Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Search for Sarah Sprong

Today I had a wonderful Bethlehem history moment.

For next month's Our Towne Bethlehem I am writing about the Sprong House in Slingerlands.

I've got a great photo portrait of Mr. J. White Sprong and several of the house itself.  You'll have to wait for the May issue for the then and now photos of this lovely Victorian on Kenwood Avenue.  Looking at J.White, I got to wondering about Mrs. Sprong.

Often when reading old documents I get frustrated/annoyed with the constant reference to married women by their husband's name.  Mrs. John Smith was visiting friends.  Or, Mrs. Jones was feeling poorly this week. When searching old newspapers for a woman, I have to remember to look under the husband's name as well.

Luckily for me, Mrs. Sprong's full name, Sarah Lyons Sprong, was listed in her obituary - which,by the way, she shared with her husband.  Also in the obit was a reference to her work with the Slingerlands branch of the American Red Cross.  Here's a clipping.

My wonderful aha moment came when I remembered that I have a photograph of a group of Slingerlands Red Cross ladies from 1918, and most of them are identified.  A quick trip to the archival storage room at Town Hall and sure enough, there is Mrs. J.W. Sprong, her daughter Miss Bessie Sprong, and even Mrs. Winship.

Sarah Sprong is the first woman from the right standing in the back.
 Bessie is third from the right standing in the back.

Mrs. Winship has the dark colored cap in back row, 5th from right.

Here's the best I could do identifying this Band of Nobel Women.

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