Tragic Death of 5 Children

While perusing the digital newspaper collection, Old Historical Western New York State newspapers, I located the following mention in the December 20, 1964 issue of a newspaper of Binghamton, NY.

“At Least 28 Perish in Fires Across Country” was the name of the article, and in it was mentioned that “Five children burned to death when fire destroyed their fram home near Kinston, N.C.  Their mother, Mrs. Berda Spence, escaped without injury from the burning tenant house.”

A quick search of the database of NC Death Certificates at quickly revealed the children’s names and ages:

Bobby Charles Spencer, age 9 –  (13 Apr 1955 – 19 Dec 1964)
Brenda Joyce Spencer, age 5 –   (25 Apr 1959 – 19 Dec 1964)
Linda Faye Spencer, age 5  – (25 Apr 1959 – 19 Dec 1964)
Ervin Ray Spencer, age 20 months – (15 Apr 1963 – 19 Dec 1964)
Arline Spencer, age 6 months – (27 Jun 1964 – 19 Dec 1964)

How tragic for the family to lose 5 children in one day.  This story also appears on, though some of the names are slightly different.  Based on the death certificate data, it seems their mother’s name was Verdia, and while Arlene is said to be a cousin on the GenDisasters site, her death certificate has Verdia as her mom.


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