Profiles of the Pioneer men and women of Sprague, Washington

Submitted by Barbara Curtis


The Sprague Times, October 5, 1900


Listed Alphabetically by SURNAME.....



   The above named gentleman is the pioneer physician of Sprague since the disastrous conflagration of 1895.

   A year later, on in December, 1896, Dr. Bittner opened an office here and has ever enjoyed a lucrative practice, which extends to the surrounding country for a radius of many miles.   The doctor is a native of the province of Quebec, Canada, where he was born October 10th, 1862.  After the usual common school education he took a classical course at the Seminary of Quebec, when he matriculated as a medical student at the Laval university in his native city, graduating there from in 1885.  After a few years practice in Tennessee he removed to Washington and was for many years a practicing physician at Pasco. During his three years of residence at Sprague he has won many friends and established a reputation for painstaking care in his professional practice. Dr. Bittner is strictly old school.  


   JOHN M. BROWN is the proprietor of the Alder Grove Dairy.  For seven years MR. BROWN has supplied the wants of Sprague in the dairy line.  His farm which is only three miles north of Sprague, consists of 640 acres, and besides the care of 24 milk cows, Mr. BROWN fines time to attend to 400 acres of what land.  Mr. BROWN has resided in this section for 13 years, coming to this state from Iowa.  He is one of the sturdy farmers who has stayed with the country and made it what it is.


   The comely, courteous, and capable postmaster of Sprague is, albeit, a young man almost a pioneer in point of years of residence.  He is a native of England, but came to this country when but 4 years of age, his parents locating at San Francisco, in which city he was raised and educated.  His first employment was in the hardware trade, in all branches of which business he is thoroughly proficient, and in which he has passed his entire life.  Mr. BUCKLEY located at Sprague 15 years ago and was continuously in the above mentioned line of business until his appointment as postmaster by the McKinley administration in 1898.  His discharge of the growing duties of the Sprague office has been marked by business-like promptitude and proficiency and has added to his popularity in the community.  Politically Mr. BUCKLEY has ever been a consistently straight republican.  Fraternally he is a member of the F. & A. M. and the Knight of Pythias. 


   One of the neatest stores in Sprague is that of MR. BURGE in the Cooper block.  His is the popular headquarters among the ladies for confectionery, etc., and among the men, young and old, for cigars, tobaccos and pipes.  He also carries canned goods and other lines. MR. BURGE has resided in Sprague for nine years and is well known and esteemed all over the county, having acted as deputy at various times in the different county offices and discharged the duties incident to the different departments, with marked efficiency and unfailing courtesy.  He is a native of Iowa, but was raised on a farm, chiefly in Nebraska, which vocation he followed until taking up his residence in this city. His present establishment was opened last summer and he is enjoying an ample share of public patronage. 


   WILLIAM J. BURROW is one of the earliest pioneers of the virgin state of Washington.  He bought the ranch on which he now resides, consisting of 160 acres, in 1867, has added thereto at various times until he is at present owner of 1000 acres and has been a continuous resident here for over three decades.  He is perhaps the finest hay ranch in the country, cutting on an average 100 tons of choice timothy and red top, besides what is fed to his sheep, cattle and horses.  MR. BURROW was born in Iowa in August, 1814, but came to the coast when a mere lad.  He was raised in Portland, Oregon, and like many of the early pioneers has endured the hardships and struggles of pioneer life in many callings until finally residing at Sprague.  In 1881 he married Miss MARY DOWNS of Cheney and they have passed together nearly a quarter of a century of happy married life and raised a family of five children.  He has ever enjoyed the esteem of those with whom he has business or social relations. 


   R. H. CHILTON was born in Lancaster Co., Va, ca 1841/43.  He served as a Lieutenant in the 40th Virginia Infantry during the Civil War.  He married Miss ELLA SANFORD DUNAWAY on 25 Jan 1866.  The couple had one child, a girl named Lilly who was born ca 1868. The family moved west to Lincoln County, Washington and purchased 640 acres near the town of Sprague. According to letters written between 20 Oct 1889 and 7 April 1892, Robert H. Chilton was Treasurer of Lincoln County and farmed his land outside of town.  His wife worked in the Treasurer's office on a part-time basis.  Sometime after April 1892, the Chilton's moved to Pendleton, Oregon, where Ella Chilton was living in 1915.  Submitted by Elise Chilton Payne, March 1,2004


   Probably the oldest established practicing dentist in eastern Washington is the sterling pioneer and substantial citizen Dr. P. H. DENCER.

