Spragueville, Iowa, USA, founded by Lauren Sprague in 1841
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     Periodic Sprague Project Updates are sent to those who have contributed to The Sprague Project and to those who have inquired about the project. These reports provide information on changes made to the project and on plans for future development. Below are the current and previous reports.

January 2011

It has been almost two years since my last update on the status of the Sprague Project. I think I should provide an update before we get too far into 2011. Sending an update to the almost 2,400 active participants in the Sprague Project requires almost three days, so I seldom do it, but recent e-mails suggest to me a significant interest in several items I'll discuss. The reason for a distribution taking so long is that I must first convert the Sprague Project Address Book into a series of lists in the format necessary for my bulk mail program. Because of spam mail controls, my ISP restricts the number of e-mails I can send per hour, so I must spread them out over many hours.

Nearly three years ago, I spent some time on Ancestry reviewing some information on the Sprague name. In the 1920 census, Sprague families were found in all states, plus Hawaii and Alaska, which were not yet states. New York had the highest number of families. Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and California were in the next category where from 124 to 369 Sprague families were found in each state. All remaining states had fewer than 124 Sprague families.

The Sprague family contributed extensive service during the Civil War. Twenty-three (23) of the 1,050,000 Confederate veterans were named Sprague. Eight hundred eighty four (884) of the Union veterans were recorded with the name Sprague. Of these 907 Civil War veterans, the Sprague Project has identified 319, a bit more than one-third. This is proof that even though the Sprague Database has grown to include nearly 340,000 Sprague family members, there is still much work to be done. Are you aware that there is a series of reports on the Sprague Website where you can see the Sprague family members who have participated in various military conflicts? If not, you might want to visit the Sprague Website's Military Participants webpage and select the military conflict in which you are interested.

You may have noted that these update reports happen less frequently than in the past. You may also have noted that updates to the Sprague Website database happen less frequently than in the past. For a while, I attempted to produce an update every month or two, but that is no longer possible. The demands of the Sprague Project continue to increase dramatically. That is not a surprise. Each time we add a new family to the Sprague Database, the possibility of someone searching for a family name finding a connection in the Sprague Database increases. With each such connection, new questions and new contributions result. I currently estimate that it would take me at least two years to clear up my backlog of messages if no new material were received. The e-mail backlog currently stands at over 2,000 with much hard-copy material also available with which to enhance the Sprague family history. This is not new news, nor is it bad news, as it proves the Sprague Project is of wide interest and has the participation of a broad audience. It is proof, however, that one person cannot take advantage of all the opportunities presented for expanding the Sprague family history and the Sprague Database.

A couple of years ago as the growing demand became increasingly evident, I concluded that if the Sprague Database were to continue to be developed much longer, the Sprague Project should follow the approach of similar projects. The one I'm most familiar with is the Alden family history as managed by the Alden Kindred Society. I thought that if there were similar interest among Sprague descendants, that perhaps a Sprague Family Association could be formed and would assume responsibility for the Sprague Database. I even had an offer from a Sprague "cousin" familiar with forming such organizations to help organize an association. Because I was already overly occupied with the development of the Sprague Database, I hoped that there would be some Sprague family descendants who might be interested in guiding the formation of a Sprague Family Association, at least until the association was operational and able to assume responsibility for the Sprague Project totally. No such interest was found to exist, so I continue to do what I've done for about the past 20 years, albeit I do much less now than what opportunities exist. As the years pass, I will probably slow my Sprague Project work and at some point be unable to do further work. My 78th birthday will occur this summer. Arnold, our Sprague Project Webmaster, has assured me that as long as he is able that the Sprague Website will continue to be available in the state of my most recent update. However, any such websites become progressively less useful as the time since the last update gets longer and major corrections cannot be entered.

I continue to work on submissions, but some submissions simply go unprocessed for long periods. Perhaps they will never get processed. This appears to be the best plan for continuing to build the Sprague family history. The job can never be completed in my life-time, and of course, the number of Sprague descendants grows dramatically each year. (For your information, we're now in the 15th generation of descent from my ancestor, Francis Sprague, which means there are millions of Sprague descendants, with most of them not yet recorded in the Sprague Database.)

I'm disappointed that a plan to ensure a life for the Sprague Project, when I can no longer do so, could not be devised, but much can still be done and is being done daily to enhance the Sprague family history. A very large amount of research has been completed in 2009 and 2010 to document Spragues who lived in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century as documented in census records and both World War I and World War II draft registrations. My early dream when starting the Sprague Project was to extend -- I probably naively thought "complete"? rather than "extend"? at that time -- the work of Dr. Warren Vincent Sprague in Sprague Families in America. We've extended his work extensively, to more current generations and also to many other countries of the world. I can only believe that Dr. Sprague would be astounded to see what we've accomplished together from the start he gave us.

I often wonder how aware Sprague family members are of the vast capability available on the Sprague Website to use the Sprague Database for enhancing their family history. I mentioned above the Military Reports. There is a comprehensive search capability that allows a vast number of possible search terms. The picture galleries for individual pictures and grave stone pictures grow regularly. There is a significant list of Sprague family printed sources. A place to document places named after Sprague family members is provided. A "Cemeteries" tab on the website allows visitors to review a list of cemeteries with names of individuals from the Sprague Database who are buried there. Some of the cemeteries are linked to a Google map showing their precise locations. A history section contains a number of interesting articles about events that our Sprague ancestors encountered such as the arrival of "home children" in Canada, the involvement of the Sprague family in slavery, and the sinking of ships involving the loss of Sprague family members. The Sprague Website is much more than a listing of people named Sprague with the location and date of their key life events. It contains much interesting data and a chance for extended family research. I hope this guidance will help site visitors use this treasure fully.

With that in mind, I'd like to comment on a question that I'm often asked: "How do I help?" Generally this question is asked relative to the large e-mail backlog that I mention whenever I publish one of these updates. The truth is that I feel the greatest need of the Sprague Project lies in areas other than the answering and processing of e-mails. Much of what has been accomplished with the Sprague Project is a result of various individuals saying, "Let me take charge of that." We wouldn't have a Sprague Website today if A. Arnold Sprague hadn't said that he'd like to take charge of creating a Sprague Project Website. Several individuals including but not limited to Jane Sanderman Mason, William G. Sprague, Russell W. Sprague, Ralph D. Sprague, Carl House and Cecil Sprague had expertise in researching certain areas and offered their talents in researching Sprague lines, not necessarily their own Sprague lines. I thank them for their contributions.

If you would like to ensure continuation of and improvement of the Sprague Project here are a few areas where I would welcome a note saying, "I'd like to take charge of that area."

1. I have a large volume of information that includes Sprague content hidden among a large volume of other material. A typical example is the photocopy of a Death Announcements page from various newspapers. It takes a large amount of time for me to carefully review the page, find the Sprague item and then transcribe the article into computer readable text. If there is anyone with time to contribute to reviewing and transcribing such items for me to then include in the Sprague Database, please volunteer.

2. The possibility of forming a Sprague Family Association has been mentioned above. If anyone believes that the Sprague Project will benefit from such an organization and is willing to head up an effort to manage the organization of such an association, I believe you'll be doing a great service to future generations of Sprague family members who'd like to know more about their ancestry.

3. Dr. Sprague's Sprague Families in America is still a widely used reference 98 years after he published his monumental work. Because the current Sprague Database is available only via the Sprague Website, which is dependent on periodic updates to utilize current technology, there is little likelihood that the Sprague family history we've developed together will be available to the descendants of our children and grandchildren. I continue to evaluate various means of documenting and releasing the Sprague family history in a format that will have a longer usable life. If there is anyone who will take responsibility for continuing this effort, I'd welcome hearing from you.

I wish you all a very successful 2011 as you work to individually document more of your ancestral history. I hope that each of you will review your Sprague line on the Sprague Website and use the Suggest feature to report necessary corrections and desired additions. One of the greatest advantages of putting the material from the Sprague Database on the Sprague Website is to allow it to be reviewed and improved by family researchers. I believe that the quality of information recorded in the Sprague Database is excellent and of high interest, but each of you can make it more interesting by providing pictures of your ancestors, pictures of their grave stones, corrections for errors I may have made, and historical anecdotes about their daily lives. Thank you all for your support of the Sprague Project.

Dick
--
Richard E. (Dick) Weber
The Sprague Project Developer
e-mail: developerATsprague-databaseDOTorg
Sprague Website: sprague-database.org

February 2009

It has been several months since I provided a Sprague Project update. I've recently completed generating an update file, which was sent to Arnold Sprague, our capable webmaster, who updated the Sprague Website. This seems like a good time to update the 1,861 active correspondents of the Sprague Project on project status.

I think Dr. Warren Vincent Sprague would feel pleased with what the Sprague Project has accomplished. For those who don't know, I should comment that it was Dr. Sprague's monumental effort resulting in the 1913 publishing of The Sprague Families in America that was the motivation for me to start the Sprague Project so many years ago. I started the Sprague Project simply to record what was in his book in order to make it more searchable on a personal computer. The Sprague Website by A. Arnold Sprague was established to allow public access to the information I record in the Sprague Database. What you now see has grown from those beginnings. Dr. Sprague had recorded information on fewer than 50,000 family members. The recent update of the Sprague Website is the result of recording information on nearly 304,000 individuals associated with the Sprague family. The Sprague Website makes available (for free Internet searches) the information for all deceased individuals in the Sprague Database. The Sprague Database now includes almost 225,000 deceased individuals, with about 79,000 individuals recorded as living. I've always been amazed at the work of Dr. Sprague, which was accomplished without the Internet, without personal computers, and without the ability to edit scripts in any other fashion than retyping the page. However, I feel confident that Dr. Sprague would be equally amazed at the history that has been recorded by many hundreds of Sprague family members working together. Thank you to every one who has contributed at least one piece to the Sprague family puzzle.

As we continue into 2009, I find it wonderful that Dr. Sprague's work is still helping Sprague family members learn of their ancestry after 96 years, with no end in sight for the usefulness of his book and subsequent updates. As I celebrated my 75th birthday last July, I reflected on how long the Sprague Database would be of use for future generations of Sprague family members interested in "where did I come from." This thought caused me to divert my attention from entering information into the Sprague Database in an attempt to find a way for the project to continue to be of value for decades in the future. After discussion with several active Sprague Project contributors, I was forced to accept that there is little likelihood of the formation of a Sprague Family Association or of a group to guide the future of the Sprague Project. With that diversion complete, I focused on the processing of a large e-mail backlog and the building of the Sprague Database. Thanks to the efforts of many contributors, the database has grown significantly with census transcriptions, obituaries, and biographical information. Many unconnected lines have been connected to a major Sprague line, but many new unconnected lines have been added. Since adding content to the Sprague Database seems to be the most important concern of Sprague Project contributors, I've reduced the time on auxiliary activities. I've reduced the frequency of Sprague Website updates. I've eliminated the Sprague Project Update Reports on a quarterly basis in favor of an occasional report such as this note. The vast majority of my time is now expended on adding content to the Sprague Database.

As you all realize, the volume of e-mail (and surface mail) I receive is huge. It is the content of this e-mail that has allowed the recording of the vast amount of Sprague family history that you can review on the Sprague Website. The more e-mails I process, the more I conclude that most visitors to our website simply go to the home page, enter a name as a search argument, and follow the links from one family member to another. There is a great deal of information on the Sprague Website that I think is never seen by most visitors. There are many approaches to utilizing information on the Sprague Website to do family research, but I suspect most are rarely used. Have you ever used the Advanced Search to search for a woman, maiden name unknown, who married a Sprague? Have you ever used the map function on the Sprague Website to get a detail map of the location of a cemetery? Have you ever looked to see what others were buried in the cemetery where your ancestor was buried in order to help find your ancestor's parents? Have you ever wished you could have a list of all the places with a particular location identity in a way to allow you to look for all individuals who show a presence in that location (for example, all places in Viroqua, Wisconsin such as Vernon Memorial Hospital, the Bethel Home and Vernon Manor?) Have you ever thought how useful it might be to have a list of all individuals buried in a particular location such as Sussex Co., NJ? Have you ever thought it would be nice to know the history of a location with Sprague in the title and to know of the person for whom the location was named? All of the above and many more are possibilities when the many features of the Sprague website are used. If any of you have ideas of how to make these functions more readily understood and usable, I'd appreciate knowing your thoughts. If any of you have used the Sprague Website in a fashion other than a search by name of the individual, I'd like to know the story of what you accomplished and how you did it.

The Sprague Database and Website continue to add useful content, and I often get comments about how much various individuals appreciate the Sprague Website. Each year adds much content, and as content is added, the odds are increased that new family history researchers will find the Sprague Website and then contact me with questions and offers to provide new information. That is a wonderful problem, but the truth of the matter is that the volume of data I need to process grows at a rate that I cannot possibly handle. In fact, at this writing my backlog is so large that it is likely that most new submissions will not get processed for at least six months and more likely over a year. That doesn't mean that I don't welcome such notes, but accuracy and quality of the Sprague Database and Sprague Website is of a higher priority than is the reduction of an e-mail backlog.

