Achsa W Sprague

Achsa Sprague
Achsa Sprague

Time Period

1820-1860

Subject Categories

Activist, Education, Religion, Writers

Notable Facts

Known as the "Preaching Woman." Heard a message from the angels which called her out of her sick bed to spread their message of Sprititualism. Spoke to large audiences of men and women in locations around the country, including New England, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Also a prolific poet.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

11/17/1827

Date of Death

07/06/1862

Primary Residence

Plymouth

Religion

Spiritualist

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Historical Significance

Ascha Sprague grew up in a household in Plymouth, Vermont marked by poverty and ruled by an alcoholic father. She began work as a teacher at the age of twelve and taught until she was twenty. She then became very ill and was crippled by a "scrofulous disease of the joints," which was possibly a form of arthritis. As her condition worsened, she became bedridden.

At the age of twenty-seven, she had a spiritual awakening in which she was told that angels were around her and needed her to tell others of their message of eternal life. Her health gradually improved and she embarked on a lecture career, carrying out her mission. Sprague was considered a trance lecturer and gave her first public speech at South Reading in July of 1854. She was a reformer on such topics as the position of women and conditions in slums and prisons, and an advocate of temperance and the abolition of slavery. She was considered a religious leader for the Spiritualist movement, which attracted many women because it enabled them to speak in public before audiences of both men and women.

Sprague was also a poet. Much of her work still remains unpublished today. Some of the poetry was published in "The Banner of Light," "The World," and "The Green Mountain Sibyl." She died of a severe illness, designated as brain fever, at the age of thirty-four. Her papers were donated to the Vermont Historical Society in 1976.

Organizations or Movements

  • Spiritualist movement
  • Temperance movement
  • Abolition
  • Women's Rights
  • Prison reform

Occupations

  • Teacher
  • Writer
  • Spiritual missionary
  • Public speaker

Education

  • Plymouth Primary School

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Duffy, John, eds. "Achsa W. Sprague." In The Vermont Encyclopedia. University of New England Press, 2003.

  • Vermont Women: Ascha Sprague Link

  • VHS Finding Aid - Sprague Link

  • Those Indomitable Vermont Women

  • "She Traveled Afar and Talked To the Dead" by Mark Bushnell