THE SPRAKER FAMILY
Source: The Illustrated History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, New York; New York, F. W. Beers & Co., 1878; Chapter: Town of Palatine
Place names mentioned: Saxony (Germany), Town of Palatine, Mohawk Valley, Mohawk flats, Schoharie, Johnstown, Sackett's Harbor, Cobleskill, Richmondville, Spraker's Basin, Canajoharie, Fonda, Palatine Bridge, Chicago (IL), Utica, Schenectady, Fort Plain, Root, Fort Keyser
THE SPRAKER FAMILY
This family, which has long been prominent in the Mohawk valley in wealth, business enterprise and social and political influence, deserves particular mention. George Spraker, the remotest ancestor of the family in this country, a native of Saxony, settled in the town of Palatine, Montgomery county, then a part of Albany county, about the year 1755. He married Maria House, who was also of German descent, and by honest industry became the builder of his own fortune and advanced from poverty to prosperity. At the time of his death George Spraker was the owner of some of the finest agricultural land in the valley, a part of which was on the Mohawk flats, and resided at the old homestead on the north bank of the Mohawk river, which has ever since remained in the family.
George Spraker had four sons and five daughters, and the sons, with himself, bore arms against the British, tories and Indians in the war for independence and the early frontier struggles. John and George, sons of George Spraker, were with the detachment of the heroic Col. Brown in the bloody battle with the British and Indians on the 19th of October, 1780; and George Spraker himself, then an elderly man, and his younger sons, Conrad and Jost, were among the garrison of Fort Keyser, within the limits of the present town of Palatine, on that memorable day. Nancy Spraker, a daughter of George Spraker, and widow of Jacob J. Lawyer, still survives and resides at Schoharie, being nearly one hundred years of age.
On the death of George Spraker, Jost Spraker, his youngest son, succeeded to the paternal homestead. Jost Spraker became well known throughout and beyond the State. Travelers through the valley before the time of railroads were entertained at his hotel, which became famous for liberal hospitality. Mr. Spraker was personally noted for his humorous sayings, and many interesting anecdotes of his original wit have survived to the present day. He was an extensive land owner, and possessed many slaves until they became emancipated by law. In the village of Spraker's Basin, opposite his residence, was erected in early times the church known as "Spraker's Church." This old church was replaced in 1858 by a new edifice built upon another site, which was donated by George Spraker, the eldest son of Jost Spraker, to the Reformed Association. The station of the New York Central Railroad near the homestead of Mr. Spraker is appropriately named "Spraker's."
Jost Spraker married Catherine Frazier, a descendant of one of the Scottish pioneer families who first settled Johnstown, and died in 1848, in his 84th year, having outlived his worthy and accomplished wife five years. Six sons and two daughters survived him; and the sons, acting in concert in important enterprises for upwards of half a century, have deserved and realized a rare degree of prosperity, and made their family name the guaranty of honor and responsibility. These six brothers have been very prominent in the social, business, and political circles of their time, and have justly merited their singularly high reputation for business ability and integrity. A brief sketch will be give of the sons and daughters of Jost Spraker:
Nancy Spraker married, and settled at an early day at Sackett's harbor, New York, where she recently died at an advanced age, leaving descendants.
Catherine Spraker after marriage resided in Cobleskill and Richmondville, in Schoharie county, New York, at which last named place she died in 1866, having attained old age among her children.
James Spraker, the fifth son of Jost Spraker, commenced business as a merchant at Spraker's Basin in 1832; the location of his store being upon the south bank of the old canal. At this place Mr. Spraker carried on an extensive and prosperous trade for six years.
Prescient and successful in financial enterprise, Mr. Spraker at an early day saw the field, as well as the public necessity, which existed at Canajoharie and Fonda, for the successful establishment and operation of banks; and by uniting his counsels and effort with those of his brothers, organized the Spraker Bank at Canajoharie in 1853, and the Mohawk River Bank at Fonda in 1856; each of those institutions being the pioneer bank in its own locality. Mr. Spraker removed to Canajoharie in 1853 to take charge of the Spraker Bank, and resided there until 1865, when he removed to Palatine Bridge, and purchased the residence of Henry Loucks, counsellor-at-law. James Spraker is one of the original directors of the Spraker Bank and of the Mohawk River Bank; he has been president of the first named institution since its organization, and his able and careful management of its affairs has ever been manifest in its flourishing condition.
But not in financial achievements alone is his fame memorable; for in the midst of a busy and yet tranquil life, Mr. Spraker still finds time to relieve the distressed and assist the young in the battle of life. He is well known as a generous donor to religious, charitable and benevolent objects, and his name is often sought to head the subscription list. Although frequently urged to accept nominations for office, Mr. Spraker has always preferred the freedom of private life, and for half a century has given to the Democratic party the aid of his untarnished personal character.
The home of James Spraker at Palatine Bridge, guarded in front by two huge and beautiful elms of primeval growth, which are doubtless older than the settlement of the county by Europeans, is one of the most charming in the valley.
Submitted by Barbara L. Gese. Barb's direct-line surnames from Montgomery County are: CASE, GREEN, HERRICK, JEFFERS, KRING, NEHER/NEAHR, PETTINGELL, SERVISS/SERVOSS, SOUTHWICK, and SPRAGUE. Barb is not related to the Spraker family.
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