Honors and success have come to George Spratt, the former through his connection with the Grand Army of the Republic and the latter through his careful management and development of business interests. He is today state commander of that organization, which is formed of the "boys in blue" who defended the Union in the darkest hour of our country's history, and the position coming to him unsolicited is a merited recognition of his loyalty to the organization and to the country. In business circles, too, he has gained an enviable place, enterprise and industry constituting the foundation upon which he has builded his prosperity, being now sole owner of an extensive chair manufacturing enterprise in Sheboygan. He was born in Boston, England, January 30, 1844, and was a son of Luke Spratt, who was also of English birth and spent his early life in the mother country, where he became familiar with the different phases of farming.
In 1851 he brought his family, consisting of wife and four children, to the new world and settled in Sheboygan county. Here he resumed agricultural pursuits and in pioneer times drove a yoke of oxen from his farm to the city of Sheboygan when he was transporting his produce to market or when he needed supplies for the home. His death occurred in 1873.
George Spratt was a lad of seven years when, in June, 1851, he came with his parents to Wisconsin. The same fall he worked for Major Mead, picking up potatoes, and thus he earned the money with which to purchase his own school-books. His educational opportunities were somewhat limited, for he could attend only through the winter months, his labors being needed on the farm in the summer seasons. In his youthful days he also learned the carpenter's trade and in 1864 he enlisted as a soldier of the Union army. Several times prior to this he had attempted to join the army but was rejected on account of his youth.
When he enlisted he was the youngest boy in his company, if not in the regiment, and he became a sergeant in Company F, Forty-eighth Wisconsin Infantry, with which he remained until the close of hostilities. His regiment during that time was stationed in Missouri and Arkansas and Mr. Spratt experienced considerable active service. At the close of the war George Spratt returned to Sheboygan county and in the fall of 1871 he established his home in Sheboygan Falls, where he has since resided. He made his first business venture in the village, embarking in the hardware and agricultural implement business. In the meantime he had become known in industrial circles as a carpenter and contractor. His early identification with manufacturing interests began when he bought out the business of E. Quinlan and in company with George W. Arnold began the manufacture of hand rakes. Subsequently Mr. Arnold sold his interest to Mr. Quinlan but after a brief period Mr. Spratt became sole owner, purchasing his partner's interest.
In 1883 the flood washed away the rake factory and in 1884 the business was removed to Sheboygan, where in 1891 he began the manufacture of chairs, starting business on the site of his present plant. From the beginning the new undertaking prospered. Mr. Spratt has always been the leading spirit in the enterprise and in the course of time he bought out the interest of his partner so that he is now the sole proprietor. The trade has continued to grow year by year and the output is now extensive. Chairs of many varieties are manufactured, as is indicated by the fact that according to style, material and finish chairs sell at wholesale at from seven cents to eleven dollars each. The factory is pleasantly situated on the lake front, having the advantages of economical shipping and giving the employees the benefit of pure air, light and sunshine. From the outset the business has grown steadily, so that it has been necessary to increase its facilities to meet the demands of the trade. He furnishes employment to a large force of workmen and is at the head of one of the most extensive productive industries of this part of the state.
In 1868 Mr. Spratt was united in marriage to Miss Mary Nichols, and they had five children, only one of whom, Sarah Laura, is now living. In community affairs Mr. Spratt has always been deeply and helpfully interested and his labors have ever been counted upon to further movements for the general good. He has served on the village board and that he is a stalwart champion of the cause of education is indicated in his twelve years' service as clerk of the school board. Higher official honors have also come to him in his election as representative to the state legislature, where-he served for two terms. He is today the honored commander of the Wisconsin department of the Grand Army of the Republic. Ere his election to this office, when his candidacy was being talked of in the state, a local paper said: "All who served with Comrade Spratt in the army speak well of him and his loyalty to the stars and stripes ever since has been conspicuously manifest. He is a charter member of Jairus Richardson Post, No. 12, of this village and from the very start has been one of its most active and worthy members. He organized H. P. Davidson Post, No. 212, at Plymouth and A. 0. Heald Post, No. 192, at Cascade. There are four G. A. R. posts in Sheboygan county, in good condition, and all have unanimously endorsed Comrade Spratt for department commander with appropriate resolutions.
Comrade Spratt is also president of the Sheboygan County Soldiers Reunion Association, one of the largest and best attended of any in the state, and he has been reelected its president repeatedly for many years in succession. He has always helped all soldiers in various ways and has gone down in his own pocket when necessary and never complained even when imposed upon. He has rendered valuable assistance to the department of Wisconsin on committees and otherwise without any expense to the department. He visits the public schools and talks patriotism whenever opportunity will permit. He is a ready, effective and enthusiastic speaker who never fails to interest his audiences and withal he is a good story teller. No veteran of the Civil war has been more loyal or worked more diligently and conscientiously in the interests of the Grand Army and made greater effort to instill into the minds of the rising generation a spirit of loyalty and patriotism and respect for 'Old Glory' than has this same George Spratt, and if 'his comrades of the G. A. R. see fit to elect him department commander at the next encampment they will never regret it."
Following his election the Furniture journal wrote:
The unanimous election at Antigo, Wisconsin, recently of Hon. George Spratt, of Sheboygan, head of the well known chair factory, to the high post of department commander of the Wisconsin Grand Army of the Republic is an honor to Sheboygan as well as to the man. An incident that followed immediately after the installation of Comrade Spratt to the office of department commander is worthy of special note. The Sheboygan delegation of the Woman's Relief Corps, which was in session at the Woman's Relief Corps headquarters in another part of the city, proceeded to the hall where the Grand Army of the Republic encampment was in session and requested admission, which was granted, whereupon they marched to the new commander's desk and presented him with a handsome bouquet of flowers, amid the lusty cheers of the multitude of enthusiastic veterans there assembled. Such an incident never before occurred in the history of the department of Wisconsin Grand Army of the Republic. It was the finest tribute ever paid to an incoming commander and Comrade Spratt is well worthy of the honor.
All this is indicative of Mr. Spratt's standing in the organization and as a citizen. He is esteemed wherever known and most highly where he is best known. He retains his residence in Sheboygan Falls, occupying the house which he erected there in 186g, but throughout the state he has a wide acquaintance and it is a recognized fact that he has contributed in a material degree to the upbuilding and progress of his home community and the state at large.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL