On this date a hundred years ago Mrs. Inez Sprague reported that a gold watch of Elgin make and ten dollars were stolen from her apartment at 106 West Monroe. Ten dollars was a large sum to have about an apartment, but Mrs. Sprague was a business woman who sold hair goods in a business with her daughter Hattie. It was equal to about $232 in today's dollars. A gold watch could be valued for as much as $12 to $50. What was the background of this lady who had such possessions, yet lived above the Harley Davidson Motorcycle showrooms?
Inez was born in Clark County Ohio to William Lower and his wife. How she came to live in Illinois is unknown, but on November 18 1885 she married William T Sprague in Tazewell County. When their second child, Minnie, was born they were living in Normal, IL near the stockyards. Possibly William was involved in work at the stockyards because no address was given for them other than that they lived at the stockyards. In February, 1894 they had twins, but three months later, one of those twins died. Leighla, their third child lived.
William died of consumption on January 15, 1895, leaving Inez with three little girls to raise. The next record of Inez is that she worked as a "book agent" and lived over a business at 601 N. Main in Bloomington, IL. Beneath her apartment was the Baltimore Oyster Co. In 1905 the city directory gave her occupation as "toilets and extracts," meaning she was in the perfume business. In 1915 she was in business with her daughter, Hattie Stephens and her other daughter Minnie was a telephone operator for the Kinloch Telephone Company. Leighla's wedding announcement on June 19, 1914 indicated that Leighla had also been in business with her mother. Leighla married Lee Wallis, a railroad man at the home of a friend and was attended by her sister Minnie. In October of 1914 Mrs. Hattie Stephens and her sister, Minnie, travelled to Chicago to go to a Halloween Ball at the LaSalle Hotel.
A family tree indicates that Minnie Sprague died August 4, 1918 in Champaign IL. She would have been 27 years old. Inez Sprague died January 14, 1920, aged 65. Her funeral was at the home of one of Leighla's in-laws and she was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.