Placer County









            In the year 1858 Silvester M. Sprague came to California and is now identified with business interests in Iowa Hill.  He is a native of Vermont, born April 22, 1848.  His father, Lucius Sprague, was born in Hanover, Germany, and in 1850 immigrated to California, casting in his lot with the mining population that laid the foundation of the present prosperity and progress of the commonwealth.  He became one of the first settlers in this portion of the state and one of the fourth owners of the North Star mine, out of which he took considerable gold.  He had various other mining interests and later was engaged in freighting from Colfax to Iowa Hill, receiving seventy-five dollars per hundred weight for hauling goods to this place.  Later he removed to Sacramento, where he continued to reside up to the time of his death, which occurred in July, 1895, at the age of seventy-three years.  He was a staunch Republican and a strong Union man during the Civil War and was a thorough, upright citizen.  His wife died in Auburn, California, in 1864, leaving five children, three of whom yet survive, namely:  George, a resident of San Diego, California; Silvester M.; and Mary, wife of John Faferty, of Sacramento.  Charles died at Colfax, California, in twenty-second year of his age, and Julia died in Sacramento, at the age of twenty.  She was married and left a son, Ernest Williams.

            Mr. Sprague, whose name introduces this record, acquired his education in the public schools and early in life began dealing in plaster-paris statues on Market Street in San Francisco.  On the 20th of May, 1864, in answer to the call of this country for volunteers to put down the rebellion, he enlisted in Company B, Second Regiment California Infantry, under Captain Fairfield.  He served at Fort Green, California, participated in several engagements with the Indians and received an honorable discharge in San Francisco in 1865.  He had been promoted to corporal.

            After the close of the war Mr. Sprague came to Iowa Hill and was in the pottery business for fifteen years.  At the same time he was connected with numerous mining enterprises, operating the Blue Wing and Washington and the Aurora mines.  He took out large quantities of gold, but the law prohibiting hydraulic mining ended his operations, and all the mining machinery and the valuable property is now standing idle.  Mr. Sprague is a stockholder and superintendent in the General Green and the Dewey Consolidated drift mine and is a part owner of the Oriental and Reeta quartz mines and in the Last Chance gravel mine.  He also has a farm of three hundred and twenty acres, the Fallbrook place, four miles from Lincoln, in Placer County.  This is a grain and fruit farm and is a valuable property, yielding excellent returns.  Mr. Sprague has other real estate interests, being the owner of the Arcade building and also of one of the finest residences in Iowa Hill, where he resides with his family.

            In 1876 occurred the marriage of Silvester M. Sprague and Miss Mary Smiley, a native of Canada and a sister of John Smiley, one of the pioneers of this state.  They now have five children, as follows:  Elsworth, who is now the proprietor of a meat market; O. L., who is engaged in business in Sacramento; Nellie, the wife of Samuel Watts, deputy county clerk at Auburn; and Adelbert and Budd, who are at school.  They were all born in Iowa Hill.

            Mr. Sprague has always been a very active member of the Republican Party, attending all of its conventions and doing everything in his power to promote the growth and insure its success.  He may well be termed a leader of his party in the county and his labors have been very efficacious in promoting its welfare.  He served for some years as deputy county assessor, yet has never been an aspirant for political honors.  For twenty-seven years he has been connected with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, was one of its charter members at Iowa Hill and has filled the office of receiver.  He is in full sympathy with all the progressive movements about him and watches the outcome of events with the keenest interest.  He has been a leading factor in the progress of Iowa Hill.  Educational, church and social interests owe their promotion in a considerable degree to him.  For many years has this place been his home, years largely devoted to the public good.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 787-788. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




Placer County Biographies

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