Voices From the Past

Mrs. Sprague & Mrs. Eastwood
(These two colorful ladies were interviewed in 1978.)

Mr. Sprague (Mabel Sprague’s husband) died two years ago (1976) but I have spent some time with Mrs. Sprague, who was born and brought up in the area. Mabel Sprague, the former Miss Atwood, remembers going to the King farm quite often with her father who was the local ‘handy man.’ She also spoke of a gold mine on top of the hill. “When I was a little girl I would go up there…no one was working it but the shafts were there. Dad always said he thought it was salted.”

Mrs. Sprague put me in contact with Mrs. Eastwood, a delightful 89-year-old woman who lived off Plainfield Street. Mrs. Eastwood’s father ran the farm for the King family. As a child, the family lived on Plainfield Street directly opposite the King Homestead. The King farm provided produce to the local stores.

Both Mrs. Sprague and Mrs. Eastwood spoke of Mrs. Onsley “who must be at least 90 now,” they said. Mrs. Onsley is “that Indian woman, the widow of Ernie, who was known as Chief Rainbow.” I have been unsuccessful in contacting Mrs. Onsley but Mrs. Eastwood has promised to speak with her so that I may interview her. (Unfortunately, this never happened.)

” Both women spoke of Mrs. Onsley “as she drove her horse cart down Plainfield Street, with her hair in braids and paint on her cheeks.” (My dad often told me about Indian ceremonies on the top of the Hill, near the large ‘worshiping’ rock (now gone). The neighborhood boys would hide, but one of the Indians would eventually find them and chase them away. In his youth, as in mine, all the children in the area treasured their little box of arrowheads.)

Mrs. Eastwood spoke of Abbey Allen King as a gentle, kind woman who loved the land. She could not imagine why Abbey sold so much of the Homestead to the city except, perhaps, that it was specified to her (by the family) that the land be made available to the people of the area in the form of a park.

Abbey’s will substantiates this, for in 1915 she willed what was left of the King Homestead to the city “to be used for park purposes and shall never be let, sold or transferred in any manner whatsoever for any other purposes,…in either of which events this gift shall revert to the heirs of John King. ”

She also states, reflecting her love for the hill. “it is my desire that the trees and land immediately adjacent to the house shall be kept in as near their present condition as may be practicable.”

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