By Charlyn Fargo
Andy Sprague grew up on a traditional Western Illinois corn and soybean farm where his family had farmed for more than 100 years. But like many farm families, there wasn’t enough income for all three Sprague brothers to make a living from the land.
After college, Sprague took a job with the University of Illinois Foundation, but he returned to the farm when his older brother, Randy, was diagnosed with leukemia. Before his death in 1995, Randy had purchased a nearby farm.
“It was the first farm Randy bought, and it had a strong sentimental value for me,” Sprague says. “It had a big brick house, and I gave it six months of TLC, adding on the equivalent of a house.”
The house and surrounding land lie in Pike County, known as the white-tailed deer capital of the world. Sprague formed a partnership with a local outfitter, IMB (Illinois Monster Bucks) Outfitters and set up Kinderhook Lodge on the family’s centennial farm, founded by his great-great-grandfather, Seaman Sprague, in 1872.
“I’ve been enjoying the ride,” Sprague says. “We’ve had strong demand. And that allowed me to dream bigger dreams.”
In 2001, Sprague remodeled the original Kinderhook Lodge structure from a large two-story, red brick antebellum farmhouse built by Ian Churchill in 1848.
Churchill operated Hadley Creek Sawmill. According to Sprague, Churchill’s story ended tragically in St. Charles, Mo., where he was murdered by river pirates while taking a load of lumber down the Mississippi River.
Over the years, Sprague expanded the lodgings from the original farmhouse to include three homes, and he has a fourth in mind.
Today, the lodge hosts corporate, quilting and scrapbooking retreats, class reunions, wedding and baby showers, rehearsal dinners and other types of meetings and receptions.
Guests have a choice of two dining rooms with views of Midwestern sunrises and sunsets over corn, soybean and wheat fields. One also features a two-story fireplace built with stones carved from the nearby river bluff by Great-Great-Grandfather Seaman.
Another building, built in 2006, features the kitchen where Sprague’s mother, Pat, cooked for guests for 10 years. She recently turned over the stove to executive chef Wendy Glasgow, a retired home economics teacher known for her homemade pies and breads.
“Chef Wendy is quite a baker,” Sprague says. “Early on, I’d see her giving each roll a pat, and I’d ask her what that meant. She says she was giving them all a little love.”
Sprague remodeled a third home, which looks like a Western cabin, in 2008. It serves as a bed-and-breakfast for guests and hunters.
While Pike County offers some of the very best upland, wild turkey and predator hunting in all of Illinois, many crafters – those who love to scrapbook or quilt – also have made the lodge a destination.
“We’ve found so many people love to get away and craft,” says Sprague. “That area, especially quilting, has just exploded.”
While sportsmen fill Kinderhook during the hunting season from October to December, Sprague devotes the remaining nine months to bed-and-breakfast guests and craft-related retreats.
“There’s not a better audience,” Sprague says. “They’re a very social group and love to share their stories and experiences. They love to relax here and have fun.”
Stay at Sprague’s
Sprague’s Kinderhook Lodge is located in the Western Illinois town of Barry. For more information or to make a reservation, call (217) 432-1090 or visit www.kinderhooklodge.com.