Even though the continued building of the Sprague Database is my top priority, I continue to believe that it would be sad if the massive amount of Sprague family history that has been recorded were lost to future generations. I intend to spend some time pursuing options for long term preservation of this information with professional groups such as The New England Historic Genealogical Society. I'll advise you in the future of progress with these efforts.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who has supported the Sprague Project. The Sprague Project would not exist were it not for the submissions/contributions of many hundred Sprague family researchers. I especially want to thank those researchers who have committed a significant amount of time to provide quality information, connect unconnected segments of the Sprague family, and to bring lines of descent much closer to current generations. I will not name these individuals but feel very grateful for the time they have expended to improve detail and accuracy of Sprague lines to which they have no ties.

I wish you all a very successful 2009 as you seek more knowledge of your ancestral history.

Dick
--
Richard E. (Dick) Weber
The Sprague Project Developer
e-mail: developerATsprague-databaseDOTorg
Sprague Website: sprague-database.org

September, 2008

I recently received an e-mail from a Sprague Project correspondent who felt something was wrong because a Sprague Project Update Report had not been received for a long time. I responded to the e-mail to tell the correspondent that the only problem is that The Sprague Project creates far more demands than I am able to satisfy. A few hours later, I received a note from Robin David Sprague asking if I'd send an e-mail to all Sprague Project correspondents advising them of a great opportunity available for participating in the SpragueDNA Project until September 30th.

With those two motivators, I decided it was time to update all of you on the Sprague Project. As you probably know, the Sprague Project is composed of three major sub-projects. The Sprague Database is the basis of the Project and I have developed that database to record the history of descendants of Sprague/Spragg/Spragge/Sprig/Spriggs/etc., family members and the ancestral lines of their spouses. That database has currently grown to almost 297,000 individuals and continues to grow in excess of 1,000 family members per month.

The information on the deceased family members in the Sprague Database is made available at absolutely no cost to anyone on the Sprague Website. A. Arnold Sprague is the Webmaster who takes a file I prepare for him from the Sprague Database and turns it into the website found here.

Arnold does all the work of maintaining the Sprague Website and has underwritten all the costs of making it available and provides all the effort to maintain and enhance it. Within the past few months, he moved the website to a new Internet Service Provider (ISP) and as a result the performance provided to you for searches on the Sprague Website is significantly improved.


The SpragueDNA Project is managed by Robin David Sprague who has done all the work to establish this sub-project. The SpragueDNA Project is designed only for the participation of males who have the surname Sprague/Spragg/Spragge and other such derivative names to build a file of DNA signatures that will increasingly help us connect the unconnected Sprague lines, now over 1,000, to the established Sprague lines. If you are a direct line Sprague male descendant, I encourage you to participate in the SpragueDNA Project. Now is a great time because of the special opportunity that Robin describes as follows:

I am sending this email to highlight a sale on Y-DNA testing by FTDNA. Go to our affiliated web site, The Sprague DNA Project, to learn more.

FTDNA SIZZLING SUMMER SALE
Due to popular demand, Family Tree DNA is extending its Sizzling Summer Sale until September 30th! This promotion is geared toward bringing new members to the Sprague DNA project by offering the following big incentives:

Product
Promotion     Original     Sale
Y-DNA37
Reduced
$189
$119
Y-DNA37+mtDNA
Reduced
$339
$189
Y-DNA67
Reduced
$269
$218
Y-DNA67+mtDNAplus   
Reduced
$409
$288

(Note: Only tests including Y-DNA37 or Y-DNA67 will be allowed into our project. Anything less is not detailed enough to help the project goals.)

DNA testing is an excellent supplement to standard genealogical research by offering a scientific verification of your lineage.

Have you hit the proverbial "brick wall" of research? DNA testing can point you in the right direction by identifying common DNA markers between males in your line and males with common Sprague or Sprague-derivative ancestors.

Questionable sources and possible assumptions in your lineage can be a huge waste of time. DNA testing is able to identify bad lines, thus saving you
precious hours or even years of research.

FOR QUALIFYING SPRAGG LINES!
Two $50 Grants or one $100 Grant for Spragg DNA Testing Available. First come, first served. Deadline for combined savings with Grant is September 29, 2008. (To give the admin a day to coordinate with FTDNA.)

You can combine this grant with the sale price noted above. This detail is not currently reflected on the Sprague DNA web site.

Test    Original Price    Sale + Grant Price    Qualified Participants
Y-DNA67   
$269
$118
1
Y-DNA67
$269
$168
2

The Sprague DNA Project received a generous donation by one of our members, Duff Sprague. If you descend from the Spragg line, you may be eligible for a $50 discount on your test kit.

(Note: Sprague or other surnames could descend from a Spragg line.)

Only two grants are available, so act now! Since this is a donation to encourage participation, please request this grant only if you require financial assistance to participate. Thank you.

Contact The Sprague DNA Project Administrator, Robin Sprague, for more information.(robin.spragueATsprague-dnaDOTorg) You must be able to clearly document a qualified line with a Spragg ancestor. Only the Y-DNA67 test is eligible. Pre-approval by the DNA administrator is required.


Arnold and I often discuss ways to make the Sprague Website a better research tool and a more interesting place to visit. We have done some preliminary work on a couple of ideas.

The first idea comes from the fact that I increasingly find cities, towns, villages, rivers, streams, schools, businesses and other entities that carry the Sprague/Spragg/Spragge name. The Sprague/Spragg/Spragge families can be found over far-flung reaches of the earth, and they have been influential members of the communties where they chose to reside. As a result, the physical entities listed above and others now bear their name. It has seemed to me since I visited Spragueville, Iowa a few years ago that it would be very interesting to have the website provide details about these places. Arnold and I have created a prototype for this feature where the entries for each of the entities includes the latitude and longitude where located linked to a Google map, a brief history of the origin of the place and a link to the person for whom the place was named. Where available, a picture pertinent to the entity may also be shown. This prototype page may be reviewed at Entities Named Sprague.

Developing material for this feature is not simple as it requires a good bit of research to find information on the origin of the entity and to find the individual for whom the entity was named. I do not have the available time to pursue this effort much further, but if you find the feature as intriguing as do I, I'll welcome a volunteer who will assume responsibility for this sub-project.

The other possible website extension that Arnold and I have discussed is one that we're still trying to define in a workable way. We added pictures of grave markers and of deceased individuals recorded in the Sprague Database to the Sprague Website many months back, and this feature has been enjoyed by many and support has been enthusiastic. However, I've learned that many have Sprague family photos in which not all the individuals can be identified. Perhaps there is a need for a section on the webpage to post pictures for which help in identifying those pictured is desired. We don't want this to simply be a photo gallery of old pictures, so work is required to set the objectives for this effort if we are to make it a feature of the Sprague Website.

The Sprague Website often attracts visitors who find that they would like to contact others interested in sharing research notes on their family. In the course of a year, I make many electronic introductions, and generally both individuals and the Sprague Project gain from this effort. I never divulge the name of individuals who contribute to the Sprague Project without their permission.

This brings us to the Sprague Database. In 2008, a great deal of high quality research has been added to the database. Several accomplished researchers have picked areas for concentration and provided detailed and thorough research to enhance the Sprague family history in those areas. This has added a great deal of information in 2008 for the Sprague/Spragg/Spragge family of 1850 through current generations. I greatly appreciate the support of each of these researchers and of the remaining project contributors who concentrate in a more restrained fashion on their Sprague ancestry. A huge database of family information has been recorded and made available through the Sprague Website. However, success has its down side, and the large amount of information provided by the Sprague Website has resulted in unprecedented volumes of e-mail. I am several months behind in responding to my e-mail and have reached the point where I cannot predict when I can respond, nor can I guarantee that I will ever respond. I'm adding content to the Sprague family history at record levels, but losing ground as I do so.

Many have said, "How can I help?" I've looked at many ideas of ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Sprague Project. I passed my 75th birthday a few months back and know that family health issues, aging eyes, and the mere passage of time will in time restrict my involvement in the further building of the Sprague Database. I'm going to briefly describe some of the options I've considered based on suggestions and questions I receive. Many of these items were discussed with some key project supporters over the past year and are not being pursued further because for me to pursue them would just require a greater time investment. Here for your purposes are some of the areas investigated.

Could the Sprague Database be split with different administrators for the different parts? Yes, it could but with high impact. The various Sprague families have intermarried many times, so splitting by family (Francis Sprague Descendants, Ralph Sprague descendants, William Sprague descendants, Spragg family, etc.) would end up with many repeated individuals in several databases. It would further make it much more difficult to research for individuals trying to connect to their ancestry.

How about limiting the database as do so many family databases only to the Spragues and one or two generations of their descendants? In other words, allow lines to "daughter out." I've always felt that following the female lines was a strength of the Sprague Project. If I believed in allowing a line to "daughter out," I would not have done the project because I'm five generations removed from my nearerst Sprague ancestor. I also know that carrying the descendants of Sprague daughters has resulted in adding a great deal of Sprague family information because it connected with other researchers with knowledge to spare.

How about forming a Sprague Family Association that could take over management responsibility for the future of the Sprague Project? I very much like this idea, but it would require a committed resource to develop the organization, and I'm not sure such a commitment is available. It's been suggested that there is little motivation for such an organization because the benefits of the organization such as the Sprague Website are already available for free. The Alden Kindred Society is one example, and there are many examples of such a family organization. They provide a wonderful website, publish hard copy research material and manage the development of the Alden family history. Perhaps a Sprague family organization could raise funds to support the development of the Sprague Database for generations to come. This is a sound idea, but one for which I've heard virtually no popular support.

How about doing as Dr. Warren Vincent Sprague did and make the results found in the Sprague Database available in hard copy to be used for generations still unborn? This is a problem with great logistical limits. I've done some testing, and to document the current Sprague Database in hard copy would require well over 50,000 pages. Such a project is economically not feasible. We all know that before the first copy hit the market it would be made obsolete by new information. I've done a prototype study of making such material available electronically in a form that can be selectively printed, and the content would be fully searchable and lineage linked. By "lineage linked," I mean that when viewing the material on a computer, clicking on a name in the index, for example, will automatically take the user to the page in the text of the work where information on the particular family could be printed. I find the concept intriguing, but again most will tell you they'd prefer the Sprague Website.

These are the major areas I've investigated for the project and have put on the back burner simply to focus on building the Sprague Database for as long as possible. I estimate that if I received no more e-mail from this day forward, it would be at least five years before I had all the Sprague family information currently in my "Sprague Room" duly recorded. So in closing this report, I will simply say there are many opportunities for the Sprague Project in the future, but the project has far outgrown my ability to capitalize on all opportunities.

I hope you'll keep reviewing your families on the Sprague Website. Please tell me where we have erred in our efforts to keep living individuals from being displayed on the Sprague Website. Fill in missing information where you can. Send me copies of obituaries when you lose your ancestral family members. Above all, tell me where we have erred in recording the Sprague family history. I think the Sprague Database has a high degree of accuracy, but any error is one needing elimination.

Thank you for your support of the Sprague Project. If there is any item mentioned above that you feel is highly desireable, please volunteer to head up a sub-project in that area. I wish you all a wonderful end to 2008.

Dick
--
Richard E. (Dick) Weber
The Sprague Project Developer
e-mail: developerATsprague-databaseDOTorg
Sprague Website: http://www.sprague-database.org

February 6, 2008

Some of you may have noted that I did not send an update report for The Sprague Project at the end of the 4th Quarter. I chose not to spend the time to distribute that report in order to focus on the constantly increasing e-mail backlog.

I'm now sending this report to alert you to the fact that I experienced a problem feared by all computer owners. On January 25th I lost the motherboard on my computer. A new one was ordered and installed but when installed it was discovered that I had also lost my backup disk drive. In the process of recovering from these two problems, I lost ALL e-mail sent to me for the period of January 24th to February 5th inclusive. I'd ask that each and everyone of you check your sent mail and that you resend any mail sent to me during that period. I apologize for asking you to repeat the work in this regard.

Everything submitted to me via the Suggest feature of the Sprague Website also goes to Arnold Sprague, our Sprague Project webmaster so are preserved. Arnold and I are working on the process for transferring them to me so don't be concerned about those messages. On the other hand, any message sent to me from the Developer link on the Sprague Website during the period mentioned are lost.

I should emphasize that I lost almost no information from the Sprague Database. That is well preserved. The only loss is from the e-mails sent from January 24th to February 5th which I attempted to download when the motherboard had been replaced but at a time when I had disk problems that I didn't realize.

I accept full responsibility for the loss and hope that you can help me recover any information sent to update the Sprague family history.

I'd ask one other thing of each of you receiving this note.

