Sometimes, when you delve into a previously unknown story about one of your ancestors you end up with as many questions as answers! The circumstances of this ancestor’s location in Massachusetts and his birth year place him in a time era and context for becoming an American patriot. As I “unpack” the stories about Knight, I have come up with so many questions. Questions about the start of this nation, various battles that ensued and time period historical events. What role did Knight have in the formation of America? As a soldier of his times, what had he seen in battle? Where is his historical accounting of the 1757 siege that will be referenced in the quotes below?
For now we begin at the start of Knight Sprague Sr.’s story. He was born on October 12, 1711, in Hingham, Massachusetts. His father, Jeremiah, was 29 and his mother, Priscilla, was 25. Knight’s namesake was his mother’s maiden name. She had been born as Priscilla Knight.
Knight married Mary Lewis and they had six children together. He then married Mary Beal and they had five children together. He died in 1804 at the impressive age of 93.
Knight served in the Minute Men as an American revolutionary patriot. He was also involved in 1757 in trying to defend the British held Fort William Henry from a French siege. This particular event is the subject of the book “The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper. Fort William Henry was located at the southern end of Lake George, and Fort Edward on the Hudson River. The French troops in concert with nearly 2,000 Native Americans from various tribes caused the British troops holding the fort to surrender their control and occupation of the fort. The defeated British troops were to be escorted out of the fort and taken as prisoners. Instead, as the British were leaving the fort they were killed by the Native American forces in what is historically termed a massacre. Knight, obviously, was a survivor.
I found out more about my 6th great grandfather because of documentation in American Biography, A New Cyclopedia https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=EmYUAAAAYAAJ&pg=GBS.PA86
“Knight Sprague, son of Jeremiah and Priscilla (Knight) Sprague, was born October 12, 1711, at Hingham, and died at Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1804, aged ninety-three years. He lived at Hingham until 1760, when he sold the old place and removed to that part Old Leicester that is now Spencer. He was a private in Captain Ebenezer Mason’s company of Minute-men, of Colonel Jonathan Warner’s regiment, which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775, and served five days. This was not his first military service, for when he was but sixteen, he was a soldier in Colonel Benjamin Lincoln’s regiment and barely escaped with his life at the time of the Indian massacre at the surrender of Fort William Henry in August, 1757. He afterwards wrote a vivid description of the horrible incident, which has been preserved for us. The next year he participated in the attack upon Fort Frontinac, under Colonel Bradstreet, when that fortress was captured. Knight Sprague married (first), at Hingham, May 26, 1735, Mary Lewis, a daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Marsh) Lewis, by whom he had six children, as follows : Mary, born May 27, 1736; Sarah, born April 1, 1738; Knight, born March 25, 1740; Anthony, born June 29, 1742; Olive, born June 24, 1744; Thomas, born July 28, 1746. He married (second) Mary Beal, daughter of David and Rebecca (Stodder) Beal, of Hingham, where she was born December 21, 1717. The wedding took place at Boston, October 23, 1747. The children of this union were as follows: Asa, baptized July 24, 1748; James, mentioned below; Thomas, baptized April 26, 1752; Caleb, baptized July 20, 1755; Lucy, baptized October 4, 1761 ; David, baptized January 8, 1764.”
I have been unable to find the above referenced account written by Knight Sprague regarding the Indian massacre at Fort William Henry. But here is another link to information about Knight Sprague and the attack of Fort William Henry:
A general history of the attack at Fort William Henry may be found here:
At first I was confused by the quote below that makes reference to Knight being a mere 16 years old while serving as a soldier in Colonel Benjamin Lincoln’s regiment AND barely escaping from the massacre at Fort William Henry in 1757. Obviously, these are 2 facts being referenced in a strange sentence structure. Because with a birth year of 1711, Knight would have been 46 years old during the siege on Fort William Henry and then must have been 16 while serving as a soldier in Benjamin Lincoln’s patriot regiment.
In an application made by another descendant of Knight (some very distant cousin of mine) who wanted to be in the Sons of the Revolution based on his ancestor Knight – I have provided this information: (see photos)
Here is the how I relate to my ancestor:
Knight SPRAGUE Sr (Rev War) Sr (1711 – 1804)
Sources also include: Memorial of the Sprague fam, with fam, gen. By Rich. Soule. Boston. 1847. (12,191p.):109 Gen. Column of the ” Boston Transcript”. 1906-1941.( The greatest single source of material for gen. Data for the N.E. area and for the period 1600-1800. Completely indexed in the Index.): 16 Feb 1910, 1160; 12 Jul 1911, 2116