From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 546-549
Back to stanch old Scotch-Irish stock does Dr. Sprowl trace his lineage, and that in his character abide the sterling qualities which have ever marked the true types of those two invincible races will be manifest when we come to consider the more salient points in his career.
William Sprowl, the doctor's grandfather, came to America from Ireland as a soldier in the British army, and took part in the battle of Quebec during the French and Indian war. After this battle he was left to do guard duty in that city, where he continued until the expiration of his period of enlistment. Instead of returning to his native country he concluded to remain in America, and some time after receiving his discharge he went to Norfolk, Virginia, thence a little later to the town of Lexington in the same state. There he met and married Elizabeth Lusk, and within a few years became a large land owner, purchasing a tract of three hundred acres in the bend of the James river, and entered upon the duties of farm life.
William and Elizabeth Sprowl were blessed with a family of ten children, five sons and five daughters, one of the sons, Joseph, marrying, on the 14th day of April, 1814, Miss Jennie Armstrong. In October of the same year this couple took up their residence in Preble county, Ohio, and in 1834 moved to the new and sparsely settled region of Huntington county, Indiana, located near the site of Lancaster in the township of the same name. They were the first permanent settlers in that part of the county, and did much toward developing the country and inducing other families to locate in the same neighborhood. They had a family of eight children, one of whom, Robert by name, married, August 1,1849, Hannah Shaffer, a daughter of John C. and Sarah Shaffer. Philip Shaffer, grandfather of John C., was a native of Rockingham county, Virginia, and there married Elizabeth Stonebraker, by whom he had two children, John and Sarah. He immigrated to Ohio as early as the year 1816, settling in the county of Preble, being one of the forerunners of civilization to that part of the state. While living in Virginia he became a large slaveholder, but becoming convinced that ownership in human flesh was contrary to the law of God and the best instincts of man he liberated his slaves and sought a home where such an unholy traffic would not be tolerated. John C. Shaffer and family settled in Franklin county, Indiana, at an early day, and about 1837 moved to Salamonie township, Huntington county, and settled in the vicinity of Warren. He erected the first house in that town (1838), and for some years was one of its active citizens and progressive men.
To Robert and Hannah Sprowl were born eight children, of whom there are living at the present time: Dr. John S., whose name introduces this review; George M.; and Jennie, widow of the late Prof. Francis Huff, formerly superintendent of the Huntington county schools, who met his death by falling from the upper story of a building in Elwood while arranging his charts preparatory to giving a lecture to an assemblage of teachers.
Dr. John Sprowl was born in Salamonie towship April 14, 1850. On his father's farm and in the store he spent the days of his boyhood and youth, assisting in the labors of the field during the summer months, while in winter seasons he pursued his studies in the district schools of the neighborhood. His progress was rapid, and while still young he was sufficiently advanced to procure a teacher's license, and for several years he instructed the youth of his and other townships in the mysteries of the common branches. From an early age the medical profession had for him peculiar attractions, and while a youth in his father's drug store he decided to make it his life work. At the age of seventeen he began a course of private study, which continued two years, and then entered the medical department of the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated with a creditable record in March, 1872.
Dr. Sprowl began the practice of his profession immediately thereafter at the town of Warren, where his well-known ability and close attention soon brought him to the favorable notice of the public, with the result of a well paying business. Later he became associated with Dr. Jonas J. Good, who continued his partner until retiring from the practice in 1889, and afterward formed a similar alliance with Charles H. Good, son of Dr. Jonas Good, which covered a period of five years duration.