If you did not write to me between the two dates listed above, please simply erase this note and forget about it. Please do not add to my e-mail volume by sending me "sympathy notes" even though I enjoy hearing from each of you. I will almost assuredly receive about 65 failure notices for individuals who no longer own the e-mail address to which I send this message. Those messages along with the resends on upwards of 200 messages that I lost will keep me more than busy so I do ask that you limit the responses to this message to only a resend of messages previously sent to me during the cited problem period.

My sincere thank you for all who have supported the Sprague Project.

Dick Weber

Third Quarter, 2007

Another three months have rolled by in the life of the Sprague Project. I'm delighted to send you the Sprague Project 3rd quarter report. You'll probably note that I am late in writing this report. The 3rd quarter was a very busy time for both Arnold and me. A large backlog of old e-mails still exists though I managed to reduce that backlog by about 50 during the quarter. Arnold had a very busy summer with several weeks away from home and during that time I gave him a large number of photos to be added to the Website. Most of those photos are now on the website. A few are not because I have not updated the Sprague Website for over two months but an update is scheduled for Thursday (10/11/07) morning. After that Arnold will add the remaining photos and grave site pictures. If you have not visited our picture gallery I urge you to do so.

This report is sent regularly to over 1500 active Sprague Project participants. On average, about 35 of the messages will be returned because the address I have for the individual is no longer a valid e-mail address. These individuals are removed from the "Active Particpant" address book. This underlines the importance of providing me with information on your new address when you change your address for any reason. In addition to the above failures, I have a few messages rejected for such reasons as "Away from Office" or "Mailbox capacity has been exceeded" or "we are unable to take your call at this time.please try again later thank you." I do not attempt to resend messages rejected for such reasons but the recipient is left as an active Sprague Project member and the next quarterly report will be sent to the same address. If you're interested in the Sprague Project reports and fail to receive one around the end of each quarter, please go to the Sprague Website to review copies of recent reports.

Thank you for the many responses I received after mailing the 2nd quarter update. Many included new and corrected information for the Sprague family history. Those corrections and additions are now part of the Sprague Website. Many of the notes were simply kind comments about our project. Such comments help us stay enthused about the Sprague Project. Helping others learn more about their family history is one of the key motivations for the huge amount of resource spent on this project so thank you for the kind comments. That isn't to say that if there are areas needing improvement that we don't want to know about them. We clearly do.

A significant addition of the descendants of George Way and Lydia Sprague through their daughter, Mary Margaret Way and her husband, Jehial Murray has been completed. As always, I urge you after each Sprague Website update to visit the Sprague Website to check any line of interest to you. The accuracy of the website can only improve if you let me know of any error or omission that you find while browsing the Sprague Website.

Intensive research has added a good bit of content to the Sullivan and Delaware counties of New York, and surrounding areas family history. This includes a large number of grave stone pictures from the cemeteries in these counties that were added during the past quarter.

For a very long time the future of the Sprague Project has been a concern of mine. I spend about as much time on the Sprague Project in a year as I did working for IBM during the majority of my career. I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Other than a need to get my cholesterol in balance, my doctor just gave me a clean bill of health. Nevertheless, with my 75th birthday approaching I know I cannot continue this project forever. With these thoughts in mind and knowing that I struggle to handle the e-mail I now receive, I solicited six of the key Sprague Project participants to help me look at possibilities. After studying the many thoughtful comments given to me, I concluded that I should keep doing pretty much what I've been doing in building the Sprague Database as completely and accurately as possible with the aid of participating project contributors. The Sprague Database is, of course, what provides the information that Arnold uses for the Sprague Website. I'm bothered by the fact that this approach doesn't provide for any documentation that will live on long after I'm no longer doing the project. I would love to see some kind of a sequel to Dr. Warren Sprague's "Sprague Families in America" placed in family history libraries for the benefit of generations still to come. I'd love to see a Sprague Family Association to provide guidance to the project and to ultimately take over responsibility for the Sprague Database. However, my conclusion is that if such tasks and perhaps others are to be started they must be managed by someone other than me. Arnold took charge of the Sprague Website many years ago and does all the work to make what I record in the Sprague Database available to Internet users. Robin Sprague does all the work of managing the SpragueDNA Project. Each of these sub-projects is an important piece of the Sprague Project. Perhaps there is one among you who would like to head up another Sprague Project sub-project.

Speaking of the SpragueDNA Project, Robin has the following to report:

[START]

The Sprague DNA Project has seen a 29% increase in participation during the third quarter of 2007. Thank you to our new members. Your results will help create a basis for others to verify their genetic lines.

A generous donation was granted for the SPRAGG line. If you descend from a SPRAGG, there are two (2) $50 grants available to encourage your participation. Please contact the DNA project administrator, Robin Sprague, for further information.

It takes a minimum of three (3) distant cousins to create a genetic "fingerprint," technically called a Haplotype, for a founder father. We are making great progress for Edward Sprague, b. Abt 1576.

There is also significant progress on the Edward Spragg, b. Abt 1616, line. As mentioned, we are looking for one more distant cousin to help set his Haplotype. Once this is accomplished, new members can test whether they descend from the Spragg line. Remember there are some surname changes in this line.

One member that joined the DNA project learned that his DNA matches more closely with the Spragg line. Now he is able to focus his research in that area. This will save him much time and research energy.

LADIES! You can participate in The Sprague DNA Project also even though you do not carry the Y-DNA genes. You can participate by asking your male relative to be tested on your behalf. Remember the man must be in your Sprague male line. So for example, your brother, father, paternal nephews, and paternal uncles would all quality as valid representations of your DNA line.

You may visit our web site by going to www.sprague-dna.org. We work closely with Dick Weber to ensure sharing of information to maximize your investment that helps both the entire Sprague family and your personal research efforts.

[END]

I hope you will support Robin's project if at all possible. It takes time to build success in a DNA study but the benefits tend to rise sharply as participation increases. I'm looking forward to the time when we have haplotypes established for all the main Sprague lines. By the end of the quarter just passed, we have defined over 2000 unconnected Spragg/Spragge/Sprague family segments. Just consider the possibilities if we could test a person in many of these unconnected segments and match them to a haplotype of a major Sprague line. Research could potentially be accelerated by narrowing the lines from which the unconnected line probably descends.

Speaking of the over 2000 unconnected segments, I'll welcome anyone who wants to take the challenge of finding a connection. Arnold added a note to the homepage today about how you can find the list of unconnected "Heads of Sprague Lines (HOSL)" so if you're looking for a challenge, this is a worthwhile area.

The contributions of photographs and grave stone pictures have been numerous and add a great research tool for our Sprague Website. Arnold is working hard to get accurate descriptions for the locations of the various cemeteries and to provide the tools necessary to view all Sprague family grave stones for which we have pictures in any given cemetery. The website offers many excellent research tools beyond simply searching for a name. If you want to see what Sprague family members have been recorded as having a presence in a particular geographic locale, you can do that. Guidelines for how to submit pictures and what pictures are acceptable are posted on the Sprague Website.

I was asked during the past quarter how a website visitor could find a Dr. John Sprague among the list of hundreds of John Spragues. Obviously, if dates of birth and death are known, they can be used to narrow the search possibilities. However, did you know that the title prefixes (Capt., Dr., Gen., etc.) and title suffixes (Jr., Sr., III, etc.) can be entered in the Website advanced search to significantly narrow the possibilities? The Sprague Website is a very significant family history research site and I hope you are visiting all the features of the site and not simply relying on the search or advanced search functions.

I would be remiss in closing if I failed to thank everyone who contributes to the Sprague Project. Arnold Sprague continues to sponsor and maintain what I believe to be one of the very best FREE family history websites on the Internet, the Sprague Website. Bill Sprague has been the major reason that the large Sprague clan in Delaware and Sullivan Counties, New York has gone from poorly documented to one of the best documented Sprague lines. He has also personally visited many of the cemeteries of this area in order to photograph the many Sprague family grave stones you can now visit on our Website. Russ Sprague continues to provide obituaries from across the country. Obituaries are one of my favorite additions to the Sprague Database because they provide so much insight into the personality of those family members who have gone before us. Unfortunately, over 400 of my over 900 unanswered old e-mails are such items provided by Russ. Ralph Sprague continues to focus on the Sprague/Spragg/Spragge families of Canada and England and has been responsible for much such content. Without Robin Sprague we wouldn't have a SpragueDNA study. Thank you to each of these unselfish supporters of our Sprague Proejct. The rest of you are just as important to the success of this project as you provide corrections and additions to what has already been recorded. Every error, no matter how small, is worth correcting and perhaps more important than many additions. Thank you all supporters.

Richard E. (Dick) Weber
REWeber@sprague-database.org

Sprague Website: http://www.sprague-database.org

Second Quarter, 2007

I'm a bit late in writing the 2nd Quarter Sprague Project report. The project is very active and many demands and opportunities have begged louder for attention than has this report.

I normally prefer to update the Sprague Website about once a month. Unfortunately I only managed to prepare one update in the second quarter. It was a very large update with over 5,300 individuals added. The reason that update took so long is simply that in March my backlog started to grow at a rapid rate. I remember one day when I processed around 30 new e-mails and lost ground. I concluded that the days of late winter and early spring were times to stay inside and work on family histories and that generated much response from our Sprague Website visitors. Finally in late May I decided to generate a Website update despite the fact that I still had a large current backlog. As I write this update I've processed all but two e-mails received in 2007 (there's still a substantial backlog from prior years) and am ready to generate another update containing over 2,200 additions. However, it may be a while before you see the update. Our Webmaster, Arnold, who does such a superb job maintaining the Sprague Website has been away from home for quite some time on business. When he returns home, I'm sure he'll be occupied for a while taking care of things that have accumulated during his absence. In due time, we'll give you another quality Sprague Website update.

SPAM is a menace to every Internet user. I finally reached the point a few weeks ago where I knew I had ignore the Sprague Project activities in order to implement a SPAM control system. The system I've implemented is doing a wonderful job and has freed up a lot of time that I once spent getting rid of SPAM. Perhaps that's why I've made such good progress on my e-mail backlog (or perhaps the Sprague Website is being visited less often because of the allure of outside living.) I hope the new SPAM control system has not inconvenienced any Sprague Project participant. The new system requires that each new correspondent register ONCE. After that the system is invisible to a correspondent. I preregistered everyone in the Sprague Project Address Book so I suspect very few of you have even had to register. Registration is simple. You're simply asked to re-enter a word which is provided to you in a reply e-mail. I'm sure most of you are familiar with similar systems.

I urge each of you to re-visit the Sprague Website from time to time simply to check the families with which you are most familiar. I enter thousands of characters a week and mistakes can be made. We all value accuracy in the Sprague family history and the best proof reading of what I do comes from the person most familiar with a family. Nothing detracts from the apparent quality of the Sprague family history more than errors whether factual, grammatical, spelling or formatting in nature. Please never hesitate to tell me about any error no matter how small. If I keyed "a" when it should of been "an" tell me about it and the Sprague family history will be improved.

For those of you with an interest in the Sprague families in the southern tier counties of New York, the State of Maine, the State of Missouri or the southern part of the State of New Hampshire, a good bit of information on these areas was in the last update and will be part of the next update. You may want to review your families documentation if they lived in those areas.

The Sprague Website in the Unsolved Mysteries section documents a long standing inconsistency relative to the wife of Edward Goffe. His daughter Lydia Goffe married Capt. John Sprague, son of Lt. Ralph Sprague. A definitive research effort has seemingly solved that mystery. The next update of the Sprague Website will provide documentation, for those interested, on the identity of Capt. John Sprague's mother-in-law.

There is a lot of facility in the Sprague Website to assist your research. For example, if you click on the "Find" drop down in the upper right portion of our home page and then click on "Cemeteries", you'll see a list displayed of counties within an alphabetical list of states. Click on the plus sign of any county to display a list of cemeteries within that county where we have grave stone pictures. Click on the cemetery and a map helping you locate the cemetery is displayed. This is a work in progress as Arnold works to find the location of the cemetery.

If you click on the "Media" drop down and then click on "Headstones", you'll be taken to a list of the headstones we've added to the Sprague Website. On this page you'll see a column labeled "Status." If the status is "located", a map is available. For the others, Arnold is till trying to exactly locate the cemetery. If while in the list you click on the thumbnail (small picture) of any grave stone, you'll be taken to a screen the gives a larger picture and details of the individual associated with the stone. Click on the "Start Slide Show" bar near the top and you'll be able to review the rather impressive set of tombstone pictures which have been contributed to the Sprague Project.

Have fun learning more about the many tools built into the Sprague Website to help you with your family history research! Together we're building a rather impressive FREE website.

I'll add one more thought and then close this update. Thank you for supporting the Sprague Project. There are several who are doing intensive research on certain parts of the Sprague family history even though not their family. There are many submitting Suggest notes that contain corrections, new names, new facts and in general information that improves the Sprague family history. There are some who have contributed financially to support the objectives of our project. To each individual who has contributed in some fashion to OUR project, THANK YOU. I feel we have a truly unique effort that we are developing together. My biggest disappointment with the project at this time is that more males named Sprague/Spragg/Spragge/etc. have not agreed to participate in the Sprague-DNA project. Some single name studies have had much more extensive participation in DNA studies than has our Sprague Project.

