IIITHAMER SPRAGUE - 1807-1879
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Orson Pratt Brown's Father's Fourth Wife's Third Husband
Ithamer Thomas Sprague
Arthur (Arthemur) Ithamer (Thomas) Sprague was born on the 18th of September,1807 at Oxford, Chenango (Cayugua), New York to Hezekiah Sprague (1774-1847) and Abigail Jeffers Sprague (1772-1846). Ithamer Thomas Sprague, son of Hezikiah Sprague 1775, son of Ebenezer Sprague 1740 son of Jonathan Sprague 1720 son of Jonathan Sprague 1686 son of William Sprague 1650 son of William Sprague 1609.
Hezikiah Sprague and his son Ithamer Thomas Sprague were living in New York State when they heard about the Prophet Joseph Smith and what would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Mormons) Ithamer and Hezikiah were part of communities in Palmyra, New York and subsequently migrated with many converts to the Church under the direction of Brigham Young after the death of Joseph Smith.
These Sprague families lived in various places where the Mormons tried to escape persecution such as Nauvoo, Illinois. Hezikiah received a blessing at the hand of Hyrum Smith, who was killed along with his brother Joseph Smith in the Carthage Jail in Illinois. We have a copy of that blessing in our file. Ithamer Thomas Sprague married Betsey Goodner and together they had five young children in as many years. During the forced migration of many members of this Church, Ithamer Thomas Sprague, his father and his family were housed in Mt. Pisgah, Union County, Iowa. While the men were away from the town, an anti-Mormon mob overran the town and killed many people. Among those who were killed were Ithamer's wife Betsey and all five of his young children. They were buried where they had been killed in what was called Winter Quarters in the year 1848. Ithamer Thomas Sprague continued to Utah with Brigham Young and remarried .
My husband and children descend through Ithamer's daughter Sarah Sprague. A portrait of Ithamer Thomas Sprague hangs in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum in St. George, Washington, Utah. I have a copy in our File. Perhaps someone will find this information about this particular line interesting. Today, Hezikiah Spragues posterity is large and most are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and live in Utah, Idaho and Nevada.
--From Paula Rigano-Murray, correspondent, note of August 24th, 2004
Married 1 st: Betsey or Elizabeth Goodner on January 24, 1839 in New York.
Children of Ithamer and Betsey Goodner Sprague:
Ithamer and Betsy were living in Nauvoo where he owned and operated a boat on the Mississippi River. They joined the Church in 1840. He sold his boat and trading interests and became a blacksmith.
When the Saints left Nauvoo, Ithamer took his own family plus several others and joined the trek. They got as far as Mt Pisgah, Iowa. They stopped where Parley P. Pratt had established a camp and decided to spend the winter there. His wife, Betsey and five of their children died there.
The spring of 1848 found Ithamer headed west again with the rest of his relatives. His blacksmith skills came in handy for those who were with the company. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 1st October, 1847 with the Hunter Company. In March of 1848 the group settled into the Brownsville fort region on the Weber River.
The first systematic irrigation was taken out of Canfield Creek that entered Ogden near the present 32nd Street and Harrison Boulevard. It was at near 29th Street anf Madison and Jefferson Avenues that Jesse Brown and his brother Alexander Brown plowed the first furrows in Weber County to prepare it for planting with a plow made of iron from wagon wheels by the blacksmith Ithamer Artemus Sprague.
Sprague was one of 25 blacksmith listed in the 1850 census in Weber County. Among the earliest were who worked at 25th Street and Washington Boulevard. had a shop on the east side of Washington between 24th and 25th streets. Browning sharpened plows, shoed horses, set wagon tires, and repaired guns, and he also made some of the first nails, fire tongs, fire shovels, pokers, horseshoes, hoes, shovels, and grubbing hoes used in Weber County. In addition he developed the first iron-roller molasses mill made in Ogden.
Ithamer married his second wife sometime between May and September of 1848 somewhere between Winter Quarters Nebraska and Salt Lake Valley, Utah. Sarah was born: 31 Mar 1814, Chester, Orange, New York; d. March 18, 1893 at Trenton, Cache, Utah.
Children of Ithamer and Sarah Steadwell:
After a short stay in Salt Lake, Ithamer went to Ogden where he built a home and pursued his trade. Later he moved to Echo Canyon.
In 1863, he was called to help settle Southern Utah. All but Sarah moved to Harrisburg. She was tired of moving. The couple divorced after this move, between 1863 and 1865.
Ithamer and his son helped in the building of the St. George Temple and tabernacle. Later he was called to help settle Mesquite Flats in Nevada. Eventually the town became Bunkerville, Nevada.
Ithamer married 3rd: Mary Elizabeth Prince was born on February 25, 1824 in Eaming, Suffolk, England. They were sealed: 21 Jul 1873, Salt Lake City, Utah
There are unconfirmed bits of information that Ithamer married a Martha Miller in 1875 in Washington County, Utah.
Ithamer was one of the first settlers and the first to die at Bunkerville, Lincoln, Nevada.
"A few rude kerosene lamps gave some illumination, and music was supplied by Ithamar Sprague playing his accordion. Settlers came from near and far by wagon, saddle horse, or on foot. Since there was no cash available, admission was paid in potatoes, pumpkins, squash, or other produce, which was piled near the musician's stand. Since there were no baby-sitters, every family deposited its infants in a long box behind the accordionist. Big tables groaned under stacks of refreshments for the dancers, who tromped and stamped with huge work shoes on the rough planking. Mormon people have always loved to dance, and this was their very first opportunity in more than a year. They danced with such enthusiasm that every few minutes the floor was cleared so the rough pine splinters could be swept away. Dancing continued until daybreak, when weary couples sorted out their own slumbering children from the heap back of the musician and made their way again by wagon, saddle horse, or foot to their homes out in the sagebrush. It was the first dance and it had been a tremendous success."
