Alma Woldert Spence Letter dated June 4 1915

Recently SCHS employee Candis Lively was entering information in our museum software from a donation I made to the Archives of a 1915 Alcalde yearbook of Tyler High School. I had bought it at the antique mall in the Fair Foundation Bldg also know as the old Sears store location. When I bought it I found four portraits and a full length head to toe picture that was photographed by Denison”s Studios, Tyler Texas. What I did not find was the following letter that Candis found when she inspected the yearbook. Surprise!

The first and third pages are 5-1/8th inches long by 7-3/8ths inches wide and the 2nd page is 10-1/4th inches by 7-3/8ths inches wide. The transcription and notes were done by me.

[1st page]

Dear girl

                Last night it was my
privilege and pleasure to
be present at your commence-
ment exercises.

                This happy occasion
brought vividly to my mind
the closing of my little kindergarten
school, some years ago, which
you attended.

                The interest that accompanied
the directing of those first and
early steps of your education
compels me to seize this
opportunity for expression.

                It was my highest ambition
to so develop the child nature
physically, mentally and
[end of page 1]

[start page 2]

morally as to produce a well
balanced character.

                In retrospection, it is with
keen delight that I review the hours
we spent together.

                Since those happy days of
childhood you have gone on
along educational lines, and it
is with real joy and pride
that I greet you at your commence

                The future lies before you
may you grow intellectually and
spiritually each day.

                Ruskin[1] says: “Let every dawn
of morning be to you as the
beginning of life, and every

Setting sun as its close: and
the let every one of these short
lines lease its sure record of
some kindly thing done for others,
some goodly strength or knowledge
gained for yourself.”
Allow me to congratulate

[end of page 2]

[i] This is John Ruskin being quoted from his book “The Two Paths,” which is a collection of five lectures delivered in 1858 and 1859, on art and architecture. John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist.

[Page 3]

you and to add: “Be noble, and the nobleness
that lies in others sleeping
but never dead will
rise in majesty to
meet thine own”[2]

                                Sincerely your friend

                                Alma Woldert Spence

June fourth.

Nineteen hundred fifteen


[End of Page 3]

[2] This is a quotation from a short article “Be Noble” by Mary Helphingstine published in The Gospel Trumpet, Volume XXXIII, No. 31, Anderson, Ind., Thursday, August 7, 1913, page 496 (16) that was accessed 4 April 2019 from Google Books.


The 1907 Sanborn Map showing the location of 210 South Vine St. were Alma Woldert Spence's "little kindergarten."

The 1907 Sanborn Map showing the location of 210 South Vine St. were Alma Woldert Spence’s “little kindergarten.”

Alma Woldert Spence is well known to most of those who work in the Archives but none of us had heard of the “…little kindergarten school…” she mentioned. It is listed on page 258 of the Southern Directory Company’s Tyler, Texas, City Directory. Vol. 1. 1904. “Woldert Kindergarten Mrs Alma Woldert princ 216 S Vine”. Two lines above is “Woldert Alma M tchr private school res 520 W Fan”. Alma Mary Woldert is the daughter of William Albert Woldert and his wife, Loulie Ellen Pace Woldert.

Alma M. Woldert married Richard R. McLeroy on 1st June 1905 as shown on their marriage certificate which was recorded  in Volume 16, Page 415 of the Marriage Records of Smith County, Texas. They had one child, Richard Ransom McLeroy, Jr. who was born 23 June 1909. Richard R. McLeroy (Sr.) died on 6 May 1910 at El Paso, Texas.

Alma Mary McLeoy married Robert Spence on the 4th June 1912 as shown on their marriage certificate which was recorded  in Volume 19, Page 576 of the Marriage Records of Smith County, Texas. They had two children, Elizabeth Margaret Spence born 1913 and Robert William Spence born 1918. Alma died 21 March 1955 at Tyler Texas.

“22 Mar 1955

Tyler, Smith County, Texas

“Mrs. Spence Dies”

              TYLER (AP)—Mrs. Alma Woldert Spence, 70, wife of City Commission Robert Spence, died Monday. Voted Tyler’s Woman of the Year in 1954. Mrs. Spence was widely known as a poet and an organizer of the East Texas Tuberculosis Assn.”

Alma Spence Tombstone in Oakwood Cemetery, Tyler, Smith County, Texas.

May 20, 1884 Mar. 21, 1955

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>