I wish you well and hope you'll continue to find our Sprague Website enjoyable and rewarding to visit. If you have suggestions for improving it, please send them to me.

Richard. E. (Dick) Weber
Sprague Project Developer

First Quarter, 2007

This Sprague Project Report may be one of the shortest I’ve ever written. The more I work on the Sprague Project, the higher the volume of e-mails I receive. Perhaps it is that people have less activities outside their homes in the winter or perhaps it is simply because the Sprague Website provides increasingly good information, but my e-mail backlog has grown by a huge amount since the beginning of the year. Thus, my focus is on that activity. The frequency of Sprague Website updates has decreased as a result.

I did want to tell you of a feature we introduced to the Sprague Website this year. To the best of the information available to me, I attempt to enter individuals into the Sprague Database with their birth names. However, a high percentage of individuals are then commonly known by different names. I have entered many of those names as alternate (Also known As) names. Until now there has been no way to search for an individual by the alternate names. You could search for those who were known by their middle name(s). For example, you could use the “contains” search parameter and search for “Peter” and find “William Peter Sprague” but if William Peter Sprague was known as “Little Bill” you would not have found him. Now you have more ways to search for individuals. Let me give you an example.

My Great Grandfather Weber was Johann Nicolas Theodor Martin Weber. That name of course was given him in Germany. In this country he was identified by different names. One of his early land deals, I believe, listed him as John Nicholas Theodore Martin Weber.

Let's say you found that land transaction (or perhaps it was naturalization papers, I forget) and wanted to see if he is on the Sprague Website.

  • Go to the Website
  • Click on "Advanced Search" in the left hand column
  • Enter Weber in the Surname contains field
  • Page down to the "Other Events" line and click on the "+" to expand the list
  • Enter "John Nicholas Theodore Martin" in the Also Known As Fact Contains box
  • Hit Enter.
  • You should get search results showing my Great Grandfather.

So any name I've entered as an Alternate Name (“Also Known As” Name) can be found with the advanced search using the Also Known As Event contains field.

Remember to regularly visit our Sprague Website at http://www.sprague-database.org to check that your families are accurately and completely documented. There are several dedicated researchers who spend many hours adding detail to the Sprague family history that is being recorded in the Sprague Database. I thank everyone who supports our Sprague Project with either research effort or financial support. Let me also encourage as many as possible to support the Sprague DNA Project at http://www.sprague-dna.org/ either financially or by adding a DNA test for as many Sprague male descendants as possible.

Thank you for support that makes the Sprague Project what I believe is a truly unique effort. The project could not exist without the financial and research assistance of many. Dick

The Sprague Website:
http://www.sprague-database.org

Fourth Quarter, 2006

The end of the year always seems to be a time when I’m prone to do a lot of reflection about various aspects of life. This years is no different. I may do this more than some because of a Christmas 52 years ago that I spent in a Military Hospital in Germany during which I had no contact with another person previously known to me and had no ability to talk to family for several weeks. This time gave me a lot of time to reflect on what is important to me in life. This season is also important to me because it was 46 years ago December 26th that Ellie and I started our married life together This was one of my smarter life decisions. Life has given me many good days and the greater Sprague family has for the past 14 years been instrumental in making my retirement years tremendously enjoyable. Thank you all who have supported the Sprague Project in whatever way because it has for a long time given me reason to be excited about every new morning. I hope for that to happen for many more years. The Sprague Project is truly a unique effort and any success it has had is because of the unselfish support of so many hundred Sprague descendants and Sprague family researchers. They seem always ready to fill in missing pieces of information and to correct the errors introduced by aging eyes, a brain tired late at night, or fingers somewhat less agile than in ages past. I love the Sprague Project and thank all of you for making it possible.

I’d be remiss if in this year end report I didn’t single out a few contributors who have gone far beyond their own family research to make the Sprague Project more complete and more accurate. I always hate to isolate specific individuals because so many have given to the project, but there are four Sprague gentlemen who truly deserve special thanks.

A. Arnold Sprague created the initial Sprague Website many years ago and has updated and improved it regularly since that time. He’s always looking for ways to make it better. His objective is to make it an easy to use and effective research tool for searching the vast amount of material I have added to the Sprague Database. I simply provide him a GEDCOM from the Sprague Database about once a month and the rest of the work is done by Arnold. He recently suggested we need a new section labeled “Sprague Myths” and he’s working on that idea. Many published genealogies and other sources have published information proven by later research to be false. The Internet provided the vehicle to spread these “myths” rapidly to a wide audience. Arnold’s new addition, “Sprague Myths” will bring focus on these published “Sprague myths.” We all owe Arnold a great big thank you for what the Sprague Website has become.

The Sprague/Spragg/Spragge family in Canada was poorly documented a few years ago. I always had a strong wish to connect the many unconnected pieces of these families to either England or the USA families. Ralph Sprague, of Ottawa, has spent many research hours this year allowing significant additional information to be added to these families and just recently tied some of the Spragues, Spraggs, and Spragges back to the Spragge line in England If any part of your family is in Canada, you should feel thankful for the efforts of Ralph.

Obituaries are a great source of Sprague family information. Russ Sprague (Russ and I share common great great grandparents) has for a long time monitored obituaries published around the country. This year he extended his support of the Sprague Project by doing a thorough study of Maine census records. The Maine Sprague families have always intrigued me as they have been badly fragmented. Not all of Russ’s work has yet been integrated into the Sprague Database so over upcoming months each of you should find new material of interest from Russ’s research. Thanks Russ for the many hours you spend looking for Sprague information to allow us to enhance the Sprague family history.

Bill Sprague, of Orange County, New York has been a contributor for some time of information about his Sprague ancestry. Recently, Bill has worked closely with me to exhaustively study the Spragues of Delaware, Sullivan, and Orange Counties in New York. If you have any ties to that area of New York keep watching because Bill is still working on tieing up loose ends on some of these families. I believe that when we are done with this effort that this will be one of the most thoroughly documented Sprague lines in the entire Sprague Project. Bill is an intuitive and thorough researcher and you should appreciate his work.

I appreciate those who provide funding support for the Sprague Project. In addition to the funding for the Sprague Website, contributions have allowed me to add great Sprague research material. For example, a volume “Beaverkill Valley” has been a tremendous help as Bill Sprague and I have worked on the New York Sprague lines mentioned above.

This was a wonderful year personally for my family history. For those who are interested in my ancestry, you can follow it on the Sprague Website by starting with “Earl Henry Weber” for the Weber side and “Viratine Eleanor Gertrude Cade” for the Sprague side. The thrill this year was to extend my Weber line back to the 1500s in Bettelhecken, Germany as a result of contracting with a professional German family historian to research my German family. We hosted close German relatives for a week in July after learning of their existence just a little over two years ago. What an amazing experience that was for Ellie and me.

With each quarterly report, I attempt to monitor the Sprague Project to ensure the high quality of the information recorded in the Sprague Database. Every now and then some of you may receive notes from me indicating an audit of the Sprague Database has detected a problem. These notes are generated because before I create each Sprague Website update, I do a thorough audit of the Sprague Database to find obvious errors and attempt to correct the errors found. Correcting some errors requires me to go back to the contributing source for verification of information that has been submitted and thus I send the above mentioned notes. Some of the errors I check for with each audit are:

Birth dates after a parent’s death date
Birth dates after the person’s death date
Birth dates after mother is 50
Birth date more than 35 years after the marriage date of parents
Children not sorted in chronological order
Event date before birth of after death of person
Person born when a parent was younger than 13
Married after the death date

There are many other errors that we check but seldom encounter. These audits help to ensure the quality of the information that is recorded in the Sprague Database. However, no amount of logical checking can eliminate the need for each contributor to carefully check the recorded information for those families with which the contributor is familiar. Each contributor is of great importance to the Sprague Project and I always value receiving Suggest forms telling me of changes and corrections that should be made to the Sprague Database.

At the end of the second quarter, I told you about what I believe to be a powerful addition to the search capability on our website that allows a search for any person with a defined set of criteria who was married to a spouse of a specific name. I warned that the searches had to be carefully structured or they’d run for a very long time. Shortly thereafter we had to withdraw the feature because it overloaded our ISP with long running searches and they threatened to withdraw our service. Now I’m delighted to tell you it is back and much improved.

The toughest search I could think of is “Given Name contains Mary and Gender equals female and Spouses Surname equals Sprague”. I tried it and in about 15 seconds, it went through all 170,000+ deceased persons in the Sprague Database and found all the Marys and eliminated those not married to a Sprague leaving a list of 562 individuals named Mary who married a Sprague.

I cannot tell you how much power I believe this adds to our website. I cannot even do such a search with my genealogy database and often go to the Website to help me locate couples I find documented in various census records.

Earlier we announced the Sprague DNA project which Robin Sprague is managing. The project has had positive results but has fallen far short of what could be accomplished to enhance the Sprague family history and far short of what some other surname studies have accomplished. If you are male and named Sprague, I urge you to contact Robin Sprague to participate in the study. Some financial outlay is required to have a DNA test and for some of us this can be a major issue. If there are any who would like to support the Sprague DNA studies and you can do so, I’d urge financial support of the Sprague DNA project so we can finance additional tests for those who cannot afford such a test. Even though you need to be a male named Sprague to participate in a test, financial support can be a gift from any person interested in the project. The following is a report from Robin Sprague on the project. Thanks, Robin, for your efforts in getting the Sprague DNA project off the ground.

===========Start of Robin’s Notes ===========

The Sprague DNA Project at http://www.sprague-dna.org is working with The Sprague Project to offer you scientific research and confirmations of your genealogical research. Additionally, testing of your male relatives can point you in the right direction or save you from going down the wrong research path. For the 2006 Holiday, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) has offered $130 in gift certificates. Details can be found on the web site mentioned above. New DNA test kit orders must be made by December 31, 2006. Depending on when you read this report, you will have to act quickly. This is a great way to save money while joining the new project initiative. The Sprague DNA Project is already working on establishing the #04 William Sprague genetic fingerprint known as a haplotype. In addition the #05 Edward Spragg haplotype has seen significant involvement. We are still looking for more DNA Project members to have their DNA tested to lock down the haplotypes of the founding Sprague fathers' haplotypes. The more results, as one would expect, the more accurately we can predict and determine genetic relationships. I have a neighbor friend that has been working on her family history for over 40 years. Last year she had her brother's DNA tested to help validate her research. There was both good news and bad news in the results. The bad news is the majority of her work and assumptions using the "older" methods (no computers, only films and books) was nearly all a waste -- decades of research. Well, "how can there be any good news," you might ask? She is a very positive lady. She said, "Well, I can now start researching the right line." She went through a period of feeling bad, but soon she was back in the saddle, researching. Now she is glad she had the test run. If she didn't, she would have spent her entire life researching the wrong family. Through her test results, she has made contact with other members in her surname that match genetically. She is already finding new sources and locations to research. This is but one of thousands of examples that are going on daily. The Sprague Project is one of the strongest surname projects in the world. The Sprague DNA Project is just beginning, but we are already seeing positive results. One member has already found new lines to research when he previously was hitting that "brick wall" of research. So, I encourage you to take a look at our web site and view the results. There are a lot of numbers that might look confusing, but it really isn't that bad. Simply put, the more numbers match, the better the likelihood you are related. I have included a color scheme to draw your attention to mismatches in results. If you have any questions you can find my contact information on the web site. I will be happy to help you understand the process and to interpret your results.

There is so much potential in this project. I encourage you to join before the end of the 2006 year to take advantage of the cost savings offered by FTDNA. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. What better treat for yourself than the best scientific evidence of your family history. Come join our project today.

=============End of Robin’s notes===========

The Sprague Database has been greatly expanded in 2006. I believe that about 24,000 family members have been added. The pace of additions may slow in 2007 but because of the backlog of e-mail, hard copy contributions, and published genealogies in my library, and Russ Spragues work and the contributions of all of you, I suspect that our project will continue to be very active. I wish you all much success in your personal family history efforts in 2007. I look forward to working with you.

Remember to regularly visit our Sprague Website at http://www.sprague-database.org and to check that your families are accurately and completely documented. To those of you who have sent Christmas cards and greetings, thank you for your thoughts and efforts. I hope you’ll accept this note as a wish that all Sprague family members have a great holiday season and a wonderful 2007.

Thank you for making the Sprague Project so enjoyable for me. Dick

The Sprague Website:
http://www.sprague-database.org

Third Quarter, 2006

Another quarter in the life of the Sprague Project has passed. I can assure you the Sprague Project is alive and well (the Project Developer may be a different issue!)

