- From Mary Longstreth, Prodigy WBPD27A
Will of Ephraim Sprague, son of John (d.3/6/1727/1728) and Lydia Sprague Copy of Sprague information from "A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England". I descend from the union of Ephraim Sprague & Deborah Woodworth. There's some confusion over whether Ephraim's wife was Deborah or Mary. I think his will indicates he was married twice, first to Deborah. I also have Benjamin Woodworth's will (father of Deborah). Benjamin refers to his dtr. Deborah, as Deborah Sprague. I'll post the Sprague will translation provided by a former Prodigy member. Windham Probate Records Vol 4 page 466-468. Inventory of Estate on page 469: Last Will & testament of Ephriam (sic) Sprague of Lebanon (CT). Dated 11/1/1754: Proved 12/9/1754. Translation courtesy of Lebanon Hist. Society genie. (?) indicates difficulty reading a particular word/phrase.
Note #1: "In the name of God Amen the 1st day of November A.D. 1754 I Ephriam Sprague of Lebanon in the County of Windham in Connecticut Colleny in New England being very sick a(?) weak body but of Perfect mind & memory thanks be given to God therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for men once to die, do make and ordain this my Last Will & Testament that is To Say principally & first of all I give and recomend my Sould into the hands of God who gave it & my body I recomend To the Earth to be buried in decent Christain burial at the Discretion of my Executers nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the Same again by the mighty power of God; and as touching Such worldly Estate as (?) herewith it hath pleased God to bless me In this Life I give demise & dispose of the Same in the following manner & form ---Imprimis I give & bequeath to Mary my dearly beloved Wife So long as She Shall remain my wido if She Shall then Stand in need thereof for her livelihood and Comfort all the Eastward or one Story part of my dwelling house & an Interest in the Celler belonging to my house together with one third of the Income of my farm---Item I give & bequeath To Peres Sprague my Eldest & well beloved Son & to his heirs and assigns for Ever Seven acres of Land lying in the South house bounded as my appear by a deed which I have of sd Land together with all my wearing appearel Excepting of Gloves) also my Cane I give to sd Peres---Item I give & bequeath to my well beloved son Peles Sprague one Certain bond well Executed which is due from him To me of Fifty of Silver at Twenty Six Shilings poundd (??) since (?) bond bearing date AD 1739 & was to be paid on the 18th day of March 1742 together with all the Interest that hath arisen of Shall arise thereon ----Item I give & Bequeath unto my Beloved daughers Betty the wife of Abele Bingham & to Ireney, the wife of Nath'l Wright all my house hold goods (Excepting one Feather bed bolster & pillow) to be Equally divided between them after my decease----Item I order in this my Will that my Executors Shall pay all my debts out of my Stock and what is due to Me by book bond or otherwise - and if it shall so happen that my Stock that I shall Leave and what is Found due to me Shall not be Sifficient to pay my Just debts then I order and impower my Executers to Sell So much of Land As Shall fully pay all ----Item I also order that all my provision vix. CCorn of all Sorts meat Same of all Sorts with Two Swine now a rutting (??) also all other provisions whatsoever that Shall be necessary for the Support of my wife and Grandson & her Family Shall be no way disposed of but Shall be Safe for the use of my Family it is to be understood that all my Provisions is Left wholy to be disposed of and used by my Family ----Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved grandson Ephraim Sprague Son to my son Ephraim Sprague deceased and his heirs and assigns all the residue of my Estate which I have not given away & disposed of in this my Last Will & testament after all.
