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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Benjamin Fredenburgh Spraker

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 274-276 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Benjamin Fredenburgh Spraker, attorney and banker of Canajoharie, New York, is a representative of a family that has played a prominent part in the legal, financial and political circles of Montgomery county for several generations. He is descended from George Spraker, who came to the United States from Saxony and settled in the Mohawk Valley about 1755. Members of the family participated in the American Revolution and won military fame at the battle of Stone Arabia. Jost Spraker, great-grandfather of the subject of this review, was born at Sprakers, New York, where he lived his entire life, following the occupations of a farmer and a tavern-keeper until his death on August 9, 1848. His son, Livingston, was a banker and financier, being one of the original directors of three banks. He was born in Sprakers and married Sarah Leonard of the town of Palatine. They made their home at Palatine Bridge, and there passed away. Livingston Spraker was one of the early directors of the New York Central Railroad and took a prominent part in its development. Benjamin F. Spraker has in his possession the original contract between the New York Central Railroad Company, Dean Richmond, Livingston Spraker, Webster Wagner and others, for running the first sleeping car on that road. It is dated May 8, 1858. Frasier Spraker, son of Livingston, was born at Palatine Bridge, in December, 1825, and died there October 25, 1900, at the age of seventy-four. He, too, was actively interested in financial affairs, turning his attention chiefly to the field of banking, and was, moreover, a lawyer. His wife was Catherine Fredenburgh before her marriage, a native of Coeymans, Albany county, New York, and a daughter of Dr. Benjamin B. and Ann (Ver Plank) Fredenburgh. Her father was born in Ghent, Columbia county, New York, while her mother's birthplace was Coeymans. Both parents died at Palatine Bridge, many years ago. The Fredenburghs and the Ver Planks were of Holland Dutch descent, belonging to the old families that immigrated here before the British colonial period. Many of the Ver Planks are found in the rosters of the Revolutionary war.

Born in Canajoharie, New York, on the 17th of August, 1855, Benjamin Fredenburgh Spraker spent his boyhood in this village, where he obtained his early education in the public schools. Later he attended the Clinton high school of Clinton, New York, and after graduating therefrom took the course in the Union Classical Institute of Schenectady. He next entered the Boys Military Academy at Albany, where he spent a year, going from there to the Albany Law School, from which he was graduated as a member of the class of 1883, with the LL. B. degree. When he had gained admission to the bar of New York state the young attorney began the practice of his chosen profession in partnership with Mr. D. S. Morrell of Canajoharie, his father-in-law, under the firm name of Morrell & Spraker. Some half dozen years later this firm was dissolved by the death of Mr. Morrell and Mr. Spraker opened an office for the practice of law under his own name, in which he is still engaged. As an attorney of recognized ability and standing before the bar, he enjoys a large and important practice in this county and the Mohawk valley.

Like his father and grandfather Mr. Spraker has been intimately connected with the financial life of this district for many years as a bank official and a shareholder and director in many local enterprises. For the past twenty-four years he has guided the affairs of the National Spraker Bank of Canajoharie as its president, while for even a longer period he has given freely of his time and ability to the management of the National Mohawk River Bank at Fonda, of which he is the vice president. Mr. Spraker is at present one of the directors of the Montgomery Light & Power Company of Canajoharie and also of the Canajoharie Supply Company. His abilities as a business man and financier and his mastery of the law have made Mr. Spraker a much sought after man in the business world, where his support and advice are highly valued both in new enterprises and old established institutions which seek to realize to the fullest measure their opportunities for development.

As a democrat Mr. Spraker has taken an active part in local political affairs and at one time served as a state committeeman for his party organization. During the thirteen years that he served as a member of the board of supervisrs of Montgomery county he was chosen chairman of that body. For thirty years he sat on the board of education for Palatine Bridge, while for fifteen years he also served as village trustee. Mr. Spraker has always kept his residence at Palatine Bridge, the family seat, although his business and professional interests have been centered in Canajoharie. During the World war he was a member of the Legal Advisory Board of Montgomery county, under the Selective Service Law, and gave much of his time and energies to helping with the drives for the sale of the Liberty bonds and the raising of funds for the work of the American Red Cross and other organizations. During his college days Mr. Spraker was made a member of the Delta Phi fraternity at Union College. Since then he has become a Mason, belonging to Hamilton Lodge, No. 79, A. F. & A. M., of Canajoharie. His religious affiliations are with St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran church of this village, in which he has held the office of trustee for twenty-four years.

On the 5th of November, 1884, Mr. Spraker was united in marriage to Miss Florence Morrell, the ceremony taking place in Canajoharie. Mrs. Spraker is the daughter of the late Daniel S. and Marie Louise (Kip) Morrell of this village, and was born here June 19, 1857. Her father and grandfather, Daniel Morrell, were both natives of this town and the former was engaged in the practice of law in Canajoharie until his death on June 14, 1894. Her mother, the daughter of William Kip, was born at Red Hook, New York, and passed away at her daughter's home in Palatine Bridge. More remotely Mrs. Spraker's forebears were soldiers in the American Revolution, by virtue of which ancestry she has attained membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, in which she has been actively interested. For three years Mrs. Spraker was honored with the office of the State Regency of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and for four years she held the office of regent of the local chapter, Fort Rensselaer Chapter of Canajoharie. Mrs. Spraker is also prominent in the church work of Canajoharie as a member of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran church. The Sunday school is the department in which she has been most active and for thirty years she has served as superintendent of the primary department. Mr. and Mrs. Spraker have one son, Livingston Morrell Spraker, born at Palatine Bridge, April 20, 1887. After graduating from the Palatine Bridge high school he spent a year in preparatory work at the Cascadilla Preparatory School at Ithaca, before entering Syracuse University, where he took a two-year course in mechanical engineering. Mr. Spraker is now engaged in the automobile business at Palatine Bridge, under the firm name of Spraker & Hodge. On June 8, 1915, he was married to Miss Bessie Tatlock, daughter of George Tatlock of Fort Plain, New York. Mr. and Mrs. Spraker have two children: Barbara Ann, born August 8, 1917; and Catharine Rosemary, born July 26, 1921, both of whom were born in Palatine Bridge.

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