This was a very busy quarter with e-mail receipts at all time record volumes. While processing one lengthy e-mail recently, over 120 new ones arrived My backlog continues to grow with 1,060 unanswered messages needing attention along with a huge stack of material sent to me via U.S. mail. These backlogs are a concern to me even though I know they mean the Sprague Project is active and perceived as being of value. I’ll simply continue to add meaningful content in the hours available for me to do so and hope that the Sprague Project continues to be helpful in your family history research.

I’m often amazed, as are many of you according to your notes, at the large size of the Sprague family. We had none in my home town as I was growing up and I don’t remember knowing any in college or during my many duty stations while in military service. I really didn’t know the magnitude of this family when I started this project nearly 20 years ago. I thought Dr. Warren Vincent Sprague had done the large part of gathering the Sprague family history which we all now know is not true. If memory serves me correctly he had less than 30,000 family members in his “Sprague Families in America” book which he published in 1913. Just how common is the Sprague name? In the 1990 U. S. Census it was the 1,544th most common name whereas Spragg was the 34,671st most common. Compare those with my surname, Weber, which was the 323rd most common name. At age 73 I don’t have any inclination to start a Weber project though I’m continuing to extend my Weber ancestry through research in Germany. Should any of you be interested in my ancestry, go to the Sprague Website and search on “Earl Henry Weber” and follow his ancestry back to Germany or go to “Viratine Eleanor Gertrude Cade” and follow her ancestry back to the Coles, Spragues and others.

The Sprague Project is about a lot more than the name Sprague since it tracks female descendant lines and Sprague spousal ancestral lines. There are currently 257,125 individuals in the Sprague Database. Only 21,350 of them are named Sprague. Other often encountered names are Jenks (2,283), Smith (2,546), Spragg (1,400), Johnson (1,329), Cole (1,305), Brown (1,172), Tupper (1,056) and Green (1,040). There are over 21,000 unique surnames in the Sprague Database.

The Sprague Website updates have been a little less frequent this quarter than we’d like. One is now needed because the Sprague Database has had over 3,000 individuals added since the last Sprague Website update. We’re delaying this update for two reasons. First, I'm attempting to process some more of the very excellent contributions I’ve received for the Sprague family history and second, a new release of TNG has just been released and Arnold is testing this release to be sure that it functions properly with the Sprague Website. TNG as you know is what gives such great search capability to the Sprague Website.

In my last update, I discussed a website search capability that allowed a website visitor to search for an individual based on the surname of the person’s spouse. I warned that searches had to be carefully structured to avoid very long running transactions. After a period of allowing such searches we had to remove the capability because many searches were being initiated that continued for such a long period that our ISP’s servers were being overwhelmed. Failure to remove the search capability would have resulted in our ISP cancelling our service. We have hopes that the new release of TNG will allow us to restore this search capability but we have not yet tested it to be certain. This extended search, as explained in detail in our 2nd quarter, 2006 Sprague Project update, is a great tool.

Among the features of the new TNG release is one that will allow website visitors to create "bookmarks" to jump back quickly to favorite pages. Bookmarks allow users to save pages within the Sprague Website that they'd like to visit again. TNG Version 6 has a link on each individual's page named "Add Bookmark." If one clicks on it, that page is added to one's bookmarks Then the visitor only has to click on one of the new tabs named "Find" and a drop down window shows the "Bookmarks" option.

TNG has proven to be an excellent choice for managing our Sprague Website and we feel that this new release will make it even better. When it has been adequately tested, we’ll update with a Sprague Website update. Keep checking!

Arnold Sprague, our creative Webmaster, reminded us with a message on the Website a few weeks back that we had missed the tenth anniversary of the Sprague Website. That reminder has caused me to do much reflection on the project as to where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. The Website is now over ten years old and has gone through many transformations to make it as good as it is today. Without Arnold urging me to agree to let him do it, there would be no website. The Sprague Database is now nearing 20 years of development. I’m often asked why I did the project. My only true response is, “It just happened.” I didn’t start out with today’s project in mind. I started out simply to capture Dr. Warren Vincent Sprague’s “Sprague Families in America” in a searchable database. The rest is history as the project grew beyond my ability to fully manage. The project today is what it is ONLY because many hundreds of Sprague family researchers have generously contributed the results of their research efforts. I sincerely believe the project is unique in terms of the number of people involved in the project and in terms of the amount of information provided freely to so many. Every person receiving this note should feel they have been an important part of creating this unique family history. Thank you all.

Where we’re going is difficult to know. We’ve added pictures to the project and this has created many submissions of personal photos and grave stone pictures. The list of pictures on the Sprague Website grows steadily and adds much interest. If you have questions on what can be submitted, read previous quarterly reports to see criteria for acceptance of photographs (jpg format, limited file size, deceased individuals only, etc.) I believe pictures, in this day of digital photography, will be an increasingly popular part of the Sprague Project.

I’ve often considered how to make the project more manageable. I could limit further efforts only to my Sprague line (Francis Sprague), I could limit activity only to Sprague descendants while ignoring Sprague spousal ancestral lines, or I could simply limit activities to corrections. Each such activity would make the project of lesser value than it is today. Arnold and I have discussed how responsibilities could be further divided and have come up with no ideas we feel would work. Arnold continues to do all Website activities after I send him a new GEDCOM from the Sprague Database; my only activities dealing with the website is creating the GEDCOM properly, helping resolve any problem that develops with what TNG displays, and, of course, processing Suggest submissions and e-mails.

I’m left believing that the future will bring more of the same. As long as health and eye sight allow I’ll continue adding content and improving reliability to the Sprague Database. Arnold will continue to update the Sprague Website from updates I provide to him. I feel bad for any e-mail that goes unanswered for a long period but there is a limit to the number of hours in a year. Suggestions on how to improve the project are always seriously considered.

I’d be remiss in finishing this if I didn’t say thank you to everyone who has helped us build this amazing Sprague family history. I wish I could show it to my mother who inspired my love of family and to Dr. W. V. Sprague whose work inspired the start of this project. I think they would both be pleased and a bit amazed. As always, without Arnold and his Sprague Website efforts, you’d probably be unaware of the Sprague Database. He deserves appreciation for what he has done for the huge Sprague family. Russ Sprague has done an exhaustive search of records and many of his findings await entry to the Sprague Database. His efforts are significant to filling in many holes in the Sprague family puzzle. Many others deserve thank you’s for their contribution but I will not try to mention them for to do so would guarantee that I missed someone who has contributed greatly. Robin Sprague continues with the Sprague DNA Project and some early helpful findings have resulted. Please continue to follow and support that project.

I’ll close by saying, please continue to visit our Sprague Website at http://www.sprague-database.org and to check the details that we have recorded for that part of the Sprague family with which you are familiar. Let us know of errors. We value accuracy but your review and comments are critical to achieving that goal. I wish you all much success in documenting your family histories.

Dick

Second Quarter, 2006

Would you believe it! Another quarter in the life of the Sprague Project has ended. I always ponder as to what I should put into these updates. I really hate repeating myself but in this one I feel I must repeat some prior items because of the questions that I have seen frequently over the past quarter. Those of you who may feel that some of these items are “old hat” should realize that we add many new “cousins” to our active project address book each month and they may not be so familiar with some of the repeated topics below. As you’ll soon find, this report is fairly long but hopefully you’ll find information that will help make the Sprague Project more helpful in your family history efforts.

There is a new, very useful search field in the Advanced Search function of our Website. You may now include the spouse’s last name as a search argument. So, for example, if you see an obituary for a Barbara (Jones) Sprague but her husband is not listed, you can search for Barbara Jones with a spouse with the last name of Sprague.

A more common need is a slight variation of the above. If you find a census record for Hiram Sprague as head of household and his wife, Abigail Sprague you might want to search for all Abigails who married a Sprague. The resultant list will be a small enough that you can look for any Hiram Sprague. This search should be structured as follows: “first name contains Abigail” along with “spouses last name equals Sprague."

This is a complex search which requires a large amount of computer resource. This fact, when coupled with the very large size of the Sprague Website, provides the potential to initiate searches which run for very long periods and do not return results to you because browser time-outs may intervene.

With that said, it should be understand that the search is one in which one person (hereafter called Person1) is defined and matched to any spouse (hereafter called Person2) with a specified last name. For example, if in looking through U. S. Census records you find a Judith Sprague who is head of household or perhaps the wife of Peter Sprague. You want to know if Judith is on the Sprague Website. A simple search of the form "First name equals Judith AND spouse's last name equals Sprague" can be initiated to give you a list of all Judiths who married a Sprague. This is decidedly easier than searching for all Judiths and manually reviewing every resultant record.

If you look at the Advanced Search window on the Sprague Website, you'll see that Person1 (Judith in our above example) can be defined with a wide range of defining parameters such as first name, last name, birth date, death date and others. Person2 can only be defined by last name. After extensive study of this search capability I have concluded that the search (as provided by TNG) can sometimes be defined in a manner so that it fails to conclude. Such failures happen when the list of individuals matching the parameters defined for Person1 is large. For example, the the search "first name equals Mary and spouse's last name equals Sprague" WILL FAIL because there are about 5,140 Marys on the Sprague Website. The search "first name equals Mary and spouse's last name equals Weber" will also fail. There are nearly 16,900 Spragues and only 92 Webers but THOSE COUNTS ARE NOT IMPORTANT. It is the number found to meet the criteria for Person1 that determines success or failure (in this case approximately 5,140 Marys.) A search for "first name equals Mary Amelia and last name equals Sprague" succeeds because there are only a small number of Mary Amelias on the website.

Thus, the secret to success with this very useful search is to find a way to narrow down the list of individuals meeting the criteria specified for Person1. In the case of the Judith Sprague found in the census record, let's assume that in the 1850 census Judith listed her age as 39. In which case we are interested in finding those Judiths born about 1811. The search can be constructed as "first name equals Judith and birth date is 1811 with a range of +/- ten years and spouse's last name equals Sprague." This search will succeed.

The Judiths who were recorded in the Sprague Database without a birth date but who married a Sprague will not be found with the above search but a second search will check for those A blank date is treated by TNG as though the person was born in year 0 so a search of the form "first name equals Judith and birth date before 100 and spouse's last name equals Sprague" will find that set of possible candidates.

Another way to limit the list of persons found matching the criteria for Person1 is to use known geographic information. For example, if Mary is reported as born in Maine, the search could be defined as "first name equals Mary and birthplace contains ME, USA and spouse's last name equals Sprague." This will provide, fairly quickly, a list of eight Marys who were born in Maine and married a Sprague.

This is a very powerful research tool and well worth the effort to learn how to write search parameters that minimize the size of the list of individuals meeting the criteria for Person1. We have hopes that in time TNG will find a way resolve the issue of searches not completing and/or that technology improvements in both hardware and database design will help eliminate the restriction.

Now that you know how to write search definitions that minimize the number of individuals found meeting the criteria for Person1, there are other ways to get greater benefit from this search. Perhaps you are researching the part of your ancestry where the last name recorded was sometimes Spragg and sometimes Sprague. You know that your great great great grandmother Lucretia, born about 1788, married into this family. A search of the form "first name equals Lucretia and birth year equals 1788 within a range of 10 years and spouse's last name contains Sprag" will find Lucretia whether she married a Sprague or a Spragg. Note that the search was defined using "contains Sprag" instead of "equals Sprag." Contains can also be used to define the first name parameter for Person1 so that Mary, Maryanne and Mary Alice will all be found if the argument is "first name contains Mary." However, remember that this makes an even longer list of Person1 matches so it is more critical that other restrictive clauses be found to keep the Person1 list short.
Use "equals" instead of "contains" where you can in that equals results in a quicker search. However, contains gives a powerful additional tool when used while adhering to the warnings outlined above.

I know that most recipients of the regular quarterly reports have probably visited the Sprague Website and have become familiar with the great search capabilities available for family history research. However, recent correspondence has suggested to me that perhaps some website visitors are unaware of the many other useful functions, such as reports, that are available through the group of small icons found either in the left hand column of the home page or near the upper right hand corner of pages generated by TNG. There is a Locations icon. Clicking on it takes one to a screen where you can search for every individual with a recorded presence in a particular location such as Viroqua (my boyhood home) or Saginaw. The notes icon will take you to a screen where you can search every note on the entire Sprague Website for a word or phrase. This is a huge amount of data so the search will take extensive time but provides another powerful research tool. The Reports function provides, among other things, individuals who served in various military conflicts.

A topic discussed before involves the update process. On most days, I receive in the range of 50 e-mail submissions. Some days I spend as many as 12 hours working on e-mails and some days I spend very little due to other demands of life. Needless to say, not all e-mails get answered immediately. Once the e-mail is processed and the Sprague Database updated, I acknowledge the e-mail and the information contributed. However, and please note this carefully, this does not mean that the information that I’m acknowledging is on the Sprague Website. We attempt to update the Sprague Website about once a month so there can be a delay of up to a month from the time I acknowledge a contribution until it can be seen on the Sprague Website. I know this can be frustrating to those who are anxious to see the results of their contributions on the Sprague Website but in the interest of attending to all demands of the Sprague Project, this delay is necessary. To do more frequent Sprague Website updates would simply reduce the time I spend processing your e-mail contributions and in doing pure research to work toward connecting some of the many unconnected Sprague segments. Please understand the very large size of this project when you wonder why you’ve not had an acknowledgement to your e-mail or have not yet been able to see your contribution on the Sprague Website.