   He has practiced dentistry on the Pacific slope for 20 years, his preceptor being the old and well known master of his profession, Dr. SMITH of Salem, Oregon. Dr. Dencer first opened an office at Sprague in 1882 and has since permanently resided here.  His practice extends all over this portion of Lincoln county and while his clientele is a large one he still finds time to keep thoroughly abreast of all the latest improvements and developments in his profession. While he has suffered like so many citizens of Sprague from fire, he is owner of the Dencer block, a substantial brick structure in the heart of the business center, and of other business and residence property. Although precluded by the demands of his profession from actively participating in politics he has efficiently served the city as councilman and in all respects enjoys the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens. 


   The senior member of the above mentioned old established firm is MR. JOHN KIRK, one of the old and respected pioneers of Lincoln county and the city of Sprague. MR. KIRK is a native of Ireland, but came to this country when a boy of 16 summers. He was raised on a farm and has passed many years of his active life as a tiller of the soil,  although he was engaged in mining for more than a decade.

   He crossed the plains to California as early as 1858 and mined successfully in the Golden state for eight years, when he returned east.  Later he was engaged in mining in Montana for two years.  MR. KIRK first located in Washington in 1879 on the banks of the Pataha river near Walla Walla., where he resided till 1879, when he took up his present ranch five miles north of Sprague.  It consists of 320 acres and is well under cultivation to wheat, oats, barley and vegetables of all kinds.  He is one of the substantial citizens of Lincoln county. His partner, Mr. HENRY FREY is a Minnesota boy who has had a large experience with and is an excellent judge of cattle.  He has a genial personality and has made hosts of friends during his 12 years residence in this vicinity. The firm of FREY & KIRK do a large wholesale and retail  butcher business, their wholesale business being the largest between Walla Walla and Spokane. 


   Genial GUS HENKEL, as he is known to a wide circle of friends, is a comparatively recent but valuable acquisition to the city.  He came to Sprague three years ago and for the past year has conducted the Silver Club saloon, a favorite resort of business men.  Although new to the business, his unfailing courtesy and pleasing personality, coupled with the excellent quality of liquors handled, has won him exceptional success.  Associated with a partner under the firm name of MELTON & HENKEL, he has just opened a 'branch' establishment at Lind, a prosperous town, in a rich farming center in Adams county. Mr. HENKEL is a native of Wisconsin where he received a good common and graded school education and was engaged in the hotel business, until coming to Washington in 1880.  He resided mainly in Spokane, and Tacoma until taking up his residence in Sprague, where he intends making his permanent home.  Since his residence here he has been united in marriage to Miss JESSIE McDONALD, a charming daughter of JOHN  McDONALD, a prominent rancher of this section. 


   Sprague's efficient and popular druggist although frequently addressed by hosts of friends as "SAM" loses none of his innate dignity thereby, nor by his uniform affability and courtesy. Previous to coming to Sprague in 1897 he conducted stores in Walla Walla and Palouse City. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Pharmacy of Chicago and a thoroughly skilled pharmacist, exercising especial care in preparing prescriptions, in which  department he takes proper pride and infinite pains.  The stock in his commodious and ever neatly kept store on First street is not confined to drugs and chemicals, but embraces as well a complete line of books of history, travel and fiction, toilet articles, musical instruments, patent medicines, wall paper, cigars, fishing tackle and other sporting good.  His store is also the central office of the Inland Long Distance Telephone Company.  Mr. KINCH is a native of Michigan and received an excellent education in the common and high schools of that state.  Although  never having used same he holds a first grad teacher's certificate in the state of Washington. 


   A striking example of the health giving properties of the glorious climate of this Inland Empire, when one pays attention to the laws of nature, is pioneer  V. J. LONG. MR. LONG is in his 81st year, but as hale and hearty as a man in his prime.  He was born in Tennessee in September 1819. For 20 years MR. LONG has resided in Sprague and vicinity and is well known through eastern Washington.  His host of friends trust that he will round out a full century before crossing the great divide.