Note #2: Will of Ephraim Sprague - Translation from Leb. Hist. Society -my debts are paid that is to Say all my Farm lying both in the Townships of Lebanon & Coventry with all my utencils (?) for husbandry of all Sorts as also my Stock if any be together with one feather ged, one bolster and one Pillow which bed bolster & Pillow was given to him by his grandmother Deborah Sprague Deceas'd and the above sd Legacy Shall not be At his dispose untill he Comes to 21 years of age and Further more it is my will that my grandson Ephraim Sprague Shall pay unto his Brother Theodeous Sprague when he the sd hodorus shall come to the age of Twenty one years the Sum of Two hundred pounds in bills of publick Credit Stated as Shall be hereafter expressed likewise it is my will that my Grandson Ephriam above Said Shall pay to his Sisters Abigail & Deborah (Sprague). To each of them when they shall Come to the age of Twenty one years the sum of one hundred pounds to Each of them that is one hundred pounds to his Sister Abigail and one hundred pounds to his Sister Deborah. Further more it is my will that the Several sums which I have herein ordered by grandson Ephraim Sprague to pay to his Brother & to his two Sisters above names shall be paid Equal to Silver at three pounds five Shillings per dollar. Item I likewise make Constitute & ordain my beloved Friends Dea. Israel Woodward and Lieut. William Sims both of Lebanon to be my Executers to this my Last will & testament - and Further it is my will that my grandson Ephraim Sprague Shall be under the Care & Inspection of these my Executors So likewise shall the management of my Farm which is hereby this my will -- given to him the Said Ephraim they are hereby Fully Impowered to allow him the use of it untill he Comes to Full age or to deprive him of the use of it as they Shall think best and most for the benefit of him the sd Ephraim & they the Executers Shall if they think it most best & profitable have hereby full power to Lease out sd Farm until he the sd Ephraim Shall Come to the age of Twenty one years, that is that part which I have not allowed to my wife as her thirds So long as it is in her hands----Further more I do hereby utterly disallow revoke and annull all and Every other Former Testament wills Legacies bequests and Executors by me in any ways before name willed and bequeathed ratifying & confirming this & no other to be my Last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto Sett my hand & Seal the day and year above written ---Sign'd Seal'd Publish'd pronound'd & declar'd by ye sd Ephraim Sprague as his Last Will & Testament In the prescence of us the Subscribers - John Sprague, Eliakim (?) Sprague, Susannah (her mark) Sprague.
From Jack R. Sprague, correspondent from "Foodways".
CRM No 4-2001 13
Ross K. Harper, Mary G. Harper, and Bruce Clouette
Foodways in 18th Century Connecticut
In 1999 and 2000, Public Archaeology Survey Team, Inc (PAST) completed archeological investigations of three 18th-century homestead sites in Connecticut. These archeological sites were found hidden under cultivated fields during archeological reconnaissance surveys which preceded road improvements proposed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The two excavated sites include the Sprague Homestead in Andover and the Goodsell Homestead in North Branford, which are still undergoing inventory and analysis. The Daniels Homestead in Waterford is about to undergo excavation this fall. By combining thorough archeological excavation and recovery methods with in-depth documentary research, these sites are providing rare and important opportunities to better understand many facets of everyday rural life in 18th-century Connecticut, especially foodways.
