Mr. and Mrs. Melville Bartlett Spratt

Whence Came the Name


The Alpena Argus 

September 21, 1912

Alpena's Living Pioneers


Melville Bartlett Spratt


Deacon Melville B. Spratt has lived in Alpena county for nearly half a century.  He was born in China, Kennebec county, Maine on Aug. 5, 1833.  When eleven years old, he moved with his parents and family from the beautiful village on the banks of China Lake, to the backwoods of Penobscot county.  During his minority he helped his father and brothers to clear the hemlock and hardwood timber from land now comprising a large farm.  When he became of age he bought adjoining land where he made for himself a farm and a home.

On August 6, 1857, he married Miss Olive A. Crawford.  In 1866 he sold his possessions in Maine and came to Alpena.  For a few years after arriving here Mr. Spratt was engaged in the manufacture of fish barrels for Alpena fishermen: John Campbell, James Trodden Duncan McRae, Sid Case, Fred Lincoln, and others.

The first fall Mr. Spratt was here, he saw John Campbell take from a trap net (at North Point) in one day and night, three hundred barrels of choice whitefish.  And Mr. Spratt vouches for the truth of this fish-story.  In those days, however, fish and saw logs were Alpena's chief articles of commerce.

Among the events of Mr. Spratt's life, which are treasured in his memory, are: As a Mason, he was present when the first candidate (A.B. Hopper) was initiated in Alpena Lodge No. 199, F. and A.M., in 1866. And in 1867, he was one of the first nine constituent members who helped to organize the First Baptist church of Alpena.

Mr. Spratt admits that he voted for John C. Fremont, the first Republican candidate for the presidency, in 1856, and for every Republican presidential nominee since then.

On July 29, 1868, Mrs. Spratt died in Alpena, leaving her husband two small children, a boy and a girl.  The surviving one, Thomas H., now lives in Helena Montana, and is also a Baptist deacon.

On Oct. 6, 1871, Mr. Spratt married Mrs. Margaret M. Morgan.  The issue of this marriage was three boys: Clay, now a Green township farmer; Ralph, who died a soldier in the Spanish-American war, and Winfield, who is a teacher in Minnesota.

On being quizzed about his personal habits, Mr. Spratt said: "I never drank but one glass of beer and one glass of whiskey in my lifetime.  But I have used tobacco for sixty-five years.  I learned to use it to make a man of myself.  I afterwards learned that I was not man enough to quit it.  I was too weak to shake off the appetite acquired so early in life."

In 1877, Mr. Spratt purchased a tract of land in sections 24 and 25, T. 30 N., R. 5 East, in Green township; and in April of that year he moved on to this land and started to clear and make another farm, where in a few years, he had a fine, well equipped farm of 320 acres, 160 acres under cultivation.

Among the equipments of this farm were a herd of registered Hereford cattle, the first ever brought into this county.

Many of the hardships incident to farming among the early settlers of Alpena county, were borne by him during the first years of his country life.  He was twenty-four miles from a post-office, with roads such as taxed the strength of a good team to draw even a part of a ton, requiring about ten hours of steady, careful driving to make the trip.  The distance can now be traveled in one hour, with an automobile, over present macadamized and graveled highways from Alpena to "Spratt."

Always a busy man, Mr. Spratt for years added the business of lumbering during winters, to that of farming during summers.  The measure of success thus attained was considered ample compensation for the labor performed and the incidental hardships so patiently endured.

In November, 1905, Mr. Spratt sold his farm to F.L. Terry, and moved to town, where he and Mrs. Spratt reside in their cozy home at 423 State street, with three of their little motherless grandchildren, whose childish racket and innocent prattle recall their earlier days, and help keep Mr. and Mrs. Spratt from growing lonesome.  The care of these children, though a severe tax upon such old people, is almost compensated for by the children's affection for their grandparents. 

"Since selling my farm," said Mr. Spratt, "I have done nothing but pay assessments on my life insurance, and interest on an investment in a cranberry farm; but you needn't mention that in your paper."

Mr. Spratt has but one brother living, Mr. A.N. Spratt of Helena, Montana.


Mr. Melville B Spratt and Mrs. Margaret (Morgan) Spratt


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Herron Genealogy

*********************************************************************************************Note: This article was contained in the package of materials from my aunt Ardellia Herron's term paper for professor Dain's History 414 class in December, 1967.  

Note: the original paper is in the archives of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.  It may be referenced as:

Herron, Ardellia M., History of Spratt, 1967, Central Michigan University Student Term Papers, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.