In the last quarterly report, I suggested that an opportunity for complementary activity existed in the form of initiating a DNA study project. Robin D. Sprague has volunteered to head up such a project and has established a website for the SpragueDNA project. The following introduction, written by Robin, tells you a bit about the project:


This quarter marks the official release of the Sprague and Sprague-derivative surnames DNA project, The Sprague DNA Project. The web site is located at www.sprague-dna.org. Using DNA testing to research your family history is referred to as Genetic Genealogy. Patterns in a male's DNA can be traced from son to father, father to grandfather, and so on, all the way back to the head of their Sprague line and farther. Rare and minor changes to the founding father's DNA patterns, when passed on to his descendents (sons), help to identify branches in the lines and possibly specific generations. If your research has hit a "brick wall," Genetic Genealogy can help you bridge that gap and direct you in the right direction, and it can even steer you away from a wrong path of research saving you weeks, months or even years of misguided research.

NOTE -- The DNA tests for Genetic Genealogy cannot identify a person like a finger print or a retinal scan. It only looks at portions of the DNA that are in common with the person's ancestors. Anonymity is not compromised. There are two main Genetic Genealogy tests available, Y-DNA tests for men only, and mtDNA tests for both men and women. The Y-DNA is found only in men and is from the Y-chromosome. The Y-chromosome from the father determines that you are born a male. (An X-chromosome from the father determines that you are born a female.) Women are X-X and men are X-Y. (The mother being X-X can only supply an X. The mtDNA tests the X-chromosome.) Since we are tracking the surname Sprague (and Sprague derivatives), we are mainly interested in the Y-DNA tests. Therefore, only men can submit DNA specimens for testing to genetically trace the Sprague surname.

Women researchers can participate, however, only by having a related male Sprague descendent tested. (Your father, grandfather, son, uncle, cousin or distant cousin all will work as long as they are a male Sprague.) The Sprague DNA Project is rolling out in stages. Those that are familiar with DNA testing for Genetic Genealogy are encouraged to visit our new site and begin your testing through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) You are encouraged to begin testing immediately. The sooner male Spragues are tested, the more successful our DNA project will be. The Sprague Project is one of the best surname genealogical reference sites on the Internet. With your participation, we can make The Sprague DNA Project just as successful! If you are ready to get tested, please note the following. Due to initial test results showing the Spragues belong to the largest, most common genetically-related group (Haplogroup R1b1 from Western Europe), the minimum test to help genealogically with our surname is the 37-marker test. The 67-marker test is highly recommended. Only purchase the 12-marker test if funding is an issue and obtaining your male DNA specimen is time-critical due to age or health. Tests can be upgraded without requiring a new test kit. (Specimens are stored anonymously by serial number and cross-referenced by FTDNA.) New web pages and information will be added to the SpragueDNA web site to help educate those unfamiliar with Genetic Genealogy, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, and how to interpret test results. To properly start a DNA project, a minimum of three descendents from each main line needs to be tested. This establishes a DNA pattern for each of the heads of lines (Founding Fathers). This established pattern is referred to as a Haplotype. Since some potential DNA specimen volunteers will be unwilling or unable to purchase a DNA test kit with the recommended 67 markers, donations are welcome and encouraged. Donations are paid directly to Family Tree DNA and accounted for and distributed by them. Every dollar donated goes towards testing costs (no admin fees) only for The Sprague DNA Project. Please contact The Sprague DNA Project Administrator for more information to donate to our project. We have already received a $100 donation from Duff Sprague in honor of R.L. (Cal) Sprague. Any donation amount is helpful and accepted. You can even specify that your donation be used for a specific family member, line, or surname. Duff is from the Spragg line and his donation will be going towards establishing a test foundation for that head of line, Edward Spragg.

Please note, The Sprague DNA Project has a separate Project Administrator, Robin David Sprague. (Please do NOT contact Dick Weber regarding the DNA project.) You can contact Robin by clicking here or by clicking on the Contact button on the DNA project web site at http://www.sprague-dna.org/ Feel free to ask any questions regarding this new project, again directed only to Robin Sprague. The DNA project was established to supplement our ongoing research with the latest scientific tools. Both projects are working in full cooperation to identify and unite the Sprague lines in America and abroad.

Robin David Sprague, The Sprague DNA Project Project Administrator, http://www.sprague-dna.org


I’m excited about the potential that Robin’s project offers to help us resolve some of the long time mysteries documented by the Sprague Project so encourage your support of both the Sprague and SpragueDNA project. We’ll continue to bring you information to better understand Robin’s project as part of our Sprague Project Quarterly Reports.

We are aware that Google is the major search engine used by many doing family history research. We’re also aware that Google is indexing only a small percentage of our website because of technical issues that are not fully understood, at least by me, at this time. We’re working to understand this problem and to engage those that can make Google better serve your needs. However, since you know of our Sprague Website, please use our excellent search tool to research the site and by all means tell others with an interest in Sprague research about our website.

A significant addition to the Sprague Database this quarter has been the addition of a large segment of the descendants of Sarah Sprague (I9075) and Daniel Gilbert (I9120). Most of these additions have the surname of Lincoln. As I was adding this group, I was approaching the quarter millionth person to be added to the Sprague Database and I wondered who would end up being that person. With just a little bit of managing the additions, the 250,000th person to be added to the Sprague Database was “Abe Lincoln.” Well, not exactly! It wasn’t our former Civil War President, Abraham Lincoln, but rather Abel Lincoln, a Sprague descendant who offered me this bit of fun.

The other major effort this quarter has been the introduction of a great many census records from the Spragues living in Maine. If you have Maine Sprague ancestry, please check out your line and let us know of any further information you can provide or of any error we may have made by misinterpreting census records which are not always easy to read. We have and hope to continue to connect some of the unconnected Maine Sprague segments.

I still get asked about the rules for submitting pictures to the Sprague Project. We prefer to add pictures of individuals and of their grave stones. However, as you’ll notice we have some good group pictures also included on the Sprague Website. Here are our ground rules for submitting pictures for inclusion in the Sprague Database and on the Sprague Website:

  1. pictures in jpg format
  2. less than one-half meg in size
  3. all individuals in the picture are deceased
  4. all individuals in the picture are recorded in the Sprague Database
  5. if the picture shows more than one person, all must be deceased, all must be in the Sprague Database, and a legend must be provided identifying each individual by position (left to right by row) in the picture.
  6. pictures should be of a quality to be adequately displayed (inscriptions from grave stones hopefully readable.)

This has been a very interesting and successful quarter for the Sprague Project. I don’t believe that numbers are a key component of a successful family history project. However, to get our project to the quarter million family members mark has required the help of many hundreds of Sprague family researchers through their financial support and their research contributions. I welcome every e-mail and every other piece of information that makes the Sprague Database and Sprague Website more accurate and more complete. I feel more that a little guilty when I look at my in-basket and work queues and find them piled high with many contributions that have gone unacknowledged. All I can promise is to invest all the time and effort I have available into making this an ever better source of information about the history of the Spragues and their descendants. Please be patient when your contributions don’t receive quick processing. I took the last three days to help my wife celebrate a milestone birthday in one of her favorite places Door County Wisconsin. I came home to 230 new e-mails to process and each will add value to the Sprague Project but will not be processed tomorrow.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to those who have provided financial support that allows further investment in Sprague family history tools and research material. As always, Arnold Sprague’s efforts to make the Sprague Website a superb tool for those researching their ancestry are given freely and with pride at being the Webmaster of what many call “the Best Family History Website” available. I mentioned the Maine Sprague efforts above. Russ Sprague has provided extensive research and the resultant findings to support this effort. This effort will continue and in time perhaps we’ll extend it to other New England states. Thank to Russ for his time and talent freely given. Finally, thanks to Robin Sprague for accepting my suggestion that a Sprague DNA Project could make a great project even better. The Sprague Project is truly what it is because many (all of you) have supported the project. Thank you.

Richard E. (Dick) Weber
The Sprague Project
Website: http://www.sprague-database.org

First Quarter, 2006

I was tempted to delay writing this report but decided to not yield to that temptation. The reason for the temptation is that I’ve once again collected a large backlog of Sprague Project contributions and Suggest forms which I’ve not found time to answer. To a large degree this is because my wife and I took a break and headed for grandparents duty in Nashville during the spring break of our grandson.

This has been a significant quarter in the life of the Sprague Project even though there are no major new features that I’ll be discussing. We’ve had a number of Sprague Website updates, a few thousand new individuals have been added to the Sprague Database and many new cousins have become involved in the Sprague Project through submission of new Suggest forms. My dream of having the Sprague Project perceived as a project belonging to the cousins, not Dick Weber’s project, is being realized as large numbers of Sprague descendants are helping fill in pieces of Sprague family history. Now let me comment on several items that have seemed important to me during this past three months.

  • It seems that I write the following words dozens of times a day as I process information received from various contributors to the Sprague Project:

“ I’ve posted your suggested changes to the Sprague Database. However, they will not appear on the Sprague Website until approximately (some date) when our next update of the Sprague Website is planned.

Arnold, our webmaster, and I have been quite committed to updating the Sprague Website at least once a month and usually much sooner than a month. When you submit changes to me whether using the Suggest feature, the contact the Project Developer feature, or simply via direct e-mail to me and I respond that I’ve processed your note, you should assume that the change has not yet been made to the Sprague Website. You should also assume that approximately a month from the date of the last update of the Sprague website I will be sending a complete update from the Sprague Database to Arnold for updating the Sprague Website. You are encouraged to check the Sprague Website regularly to see if an update has been posted. If there has been an update since I informed you that your changes were made to the Sprague Database, then validate any changes you may have submitted. Please check for anything that requires correction or that may be added to the Sprague family history. Having provided this explanation, I’ll no longer continue to provide the above explanation with my acknowledgements of your submissions.

  • There seems to be some confusion about the search function. I’ve received a number of queries where individuals report that the search has failed to find individuals for whom they’ve contributed information to the Sprague Database. The problem in every case has turned out not to be a search failure but rather that the individuals for which the search was initiated are fortunately still alive. We do not show living individuals on the Sprague Website by policy and therefore a search will not find them.
  • DNA is increasingly touted as the tool for genealogical research.

There is already a small Sprague DNA project. For details, go to http://www.ftdna.com and follow the appropriate links. I do not have any connection to this project and am not promoting it but in the interest of promoting a more complete and a more accurate Sprague family history, I felt I should alert each of you to a possible new tool. In fact, even though I’m extremely interested in supporting such efforts to help us solve some of the mysteries of our Sprague family history, I simply cannot afford further diversion from the goals and tasks of the Sprague Project. However, perhaps there are some among you who would like to work on such a project. If that is the case, the Sprague Database is capable of recording the DNA for individuals. The following was received by a Chandler descendant about a similar DNA project:

“We are fortunate with the participation in our Chandler project -- 113 participants so far! We have been actively seeking out participants from all Chandler males. There have been surprises and more Chandler lines have appeared. One of the Chandler DNA committee members is a DNA expert by profession which is most fortuitous for the rest of us.

“You may be able to sort out your English Spragues from those that may be Dutch or German as well as sort out families such as those early Spragues in Massachusetts through DNA.

“The Chandler ladies that you correspond with may be interested if they have Chandler surnamed males in their families. Many times women have paid for tests for male cousins, brothers, etc., so they can further their genealogy research”

  • A huge effort was launched to find all the Sprague and Sprague derivative names in the 1881 and 1901 Canadian census records. That content has been incorporated into the Sprague Database and Website. Even with the effort completed there are still over 80 unconnected Sprague and Sprague derivative names that we have been unable to connect to an ancestor. If you feel you may have Sprague/Spragg/Spragge/etc. roots in Canada, you should spend some time reviewing the Canadian portion of the Sprague Website. The following list shows the number of Sprague names found in various databases. It will give you an idea of the magnitude of the Sprague Project and the potential benefits that might be derived by a careful, systematic search of census records. Again, I have not found time to do more than a small amount of census reviews.