--From Paula Rigano-Murray, correspondent, note of August 24th, 2003
In Austin and Alta Fife's book, "Saints of Sage and Saddle" pages 272-273 can be found the following story:
"Ithimer Sprague was a gangling Swede with feet like barges. Such a big, ill-constructed, gawky creature he was that the girls of Dixie avoided him and the fellows found him a bit queer. But Ithimer was as gregarious as the next person and, not getting full acceptance by the local populace, he resorted to his own ingenious measures to gain attention. Make a pair of clodhoppers that were shamefully lareg, even for his gargantuan feet, he put them on and waded over sand bars in the river bottom and around the canal banks, leaving tracks that were the wonder and amazement of the whole village. Search parties were organized to trace these tracks but always they lead to some sandstone outcropping where they could be traced no further. People thought of giants, Gadianton Robbers, or one of the Three Nephites, as being possible originators of these ominous tracks, and eventually the entire settlement was in a stew.
It came dance night in Old Covington. Ithimer was there in all his Nordic dimensions. But at the height of some lusty fiddling he sneaked out through the mesquite south and east of the big public corral, adjusted his seven league boots, planted a line of tracks ominously about the village, and returned as secretly to the dance hall. During intermission the young bucks, Ithimer included, went out to the corral to nip some Valley Tan from bottles that were concealed in their saddle bags. Ithimer himself was of course the first to spot the formidable tracks. A crowd soon gathered and with all weapons available they set out in quest of the giant. This time he wasn't going to escape for they all knew that the tracks had been made while the dance was in session. Again they traced the phantom footsteps to a rocky height where they disappeared.
There are two common versions of how Ithimer's prank was discovered. The first says that as autumn came on only Ithimer was brave enought to haul in the winter's supply of wood. He had to explain how he planted the tracks before the good wives of the Mormon settleers would let their husbands go into the mountains.
In the other variant it is said that the day following the dance a mass meeting was called at which there were heated discussions as to whether the settlement should be deserted for a safer area, or a messenger sent to Brigham Young to ask for advice. During the meeting one of the girls whom Ithimer had courted in vain noticed that he was all too amused at the course of the proceedings. Taking him aside she admonished him: "Come on, Ithimer, 'fess up!" "And what will you do for me if I do?" "Well, I might change my mind about marrying you."
The Nordic jokemaster climbed on a hay wagon and before the assembled settlers confessed his prank. The courage manifest in this action, together with the relief from anguish felt by all the settlers at the solution of the mystery, earned for Ithimer a bride and enshrined him in the legend of Dixie as her most beloved and ingenious prankster.
The Ithamer Sprague Prank
From the Fife Folklore Archives in the Special Collections and Archives at Utah State University
"My aunt, who has lived in Washington all of her sixty years, had a different version to offer in answer to my requests for tales of the pioneers. She noted that she had forgotten many of the details but would try to give me a few of the night walks of Ithamer as he had described them to her in Bunkerville, Nevada, a few years before he died.
She says the night he laughed hardest about was the time of the dance in Old Covington. During one of the lively fiddle tunes, Ithamer sneaked out and put on his soles and stepped around on the sand leading off through the mesquites south and east of the big public corral. From here he went up into the rocks back east of the old Turnbeau home. Later in the evening when the boys were refreshing themselves out in the street, no one seemed to notice tracks. Presently, Ithamer spied them and sent out an alarm. A crowd gathered--some of the bravest took after the creature with weapons and Ithamer had to smile. When the crowd would lose the tracks, Sprague would find them again and so the party kept moving. Upon reaching the ledges they saw the tracks disappeared and the hunt was called off.
On another occasion, my aunt went on, Ithemar wandered "over the rolly hills east of Crawford's, leaving his giant footprints wherever he went. The tracks vanished on the black ridge and many people from St. George, including old Brother Whitehead, manager of the factory, came in wagons and buggies to see and measure the
FMC II 84 Page 2
tracks." The prints were always traced to streams, rock reefs or similar stopping points
Ithemar explained to my aunt that he got the idea of scaring people and making them think a giant was roaming through Dixie when he saw some bear prints in the red mud while he was out chasing cows east of Washington. The mystery was eventually solved by a different way from that Miss Jarvis described. In this version, Ithamer and John Chidester were going into the mountains to cut wood shortly after one of the "giant's" walks. John's wife would not consent to the trip saying she was afraid of the giant. Needing John's help with the wood, Ithamer told him his story. John told his wife and she.spread the word. The end of the giant had come. Ithamer's fun was over."
PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown < Captain James Brown +(7) Phoebe Abbott ; Captain James Brown + (4) Sarah Steadwell + (3) Ithamur Arthemur Sprague.
Conquerors of the West - Sons of Utah Pioneers, Pages 2422 and 2423.Submitted by: Colleen Christensen
Fife Folklore Archives, Folklore of Washington County, Utah by Maralyn Winsor, FMC Ser. II, No. 1 84 UHRF Archive, pages 7-8.
Additions, bold, [bracketed], pictures, added by Lucy Brown Archer
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org