1888, during the church’s first “Protracted Meeting”, 17 year old Patrick (Pad) Spell was received into the church “by experience”, and was baptized the following day in the spring that was on the north side of the road, in front of the church.
W. F. Spell’s closing remarks in the church minutes, following the closing of the first protracted meeting, states that 24 members were received, and “all revived and edified and comforted”.
With the exception of Fred Spell, who remained at Salem, all the Spell children became members of Union Church. Mahala Jane Spell McDaniel was the church organist for many years.
Louise Vaughn Mayfield states: “For years most people walked to church or rode in wagons or buggies. Finally, Uncle Mart Spell bought a flat bottom truck. He picked up all who wanted to ride. Neighbors and kin were seated around the sides with our feet hanging off. It was much fun! The church membership was small but we always had good pastors. One was our own Athens McNeil, the foster son of Uncle Mart Spell. There was always a warm and worshipful atmosphere – a unified church family. The church is even smaller today, but the faithful members maintain it for a light house in the community and a place of meaningful worship.”
Bill and Kid were both small sized, not much over five feet tall. In old age, both had snow white hair, Bill was bald on top. As a young man, Bill had jet black hair. He always wore a full beard. Kid’s hair was an auburn brown as a young person. Both had blue eyes and a fair complexion. Kid was known for having a spicy temperament, and a well stocked cupboard, especially the “tea cake jar”.
No more information has been found about William Frederick Spell’s ancestors than has been related here about his mother, Joanna Louisa Spell Sullivan, her three brothers, Charles, Thomas, and John Spell, and that their parents were Joel Spell and Keziah Spell. Much more is known about Keziah Catherine Speed Spell’s ancestors. Her parents were William Wages Speed, Jr. and Keziah Duckworth Speed. William Speed’s parents were William Wages Speed, Sr. and Sarah Lawrence Speed. Keziah Duckworth’s parents were Benjamin Duckworth and Mary Jolly Duckworth.