The firm of Good & Sprowl did an extensive and very lucrative practice throughout Huntington and adjoining counties, and established a reputation which caused their names to be known far beyond the limits of their sphere of service. In 1880 the Doctor attended a course of lectures at Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York city, with the object of better acquainting himself with certain technical points of the profession and to get himself in touch with the latest research in medical science. Not content with the knowledge thus gained, he took a post-graduate course in the Chicago University in 1888, and with a mind greatly strengthened and enlarged he resumed practice with the most gratifying results. In 1893 the Doctor again went to Chicago, where he took a course under some of the most renowned and distinguished professors of the United States, graduating the following year; he then took charge of the large sanitarium and hospital for the treatment of nervous diseases and the liquor and opium habits at Portland, Maine. He remained at the head of that well-known institution until the summer of 1895, when he resigned the position, and, returning to Warren, resumed the general practice, which he has since successfully carried on. This practice reaches into Grant, Wells and Huntington counties, and he has the most extensive practice of any physician in this part of the state, the people giving him the name of the busy doctor.
Dr. Sprowl holds membership in the various county medical societies, and also belongs to the state society and to the American Medical Association. At this time he is medical examiner of the Manhattan, Etna, Equitable, Northwestern, Union Central, Mutual Life of New Jersey, Mutual Life of Massachusetts, Mutual Life of New York, and various other life insurance companies, in all of which his duties have been ably and conscientiously performed.
Devoted to the noble and humane work of alleviating human suffering, Dr. Sprowl has been faithful to his calling, and to-day occupies a conspicuous place among the eminent men of the profession in the northern part of the state. He has met with pronounced success professionally, and enjoys a fair and lucrative practice.
Fraternally he is a Mason of high standing, belonging to King Lodge, No. 246, Warren, in which he has held all offices within the gift of the orgaization, besides representing it at different times in the grand lodge of the state. He has taken a number of degrees, including that of Sir Knight; for many years he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of Warren, but is not in full membership at the present time. He holds membership with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and helped to institute the lodges at Anderson and Muncie.
In his political views Dr. Sprowl has long been a stalwart Democrat, and does all in his power to promote the growth and insure the success of the party. While not a partisan in the sense of seeking office, he was induced by his many friends in 1900 to permit his name to head the ticket for representative. Unable to overcome the overwhelming majority of the opposition, he nevertheless made a brilliant canvass and ran far ahead of the majority of the men composing the ticket.
In connection with his practice Dr. Sprowl for many years carried on a successful drug business in Warren, his work in a drug store while a boy being really the beginning of his professional career. His father was a druggist for thirty-five years, and it was under his careful and judicious instruction that the Doctor received his first instinctive knowledge in the work which has made him what he is to-day.
On the 10th day of April, 1880, Dr. Sprowl and Miss Mary L. Good, daughter of Dr. Jonas J. and Margaret Good, were united in the bonds of holy wedlock. Three children have resulted from this union, two living, namely: Fred and Raymond, aged sixteen and fourteen years, respectively. Mrs. Sprowl, like her husband, is an active worker in Masonic circles, being a prominent member of the Eastern Star lodge at Warren, in which she has held various official stations, being at the present time associate matron. She is also a member of the Rebekah degree, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which she has represented in the grand lodge, besides holding an office in the local organization. In religion she is a Methodist, while the Doctor subscribes to the teachings of the Christian or Disciples church.
Robert Sprowl, the Doctor's father, was a man of local note, and for many years intimately associated with the material growth and prosperity of Warren and Huntington county. He was identified with the mercantile interests of the town for nearly forty years, and during the administration of Presidents Buchanan and Johnson served as its postmaster. He was one of the Democratic leaders of Huntington county and held strong views upon all political questions, which he had the courage to defend whenever it became necessary to do so. As a pioneer of Warren and Salamonie townships he naturally took the lead in all affairs calculated to promote the improvement of the county, and to him is due much of the prosperity which it to-day enjoys.
He was a faithful member of the Christian church, and remained true to his profession as an humble and devout follower of Nazarene until his death, which occurred in February, 1899. His wife, Hannah Sprowl, who is still living at an advanced age, is a woman of many sterling traits of character, widely known and highly respected by a large circle of friends in Warren and throughout the surrounding country.