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Denton Community
Historical Society

Tales & Trails


History of Sprague, NE
TALES AND TRAILS Newsletter from
Denton, NE, and surrounding areas
Vol. 7, No. 4
Sept. 2005 

Sprague, Nebraska. 
Photo copied from 100 Years of Remembrance


Prior to the year of 1888, the town of Sprague was undreamed of. The Sol Kirk family settled at an early date upon the land, which is now occupied by a part of the town. The records show that taxes were paid as early as the year 1864 on the ground, which was once prairie and is now covered with buildings. Sol Kirk and J. H. Buel, at that time, owned the land and were farming it. Little did they realize that in another generation it would be a town. 

Settlers were not long in grasping the opportunity of forming a town. The Missouri Pacific Railroad came through and named the town after a homesteader, Mr. Sprague. During the fall of 1887 Jerry Peck plowed the lines for the streets of the future town, L. H. Wilcox laid out the town and the plat was filed for record on May 3, 1888. 

Aerial view of Sprague. 
Photo copied from 100 Years of Remembrance

Because of the railroad it was known as a tough town. Remembrance. Immediately businesses sprang up. Some of the early businessmen of the town were William Finley, Herman Spellman, C. H. Corey, E. .S. Downes, Lyman S. Sargent, Bolbly and Knox, the lumbermen Jesse Johnson, manager of the Rounds Lumber Company, James Andrel, and J. H. Buel. Mr. Finley operated the first drug store, which stood, where the current post office is. Herman Spellman operated one of the early general stores, which was taken down and moved here from the town of Firth. C. H. Corey was the owner of another general store which stood near the present Bar and Grill. There was also a hotel in town but it was later moved away. This is by no means a complete list. 

The town businesses as of 2005 consist of the Olive Branch Insurance, the Post Office, E & N Car Wash and the Sprague Bar & Grill. Obviously most business is done elsewhere. The popularity of the car has allowed everyone to travel farther afield both in the search of jobs and C.O. Hale Hardware, 1905. 

C. O. Hale Hardware, 1905
Photo copied from 100 Years of Remembrance

The first Sunday  school was held in Sprague in what was called the Old Music Hair' above the Corey store Fred Krull was the first superintendent. Reverend Sapp and Reverend Comstock were early itinerant ministers. It is said that Reverend Comstock used to walk from the town of Hickman over to Sprague to be able to conduct services. 

Sprague Church 
Photo copied from 100 Years of Remembrance

On July 23, 1893, the Presbyterian Church of Sprague was incorporated and organized by John W. Taylor, James Andrel, Henry F. Mitchell, William H. Finley, Allen P. Ferguson, M. O. and Chauncey F. Diehl and Thomas L. Saxton. A building was erected on the site where the present church now stands. Services were conducted in the Presbyterian 1faith up to 1907. At this time the denomination of the church was changed to Methodist. This would change again in 1980 when the church front steps were enclosed and the stairs leading to the basement were widened. Planning for more room began in 1987 and an addition to the East Side of the church was completed in 1989. This included a fellowship hall upstairs, one Sunday school room and an office for the pastor. The basement has a preschool room, additional kitchen facilities plus lovely restrooms. Handicapped accessibility was added in 2003 with the addition of a lift in the northwest corner of the building. Every year the church sponsors the Fall Festival with a parade, children's games, noon dinner and an auction in the afternoon of donated goods. 

Andrew J. McClain who owned a billiard parlor and also acted as Postmaster ran the first post office in Sprague. The Post office moved to a small building north of the Hardware Store eventually. On April 3, 1945, the Village Board agreed to purchase this building for not more than $150 from Gertrude I. Thorton who was the Postmaster at that time. Electric lights were installed in the building then. The Post Office remained in this location until the morning of October 16, 1986, when it moved into a new building located on the southwest corner of 2nd and Market St. Geraldine Bade was the postmaster at that time. The current postmaster is Cindy Bauman. 

Sprague Bank 
Photo copied from 100 Years of Remembrance

Clif Poland started the Sprague Bar and Grill in the late 1940s. It has had several owners since then. The current owners are Mr. & Mrs. Scott West. It is located in what was the Bank of Sprague at 1440 West Second. Melvin and Sheryl Nannen and Terry and Peg Egger started E & N Car Wash in 1976. It is still faithfully serving the public today. Twelve farmers in the Kramer, Nebraska, area formed the Olive Branch Insurance Company in 1873. The Articles of Incorporation were filed in February, 1969. In February, 1982, the company decided to set up an office in the house located at 1600 West 33rd Street in Sprague, Nebraska. The Olive Branch Insurance Company relocated next to the new City Hall on 18930 Market Street in 2002. 

There is a new City Hall, which at the time of this writing is not yet complete. It is located across the street south from the Sprague Bar and Grill. The current town board consists of Mayor Bruce Mahler, Gene Keller, Matt Glenn, Teresa Egger and Garold Judson. Pat Smith is the clerk and Marilyn Palmer is the Treasurer. 

F. J. Sieck General Merchandise Store in 1911 
Photo copied from 100 Years of Remembrance

The Lancaster County has a maintenance shop located here and it has been in existence for at least 50 years. There are fifty-two houses in Sprague. Every house had their own well until a village wide water system was installed in 1985. The newest home that is "stick built" belongs to Garold and Carolyn Judson at 18835 Broom and was built and occupied in 2000. The newest residence in town is a manufactured home that was moved to Sprague in 2001 and is currently owned by Richard L. and Doris Bittinger. One house has an interesting bit of history connected to it. Dr. Frances Borglum was a Doctor in Sprague before Dr. William Lamb. He was a brother of Gutzon Borglum who sculpted "The Mt. Rushmore Faces" in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Dr. Lamb built the present house after Dr. Borglum left Sprague. Luana and her late husband, Gerald, purchased it in 1945. 

This was written by Luana Sullivan and Joan Buhrmann on Sept. 5. 2005 and is true as far as is known. 

Copyright  2011
Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska