The Orrin Sprague Story
Joseph Goodrich, if you remember, left for New York to bring his family back in September of 1838. After arriving he naturally began talking about what a wonderful place Prairie du Lac was. He spoke at length about how rich the soil was for farming and what a great opportunity for a new life this prairie would provide for those hardy enough to come. Many people listened with great interest, one of these people was Orrin Sprague.
Orrin Sprague was a blacksmith and farmer. He married Amelia Cady in 1828 and they made their home in Pennsylvania. Together they had 15 children over the years, but sadly a set of twins died at a young age. They lived in Pennsylvania until 1830, when he moved his wife and first born son to Alfred New York. Mr. Sprague worked to provide for his growing family, and upon hearing of the wide open opportunity in Wisconsin, he swiftly sold everything he could and moved his family to here. They arrived in November and needed to get themselves set for the winter without delay.
Mr. Sprague went straight to Peter McEwan and told him that Joseph Goodrich had sent him on ahead to set up a blacksmith shop and he was to give him some land for the purpose of building a shop and a cabin for his family. Taking him at his word Mr. Mc Ewen did just that and set out a plot of land in the southeast corner of section 27 of his own claim. Mr. Sprague got straight to work as winter was setting in and time was of the essence.
Having a blacksmith shop in the area was a great convenience to the local farmers. Prior to the shop being opened anything that required a blacksmiths skill involved a journey to either Kenosha or Racine. This was quite a trip and the result being lost time from home and the fields.
Well, when Joseph returned in the spring of 1839 he was not at all pleased to see that Orrin had come. You see the story is that these two men were not on the best of terms. While I’ve not discovered what the basis of the bad blood between the two men may have been. The fact was, Sprague was here and a blacksmith was needed in the community.
Ezra later told the story that the first lot sold after his father aquired title to his land was a lot sold to Mr. Sprague in Apirl of 1840. [I have not been able to pinpoint the location of this particular lot, nor have I been able to verify whether or not the blacksmith shop that sits on the Milton House property was in fact owned by Mr. Sprague. While he was the first blacksmith in town, he was not the only one.]
Time passed, Milton grew and so did Mr. Spragues family and business which allowed him to purchase over 500 acres of land north of town in section 14 where he begin farming. Mr. Orrin Sprague died at the age of 77 while visiting his one of his daughters in the state of Iowa. He was brought back here and laid to rest in the Otter Creek Cemetery.
*The picture above is not the property owned by Orrin Sprague*