Lysander was born on January 19, 1808 at Athol, Massachussets, United States, the son of Asa and Dolly (Brown) Spooner and a descendant of William Spooner who was in Plymouth, Massachussets, as early as 1637.
We can only speculate about Asa’s religious opinions generally, but that he was no orthodox Puritan may be seen by the names he chose for his two oldest sons. Instead of a Biblical or a Christian name such as his own, Asa gave to his oldest son the name of Leander, a pagan character, who swam the Hellespont to make love to Hero, a priestess of Sestos. The second son was named Lysander; Lysander was the admiral of Sparta who destroyed the Athenian Beet, ending the Peloponnesian War.
With nine children, Lysander's mother, Dolly (Brown) Spooner (1784-1845), had little time to be anything but a mother. Lysander remembered her as “one of the kindest of mothers and one of the best of women. ” She seems to have been more orthodox in her religion than her husband; we may imagine that Lysander had his own family in mind when, in Deist's Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity (1836), he complained that only women were gullible enough to believe the New Testament stories. Lysander’s oldest sister, Abigail, served many years as a missionary to the Ojibway Indians for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, a largely Congregational group. Although more orthodox in the religious sense, such missionary work was as much an effort toward reform as was temperance and abolition.