RISEUP was slated to be the subject of an article by Providence Monthly Magazine for their 2010 Halloween
issue. When their reported expressed interest in trailing us during an investigation, we thought it might be time
to approach one of Rhode Island's most famous haunted locations - the Sprague Mansion in Cranston - to
inquire about a follow up. It had been almost one year to the day we had last stepped foot in this phenomenal
location and the evidence we had caught on our previous visit was still a topic of conversation and great
interest. Our request was met with enthusiasm by the Cranston Historical Society and just like that - we had an
investigation to get to.
To read Providence Monthly Magazine's account of the Sprague investigation of 9/4, click Part 1 and Part 2.
RISEUP Investigators Present: Ken DeCosta
Geographical and Historical Data
Located in what was once Spragueville (also known as the Cranston Mill Village), the 200 year old, lovely
Sprague Mansion still stands as a tribute to RI ‘s textile history. It was from this house that the Sprague family
founded the Sprague Print Works in 1808. That company was the roots of what is today, the Cranston Print
Works (below), the only continuously operating textile printer in America.
The mill owners’ house, the mill, the church and the mill villages are still intact as reminders of who built the
United States - hard working men and women, many of them immigrants looking to build new lives in America.
The Sprague family ruled the cotton textile industry of New England. Three generations of the family lived in this
Mansion and controlled the lives of thousands of mill workers.
Born at the Sprague Mansion on September 12, 1830, William Sprague (above) went on to follow in his
father’s footsteps when he inherited the A. & W. Sprague Manufacturing Company in 1856 with his brother,
Amasa Sprague. The Sprague Company was the richest textile company in the United States at the time of Civil
War, They were operating five cotton mills supplying greige goods to the Cranston Print Works for calico printing.
Before the Civil War broke out, Governor Sprague was the first governor to offer his militia to President Lincoln
for defense of Washington DC against the rebels. For his foresight, he is known as the ‘first volunteer of the
Civil War.” He is also called “Lincoln’s War Governor”. Governor Sprague saw battle under fire at the first Battle
of Bull Run with the Rhode Island Volunteers. He voted with Senator Henry B. Anthony for the impeachment of
President Andrew Johnson against the wishes of presiding Chief Justice of the United State Supreme Court,
Salmon P Chase, his father-in-law.
The Sprague family also saw their share of tragedy. Amasa Sprague was brutally murdered on his property
on New Year's Eve, 1843. He was discovered with a fractured skull as the result of two blows to the head and a
gunshot wound to his right wrist. Making the event even more ghastly was the fact that it was his wife's
birthday as well as their wedding anniversary. A local Irish immigrant named John Gordon was convicted of the
murder as the result of a sensational trial which for all intents and purposes was heavily weighted against him
from the very start. Strong hostilities existed between local settlers and Irish immigrants like Gordon and
Sprague had gone so far as to influence the city council to suspend Gordon's license as he thought little of his
workers frequenting Gordon's barroom. It was all but a foregone conclusion then that Gordon murdered Sprague
out of revenge. Gordon was convicted and hanged for his "offense" even though the evidence against him was
purely circumstantial and his innocence has since all but been established. As a result of this miscarriage of
justice, the death penalty was abolished in R.I. and Gordon remains to this day the last person ever condemned
to death in the state of Rhode Island.
Byron Sprague, son of William III, was s successful businessman and philanthropist who also met with a
series of misfortunes. Upon his retirement, he invested in a grand hotel at Rocky Point which burned down
before it even opened. Before that he was implicated in what was to be called the ‘Texas Affair’ – smuggling
guns in exchange for cotton. Weapons and machinery were cleared for foreign ports, but wound up in Texas
where they were sold in exchange for cotton to be shipped north. William said it was done to aid Union citizens
in Texas and obtain information for the government. Byron, ever the honest man, admitted it was simply to get
the cotton out. He was jailed briefly, but eventually pardoned and died two years after his release. His two
children, William and Mary, had previously died of illness three months apart at the ages of 3 and 10
Gov. William Sprague had married "The Belle of Washington", Kate Chase (above), daughter of Salmon Chase
who was Secretary of the Treasury and later Chief Justice of the US. She was a brilliant woman who was a
driving force in the building of their home, Canonchet on Naragansett Pier at a total cost of $1,000,000. It was a
stormy relationship that ended in divorce. Jealousies were involved and Kate fled to Jamaica with their three
children as divorce proceedings began. Sprague lost his fortune in the financial panic of 1873. He died in Paris,
broke and desolate in 1915.
William Sprague Sr. also died in a tragic manner as he died in surgery after choking on a bone during
breakfast one morning at the mansion.
William Sprague V, the only son of William and Kate, lost his job, became despondent and committed suicide
in Washington state in 1890.
The spirit of what is assumed to be Amasa Sprague has been reported walking down the main stairway
leading to the upper floors of the mansion (below). This apparition has also been seen and felt in the basement
wine cellar, sometimes in the form of an icy cold blast of air inside the otherwise sealed room.
A 'lady in black' has been spotted in the mansion's cupola from the street (below).
Ethel L. Duckworth, the wife of Cranston Print Works manager Harry Duckworth reported the first recorded
‘incident’ in 1928. She had been alone in the wine cellar when she felt someone brush by her arm.
In October of 2008, the president of the Cranston Historical Society reported hearing her name very loud and
clearly inside the mansion when she was alone inside.