1790 United States Federal Census 226
1800 United States Federal Census 265
1810 United States Federal Census 347
1820 United States Federal Census 480
1830 United States Federal Census 645
1840 United States Federal Census 953
1850 Slave Schedules 7
1850 Slave Schedules 102
1850 United States Federal Census 6,143
1851 England Census 485
1851 Isle of Man Census 1
1851 United Kingdom Census Sample 267
1851 Wales Census 1
1860 Slave Schedules 10
1860 Slave Schedules 68
1860 United States Federal Census 7,138
1861 Channel Islands Census 1
1861 England Census 581
1861 Isle of Man Census 1
1861 Wales Census 4
1870 United States Federal Census 8,406
1871 England Census 612
1871 Wales Census 9
1880 United States Federal Census 10,058
1881 England Census 664
1881 Wales Census 16
1890 Veterans Schedules 304
1891 England Census 699
1891 Wales Census 11
1900 United States Federal Census 10,530

  • The Sprague Website, thanks to our switch to TNG and to Arnold Sprague’s steadfast commitment to making the website better than the competition, continues to get outstanding comments for its usefulness and ease of use. However, we occasionally hear of someone having a problem. One such problem was reported to us with the comment, “I’m sure you already know this but I’ve had the following problem .....” Well, we didn’t know it and once we did, we resolved it but in the process also resolved a problem we were having with our photo library. We also know that at times, for reasons we don’t yet understand, that searches get initiated that seemingly don’t complete successfully and in the process locks up our website. We’ve also had reports that an attempt to submit a Suggest for a desired change or correction seemingly does nothing. This last problem, thanks to a note from Jim Kallal, seems to be related to the Norton Internet Security system. Once Jim disabled the security system, the Suggest feature worked without further problem. The purpose for this discussion is to emphasize that even though we believe you’ll successfully visit our Sprague Website in almost every attempt, it is important to let us know if you have any problem with as many details of the problem as possible. Such reports allow us to work with our ISP and with the developer of TNG to attempt to resolve such problems and make what is already a great website into an even better website. We know that we are still occasionally experiencing searches that do not finish and which are associated with our website appearing to be locked. We have been unable as yet to determine whether the problem is (1) because our database/website is very large and complex, or (2) a problem with our ISP, or (3) a problem with TNG which drives the rich function available on our website. Please report any operational errors using the Webmaster link provided on the Sprague Website.
  • We’ll never be unhappy with you for reporting any problem no matter how small. If I used “to” instead of “too”, I want to know. Only by working together can we move toward the Sprague Website attaining the title of “best of genealogical websites.” As my eyes get older and the fingers less nimble long hours of data entry will inevitably create errors. Please report them using the Suggest feature.
  • A significant improvement in my productivity was accomplished a few weeks ago when I installed DSL. Updates to Legacy, my genealogy database program, which used to require 40-45 minutes are now complete in about 2-3 minutes. Website updates that I send to our Webmaster, Arnold, are nearing 25 meg in size required about 3.25 hours before I added DSL. They now require under 15 minutes. Life is good.
  • The change in DSL was associated with a change in my e-mail address. This didn’t slow down the high volume of spam mail I process daily. I’ve chosen to provide my e-mail address on our website and within days of activating the link to the project developer I began receiving dozens of spam mail messages. I’ve concluded, based on the recommendations of Richard Eastman, noted family historian, that I will soon install a spam control system. According to Dick he’s not seen a spam mail in his e-mail in-basket for months. The system I will install is ChoiceMail One. I tell you this because some of you, not all by any means, will receive a message asking that you verify that you are a real person by entering a provided keyword. I’m delaying implementation of this system to try to minimize the number of you that will have to provide such a response but once implemented ChoiceMail One will save me many hours a month I currently spend weeding out spam mail. I’m confident that this procedure will cause you little inconvenience and it will certainly help me spend more time on the Sprague Project. Thank you for your cooperation.
  • One final item deserves discussion. This note will be sent to over 1,200 Sprague Project “cousins.” History has proven that about 35 of these will be returned because the e-mail address of the recipient is no longer valid. I’ll then have Arnold add these names to the “lost cousins” list on the Sprague Website. Over time, some of those lost cousins will visit the Sprague Website, see their name, and will notify me of their new address. This process helps us stay in contact with as many Sprague family historians as possible and requires quite a bit of both Arnold’s and my time. Russ Sprague (who monitors and provides Sprague obituaries from across the U.S. and Canada) recently provided the following comments:
  • I know that you constantly lose contact with people because of changed e-mail addresses. As moderator of a message board I often see the message ‘please change my e-mail address for me.” This problem can be significantly minimized if individuals open an account at one of the major free sites such as Hotmail or Yahoo. Then, as it becomes necessary to change to a new ISP, the known e-mail address does not change. It is not necessary to use the e-mail function provided by an ISP. I (Russ) over the years have switched from Prodigy to Compuserve to Freewwweb to Erols to Verizon. That has been a non-event for my correspondents because my Hotmail address has been my consistent e-mail address.
  • Russ and I are not promoting any service. Hotmail and Yahoo are proven long term providers of a consistent service. Russ reports that Hotmail has excellent spam control and a filter system that helps him manage his e-mail. If you find yourself switching to a new ISP, you might consider installation of one of these free services after which you can make one final notification to your correspondents of your new preferred e-mail address and you won’t have concern about lost e-mail sent to your old address. Don’t forget to notify us if you do make an e-mail address change.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone who has contributed to the Sprague Project during the past quarter through contributions of the results of their research. I appreciate the financial support of the project which during this quarter allowed the addition of several new Sprague family histories at a cost of over $400. Ralph Sprague spent countless hours researching the Canadian records for the above mentioned Canadian project. As always, A. Arnold Sprague has spent many hours working to make the Sprague Website the very wonderful Sprague family research tool that it has become and has supported the project in other significant ways. I always hate to single out names as some don’t feel comfortable being identified and because I may omit others so I’ll just say Thank You for your efforts which truly, in my opinion, make the Sprague Project in an elite class.

I look forward to the second quarter of 2006 in which the Sprague family history is significantly enhanced as I respond to your many Suggest forms and contributions and perhaps even do a little research of my own. I wish you all happy ancestor hunting.

Richard E. (Dick) Weber

Fourth Quarter, 2005

I’m going to send the 4th quarter Sprague Project update a little early so that I can at the same time wish each of you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a 2006 filled with previously unknown ancestors. I’m frequently asked what motivated me to do the Sprague Project. The answer to that question is not a simple one but I’m very glad that I did start documenting the Sprague family history so many years ago. Because of the contacts made working on the project, I’ve come to know many wonderful people who love family history and are intrigued with history. I truly thank each and every one of you for the kindnesses offered me over these many years that the Sprague Project has been active. Your kind comments about the project often offer encouragement to keep going when I’m tempted to be overwhelmed with the many things that I simply do not get done. The Spragues have many wonderful descendants and I'm absolutely delighted to electronically know and work with many hundreds of them. Again, thank you for your encouragement and support.

The year of 2005 will be hard to match for accomplishments in the project because of the improvements made when we implemented and announced our new Sprague Website. Comments have been overwhelmingly positive with almost no complaints about the new site. The Suggest feature has generated hundreds of small corrections and additions to the database. The new search feature made available because of the wonderful software package (TNG) on which the website is based has provided a great improvement in researching the over 100 megabytes of data in the Sprague Database. A. Arnold Sprague, the Sprague Webmaster, and I worked very hard to bring you an easily used resource for studying the Sprague family history. We are both quite proud of our efforts. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Arnold’s untiring commitment to making the website better. He willingly uploads many tests I send to help resolve small problems that are identified with the website. He gets up before morning has even hinted at arriving to do website updates while internet traffic still allows the very large updates to be completed in a reasonable time. He provides significant financial support for the Sprague Project. The Sprague Website, a fabulous research tool, would not have happened without the support of Arnold.

With our recent update to the website we announced a new feature, Histories. Realizing how closely national histories are tied to the Sprague family history I’ve added two histories. The first discusses the Home Children program which brought many orphan children and children of the very poor from Great Britain to Canada. The second discusses a program that isolated certain immigrants to Canada until they could be deemed “without disease.” Each of these histories is linked to those Spragg/Spragge/Sprake/Sprague family members tied to the particular event. The histories are designed to make significant historical events easily available as a supplement to the normal personal details of each person affected by the historical event. This is in contrast to events which apply to one person, a couple, or a family where the information is included in the notes for the individual or family. In time, I would like to add another history for the Halifax explosion and other significant events. If you have ideas for improving this facet of the Sprague Project, please let me know. I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit Ralph Sprague of Ottawa, Canada for his work which supports my efforts on the above two histories. Ralph is diligently searching various Canadian research sources for supporting information and in the process has been instrumental in helping connect some of the many unconnected family segments in Canada. He’s currently working with various Canadian census records.

Pictures continue to be added at a slow rate as my available time allows. I hope you enjoy occasionally reviewing the Sprague picture gallery. I favor pictures that are clear (readable in the case of grave stones), not over 500 KB, jpg format and of small numbers of people all of whom can be clearly identified. Photos of large groups that are not or cannot be clearly labeled and of individuals not in the Sprague Database are discouraged.

It has always been my perspective that the Sprague Project isn’t my project but the project of the “cousins.” I’m simply the database developer and coordinator. The Sprague Website was added as a way to make the contents of the Sprague Database available to anyone wanting to research their Sprague family’s ancestry. The website also helps improve the accuracy of the Sprague Database by allowing many to review its content and report corrections and additions. I believe the project has moved far in the direction of my image of being “our” project and I should thank numerous people. Among those to be thanked are:

  • A group who volunteered to beta test our new website in order that it function reliably as soon as we announced it.
  • Several individuals who have, independently of their family connections, volunteered to research unconnected heads of lines using such research tools as the U.S. Census, Canadian Census or other online databases.
  • Countless individuals who have reviewed the Sprague website and have reported omissions and errors.
  • Individuals who have provided financial assistance for the ongoing costs of the project.
  • Those who have informed me of e-mail address changes avoiding entry on the “lost cousins” list.

I wish each and every one of you, members of my very extended family, a wonderful end to 2005 and an even better 2006. I always welcome suggestions for improving our project. On the other hand, please do not feel a requirement to respond to this note. I already receive a significant volume of e-mail on a daily basis.

Richard E. (Dick) Weber, Developer

Third Quarter, 2005

The 3rd Quarter has been busy and quite significant in the history of the Sprague Project. However, since we announced the new Sprague Website during the quarter, I’ll keep this update shorter than normal.

Obviously, the major activity for this quarter was the testing of the new Sprague Website followed by general availability on August 26th. It is our intent to update the website monthly but we managed to do one update in early September and another on September 30th. It is obvious that the announcement of the website created a lot of interest and some thorough checking of content because a high volume of suggested changes have been received via the new Suggest feature. We want to thank you for your diligence in reporting so many desired and beneficial changes. I urge you to continue to monitor and review information on those families with which you are familiar. Please report errors and changes in the living status of family members. If you have a death to report, an excellent way to do so is to send me a copy of the pertinent obituary. I continue to work on a massive volume of resource material that calls my “Sprague Room” home and as a result, several hundred new Sprague family members are added with each update.

I’m happy to report that the reaction to the new Sprague Website with its much improved search capability is overwhelmingly positive. We’re always receptive to suggestions for improvement but the new Sprague Website has not generated many such suggestions. The Suggest forms that correct and add content to the Sprague family history are valued. Thank you for those items and please continue to send them.

The CD project has been “put on ice” for the time being as it is felt that we have, by making the free website available, significantly reduced the ability to recover the costs that would be required to develop and make available a Sprague Research Aid CD. I’ll welcome comments with opposing view points.

As you probably have noted, we continue to add pictures to the new website. I’ll gladly start receiving a limited number of new pictures but ask that before sending me anything that you request my permission to send them. I operate without the benefits of a high speed communications line such as DSL. I chose to put such funds as can be allocated to the project into Sprague research rather than communications capability. Thus, a large amount of time can be used downloading pictures, processing them as necessary, and uploading them for the web site. Thus, I’m looking to keep an even flow of clear pictures, preferably a half meg or less in size, coming to me. If you have pictures that you feel would enhance the Sprague Project, send me a description of the picture and I’ll give you a time slot for submitting it to me.

Thank you to those who have made a financial contribution to help underwrite the costs of continued research and recording of the Sprague family history. Thank you also to Arnold Sprague, the Sprague Website web master, who has spend many hours in making our new website work efficiently and look professional. The help provided by several who helped us test the new website to ensure that it would function properly was essential and appreciated Finally, thank you to several wonderful people who have volunteered to research and extend our knowledge of several of the many unconnected Sprague family lines. Many of these lines are continuing to have new information, such as census data, added as the result of research results contributed by these individuals.

Thank you to all who support the Sprague Project with their contributions and corrections. This is clearly a project “of the cousins” that in my opinion is unique and in this world where nothing seems to be free is still free and has been for over nine years. The results can be seen at the Sprague Website at: http://www.sprague-database.org where we hope you’ll be a regular visitor.

Richard E. (Dick) Weber, Developer

Second Quarter, 2005

It seems a very short time since the last Sprague Project quarterly report, but much has happened worthy of your review and comments.

In the last update I commented on efforts to produce a Sprague Research Aid CD. The prime reason for producing the CD would be to give life to the Sprague history that has been documented in the Sprague Database when I can no longer continue the project. A second objective would be to make information on all individuals in the database available for research and study on anyone's home computer. The Sprague website contains about 100,000 deceased Sprague family members. The CD would include another 64,000+ deceased individuals who are members of Sprague spousal lines.