   New luminaries in the mercantile world of Sprague are Messrs. LUCAS & MENGEE.  That they will ere long play a prominent part in commercial circles goes without saying, as they are endowed with all the prerequisites of success. Both are young men,  they are well known and popular far and wide all over the county, having both resided here for more than a decade; they are energetic, enterprising and industrious and they are equipped to meet the prices of all competitors.  The firm are successor to Messrs. LINDER & LUCAS, the former having recently sold his interest to Mr. MENGEE.    The new firm are about to enlarge their store, increase their stock and take every honorable, energetic action to widen the ramifications of their trade. Their stock embraces a complete line of groceries, clothing, boots and shoes, etc. in short, everything to be found in a live and up-to-date general merchandising establishment. MR. LUCAS has had considerable mercantile experience in his connection with MR. LINDER and MR. MENGEE was also formerly in business in this city.  Both are married men with families and are respected citizens of the community with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.


   The subject of this sketch is a native of New Brunswick, from which province has come much of the brain, brawn and sinew that has aided in developing the resources, of this mighty northwest.  He was there apprenticed to the harness making trade and learned the caning in the thorough methods then in vogue.    Mr. McALLISTER first came to the United States when 20 years of age, locating in New York city, where he worked at his trade for about a year.  Removing to Chicago, then in the heyday of its huge prosperity and successfully conducting a business of his own for eight years, when the western fever caught him in the vortex of the imagination and he removed to San Francisco, subsequently to Portland and 12 years ago settled in Sprague and opened a harness making shop and harness and saddle store.  He here determined to make his final home and though suffering in common with others the visitations of fire and other hardships with which this fair city has had to contend he has ever enjoyed the fruits of industry and integrity in a credit above par abroad and respect and esteem at home.

   While unassuming in demeanor and essentially of domestic tastes and habits, Mr. McALLISTER has served the city as councilman and could have most any honor to which he might aspire that was within the gift of his friends and neighbors.


   A recent valuable acquisition  to the commercial world of Sprague and to the community is the gentleman above named.

   While a native of Illinois, Mr. MISNER may be said to be a pioneer of the Pacific, in that he crossed the plains in 1862 when but 6 years of age by the mule team transit.  His parents first located in Oregon,, where he was raised and educated, finishing his education in Umpqua college near Roseberg; that state.  He was raised on a farm and tilling of the soil has been his main vocation through his life.  In 1886 he removed to Washington and two years later he was instrumental in starting the first cracker factory erected in Spokane.  He closed out his interest in the plant two years thereafter and purchased a ranch near Edwall, this county, where he resided until purchasing the general merchandising stock of J. D. LEFEVRE of Sprague two months ago. Mr. MISNER, has added largely to the stock, especially in the grocery department, and he now carries a very varied and complete line of groceries, boots, shoes, clothing, dry goods, etc.  He buys his stock for cash taking advantage of all discounts, and conversely sells strictly for cash, giving the consumer a like benefit.  In other words, his prices can not be beat this side of Spokane.  His store in the First National Bank building, corner C and First streets is the best location in the city and he has enjoyed an excellent and increasing (business).(last line missing)


   A history of the pioneers of Sprague, the men whose brains, industry and capital have developed its resources, without a mention of its popular brewer and business man, would be amalagous to a rendition of Hamlet with the melancholy Dane omitted from the cast.

   This is best attested by the fact that MR. PORAK is universally referred to as the father of the city.  And it is certainly true that he has contributed much of his energy and means to the city's upbuilding.  He has stood by the town through its fires and other vicissitudes, freely investing his capital when it was most needed and ever generously aiding with his purse any landable enterprise that had in view its growth and advancement. He can be truthfully stated, without any spirit of exaggeration, that since taking up his residence at Sprague 18 years ago he has been one of the leading and enterprising  citizens and a potent factor in its material advancement.  This present extensive brewery was purchased by him 12 years ago and his brew has ever been recognized by connoisseurs as an excellent, healthy and palatable drink. Adjoining the brewery, on a sprightly eminence overlooking the city, is Mr. PORAK's handsome residence.  It is one of the finest in the city.  It is especially beautiful in the summer when the extensive flower garden surrounding the residence is radiant in bloom. Mr. PORAK is also the owner of a large brick business block and other business property, and an extensive holder of ranch property and other interests. 

Page 1. These  short biographies were printed in the Sprague Times, Sprague, Washington in a special Homemakers Edition on Feb 9, 1900. Thank you to Barbara Curtis for submitting these items. Used with permission.

Typing was "as is" from the newspaper, spelling errors etc. included. 


If you have a short bio of a Sprague Pioneer, we would be glad to add it. Please contact the county coordinator.


 Page 1 of Pioneer Profiles of Lincoln County,  Washington.

 Submitted to the WAGenWeb by Barbara Curtis,  

 November 5, 2005.  Used with permission.

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