In June of 2009, the vice-president of the Cranston Historical Society went outside for the mail and heard
footsteps coming up the front stairs after he re-entered the mansion. The footsteps were then heard on the
second floor. He found this encounter quite disturbing.
The reflection of Kate Chase has been seen in the mirror that once was mounted in the Grand Ballroom.
The spirit of a man simply known as 'Charlie the Butler' is said to roam the mansion. In 1968, a caretaker at
the house held a séance in which a gentleman named Charlie was contacted. Charlie claimed to have had a
daughter whom he hoped would someday marry a Sprague. When this did not happen, he became extremely
agitated at the loss of a potential fortune. During the session, the words "my land...my land" were spelled out
Bedding has been pulled off while guests were asleep in their rooms.
Inside the 'Doll Room' (above, since removed), lights have been known to flicker on and off, footsteps have
been heard and many feel a strange presence inside with them. One anonymous member who passed away
some time ago saw what he described as a “filmy white thing” in a tiny enclosed room. He saw this vision in
1968 as CHS members were painting and restoring the mansion to ready it for public viewing.
One of the more intriguing claims that has never been widely reported concerns an antique display that
hangs from a second floor bedroom wall. It contains snippets of hair from the Sprague children and is mounted
over a dressing table, also from that era. The table (pictured below) has a marble top on which a ceramic bowl
containing some personal items rests. We were informed that one day, the vice-president heard a loud crash
from upstairs. Alone in the mansion, he apprehensively dashed up the stairs to survey any potential damage. To
his astonishment, he found the display face down on the floor in front of the table. Oddly, neither piece
displayed any damage whatsoever and by all appearances it seemed the display had completely missed hitting
the table at all! Looking at this picture it is difficult to fathom how this could have happened without any
contact between the two antique items. Yet nothing - even the relatively heavy display with a glass cover -
exhibited even the slightest scratch mark on it. The floors are wooden oak and the fall would cover about about
We were scheduled to begin our investigation at 7 pm. Meeting us there were Lydia Rapoza and Alex
Amalfitano from the Cranston Historical Society along with Julie Tremaine and Jonathan Beller from Providence
Monthly. This time out we set up only 6 of our 8 IR static cameras and tried to focus on those areas we felt lived
up to our expectations on our last visit.
While Julie and Jonathan would accompany us through the mansion, we designated the base (set up in the
mansion pantry) as the area which dialogue would take place and questions could be asked. We were truly
appreciative of the professionalism and respect for the investigative process both showed while joining us.
The last time out to Sprague, Shayna caught an astounding EVP on her digital recorder, so it stood to reason
that perhaps she, as a female, had some sort of connection with a possible child spirit there. Ken joined her on a
tour of the second floor bedrooms and sitting rooms where they would once again attempt contact. Neither Ken
nor Shayna could report anything out of the ordinary on this night and no audio confirmation was forthcoming.
Further efforts seemed to pay off as again Shayna was present with Julie and Marlaina when a voice was
heard in the room with them. They said they seemed to have gotten what sounds like someone answering a
question about antique dresses on the bed. The voice was caught on the camcorder mic and was heard by those
who were present. The women were completely alone in the house at this point in time. Oddly, it does not sound
like a child at all this time but a male and it is very much in a sardonic-type of tone.
As the session continued, the women touched on various subjects regarding the house and family and at one
point this laugh was recorded. Had they said something that amused someone?
A woman's laughter
Voice isolated w/ noise reduction
While in a second floor bedroom which is the most predominant living area for many of the dolls once kept in
their own space here, the ladies are deciding where to set their gear down so as not to disturb or harm any of
the antiquities in the room. As Julie speaks in this clip, one can hear a very pronounced female sigh.
The most curious incident we had on this night is an incident we had with the door on the third floor which leads
up to the cupola. The videos below will demonstrate that the door is closed when Julie and Marlaina and walking
in the hallway. Just a couple of minutes later, as they move to make their way up inside the cupola, the door is
seen open. This particular door latches correctly and was in that position throughout the night as the women
were the first to make the trip up the stairs to the cupola.
As we felt we had easily explained the claims that involved the cupola (see case file #1 from Sprague), no one
had bothered to venture up there during the course of the evening as we focused our efforts in other areas with
the time allotted to us.
We had been waiting for the better part of a year for the opportunity to return to Sprague Mansion for a
follow-up and it was under unusual and unexpected circumstances that our chance came about. Nonetheless, we
were very pleased with the investigation and the results we got did nothing but strengthen our assertion that
the Sprague Mansion is indeed a very active location.
As was the case with our first visit, Lydia, Alex and Adele from the Cranston Historical Society could not have
been more welcoming and supportive of our efforts. We on the other hand could not possibly be more
appreciative of their hospitality and generosity.
If the energies from those who have passed on do remain behind and maintain a level of consciousness and
intelligence, this once and future tribute to one of the nation's most influential families can be held up as a
genuine example of it.
We would never want to see the claims of paranormal activity ever begin to overshadow the historical
significance of this location, nor do we feel the mansion's "inhabitants" should be subject to constant inquest.
While we always would welcome the chance to return, we leave this place for now with a great deal of respect
for the Spragues, their magnificent home and the legacy they have left behind. While it wasn't always perfect or
decorous, theirs were lives well-spent.