Many hours were put into developing a prototype of the CD for my Weber ancestry, proving the feasibility of developing the CD. However, I wanted to develop an indexing function that would allow users to find any name in all the forms of data on the CD, and this has proven to be a complex project. Development of the full Sprague Research Aid CD is estimated to require several hundred additional hours. Obviously, such an effort would take time away from the many other project tasks such as website maintenance, e-mail response, and database expansion.

An unanticipated obstacle developed when I was advised not to release the CD as an individual. If I did, I was told, I would incur a very real legal exposure that could, in today's litigious times, threaten personal assets such as our home. I was advised to form an L.L.C (limited liability corporation) that would shield me from that legal exposure. Formation of an L.L.C. would require another time investment and up to $1,000 in legal and documentary costs.

No decision has been made on this matter at this time.

As you know, Arnold Sprague is our webmaster and is responsible for the fine tool that is provided to assist in researching Sprague family history. I provide him with data from the Sprague database and he puts it in the very usable form you see on today's website (http://www.sprague-database.org Arnold is always on the lookout for new approaches to make the Sprague website ever more usable and helpful. He recently suggested a new tool (The Next Generation, TNG) that would improve our website a good bit. Arnold and I are currently testing the feasibility of changing the Sprague website to utilize TNG. One of these days you may see that the Sprague website has a whole new look. Here are some of the changes you'd note:

  1. The Heads of Sprague Lines page would disappear and the whole Sprague history would be treated as a single entity. Instead of the approximately 100,000 Sprague descendants and their spouses that are contained in the existing website, there would be the full 164,000+ deceased individuals contained in the Sprague Database. The extra 64,000+ deceased individuals are primarily the ancestors of the spouses of Sprague descendants. For example, my mother, a Sprague descendant, married my father, a Weber. The Weber ancestral line would now be included on the Sprague website. This is something I've long desired to accomplish.
  2. Many types of reports would be available for any of the 164,000 deceased individuals. These include pedigree charts, relationship charts, time line charts that compare the life spans of several individuals, descendancy charts, register descendancy reports, and others.
  3. The capability to add photos exists. It will require a time investment to get such a facility available but this is an oft-requested feature for the website.
  4. A variety of searches makes this an improved tool for research. For example, a search could be initiated to find all events recorded in the Sprague database that occurred in a specific location. How would you like to be able to search for all records recorded for a specific town (or county) in Vermont?

This is a brief summary but will give you an idea of what we are currently testing. If you'd like to see more of the possibilities provided by TNG you may do so at their website: http://www.lythgoes.net/genealogy/features.php

The building of the database continues. For example, I've nearly completed addition of the entire "Ralph Sprague Genealogy" by E. G. Sprague into the database. The next website update will be much richer in this line I have answered all e-mails received since November of 2003 up to a few days ago. I continue to work on the older e-mails. There are still boxes of research material and books that I could use to enhance the Sprague database. Life goes on and the Sprague project continues to be exciting to me.

I often get offers to help with the project. Frankly, I'm not very good at defining tasks for others; I seem to be good at defining a large list for myself. However, this time I can use some help in two areas:

First, if you'd be willing to Beta Test our new website before we release it, and as a result of your testing, write a set of "New User's Instructions," please let me know. We feel that it will be very helpful to have a well written set of instructions on how to productively use the Sprague website for the various purposes for which our visitors come to the Sprague website. This task could well take a few dozen hours of on-line and writing time.

Second, if you'd like to help me understand more completely what work tasks for the Sprague Project should receive my priority attention, I have a survey questionnaire that I'd like you to complete. This should take a fairly limited amount of your time, hopefully thoughtful time. If you're willing to participate in such an activity, please send an e-mail to the Sprague Project developer, with a subject line of "Sprague Project Survey" with nothing in the message area. The questionnaire will be sent to you via e-mail. You are then asked to complete the questionnaire, preferably in RED, and return it to me Learning more about your desires for the Sprague Project will be very helpful to me. Obviously, tasks requiring a further financial investment in the project (such as the aforementioned Sprague Research Aid CD which demands formation of a legal entity) must be evaluated in that light.

In closing, let me thank you for your contributions which have helped the Sprague Project provide a significant amount of Sprague Family History free of charge to many individuals. Suggestions for improving the project are always welcomed.

Richard E. (Dick) Weber, Developer

First Quarter, 2005

As I prepared to write this Sprague Project Update, I was reminded of the opening sentence of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens when he said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Some very positive progress has been made in the past three months and the list of things that need to be done for the project continues to grow.

Let’s start with the most visible portion of the project, the Sprague Website. A. Arnold Sprague, the Sprague Project Web Master has worked diligently to make the website accurate, user friendly and easily used. The website is quite large and contains nearly 38,000 URL links. A recent audit of the site showed that every link on the site is correct and functional. Compare this to the many sites you visit which contain invalid links. Its a pretty nice accomplishment. Arnold very recently introduced a “Quick Links” box near the top of each of the introductory web pages to make navigation to other portions of the website quicker and easier. You may want to check out the quick links. Nearing an introduction as I write is a new feature page that will provide an alphabetized list of all Heads of Sprague lines. Clicking on any of the names of the heads of lines will take the website visitor directly to the Family Group Sheet for the head of line. This is similar to the function provided by the Heads of Sprague Lines page but contains much less information about the line and thus is a smaller list to navigate and it provides a slightly different entry point to the family It is expected that this new feature will be used by return visitors who are simply checking to see what is new in their Sprague line of interest. As always we encourage you to let us know of any problem encountered in using the website. We also solicit any suggestions for improving the website. Any of you who want to comment on the website may do so by clicking the Webmaster link found on the website.

The heart of the Sprague Project is the Sprague Database, a lineage linked family history file that contains nearly a quarter million individuals associated with the Sprague family. Only about 100,000 of these individuals are on the Sprague website because of our policy on not displaying living individuals and because we do not show Sprague spousal ancestral lines. I am the only person with access to the Sprague Database because of security concerns. During this quarter, I completed an audit of the database looking for such errors as children born after the mother turned 50, children born when the parents were less than 13, and other such problems. All such audit messages were reviewed, and corrective research completed to allow elimination of the problem. In many cases, the error was as simple as changing the year by a century (born 1823, married 1945) or some such obvious correction. In other cases, the error was repeated in many publicly available sources. In such cases, explanatory comments were added to highlight the error.

Quite some time ago I mentioned the possibility of producing a Sprague Research Aid CD (SRA CD) which would provide research material for all non-living individuals in the Sprague database. Content of the SRA CD would include a lineage linked set of family group sheets searchable with a web browser and a variety of PDF reports. The PDF reports would include a location report where it will be easy to find any individual with a reported presence in any location, and other research types of information useful in trying to extend Sprague family research project. It will be self loading and have a very unique feature in that all material whether reports or lineage linked browseable data will be commonly indexed in one master index. The only prerequisites to using the CD will be a web browser and the Adobe Acrobat Reader. During this quarter, a prototype of the CD was generated using my Weber family material. The CD will go through extensive testing to uncover usability problems. When that is done, a full Sprague Project version of the CD will be built. In a future update, I will solicit comments on this project. Some challenging business and legal decisions must be made before that time.

The above has been “the best of times” section of this report. Now for the “worst of times section.’ As of this moment, I’ve responded to all e-mails received since January of 2004. I still have a large (nearly 500) stack from before that date. I’m working on them. Having made a significant investment in computer resource has helped me in that task. I also have over 250 Sprague obituaries that have been sent to me awaiting efforts to integrate into the Sprague family history. This is in addition to much material on the Sprague family found in a fairly extensive genealogical library that I’ve assembled. I also have many large boxes of material that has been sent to me via U. S. Mail that would add still more content to the Sprague family history. I truly feel bad to have such valued contributions sit in stacks; I’d rather have the material in the Sprague database. I’ll keep working at it.

I’d be remiss in not saying thank you to the many significant contributions that have been made to this project. Contributions have come in the form of shared research, encouragement, and financial support. All are appreciated. Others have invested significant time to support the project. Obviously Arnold, without whom the website would not exist, is key. Thank you all for your kindness, support and understanding.

In closing, I should apologize to anyone who objected to the Plaxo mailings they received. My Sprague Project Address Book was in very bad shape with dozens, probably hundreds of obsolete e-mail addresses. Plaxo has been a major help to me in getting that address book more up to date. This is a good thing when I want to contact any of you.

I wish you all success in your Sprague family history efforts and hope that the Sprague Project has been able to repay you for the support you have provided. Have a wonderful spring and summer. As the saying goes, “I’ll be back to you around the end of June, the good Lord willing.”

Richard E. (Dick) Weber, Developer

Fourth Quarter, 2004

When I sent the Sprague Project update at the end of the first quarter I though I would send several such updates in 2004 but this one will be the second and last for the year. Much has happened.

In the first quarter update I commented on factors that had caused us to change ISPs and on the demise of GENDEX which left us (temporarily) without a cross-site index for the Sprague website. I received many comments about each of these with numerous helpful suggestions. I’m happy to report that those items are no longer issues. We chose a new host service for our Sprague website host. All is running smoothly and our unique needs caused by the very large Sprague website are being nicely satisfied.

On the second matter, site wide indexing, I also received many suggestions. Many suggested that I use one of several free indexing services. Many of the advertised free indexing services are tied to an agreement to allow banner advertising on our website. I chose not to do that as I feel that by so doing I’d be implicitly endorsing the advertised products without knowing that the products are worthy of endorsement. We also found that many so-called free services work only for smaller websites or a portion of a website. As websites get larger a monthly fee is often required. We had one quote of $140/month to index the Sprague site. A better solution appeared to be to provide a cross-site index through a self-programmed effort. I’m happy to report that we were able to add a site wide index to the Sprague website at virtually the same time that GENDEX was removed. After a 17 year absence from computer programming, I took a step back into the past and produced a site wide index feature tailored to the unique aspects of our Sprague Website. Now if you want to see in one list all same-name individuals, for example all John Spragues, from all of the nearly 500 Sprague family lines you may do so. A few errors existed in my initial release but Arnold, our capable web master, just last week ran a full audit on the website and found no invalid links if the over 33,000 links found in the Sprague website. Arnold and I are excited about what we’ve provided but I have to admit that apparently it has been little used as I’ve received no comments either telling of problems with using the index or telling us that the Sprague website is now easier to use. You should all know that without the time and financial support of A. Arnold Sprague, the Sprague website would not exist.

A one month leave of absence from the demands of the Sprague project occurred in October when six of my Weber family journeyed to Germany in search of knowledge of my Weber and my Schwenk ancestries. We returned home having extended our ancestry by three generations. Our greatest excitement came when we found three generations of descendants of the brother of my great grandfather living on the farm on which he had been raised. We were royally hosted in their home and attended church with them in the church where my great grandfather worshipped which was built in 1706. We returned home excited to meet these wonderful people and thankful for the work of our tour director who specializes in organizing such family search tours. I didn’t once think about the Sprague project for the time we were in Germany viewing wonderful scenery, eating superb food and enjoying knowing more of our ancestral home country.

I’ve known for a long time that my computer had numbered days. As the Sprague database grew larger and larger, I continually deleted other software from my computer and often endured genealogical tasks that ran most of the night or in a few cases for up to 70 hours. About a month ago I concluded that I either must give up on the Sprague project or bite the proverbial bullet and buy a new and much higher powered system. Not able to do the former, I just installed a system that has, for example, reduced the time to generate the Sprague site wide index from about 75 minutes to about 2.6 minutes. Thank you to any who provided financial gifts to facilitate this improvement. This will without question allow me to do a better job of continuing the Sprague Project.

Not all is roses and on that note I must apologize to the “cousins” who wonder why I haven’t answered their e-mail. I have over 1,000 still awaiting answer and many large file boxes full of printed material to process. I’m getting better at accepting that I cannot do everything but I still feel bad when I am unable to satisfy all the requests for response. Nevertheless, the Sprague database has grown significantly and is getting more reliable each year as I receive requests to change information proven to be incorrect. I value the correspondence from each and every cousin. Many of you have provided me research assistance that has significantly increased the amount of Sprague family history that has been recorded. You should each review the Sprague website from time to time to see new information for that portion of the history for which you have expertise. For example, I’ve added much census information over the past year which if in your family line may be of interest to you. As always, additions and corrections are welcomed.

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season with many happy family moments. I also hope that 2005 will be prosperous and one providing good health and many happy family history discoveries. Thank you for your ongoing support of the Sprague Project. I’m convinced that by working together we have truly accomplished something unique and of value to future generations of Sprague cousins.

Thanks for all who have sent my family and me special greetings. Even though I will not respond in kind, please know that I welcome hearing from you. Dick

Richard E. (Dick) Weber, Developer

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This page was created on April 11, 2005
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