Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sprague Spooner Stetson (1841-1899)


   Sporting one of those fun tongue-twister type names that is guaranteed to make you laugh, Sprague Spooner Stetson was a resident of the village of Lakeville in Massachusetts during the 19th century. A prominent farmer in that area, Stetson served one term in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives in the early 1880s, earning him an article here on the site. Despite his being a citizen of distinction in the Plymouth County area, little could be found on Mr. Stetson, with the exception being a small write up in the 1906 History of the Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts, authored by Thomas Weston. This book also yielded the rare portrait of Stetson shown above.
   Born in the town of Carver in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Sprague Spooner Stetson was one of three children born to Peleg Stetson (1800-1867) and his wife Priscilla Ward (1808-1871). Little is known of Stetson's early life or education, and he married on December 13, 1864 to Thalia Weston, with whom he had two children, George Ward (1866-1926) and Jennie (1870-1953). George Ward Stetson went on to become a noted lawyer, later serving as a special justice for the 4th District Court of Plymouth County.
  Following his father's death in 1867, Stetson inherited the family home (referred to as the "Ward Place") and in the succeeding years built up a reputation as a productive farmer in Lakeville and also served in several local political offices. In 1883 he was elected to the Massachusetts General Court for that years term and was named to a seat on the legislative committee on Agriculture. Stetson also held a membership in the Plymouth County Agricultural Society both before and after his tenure in the legislature.
   After his brief stint in state government, Stetson was appointed by then Massachusetts Governor Frederic Thomas Greenhalge to the State Board of Agriculture, serving in that capacity from 1892 to 1899. Stetson died on January 12, 1899 while still serving on the board. He was 58 years old at the time of his death and was later memorialized in the History of Town of Middleboro as being:
"Prudent yet enterprising, conscientious in the performance of every duty, always courteous yet unassuming, and the cordiality of his manners and his thoughtful regard of others won the respect of the entire community."

                       A Massachusetts House resolution passed shortly after Stetson's death in 1899.

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