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  1. ABSTRACT We discuss the spectral energy distributions and physical properties of six galaxies whose photometric redshifts suggest they lie beyond a redshift z ≃ 9. Each was selected on account of a prominent excess seen in the Spitzer/IRAC 4.5 $\mu$m band which, for a redshift above z = 9.0, likely indicates the presence of a rest-frame Balmer break and a stellar component that formed earlier than a redshift z ≃ 10. In addition to constraining the earlier star formation activity on the basis of fits using stellar population models with BAGPIPES, we have undertaken the necessary, but challenging, follow-up spectroscopy for each candidate using various combinations of Keck/MOSFIRE, VLT/X-shooter, Gemini/FLAMINGOS2, and ALMA. Based on either Lyman-α or [O iii] 88 $\mu$m emission, we determine a convincing redshift of z = 8.78 for GN-z-10-3 and a likely redshift of z = 9.28 for the lensed galaxy MACS0416-JD. For GN-z9-1, we conclude the case remains promising for a source beyond z ≃ 9. Together with earlier spectroscopic data for MACS1149-JD1, our analysis of this enlarged sample provides further support for a cosmic star formation history extending beyond redshifts z ≃ 10. We use our best-fitting stellar population models to reconstruct the past rest-frame UV luminosities of our sources and discuss themore »implications for tracing earlier progenitors of such systems with the James Webb Space Telescope.« less