Historical Background


Sprague is a small village thirteen miles southwest of Lincoln and two miles south of Centerville Corner. It is located in what is known as Centerville Precinct. Sprague may be considered as an aftermath of the early settlements in the Centerville area of the Centerville Precinct.


The forerunner of many of the small towns in the section of the country was the railroad. the building of the Missouri Pacific Railroad was the immediate predecessor of Sprague. The grade for the railroad was built about the year 1887, and the track was laid the following year. Settlers were not long in grasping the opportunity of forming a town.

Sprague was early known as one of the toughest towns because of the railroad workers who congregated there. The Missouri Pacific Railroad still passes through Sprague, a branch extending from Auburn to Crete, Nebraska. It has since been shortened and now joins with Pacific North of Hickman.


It was surveyed and received its name after an early homesteader in the area, Mr. Sprague. Sprague was incorporated September 25, 1913. The Town Board was as follows: 

  • A.J. McClain
  • Frank Miles
  • R.W. Hans
  • WE. Lamb
  • William Krull


(Taken from a newspaper obituary copied February 25, 1967, by John Spellman of Sprague at age 83). Seward-Mrs. Amy Sprague, born November 27, 1841, ninety, a former Lincoln resident and Civil War widow, died at her home here early Tuesday, April 26, 1932. Mrs. Sprague came with her husband to Nebraska from Ohio in 1868 settling on a homestead 16 miles south of Lincoln. She was a charter member of Appomattox W.R.C. William Sprague was a member of Lincoln, Nebraska, first band. 

They moved to Seward 31 years ago. Mr. Sprague died one year later. The town of Sprague is named for them. funeral services to be held Thursday with burial in Wyuka, Lincoln, Nebraska.


Prior to the year 1888, the town of Sprague was undreamed of, and yet suddenly, the force of the Western migration made itself known in the form of the small village or hamlet.

As early as the year of 1856, we find the Prey Family settling in this community between the present sites of Sprague and Roca. The family arrived in this territory about the twenty-sixth of July and immediately set to work preparing a home. The following year an Indian scare sent them hurrying back east to escape the wrath of the Savages, which was more apparent than real. They soon returned and began the task of subduing the raw prairies.


We also know that the Kirk family settled at an early date upon the land which is now occupied by a part of the town. The records show that taxes were paid as early as the year 1864 on the ground which was once prairie, and now covered with buildings. Sol Kirk and J.H. Buel at that time owned the land and were farming it, little realizing that in another generation it would be a town.

Early Settlers

The Krull family were also early settlers in this vicinity. They homesteaded a quarter section of land in Centerville Precinct and constructed a dug-out which was the common form of habitation of many of the early pioneers. The home was constructed during the winter, and it was the misfortune of the family to have a dug-out fill up with water on Christmas day. However, they were forced to move into it in the condition that it was on January 7, 1863. They endured the hardships of the early days which consisted mainly of Indian scares, prairie fires, lack of nearby markets, and the onslaughts of the hordes of grasshoppers that made their appearance during the early seventies. 

The ravages of these insects were felt for a period of approximately four years, and the damage that they did was immeasurable.


Life didn't always run so smoothly in the village, and twice disastrous fires have visited the town. During the winter of 1911-1912 a fire swept through the old Corey Store Building, Irvin Willman's implement store, and a few other buildings, and again in 1927 fire destroyed much of the business section of the town.

Social Life

Now let us turn to the social life of the community. As early as the year 1895 Sprague had a band. This organization lasted until about the year 1898, and the last noteworthy concert that gave way at the trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha. Community dances were held, and many of these affairs. Traveling shows frequently made their appearance in the town, and there is quite a novel little story in the connection with one of them. 

It seems that a show by the name of Uncles Tom's Cabin came to Sprague, and one of the featured attractions of that show was a handsome gentleman who played the Oboe. During the later years of the World War, another band made its appearance and this origination under the direction of Mr. Thornburgh remained several years.