The Sprague site, located in rural Andover, represents one of the first European homesteads in what was then the newly incorporated town of Lebanon. Nestled in the Hop River Valley, the property was settled by Captain Ephraim Sprague of Duxbury, Massachusetts, in 1705, at which time Lebanon was part of an extensive insular frontier in the Connecticut colony's northeast uplands. Along with his farming activities, Sprague was elected to the position of captain in Lebanon's North Parish train band in 1724 and served in the Northhampton, Massachusetts, region during Grey Lock's (Lovewell's) War in 1724-1725. At various times, Sprague was also a Lebanon selectman, represented the town in Connecticut's General Assembly, and served as a deacon in Eleazor Wheelock's North Society Church. The excavation of the Sprague site uncovered numerous features, including a deep, drylaid stone-lined main cellar with an outside stone-step entrance. Excavation of the lower strata of the cellar revealed concentrations of charred timbers, artifacts, and food remains indicating that the house had burned down sometime in the mid-18th century. Within the sand floor of the cellar were found eight subterranean storage pits, with one pit open and in use at the time the house burned; the remaining pits had been backfilled with sand. Other important discoveries include a large rectangular, ash-filled feature north of the cellar, perhaps representing the location of a large hearth and a second large cellar to the north of the ash feature at the opposite end of the house. The lack of any archeological evidence for subsurface foundation footings at the site indicates that the house sills likely sat on laid stone pads or very low foundation walls that were obliterated by plowing. A well and several small outside open-air hearths were also found. The plan of the Sprague site suggests that the main structure was of the "long house" tradition common in the western uplands of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland and which had originated from earlier Celtic dwelling forms. The Sprague house was approximately 15' x 60' in size, a 4:1 ratio. Although no intact standing long house structures remain in North America today, sites of this post-medieval house form have been excavated in the Duxbury-Plymouth region of Massachusetts, in Maine, and in Virginia (Deetz 1977; Bradley 1989). A similar form of long house is further illustrated in a 1699 drawing of the Saco Fort and has been reconstructed from probate inventories (Candee 1987; St. George 1986). Ephraim Sprague moved to Connecticut from Duxbury; the Sprague family originated from the West Country uplands of England, which had a predominant long house tradition. Interestingly, Captain Sprague, a third-generation American, appears to have continued an "old world" building tradition. Because the entire house burned and the contents were left behind as fill in the two cellars, information on foodways from the Sprague homestead site is extensive. The fire preserved botanical and faunal evidence through carbonization and the heavy ash filtration changed the normal acidic soil to alkaline, which promoted extraordinary organic preservation. Faunal evidence includes the bones of cow, pig, sheep, deer, and birds; eggshells; fish bones and scales; saltwater and freshwater shells; and antler. Carbonized botanical food remains recovered include barley, oats, corn, beans, and hickory nuts. The botanical and faunal evidence indicates an extensive blending of old and new world foods in the Spragues' diet. The recovery of a beaver incisor from the main cellar floor suggests that beaver were still being taken from the region despite the extensive trapping and fur-trading activities during the 17th century. A cache of antler with the tines sawn off, plus worked antler and other homemade tools, demonstrate Sprague's frontier skills at catching and converting game into food, tools, and perhaps other items as well. Foodways-related material culture includes a scythe handle, a sickle, a shovel blade, gun flints, ball and shot of varying sizes, and a fishhook. Various earthenware pans, bowls, and pots were recovered, as were table knives and forks, drinking glass and liquor bottle fragments, and virtually an entire English white salt-glazed stoneware tea set. Captain Sprague's will and probate inventory indicate that at the end of his life in November/December of 1754, 69 years old, he was maintaining only a few animals including a cow and 13 sheep and that he had stored up "corn of all sorts, meat, sauces of all sorts, with two swine now a-fatting." The picture of Sprague, only just emerging as the botanical, faunal, and artifact analysis progress, is one of a man who spanned several worlds. He lived in an oldstyle house, kept domesticated animals but also hunted, and enjoyed a fine tea set but still made his own tools of antler and cut-up brass kettles. He was a representative to Connecticut's assembly, yet fought alongside Native Americans in a colonial and Indian war. Sprague, with his fine cufflinks and large quantity of trade beads, moved easily between roles. The archeological remains of his burned house will permit detailed reconstruction of the foodways of a frontiersman in southern New England, something which has never been done.
