Joshua Sprague’s wife was Abigail Wilbur/Wilbor/Wilbore Sprague, and she must have been a very patient, but adventurous woman. She married Joshua on April 22, 1750 when she was only 18 years old. Joshua’s first wife, Amey Darling, had died soon after their marriage. It is possible that Amey had died in the childbirth. Joshua would have had a young daughter, also named Amey, when he married Abigail. Daughter Amey died when she was only 13 years old. Joshua and Abigail had another daughter soon after Amey’s death and named the baby Amey also. Altogether, Joshua and Abigail had 11 or 12 children, including at least one set of twins.
In 1762, Joshua and Abigail moved to Nova Scotia with their family. The French Acadians were deported from Nova Scotia in 1755-58 as part of the war between Britain and France, and their land was made available to homesteaders from New England. This must have seemed like an incredible opportunity to Joshua, but it turned out to be a decision that he regretted for the rest of his life. As the American colonists began to rebel against their English rule, the British government in Canada became concerned about the loyalties of the settlers in Nova Scotia. Finally, the settlers were forced to sign a pledge of loyalty to the British government. If they refused, they were run out of the country with only the clothes on their backs, leaving behind their property and all their possessions. Joshua and his family escaped back to Rhode Island, and then to Massachusetts. Joshua often said that he had a “peck of silver dollars” that he had to leave behind.
Abigail was left to care for their large family while Joshua and at least one of their sons, James, left to fight in the Revolutionary War. After the War, Joshua and two of his sons, Jonathan and William left again. They knew that there would be many people moving west, and that the easiest way of travel was by water, so they went to Simrell’s Ferry (near Pittsburg, PA) to build boats. From there, the Sprague men were convinced to join the Ohio Company efforts in building a fort. There is record of them being paid $100 for building one of the blockhouses (or corners) of the fort at Campus Martius. Meanwhile, Abigail kept things running on the homefront. A year later, Joshua returned to pack his family up and move them to the Campus Martius settlement. They soon moved on up the Muskingum River to a new settlement called Waterford, where Abigail was finally able to put down roots and stay until her death in 1816.
Abigail Wilbur Sprague Tombstone
According to the Sprague Project, Abigail’s father was Daniel Wilbore, who was born March 8, 1701 in Newport, Rhode Island. According to the State of Rhode Island’s Vital Extracts, Daniel’s father was Benjamin Wilbore. Daniel married Sarah Fish in 1725 in Rhode Island.
Benjamin Wilbore was born in 1670, as recorded in the marriage record in Rhode Island Vital Records Extract. He married Mary Kinnicutt in 1700. Benjamin’s father was William Wilbore, who was born in Essex, England and came to Rhode Island about 1654. He was a very successful merchant of cloth. His uncle, Samuel Wilbore, was one of the signers of the Portsmouth Compact. Samuel had settled first in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but because of religious differences with the Puritans, was banished.
William’s parents were John Wilbore (1594-1656) and Joan Drane Wilbore (1596-1630). John Wilbore was born in England, and may have been one of the Puritans to settle a colony in 1631 off the coast of Nicaragua. This colony, called Isla de Providencia, was expected to be much more successful than the North American colonies because of the warmer climate. It was, however, overrun by pirates and the Spanish.
The Wilbore name can be traced back in England as far back as 1066 and was originally spelled Wellburro, and then Wildbore. There is a digitized book available on the internet titled The Wildbores in America: A Family Tree which tells more about the ancient history of the name. It state tshat the “Wildbore” spelling was never used in America.
Sprague Families in America
Sprague Project Database
Wildbores in America: A Family Tree