The homestead site investigated in North Branford was purchased and settled by Samuel Goodsell of East Haven c. 1735. In 1752, Samuel was accidentally "killed by a log at a sawmill" of which he was part owner. Following Samuel Goodsell's untimely death, the farm was thereafter occupied by his widow Lydia and their daughter Martha. Martha died in 1792 and her mother died c. 1797. At this time, the house was abandoned and the land was sold off by the surviving Goodsell children. Like the Sprague site, archeological and documentary research of the Goodsell homestead offers important opportunities for better understanding lifeways of the period, with a particular focus on the lives of the women who resided there alone for 45 of the house's 62 years of occupancy. The excavation of the site uncovered two cellars, a well, and other smaller features. Like the Sprague site, the Goodsell house sills were likely laid on surface level stone pads and not on subsurface foundations. Faunal remains recovered from the Goodsell homestead include cow, pig, sheep, deer, bird, fish, and eggshells, as well as considerable quantities of saltwater shellfish such as soft-shelled clam, quahog, oyster, and whelk. Many charred botanical remains such as corn were also recovered in flotation samples and will be analyzed in the near future. The 1752 probate inventory of Samuel Goodsell provides detailed information regarding the Goodsells' farm and household economy. Along with a three-acre apple orchard, the Goodsells had a cider mill, various barrels, funnels and bottles, and barrels of cider in varying stages of processing including raw, boiled and apple beer. A bottle glass fragment with the initials "MG" was recovered from the site, presumably representing the initials of the daughter Martha Goodsell. The Goodsells also had stores of oats, rye, barley, wheat and maslin (mixed grains), beehives, and numerous cows, pigs, and sheep. Farming tools mentioned in the probate include a plow, harrow, threshing flail, hoes, forks, shovels, scythes, and other implements. Other important subsistence-related items named in the probate include a set of oyster tongs and a cockle riddle (strainer) for gathering shellfish, a pigeon net, and a gun. Subsistence-related artifacts recovered during the excavation of the Goodsell homestead include table knives and forks, gun flints, lead ball and shot of varying sizes, glass liquor bottle and tumbler fragments, cast-iron kettle fragments, and pewter spoons. A very diverse range of ceramics were recovered during the excavation and include English slipware and slip-decorated red earthenware plates and dishes and matching English white salt-glazed stoneware and creamware plates in the "Royal" pattern.
The Daniels homestead in Waterford is another important 18th-century Connecticut archeological site. Thomas and Hannah Daniels came to the area c.1713 and appear to have been farmers of the middling sort. Thomas Daniels' probate of 1735 indicates that the homestead was comprised of approximately 67 acres of land with cattle, sheep, pigs, and three teams of oxen. At the time of his death, Daniels was well equipped with the necessary farming implements of the time such as stubbing and broad hoes and plow irons, as well as the basic food preparation items such as kettles, pots and hooks, a trammel, pewter spoons, earthenware, wooden dishes, and the like. The Daniels family also had an orchard. Hannah's probate inventory, recorded 10 years later in 1745, depicts a widow with few possessions, the animals included only a cow and calf, a hog, and two geese and nine goslings. The archeological assemblage from a small sample of the site has produced a wide range of materials consistent with the occupation of the area during the first half of the 18th century. Some of the items include red earthenware, German blue and gray stoneware, delftware, kaolin pipe fragments, glass liquor bottle fragments, hand-forged nails, window glass, shell mortar, and significant amounts of shell and bone, particularly cow. A full-scale archeological excavation began during winter 2000 and will continue through spring 2001. Although only in the initial stages of analysis, these three archeological sites are providing new and significant insights into the lifeways of rural colonial Connecticut. In 18th-century New England, the harvesting, collecting, and processing of material culture and food storage were undergoing important changes in technology, strategies, and experimentation (McMahon 1994). Together, these sites will contribute to the creation of more meaningful regional cultural patterns of rural 18th-century life. Importantly, these three archeological homesteads illustrate the everyday lives of people who were the vast majority of the colonial Connecticut's population.
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Ross K. Harper is a senior archeologist with the Public
Archaeology Survey Team, Inc.
Mary G. Harper is the Director of the Public Archaeology
Survey Team, Inc.
Bruce Clouette is the staff historian for the Public
Archaeology Survey Team, Inc.
From Tom Stewart, correspondent, note of June 2nd, 2006
An interesting article on a project to excavate the old homestead of Ephraim Sprague (and others) can be found at the following website: